Kardes

The Kardes live in the extreme north of Allornus, in the lands of the Bear Tundra in their land of Rockfell. These barbarian raiders ply the frozen seas of the north where no others dare go, and kill seals and whales and raid coastal settlements. These giant men have often warred with their landsmen neighbours - especially the Ghans and Haedrasians, leading great crusades to convert all around them to the Karda - their cryptic religion. They were a devastating force until their eventual defeat shattered the tribes long ago. They are also and some of the only outsiders with whom the mighty Bärchak will trade with and welcome into their halls.

Names

Kardes (Self), Kardesians (Ghania), Reavers (Colloquial), Barbarians (Colloquial), Northmen (Haedrasia), Bärchkose (Clawlands)

Stereotypes

Clannish, barbaric, stupid, parochial, naturalists.

Potency


Visage

While many assume the folk of far northern Kardesia to be merely overgrown men, and others believe them to be the last of the half men, descended from the slateskins, they are in fact descendants of the ogiere, somewhere between Mhulak and Caliban, they seem almost manlike but their pale yellowish skin, white hair and immense forearms and hands speak to their true parentage, and their lack of eyebrows, or moustaches in men, gives them an alien aspect. And while they lack the culture of the Mhulak, they also lack the base brutality and solitary nature of the Caliban. Sadly their once-high culture is experiencing a deep dark age from which it may never recover. Occasionally Kardes young are born with the extra arms and longer lifespan of the Mhulak artisan-priests, however these children are almost always killed, or at the very least driven out of the group at birth.

Aetherial

The primitive highlanders of Rockfell, like the Caliban, are creatures of raw physicality. Fine runners and strong climbers, the inhospitable nature of their frozen home means that these things are worth little. Certainly their ability to exist at all in their home, albeit with the aid of sturdy shelters and heavy furs, is remarkable in and of itself, but is not in any way at odds with their massive stature or great resilience. In fact all that is truly remarkable about the Kardesians is that they have inherited the mariners of olds mastery of plying the seas, though their vessels are simple compared to the fabled flotillas of their forebears, they can gladly lose sight of the land in even the most rudimentary of vessels and still find their way home without fail or pause.

Craft


Cunning

Divorced from their ancestry, in the most inhospitable of homes, the Kardes have lost the great minds, and ancient lore retained by the Mhulak in the deepings, in favour of a life of hardship breaking pack ice on frozen seas. As a result the knowledge of the Kardesians of Rockfell is utilitarian, and while there are no thinkers among them, and their tribal sooth-sayers have lost most of the lore of old, they are not so base and simple as the Caliban. They have taken the pragmatic and stratified culture of the Mhulak, and turned it into a hard warrior society. The good of the whole has been understood to be the strength of the tribe, and while this means that the Kardes, too, have relatively little concept of individuality, it also means that most have strong leanings towards enforcing their particular kind of order upon the world and peoples around them. Perhaps, in the wake of a uniting conflict large enough, they will be capable of reclaiming the technology and wisdom of their distant ancestors one day.

"It is said, amongst the eldest of the Bärchak of the northern lands, that the Kardes are of a kin to the Mhulak of old - the Mariners. The tale they tall is that once the Kardes of the north heard tell of the coming of the Sundering they built a deeping, like their kinsmen elsewhere, but this deeping was the mightiest to be seen in the world, and they carried their ships far over frozen land and hid them in the heart of this mighty deeping, that cleft a mountain in twain, and this deeping was known as Kmardaz.
But where the Mhul of the rest of the world drowned in their deepings, else hid deep in the ground and waited, the denizens of Kmardaz - the Kmarz - heard the thundering of the monster waves that killed so many, and they lifted their ships to the surface, and when the killer wave came they rode from their ruined deeping in them, and were cast into the fozen plains. They say that these Mhulak became the Kardes, and that the wave that they rode is now the great glacier. And one day the frozen wave will slide back into the sea, and the glittering riches of mighty Kmardaz will be again revealed."

Social

The Kardesians are a tribal society, gathered around villages who in turn are formed to support whaling ships or raiding ships that bring back the bulk of the goods that allow them to live in the frozen shoals of the Bear Tundra. Tribes are led by the man who commands the ships, and tribal lore is kept by a revered elder called the Igar. The Igar is the only member of the tribe who can talk to outsiders until they become Kar-fala, or "as brothers", whereupon they are welcome at tribe occasions and can speak to other members of the tribe - meaning he has to go on any trading missions to other tribes or even outside communities. An outsider pressing communication on a normal member of the tribe often leads to bloodshed, a dangerous and common misunderstanding that keeps the Kardesians isolated.

Kardesian society is based largely on military might, and its warriors work ruthlessly as a unit, never seeking individual glory, nor stopping to morn the loss of an individual when it is a loss that will lead to victory for the whole. They have taken the pragmatic views of the Mhulak, and their belief that the individual is merely a part of a single living thing that is the tribe, and they have formed single mindedness and selflessness into a tool to produce a military machine. Only their disunity since the Kardesian wars has prevented them from sweeping across the world, and should they and the Haedrasians ever truly clash the conflict would be spectacular. The Igar wield a great deal of influence in Kardesian society. Given it is primarily a female role, some outsiders compare this to the female-dominated Bärchak. The Kardes, however, look upon the Igar as merely the intention. The intention might drive the hand, but the hand does the work, although women and men do become warriors in relatively equal measure. This means that while the Igar builds a strong tribe, the tribe functions largely without a leader. It is built to conquer swiftly and efficiently, and it does so not because of any individual intention, but because that is the tribe's purpose, thus it conquers without intent or desire, simply by nature.

All Kardes believe that the success of the tribe - its dominance through strength - is their success. They are separated from their parents at birth, and from then on the whole tribe is their family. They are then given a task in life by the Igar, who is essentially mother to the whole tribe. They fulfil this task as efficiently and as well as they are possibly able, to the exclusion of pride, ambition, or even individuality. While the Kardes do take individual names, there are only a handful of names for each role in a tribe, and these remain in that role, so they do not engender the sense of self that they might in landsmen or myr cultures. This means that they live and die, without care for themselves, for the good of the tribe, performing their assigned life-task. And the good of the tribe, according to the Karda, means the might and dominance of the tribe and its ability to convert others to its Karda (the cause of their tribe). When an individual is given a life-task they are given a Toda, a tool to symbolize what they now are. This tool carries powerful religious significance to the Kardesians, and its destruction or loss is seen as a grave dishonour to the tribe.

Civilization


The Kardes tend to cling to the coastline of the north-eastern regions of Allornus, building villages with no more than a couple of hundred residents who all belong to the same tribe. The structures tend to be communal timber long-houses, made from the hulls of ships no longer fit for the savage seas. The young men of the tribe will usually leave for the majority of the year, on their roundships, whaling or raiding nearby enemies for goods and supplies, while the older men are tasked with defending the women and children of the village against the raiders the enemies send. Wood for the timbers of their vessels are shaped over the rooves of the long houses in the summer months, and in the winter the women are expected to fell trees in the pine forests under the protection of the elder men so that the young men can repair the roundships, and build more ships. Sending young women as hostages to allied tribes both secures ties between the two tribes, and keeps the gene pool fresh, though many extremely isolated villages are inhabited by degenerates, and some even say that the Kardes turn into Caliban when they are isolated from other tribes for too long. Caliban have been found occupying Kardes villages, so there may be some truth to this story.

The Karda

The Karda is likely what gave the Kardes their name. They follow a distinctive version of the Mhulak Korda, which emphasizes strength and dominance, by assimilation or extermination. The Karda is more a philosophy than a religion, but the Kardes are as fanatical about the Karda as the most devout follower of any Divhi. The karda teaches that being born or accepted into a tribe makes an individual part of a grander being - a desirable state, because the individual is weak, vulnerable, and pulled between too many demands to live well. The best form of the Karda is the mythical world-tribe. A tribe which includes every living thing in the world. This guarantees peace and prosperity for all, and promises that all individuals will be used in their most optimal way for the betterment of the world-tribe. It is a utopian vision, but unifying the tribes calls for brutal military conquest, literally cannibalizing a different Karda in order to incorporate its strength to bolster your own. And this has never just carried to the kardes, leading to warring with their neighbours. Those that will not convert to the tribe and the Karda, are enemies of the utopian world-tribe, and must be eliminated, for the good of those who want peace. The Karda accepts non-Kardes converts gladly, though those born outside the Karda seldom have the temperament to truly embrace it.

This foes not mean that all outsiders are either converted or slain. The tribe is a pragmatic thing, and if an outsider is of value its assimilation or destruction can be delayed. Take the Bärchak - many tribes trade with the Bärchak for their weapons, since the Kardes themselves have only crude metalworking remaining to them, and so the Bärchak are tolerated. Other tribes ally with Ghan nations against enemy tribes. But eventually, one day, perhaps generations away, an ally must eventually choose to accept order and peace at the hands of the Karda, or face destruction.

Outcasts

Exposure to landsmen culture has, of course, made many Kardes desire individuality and freedom, though the Caliban frequently serve as a cautionary tale. These outcasts frequently take names in secret, that they were not given by the Igar, or desire a role other than their own, or in some way seek freedom. Once caught, they have their toda taken from them, and are cast from the tribe forever, sent out to wait for their eventual destruction when again they meet the Karda. Outcasts are given that one chance to leave - to escape - and from then on they are enemies to be destroyed. This means that they frequently travel as far away from their homeland as they can, and are found in some surprisingly far flung places.

Language


The Kardes have no language of their own. Instead they speak a crude mhulak-ghanish pidgin, with a smattering of Bärchak words here and there. Though their Karda-names are usually of old Mhulak origin, outcast's names are taken primarily from Ghan and Bärchak, and they are unusually fond of the sound of the latter, thinking it fierce and strong.

Statistics


Talents
Hale +2 | Strong +2 | Tough +1 | Fast +1 | Clever -2 | Persuasive -2 | Knowledgeable -1
Unique Abilities
Dense Bodied | Seaborn
Ageing
Infant 0-2 years -5 to all Talents except Lucky
Child 4-9 years -3 to all Talents except Lucky
Adolescent 10-14 years -1 to Tough, Clever and Knowledgeable
Adult 15-34 years none
Middle-aged 35-54 years -1 to Fast, Hale and Strong
Old 55-64 years -2 to all Physical Talents, -1 to Knowledgeable
Venerable 65+ years -3 to all Physical Talents, -2 to all Mental Talents
Basics Variables
Morphology Bipedal Height 6'6" + Size' + 1d3' - 1d3'
Diet Omnivorous Weight 210lbs + (Sizelbs x5) + (Brawnlbs x3) + 1d10lbs - 1d10lbs
Cycle Diurnal Gender standard
Prime Sense Vision

Dense Bodied

The sea might be in their blood, but the love of the depths is a smothering love, because when Kardes fall in the water they sink like stone. Kardes can't swim, they are almost completely un-buoyant, the density bodies concentrating their great bulk. It takes a powerful mount to carry them, and a stout tree for them to climb. But then, in the frozen tundra this is seldom a problem.

Seaborn

The last inheritors of the Seafarers who lay any claim to the sea, the Kardes even brave the unforgiving blackness on their first day. But drowned people or not, feeling the currents and judging the sea's mood is in their veins. They can ignore most normal kinds of condition-caused Disadvantage when navigating or sailing on the open ocean.