The Barbarians
Reach for the moon with Llewellyn


BARBARIAN MUSINGS

THE MEROVINGIANS

BOADICCEA


CONAN: ACROSS THE THUNDER RIVE
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THE BARBARIC WARRIOR

NORDIC RUNES



THE MEROVINGIANS

Friedrich Nietzsche proudly declared himself a Hyperborean in 1888. He then proceeded to address entities as yet unborn through his writings: kindred spirits with inclinations born of strength, spirits with the courage to delve into forbidden mysteries, spirits undaunted by the labyrinth.

Nietzsche also extolled the nobility of barbarians, saw the greatness of soul in savages whose tutelary spirits were ferocious beasts of prey. The barbarian was simultaneously a mere human, an incarnate deity and a wild animal. The barbarian was forever drawn to the challenges of the labyrinth. The barbarian could be trusted to master the maze, defeat the guardian and claim the treasure.

We are the Hyperboreans. We are the Barbarians. We are the Changelings. We are the Wanderers. We are the Skin Walkers. We are the Demigods of old. Our story has been recounted in innumerable ways throughout the ages and at times it seems, even to us, that we serve, in all our actions and deeds, as mere vehicles for propagating a handful of timeless tales.

We are the wandering Danites, and the Heraklidae returning triumphantly from exile. We are the longhaired Merovingians, barbarian usurpers, sorcerers and divine monarchs all at once, our sovereignty assured by virtue of the unique and intangible qualities of our mysterious royal heritage.

And yes, we protect a powerful secret, one that can transform the world.

Would you know more?

Rant by Thor the Barbarian



BOADICCEA

Boadiccea of the Iceni ranks closely with King Arthur as one of Britain’s greatest heroes. What is known of her story, unfortunately, comes mostly from Roman sources – the enemy. It is said that the victors write the history books and this is certainly true in Boadiccea’s case. Still, her tale of bloodthirsty slaughter was grounded in Roman provocation.


Her husband, Prasutagus, paid the Romans tribute and kept some control of Iceni lands while he lived. Celtic women who were outspoken and fought alongside their husbands in battle freaked out the Romans. In his will, Prasutagus left half of his estate and monies to the Emperor Nero and the other half to Boudiccea and their two daughters. The king thought this would be reasonable enough and still provide well for his family. Boudiccea fully expected to be treated with the same respect Prasutagus enjoyed and remain Queen of the Iceni.


The Romans, however, seized all of Prasutagus’ lands and monies. In a viciously spiteful move, the Romans declared Boudiccea responsible for all the debts in her regency. Because she could not pay the debts, they seized the Queen, stripped her, and publicly flogged her. Roman soldiers raped her two daughters. This humiliation inflamed the Iceni. As Queen, Boudiccea and her daughters were probably the High Priestesses of their people, so these actions were also sacrilegious. Roman greed and utter contempt they displayed for the Celtic tribes began the great rebellion of 61 CE.

The Celtic tribes usually considered themselves separate entities, but Boudiccea’s situation raised a great army of angry Britons. The Queen – described as an imposing woman with an authoritative voice and long red hair – amassed an army estimated to be over 100,000. The Iceni and their allies marched first to Camulodunum (Colchester). They burnt it to the ground and slaughtered the Roman inhabitants. The next target would be Londinium (London).

Londinium was a growing city of business and trade. About 30,000 settlers – not all of them Roman – lived there in Boudiccea’s time. Suetonius, the Roman sent to fight Boudiccea, beat her to the city and took a long hard look at the city’s defenses. It had nothing to repel an army, so the Roman general abandoned Londinium to its fate!


Boudiccea and her army burned Londinium in a conflagration so intense; it left a layer of red soil forever beneath London. Again, anyone who hadn’t fled was slaughtered. The Romans tell of great atrocities enacted on the losing side by the Celts. Her army was now ready to attack Verulamium (St. Albans). Again, Suetonius waited. Again, the city was scorched and its inhabitants slaughtered.


The Britons were undisciplined, running on rage. Suetonius picked his fight well and chose a position where his small army could defeat the huge force Boudiccea led. The Celts showed up to the battle with their families in wagons! The Romans took advantage of the poorly protected women and children and cut deeply into the British ranks. Some 80,000 Britons died in that battle but there were much fewer Roman casualties. Suetonius’ tactics destroyed the Iceni uprising.


Boudiccea did not die in the battle. Some reports say she took poison (maybe even a year afterward!) to escape capture by the Romans. Other reports say she died of an illness. Boudiccea and her daughters disappear into history and legend at this point. The Iceni were not so lucky.


In revenge, the Romans executed Iceni or made them slaves. Iceni lands were taken over by the military, families losing their hereditary homelands. The Romans even built a drainage system to pull all the water out of the soil and destroy farms! The great Iceni rebellion was over.

Boudiccea has become a symbol for British independence and their fighting spirit. Although her rebellion was short lived, it left an indelible mark in the way the Romans viewed their British subjects and visa versa. In the back of every Briton’s mind was the memory of how they once fought back and nearly drove the Romans out. Also, the failure of the Romans to capture Boudiccea either dead or alive was taken as a disgrace. Even if she didn’t poison herself (the reporters were Roman) she never again led another battle against Rome. One source says that she took ill after the battle and died from her wounds. Her final resting place is unknown.


I honestly can’t say that Boudiccea was a great tactician. Her army, at best, was an angry mob with no discipline. The Celts were warriors, not soldiers, and charged headlong into battle. That she managed to unite the various tribes together to form such a large army was amazing. Although commanding them must have been like herding cats!


Modern women identify with Boudiccea on many levels, but mostly her rage. Boudiccea is just as capable as her late husband, but is disrespected and embarrassed publicly. She has to endure not only her own pain, but the pain of seeing her daughters raped in front of her. Her retaliation against the Romans is bloody, but carries with it anger shared by all her countrymen. Roman rule was harsh and unjust. The Romans not only raped her daughters, they were raping Britain. The extreme prejudice Boudiccea visits on the Roman cities is no less than any Mother protecting her children is capable of. The Celtic tribes following Boudiccea have no problem with her being a woman. This is unheard of in the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian culture we modern folk have inherited.


Boudiccea’s name means “Victory.” Although her efforts fell short of total victory, she remains a symbol of indomitable spirit.

Heroic History by Muninn the Changeling

CONAN: ACROSS THE THUNDER RIVER

Mongoose Publishing: Conan RPG Sourcebook

A barbarian thrives on the frontier, and is a native of the untamed places that civilizations seek to subjegate. Conan of Cimmeria, after a lifetime of wandering, found his destiny near to home fighting the Picts, ancestral enemies of his people since the days of Atlantis.

Mongoose Publishing has done an excellent job of bringing the Pictish Wilderness to life in this recent expansion to the legendary Conan RPG. The Picts are presented as a great peril, which indeed they are. It is the Picts who will one trample the proud kingdoms of the Hyborian Age beneath their bare feet after all is said and done.

The provinces of the Westermarch, a tenuous buffer between the howling Pictish Wilderness and Aquilonia's Bossonian Marches, are vividly detailed with georgraphical, military and political lore supported by colrful maps and NPCs that bring each region to life. Adventure hooks abound, and you are provided with a wealth of information on adventuring on Aquilonia's frontier. Aside from the Picts, there are fearsome beasts (some of them supernatural) and dread diseases to contend with.

Not the Borderer type? Prefer the savage lifestyles of the fierce and barbaric? Fear not: nearly half of this tome is a detailed gazeteer of the Pictish Wilderness and contains everything you need to create a fierce Pictish Barbarian in all their glory.

The Picts are totemic and shamanistic. They are aboriginal people with the souls of beasts who live in a mythical dream-time, a perfect setting for perpetual barbaric adventure. Though everything needed to play a Pict is in this tome, Mongoose's Quintessential Barbarian I & II contain lots of additional information and game mechanics that can further enhance the experience.

There is a chapter on the mysterious Ligurans, a white race led by Druids, and sections detailing the Secrets of the Painted Men, Savage Magic and even a Bestiary of native creatures. Prestige Classes, such as the Hunt Master and Drummer in the Dark are outlined for those who wish to make the Pictish Wilderness their home.

This tome closes with an exciting campaign, Defending the West: The Fall of the Westermarch. Though crafted for beginning characters, it can be easily scaled to fit the needs and capabilities of your players. Tips for GMing and a Hyborian timeline are also provided.

Conan had some of his most savage and memorable adventures in this setting, and now so can you. The imminent release of the Aquilonia boxed set for the Conan RPG, as well as the upcoming Barbarians and Borderers will allow for unlimited adventuring in the northwestern portion of the Thurian continent during the Age of Conan.

As with all other Conan RPG products, this tome is of value even to non-gamers as a Hyborian resource and reference work. I am honored to add this treasured tome to the sacred scrolls of my Conan library.

Review by Thor the Barbarian

THE BARBARIC WARRIOR

Misfit Studios: OGL Barbarian Sourcebook

Having whet our appetite for OGL Barbarian products with his tantalizing Prestige Classes, Steven Trustrum now serves us a tasty appetizer and strong drink in his most recent release, The Barbaric Warrior.

Whether you're adventuring in Mongoose Publishing's Conan RPG, Wizard of the Coast's Dungeons and Dragons: Frostburn or any other campaign world where fierce barbarian swordsmen and their fiendish adversaries clash in combat, The Barbaric Warrior contains exactly what you need to turbocharge your barbarically based campaign.

A Skill addendum and senenteen new Feats expand your Fighting Arts. There are new Weapons and Armor to acquire, and eleven brutally innovative Combat Manuevers to master. You can also protect yourself with Piecemeal Armor, allowing for the stylistic customization found in your favorite sword & sorcery comic books and movies.

Several new Prestige Classes grace this work (as befits a Misfit Studios release): Divine Falconer, Honor Duelist, Horse Lord, Kindred Archer, Mauler, Warrior of Dreams and Pit Fighter. A detailed NPC exemplifies each of these Prestige Classes.

As an added bonus, there is additional information on handling Black Lotus Addiction and running tournament Pit Fights in your campaign.

I've quaffed my heady brew and savored this offering, so now I find myself hungering for the meal ahead. The Barbaric Warrior marks a significant step forward for Misfit Studios and proudly joins such treasures as Quintessential Barbarian I & II (Mongoose Publishing) and Masters of the Wild (Wizards of the Coast) as MUST HAVES for any serious D&D/OGL/d20 gamer with a barbaric bent.

The version now available on http://www.lulu.com/misfitstudios includes the earlier OGL Barbarian Prestige Classes (released individually and reviewed last issue) and boasts several other exciting extras.

I salute you Steven Trustrum!

Review by Thor the Barbarian

Note: Join us next month when we interview Shawn Richter, whose barbaric art graces the pages of many OGL Barbarian products.


NORDIC RUNES

Inner Traditions: Destiny Books Trade Paperback

The runes of the Elder Futhark are more than the letters of a lost alphabet. They are living symbols that can be used for divination, self-transformation and magick.

Although timeless in their meanings, the runes have their roots in the rich mythical landscape of the Norse. The tales told of the nine worlds and their denizens bind the runes together into a cohesive framework that promulgates an ancient germanic worldview. They also serve as keys to understanding the deep insights and unleashing the transformative powers offered by the staves.

Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort serves as an excellent guide for those wishing to understand and utilize the runes. Mountford is a writer, researches and teacher of Celto-Norse esoterica residing in New Zealand. His tome is comprehensive and rests firmly on a solid foundation of scholarship. It is also user friendly and fun to read.

The book begins with the basic Rune Lore you will need to benefit from this magickal journey into the Northern Tradition.

The core of the book deals with the Runestaves themselves. Each rune is accompanied by historical Rune Poems, relevant myths and legends, a detailed explanation of meaning and a visualization that facilitates absorbing the information presented in the text. Though I claim prior familiarity with the Elder Futhark, I found the visualizations a valuable mnemonic device and the mythic lore a powerful tool in using the runes.

Although many authors pay lip service to the runic 'Aetts' but don't bother to explain them, Mountfort places the runes firmly in their proper family of 'eights'. Frey, Hagal and Tyr retain their sovreignty over their etched glyphs as is meet.

The third portion of Nordic Runes provides you with everything you need to succeed at Runecasting, including an explanation of the Nine-Worlds spread. As with all else, you must practice your new craft to gain proficiency. Nordic Runes is easy to reference while you are learning and, as noted, facilitates the process of internalizing the lore.

There is also some basic information on the Runic Revival, including the runic worldview in Tolkein's Middle Earth and the Nazis' preoccupation with runes, to whet your appetite for further exploration. Should Paul Rhys Mountfort decide to guide us on the next leg of this journey in a future tome, I for one will gladly take the tour.

Review by Thor the Barbarian

(c) 2005 The Barbarians