Friday, November 5, 2021

The Barbarians of Tarkazia

 The Steadfastings

The Barbarian tribes of Tarkazia are located in an environmental combination of steep mountains, forests, and rivers in the midlands of the continent. Each "tribe" is called a Steadfasting. Each Steadfasting is separated in the same way as the tribes of the Caucus mountains of the Transylvania area. Each Steadfasting is made up of different families but lacks the "Aristocratic" themes often seen in most barbarian and civilized tribes. They are more democratic than others. Each Steadfasting is "lead" by a small group of elected people, both male and female of various ages. The meetings are open to everyone who lives in a "Holdheim" within the boundaries of a Steadfast. (A holdheim is a house with permanent residents) 

Age, Gender, or Class is not a concern for them. They are a merit-based society. They value strength not only in the arm but in the mind. So a great fighter is just as important as a weaver or farmer. Lineage is traced through the mothers. So a Barbarian's full name will reflect his mother, his Holdhiem, and his Steadfast.

The culture is more nature-based. In Agriculture, they keep sheep, goats, ponies, pigs, and Oxen (for plows not for food) rather than horses or cattle due to the environment. Major grains include barley, millet, and buckwheat. There is plenty of reliance on rivers for fishing. Hunting and gathering in the forest. Religion is more druidic and shamanistic. Bards don't travel as much as a traditional D&D bard does. Instead, they are more like local historians, who keep the history of their tribe alive in an oral tradition. Each Steadfast has a language, although neighboring Steadfasts will have similar words and dialects. But the further out you go from your Holdheim, the less likely it is you will understand the language. There is no official written language. But there are universal symbols shared by all the tribes. For example the symbol for good water (drinkable water), danger, boundary markers, food, currency and trade, and the numbering system. 

Since the tribes are agrarian-based, they hold Agricultural festivals throughout the year. Most of them surround themes like harvest, mid-summer, spring, a day of the dead (yet to be named), and mid-winter. Some will hold special events marking great battles or astrological events, but these are rare. 
The Barbarians have a loose code of conduct. But what codes they do have is followed strictly. Heavy concentration on community and family. Crime is very low. Crimes are considered against full communities rather than individual people. The loss or harm to a functional member of any Steadfasting is punished with extreme severity, oftentimes with high crimes like rape and murder being more torturous than merciful. Petty crimes are often punished with long periods of thrall prison, meaning that person has to work for the Steadfasting or a particular Holdhiem for a set amount of time. During which the person has no rights or privileges. When the time is up, the person is freed. That person has the option to leave the Steadfast or remain. If that person remains, it will be difficult to achieve any credibility to earn his place back within the local society. (Of course, depending on the spectrum of the crime itself. They aren't without mercy or forgiveness. Basically the higher the crime the harder the punishment)
The code of conduct is honor-based. "Your word is your bond" is a repeated trope throughout all the Steadfastings. With that in mind, gossip and rumor are (more often than not) prohibited. As the inhabitants of the Steadfastings understand that undeserved gossip and rumor can damage a person (and a whole Steadfasting or Holdheim for that matter) beyond repair. So, if another Steadfasting, Holdhiem, or person says something damaging, they must explain why they have come to that conclusion. Therefore, word of mouth is a big thing within the Steadfastings.
Voice is considered divine and sacred. Few Barbarians will have an instrument, but all will sing. (Bows are a weapon, not an instrument) More popular instruments would be harps, drums, lutes, basically instruments that can accompany a singer. Pipes or flute are more uncommon.
Marriage and Sex: Reproduction is important in this society. One of its social rituals is that after a battle, the victors will consume the eyes of their enemies. It is believed that consuming the eyes is to consume the soul. Later, during "The Remembrance" (bury the dead, consume the eyes, have a big feast to celebrate the victory) there is a ritual blessing of the "life return" and everybody basically has a big orgy. his is to rebirth the souls of all the fallen into their tribe. This is a ritual in which they offer a rebirth to the gods of life, so as to make up for all the death. And so they believe that the soul can choose to be reborn.
Because reproduction is a big issue, being gay or lesbian isn't forbidden, but it is frowned on. It is the duty of all the members of a community to reproduce responsibly. More often than not, members with an alternate lifestyle are more Bisexual than flat-out gay or Hetro. It is common to have a spouse you love but reproduce with another. It's not a utopian system, as there is plenty of infighting. But it helps to keep the DNA pool healthy.
Children born "without the gods" are culled with reverence. Offerings are made to the spirit in hopes the soul will try again to be born to the tribe. Unlike most other cultures, the Steadfastinbgs understand that though the GOds are infallible, they are not without enemies of demons and other malevolent spirits who try to inhibit the work of the gods. When a child is born "wrong" it isn't the child's fault, the parents' fault, or the fault of the Gods. It is considered to be an attempt by malevolent spirits to bring harm to the family or community.
The dead are "Sky buried". The bodies of the dead are taken to the mountain tops. There the carrion birds pick the flesh from the ones. Then, after the flesh has been cleaned, the tribe will gather the bones, and make bread with them. Yet again another ritual.
Technology. Surface mining and surface deposits are common. Deeper mining is regarded as work for Dwarfs. The Barbarians and the Dwarfs have a symbiotic relationship. The Barabrains have iron, tin, and bronze tech but nothing beyond that. The Barbarians have glass beads tech. Riverboat tech, plow, and oxen (not horses), tin tech for panning gold in rivers, various forms of weaving, brewing tech. The dwarfs have higher metallurgy and gemology techniques. The barbarians rely on the dwarfs for coin making, steel weapons and armor, gem cutting, jewelry, Dwarf Thoke (coal),  and other higher crafting technologies.