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Great Men, The

by Hawke published Nov 17, 2015 01:55 PM, last modified Nov 17, 2015 02:19 PM
There are tales about "men" of huge stature, easily over 8 feet tall. Most of these stories come from The North, but a few from other lands and worlds as well...

The Great Men are primarily from some of the harshest lands of The Northlands , especially the densely wooded mountains farthest to the north.

Most speak only of these huge men in children's tales. Warning their children to do their chores, "stay in bed during the night", "don't wander too far into the woods", etc. "or else the Great Men will catch you and eat you!"

Many confuse them with the "Yeti", "Sasquatch" and other even more primal creatures.

Wiser folk speak of actually meeting these towering humanoids. For humanoids maybe they are rather than men. They are covered in a short, coarse grey hair (almost, but not quite a fur). They have glowing eyes (color varies, but usually blue), and though their teeth are mannish-like they are rather pointed.

They are amazingly strong and surprisingly swift.

Stories tell of them riding great beasts into battle, some the size of elephants!

The Northron[+] trappers and traders actually claim to do some trade with the Great Men, and claim they are actually relatively civilized despite their course exteriors. Though tribal and in mostly very small family groups, they are not beasts.

But woe unto any that enter their lands with any intent to do their people harm.

First there will be the warning of the drums.

If that does not work to dissuade intruders, an eerie, almost banshee-screen-like-moaning sound will be heard (using an instrument of their devising that they whirl in the air to create this disturbingly haunting sound that travels significant distances).

The final warning will be calls from some high precipice demanding what they are doing in their lands. If the intruders are not swift to response in a placating manner, or indicate any hostility, an avalanche of snow and/or rocks will come tumbling down, quickly disposing of any threat to the protected lands of the Great Men.

They are excellent survivalists in Alpine and cold conditions (racial bonuses to skills/knowledge related to these topics).

They do not like warmer climates (slight penalty when in areas 85+ degrees F, significant impairment in 95+ F).

Though tribal, they generally do not war amongst themselves, rather feeling they are all of "One Great People". All clans will look out for others if threatened by outsiders, all intra-clan squabbles put aside for the greater good of their kind.

They are a very noble people with a strong sense of justice and honour, albeit a rather strength-based sense of it, though they do believe in protecting those weaker than themselves.

Their own stories tell of a great battle long ago against the under-dwellers, and The Great Men united with the other races to help fight against them. It turned out The Great Men were one of the few races that could not be made to succumb to the manipulations of the Drow and their ilk. Even the High Elves cannot make that claim! (Immunity to "corruption", high resistance to their will being bent to evil deeds, moderate resistance to mind-control (actually, can be controlled easily, but if asked to do something too against their own code, then their resistance kicks in), etc.).

Their purity of heart is legendary, and this is why sometimes they can be found in distant lands. If a great wrong has been done to someone, or an important quest is necessary that they feel they are critical to resolving, they will travel far and wide to right these wrongs.

This can be a failing too. Sometimes they can be a little single-minded and obsessive in their quest for "justice", and not always open to the nuances of "grey areas" between "right and wrong".

While some of the peoples neighbouring the Northlands have become semi-accepting of seeing, once every year or so, one (or a handful) of Great Men travelling south  (though usually hiding in the trees when they can), those further south know little-to-nothing about them, and sight of them will be confused with evil "giants", "trolls", "yeti", etc. which will usually mean a summoning of local militia, or a call for a stronger military force to hunt them down and "vanquish" them before feared harm can be done.

This has made The Great Men even more wary about travelling anywhere near populated areas. their great size makes it impossible to hide.

It has now become a tradition for Great Men planning to travel south, to first meet with the Druids on their borders, and make trade for some dweomer to hide their appearance, especially their height. Some receive tokens that actually reduce their height to only around 6' instead of 8'+, while others are mere illusions. Some go even further with changing their appearance to blend in even more (hiding the glowing eyes, teeth, and hair).

The Druids, especially those bordering The North are fast-friends with Great Men, since they are much more in tune with nature than many other mannish races, their mutual respect of the land, plants, nature, animals, is a great bond between them.

While Great Men are not the most empathic or intuitive of races (understatement), they have a strong natural affinity for nature and animals, and great respect for the great beasts of any lands (Bears, Lions, Tigers, Elephants, Woolly Mammoth, etc.). They don't have the greatest natural ability with these animals and beasts, but they do have a great love and respect for them.

The Wood Elves[+] of The North actually do limited trade as well, but they are as usual wary and untrusting, and do not allow Great Men within their bounds (other than the main roads).

The High Elves have long memories, and many still live that remember The Great Battle[+] and how The Great Men were some of the most noble, uncorruptable, and helpful warriors of all the mannish races. The High Elves, though looking down on their primitive ways, do have a high level of respect for them, and wonder how their hearts have become so pure, when even the Elves with their long lives have not been.

Not all races are fond of the Great Men. Some of their worst enemies, besides the Drow and their servants, are other Northron[+] and giant creatures, especially Yeti[+] , Trolls[+] , some types of Giants[+] , Neanderthal[+] , and especially Dragons[+] . The Great Men give the highest honours to anyone that can slay a dragon, often make them chieftain, and during times of war/unity Uber-Chief[+] over all the tribes. This means that Great Men are a constant plague to dragons, though most Great Men are slain fairly quickly by these legendary beasts, no single race has slain more Dragons than The Great Men. Given the relatively small population of these people, that is quite significant.

Sometimes, after a group or individual has tried (and failed) to slay a dragon, the dragon will then fly out of its comfortable abode, and going on a killing spree specifically trying to wipe out all Great men within a 100+ mile radius of its home! The Great Men call this The Killings[+] .

If done slowly, then the tribes can unite, "The Calling of The Clans[+] " and either drive back the dragon, or sometimes even slay it. If the dragon attacks quickly however, then there isn't time to rally, and usually it only found out the following spring when no one from those tribes appears for the annual trade gathering, that it is investigated. And without knowing which dragon caused the massacre, they don't know upon whom to unleash the united wrath of the clans.

Mannerisms are rather similar to The Northrons[+] , a mix of Germanic and/or Norse-like languages, Viking-like attire. Their religious beliefs are very similar to Norse[+] pantheon.

 In recent years, the Great Men have had a significant problem. The winters are getting longer and harsher, too harsh even for this hearty people. They are feeling The Changes quite significantly.

The ice has been creeping farther south, encasing old caves and abodes in ice feet thick, and some now dozens of feet thick, in just a few years!

This has forced the tribes to slowly migrate south, which is bumping up against the lands of The Northrons and others. While at heart allies, both parties have no qualms about raiding resources of others, so skirmishes and tensions are getting worse.

There is rumoured to be a a great Moot[+] planned, a " Thing[+] " larger than any of the annual Things, where all the peoples of the North will be sending representatives at the next high summer, to discuss what is happening and make adjustments.

Those in the south are nervous about this Thing, fearing it means a plan to raid the Southlands[+] . Rumours have it that Merlin[+] himself may be attending this meeting as a representative for Arthur's kingdom. Farmers and rangers in the north are grumbling that this probably means they are going to be forced to move because of some "blasted treaty".




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