Location: Continent of Brun, Hiborea.
Area: Big sq. mi. (Really big sq. km.)
Population: More than you can count (50% beastmen, 40% proto-humanoids, 10% other).
Coinage: Whatever you got.
Taxes: Whatever you can take.
Government Type: Tribal Confederate
Industries: Mercenary bands, raiding, pillaging
Urzud. The very name reeks of violence and barbarism. It is here that the beastmen fled from the persecution of Blackmoor. Here that they found sanctuary during and after the Great Rain of Fire. Here that they have prospered and multiplied. Here that they have changed... or ceased changing. For after the coming of the Great Rain of Fire, the beastmen began to bread true for the first time. Forming themselves into new tribes centered on emerging bloodlines, the beastmen of Urzud are ready to venture forth once again. Only one thing yet remains – for a war chief strong enough to claim the Blue Knife, from Urzud’s sacred inner sanctum.
Hiborea is a flat expanse of tundra and ice covered plains bordered on the west and south by mountains and boreal forests. Summers here are warm and humid, as well as shorter at this latitude than elsewhere. Winters here last anywhere from 5 to 7 months, and daylight hours are minimal. Winter brings very little precipitation in Hiborea, although what water exists is frozen solid.
Flora and Fauna
A vast frozen tundra covers this land, broken up only by patches of twisted shrubs and stunted pine trees. Herds of elk and caribou eek out an existence grazing on bark and the meager grasses the manage to push their way through the ice. White dragons, remorhaz, and other cold loving mega-fauna are the apex predators of the area, followed by tundra cats and polar bears.
Blackmoorain lore tells that the twisted forms of the beastmen are born to the reincarnated souls of evil beings. Although originally spread throughout the old world, the zeal of the Blackmoorain crusade eventually drove the remnants of the race into the harsh, frozen, wilderness of Borea. Beastmen thrived in this area for a while, but their ancient enemy would not be deterred forever.
The Blackmoorian hunters followed the beastmen into the icy wastes, and there built a citadel from which they would launch the extermination of the beastman race. That launch however, would never come. That Blackmoorian offensive was cut down before it could even begin by the Great Rain of Fire.
Once reviled and hunted by the Blackmoorians, beastmen have become the true inheritors of that once great nation’s legacy. Unperturbed by the powers of the radiance or the Wasting disease that it causes throughout civilized lands, beastmen have moved into the territory of their former persecutors and claimed the shattered city of Urzud.
Beastmen are a varied and chaotic race, and it is said that no two are born alike. Although the old chaotic blood is still evident, it is no longer as potent as it once was. New bloodlines have appeared and are breeding true.
Burly, muscled, orcs, as tall as most humans, but much bulkier are brutal warriors and effective tacticians. They may have overrun the city ages ago if it weren’t for their hatred of the sunlight. Weak eyes make it difficult for them to function when the sun is out, or even with bright light shining.
Goblins have no such impediment, although they are small and sinewy compared to their larger cousins. Masters of stealth and trickery, goblins also have a knack with ancient Blackmoorian artifacts, though their countenance tends to be cowardly.
Wargs are more bestial in appearance and nature, though far less chaotic than the original beastman bloodlines. They are as large, or larger, than orcs with thick gray fur, heavy black claws, and wolf-like maws, though their twisted bodies rarely allow them to stand upright. Many are just as comfortable moving on four limbs as on two.
Society in Urzud has historically been fairly homogenous. Each individual was expected to provide all the amenities necessary for their own survival. This concept is changing with the introduction of the new bloodlines. The beastmen are discovering that each bloodline is better suited for performing different tasks. Some make better hunters, others are great warriors, and some are expert engineers. Among them all is emerging yet another class, a ruling class; those who deem themselves fit to command all others.
Tribute is an important aspect of beastman society. One pays tribute to important figures as acknowledgement that they are superior warriors and leaders. In return those leaders do their best to protect their charges, and pay tribute to even more powerful figures. Failure to pay tribute to superiors is seen as an act of defiance and a challenge to their rule, one that is usually settled in combat.
Urzud itself is ruled by a loose coalition of chieftains, each of which nominally controls a section of the city. The center of the city, which is rumored to house the fabled Blue Knife, remains unclaimed. Once a year its great gates open up, and the strongest chieftain and his clan venture within to try and claim their prize. So far none have succeeded, but should a leader emerge with the knife, he would be able to unite the rest of Urzud under his power.
Beastmen tribes all revere their own patron immortals, with Hel being prominent among the old blood lines and a smattering of other immortals, dark and otherwise, holding sway with the new blood lines. Many immortals are borrowed from nearby cultures – Grondheim, Antalians, even fragments of Blackmoor’s pantheon are revered. Most immortals adopted by the beastmen all share some common traits, they are harsh, unforgiving, and patrons of strength and combat.
The real religion in Urzud has nothing to do with worship of the immortals though. All beastmen know the story of the Blue Knife. It is the heart of their ancient enemy, and possessing it would grant the wielder all the powers of Blackmoor. The Knife itself is believed by many beastmen to be buried deep in the heart of Urzud, and it is the quest for this most holy of artifacts that really ignites the beastmen’s fervor.
Urzud (pop. Lots): Built as a stronghold of ancient Blackmoor during their crusade against the beastmen, Urzud has now been claimed by the very creatures it was designed to wipe out. It is the holiest of sites to beastmen, for here the sacred Blue Knife is rumored to reside. Whether true or not, some power from within the city has begun to change the beastmen in the few short centuries since they first claimed their prize.
Carakk (pop. 1,000 to 10,000): Carakk is the name that the beastmen give to a rock outcropping near the border of Urzud and Grondheim. Shaped like the head of a wolf howling at the moon, there is no explanation for how the stone formation came to be. More of a meeting place than a true settlement; this site is a favored rendezvous for the packs of feral wargs who meet here before launching massive raids on their neighbors.
Steel Tower (pop. 500): Located in the center of the Adri Varma Plateau and mostly buried under ton of snow and ice, lies what must surely be another ancient outpost of destroyed Blackmoor. A small tribe of beastmen has claimed this site as their own and is slowly exploring its secrets. Others pass through this stronghold on their route to southern Brun.
Appearance and Dress
The dress of Urzud is eclectic, and beastmen wear everything from skins and furs of beasts they hunt, mismatched pieces of armor from defeated enemies, to ancient Blackmoorian silks found stashed away deep in the bowels of their city. Since two beastmen rarely have the same shape or form, most of their clothing is custom made, but because of the climate all of it tends to be designed for warmth.
Trophies are important to the creatures of Urzud, and many take pains to weave them into their clothing. Such trophies can be anything from bones and body parts to coins or medals or any other number of trinkets taken from defeated foes.
Weapons and Armor
Armor in Urzud tends toward hides, and leathers, many of which are adorned with cloaks of fur. Metallic armor is rare, although some of the best warriors and more powerful individuals sport scaled hauberks or tunics of overlapping plates. Many of these are scrounged from ancient ruins or cobbled together from the spoils of victory, but a few are actually crafted by the beastmen themselves from remnants of materials found within the city of Urzud.
Beastmen weapons are as varied as the creatures that wield them, although heavier crushing weapons are preferred by many, especially among the larger specimens of the race. Smaller creatures, including goblins, tend to prefer sharper implements – something they can slip through the cracks of their foes armor, as well as crude bows and slings.
Beastmen are happy enough to hire themselves out as mercenaries to nations across the Known World. Those that can’t afford to pay the creatures usually find themselves at the business end of beastmen spears… whether they are at war or not. In their own city the beastmen are just as violent and unpredictable, as conflicts between the Old and New Bloodlines abound.
Troll magic is greatly respected and feared by the beastmen of Urzud, nearly as much as troll wealth is desired. Because of this the creatures are tolerated within the borders by most, and welcomed by those who crave power. The less civilized regions of Urzud often find themselves in conflict with the folk of Grondheim however. As the giants are pushed from their own lands by younger nations, they are forced to encroach upon territory seen by the beastmen as their own.
Antalians and wild elves bear the brunt of most of Urzud’s aggressive behavior. The former are attacked mainly for their resources. Pillaged Antalian goods sustain entire tribes, and can find their way across the nation. Elves on the other hand, are associated with the beastmen’s ancient Blackmoorian enemies and are slaughtered on sight.
Beastmen names tend to be short and guttural, mostly consisting of one or two syllables.
Prefixes: Bag, Dak, Kar, Krug, Lo, Or, Pot, Zab
Suffixes (male & female): agg, akk, ark, ash, , eg, erg, esk, ogg, orr, ork, osh, ozz
The beastman tongue is a corrupted form of ancient Blackmoorian, interspersed by bits and pieces of other languages that the creatures have come across over the ages. Enough of the Blackmoorian core has been retained that the folk of the Shimmering Lands can communicate at least core concepts and feelings with the beastmen, and communication with the Makers would probably also be possible, if the beastmen ever cam in contact with them. New dialects are forming every day however, as the creatures change form and expand their territories. It is quite possible that at some point in the near future divergent beastmen tribes may not be able to communicate with one another.
Despite the political intrigue emerging in the city of Urzud itself, the face of the beastmen that most people in the Known World know is that of the mercenary or raider, and this is the profession that most beastmen practice. Warriors, berserkers, and tacticians are all revered professions within the halls of Urzud. Hunter and tracker are also widespread professions, especially in the wilds of the nation, the Wolves of Carakk being the most renowned.
The magically inclined are greatly feared in Urzud, and those that master the arcane secrets can become great leaders… if they can stay alive. The Black Roc Wokani are amongst the strongest magicians in the city and many agree it is due to the Blackmoorian secrets they plumb from the Rocs Nest.
Traditionally beastmen shamans revere their patron immortal Hel, said to be the creator of their race, however this faith has declined over the years. In its place has risen the worship of the Blue Knife, and of a myriad of other related warrior immortals, all associated with the Knife in some way through emerging humanoid dogma.
After 2300 BC
The race of beastmen is destined to die out on the outer world, although it will be preserved by a few creatures who manage to find their way into the Hollow World in BC 2400. This is not the end of the species in the Known World however, since their descendants will become the true breeding humanoids. Orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, and many others.
The power and prominence of Urzud wi`ll be broken in BC 1800 during the Steel Wars when the Blue Knife is found and subsequently secreted out of the city. By BC 1725 most of the humanoids have left Urzud, migrating elsewhere. The Great Horde following Loark, migrates eastward, toward the Known World, in search of their lost artifact. The creation of the Broken Lands 25 years later, kills Loark and shatters his horde, but provides an abode from which humanoids in the region will terrorize their neighbors for centuries to come.
Subsequent centuries see many humanoid kingdoms spring up in the area, laying waste to native countries and enslaving their people. Atraughin tribes, the Shires of the hin, and even portions of Darokin will all see humanoid rule before once again regaining their freedom.