Isles of Tiborn
Many seasons ago, we lived in a different place. It was a lush, green land where the sun was warm and we never knew winter. But the day came that the Gudslaktare came. Our Father came to us, knowing that he would not be able to save himself from the great beast. He said to us, speaking within all our hearts, "I will send you to a place that the Gudslaktare will never find. There you will able to live, be free, and never fear the Gudslaktare again."
But the people spoke up to Our Father, pleading him not to forsake us and come with us to the new land. But he smiled upon us and said, "If I were to come with you, then you would not be free and the Gudslaktare would find you. Now go forth and remember that you are my people, and you must always remember me."
We felt a great warmth vanish from our hearts and we found ourselves here. These lands we called "Tiborn" meaning last hope in the old language. The land was harsh, the weather was cold and there were many creatures that sought to slay us. But we persevered, we survived and we always shall rememberï¿½
--Introduction to "The Story of Life," an ancient Gilskalos' story.
The Islands: To the north of Antaron is a cold wasteland of rolling hills, barren soil and wild creatures that prey upon each other. As you head further north, the weather becomes colder and snow lies on the ground that has been there for centuries. Very little grows on the islands, except in underground caverns fed by hot springs. The island itself is made of very old volcanic rock, flattened by years of wind and cold.
The People: Clinging to the southern reaches of the island, there lives a race of beings very similar in appearance to humans. The Gilskalos are very tall, with the males ranging from 6'5" to 8' tall and the women only slightly smaller. Without exception, they all have white hair, and their eyes are pure deep blue, without pupils or iris. These eyes have a sixth sense called Glosav, which is the ability to sense movement. The skin of the Tibornite is almost a chalk white, and they have an incredible tolerance of extreme temperatures. It is estimated that they naturally live for about eighty years, although old Gilskalos are extremely rare. Gilskalos are very strong and agile people, but have trouble dealing with outsiders that seek them out in peace. They tend to be xenophobic, even paranoid, about other races.
Dress: The Gilskalos wear the furs and skins of the animals of the island. They wear clothing for protection and warmth, with no worry about colours or fashion of any sort. Both men and women wear jewelry and often paint tattoos upon themselves of protective circles and guardian spirits. The people wear their hair long, and unbound except when on a hunt when it is pulled back and tied.
Culture and Society: The Gilskalos live in the huge underground caverns that are found through the southern part of the Tibron islands. These caverns usually have large underground pools or lakes that are fed by hot springs. The pool (Halsaspol) is the social spot of the community, where people gather to trade, socialize and relax. Their society is tribal, and strongly based on family, with women and children considered the most important part. This is due to the fact that most Gilskalos do not live long, so children are important for the survival of the race.
They are a warrior race with many enemies in this harsh realm. Most of them die in combat or in adverse weather conditions (cold snaps, blizzards, etc). Males will sacrifice their lives willingly to save a woman or a child. A woman who is with child is revered in their society. Fellow Gilskalos, both men and women, will touch the stomach of a pregnant woman as a form of luck or blessing.
The diet of the Gilskalos is mostly meat, a great deal of fish, and dark green seaweed that grows around the hot springs. They trade for other foods but mostly out of interest rather than necessity. Men do the bulk of food gathering, in parties of ten to fifteen; it is rare that all return from a hunting trip.
The wasteland has great white bears that stalk Giskalos for food. In addition, wolves as big as horses roam the lands, as do massive sea creatures that break through ice to eat as many beings as will fall into their great maws. The Trikellen (see below), an evil intelligent predator of the tundra, also like the taste of Gilskalos' flesh.
Being a warrior race, the young of both sexes are taught to fight at an early age. A favourite game of the Gilskalos children is Soka Liv Besparat, or "Find the Weapon." where they are taken into an ordinary part of a cave or home and asked to point out how many items in the room can be used as a weapon and how effectively. The child that finds the most weapons and ways to use them, wins. The axe, the Cirkelyxan (A double bladed curved battle weapon), the spear, and the Bagen (Bone-Bow) are their primary weapons. The Gilskalos never used swords before they were introduced to them by the Dun-Krav (Gilskalos' word for the Antarian Reach dwelling humans, these people call the Tiborn people "Gils"), but many now favour the weapon. All weapons made by the Gilskalos are forged from a strange black alloy called Vartstal - it is as hard as steel, holds a razor sharp edge much longer than steel, and is resistant to hot and cold. This metal is essential to these people, as ordinary steel will bind itself to flesh in the cold climate of the north. This metal has just begun to be traded, and is seen in Antaron in the hands of those who can afford to spend a lot of gold to get it.
The Gilskalos have a strong oral tradition, and love songs and stories. A stranger to a new cavern can "buy" his stay for a night or two with a new song or a story. The people love to dance, sing and laugh, because all of them know that the next day they may perish. Their songs always seem to have a great deal of death and dying in them, as well as great victory at a great cost of lives. Although very heroic in nature, listening to Gilskalos music for extended period of time can make the most cheerful of other races depressed.
Trade and Commerce: The xenophobic nature of the Gilskalos makes them very tough customers with which to trade. Only the Dun-Krav have been successful so far, although more will eventually follow. The Dun-Krav were able to establish a trust with the Tiborn people when one of their warriors spent a year living with them, fought alongside them, and eventually died in battle to save a clan's children. The Gilskalos trade vartstal, gold, silver, copper, and furs with the Dun-Krav in exchange for foodstuff, wool, linens, and spirits. The Dun-Krav initially traded weapons with the Gilskalos, but found they were useless in the cold temperatures. Knowledge of craft is a commodity to the Gilskalos, who love to learn new ways of making or creating useful items. In order to trade with the Dun-Krav, the Gilskalos have set up a trading city on the southern tip of the southern most island called Handel Byta which means "place of trade."
The Tiborn people use a coin standard using carved bone fragments, due to the cold temperatures making metal coins a problem. The Slant, a white fragment with a carved Great Bear is the smallest denomination, used in everyday exchange of goods. Ten Slants go into one Penning, a bone with a carved image of a walrus. Ten Pennings make one Signera, which is carved with the image of a whale. One Signera is equal to one Dun-Krav gold coin.
Religion: According to their legend, the Gilskalos were sent to this world long ago by their god (called simply "Our Father") in order to protect them from a great beast called Gudslaktare. The Gilskalos believe that their god perished in order to save them, and will not worship any other gods; however, the Gilskalos believe that one day their god shall return to them in the form of a child born from a Tibornite woman. Every child is checked for a sign of divine birth, mostly by looking at their eyes to see if they reflect the heavens. There are a few "Cults" among the Gilskalos that believe different parts of their legends.
Death to the Gilskalos is an ending, and they have no belief in a Heaven or a better place after death. They believe that the spirits of the dead are trapped inbetween this world and the place of the Father, to watch over the living as Fï¿½rmyndare (Spirits if the Dead).
According to the Tibornites, there are Lysa (spirits) in the world that guide and protect them. A shaman cleric, called a Hejaren, acts as an agent between the spirit world and the real world. The Hejaren are highly revered by the Gilskalos, and are considered the most powerful beings in the tribe. These spirit masters use a complex system of protective circles, chants, incantations, and drawings to manipulate the spirits and make them do their bidding. Although scoffed at by mages in Antaron, the Hejaren do seem to be very effective at what they do (see below).
Values and Taboos: The Gilskalos value the life of the many over the life of the few; they must think this way to survive the lands in which they dwell. When a warrior dies, there is a ceremony where each of his brother warriors puts his hand on the corpse's and then throws his hand in the air screaming Farsa (Home Father!). They do this as a sign of releasing the spirit to join the Father in the other world, although they know that the release cannot happen until the Father returns to them (see Religon). The Gilskalos do not bury their dead or do anything with the body, but leave it for the predators and scavengers to consume. If asked why, they simply reply, "that which was him (or her) is not." Widowed Gilskalos women remarry quickly and seem to not grieve the loss of their mates. This has lead to a reputation of callousness among the women, but in truth it is out of necessity. To grieve long means fewer children and the next child may be their god returning.
The men value actions over words in combat and prefer to judge a man by his deeds. It is extremely taboo for a Gilskalos to kill another Gilskalos, and if it were to ever happen, that warrior would be banished off the isle forever. Their natural enemies such as the great bears, wolves and whales are all revered by the Gilskalos who hold them in a place of honour among the spirit world. Trikellens have no spirits in the eyes of the Gilskalos, and are despised rather than revered. This is especially shown in the fact that no likeness of a Trikellen is ever carved by a Giskalos.
As warriors, the Tibornite people disdain from armour completely as it hampers their freedom of movement. They tend to wear layers of furs during a hunt, with a quilted body armour underneath that is similar to leather armour.
Unique Items: The Cirkelyxan is a long, double bladed weapon that resembles two scimitars bound together by the hilts. The Gilskalos whirl this weapon around their bodies in combat and wield it with a deadly effectiveness. (In game terms, it does 1-8 points of damage and is treated as a two-weapon attack, but properly trained wielders do not receive a two-weapon penalty.)
The Bagen is a longbow made from the bones of sea dwelling animals. The bow is unique in that it has three very fine strings, and all three are used to fire the arrow, with the notching gathering all three strings. It has a much greater range than a longbow and hit with a greater thrust.
(In game terms: S: 10 M: 20 L: 28 DM: 1-8 +2 RoF; 2/1)
The Hejaren: The spirit masters of the Gilskalos work through incantations and protective circles to bind spirits to do their bidding. The process of summoning and commanding spirits is a long one and is not used in combat at all. Most clan homes have a protective circle drawn in their main living area. Protective circles can be drawn using any materials, from ink, to salt to burning or carving the circle. If a protective circle is damaged in anyway, it cannot be used, and if damaged while summoning, can leave a Hejaren completely defenseless against the spirit world. Therefore, drawing a protective circle takes a minimum of two hours to complete, and if the danger is high, the Hejaren will draw a second circle within the first for extra protection. Hejaren can also draw tattoos upon a person that protect them from the spirit world, but they are extremely temporary.
There are four types of spirits in the Gilskalos world. They are Beskaffenhet (animals and plants), Fï¿½rmyndare (guardian and the dead), Jordisk (elemental) and Ondska (evil or dark ones). The Hejaren begins working with just the Beskaffenhet; these can be summoned to get items, find a path, fight a plant disease, grow a garden faster, etc. Then they move on to the Fï¿½rmyndare that are used to heal, protect, and defend. Finally the Jordisk serve the Hejaren through fire, water, air and earth. The Jordisk are the spirits that can be used to attack and strike out at the Ondska. The Hejaren will not summon an Ondska and will attempt to use the other three spirits to attack and defend against the Ondska they must fight. In order to use a Jordisk Lysa, the Hejaren must have some of that element persent before him. For example, to summon a fire Jordisk there must be a fire placed outside of the protective circle.
Some Lysa are more dangerous than others, and the protective circle is always drawn to prevent the wrong type of spirit from answering a summoning.
Trikellens: Also on the islands are a race of beings called the Trikellens. These beasts are similar in appearance to orcs or bugbears, but they are a very different species. They are green skinned, with yellowish eyes. They are not born, but hatched from litters laid by huge females of the species.
The Trikellens have a "hive" mentality that allows them to share thoughts, and learn from each other's experiences. This race would have dominated the land by sheer numbers and wiped out the Gilskalos long ago had it not been for the fact they do not use weapons or tools. In combat they use their claw-like hands and fierce bite, and they do not cook their food. There is much speculation among scholars that the Trikellen are a magic creation gone bad, much like the gargoyle or the golem. They seem to be a strange mixture of goblinkin, bee and wolf. The Trikellen have an insect social structure with a single queen to a hive, thousands of workers (build the nest, gather the food), drones (warriors) and caretakers (tend to the young and the eggs). Trikellen have a great fear of fire but can live in cold places where even the Gilskalos cannot stay.
- Gain +1 on Strength, +1 on Dexterity, Lose -1 on Charisma, -1 on Constitution
- Maximum ability: STR. and DEX. capped at 19.
- Glosav Vision: Allows them to see movement as a form. Surprise on a 1 on a d10 only. +1 on attacking moving targets with missile weapons, 50% chance of spotting creatures that are invisible or camouflaged.
- Temperature resistance: -2 per dice for cold or fire damage.
Class restrictions: Fighter, Thief, Hejaren
Armour Restrictions: Leather at most. Gilskalos hate any armour that prevents their freedom of movement.
Possible that adventuring Gilskalos exist, young ones who have been exposed to the Dun-Karv and seek to see the world. These Tibornites would be open to other classes though clerics and magic-user would be extremely unlikely.
Vartstal: A black alloy that does not conduct heat or cold. Weapons made of it are +2 to hit and damage and save with a +5 against any attacks of heat or cold. The metal is very lightweight, about 1/3 the weight of steel. Its value is about 25 times the value of ordinary metal items (So a Long Sword would be about 400 gp). Note the +2 is due to the hardness and edge of the weapon but will not effect creatures that require magic weapons to hit. Any attempt to enchant a Vartstal weapon has so far met with failure.
- AC: 6
- HD: 5+5
- #of Att: 2
- Damage: 1-8
- Special Attacks; As they attack they go up in level attacks
- Special Defences: Hive mentality, Immune to cold
- Weakness: +2 damage with any fire attacks
Trikellens look like orcs with very green skin and huge yellow eyes. They are hatched from eggs and grow to maturity in just two months. They instinctually know how to fight, and their hive mentality gives them the ability to learn rapidly. If attacking in a large group, for every Trikellen taken down, the others gain an additional hit dice. This is the hive mentality learning the ways of the enemy and figuring out hoe to defeat it. So if six Trikellens attack and three are killed, the last three gain an additional 3 hit dice each.
Thanks to Roger (Alacrity) Briant for this contribution!