Blood and Thunder
Cairnlords or Cairnlanders are tall and muscular, with grayish skin and usually black or gray hair.
They are a truly remarkable — and slightly disgusting — race because, well, they are tomb dwellers. Their land was once a powerful empire, even more ancient than the Keronian Empire, but even its name is forgotten today.
The only remnants of that distant past are the massive Cairns, artificial hills containing the tombs of the so-called Ancestors. Some of the Cairns are so large that they can be considered true necropolises. The Cairnlanders inhabit them, sleeping, eating, mating and generally living side by side with the ancient dead ones. They also bury their relatives in the Cairns, so the Ancestors’ numbers are always growing.
For a Cairnlander the difference between life and death isn’t that big, or that important. He sees them as two only slightly different states of existence. Even after death, he continues to stay with his family, and his skull may become a relative’s favorite pot, his femur a war club or some other useful tool.
They are convinced that the spirits of the Ancestors speak to them, leading and protecting them. Controlling a large Cairn grants great power, not only because of the ancient treasures buried within (the Cairnlanders’ metalworking techniques are primitive and almost all their metal comes from the Cairns), but also because of the protection granted by the newlyacquired Ancestors.
The kingdom of the Ancestors was once so vast that some Cairns are within the boundaries of the Northlanders’ territories and even of the Iron Empire. However, this does not stop enemy Cairn Lords from fighting savagely to gain control of the major Cairns, near or far though they might be.
The Cairnladers are organized in clans, ruled by a chief or a king. They live off hunting, herding, very primitive agriculture, and pillaging. They usually wear pelts and ancient rags or armor they found in their Cairns. Almost all of them also wear an amulet or some other object belonging to an Ancestor, in the belief that it will grant protection.
Moreover, they tend to have self-imposed names, more similar to nicknames than to standard, civilized names. Some examples are Whispering Ears, Goatpaw, Brokensword, Seven He Killed, Bride of the Dead One, Skeletal Horse, etc
Umberto Pignatelli. (2011). Beasts & Barbarians, p 24. Studio 2 Publishing. ISBN 978-8393179657