Merren are known far and wide as a race of friendly, cosmopolitan sailors and wanderers, constantly on the move in search of discovery and adventure. They wander from place to place, leaving only tales of their journeys and a collection of trinkets (not to mention broken hearts) in their wake.
However, not all merren fit into this mold. There are some merren who, by choice or circumstance, have come to dwell within the hidden and remote places of the Shards. These merren have returned to a more primal state of existence, and lack the bold sailing ships and fancy jewelry and clothing of their more civilized cousins. Secretive and insular to outsiders, these “wild merren” (as they are commonly known) live in barbarian tribes and are seemingly content to eke out a humble existence in the wilderness.
Personality: Wild merren are a fiery, passionate folk, ruled by their instincts. They are an aggressive people; although nowhere near the level of aggression found in the drakken, they tend to be tense, violent folk. This aggression is linked to the wild merren sex drive, which is unusually strong, and both sexes suffer equally from it. For the most part, wild merren manage to keep a tight reign on both their aggression and their baser instincts. Only during the mating seasons do they fully give in to their lusts. A rare few wild merren actually choose to forego mating entirely, releasing their pent up energies in battle as terrifying berserker furies.
Physical Description: Wild merren appear the same as their civilized cousins do, although they tend to be a bit more solid. For the most part, though, only by their dress, mannerisms, and speech can one tell the two apart. Both genders wear their hair long and wild merrow usually sport full beards.
Relations: Wild merren keep to themselves and only rarely deal with other races except to raid their settlements. There are exceptions to this rule, especially in Fiore, but for the most part they are secretive and insular folk.
Alignment: Wild merren are even more chaotic and free-spirited than their merren cousins, being fully in touch with their animalistic sides. Wild merren tend to be neutral in their moral outlook, but some of the more savage tribes of raiders can be outright evil.
Wild Merren Lands: Wild merren live in nomadic tribes comprised solely of either merrow or sirens. These tribes live in areas most civilized folk deem uninhabitable: forbidding mountain ranges, harsh tundra, and primeval forests of evergreen and redwood. Although they are nomadic, the wild merren cannot afford to wander aimlessly like their civilized cousins do. Instead, they commonly follow the herds of animals that they depend upon for food and for clothing. Tribes that ride featherdrakes and other flying creatures are a bit more far ranging, even travelling between shards during times of plenty. These tribes are seen as being somewhat higher in station by the land-bound wild merren, who often defer to them during times of inter-tribe dealings.
Some wild merren tribes have a totem animal with which they share their food, their living space, and their lives. Most of the time, this animal is a type suitable for use as a mount. Such tribes are fierce warriors who bond with their mounts in a way similar to a paladin with her warhorse or a wizard with his familiar. Such wild merren are the fiercest of mounted opponents, as rider and animal are as one mind. When a wild merren’s mount dies before its time (whether by accident, disease, or combat), the affect on its bonded rider is profound. Such wild merren often leave their tribes and lose themselves in the wilderness (or more rarely, among the civilized “stone dwellers”) usually to seek their own death. The same holds true for an animal whose rider has passed on.
Wild merren tribes usually exist in mated pairs. A tribe of wild merrow and a tribe of wild sirens that wander lands close to each other will meet at prescribed times during the year, usually on the first day of each season. What follows is a mating “ritual” that can only be described as a frenzied orgy accompanied by much music and feasting. After the ritual is complete, the two tribes go their separate ways and avoid each other like the plague for the rest of the year. There are no binding oaths between wild merrow and wild sirens that mate during the time of the ritual, even if their union should produce a child. Aside from the obvious complications of such a bond, the orgiastic nature of the mating ritual makes it difficult for the wild merren to tell who is related to whom. To the wild merren, the tribe is all one huge extended family, and for all they know, they are right.
Religion: Wild merren are highly animistic, recognizing that everything in the shards is alive and has a spirt, or animus, of its own. Many tribes also venerate Oemag, the Dead God, as the source of all life.
Language: Wild merren speak the merren Trade Tongue, although each tribe has its own dialect of the languages that it calls its own. These dialects are similar enough to each other that communication with other tribes or with civilized merren is possible.
Like any other race, wild merren find it useful to speak the languages of their neighbors, both friendly and hostile. Giant, draconic, and goblin are the most common of languages known by wild merren. Most tribes live well away from any widespread civilization, and so human or aelven tongues are virtually unknown to them.
Names: Wild merren have two names during their lifetime. The first name is the name given to them by their tribe upon their birth, and usually reflects some event or emotion associated with his or her birth. Sometimes these events are fortuitous (Bounty, Warm-Day, Peace) while others are not so fortuitous (Famine, Death, Hailstorm). Regardless of the positive or negative connotations of their name, each wild merren is expected to find and earn his own, adult name by the time he is an adolescent. How this adult name is earned varies from tribe to tribe, but it usually involves some rite of passage.
After successfully completing his or her rite of passage, he or she chooses something evocative (or lucky) from the experience and makes it into a name. After being approved by the tribal elders, the wild merren is known by the adult name from that moment on. To call a wild merren by his birth name after he has earned his adult name is a grievous insult, and is almost always grounds for a duel.
As wild merren do not have families in the traditional sense, they do not have surnames. If further identification is needed outside the tribe, a wild merren will use his tribe’s name as his surname.
Despite the emphasis on gender segregation, wild merren do not have names that are exclusively male or exclusively female. There is very little that is gentle or weak about either race, and this is reflected in their choice of names as well. Of course, as the wild merren names are in their native tongue, the true meaning of any such name is usually lost on outsiders.
Examples: Gazelle, Snowstorm, Lucky Shot, Fleet, Bloody Tracks, Strength, Rushing River, Stone.
Adventurers: Wild merren who leave their tribe do so for a number of reasons. For many, the wanderlust merely runs too hot in their veins, and so they seek to quench it by travelling abroad. For some, shame or exile (failure to earn an adult name, usually) is the reason for their adventuring life. For others, the death of a bonded mount has driven them to leave all memory of the beloved animal behind, including his own way of life.
· +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, -2 Intelligence, -2 Charisma: wild merren are heartier on average that their civilized cousins, and generations of living in the unforgiving wild has honed their minds’ instinctual edge. However, such a life leaves little time for intellectual pursuits and even less for niceties. The innate aggressiveness of the wild merren precludes most friendly interactions with outsiders anyways.
· Medium-Sized. Wild merrow and wild sirens are about 2-3 inches shorter than their human counterparts, on average.
· Wild merren can hold their breath for up to 5 X CON in rounds before worrying about drowning.
· Wild merren receive a +5 to Swim and Jump checks.
· Animal Handling and Ride are always considered class skills.
· Wild merren receive a +2 bonus to Ride checks with one individual animal (their bonded mount). Should that animal die, the wild merren must spend three months attuning himself to a new one before being able to apply that bonus to it.
· Wild merren base speed is 30 feet.
· Wild merren of Intelligence 11 or higher can use each of the following spell-like abilities once per day: Speak with Animal, Feather Fall (self only), and Know Direction.
· Wild merren are automatically proficient with hand axe, shortspear, and short bow.
· Automatic languages: Wild Merren. Bonus Languages: Drakken, Giant, Goblin.
· Preferred Multiclass: Barbarian or Sorceror. The wild merren chooses one or the other at character creation. Sorcerers may choose domains from the default wild merren list Wild Merren (Animal, Chaos, Feral, Transport, Weather) or, with the DMs permission, choose domains normally.
Most wild merren can be found in the High Kingdom of Fiore, where they are known as Sirsha, or “Ice People” in the Trade Tongue of the merren. Sirsha tribes comprise roughly 20% of the population of Fiore, although the vast majority of them live in nomadic tribes wandering the frigid hills and highlands of the lower shards. The sirsha separate themselves along gender lines; male sirsha are called shirai and female merren are known as yshira. The two live in their own tribes, never associating with each other except during the four mating seasons of the year.
Sirsha are the same height and build of other merren, although they tend to weigh a little more on average. The added weight comes from a thicker skin that helps to keep the sirsha warm in the freezing cold of Fiore winters. They can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees before having to make Fortitude saves vs. exposure damage, and the “extreme cold” category for sirsha starts at –10 degrees. Conversely, this thick skin also makes hotter climes all but intolerable to the sirsha. They must start saving vs. exposure at 70 degrees, and “extreme heat” for them is 100 degrees and up.
Rumors persist of isolated tribes of sirsha who live in the highest, coldest mountain ranges of Fiore. These sirsha are said to be completely white in coloration except for their eyes, which are a piercing blue. It is said that these are the wildest of the “wild merren,” performing cannibalism and blood sacrifice and worshipping various fell beasts as gods. Most dismiss such talk as nonsense, attributing it to fear of bloodthirtsy marauders from Tleyzu. Once in a while, however, a ranger will tell tales of trying a high mountain pass, and catching glimpses of the white sirsha in the trees or high in the rocks above. If the sirsha themselves know of such tribes, they aren’t telling.
There is a long-standing alliance between the nobles of Clan Iceheart and
the tribes of sirsha that live in the ice lakes of their shard, as well as close
to the Frostmere itself. The Frostmere sirsha are more hospitable as a whole towards
outsiders, and are considerably more settled than the typical sirsha nomads,
both of which were attributes leading to the alliance.
There is a tradition of intermarriage between the two races, and so there
is a large number of human-born sirsha in the Iceheart line, as well as
human-sired sirsha in the wild tribes. As
with merren, these “half-breeds” outwardly resemble their mother, with only
some small indication (pointed ears, a bluish tint to the skin, etc.) of their
mixed parentage. Such half-breeds
do not suffer the passions as acutely as the sirsha do, but the call is still