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    Canonfire :: View topic - Barbarians of the Abbor-Alz
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    Barbarians of the Abbor-Alz
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    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:23 am  
    Barbarians of the Abbor-Alz

    I was putting together some updated random encounter tables for the Abbor-Alz Hills and read in the supplement Rary The Traitor that there are barbarians located in the hill range. The supplement only offers a short description and I was wondering if they are mentioned elsewhere in Greyhawk material. I have no problem developing my own tribe and lore but I prefer to go with existing material first.

    Anyone have any information to offer? If there isn't any additional information available does anyone want to offer ideas to make these barbarians unique? The brief description primarily discusses their reaction to strangers...which is cautious but not violent. They fight with crude broadswords which would indicate that perhaps their weapon quality is not as good as what would be standard for Greyhawk. The barbarians are interested in trade and looking for better grade weapon. The seem to fight with one another quite a bit, indicate what religions they follow, have a distinct dislike of magic (beyond cleric/druid/magical weapons).
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 4:44 am  

    I have some sort of vague recollection that there are fiercely independent dervishes who worship Tritherion in the Abbor-Alz along the border of the Bright Desert. Maybe I just pulled that out of me bum though, and I just want there to be fiercely independent dervishes who worship Tritherion in the Abbor-Alz along the border of the Bright Desert. Razz Sometimes I remember oddball things correctly, sometimes not. Not sure where I may have read such a thing, if I did, though if I did read it, I expect it came from Rary the Traitor, a Pre-#100 issue of Dragon Magazine, the WoG Boxed set, City of Greyhawk Blue Box, or the LGG. The Abbor-Alz occupy a good number of hexes, so there could be as many as a few dozen hillmen, humanoid, ogre, and giant tribes living in villages/strongholds throughout the range.
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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 6:55 am  

    IIRC at least some of the barbarians in the Abbor Alz are Suel who became trapped in the hills during the Great Migration. "Ghazal" was an adventure in Dungeon Magazine #30 that dealt with Suel dervish kidnapper bandits.

    I can't remember anything else. Sorry.
    GreySage

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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 3:40 pm  

    Rary the Traitor says that the barbarians of the Abbor-Alz are of mixed Suel-Flan stock and worship deities of strength, bravery, and warfare such as Pelor, Fortubo, and Llerg. They fear Nerull and consider Beltar and Tharizdun to be among Nerull's servants. They're less superstitious than the nomads of the Bright Desert and allow women far more freedom. They dislike arcane magic. They hate Rary and his yugoloth servants.

    The Blight on Bright Sands sourcebook for Living Greyhawk doesn't give much more information, but it revises "women have far more freedom" to "women are equal." They blame the chauvinism of the desert nomads on heatstroke. It also says they sometimes call Pelor "Aurifar," which is the name of a sun god from the 3rd edition Sandstorm hardcover. They're "tall, strong, and tanned, favoring light colored hair and eyes." Abbor-Alz hillfolk feel like the only ones allowed to kill their kind are other Abbor-Alz hillfolk, so they're unified against hostile outsiders.

    From the Ashes says that the nomadic Abbor-Alz hillmen raise mountain goats and keep llamalike beasts (why not just call them llamas?) for meat and dairy. They train hawks and use them to hunt rabbits and rock lizards. They bake lizard tails with herbs, considering them a great delicacy. They harvest tubers and make potent wine from bitter berries that come from small spiky bushes (related to yarpicks?). There are roughly 2,500 of them, mostly living in groups of 15-30, except in the semi-permanent camp at Marstefel, where 150-400 of them. They distrust those who they don't know through blood or marriage. Marstefel is built around a small lake, but the hillmen don't build boats and there are few fish.

    Kalindren wrote:
    IIRC at least some of the barbarians in the Abbor Alz are Suel who became trapped in the hills during the Great Migration. "Ghazal" was an adventure in Dungeon Magazine #30 that dealt with Suel dervish kidnapper bandits.


    The Suel nomads, including the Tareg of Ghazal, are a separate culture from the Abbor-Alz barbarians. They're dangerously inbred and hated by the Flan nomads. The Suel nomads worship Llerg almost exclusively, though a few also revere Phyton.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:01 pm  

    Thank you for the replies. Since we have mention of dervish and hillmen in the above posts, that brings me to another related question.

    In the various editions of the WOG there are mention of dervish/hillmen/woodsmen/marshmen, etc. in different locales throughout Greyhawk. In this case I'm referring to the hillmen of the Abbor-Alz. As far as I can tell the game supplements have never fully defined "who" these people really are. In "From the Ashes" it states they are human, tough and independent.

    Do you typically read this to mean Barbarian Tribes (as in the character class) or simply hard living folk with the majority being a mixture of lower level character classes or do you assume they have no character class/level? In some editions of D&D the game has provided stats for beserkers or similar type of tough warrior/non-character class individuals. Do you use these to represent hillmen/woodsmen/marshmen? I'd really like to know what other Greyhawkers do to define whom these people are in their campaigns.

    If there are actual stats provided for these type of people it has eluded me and would love to be pointed in the right direction.

    So please share how you handle the descriptions of hillmen and others similar to their kind.
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Mon Mar 14, 2016 8:34 pm  

    Back to the Barbarians of the Abbor-Alz Hills proper, I was reading in "Rary the Traitor" and "From the Ashes" and it would seem that these are the primary sources for the barbarians. With that in mind, the amount of detail has pretty much been recited by everyone participating in this thread. This leaves me with taking that information and developing it further to make these people more significant in the world than the text offers.

    With homebrew in mind and the fact that our limited number of characters going through Greyhawk Ruins need help (one DM and one player) my player finds herself drawn to the Barbarian Class and creating one to add to our expedition. Being a new player to role playing games I certainly want to make the character the most positive experience as possible.

    As I see the Barbarian Class in my campaign, they primarily hail from the northern border of the Flanaess, stretching from the east to the west. In addition, the southern jungles of the Flanaess also seem quite reasonable for tribes of Barbarians. I presume that the average Greyhawk DM generally adopts this approach. I also like to sprinkle Barbarian Tribes throughout other areas of the Flanaess, and in this case, the Abbor-Alz Hills.

    Now my definition of Barbarian tribes is more culturally based. This culture facilitates a particular lifestyle with that being a hardy, nature oriented way of life. Of the people residing in this culture, only some acquire character classes (as is for other cultures throughout the Flanaess). The people not attaining a character class rely upon them for protection, religious direction, warfare and typically leadership. The barbarian tribe encompasses a few character classes (but not all as I shy away from arcane magic and emphasize divine magic instead with barbarian tribes). Typically, this includes fighters, barbarians, druids, clerics and rangers, with a stronger emphasis on the Barbarian Class. Again, I think its likely many of us take this view (though I could be wrong and if so would like to know what you do different).

    Now in regards to the Abbor-Alz barbarians and making them noteworthy and unique. As I read through "Rary the Traitor" I thought it would be interesting to link these Barbarians with the tale of The Scorpion Crown. Before dwelling to far into this, I should mention, if anyone knows additional information regarding the Scorpion Crown beyond the pages of "Rary the Traitor" please share!

    Now the Crowns area of influence is limited to the Bright Desert and the Abbor-Alz Hills. In short, it possess a curse and anyone wearing it turns into a master scorpion and those subject to this person are likely to become manscorpions. Now a fellow named Shattados once put the crown on and became the Master Scorpion, he now resides in the palace of the last King of Sulm in the Bright Desert.

    My thoughts were to presume that Shattados was once a Barbarian of the Abbor-Alz who cursed his people once he placed the crown upon his head. As indicated in "Rary the Traitor" many of these followers became manscorpions. For those that did not befall this curse...(insert homebrew) the Crown begat another vile blasphemy upon them. The remainder of the Barbarians find themselves unable to leave the Abbor-Alz and Bright Desert. Those attempting to do so would find themselves physically unable to leave and perhaps find themselves teleported to another area of the wasteland. in addition, those dying in battle, old age, etc. are cursed to rise again, reliving their life over and over again within the confounds of the Abbor-Alz Hills and Bright Desert. The curse would only affect the first generation however and so offspring of the Barbarians would not be subject to the curse. In the previously mentioned sourcebooks, it mentions that the Barbarians commonly fight amongst themselves, my thought is they are fighting over this curse, after all it's easy to blame another linage of family for the perils of your own.

    Your thoughts on homebrew for the Barbarians of Abbor-Alz?
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Tue Mar 15, 2016 1:02 am  

    If you don't want them to leave, I wouldn't use teleport. I would say the effect is more akin to a powerful, cursed form of geas. There is a compulsion to remain - a strong compulsion. Being too far away leads to penalties similar to not following a geas. That can lead to some interesting adventure hooks, like somebody of great willpower straying a bit too far away from the Bright Lands, and running into certain group of adventurers... ("The jewel...must..never...find its...resting place!" Acckkk! "Hmmm. Seems the raving old man had a jewel clutched in a death grip. I hope it doesn't go to some cursed crown in the Bright Lands or anything." Happy). Also, I prefer a less overt effect, but to each their own.

    Being a barbarian in the classic fantasy sense is to be more superstitious than usual, more distrustful of magic than usual, somewhat primitive (possibly even savage), and of course put a massive emphasis on physical prowess in battle. This is not what hillmen are. Hillmen are woodsmen...who live in the hills instead of the woods. They are simple folk, but not primitives or barbarians. Think of the villages in the Gnarley Forest, and imagine them in the hills instead. There's your hillmen communities.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Thu Mar 17, 2016 12:01 am; edited 3 times in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Mar 15, 2016 3:42 pm  

    Cebrion wrote:
    If you don't want them to leave, I wouldn't use teleport. I would say the effect is more akin to a powerful, cursed form of geas. There is a compulsion to remain - a strong[ compulsion. Being too far away leads to penalties similar to not following a geas.

    Being a barbarian in the classic fantasy sense is to be more superstitious than usual, more distrustful of magic than usual, somewhat primitive, and possibly even savage, and of course an massive emphasis on physical prowess in battle. This is not what hillmen are. Hillmen are woodsmen...who live in the hills instead of the woods. They are simple folk, but not primitives or barbarians. Think of the villages in the Gnarley Forest, and imagine them in the hills instead. There's your hillmen communities.


    I prefer something less heavy handed than the teleport concept and it wasn't what I preferred, its just all my mind could come up with when I was posting. My current cold defiantly affecting my thinking process. I'll read up on your less heavy handed approach of Geas Cebrion, thank you for the suggestion.

    As for hillmen, I've typically assumed they were low level characters such as fighters or rangers and not of the Barbarian class. They live similar to pioneers of the time, work harder, live harder and have less comforts the people of the neighboring towns and villages have. Typically, a superstitious and distrusting lot of folk. They probably make trips to the nearest village once a month or so for some basic supplies, taking with them whatever goods they are able to raise or wood they have cut to sell or trade with. I give them lower level's in a character class primarily because without it they would be killed by the humanoids and ogres that may make their way to their homes.
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    Eileen of Greyhawk, Prophet of Istus, Messenger of the Gods
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    Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:59 pm  

    I think the same way. These are hardier folk than the average 0-level peasant/1st level commoner. I often give such folks character class levels as well as +1 Con and -1 Cha (i.e. they are tough, but also a bit standoffish). I've always wanted to run an adventure in the Abbor-Alz and the Bright Desert. Don't know if I ever will, but the area has a lot of potential.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:01 am  

    Cebrion, I just wanted to say thank you for pointing out Geas spell in exchange for the teleport concept. I read over the spell and it provided the much better and less heavy handed approach I was looking for.

    The idea that the barbarians were the ancient Flan that settled in the Bright Desert while it was still fertile land, developed the kingdoms of Durha, Itar, Ronhass, Rhugha, Sulm and Truun worked out excellent as well. The canon story of how these people were influenced by an outside source (the people of Caerdiraor) and eventually resulting in the downfall of their own kingdom was pleasing as well.

    In a nut shell, I made the barbarians the group of people that eventually went on to activate the curse from the Crown of the Scorpion which turned their leader into a Master Scorpion and his subjects into manscorpions. Adding the Geas to the curse further impacted the crucial mistake made by the barbarian leader.

    Once the kingdom of Sulm fell, the people gave up their ways of steady agriculture and went back to a simpler way of life, that of hunter, gatherers. They left the desert and went back into the Abbor-Alz hills because of better food and water sources. They started out as barbarians centuries ago, became civilized, were victims of outside influence from a group of evil people, were cursed as a result of this influence and returned to their more primitive way of living. The in tribe fighting is a result of the barbarians blaming one another for their cursed background. It was a suitable backstory explaining who the Barbarians of the Abbor-Alz are.
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    Sat Mar 19, 2016 5:38 pm  

    EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
    If there are actual stats provided for these type of people it has eluded me and would love to be pointed in the right direction.

    So please share how you handle the descriptions of hillmen and others similar to their kind.


    I think of them as something like hill-tribes and other isolated groups the world over and through various points in history, like Scottish Highlanders, Montagnards, Kurds, Gurkhas, Marsh Arabs, Southeast Asian "Sea Gypsies", etc... So, not really barbarians per se, but not quite what the people around them consider civilized. In some the barbarian class might fit, but otherwise they tend to be more heavily rangers, and druids, and tend to be more martial, so what would typically have the stats of a commoner, might for a hill tribesman have the stats of a bandit or guardsman (I play 5e). Ethnically, they are usually Flan or have heavy Flan ancestry.
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