Sunday, April 10, 2011

H is for Hyperboreans

The name "Hyperboreans" is a general one applied to all the barbarian tribes and nations of the Northlands, of which the Thulians are the most well-known. Hyperboreans are renowned for their bravery in battle, their distrust of magic, and their piety. Indeed, by southern standards, Hyperboreans are considered puritanical and superstitious, living their lives according to the principles of their religions with a rigor that sets them apart from most Men. The Northlands are thus dotted with temples and pilgrimage sites, as well as roadside shrines devoted all manner of deities, both influential and petty.

Hyperboreans possess a remarkably free society compared to other lands, with all adults capable of fighting given a voice in assemblies and other decision-making bodies. Hyperborean chieftains and kings are sometimes called "weak," because they give weight to the counsel of their subjects. Slavery is unknown among the Northmen and is in fact judged a peculiarly "southern" vice. It was this cultural trait that was at least partly responsible for spurring the Thulians on to overthrow the Eldritch Empire and replace it with a more humane regime -- at least initially.

Magic-users are rare among the Hyperboreans. Whether this is because of the Northmen's fear and suspicion of magic or it was this rarity that is the origin of the fear and suspicion is a matter of some debate among scholars. Regardless of the truth, one will find few magicians in the North, though, as one might expect, clerics are quite common. Since the latter days of the Thulian Empire, when the cult of Turms Termax rose to prominence, the distrust of magic has, if anything, only become more pronounced among the Hyperboreans. Magic-users are therefore advised to hide their status when traveling among these barbarians.

2 comments:

  1. I find some similarities with the history of the fall of Acheron by the ancestors of the Northern Barbarians, as described by Howard. Is this accidental?

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  2. I'm sure you've got your hands full anyway, but I'd love to eventually hear about some of the other human ethnicities in Dwimmermount. I've gathered from your entries that you like to build as you go, but I wonder if the people whom the Thulians liberated were other Hyperboreans?

    In the version of your campaign that's begun to inhabit my imagination, I imagine a (Howardian/Stygian) nation of humans in the mysterious south that is so ancient that it was a client of the Eldritch Empire and embraced (or least attempted to) the magic of the Red Elves. In later days they even sheltered Termaxians who were sufficiently powerful as to be interesting to them.

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