Icewalker (Culture)

The hardened individuals scratching a life from the unforgiving tundra of the Icebound Plains are known as Icewalkers. Their culture is one of strength and stoicism. To outsiders it may appear barbaric, but it is a way of life the evolved to improve the chances of survival in the frigid northlands of Aetaltis.

Icewalker mercenaries guide a messenger through Stonegate Pass. (Art by Mitchell Malloy)

CULTURAL TRAITS

  • Geographic Origin Icebound Plain
  • Dominant Race Drothmal
  • Secondary Race None
  • Preferred Government Tribal
  • Language (Dialect) Dorthmalen (Icewalker)
  • Patron Enaros Droth
  • Secondary Enaros None
  • Values Courage, combat skill, strength
  • Aversions Cowardice, weakness
  • Favored Races Orog, scythaa
  • Favored Cultures Primitive
  • Unacceptable Races Cheebat, halflings
  • Unacceptable Cultures Warrener, Dalelander
  • Public Opinion Dangerous and uncivilized raiders and barbarians

Manner

Icewalkers are a proud people. They live and die by their word and react violently to any attack on their honor. They are stalwart companions and refuse to break even minor oaths. Icewalkers have dispensed with social pleasantries and can seem crude and uncouth when measured against the standards of other cultures.

Appearance

Icewalkers use heavy hides and thick furs to make their clothing. While the materials are crude, the clothing is not. Every stitch is tight, every ornament perfectly placed, and any wear on the clothing receives immediate attention. This gives the Icewalkers a crisp, well-kept appearance, despite the primitive designs and materials used in their attire. Hair for both sexes is shaved to a topknot to reveal the distinctive pattern of spots that cover a drothmal's head and back.

Art

Carved ivory ornaments of practical use, such as buttons or clasps, are the primary means of Icewalker artistic expression. Tattoos are also a popular art form and use symbolic images and patterns to represent personal accomplishments or important life events.

Music

Bone flutes and drums are the only instruments used by the Icewalkers. They use these to accompany raucous choral melodies that glorify legendary feats of combat by the tribe and its ancestors.

Food and Drink

The Icewalker diet consists primarily of meat and heartwine. Meat is eaten raw and fresh if possible. Heartwine is an alcoholic drink made from blood. It is difficult to make and is a delicacy among Icewalkers.

Homes

Icewalkers live in domed tents made from hides and held up by the giant rib bones of the collosal mamut. The tents are easily broken down for transport when the tribe must move to follow the herds they hunt. Personal belongings are limited to that which is easily carried and furniture is non-existent.

Values

Icewalkers live in a world where only the strong survive, so physical strength and resiliance are the most valued personal traits. Icewalkers also appreciate courage and determination.

Aversions

Cowards and weaklings are not tolerated in Icewalker society. If a person flees from hardship or danger, they endanger the entire tribe. Such behavior receives a swift and harsh punishment.

Customs

Birth

On the first day after their birth, Icewalker babies lie exposed and alone on a hide inside the mother’s tent. The child is fed as needed during this period, but receives no other comfort, warmth, or protection. This seemingly cruel tradition ensures that only the strongest children join the tribe.

Majority

When reaching majority, young Icewalkers take part in a ritual called iyeranka. The ritual varies slightly between tribes, but the ceremony typically involves acts resulting in excruciating pain such as the ritual scarification, branding, or extended periods of exposure.

Marriage

Icewalkers don’t believe in marriage. Long-term bondings between males and females aren’t unheard of, but marriage implies a bond stronger or more important than that of one’s bond to the tribe. This makes marriage an unacceptable practice.

Death

When an Icewalker dies they are given last rites and then their body is left for the wild creatures to consume. This returns the bodies to the Enaros in a final, gruesome trial while providing strength to the natural world that supports the Icewalker’s way of life.

Religion

Icewalkers worship Droth. Most worship is a personal affair in which the drothmal reflects about their personal suffering. On the rare occasions that they undertake ritualized group worship, they do so by building massive fires, drinking copious amounts of heartwine, and then dancing by the fire light while beating themselves with spiked whips. This sort of ceremony is only held under extreme circumstances since asking Droth for aid is seen as a sign of weakness.

Magic

There is little magic among the Icewalkers since the nomadic culture can’t support the dedicated learning institutions needed to train spellcasters. Enchanted items are rare.

Unusual Customs, Traditions, and Taboos

If an Icewalker bests another Icewalker in battle, the mate of the other is honor bound to become the mate of the victor. Failure to do so willingly is punishable by death. Note that this is true regardless of the challenger's or challenged's gender.

Icewalker Traits for 5E


Characters that are members of the Icewalker culture receive the following benefits and disadvantages.

  • Language Drothmalen (Icewalker)
  • Social Reaction1 Advantage Deeplander, Icewalker, Primitive
  • Social Reaction1 Disadvantage Feyen, Newardine

Cultural Features

You may also select two of the cultural features described below.

Feature: Beast Soul

Since a child you've felt a bond with the wild creatures of the world. You gain advantage on Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks when attempting to read the emotional state of a wild animal. Note that this does not help you to control the creature, speak to it, or otherwise improve interactions. You just have the natural ability to sense what wild animals are feeling (fear, aggression, hunger, etc.)

Feature: Icewalking

You are experienced at walking on ice and trudging through deep snow. Neither ice nor deep snow are treated as difficult terrain for your character. This ability does not extend to other slippery surfaces or wading through material other than snow.

Feature: Talisman

After you made your first kill during a hunt, your War Clan's shaman carved a talisman for you out of ivory. It is a stylized representation of the animal or monster you killed, and it is small enough that it fits easily in your closed fist. If the creature you killed had tusks or large enough teeth, the shaman likely carved it from parts harvested from the animal you killed. The shaman told you that the talisman contains the spirit of the dead animal. This spirit will watch and guide you in your times of need as it's thank you to you for delivering Droth's blessing upon it.

  • Equipment A small ivory talisman in the shape of an animal or monster. Your character does not doubt the fact that it is magical, although the truth is up to your GM.

Feature: Totem Animal

Growing up, you established a special bond with a particular type of wild animal. You embraced the creature as your totem animal. You gain advantage on any Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks you make related to that animal. In addition, when people first meet your character, on a successful DC 15 passive Wisdom (Perception) check they get a strange feeling that reminds them of your totem animal.

Suggested Characteristics

d6 Personality Trait
1 If the meat isn't bleeding, you've overcooked it!
2 My laugh is as loud and resonant as a grey cat's roar.
3 When I witness showy displays of magic, my eyes narrow and I've been known to growl, "Sorcery!"
4 Whenever I have nothing to do, I pull out my weapon and sharpen the blade.
5 If it's not snowing, its too hot.
6 Of course I never bathe. If you don't appreciate the fine natural musk the Enaros blessed me with, that's your problem.

 

d6 Ideal
1 Austerity. One should only take or keep what they need. (Any)
2 Freedom. No one has the right to enslave another. (Good)
3 Liberty. Laws and rules are constraints placed on us by those who wish to control us. (Chaos)
4 Purification. Those with power have a duty to destroy the forces of Darkness. (Good)
5 Environmentalism. The natural world is not ours to control or consume without need. (Neutral)  
6 Ascetic. Only Droth may choose when or if I may experience pleasure. (Lawful)

 

d6 Bond
1 I will never let my War Clan down.
2 There is nowhere more beauitful than the endless horizon of the Icebound Plains.
3 Oaths must never be broken.
4 The Drothmalen Code is sacred and immutable.
5 The talisman my shaman gave me is like a part of my soul.
6 My weapon is an extension of my body.

 

d6 Flaw
1 Endrori do not deserve Droth's blessing. They must all die!
2 I have no interest in your civilized ways, so don't even try to make me follow them. 
3 Perfumed lords could use a little of Droth's blessing, and I'm the one to give it to them.
4 My interpretation of and devotion to the Drothmalen code is literal and unwavering.
5 I have no patience for people that turn their noses up at my 'primitive' ways.
6 I HATE HALFLINGS...but those little sweet cakes they make are so delicious!

 

FOOTNOTES

Particularly as we get started posting new material, there will be topics we haven't covered yet. In most cases you an easily read between the lines to understand the meaning, but we wanted to note some areas where we have expanded material that we'll be sharing.

(1) Expanded Aetaltis rules for social reactions will be shared in an upcoming article.

ART AND ILLUSTRATIONS

  • Character art by Mitchell Malloy.
  • Holy Symbols by Ashley MacKenzie.
     

Discover Aetaltis...

To learn more about the World of Aetaltis, check out a full index of our past content posts here!

All game rules published under Open Game License v 1.0a.

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