The Gjallarmen are a tribe, not an ethnicity, so there is not a single phenotype to represent them. They are human/strongly humanoid so there are no animal-headed demi-humans among them, and aside from half-orcs, there are few to no greenskins among them. Humans, dwarves, half-orcs, really angry halflings, and such are the most common stock. They are very much a barbarous tribe and equip themselves accordingly. Their armor and weaponry is most commonly stolen from the dead, looted from tombs, or crudely made from cured animal hides. Likewise, their weaponry is poorly maintained and stolen gear from their defeated foes, or primitive weapons that only require a modest amount of training. They favor axes, daggers, and spears. Swords don't last long, real archers take too long to train, and the effort of maintaining a bow, bowstring, or arrows, is often more effort than they are willing to invest.

They are recognizable as a tribe because of three common trails. The Gjallarmen practice extensive body modification starting with tattoo work and piercings, and ending with ritual scarring and self-mutilation. Secondly, they are enormously noisy. The Gjallarmen have a great number of horns, drums, and oversized whistles that sound like women screaming. Finally, and perhaps worst of all, they are servants of Chaos. Not anarchy or anti-civilization, they serve the horrific great old ones that wish to destroy everything. They kneel before Hastur in his visage as the King in Yellow. Nyarlathotep favors them and the sweet music they make. Few spill blood for the blood god, Khorne, as the Gjallarmen. Whatever great, true, and terrible gods of Chaos exist, the Gjallarmen worship them. Their wake is a horrorshow of profane temples made of stacked bodies, ravenously consumed once sentient beings, and civilization left a funeral pyre.


The Gjallarmen are subsistence hunter-gatherers who engage in raiding as their primary economic model. They do not accept tribute, nor can they be bribed. They sweep anyone in their path away. Those who are slain are looted, their bodies rendered down, and many a farmer and his family have been reduced to sacks of dried meat, rendered tallow, and tanned leather over cookfires made from their splintered homes. Survivors of Gjallarmen raids often face a worse death than being slaughtered and turned into food. Women of age are taken as captives and become the property of the tribe. Unless claimed by a strong warrior, this means a life of hard menial labor and sexual abuse by any member of the tribe who feels like rising to the occasion. Young boys, generally five or fewer years old are adopted by the tribe and raised to become Gjallarmen. Attrition is high, and these act as the tribe's janissaries, the scouts, outriders, and stalkers. They are often stigmatized to not rising high in the tribe, but it isn't uncommon for them to overcome this and become some of the most fearsome Gjallarmen warriors. Girls, in the eight to ten-year-old range, tend to become the property of Gjallermen leaders and strong warriors. These girls are raised to become the female leaders of the tribes, the wives of the warrior leadership, and what passes for their mystic caste. Once grown, they are also the tribe mothers and will raise the children of the enslaved women, those that survive birth.

Hobbesian Evolution

The Gjallarmen are not Darwinian, they are Hobbesian. They prevail by strength, cunning, and turning towards whatever gives them the greatest chance of success. They turn on each other in a heartbeat. A show of weakness is an invitation to their fellows to attack. Only the actions of the tribe mothers keep the tribes from slaughtering themselves from within. To maintain a degree of social cohesion, the Gjallarmen are infamously known for their bloodsport and the cannibal feasts that follow. The tribe mothers also ensure that the enslaved live as long as possible, tending to them with their own form of healing.

Blood for the Blood God

The Gjallarmen are suckers for a high charisma evil leader. A suitable barbarian overlord, liche king, fell dragon, evil sorcerer, or such can rouse them from their roving pestilence and focus them on a target. When thus roused, they become as locusts, and move from scattered bands burning down farms and plaguing travelers to a horde that moves against cities and strongholds.

Sample Gjallarmen

1. The Stone Thrower

Gjallarmen are well versed in the art of throwing rocks. It is one of their main hunting techniques, and most of them can throw a stone bare-handed like minor league baseball pitchers. In combat, the Stone Thrower probably has a leather sling, and a pocket full of stones specially picked out for bashing in skulls. A good thrower can daze a horse, knock a man off a horse, damage a helm's visor, or stop a mage from casting a spell. 

2. The Maimer

The Gjallarmen Maimer uses long knives in combat and has the goal of disabling and crippling foes rather than killing them. He favors cutting off hands, cutting hamstrings, splitting embows, shattering knees, and anything else that takes a fighter from a foe to a wounded man trying to escape. A soldier without his sword hand is a slave just waiting for the iron collar.

3. The Gjallarmage

Despite hating magi, and often going after mages first in combat, there are those among the Gjallar who use magic. They use a rough and crude sort of magic, summoning the great beasts to serve the tribe, manipulating the weather with blood sacrifices, and seeking omens and portents on bloody altars. In combat, the Gjallarmage is attended by a supernatural ally, something obviously hailing from the forces of chaos and evil. 

4. The Beast-Tamer

The Beast-Tamer among the Gjallarmen has one of three different sorts of beasts at his beck and call: great beasts, hound-like beasts, or flight-capable beasts. The Great Beast is a large monster, typically something in the elephant-sized range. Pleistocene mammals are a good choice, as are small to medium-sized dinosaurs, depending on the fauna of the setting. These are not mounts, but organic siege engines and knight killers. The hound keeper has intelligent pack animals that are small to medium-sized, so wolves, raptor-like dinosaurs, or something like a gibbering mouther with legs and the ability to run. Giant bats, fell hawks, flying reptiles, and nameless beasts with wings can also serve the beast-tamer as distant eyes and ears.

5. Gjallarman Bloodletter

Functionally a cleric of a Chaos god, the Bloodletter has the ability to heal the wounded, but his touch is fire and pain, and a mass of scar tissue. Before a battle, the Bloodletters will execute captives in front of the defenses and defenders arrayed against them. They will inflict ritual injuries on warriors to increase their prowess in battle, and they will direct self-flagellation so that the scent of blood before the battle has the attention of the gods of chaos. 

6. Gjallarman Arsonist

Fire is the friend of the Gjallarmen. The Arsonist specializes in bringing fire to the field of battle. This can be as simple as carrying incendiary devices, to a torch, to somehow being able to breathe fire like a human drake. The arsonist, along with the beast-tamer, are the main siege fighters the Gjallarmen have, as they do not construct siege engines and often a thick stone wall can stop them cold. Once an area around a stronghold is beaten down, the arsonists will try scaling walls, throwing their weapons through windows, and otherwise anything they can to set their foes in holy flames.

7. The Gjallarma'am

Female Gjallarmen warriors are very rare. The Gjallarma'am has a Belt of Masculinity granting her strength, endurance, and aggression. In a raid, the Gjallarma'am is interested in taking loot, and slaves, and is likely the most dangerous foe to face in single combat. She doesn't fight like a man, weapon against weapon, in single combat. She goes for the face, the throat, and the groin. A fighter with a spear through his crotch is no longer a fighter. A mage with a gaping neck wound isn't casting spells, a man distracted by suddenly bared tattoo-covered tits is an easy target for an opportunity attack. 

In Summary:

The Gjallarmen are a chaotic evil force of destruction. They are implacable and almost impossible to redeem. By fighting and killing them, the heroic PCs are doing the world a favor. The Gjallarmen are friends of none but the eldritch and horrific gods of chaos, death, and destruction.

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