Monday, January 22, 2018

Poll Results: Which Barbarian to Play

Welcome home fans of Greyhawk. Today I'm musing over my latest front page poll, Which Northern Barbarians Would You Play? This poll was open to multiple voting since there is so many choices and some are similar. While the north is very full of barbarians cultures, please note the Flanaess also has barbarians in in the middle (Bright Desert) and in the south (Amedio/Hepmonaland). At any rate, let's see what makes these barbarians special for your player characters.

Topping the list barely at 26% of voters is the Frost Barbarians (Fruztii). Kin of the Snow and Ice, the Fruztii speak the Cold Tongue (Fruz) and live on the Thillonrian Peninsula, or as the barbarians call it, Rhizia. Frost barbarians are allies to the land of Ratik in addition to the dwarves and gnomes of the mountains. Frost barbarians hate the Great Kingdom, Iuz, Stonehold the Sea Barons and especially Bone March. Normally content to raid the coasts by ship, many years ago the Fruztii led raids with their Suel kin into Bone March and were soundly defeated. Taking most of the losses the Frost were diminished, now deferring to the Snow somewhat in politics.

Why choose a Frost Barbarian? The Fruztii are the most typical of your northern "vikingesque" barbarians in the World of Greyhawk. Fruztii is closer and borders more nations than any other putting your character within easy travel distance of home. There is no shortage of enemies for your barbarian and the familiarity with demihumans is a plus when putting your fellowship together.

Next at 25% of voters is the Rovers of the Barrens and the Wolf Nomads. These two are a synergistic pair because of their history of conflict. The Rovers, a Flannae tribe, lived on the bleak northern prairies for centuries before the Twin Cataclysms brought Suel, Oerid east, but only the Baklunish-Oerid Wolf Nomads challenged the horse-riding Rovers for the north. The Wolf Nomads (Wegwuir) migrated around the Yatils along with their Tiger cousins to the north steppes. Only the presence of the Rovers halted the advance of the Relentless Horde.
The Wegwuir are also powerful hunting horse riders and they skirmished with the Rovers for decades yet the arrival of Iuz put a wedge between these barbarians giving them a common enemy. By then however the Rovers had been diminished and isolated as a population, while the Wegwuir were also contained despite a victory versus Iuz at the Battle of Blackwater Bend.

Why Choose a Rover of the Barren? This type of barbarian would defeinitely be in tune with nature and survival in the wilderness. In fact, the Rovers are also known as Wardogs. In some publications, these hunters have an Great Plains American Indian feel. Rovers would not only be good barbarian class members, but given their Flan heritage, good druids and rangers as well.

Why Choose a Wolf Nomad? These are your Mongol horsemen analogs. If you are looking for a character skilled in mounted combat and archery, you can't go wrong with the Wegwuir. Their hatred of Iuz is probably equal to that of Furyondy and the elves of Vesve Forest as well giving your character a good reason to travel beyond the steppes.

Following closely on the heels (or hooves) of the Wolf Nomads at 23% is the Tiger Nomads (Chakyik). Cousins of the Wegwuir, they were once one big Relentless Horde until their ruler died and the two tribes split, with the Tiger ending up cornered in the northwest between the Wolf and the civilized lands of Ekbir. The Chakyik like the Wolf have their own Baklunish dialect (Ordai) and are renowned horsemen. The Chakyik are friends of no nation, even Iuz who once proposed an alliance. For now the Tiger Nomads live in relative stability, either trading with (or raiding) barbarians and civilized people alike.

Why Choose a Tiger Nomad? Culturally you'll be the same as a Wolf Nomad except their thematic totem animals. Chakyik have more animosity to the Baklunish than Iuz given their proximity. Also as a strange twist, the ruler of the Tiger dabbles in illusion magic, so a wizard/sorcerer from the Tiger Nomads isn't out of bounds. One more tidbit, the Chakyik are supposedly the most accomplished archers in the north if that is your character's focus.

Tied at 13% of voting is the Snow Barbarians (Schnai) and the Stonefist barbarians of Stonehold. The Schnai are arguably the strongest of the three Suel barbarian clans, living on the fjords of Rhizia and the highlands of the Corusk Mountains. The Schnai are the most capable seafarers, known for exploring and their martial prowess. Snow barbarians have few friends, but they have plenty of enemies, such as the Great Kingdom whom they raid, or at sea with the rival Sea Barons, the Stonefists to the west, and inland they themselves have to contend with giants. Schnai heroes are known for their funeral pyre at sea custom.

Meanwhile, Stonehold is home to barbarians of a different sort. These fierce nomads hunt, herd and live on the tundra or in forest villages. Formerly ruled by the Coltens Feodality, a bandit ruler nicknamed Stonefist was banished here and soon attracted other evil bandits and barbarians to his side then wrested control of the lands from the local nomads. The Fists are the best of the hold's warriors, gaining higher position through the annual Rite of Battle Fitness. For a time Stonehold allied with Iuz and thus because of their invasions are not liked in any neighboring land.

Why Choose a Snow Barbarian? If you want to build an imposing, noble, axe or swordsman this is a good choice for homeland. As mentioned above, you'll also be able to have a background in seafaring. Schnai know the cold tongue like their kin, but could also learn giant as an extra language. Snow barbarians don't lack for enemies and given their range in explorations, can be found anywhere in the Flanaess.

Why Choose a Stoneholder? If you want to play a barbarian with an evil tilt then perhaps a Fist is your character. Some Stoneholders also know the cold tongue but have Flannae blood well. Given their ferocity in combat barbarian class is a prime choice. Stoneholders live in harsh terrain so might your character would want good survival and nature skills. Adventuring groups however, should be wary of having a Stoneholder barbarian in their mix, though they will have revenge in mind versus Iuz.

Lastly at 9% is the underrated Ice Barbarians (Cruskii). The Cruskii or Ice Clan, are the most brave of the three clans. They live among the tundra of the northernmost part of Rhizia and are also capable seafarers on the Icy Sea or the Solnor Ocean. Though less numerous as a people, the Cruskii take part in many raids with their kin making enemies of places like the Great Kingdom who couldn't find these barbarians on a map. Cruskii are pure Suel and because of this, were at one time entreated by the Scarlet Brotherhood for an alliance.

Why Choose an Ice Barbarian? If you want a viking-like barbarian from a very remote homeland, this is your choice. Ice babarians make good berserkers having to fight both Fists and giants often. Their survival and seafaring skills cannot be stated enough. Ice barbarians have few friends, but in a group of northerner characters they can be perhaps the most loyal.

That's all for now. See you after the next poll!


MP said...

My vote was for Ice Barbarians. I'm surprised they ranked so poorly. I always thought it was clever how each Thillonrian group's relative toughness was reflected in their eponymous material's resistance to thawing.

Scott said...

I went with snow barbarians because I see them in my head using snowballs as missile weapons...

Mike Bridges said...

MP: I too love the Ice Barbarians. My friend's favorite character was from here.

Scott: Well that;s just silly. Though if we are talking giant snowballs maybe thats a siege weapon worth exploring.

Valkaun_Dain said...

I missed this poll, but my vote is for Ice! I yearn to be back at my longhouse hearth in the village Vald on the River Skyr.