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Wildmen

Appearance

The Wildmen are large, muscular and covered in bushy hair – so much so that it covers almost all other distinguishing features, save for a pair of large, glowing eyes.  Though their hair color comes in a wide variety of colors, it’s typically darker and richer among forest-dwelling Wildmen, growing paler among the mountain Wildmen and finally to stark whites and silvers for the tundra-dwelling “polar” Wildmen.

While standing upright they tower over most Humans, but the Wildmen can also drop to all fours and run blindingly fast.  The males tend to be larger than the females, with both capable of amazing feats of strength, both physically and vocally.  A Wildman’s call – equal parts howling, whooping and roaring – can be heard from miles away, and up close it can stun or deafen its target.

History

According to legend, the Wildmen were once Humans that were cursed for defying the God of Many Aspects.  While this tale is mostly told to misbehaving children, there has always been a sense of wariness between Humans and Wildmen.  The Wildmen today still have no written language or history, but instead record their history as rock carvings and cave paintings.

By all accounts, the Wildmen were no more intelligent than animals in the early days of their existence, but this all changed during the Tumult between 450 and 150 BE.  Each new generation was born cleverer than the last during this chaotic time.  From this point on, the Wildmen began to actively avoid their Human neighbors, and retreated to the deep forests, mountains and tundra.

During the First and Second Empire, the Wildmen were often caught in between the Empire’s forces and the rebels.  Scouts from both sides would stumble upon a Wildman den, but few survived the violent retaliation that followed.  Quite a few missions failed because of local Wildmen, to the point that a few Human tribes offered bounties for each Wildman slain.

After the Empire, the Wildmen enjoyed a time of peace as the Humans focused their efforts on rebuilding their cities.  The Wildmen began to construct stone monuments out of massive rock slabs, usually as markers to their dens or other important sites.  It was also around 160 AF when the first “Wild Chorus” was heard – a haunting harmony performed by countless Wildmen in the mountains.

Culture

Wildmen are fiercely isolationist, and little is known about their culture as a result.  Even good-natured scholars find themselves attacked by the Wildmen they’re attempting to study.

What’s been established is that the Wildmen are one of the most primitive races of Itaire.  They don’t wear clothing, they have no writing and they use only the most basic of tools.  They also travel in small family troupes, led by a male Alpha and his wives.  Though universally nomadic, many Wildmen have semi-permanent dens that they travel between, with the only permanent den located far to the north in the Hvittral Tundra, known simply as the Wildmen Lair.  Those that live there are among the most territorial and ferocious, killing any adventurers who get too close.

What separates the Wildmen from mere beasts, however, is their faith.  They worship stone and wooden idols that they protect at all costs, and whenever a troupe enters a new den, the idol is granted a place of honor at the center.  Scholars speculate that the eerie Wild Chorus is also tied to their religion, though it is still unknown why the Wildmen perform it.  The stone monuments that they build are another mystery.  On the one hand, Wildmen seem to ignore the structures after they are built, but they still defend them against animals and other travelers if given the opportunity.

There have been cases where Wildmen were raised by Humans or other beings, sometimes as an act of sympathy when a Wildman infant is found abandoned.  Though they can learn to understand different words, they have a hard time duplicating them, making them ideal candidates for mercenary groups.  More unsavory mercenaries have been known to kidnap infant Wildmen to train them as fighters.  These cases are still few and far between, however, as such groups will inevitably attract the wrath of a vengeful Wildmen hunting party.