Friday, September 18, 2009

Grunnien; Races of Sarterra

In the high plateaus of Bhauta live the Grunnien, a race of nomadic slave-owners whose utter indifference to other forms of life is easily mistaken for malice. They move around their mountain realm in clan groups numbering in the several dozen, herding both their yaks (who they view as their children) and their humans (who are seen as equal in status to all non-yak animals). Twice a year - once in spring when the snows begin to thaw, and again in autumn before the heavy snowfalls - they perform elaborate rituals before setting off to raid the valleys and foothills for more slaves. Life as one of their chattels is brutally tough, but the Grunnien are generally sensible enough not to allow their slaves to die unnecessarily.

Grunnien adults stand considerably larger than a man (6-7' for a female, up to 8' for a male), and they are covered in shaggy black fur which protects them well against considerable cold. They are extremely vain, and enjoy elaborate, decorous clothing, especially dyed in yellows, reds and purples, and they usually adorn their horns with expensive silk tassels and scarves. The materials for clothing are often stolen on slave raids, where the Grunnien take great care to select only the very best and most expensive looking goods in terms of clothing, weapons, and armor.

Grunnien are equally powerful in magic and combat and among their numbers both strength of hand and agility of mind are respected. In a fight they wield short, heavy scimitars and kukri knives, and can also gore with their horns (although they view this vulgarity as a last resort). They prefer illusory spells which confuse and befuddle their opposition, and often employ such tactics to subdue an enemy; opponents are usually worth more alive as slaves than they are dead.

The Grunnien, as a civilization, are advanced as slave traders. They maintain a traveling order that deals in slave stock and elicit herbs known as the Black Lotus Caravan.

The Grunnien are a nomadic people, and traveling from place to place, looking for new grazing grounds, is in their blood. Most nomadic groups consist of several large families organized into a clan structure.

One nomadic group, known as the Black Lotus Caravan, consists of members from multiple clans. The primary purpose of the Caravan is to distribute slave stock among the different clans of the Bhauta plateau. They also help to rotate slave stock in and out of the clans to keep them fresh.

The Grunnien also cultivate and collect many rare and exotic opiates and other natural herbs with mind altering abilities. Of these, the Black Lotus, is the most sought after, and where the caravan gains its namesake. Other races will approach the Caravan in hopes of trading for these hard to come by elicit substances, making sure they bring enough gold and trade goods to avoid becoming the Grunnien's next primary import, slaves.

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