Off the Beaten Hack
Kandaaria is a young nation home to an old people.
In many of the civilised nations of the world, stories are told of barbarian hordes in the north. Tales of primitive savages from frozen wastelands coming south to loot, rape and pillage. Men with no concept of mercy and honour; nightmares to scare child and adult alike. Some say the mannish tribes of northern Kandaaria are such ruthless raiders to this day. They would be wrong. The land known as Kandaaria today is home to two distinct human cultures.
The human tribes of the wintery northern tundra are a nomadic tribal people following herds of reindeer and muskox. Hoarlanders are primarily hunter-gatherers with a simple and fulfilling way of life, free from the distractions and decadence of civilisation which they believe weaken the soul. They are barbarians but not berserkers; warriors but not raiders.
Long ago there were once such tribes in the region but many centuries have passed since they called Hoarland home. Local folklore has it that the descendants of those cruel and selfish tribes are the warmongering Skaaledians who occupy Landsedge, far beyond the western woods.
The Winterfolk (as Hoarlanders translates to, from their word ‘hoar’ meaning winter) are a hardy people, quick of temper and of humour. They are physically large with significantly more hair and body fat than most humans, on a ‘big-boned’ skeletal frame to carry the extra weight. Their thick-set physiology helps Hoarlanders survive the cold winters and lends them an imposing presence. Winterfolk tribes have existed in Hoarland for as long as any can remember, and they figure in the oldest sagas of the land.
In game terms, Hoarlander characters (male and female) add +1d12 inches to their height.
Kandaar the Barbarian
Several hundred years ago a Hoarland warrior named Kandaar harboured a wanderlust and ventured beyond his tribal lands. He travelled extensively in the southern Kingdom of Aneth battling the evils of the world, both alone and with companions he met on his journey as renowned adventuring party The Light. As their fame grew Kandaar the Barbarian’s prolongued exposure to Anethian culture saw him relinquish many of his tribal ways in favour of a more civilised way of life.
After many years Kandaar eventually returned home where he found some good land a week’s march from the Anethian border that the harsh winter frosts rarely reached. There he built Winter Haven – the first stone house in the north, and settled down to farm the land and take a wife. Fate had other plans and marauding orkin armies from the eastern mountains warred on the southern tribes of the lowlands. With his home in their path, Kandaar the Farmer once more took up his sword. He united the lowland tribes, routed the orcs and brought peace to the land.
The southern tribes who followed Kandaar in battle thereafter followed him in peace. The lowlanders also began to settle and make permanent homes and farms across a region they named Frithland (from the Hoarland word ‘frith’ meaning peace). The tribes became clans, and Kandaar their king; his stone-built farmhouse has grown into a city and his bloodline has held the throne ever since.
Whilst originally descended from Hoarland stock, the demands of agriculture in a relatively constant temperate environment as opposed to the harsh existence of their northern cousins has brought typical Frithlander physiology into line with the human norm. As Frithland society became more settled and trade routes established with the southern lands, an influx of foreign blood has also diversified and diluted their ancient bloodlines.
The Kingdom of Kandaaria
Politically the Kingdom of Kandaaria comprises all the territories of Frithland and Hoarland, although much of the latter is left to their own affairs.
There remain many cultural similarities between the Hoarlanders and the Frithlanders however, as one might expect from tribal peoples separated by only a few generations. All Kandaarians recognise the authority and protection of the king for example. Frithlanders enjoy the benefits of a simple feudal system, whilst Hoarlanders have a barrier against the encroachment of civilisation.