Barbarian Culture: Your Questions Answered

Timoran Wrath By Kayla Matt

Timoran Wrath By Kayla Matt

First, a big thank you to everyone who gave a question for this post.  Let’s get right to it:

John W. Howell asked: How do barbarians interact with other cultures, especially if they are exiles?

There are many reasons that a barbarian will be exiled.  Some commit crimes and the punishment is exile.  Others leave willingly after damaging their honor and hope to return one day.  The two methods result in two different mentalities too.  Those kicked out against their will tend to lose their culture and occasionally reinforce the stereotype of ‘angry, uncivilized barbarian’.  Those who leave willingly still try to hold onto their culture and share it with those they meet.

It isn’t too hard for barbarians to do this since they have a lot in common with the civilized cultures.  The difference tends to be in how they handle problems and perceive the world around them.  Barbarians are very sensitive to the natural world, so the big cities can be a little confusing to those that haven’t gone on their journey of adulthood.  They are also big on settling a personal problem quickly with either debate or fists.  It’s up to the individual to decide which path comes first.  There is a closer affinity to dwarves, which stems from the two living close to each other.  Mostly, they involve food and drink with nearly every event, including a simple discussion.

L.Marie asked:  How do Windemere barbarians differ from Conan barbarians?

The level of civility is the clearest difference.  Conan is the epitome of wild man barbarian with a powerful rage and primal physical prowess.  He had some honor, but was portrayed a lot as a thief.  Not a stupid man, but definitely brutish when angered.  Keep in mind that Conan comes from the pulp fiction era, so stories were different back then.

Windemere barbarians do have the rage that is attributed to the term.  The difference is that they have control over it.  It’s like a natural weapon instead of a hindrance.  Unlike Conan, there’s more than one and there is an established society.  He came from a lost civilization, I think, and so was an outsider.  Barbarians in Windemere are outsiders only in the same way a person from Britain would feel in America.  Some confusion over traditions and local quirks, but it can be figured out.

C.E. Robinson asked: How do Windemere barbarians switch their mind for battle?

Oddly enough, it really is like a switch.  Think of a barbarian’s rage as a muscle that they can flex and use at various levels.  Normally, a barbarian is calm and friendly as long as that’s their personality.  Every group has jerks.  The ancient rage is still inside these people and they can unleash it willingly when in battle.  It’s mostly instinct, but they train as children to get full mastery.  Part of this is to allow some of the rage to always be present, which is the source of their acute senses.

This isn’t a perfect system because a barbarian can push their rage to a point where they lose control.  In this case, they become a danger to everyone around them.  Shamans can contain the problem or other barbarians can physically restrain the berserker.  Most times, the person goes until they run out of energy and collapse on the battlefield.  This can go on for hours even after the battle is over.

Timoran Wrath by Kayla Matt

Timoran Wrath by Kayla Matt

Bookwraiths asked:  How do tribal conflicts work out with Windemere barbarians?

First thing to know is that barbarian tribes have large territories with a lot of space in between.  So they don’t run into each other very often.  There is a central council that the rulers are part of, but they only meet once a year to confirm that each tribe still exists.  An important factor here is that not every barbarian tribe is human in nature.  The Snow Tigers are, but there is a tribe for nearly every other species.  That means you have barbarian orcs, elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, etc.  Currently, there are twelve tribes across Windemere and each one possesses the primal rage of their ancestors.

Conflicts do happen at times and it depends on the combatants.  Some will settle the issues with negotiations or competitions if they are on talking terms.  For example, two civil tribes fighting over a disputed hunting ground may negotiate to share the game.  Then there are those tribes that want war and will attack without question.  This is where things get messy because alliances are called in and not only with other tribes.  It is rare that one group will be wiped out, the loser typically being run out of the territory.  Tribal wars don’t happen as often as they used to though.  Most times barbarians enter battle it is with an outside force like an aggressive neighbor, ogres, bandit armies, or other threats that are crazy enough to attack.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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16 Responses to Barbarian Culture: Your Questions Answered

  1. Fascinating! Although I think you’re short-selling Conan. You *are* talking about the king of Aquilonia, after all 🙂


  2. Good post. There is a whole lot of culture behind these folks.


  3. Super post. I don’t know where I’ve been, but I was surprised to see that every species had a barbarian tribe. That does make a lot of sense.


  4. L. Marie says:

    This is so cool! So their rage makes them more like berserkers? Love the cultural details.


    • Yes and no. Berserkers typically have no control and are set off very easily. Barbarians have more of a controlled rage. They can turn it on and off with varying levels depending on what they want to do. For example, Timoran will flash a little rage to intimidate and more when in a fight. There are dangers at going too far as well, which will be investigated in the next book. You’ve actually rarely seen Timoran going beyond intimidation. He’s yet to need a full rage, which would reduce his battlefield adaptation.


      • L. Marie says:

        Ooo. I love that aspect. There is a guy in Sabriel who is a berserker. I love his character. But yeah, the lack of control is daunting.


      • That was always a concern in D&D when you had a berserker. Fun in theory, but then you’d spend a lot of time trying not to use the power because you don’t want to attack the other players.


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