Blood flowed like spring melt water from Uthgar’s wounds as he stood before his sons on the massive skull of Gurt, the lord of the pale giants. With voice unweakened, he spoke of his gift.
“Mighty Tempus declares that I may no longer walk among you. I will not go without leaving you a final gift. You know that I have fought the beast gods and taken from each a part of their strength, which I in turn give to you.’”
“Teach the children these secrets. If they devote themselves to the beast gods, then they may call upon the beasts’ power”
“And so speaking, Uthgar mounted his sky pony and joined his father Beorunna in the war halls of Tempus.”.
The Uthgardt barbarians (named for Uthgar, their legendary founder) are a black-haired and blue- eyed people–large, hardy folk descended from a mixture of Northmen fugitives, Netherese refugees, and a few savage tribes, including the Beorunni (folk of Beorunna); who live by raiding, hunting, gathering, and farming.
The Uthgardt are divided into 10 tribes (at the present). Sometimes there are more, sometimes less. The tribes are named for the beast totems which Uthgar conquered;
Although civilization has come to the north in waves throughout history, much of the land is wild and untamed, the unbounded home of the Uthgardt. Their tribal lands extend north into the Spine of the World, south as far as The Stone Bridge, east to the Cold Wood, and west to Neverwinter Wood. They avoid cities, the High Forest and the lands around Hellgate Keep. Although some tribes have embraced agriculture and fixed habitations, the Uthgardt have few stable villages. Most tribes wander the wilderness in small clan or family groups and live within a few weeks’ travel of their ancestor mounds, their holiest of holy grounds.
Tradition is the centerpole of Uthgardt life. Yet it is blind devotion to tradition that keeps them savages. Strength is everything and civilization is a weakness not to be tolerated. Among the Uthgardt, men are warriors and hunters, and women tend to food gathering and family needs. They have no written language and little art beyond geometric carvings and clothing decoration. Their religions and philosophies focus on war, plunder, and survival in a harsh land.
They are superstitious, with a paranoiac dislike of magic. To reveal oneself as a magic-user to an Uthgardt warrior is to ask him to kill you. The Uthgardt barbarians have little to do with city folk, other than to treat them as prey. Lone traveler or large caravan, both are ripe fruit for plunder (still, some Uthgardt have made beneficial “civilized” alliances). Though the Uthgardt prey on civilized folk and frequently fight among themselves, they are quick to unite, even with non-Uthgardt, against their common ancestral enemy: the orcs.
Clothing and Appearance
Most Uthgardt show the strong Netherese bloodlines in their dark hair and fair skin, like the folk of Silverymoon and Sundabar. From Northmen ancestors come mighty physique and blue eyes. The barbarians dress in fringed leathers and furs. They love bright colours, gaudy jewellery, and ornamental decoration–everything they own is embellished with complicated designs and geometric patterns interwoven with designs representing their tribal totems and other beasts. The men of the tribe tattoo their cheeks with simple images of their totem, and the women are the showcase for their warriors’ victories, wearing captured booty proudly.
Tribal Weapons and Proficiencies
In addition to the hand axe, knife, and spear, the Uthgardt favor the battle axe and javelin, and the long bow. The most common Uthgardt armor is leather and shield. Some warriors posses shield. Some warriors possess studded leather and shield. A tribal chieftain may possess chain mail and shield. In most cases, the shield is a spiked buckler (which can be used as a weapon).
Religion in the Tribes
Within the Uthgardt, all deities are allied to a central religion focusing on beast totems. Each tribe has its own totem. All other deities, including adopted “foreign” gods, are secondary and subservient to the beast gods. This includes Tempus(the Uthgardt war god) and Chauntea (the earth goddess, although she is worshiped exclusively by tribal women). Uthgardt legend tells that Tempus is the father of Uthgar, founder of the tribes (while other legends claim Uthgar’s descendency from Beorunna). Chauntea is worshiped as the “grandmother,” whose daughters (fathered by Uthgar after he ascended unto the halls of Tempus) are the wives of the beast gods.
These non beast gods are represented among the tribes by shamans of lesser power (rarely above 4th level). Chauntea’s clerics are always women.
“Southern” gods are occasionally found in tribal strongholds, tolerated only because they or their clerics provide something valuable to the tribe.
Beast Totem Cults
The Uthgardt barbarian tribes each worship one of the beasts whose powers were taken by Uthgar. The totem cult encompasses the worship of the tribe’s ancestors, including Uthgar, his sons, and long-dead chieftains and shamans.
Taken as a whole, the separate tribes form the Uthgardt people, yet they have individual distinctions that divide them and quash any possibility of unity as a people. This diversity is expressed as cultural variances, devotion to their unique totems, and tribal goals.
Each tribe has an ancestor mound where they worship their totems (and other gods) each fall during the Runemeet. Several share mounds with other tribes, while some mounds are lost or abandoned.
Each tribe is ruled by a chieftain, who may also style himself as king. The chieftains are barbarian class fighters, usually of paragon tier or higher.
Chief shamans are the most powerful in their tribe, usually 7th level or better and normally accompany the chieftain. Other shamans of lesser or even equal power exist within each tribe.
The ritual enemy is a foe whom young barbarians must challenge and overcome in order to become adults. It is also the focus of ritual hunts during the annual Runemeet. Orcs are the common ritual foe of all Uthgardt, but each tribe has its own personal enemy.