People of the Stolen Lands

“There were many of them, and they were brave and well armed, and even the Wargs of the Wilds dared not attack them if there were many of them together, or if the day was bright.”

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The Woodsmen of the Forest Kingdom are the frontiersmen of Argoth. Often formally known by the name Ninnellen, they live in sparse, isolated villages and homesteads, surrounded by wooden stockades, built along the borders of the great forests of the North, or in rich river valleys. Threatened by the shadows of the forest’s dark past, they are hunters and trackers of wild animals, battling spiders and goblins in self defense.

Traditionally, their women hunt and fight alongside their men, or even alone when unmarried or widowed, in their struggle to survive. Masters of beasts and tenders of their woodland sanctuaries, they are hunters and animal-trainers of great renown or equal.

The Ninnellen

As a people, they are mostly of ancient Ninnellen stock, but have mixed and intermingled with other nations over the last few centuries. The oldest clans, however, stick closely to their past histories and track their origins from ancient bloodlines once married to and allied with elves and other fey. They are considered the oldest humans of Argoth, and are spread into its furthest cracks.

They prefer well-watered river valleys close to stands of primary woodlands and cool weather. Rugged places close to the wilderness, with rushing streams and plenty of game are considered their homes.

Although dispersed and somewhat apolitical, they are a remarkably unified people. Their ties to the title of “Obertheyn”, or Overthane are close, and this person is viewed as the military and civil leader of the people as a whole. Local lords, often given more modern titles, though the ancient title of “Theyn” or Thane is still popular. These leaders follow a military structure, empowering “Requain” or Knights below them to lead the realm’s lands and armies. Traditionally, a knight is viewed as holding a fief of up to a 1000 acres and is responsible for all the people located within those bounds. A knight is also expected to provide levy troops and “Ohtari” or Warriors in times of need.

Descent is bilateral (traced through both the father and mother). Marriage must occur outside of the family and can involve non-clansmen (generally implying non-Ninn). Residency is bilocal; one might live with either the wife’s or the husband’s family.

The oldest member of the clan is expected to train or ensure the training, maintaining and leadership of the younger members of the clan. All members of the clan older than seven (7) are considered to begin training in military and other valuable skills. By age ten (10) they are often skilled trackers, bowmen and animal handlers. Above fourteen (14), they are often considered adults and begin to marry, hold positions in the military, and found their own steadings.

Extended family units live on isolated “Haiman” or Manors. Each is considered an associated territory of often substantial size, and the family maintains and utilizes the fief’s resources. The clan elder of each clan often leaves their holdings to keep contact with other members and holdings of the clan, and are known to participate in extended hunting trips with their closest members.

Most settlers reside in small towns, some of which are fortified. Outside the river valleys, settlement is sparse and distances of a day’s wagon travel are common between settlements. Most are located near military outposts or the fortified manors of the most ancient clans. Often the main (sometimes only) road of the village is the path between these settlements, and used for trade.

Barter is generally the rule between settlements, although the coins of the Forest Kingdom are increasingly popular. Older coins of fallen realms are also commonly used in isolated settlements, and border villages commonly use foreign currency. The silver knight is the standard, though most folk commonly deal in copper commons or older bronze coins from bygone eras. A sprinkle of gold crowns is found among the merchants and wealthy of the clans. Some contact is held with the wood elven clans for purposes of trade, though a prerequisite of close personal friendship is often required on the part of the Fey.

Common is the language of the citizenry, though many place names and labels are often elven, and personal names follow ancient Ninn traditions with a second name representing the clan’s origins or formerly what skills the clan is known for. Few have third names, often given for a task or deed that distinguishes the individual among their clan.

The people of the Stolen Lands are generally dark-haired and fair-skinned folk with grey or green eyes. Many have reddish hair and blue eyes, and considerable amounts of it. They are tall, averaging over 6’-tall, the women 5’6". They wear fur tunics and capes, woolen trousers with leggings, and little to light armor. Warriors often fight in hardened leather armor and helms, often decorated with horn toggles and ornate iron buckles.

Most houses are long, rectangular stone or fitted-timber structures with thatched roofs. These comfortable houses are usually one-room structures raised on mounds of heaped earth, with high ceilings, substantial rafters and occasional lofts. Huge cooking pits are commonly located in the center of the house floor, and smoke holes are cut into the peaked roof to assist in ventilation. Most have covered porches, and high, shuttered windows to allow the flow of smoky air. Most farms have beehives, gardens and feeding stations for forest beasts.

Food is a varied diet of fish, poultry, wild game and a few hearty vegetables, dairy products, fruit, forest berries and numerous breads. The folk of the Stolen Lands are excellent gardeners, and they enjoy a good meal.

Most local worship revolves around numerous holy days. While they have no communal traditions, they follow highly personal ceremonies which largely involve meditation. They respect the forest spirits and the dead heroes of old, but avoid deep dogmatic texts, discussions or other philosophy. They can be preoccupied with death and the afterlife, especially during the dark nights of high winter. Many of the ancient clans still follow the ways of their Old Faith, though some have accepted the traditions of more civilized gods, such as the Father of the Fields or the Shining One.

Cultural Traits

Ninnellen carve their lives out of the forests of the world, subsisting on meagre hunts, burning charcoal and breeding animals. Their constant fights with the wild creatures of the woods can leave them struggling to survive beyond hand-to-mouth. Most people live with a lifestyle of Poor, sleeping in comfortable halls, and eating the produce of their own fields and hunts. They wear simple clothing, though they usually have finer garments for special gatherings such as festivals and marriages. Jewels and other ornaments are usually handed down from generation to generation, treasured belongings of the clan, rather than individuals. They are not generally given to ostentation. Most Ninnellen have a travelling cloak, a belt dagger, clothing appropriate to the season, and a handful of silver knights in their pouch.

Ability Score Increase : Ninnellen have a Dexterity score bonus of +1, and may increase an additional two ability stats.

Age : Ninnellen don’t usually become adventurers before their sixteenth year, when they undergo the Shearing Ceremony; some begin earlier, but this is usually due to unique circumstances. Few continue past their fortieth year, when they retire among their own clans and homelands.

Woodcrafty : Ninn have proficiency in the Wisdom (Survival) skill.

Virtue : Ninn may choose one cultural feat of their choice.

Languages : Ninn can speak Common, and the more archaic Ninnellen dialect, closely related to Elvish.

Cultural Feats

Herbal Remedies : The Grandwood is shunned by many men and elder folk, yet its shadowed boughs hold many hidden treasures of herb and beast. You are learning the ancient craft of brewing salves and herbal remedies from the local elders and wise-women. You begin to recognize which herbs qualify as Fragrant Weeds when you first take this trait, and can muster the trait of Secret Remedies as an undertaking during downtime.

Fragrant Weeds : You have developed the habit of chewing herbs and roots that grant vigor to a man’s limbs. As long as you are in a wild area, you can collect sufficient herbs to make their effect noticeable. You can ignore one level of exhaustion – the level doesn’t go away, but you don’t suffer any penalty.

Poison Remedies : You are able to fins sufficient herbs to brew a drink or tea that, when ingested, will help shake the effects of poison, or prepare a salve that when applied to a wound or a bruise, will neutralize the effects of a poison. Spend inspiration to make a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check to neutralize the effects of any single poison type on all members of your company. The same concoction will grant advantage on all saving throws against poisons for the next hour after imbibing.

Hunter’s Resolve : You have learnt to tap into the inner strength of indefatigable and relentless hunter. You may spend Inspiration in order to expend Hit Dice for hit point recovery immediately, including as an action during combat. Once you’ve decided how many Hit Dice to expend, this ability cannot be used again until you’ve taken a long or short rest.

Natural Watchfulness : Whether traveling, exploring, or even resting, the behaviour of animals can communicate much to those who know how to interpret the signs. It could be the sudden silence of a bird, or the distant rustling of a beast in heads-long flight. While in or near a few miles of a forest, you have advantage on all Wisdom (Perception) ability checks. You also gain a +5 bonus to initiative rolls.

Staunching Song of the Woodsmen : This song has been taught to your folk since before they descended along the banks of the great Ambarin River. Its tune echoes with elven songs from the times of their great wars and weapons, and precious knowledge has been passed with great care from one generation to the next with its words. Singing its words can reduce the loss of life’s-blood to a trickle, letting it flow back through one’s heart.

After you finish a short rest, you may sing this song to recover a Hit Die + your Constitution modifier’s worth of damage without expending one of your Hit Dice. By also spending Inspiration, you may do the same for all other members of your company. Your allies roll to recover hit points based on their own Hit Dice and Constitution modifiers, not yours.

People of the Stolen Lands

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