IK: Rogue's Bounty
People of Western Immoren
People of Western Immoren
Mankind holds sway from the far north of Khador all the way to Bloodshore Island in the south. There is great diversity among humanity. A traveler across western Immoren can expect to encounter numerous ethnic and regional groups, most of which identify themselves based on the most prominent old kingdoms from the Thousand Cities era before the arrival of the Orgoth. Those cultural identities are deeply rooted despite the rise of the modern kingdoms defined after the Corvis Treaties. Cultures and appearance can vary dramatically among these groups, as most of these identifications were regional rather than based on bloodlines.
Caspian and Sulese
The most numerous people of western Immoren are the Caspians and Sulese, native to the southern region that has been home to their ancestors since the founding of ancient Calacia. The distinction between the two is very recent but very important to both. Those descended of the ancient Caspians and living west of the Black River in Cygnar refer to themselves by the old name of “Caspians.” People of the same ancestry east of the Black River in the Protectorate of Menoth refer to themselves as Sulese to honor Hierarch Sulon, who initiated the Cygnaran Civil War and who is the namesake of the city of Sul, which was once eastern Caspia. While this may seem a matter of semantics, in can be argued that in the century since that war the Sulese have established a distinct culture, largely due to their intense religious beliefs.
Even the appearance of the two peoples differ, as the less comfortable living conditions experienced by the Sulese in the Protectorate of Menoth often weathers their features. Both groups share common traits, although the populations that melded into this region were diverse enough that there is a tremendous variance. Many Caspians tend to have cream- colored complexions and lighter hair, while others are darker hued and have black hair. Intermarriage between Sulese and Idrians is relatively common, contributing to further subtle changes over the last several generations.
The Idrians of today were once made up of a number of diverse tribes native to the eastern region known as the Bloodstone Marches. These formerly nomadic tribesmen have largely taken up the worship of Menoth, although some tribes have remained outside the Protectorate and retain some of their older traditions. While the Idrians were labeled as worshipers of the Wurm before their conversion, their spiritual beliefs were more varied. Some were indeed followers of the Wurm, while others practiced a variant of ancestor worship. Both were deemed intolerable to the Menites of the Protectorate, and crusades were conducted to bring these people back to the faith of the Creator. Idrians typically have olive skin, dark brown or black hair, and almond eyes.
North of Ord, the Khadoran Empire is dominated by the second-largest culture in western Immoren, that of the Khardic people, descendants of the empire that ruled the north before the coming of the Orgoth. Over a thousand years ago, the Khardic Empire and its western horselords conquered many small nations, city-states, and tribes, and the Khards of the present day descend from the strongest bloodlines of those times. Like the other peoples of the north, they tend to be tall and physically robust on average, generally larger than their southern counterparts, mostly with pale skin. At its height the Khardic Empire stretched across a sizable portion of western Immoren and included many different peoples.
In the far northwest the once-wild Kossites have preserved much of their culture. They are a tall and lanky people, descendants of the forested tribes of Kos. The Kossite people are notoriously hostile to outsiders and retain certain tribal customs, even within larger towns and the great city of Ohk. Kossites have a reputation for wood lore and survivability in impossibly harsh conditions, deserved after centuries negotiating the frozen Scarsfell Forest. They are frequently sought after as scouts and trackers, and many serve the Khadoran Army in this capacity.
The populous Midlunders of northern Cygnar dominate that nation’s northern heartland. They are a rugged and practical people who have embraced an attitude outsiders sometimes mistake for stubbornness. During the Thousand Cities Era the Midlunds was a vast region with numerous farmlands and townships, and it was arguably the unification of the pragmatic Midlunders with the urbane Caspians after the Corvis Treaties that has given Cygnar its cultural identity. Many of the career soldiers of Cygnar’s armed forces are Midlunders, particularly along the northern and eastern borders. Even from ancient times this was a region that saw the blending of dozens of different cultures, and so there is no particular look that defines them, although more are dark-haired and ruddy-skinned than fair.
Hailing from the bogs and forests of the Thornwood, the Morridanes are the descendants of the lost kingdom of Morrdh, territories that fall largely within the borders of modern Cygnar. Outsiders sometimes hold them in poor regard for their rustic ways and taciturn demeanors, but beneath that exterior the Morridanes are shrewd, stalwart, and loyal individuals. Physically, they are noted as being shorter of stature and slighter of build than their southern countrymen.
The eastern nation of Llael was dominated by the fair-skinned Ryn, a people of slight build and short stature who made up the majority of that nation’s populace. Much of the Llaelese nobility were of Rynnish blood. Ryn were particularly dominant in the Llaelese capital and eastern farmlands. They consider themselves the inheritors of a long and esteemed history and are proud of their language and culture but now face the fact that their nation lies divided, most of it conquered by Khador, while the east has fallen to the Protectorate’s Northern Crusade. The Ryn take credit for inventing the firearm and refining the arts of pistol dueling in particular but were a shrewd and well- spoken people with a fondness for negotiation, the fine arts, and alchemy as well as a taste for ornate architecture. Thousands of Ryn fled during the Llaelese War and scattered abroad, swelling the nearest cities in both Ord and Cygnar, while some even sought sanctuary in Rhul.
Over time, as civilizations rose and fell, some of their people fled west to the Scharde Islands. The people here are thought to be primarily a blend of those who were once Morrdh, Molgur, Tordorans, and Thurians. Before the coming of Toruk the forbidding archipelago was fertile enough to support a thriving population, and it became a haven for pirates and raiders that preyed on the mainland while erecting fortified fiefdoms. When the Dragonfather arrived he seized control here, transforming the pirate lords into undead and immortal lich lords who would oversee the squalid lives of the petty mortals that were beneath his notice. Over time his powerful blight has seeped into everything here, transforming the people and the land. The generations spawned by the survivors of Toruk’s arrival and the rise of Cryx have been irrevocably tainted by the presence of the Dragonfather. These people, now called Scharde, are easily recognizable by their ritual scarification, tattooing, and bone body piercings. Some, however, bear the taint of draconic blight more obviously. Solid black eyes, razor-sharp teeth, scaled skin, and other deformations are common. Even those less blatantly corrupt have been influenced by the dragon’s proximity, and the Scharde are largely a cruel and violent people.
The other once-wild people of the north that were tamed by the Khards were the Skirov, the people of Khador’s northern mountains. These thick-bodied and imposing people are among the most stoic and fearsome of Khadorans, noted for their strong passions and intense piety. The people of this region have long been deeply religious—in ancient days they were zealous worshipers of the Wurm, but most took to Menite conversion after the crusades of priest-kings emulating Khardovic. Many mountain communities are counted among the most stalwart supporters of the Old Faith, while others converted to the faith of Morrow and embraced its principles with a similar intensity. Great temples and churches dominate these rustic mountain towns, and the people of this region are among the most superstitious and distrustful of those suspected of witchcraft. Skirov are fairer of skin and generally have lighter hair than most other Khadorans.
Thurians are one of two major cultures that dominated the western seaboard in ancient days. The Thurians of today are descendants of a kingdom now divided between northwestern Cygnar and southern Ord. Thurians have long prized sharp wits and the accumulation of secrets and lore; sorcery is unusually common among them, and this region has seen more than its fair share of prestigious arcanists. Organized human magic has its roots in this region, and the Stronghold of the Fraternal Order of Wizardry is based in Ceryl, the heart of what was once Thuria. Like Caspia and the Midlunds, Thuria was a welcoming kingdom that brought many diverse peoples into its community, and thus the physical features of Thurians vary considerably, though a slightly higher than average number have red hair and green eyes. Many Sinari, discussed below, settled in Thuria early in the kingdom’s history and left a legacy of dark-skinned, black- haired individuals. Both proudly call themselves Thurians and can trace lineages back before the Orgoth.
The other great western culture was the Tordorans, who are rightfully proud of their ancient traditions, particularly related to mastery of the sea. Ord’s northern regions and particularly its aristocracy are dominated by the descendants of Tordor, a nation that conquered Thuria before the arrival of the Orgoth. Tordorans rarely marry outside their own ethnicity and so have a more distinct and identifiable appearance than many of the region’s dominant cultures, with black hair and olive skin. The ruling castellans are known as High Tordorans, but even lowborn Tordorans pride themselves on their blood and ancestry.
Several other distinct cultures have survived in Khador amid the trackless wastes and vast wildernesses that naturally divide the nation. In southeastern Khador and western Llael are another once-divided people, only recently unified under Khadoran rule after the Llaelese War. Heirs to the ancient eastern horselords of old, the Umbreans once contested with the Khards for domination of this region, and distrust and animosity persists between them. Tales of the ancient battles fought between Khards and Umbreans are still told in this region, particularly near the grim battlefields where generations of blood have been spilled. Umbreans have intermingled with many other groups but retain a strong sense of cultural identity, and many harbor dreams of a nation of their own. Their size and build are similar to that of the Khards, but they usually have slightly darker skin and black hair.
Other Human Ethnicities
There are several other smaller ethnicities in the Iron Kingdoms. The dark-skinned Radiz and Sinari are nomadic peoples found across the southern Kingdoms, some living in caravans moving across western and Central Cygnar. Both of these groups have dwindled over the centuries as families have abandoned the old ways and integrated with other cultures, bringing greater diversity to the Thurians, Midlunders, and Caspians in particular. Pocket ethnic groups in Cygnar include the Gnasir and the Arjun, both of which shun contact with outsiders and speak their own somewhat incomprehensible dialects. In northern Khador a number of isolated groups persist that once contended with the Skirov and Kossites for resources, including the Vindol, the Ruscar, the Bolotov, and the Yhari-Umbreans. Some of these people live in tribes little changed since the days of the Molgur and still proudly display totemic emblems of the wolf, the bear, and the raven.
Although humanity accounts for the greatest part of the populations of the nations of the Iron Kingdoms, many other races are also present, particularly in Cygnar. Gobbers are a common sight in most major Cygnaran and Ordic cities, having adapted well to urban life. They are encountered less often in Khador and Llael. Khadorans tend to be more insular and distrustful of other races, who may not share their bold nationalistic feelings, but gobbers can still be found in major industrial centers like Korsk and Khardov.
Though the Iron Kingdoms themselves can rightly be thought of as human nations, all are also inhabited by a variety of races who possess varying degrees of loyalty and recognized citizenship. Other races are most common in the major cities, where they are drawn to seek employment. By and large, members of the other races are treated with tolerance by urban dwellers where they lead similar lives to humans, although sometimes they are pressured to settle in ghettos or communities of their own. They are less welcome among rural communities, where prejudices are stronger, particularly in areas that sometimes endure raids from nearby wilderness tribes or kriels. Where larger groups of certain races have settled in a city, they may retain some of their tribal organization within their district or quarter, and often their leaders become influential outside of the community as well. It is not uncommon for places with large communities of trollkin to find that the kriel’s elders wield significant clout in city affairs; the threat of strike is a potent weapon in modern labor disputes.
There are two distinct species of goblins found in western Immoren, and attitudes toward each are markedly different. Gobbers are the most numerous of the two species and have had great success in integrating into the communities of other races, including human cities. Their small stature—most of them are around three feet tall—makes them appear non-threatening, and they have undeniable aptitude for mechanikal devices and alchemy. Next to humanity, gobbers are the race that has most successfully adapted to urban life. Inquisitive, cunning, and entrepreneurial, some gobbers have earned their place in society as owners of small businesses, often running salvage, scrap, and repair services. Less civilized tribes of gobbers with shamans and tribal chieftains still exist in the wilds, but by and large, the race has moved into the cities.
By contrast, bogrin are a largely reviled species of goblin usually only encountered in the wilds, with only a few established communities existing in human cities, such as Five Fingers. Bogrin are larger than gobbers, are recognizable by the distinct ridge on the top of their heads, and are likely to display body piercings and tattoos. They are generally considered more violent and aggressive than gobbers, and repeated conflicts have pushed them away from most townships and cities. Accordingly they encounter considerably more prejudice than their cousin race, even in cases where an individual has demonstrated a willingness to coexist in society. They are most numerous among the Scharde Islands.
Trollkin largely live in the traditional communities of kriels centered on villages far from human civilization. Until recently, the trollkin were a scattered people, living in much the same way as they have for centuries, but recent warfare and displacement have shattered their lives. Some leaders among them have begun to foment radical ideas, and previously peaceful trollkin communities are uniting in war against all those who would oppress them.
Trollkin are also commonly found throughout the cities of the Iron Kingdoms and are particularly valued in industries that depend on freight or heavy labor, although their size and strength can also be intimidating. In most cases, they work for lower wages than human workers and may face other difficulties as they are often treated as lower-class citizens. Some kriels have transplanted in entirety and live as communities among the populations of major cities. These urban kriels face trouble adjusting from their traditional lifestyle, and many of their youth have begun to give up the old ways in favor of human culture.
With records dating back over six millennia, the dwarves of Rhul have the oldest and most stable continuous civilization in western Immoren. Though they have officially maintained neutrality in the affairs of humans for thousands of years, Rhulfolk keep a close eye on the outside world and periodically do involve themselves in outside affairs. Rhulfolk have become a common sight among humanity, both on and off the battlefield. Although Rhul itself seems to have no interest in conquest, its leading clans do seek profit and happily adopt mankind’s technological developments. In some parts of eastern Khador and the Upper Wyrmwall Mountains mixed communities of humans and Rhulfolk have been established, though recent tensions between Khador and Cygnar sometimes threaten their safety.
The ogrun of Rhul are fully integrated members of Rhulic society despite constituting a minority of the population. Ogrun are also found among some human communities, especially those that are home to mercenary companies. The raw strength of the ogrun also makes them highly valued laborers, particularly in regions that see heavy shipping traffic, and the sense of honor treasured by most ogrun makes them prized as bodyguards. It is worth noting that many of the ogrun of Rhul refer to themselves as “Rhulic” although the term “Rhulfolk” is usually reserved for dwarves. There are also a number of ogrun tribes living outside Rhul, most numerously among the northern mountains of Khador and also among the tainted people of Cryx.
Though the nation of Ios closed its borders years ago, a few of its people can still be found among the Iron Kingdoms. Notoriously tight-lipped regarding their home, Iosans are poorly understood, and most people react to them with unease. Some few of them are found roaming far and wide, consulting ancient libraries and scholars on historical minutiae. A very small number make a life as mercenaries, plying a bloody trade for a coin in which they seem barely interested.
The Iosans can seem almost loquacious in comparison to their cousins, the Nyss. They are a highly insular people who until recently were rarely seen outside of the farthest reaches of the north. In the past few years refugees have begun to make their way to the cities of Ios, Khador, and Ord, fleeing some great disaster about which they are reticent to speak. Skilled hunters and trackers, the Nyss are a proud and self-reliant people; that their tribes have been scattered implies a tragedy of profound consequence.
There are other races across the expanse of western Immoren, but they have little truck with the civilized nations of the Iron Kingdoms and their neighbors in Rhul and Ios. Scholars have grudgingly admitted that certain species such as gatormen, farrow, bog trogs, and croaks are technically intelligent, although they are usually seen as a menace and often labeled as monsters. The same is true for groups like the Tharn and the Satyxis, both of whom may once have been human but who have transformed into distinct—and hostile—species. Additionally, there are some possibly intelligent but ferocious creatures that occupy an uncomfortable middle ground between beast and people, such as ravenous trolls, satyrs, and the eastern cyclopes.
Only a few years ago the vanguard of a great army of invaders arrived on the western edges of the Bloodstone Marches. The skorne are a truly vicious race that honors its warriors above all others. Few citizens of the Iron Kingdoms have met a skorne outside of a battlefield, and little is known of their culture. Since they seem bent on the complete subjugation of western Immoren, they are likely to remain an enigma. Very little contact has been made with other possibly intelligent species from eastern Immoren, such as the efaarit, which may be a race of gobber, or the primitive letheans. Somewhere in remote eastern Immoren there are rumored to be highly intelligent giants, but such reports are often looked upon as fanciful legends.