- Chief - As strong and hard-bitten as the rest of the band, his age and wisdom sets him above the rest. With a mane of iron-gray hair, he exudes as much wisdom and leadership as one of his kind could. He leads by example, mostly silent except when barking the occasional order or battlecry; despite his relatively quite demeanor, the others know crossing him would be their worst - and likely last - decision.
- Snarl - Chief's top lieutenant, Snarl does the talking for him, barking out orders left and right. His command is brutal, with beatings and tongue-lashings with every underling's misstep; because of this, he is almost universally hated. He is a true devotee of the Chief, some say even a lapdog, but he is at least reliable.
- Mongrel - It's tough to tell whether Mongrel is even sentient, what with the constant howling and bloodlust; the iron chain Â‘round his neck doesn't help. A hulking humanoid, Mongrel is practically Chief's pet, used as a ballistic weapon against those whom he sees fit. Kept locked up most of the time, Snarl keeps him well fed to gain the monster's trust: convenient when he needs to make threats of punishment by devouring to underlings.
- Cap - Cap is a classic tragedy figure, a noble constable who made won foul mistake that expelled him from the force; now he joins the very brigands he once hunted. Skilled with the sword, his primary motive seems to be revenge, as he seeks out soldiers to fight and allows most of the loot to fall to other hands. Few trust him because of his background, thinking he may be a double-agent; Snarl despises him, but is made impotent by Cap's apparent apathy toward him.
- Gleam - Gleam seems to be interested in nothing but treasure. A decent fighter, he spends most of the battle acquiring loot from the dead, a practice which makes him detestable to many. His redeeming quality: he is generous to his friends, both with his gold in the camp and with his buckler in the field; many owe him their lives and livelihoods.
- Guffaw - Everything seems to be a joke to Guffaw, and if it isn't he'll turn it into one. A permanent maniacal grin etched on his face, his war cry is a cackle; the last sound his enemies hear is Guffaw's snide laughter as he guts them. Most openly call him insane, a trait to be feared and respected among barbarians.
- Twig - She doesn't have the look of a barbarian, more like a lithe wild woodswoman, but don't let appearances deceive: she is every bit a killer. One of the few expert archers of the band, she kills from afar with her barbed arrows and quick bow. Derided by the rest of the band for her methods and her size (most barbarians prefer a thicker woman), she has no problems holding her own: only once did someone dispute her kill, the argument ending in a flash of wood and fletching.
- Lush - Never found without ale in his mug or in his gut (usually both), Lush has proudly never fought a battle sober. His constant intake can sometimes give him an edge on the field, granting a certain courage and softening the bite of wounds, but just less than half the time he is too drunk to even make his way to battle. It's a wonder Chief hasn't sacked him, but Guffaw and Gleam find him a source of amusement and friendship, rare enough luxuries for the warband.
- Preach - Nearly all barbarians are superstitious to a degree, but Preach is a hardcore believer in his pantheon. Some consider him a priest, and many seek him out to solve problems they believe to be hexes and curses; others see Preach as a proselytizing nuisance. Chief will often seek him to consult the omens before raids, a practice that forever irritates Prof.
- Scab - A hideous figure to behold, Scab's appearance and personality have been forged by years of brutal warfare, his entire body a seeming mechanization of scars and half-healed wounds. Aside from missing a few fingers and major facial features, he has only the ghost of a personality, mostly speaking in growls and grunts; with no commonality, no one in the band considers him a friend. His scars seem to make him blind to pain, however, and on the field he is fearless.
- Zerk - He is certainly touched in the head: the slightest hint of battle sends him into a crazed bloodlust, and at its close he is brought to fits of weeping and fear. Chief values Zerk on the war plain for his ferocity, but the other warriors give him a wide berth, his frenzies being well known for targeting friend and foe alike. After he recovers, he tries his best to brush off the event, and most of the others feel a pitiful fondness for him.
- Wall - While most of the band is busy marauding the enemy, she takes a stand to protect her weaker allies with her shield and longspear. She cuts an imposing figure with her heavy armor and fearsome gaze; off the field, she is generous and fiercely loyal to those she protects. Even Snarl treads lightly when dealing with her friends, and Zerk is often brought to profuse apologies if he injures one of her own in his frenzies.
- Prof - While 'educated barbarian' seems an oxymoron, Prof fits the bill: once a student of the social sciences in a prominent institution, he joined the band to study their habits and wound up a permanent member. Although a merely amateur fighter, Prof's intelligence proves frequently useful to Chief, and is seen as an expert on every bit of the civilized world. Many in the band still see him as an outsider, and he is frequently critical of the superstitious Preach; one wonders why he still stays on with the war band.
- Doc - Although most barbarians know basic triage, Doc knows the body inside and out, able to cure - or kill - most of the crew. Only a bit younger than Chief, he has practiced wisdom under his belt, something he never lets those under his scalpel forget as he chides them to be more careful. Some complain of wounds getting worse after Doc gets to them, an accusation Snarl chalks up to insubordination and is thus punished; in secret, though, Doc is practicing his poisons in hopes of one day unseating Chief.
- Croon - At the center of every post-raid party is Croon, the war band's musician. Although he plays no instrument, he has perfect pitch and can lead the barbarous gang like a choirmaster would lead a chorus in the finest cathedral. He knows all sorts of tunes, from enlightening to bawdy, and many gladly share their cup with him as friend.
- Smash - Large even for a dwarven woman, Smash is the band's resident brute, her warhammer racking up more kills than many of her male compatriots. She has no shame in marking herself as one of the greatest fighters of the crew, and dares anyone to suggest otherwise. Although she is well respected and given a wide berth, few can find friendship with her abrasive - even egocentric - personality save her lover Dash.
- Dash - One of the few halflings on the crew, Dash makes up for his size with speed and ferocity. Bolting across the battlefield with his two longknives, Dash makes quick work of those that underestimate him, an easy thing to do as he carries his lethality with a disaffected smirk. He partners well during raids with his lover Smash, but he seems to be the only thing in the world that offends rather than amuses Guffaw.
- Grunt - If city folk wrote blindly wrote a handbook on barbarians, Grunt would be the living golem of their archetype. Simple, brutish, coarse, foul - the orc Grunt fits the bill, his only apparent interest being his next meal and his next fight. He is friendly enough with the rest of the gang, even if he is difficult to understand through his thick tusks and stunted speech; he also blends in almost too well with many of the other barbarians, making him hard to keep track of.
- Wiz - Instead of relying on sheer brute force, Wiz relies on brute force supplemented by magic. Although his spell repertoire consists of only a few minor offensive conjurings and the occasional enchantment, he wows most of the other barbarians and is seen as wise as Prof. When his magics fail, of course, he relies on his morningstar, his steady arm at least as reliable with three feet of steel as it is spellcraft.
- Gramps - While most barbarians are lucky to make it past middle-age, this hoary-headed brute pushes toward seventy, perhaps beyond. Most speak his name in reverent whispers, and he is always sought for advice, even by Chief. The years have taken their toll, though: mostly blind, deaf, and lame, he is useless as a warrior, a thought that haunts his old bones and taxes his waning lucidity.
- Fox - Long-haired, voluptuous, and with the right amount of thickness, Fox catches the eye of almost every male in the war band. She wields a greatsword with sensuous finesse, has a flirtatious way of gnawing on boar meat, and can even make the act of gutting a man into an erotic seduction. She beds men when she finds it convenient, though has yet to break the iron Chief, despite her attempts: she plots with Doc in killing the wizened commander.
- Rock - No one's sure exactly where Rock's from besides 'somewhere in the Northlands,' and when asked he will only go into a rambling litany of his ancestors and their mighty deeds. He claims nobility, which may or may not be true; he looks the part, with his unusually rippling muscles, blond mane, and icy blue eyes. He's handy with a battle axe, which makes him a friend in battle, but off the field he's secretly the laughing stock of most of the gang.
- Steed - Steed is seen nowhere without her trusty mount, the creatively named Horse. She has an odd, almost bizarre affection for the stallion, speaking to it as a companions and carrying on lengthy conversations; most give her odd glances from afar and murmur ghastly rumors about her devotion to the beast. She is quite valuable on the war plain, however: armed with her quick mount and sharp spear, few opponents can outrun her barb.
- Dog - Dog is a master hunter, mostly due to the pack of trusty hounds he always brings with him. The mastiff mutts are large, well-trained, and brutal, charging into the fray at Dog's orders and clamping down with their massive jaws on anything in sight. Steed and Dog don't get along, as Horse is frightened by the pack of pups, and Dog has gone nowhere near Mongrel since the feral man ate one of his pooches.
- Beak - A falconer of noted skill, Beak is never seen far from his pair of war hawks, usually perched on his shoulder. He has an uncanny rapport with the animals, and they seem to speak to him - a skill Snarl takes advantage of by sending him out to scout ahead for potential prey. Beak doesn't get along well with anyone, seeming to prefer the company of his birds.
- Khan - He was sent a decade ago by a foreign clan of warriors to demand the tribe's homage to their leader, which Chief found amusing if intriguing. The emissary - apparently the son of his people's leader - still hangs around, Chief somehow convincing him that if he can prove his worthiness as a fighter, he will acquiesce to the demand of fealty. He's learned the language and is amiable enough, his prowess as a warrior with his curved sword and short bow earning the camaraderie of Rock.
- Gill - This elf woman was once a pirate, serving with a noted band on the Great River; when her ship was wrecked, she washed up alone on shore to be rescued by Doc. With no other prospects, she fell into the land piracy of the barbarian tribe, harpooning her prey like a whaler. She never really seems at home, missing the feel of a moving deck underfoot, but Croon's sea shanties seem to help her feel at ease.
- Bone - A bit of an eccentric (and that's saying a lot for this bunch), Bone is obsessed with collecting the skeletons of her prey. She wears a sort of makeshift armor out of whatever bones she can scavenge: an ox skull helm with horns, plate made of layered scapula, bracers of lashed ulna. She's secretive about her purposes, but as she constantly seeks out Preach for advice and blessings, it's probably religious in nature.
- Steel - While most barbarians prefer lighter armor for mobility, the dwarf Steel likes to cover himself head to toe in metal. He's soldered onto various pieces of plate metal the blades of daggers and heads of spears; when he runs into battle he bristles with sharpness, charging into crowds of enemies and slicing them with his body. He acts as the tribe's smith, making repairs over a makeshift mobile smithy.
- Merch - No matter how much they raid, the tribe eventually finds the need to trade, and that is where the Merch comes in. The only gnome in the tribe, Merch was actually once their captive when his caravan was attacked, but he convinced Chief that they needed a spokesman to sell goods they couldn't use and buy what they could. He is charming and cunning, and he could sell water to a mermaid, but because of his inability to really fight most find him useless - except Fox, who finds him the only to rival her skill in flirtation.
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? Responses (7)
A quality 30 with lots of detail. Certainly some well used tropes here, but that works well in a 30. I like the inter-linkage between them that suggests the plots that could arise from using the lot of em.
30 very original barbarians. 5/5
This is really fun. Reminds of the bio blurbs on the back of action figure packaging. I like the connected nature of this ready made horde, I like the use of archetypes and cliche, and the write up is smooth and accessible.
This grew on me the more I read. Lovable bunch! Love the this one likes that one and that one fears this one stuff. Makes them come alive and feel real. The names based on traits/personalities is a nice touch as well.
I get a bit of a Black Company vibe too.
Zerk is Hulk! Bones is Rattleshirt (GoT)! And you have to love gramps!
I have to ask though, why is Rock the secret laughing stock of the group? We're not offered a clue as to why.
It's a subtle jab at the stock, Conan-esque barbarian character: huge, Nordic men with battleaxes from the inexplicable north.
The inter-linkages between them all are certainly a nice touch.