"It was so long ago and far away
I have forgotten the very name men called me.
The axe and flint-tipped spear are like a dream,
And hunts and wars are like shadows. I recall
Only the stillness of that sombre land;
The clouds that piled forever on the hills,
The dimness of the everlasting woods.
Cimmeria, land of Darkness and the Night."
-- Robert E. Howard: "Cimmeria"
CIMMERIA - LAND OF THE CIMMERIANS Edit
Cimmeria, birthplace of Conan, was an unremittingly somber land, "all of hills, darkly wooded, under skies nearly always gray, with winds moaning drearily down the valleys".
These people live in Cimmeria, a land of wooded fields and hard tundra, cold mountain ranges, winds moaning drearily down the valleys, gray skies are all part of the Cimmerian geography. A nation of barbarian tribes situated north of Aquilonia and separated from it by a narrow strip of the Bossonian Marches and Gunderland. The Pictish Wilderness lay to the west of Cimmeria. The high Eiglophian Mountains walled off the country from Vanaheim and Asgard on the north.
Politically Cimmeria is surrounded by those who would aim to kill or conquer the native clans. Those ancient and proud clans have thrived in the Cimmerian foothills since the time of the Atlanteans. The desolate terrain has long since been softened with the blood of Aesir warriors, Pictish invaders, Vanir raiders, Hyperborean Gurnakhi, or foolish would-be conquerors from the Border Kingdoms. But no one man could possibly claim these unconquerable people-or the lands in which they struggle daily to survive. Cimmeria is a harsh place of clan wars and tightly-knit families, where strength and cunning are key to survival.
It is a land filled with dangerous people and predators, where much of the life that can be found in its frozen hills lives only to take life from another. Wolves, mountain cats and fierce bears hunt the frozen ranges and thick woods, more than capable of killing entire hunting parties unprepared for their savagery. Stories of monstrous beasts and dark legends waiting in the icy wastes for foolish travelers are told around crackling campfires, many of which have been proven true time and time again. In Cimmeria, if the weather and the terrain do not claim you, something else likely will. To live in the harsh North requires a degree of fatalism, to accept one's place in the landscape.
The are many vagabonds and outlaws roaming Cimmerian wilderness. In Cimmeria, if one wants not to be found, such a thing is easy.
In Cimmeria, with any luck, when one is born their mother lives through the childbirth, and the babe survives their first year. As a child, they roam free and learn the rules of nature and the realities of the land. With luck, they survive this force as well. Life can be short in the North, and everyone who lives in this region is well acquainted with death. From birth to death, the Cimmerians struggle. Nothing is easy, and they never give up. However, the Cimmerians are not arrogant. They recognize their place in this vast world, so much bigger than they.
Only the strong will carve out a living here, often quite literally. The terrain is difficult, but many come to see for themselves. The Eiglophian Mountains tempt adventurers into their frozen heights to test their mettle against bloodthirsty cannibals and fabled creatures of legend. There is little question as to why foreigners who believe themselves strong of arm and swift of blade come to Cimmeria.
It is the land that spawned the great and famous Conan of Canch, whose travels and adventures have been the road map of legendary for all of Hyboria. Many of his exploits echo across his homeland, beckoning others of the clans to mimic his life of danger and excitement. In a way, it was this land's harshness that tempered Conan as much as the drive of the man himself.
Cimmeria, the land of Crom, may not be peaceful, pleasant, or easily survived, but it makes a tough people even tougher and sends the foolish to an early grave. It is a difficult place that lays low the weak and heralds the strong. There is a saying among the clans of the southern border-"Make peace with your gods before you come to Cimmeria, as it will not be found here."
DESCRIPTION OF CIMMERIANSEdit
"Conan's low laugh was merciless as the ring of steel. 'You fool!' he all but whispered. 'I think you never saw a man from the North before. Did you deem yourself strong because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was full-grown-man - like this!' And with a savage wrench he twisted Baal-pteor's head around until the ghastly face leered over the left shoulder, and the vertebrae snapped like a rotten branch."
-- Robert E. Howard: "Shadows in Zamboula"
Cimmerians of Conan's time were apparently still in a hunting and gathering culture, living in villages deep in the humid forests.
Cimmeria is an unremittingly somber land, "all of hills, darkly wooded, under skies nearly always gray, with winds moaning drearily down the valleys" and its inhabitants are wont to be moody, taking on the cast of their gray skies. The people are the direct descendants of vanished Atlanteans. They are tall and powerful, with dark hair and blue or gray eyes. They live in small, isolated tribes which herd cattle, grow oats and raid one another for cattle or wives.
The Cimmerians are known to be a gloomy people, famed for their deep melancholy but also feared for their great rages. They live like most barbarian cultures, in small tribes governed by the strongest amongst them. They are a blunt, direct people who respect strength and self-reliance but abhor weakness and cowardice.
Although they know of the craft of iron-working (Conan's father was a blacksmith), they still seem to have a nearly stone-age society, as Conan himself remarks: "I saw myself in a panther-skin lion-cloth, throwing my spear at the mountain beasts."
The Cimmerians are a people forged by the very harsh conditions of their land. Howard often makes reference to the Cimmerian people's hardiness and martial prowess, as well as to their many other impressive skills. They can climb seemingly unscalable cliffs, track humans and animals with ease, and stalk their prey without making a sound, despite their stature.
Cimmerians move quickly, fleet of foot, nimble on the rocks and uneven ground of the moors. Part of this skill is due to many a Cimmerian's childhood being spent on the land. Rock formations and terrain speak to them of pathways and shortcuts and vantage points. From the time a child walks, the wilds of Cimmeria are open to them. Even a child of five years is hardened against the weather and the altitude, able to read the wind and the skies for impending storms, and to find shelter and food.
Life in the cold hills of Cimmeria is hard, the rocks and soil giving up only a meager living, and only with constant toil. Generations of Cimmerians will work and work themselves into an early grave, leaving to their children but the list of tasks for the next day's effort. Millennia will pass, and Cimmerian men will still hammer iron, and Cimmerian women will still mind the cooking pot an work the distaff.
The typical appearance of a Cimmerian warrior is that of a 5'8"-5'10", dark-haired, bronze-skinned hills-man, with blue or grey eyes, bare-chested with a steel shield and a battle-axe.
The origins of the Cimmerians stretch back to the Thurian Age. The Cimmerians are the descendants of colonists from Atlantis.
Prior to the Cataclysm, Atlantis created colonies on the mainland. When the great cataclysm which submerged Atlantis and destroyed most of the Thurian civilizations, the Continental Atlantean colonies escaped the destruction. Living on the main Thurian continent, they were besieged by apes and ape-men, and the Atlanteans had to fight hard for survival. The secret to steel and metallurgy was lost to them, however they became skilled stone-masons, retaining still their artistic heritage.
The Atlanteans encountered the brutal Picts and the long fight with this overpowering force demolished the Atlanteans and the few survivors were forced to become as savage as their foes. The survivors, at this point reduced to a stone-age level of sophistication, eventually found themselves locked in multi-generational warfare with survivors of a Pictish colony. For five hundred years the two races continued to fight, instead of learning to advance their civilizations. This prolonged conflict caused the Atlanteans to further devolve into little more than ape-men. The Picts had the advantage, for they were numerous and led by powerful kings, while the Atlanteans were separated into disparate clans. Slowly, inexorably, the two cultures destroyed each other. Then, a lesser cataclysm further threw the two races backwards down the path of evolution.
A thousand years after the lesser cataclysm, the descendants of the Atlanteans were little more than ape-men. Their people no longer had the capability for language and did not know even the rudiments of fire or tools. They dwelled in the northwest, where the hills were forested, and probably extended their range all the way to the Ocean. The Picts had fared better, however, and still retained their name and a basic language. They dwelt in the southwest.
After another five centuries the Atlanteans at last had progressed forward. Completely unaware of their heritage, their history lost to them, the ape-men were slowly becoming men again. Another thousand years found the descendants of Atlantis creating a primitive society. Over the next five hundred years, this race of man was calling themselves Cimmerians. They started advancing quickly after they made contact with the Acheronians and, later, the Hyborians. The Cimmerians regained the art of steel and developed most of their culture. The Picts had already pushed them from the sea into the region north of Aquilonia.
The next era of five hundred years introduced the Cimmerians to the Vanir and the Æsir, who swept down from the north, claiming the lands above the Eiglophians. Through all these eras, despite the clashes against the Picts, the Hyperboreans, the Nordheimr, the Acheronians and other races, the Cimmerians kept their bloodlines pure, intermarrying only amongst their own tribes.
Most Cimmerians dress simply, choosing to wear loin-cloths or simple kilts with heavy furs to protect against the cold. Their hair tends to be wild and long, possibly confined by a metal circlet or rawhide thong.
Cimmerians make their clothing out of linen or wool. Cimmerian men wear léines with braecci (trousers) or trews. A leine is a saffron-colored linen shirt that hangs to below the knee on men and to the ankle on women. If worn with trousers or trews, the léine hangs to mid-thigh. Trews are woolen trousers worn tight on the legs with buttons on the back from the ankles to mid-calf. Cimmerians usually wear belts to hold up their braecci or trews and around the léine. Personal items are carried in a pouch depending from the belt. Shoes or boots are worn as well as a mantle. Cimmerians also wear woolen inars, jackets with a type of pleated skirt.
Women wear tunics for the upper body as well as one-piece, full-length dresses with sleeves. They are heavy dresses, described as hideous to the more civilized races of the south. They also wear peplums, which are tubular-type dresses with sleeves. Skirts are worn around the waist, as are belts.
Cimmerians shun finery and ostentation. Typically clothing for men and women are simple tunics or shirts of coarse wool and linen worn either with kilts or woolen trousers, dyed with simple, natural dyes derived from minerals or vegetables. This is everyday garb worn to protect against the seemingly incessant rain and cold, chilly nights. Footwear, when worn (often it is not – many Cimmerians go barefoot), is a pair of simple leather sandals laced around the ankle and calf.
Every clan adopts specific colors that are displayed in the patterns woven into kilts, tunics or trousers. These colors are often plaids or crude tartans; regular, geometric patterns that are simple to weave but intricate enough to promote clan identity.
In cold weather cloaks are very common, being of either wool, sheep or goatskin, or, occasionally, leather. Hats and other forms of headgear, with the exception of helmets for battle, are extremely rare among Cimmerians, although a cloak might have a hood stitched to it if lengthy travel in inclement weather needs to be undertaken. Cimmerians generally consider headwear to be a form of disguise as it shadows the eyes or masks the hair. Every Cimmerian is proud to be a Cimmerian; disguises or attempts at them, are for cowards and thieves.
However, when it comes to hunting and warfare, dress changes radically. Loincloths of soft leather, sometimes accompanied by leather jerkins, replaces the woolen shirt and kilt. Such garb would easily snag when out in the wilds and, although it protects against the cold, Cimmerians would far rather shiver than be impeded when it comes to a high-speed chase through forest and brier, or across bleak moorland.
When going into battle, those Cimmerians who have armor, either taken from slain enemies, gifted by fathers or clan elders, or bought (although this is rare), wear it – especially helmets. Cimmerians, whilst proud of their prowess in battle and eager to display their strength and tenacity, are not fools and value good, solid protection. Many outsiders view all Cimmerians as near-naked savages, running into battle nude, save for a loincloth and battle scars, but this is a rare sight; Cimmerian war bands wear whatever armor they can and those that do choose to go semi-naked , usually have a specific reason for doing so (the most common being that they cannot afford armor).
FOOD AND DRINKEdit
Cimmeria is a land of subsistence, peopled for the most part by hunters and gatherers. They raid for what they cannot produce themselves and are not given toward international trade. The food is brought in through hunting, but Commerians also conduct raids on the marches of the Southern or Border Kingdoms, such as the Bossonian Marches. There are also raids in the north of Cimmeria, in the Nordheim countries. For this reason, no trade caravans from the civilized lands make their way into Cimmeria.
Cimmerians are, first and foremost, hunter-gatherers. What small amount of farming takes place does so on a subsistence basis. The vast majority of a clan’s food is hunted in the wild, not reared, and gathered from the moors, valleys and forests, not grown.
Meat is highly prized. Deer, elk, boar, goat, rabbit, wildfowl, pigeon, and so forth. Cimmerians will eat anything they can trap or stalk and have a use for just about every part of an animal. The highest prized meats are deer and boar. Both require stealth, skill and cunning to be successfully hunted and their skins, antlers and tusks are prized for all manner of crafts.
Hunts takes place every week with a full hunting band, both men and women, spending one or two days ranging through the territory checking snares, stalking the hunting trails and bringing-down prey. This extended hunt brings-back meat for the whole clan: several deer, boar and rabbits being the most common catches. The hunters use snares, traps, axe-throwing, spears, and other tools for the hunt.
This weekly food supply is supplemented by individual hunting expeditions where smaller game is targeted and the yield is not expected to be shared with the rest of the clan. Cooking is simple: spit-roasted meat served on the bone, with left-overs being used to make broths. A portion of any large catch is reserved to be air-cured for the lean, winter months when hunting might be scarce, and Cimmerians are experts in such techniques of meat preservation.
Vegetables and herbs figure in the Cimmerian diet, but are not high on the agenda. Whatever is seasonal is gathered in the wild: nettles, wild garlic, berries, nuts, edible weeds and edible fungi.
Cereal crops such as wheat and barley are cultivated in those territories where the land is available, and fertile enough, to support successful harvest, but cereals are by no means widespread and bread is not a staple of the Cimmerian diet.
Agricultural methods are simplistic, Cimmerians have not developed crop rotation to optimize soil fertility and many crops are prone to disease and blight due to Cimmeria’s wet, miserable climate and limited sunshine. The failure of a complete crop is viewed as likely rather than an avoidable disaster, and so clans are careful to ensure that their hunts are extensive enough to support the entire community, knowing that nature in Cimmeria is invariably harsh.
When the hunting is lean and food scarce, clans turn to raiding other clans; usually those that are foolish enough to maintain sizable herds of livestock that are worth the risk. The hunting bands turn their skills to reconnoitering a rival clan’s territory, sizing the livestock, understanding the defenses, and then using the cover of night and inclement weather to steal into the compounds and take as much meat as they can escape with.
Naturally enough any clan with livestock understands it is prone to these attacks and uses its own war bands to form defenses against raiders. Clashes over livestock are fiercely-fought affairs – as much a way of settling territorial and other disputes as for obtaining and protecting food. A raiding clan may disguise its identity by dressing and acting like another clan in a bid to minimize the likely retribution that will follow a raid, and feuds can develop, fester and spill-over into long-term bloodshed.
A raid is usually the first taste of combat a young Cimmerian warrior will experience. Raids are considered part of the training and initiation of all new warriors – a chance for a young man to prove himself in conditions that are dangerous, but less-so than a full-scale battle. Hot-headed warriors, keen to prove their mettle, are therefore at the heart of many raids and receive their first battle scars from the defenders. Particularly ambitious, fierce and successful raids are lauded as reverentially as any major battle, with those who distinguish themselves (especially young, newly blooded warriors) being feted for their deeds.
Raiding season is thus an eagerly anticipated time as it relieves some of the grim monotony of the cold, dark, long Cimmerian winter.
Unlike the Vanir and Æsir, the Cimmerians do not feast in a loud, boisterous fashion and they do not engage in ‘friendly’ brawls when drunk. They will, however, eat and drink in a celebration when a famous village member returns from a long trip after a long time. This celebration occurs in the council lodge, or the largest building, in the village and though their is no music or dancing, their is a great exchange of stories. Even when food is scarce, the Cimmerians will have an occasion for the excuse to bring some color and warmth to the cold, gray months.
TRADE AND ECONOMYEdit
Most clans produce everything they need internally but, sometimes, trade is necessary – either with neighbours or further afield.
Cimmerians lack a merchant class, so most trade expeditions are conducted by warriors who explain what they want bluntly, are unprepared to negotiate, and consider refusal to trade to be an insult. Of particular interest as tradable commodities are meat (fresh and cured), metals, weapons and armor. Lacking a currency of their own, Cimmerians are prepared to deal in whatever treasure the clan owns as its Clan Property. Coins, when a clan has them, are always valuable, especially when silver and gold, but usually the clans must deal in whatever items are to hand.
Trading expeditions tend to be tense affairs as Cimmerians lack the nuances of communication essential to striking the best deal. Furthermore, trading within the nearby clans means that markets are limited and so clans must range further afield, taking them into unfamiliar territories where the chances of hostility are far higher owing to the fact that clan relations are less assured or completely non-existent.
Trade is therefore not an activity Cimmerian’s relish since it goes against the gut instinct to take what is needed via a show of strength. Merchants from outside Cimmeria are, at once, both admired and distrusted. Cimmerians admire those who, through the gift of the gab and slick negotiation, can obtain a superb deal for minimum outlay; however they are deeply suspicious and even contemptuous of the mercantile skills.
Slick negotiation is one step up from lying, and lying is not in the Cimmerian character. Few merchants speak plainly and say precisely what they mean; many bend to the truth to unacceptable lengths to get what they want and at the lowest price. But their methods, whilst often despised, are sometimes valuable for Cimmerians and so, on the odd occasion where foreign merchants might venture into Cimmeria’s dark vales and bleak territories, clans are prepared to hire them as negotiators (or kidnap them for the same purpose, promising freedom if a trade deal works out; death if it does not). Cimmerians do practice internal trade, often for timber, tin, iron, and copper. Wealth is measured in cattle. A Cimmerian also does not keep slaves or sell his people into slavery. He sees slaves as weak, else they would not be slaves. For this reason, Cimmerians do not make good slaves, so slavers avoid Cimmeria. An adult Cimmerian would rather die trying to escape slavery than just meekly submit.
Most Cimmerians have an ambivalent attitude to property, needing only the tools of their trade (weapons, mostly), somewhere to live and clothing to keep warm. Many Cimmerians own only what they wear and can carry, considering all other non-essential property as just so much excess baggage. But Cimmerians do appreciate and admire quality and craftsmanship; they also understand the value of precious metals, both for use in trade and in creating items of outstanding value.
A typical Cimmerian clan member can be expected to own the following range of possessions:
- Hunting spear
- Bow and arrows
- Broadsword (usually handed-down from his father, or taken from a fallen foe)
- A dagger or broad-bladed knife
- Ordinary day-wear (see Clothing, above)
- War gear (a few pieces of armor, a helmet or cap)
- Leather sandals
- Cloak and bone brooch or clasp
- Hunting tools (snares, bone or antler fishing hooks, fishing line)
- Flint, steel and tinder
- Wine/water skin
- A few items of jewelry – a torque, some warrior rings made from the spear tips of defeated enemies, and perhaps a necklace
- Additional items depend on status, experience and so forth, but most Cimmerian warriors consider the above to be the essentials.
Property Types Edit
Personal property - that which is a hunted, made, bought or traded by an individual (and summarized in the list above). That property is an individual’s by right and taking it away from him is an act of theft and punishable under whatever laws a clan enforces for theft.
Communal property –that which belongs to the clan and is administered in behalf of the clan by the chieftain and his council. This is essentially land and territory, but also extends to treasures and items that are known to symbolize the clan and its heritage; it also includes specific gifts made to the clan by other clans, whatever form these take. Communal property therefore expresses the clan’s wealth, heritage and standing.
Chief wealth - is the third kind of property; this is property owned by the chief’s position and which can be freely gifted by the chief either as rewards to other clan members or to other clans as an expression of gratitude or alliance. When emissaries come to a clan it is typical for them to bring two gifts; one for the clan and one for the chief. The clan gift becomes communal property whereas the chief gift enters the chief’s wealth and can be used by him in whatever way he decides.
Laws Regarding Personal Property Edit
Theft is regarded as a grave offence within a clan.
Mutual trust and respect plays such a strong part in clan life that stealing from another clan member is considered a critical breach of trust. If caught stealing from another clan member, the thief can expect to, at the very least, lose his left hand. If the item stolen is particularly valuable, or is either clan or chief wealth, he might pay with his life, and the chief is always called upon to make the final decision in these circumstances.
Even if the thief loses just a hand, he will be expelled from the clan and, bearing the mark of his crime, will find it difficult to gain sanctuary in another community.
The only circumstances where theft is deemed acceptable are:
- Looting the body of a defeated enemy. Cimmerian tradition always gives the victor the right to the spoils
- Seizing livestock in a sanctioned raid when a clan has no other option
- Sacking a village that has been defeated in battle, if the residents have offered resistance. In these circumstances only clan property and chief wealth should be looted; personal property, with the exception of weapons and armor, should be left untouched.
- In resolving a dispute between two clan members, a chief might levy a confiscation of personal property as a punishment for the guilty party, but this tends to be a rare occurrence. Most disputes tend to be settled through tests of honor in some form of challenge.
The Cimmerians never developed a government. The land is divided into a number of semi-nomadic tribes, most notably into north and south branches. However, when part of Cimmeria bleeds, all of the clans and tribes suffer.
Cimmerians are self-governed on a clan or tribal level. Their government consists of a chieftain who is placed in power by consensus of the people who will follow him. A Cimmerian chieftain must have (or be perceived as having) courage, honesty, integrity, loyalty and physical prowess. A loss in any of these areas and the chieftain is likely to be abandoned and a new chieftain followed. The health of the clan is identified with the health of the chieftain, so if he is wounded or sickly, he is expected to stand down. Often there is an aspect of hereditary titles but this is not preordained. The clan chiefs are not dictators and are required to at least listen to the respected members of the clan before setting the clan on a course of action. More often, the decisions of a chieftain accurately reflect the will of the people, else he risks being deposed or even outcast.
Disputes are handled via kin. If a dispute is brought before a chieftain for judgement, that chieftain usually makes the entire family of the wrong-doer responsible for any fines, compensation or other punishment.
A WARRIOR CULTUREEdit
“North of Aquilonia, the western-most Hyborian kingdom, are the Cimmerians, ferocious savages, untamed by the invaders, but advancing rapidly because of contact with them; they are the descendants of the Atlanteans, now progressing more steadily than their old enemies the Picts, who dwell in the wilderness west of Aquilonia.” – The Hyborian Age
Known for their strength and ferocity throughout the western world, the Cimmerians are barbarian tribesmen to whom war is the only known way of life.
Primarily hunter and gathers, the Cimmerians are also raiders and plunderers, striking south into the Hyborian nations, west into the lands of the Picts, east into the Border Kingdom and even north into the frosty realms of the Aesir and Vanir. Cimmerians also raid amongst themselves, fighting blood feuds and stealing cattle or wives. Battle for the Cimmerian is a way of life and the mark of manhood. The Cimmerians scream out a strange ululating battle-cry when a battle is joined, an eerie sound that strikes fear into the soft hearts of Cimmerian enemies. The women of Cimmeria, unlike the sloe-eyed doxies in the eastern lands, handle their deadly blades with skill.
The mindset of the Cimmerians is also adapted to war. The Cimmerians look at amputation as a little cut, as long as the limb is left, their lives waiting for the kiss of a war-knife upon their slumbering throats have taught the Cimmerians to sleep lightly. They will not hand over their weapon, and it is not wise to forcefuly take a sword from a Cimmerian warrior.
The Cimmerians do not practice refined sword-play as do the sword masters of Zingara or the martial artists of far-off Khitai but battle with well-earned experience bought in blood on numerous battlefields where survival is not so much a matter of technical skill as it is intense spirit and indomitable will. Even the children do not pick up sticks to pretend at fighting. Fighting is a serious business among the Cimmerians. One does not make an enemy of a Cimmerian unless one is willing to fight for one's life, and if a Cimmerian fights, that Cimmerian kills.
That attitude makes Cimmerians polite to one another, although they lose none of their blunt directness in that courtesy. Civilised men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing. Impoliteness is an invitation to a quick fight to the death among the Cimmerians. Of course, few Cimmerians fear death. Although Cimmerians will happily plunder those they kill in battle, they are not petty thieves and none make their living in Cimmeria stealing from the clans, especially their own. Such thievery is considered cowardly and dishonest. If a Cimmerian cannot win what he wants by fighting for it, then the Cimmerian solemly goes without.
The Cimmerians have terms for some of the strange attributes of battle, such as their battle calm: when a fight goes as though time stood still for the fighter, but to an outside observer the fight was short and bloody
Cimmerians do not respect weakness or civilized softness and that which they do not respect they would just as soon kill as leave alone. Even Cimmerian women display this savage strength, fighting alongside the men in battle.
"A thousand years previous, men fought with swords, and another thousand years hence, it will be the same." - Conan of Canach
Weaponsmithing is a craft plied with much devotion in Cimmeria. The people use iron weapons and have borrowed other elements from the higher cultures to the south. The sword is by far the preferred weapon the Cimmerians. They craft their own broadswords and plunder them from other cultures as well. The spear is close second in preference, used by those who cannot afford or plunder a sword. Cimmerians do not favor the bow; when Cimmerians fight, it is face to face as warriors, not standing at a distance in safety. However, they do use bows for hunting. Weapons are valued and often decorated in beautiful designs, such as animals or knot-work patterns. Cimmerians do not go unarmed after childhood and usually wield spears, daggers and heavy, straight swords.
Some Cimmerians form bands of brothers to perfect their fighting skills. This is a primitive form of a secret society. These bands of brothers do not replace the need for clan and kindred; usually a Cimmerian's band of brothers occupies the second of this three Allegiances.
Most Cimmerians go unarmored but some clans use round shields in battle. Armour is often considered to be cowardly, although some of the more practical Cimmerians have been known to ignore that attitude.
Cimmerians have a notorious reputation as formidable opponents, noted for their wild savagery and physical prowess. The soil of Cimmeria is well-watered in the blood of their enemies. The Cimmerians defend their homeland against Aesir, Vanir, and border disputes with Border Kingdoms and other nations, usually Aquilonia. In other cases there are even clan feuds, which usually end in a truce or a whole clan being wiped out. The Cimmerians are always on the offensive with the Picts. Raids on Cimmeria always took place, with the men fighting and the women waited to prepare food, mend leather armor, and heal wounds. When necessary, they will even kill the enemies. Since horses are rare, Cimmerians fight on foot. Their tactics are probably similar to those of the Gauls in the time of ancient Rome, except of greater ferocity. It is the Cimmerian way to fight in the open, not from behind walls and forts.
The male children begin their teachings at seven, and are expected to be fit for raiding and war by approximately the age of 15. They are well tutored in the art of battle, being masters of forgery and having skill with the sword, axe, and spear. Cimmerian steel is highly prized, for its keen edge and durability. In fact, Cimmerian sword have been known to cut through other nation's swords (if the sword is, of course, wielded by a Cimmerian) The Cimmerians believe a man's sword, a true sword, takes room to swing. Cimmerians do not use the bow, and have no interest in learning it. They do not wear heavy armor, as they would be weighted down when fighting. When near the victory of a battle, a kind of jubilation bubbles up within each Cimmerian as though it it a feast day. That, and the heady swagger of sure victory. Powerful broadswords are the favoured weapons and the art of the swordsmith is highly prized amongst the tribes, though weapons stolen in raids are also. Those who have not earned or plundered a sword will usually use a stout spear. Some tribes may use wooden shields, but many Cimmerians see wearing armour as cowardly and prefer to fight unencumbered by mail or similar. Other more practical tribes do not share this view and may use armour looted from Nordheimir or Aquilonians. In Cimmerian culture, being old or a "greybeard" is a mark of great skills. Not a lot of Cimmerians survive to be seniors. To have survived so long in Cimmeria, with its constant toils and battles, is a remarkable feat.
HONOR AND REPUTATIONEdit
Of course, few Cimmerians fear death and even fewer respect authority. Cimmerians respect honor and prowess. Few Cimmerians respect unearned authority. Honor and Reputation for the Cimmerians is a mixture of courage, honesty, integrity, loyalty and physical ability, the traits most prized by the Cimmerians. They treat those who are honorable and skilled with respect. Cimmerians do not have social ranking beyond that simple attitude. Be a man, chief, or herdsman, it does not matter. Cimmerians are not taught to fear and respect kings and chiefs because of their titles. If a Cimmerian does an evil deed in another Cimmerian's name, then the insulted Cimmerian must kill the evildoer, or his family and his clan will suffer for generations.
Debt of HonourEdit
The Cimmerians are cognizant of debts. If one does something for a Cimmerian, the Cimmerian feels obligated to do something in exchange in at some point in the future. This debt is something the Cimmerian will not forget. If he cannot fulfill the debt to the original person (due to death, perhaps), then he can do something for the person's kin. Chieftains will often give gifts to their followers to ensure this debt of honor. If a man accepts a gift from a Cimmerian chieftain and eats at his board, then he cannot honorably refuse to fight at that Cimmerian's side.
The Cimmerians believe in the right of revenge. In a way, revenge can be seen as a debt of honor, just a violent one. A Cimmerian and his clan will defend any slight against their honor. Indeed, these slights must be met and avenged or the clan is seen as weak. To kill someone as an act of vengeance is not a crime in Cimmeria but if the murder is not seen as justified by the dead man's clan, they also have the right to retaliate. This vengeance does not have to be spent upon the person who wronged the Cimmerian; it may also be enacted upon his kin with equal validity. If the vengeance is seen as just, the matter ends there; otherwise, it escalates into blood feuds that can last generations. However, if a dishonorable course of action is taken from one clan to another and the offender is murdered by the other clan, the offender's clan will not seek justice. A great example of this is seen when Brecan, son of a northern clan chieftain, kills his southern-clan lover as well as her unborn child. Brecan's father will not attack the southern clans because not only do the northerners need the southerners for defense against the Vanir, but also because it would be senseless to avenge the slayer of a woman and her undborn child.
The Bloody SpearEdit
Customs other than solemn devotion to clan, honoring and reputation can be found in Cimmeria. Usually the Cimmerians keep to their own clans and do not assemble en masse. The Aquilonians once believed the Cimmerian could not and would not unify but history has shown the error of that belief. If troubled by foreign invaders to such a degree that one clan alone cannot stay the tide, the Cimmerians send out the Blood Spear. This custom is not enacted lightly. It was the Bloody Spear that summoned the clans against Venarium and it was the Blood Spear that again summoned them to unify against the demons of Ben Morgh in Conan the Valorous. This custom temporarily ends all blood feuds until the threat is ended. Often the blood-feuds rise again immediately after the fall of the joint attack without delay.
This is when you kill a man not in a fair fight, but without reason (an example of this is found when Conan kills a fellow tribe member in a fit of rage). This is when the Cimmerian goes to the man's house, and pays to the family by doing the dead man's share of the hunt, his toil, and his obedience. Also, they are not rapacious barbarians, as they protect a woman's honor with the sword. When attacking, Cimmerians usually spare women and children, unless Cimmerian women and children were killed, in which case vengeance would be taken.
Field of Chiefs and its Standing StoneEdit
Despite their reputation as an aggressive, belligerent race of warriors that fight amongst themselves, the clans are able to unify under certain circumstances or areas. This location is where the clans can come to speak of peaceful alliances, fearless of treachery, is a living piece of history.
The various tribes of the Cimmerians view the Field of Chiefs differently. Some see it as a holy place that the Gods have made as a way of uniting the tribes, and many have tests of manhood that involve a pilgrimage to this place. Others however see it as a practical tool made by the fore fathers. The constant attacks and threat of invasion make a unifying place for discussion necessary. It is because of this that the field of chiefs is considered neutral ground, and the Cimmerians acknowledge one another as equals rather then rivals within the stones. There have been instances of duels and fighting within the stones, however this is a results of internal war rather then aggression with outside clans.
The area itself is littered with remnants of Atlantian stone work, much of which is now undecipherable. What exactly the writings mean is unknown however some stones have the constellations on them, whilst others are carved into the likeness of great warriors. There have also been numerous instances of weapons and armor being turned up accidentally. Steel the likes of which no one in all the world could hope to achieve. In these rare instances the mystical Oracles mysteriously appear to take them away. What becomes of them is unknown and it is speculated that the Oracles take them for themselves. Occasionally however, a baby will chance upon the weapon. This is seen as highly portentous amongst the clans and those children not taken away by the Oracles often rise quickly to become great chieftains.
At the center of the ruins lies the great standing stone. This huge, flat rock stands apart from the other structures and it is from here that the chieftains speak to the other clans. By placing his hand upon the rock, a chieftain signifies his authority and his turn to speak. This is the way it has been for centuries, and the way it must always be.
SOLEMN DEVOTION TO THE CLANEdit
The tribe or clan is the most important aspect of life in Cimmeria. Except for the outcasts or those who leave Cimmeria, most Cimmerian owe allegiance to their clan, taking their clan as their highest allegiance. Belonging to a clan gives a Cimmerian a traditional set of enemies and allies. For example, Conan, as a member of the Snowhawk (or Canarch) Clan treats Picts as racial enemies. A Cimmerian clan on the other side of Cimmeria may never have seen a Pict, so that clan may have, say, Hyperboreans as racial enemies. Likewise, Conan's clan considers the Murrogh clan as an enemy, and vice versa.
The northerners are a mountain people, possibly hardier and fiercer than the southern lowland tribes due to the Aesir and Vanir attacks. These Cimmerains are known to climb rocks/crags like monkeys climb vines. This skill comes in handy when attacking forts where there are no ladders. The western clans are in constant battle with Picts. The Southerners, usually with Aquilonians or other kingdoms.
Any dispute between two Cimmerians automatically involves the kin of those Cimmerians, so kin often watch out to make sure their relatives do not do anything controversial or unwarranted. Few Cimmerians travel outside the area controlled by their clans except in groups to make raids or trades because, once outside their territories, no law protects them. Simply put, no kin, no protection. Kin are expected to stand with one another against all threats, physical or legal.
The Cimmerians put a high value on conformity; non-conformists are a threat to everyone in the clan. Anyone who betrays his clan is hated and cast out. A Cimmerian will never re-admit a treacherous Cimmerian. A Cimmerian cast out from his clan is considered kin-less and is often called headless, for that Cimmerian is as good as dead. Only a man of exceptional strength and prowess can survive in Cimmeria without kin - only a man such as Conan. Those who successfully go it alone are regarded with fear and awe by most Cimmerians
As a proud and independent people it is no surprise that the Cimmerians have little peaceful co-existence with neighbouring lands. The Aesir and Vanir to the north are a constant threat, raiding often. Such raids invariably result in savage conflicts and often blood feuds between the two sides. The Picts to the east also make their presence felt in similar ways.
Cimmeria is a land with great deposits of copper, tin, and iron in its hills. There is plenty of land for grazing and wood for building. For these valuable assets, many other countries would try to come and take Cimmerian lands.
Whenever there is an intrusion in there land, the Cimmerian clans will go and kill its inhabitants and burn it to the ground, knowing that the other countries would happily invade their land for their riches. After the fires quell, they would search the ruins for prizes. This was well seen in the Venarium settlement in Cimmeria.
To the South of Cimmeria is Aquilonia, one of the greatest of the Hyborian Kingdoms, and Aquilonian outposts are a common target for Cimmerian war parties.The Aquilonians attempted to expand their borders into Cimmeria, constructing a mighty fortified town called Venarium in the wild land. The Cimmerian clans were scattered and warring against each other, so the Cimmerian defenses were weak compared to their individual fighting strength. However, to defend themselves against the invading forces, the Cimmerians joined under one chief to fight against the Aquilonians. Together, the Cimmerians attacked Fort Venarium. What followed was a painful lesson for the Aquilonians, as several Cimmerian tribes united to storm Venarium, slaying men, women and children in a barbaric fury brought about by the trespass into their lands.This attack was known as one of the most brutal battles in the history of Hyboria. The Slaughter at Venarium is a red day in the history of the proud Aquilonian peoples, and a warning never to underestimate the wrath of the barbarians ever again. As a result of this attack, Aquilonia never again tried to invade Cimmeria. For the people of Nordheim, the Cimmerians established the border line not with walls like their southern neighbors, but with a large line of heads mounted on poles. The heads of fallen Vanir or Aesir warriors to warn them that they will not be accepted if they cross the line.
Even though most border disputes are settled with the blade, the Cimmerians also look for diplomatic ways to keep truces. For example, with the Aesir. For decades, the Cimmerians and the Aesir were bound by blood-truce. In one event, a son of the northern Cimmerian chief killed the son of Wulfere, high chief of the Aesir. Cimmeria's tribes could not hope to stand against both Aesir and Vanir, so to restore the truce, the cimmerian chief offered unto Wulfere the hand of a Cimmerian woman.
Not only do Cimmerian tribes defend their country's borders, but also the tribes will try to keep other Cimmerians (from other tribes) out of their land. One such reason for this inner-hostility is fear of disease or the pox. If one brings a diseased person near a tribe, the tribesmen will kill them.
Most of the Cimmerians keep to their own borders. Conan was a maverick Cimmerian, one of the few to venture out of the sopping woodlands. These Cimmerians usually travel for for the glory of battle and craving of high adventures. The Saga mentions no other Cimmerians living among the advanced nations. Because of this isolation, the barbarians have kept their bloodline pure. Any foreigners who enter their lands are either driven out, or treated as aliens, unwanted and unwelcomed.
CIVILIZATION VS. CIMMERIANSEdit
The apparent primitiveness of the Cimmerians and their sense of justice is often juxtaposed with the corruption of the "civilized" races in Hyboria. Few Cimmerians leave their homelands, but those who venture into the great world to the south soon learn that the other civilized races do not follow their own codes of honor or loyalty. To a Cimmerian's point of view, what good is a man if his word has no worth? For this reason, they treat foreigners in their land as filth and mock them openly.
Cimmerians usually look down on the civilized cultures as weaklings who hide themselves behind webs of lies and other dishonest workings, a state to be pitied rather than aspired to. Cimmerians do not respect weakness or civilized softness and that which they do not respect they’d just as soon kill as leave it alone. Even Cimmerian women display this savage strength, fighting alongside the men in battle. Cimmerians are organised on the basis of clans and tribes and do not build cities. The barbarians have little in the way of writing or book-learning, instead passing their lore verbally in fireside tales or whispered legends. They value martial prowess over their enemies, physical strength, and the ability to provide for oneself over all else. Men, like Conan, ferocious blue-eyed giants, themselves cut from stone, are tested daily in ways the civilized peoples could only imagine.
In the lands beyond Cimmeria, the women have sleepy, painted eyes... smooth, pale flesh .. and soft perfumed hair. The women in Cimmeria are different. Bronzed skin stretched tight over lean muscle. Hard, clever eyes, hair scented with leaves, wind, and wood smoke.
To the people of the exotic climes the North is a fierce and terrible place, built of stone and ice, where only the hardest of men can survive, and where only the most passionate of women can keep them. They were called barbarians by the southern lands who viewed them as unthinking, brutish, uncultured people. However, Cimmerians were underestimated by the "civilizations" of the Hyborian world. Their leaders did not dress in golden robes but in bear skins. Power was not measured by wealth but by the honor in a name and the strength of a clan. Clans and family units were the equivalents of nations and armies. They were brutes, but only strong hardened people could call those bitter cold mountains home. Kings thought themselves civilized only to turn on a close friend if it served his purpose. Civilization is not pageantry, but honor. (At least from a Barbarian's point of view). In an ironic twist, some Cimmerians considered the southern kings as barbarians. However, treachery can be found in Cimmeria as well, just not on a daily basis.
RELIGION IN CIMMERIAEdit
"You laugh greatly, drink deep and bellow good songs; though I never saw another Cimmerian who drank aught but water, or who ever laughed, or ever sang save to chant dismal dirges."
"Perhaps it's the land they live in," answered the king. "A gloomier land never was— all of hills, darkly wooded, under skies nearly always gray, with winds moaning drearily down the valleys."
"Little wonder men grow moody there," quoth Prospero with a shrug of his shoulders, thinking of the smiling sun-washed plains and blue lazy rivers of Poitain, Aquilonia's southernmost province.
"They have no hope here or hereafter," answered Conan. "Their gods are Crom and his dark race, who rule over a sunless place of everlasting mist, which is the world of the dead. Mitra! The ways of the Æsir were more to my liking."
— The Phoenix on the Sword, Robert E. Howard
While the Cimmerians acknowledge Crom as their god, they do not worship him as the Aquilonians revere Mitra and the Stygians fear Set. As a people, they do not practice human sacrifice. Crom watches and broods from his mountain throne, but he cares nothing for the lives of mortals. The Cimmerians believe that Crom gives them strength at birth—the strength they will need to meet the trials of life, resilience, and determination. After that, they are on their own, as it should be. Anything else they need they take using these gifts, rather than petitioning Crom for aid. For this reason Cimmerians are particularly disdainful of the followers of other religions who seem to do nothing but beg their god for help, rather than taking pride in individuality and self-reliance. Crom watches his children, and only the strongest will thrive. To this extent the Cimmerians have no priests, shamans, sorcerers or similar, and so have a healthy distrust for such peoples and their ways. In battle, the Cimmerians praise Crom when they kill a man. They believe that it is Crom's will for a man to live, to laugh, and to love.
Though they do not pray to Crom, the Cimmerians are a superstitious people. They believe in battle omens and ward off evil. They also respect certain grounds, believing these grounds may be cursed.
Cimmerians believe in a rather dark pantheon of gods, all of whom are ruled by Crom and are of his race. As an overview, Crom is seen as a dire god, as gloomy and dangerous as the Cimmerians themselves. The Cimmerians do not pray to Crom, nor do they worship him or any of his kind. Crom and his race of gods despise weaklings who call on them for aid and would likely make the situation worst for the petitioner. The Cimmerians value individuality and self-worth; their gods expect them to take care of life themselves. Indeed, Crom only takes pride in a Cimmerian if that Cimmerian never calls upon him for aid in his life. Cimmerians are supposed to take what they want from life, not asking a god for blessings, wealth, health or anything else.
Cimmerian funerary customs are quick and deadly. The fallen are left where they fall, or disposed of simply; it is no matter, since their shades are departed. A wake is held, with those present drinking a toast to the departed, then pouring out the remainder of their beverages onto the ground for the dead. If revenge is called for – and the headhunting of their fallen foes in a ritualistic manner, similar to that of their later Celtic descendants. For burials, the Cimmerians dig a shallow hole in the frozen ground and cover the bodies with stones since the ground is often to frozen to dig. This is because they believe that the bodies should be returned to the earth, and it also serves as protection of the bodies from the ravenous wolves digging up the corpses.
Ever fatalistic, Cimmerians do not believe in some paradise or benevolent realm of the gods when they die, but simply an eternity of existence at the gods’ whim. This after-death world, unknowable but grim nonetheless, is called the Otherworld. Here the human soul becomes a shadowy presence that the gods may favor or torment dependent on how they are disposed to the soul they receive. The spirits are in a grey realm, misty and icy, where they forever wander in cheerless gloom.
Upon death, the soul must cross the Bridge of Swords, which crosses a yawning chasm of non-existence. Cowards, traitors and enemies of Cimmeria are doomed to fail in crossing the Bridge of Swords, which is lined with the blades of Crom and his kind. Only true, brave Cimmerians cross the bridge unscathed and pass then into the Road of Bones. This road, which stretches into the otherworld, is made from the skeletal remains of Crom’s foes, ground into a white ash that lends some comfort to the weary feet of the traveler as he completes his final journey.
The culmination of that journey is the otherworld itself, where the soul is neither judged, rewarded nor punished, but simply used in ways that Cimmerians cannot, and do not, wish to contemplate with any depth. The otherworld is truly an unknown and unknowable realm, governed by the likes of Crom and the Morrigan. It might be a world of endless battle and feasting, enduring torment, or simply an existence without further awareness. For Cimmerians, the best they can hope for is to cross the bridge and walk the road, accepting the afterlife that only the gods themselves can dictate. Those who fail to cross the bridge, but who do not plunge over its edge, might return as restless, sometimes malevolent, spirits, eager to inflict their torment on others.
Still, the Cimmerians do not fear death and gladly meet it with steel in hand and a war cry on their lips. Crom had taught his children to seek no mercy in life. Why shouls they expect it in death. So it had been since the time began, so it would be when the last Cimmerian drew his final breath. It was the way of things. For the Cimmerians, all life is trouble and so they live a less stressful life than other men. In fact, among the people of the North there is a saying: "Fleas will find a dog and trouble will find a Cimmerian."
Priests of other lands tend to be sorcerers, using maleficent magic in the name of whatever god they worship. The Cimmerians have no priests, sorcerers, shamans or witches. Those who traffic with the power of the gods, even through prayer, are weaklings in their eyes. The Cimmerians do not make sacrifices to Crom or any other deity and see those that do as either touched in the head or simply weak. The Cimmerians are superstitious, not wanting to try the gods. They do have oracles however, as befitting their superstitious nature. These oracles can read the doom evident in a flight of birds or in the entrails of an animal. Just about any aspect of nature is endowed with spiritual significance that can be read by those who are wise.
Lesser Gods Edit
The Cimmerians do not believe in divine creatures of death as the Vanir and Aesir, who tell tales of Atali, the beguiling, who carries men to the sky, The other gods of the Cimmerians are just as grim and indifferent as Crom himself. The Cimmerians believe in their existence but they do not worship them. They are just as anything else - there, but what use is worshipping them? One may as well pray to a tree or a statue as pray to a god. Cimmerians will often use the name of a god in curse but never in a prayer or even in a so-called 'half-prayer.' Just as with Crom, these gods and goddesses are considered to be bleak and dire entities and are not worshipped. They only to exist to give the Cimmerians something else to be depressed about.
- Badb is a war goddess who often appears in the shape of a crow. Badb favours the Cimmerians with the gift of battle fury at birth just as Crom grants the Cimmerian the might and will to slay their enemies.
- Lir, the father of Mannanan Mac Lir, is the god of the sea in its primal, elemental form, which is a little strange as Cimmeria is a land-locked nation without access to the ocean. Perhaps in their history, the Cimmerian lands included part of Pictland (which would account for some of the Cimmerian hatred of that dusky race). Lir's son governs the weather as well as the sea.
- Macha is a goddess of war but she also is a in charge of fertility; helping to fill the land with warring Cimmerians.
- The Morrigan seems to be the favored war goddess of Cimmeria. The Cimmerians do not seemed bothered that most of their gods and goddess govern warfare and strife.
- Nemain is yet another war goddess but is also the patron of sacred springs and wells. In battle she is known as 'the venomous.'
Ben Morgh - Crom's MountainEdit
If any place could be said to be holy in all of Cimmeria it is Ben Morgh, the home of Crom. It from here where Crom watches over his people to see if they are worthy.
The sheer size of the mountain only adds to its dark majesty. No matter where you are in all of Cimmeria, Ben Morgh is visable. Yet few ever try to climb this peak, and even those that try rarely return for the mountain is said to be home to the doom and anger of Crom in all its forms - including vicious beasts the likes of which even Picts would shy from. Yet those that return from this journey do so as changed men. They speak rarely if at all, and no longer belong to any tribe. They instead become oracles, aiding the people throughout Cimmeria in times of war. Some chieftains ignore the portents of the Oracles, believing that it is the will of the Gods that men make there own destiny. Sometimes this proves correct, other times it doesn't. Oracles rarely stay around long enough to find out.
At the foot of the mountain is the field of the dead - a burial place for all chieftains of the Cimmerian clans. It is because of this that the land around Ben Morgh is considered holy, and no Cimmerian will attack another whilst in the presence of the dead. Blood feuds are forgotten in these parts, and no tribe has ever considered desecration as a form of revenge. Not that they would be allowed too. A small group of Oracles usually resides near the fields of the dead and tends the graves. Operating out of an old Atlantean structure, they see to it that the spirits of the dead are allowed to rest peacefully.
While they have their seers and shamans, the supernatural holds terror for most barbarians, not any wonder or tempting appeal. They pride themselves on working through life with their strength, skill and cunning, and never relying on the arcane mysteries that blacken the souls of the men in other nations. Magic, they believe, corrupts the soul, and extracts a terrible price from those who practice it.
For the Cimmerians, the moon holds certain sway over them, as similar to the wolves. The starving moon, the dead wintertime, is a period of weeks when game is scarce to the point that panthers turn to cannibalism. The Cimmerians believe that the starving moon is Crom's way of culling the weak and old, thus the rest are people who are able to fend for themselves. To pass the gray mountains to enter the country during this time is deemed as foolish as pissing in Crom's cup. The winter winds wail down the cliffs like frozen glass, to slice flesh from bone. Only fools do it, or a man anxious to find his way home. The Hunter's Moon is the first full moon of spring, and a good omen.
The Cimmerians have an ancient fear as old as their race of a certain monster. Ancient tales by the crones of tribes speak of these beasts, tales of men who walked like wolves and of how, in the days before Valusia and Atlantis fell, the children of the wolf had warred with the serpent folk for the control of human slaves. The stories said they were eaters of men, lithe, agile, insatiable. They are nearly impossible to slay and forever the enemies of men. The human senses are buffeted by waves of unbridled evil, spilling from he creatures' dark souls. These beasts do not kill for food, but because death brought it joy.
The wolf-kind do not need silver to kill them, but can be killed with a fatal blow (decapitation, slicing in half, etc.). When these beasts are killed beneath the dying light of the moon, they change back to human form. For an eternity, the wolf-kind have known man's scorn. Not all of these creatures are evil, however. Some seek solace in secluded areas, such as mountains or forests. The curse of death does not come from the part of them that is wolf, but arises from the part that is man.
KNOWN CIMMERIAN CLANSEdit
Cimmerians do not build cities and many of the clans are semi-nomadic, following the herds and moving about according to season. Villages are primitive, usually with a common lodge house. Often the village chieftain and his family have a few rooms at one end of the common village lodge. In small villages, everyone is related to one degree or another
(Canach, Conarch) - This clan is located in the north-western of Cimmeria among the harsh terrain in the Broken Leg Lands. The Snowhawk clan observes various rituals and customs. One ritual is the ritual of manhood, performed when a warrior reaches his fifteenth year. The Cimmerian youth is sent out mid-winter armed only with a sword and wearing a bearskin for warmth to survive in the wild for a day and night.
The Canach tribe has a long history of producing extraordinary people. Many of the Canach children have been taken by the Oracles, for what reason non know, but this is surely a good omen for the clans future.
The tribe is scattered over a small area, and can react quickly in mutual support where necessary. Numbering roughly 500 strong, most are skilled raiders and it is from this that many develop their skill with the sword. It is because of this that like in many other tribes, young boys are not allowed to practice with wooden weapons. Instead, all practice with naked blades or not at all and whilst this has led to fatalities in the past, it is without doubt an effective method of training as one swing could mean death - just like in battle.
The region this clan dwells in is misty and drizzly. One is hardly ever out of earshot from the sound of falling water, for the combination of plentiful rains and rocky crags creates many waterfalls and springs. The people tend to have sharp features. Conan's clan fights a blood-feud against the Nachta clan. This clan averages around three to four hundred members when all gathered together. The chieftain of the clan is addressed as Canach, or Canach of Canach.
Callaugh - Clan Callaugh lives in the southern reaches of the Broken Leg Lands. The village of Callaugh is important to the defence of the southern approaches of Canach Lands. The village is situated in Callaugh Glen.
Cruaidh - They live in the northern reaches of Cimmeria near the Pass of the Blood. They are the largest clan in the Valley of Conall, living on the wide vale on the western side of the northern end. A gentle river, Cottonmouth Creek, cuts through the vale.
Darkwolf - This is another clan that fought against the Aquilonians at Venarium. Their most famous warrior was Shawan, and his death at Venarium was a great loss to the mighty Darkwolf.
The majority of Cimmerian tribes favor the sword or axe in battle, occasionally with thick furs and animal hides for some measure of protection. Some of the Northern clans take the spear as there symbol due to them being used increasingly in raids to the North to hunt large pray.
Gorram - The Gorram live in or around Murrogh Forest in a small village.
Hoath - The Hoath Clan dwell on a plateau somewhere along the eastern slopes of the Black Mountains in south-western Cimmeria. They scar their cheeks.
Ice Leopards - This is another tribe of Cimmerians that took part of the siege of Venarium. Fenrik was one of the best warriors of this clan and was sent as a delegate to discuss the possible war against Venarium. This tribe wanders far to do battle with foreigners and has fought Picts, Vanir and Hyperboreans. Fenrik died in the battle against the Aquilonians but he accounted well for himself before he fell.
Morgach - Morgach is another clan living in the Broken Leg Lands. They are apparently iron workers.
Murrogh - This southern Cimmerian tribe has had a feud with Conan's clan (Snowhawks or Canach) for at least five generations and prey upon the people of the border kingdom. They are brown-eyed and square-jawed. Entering Cimmeria through Gunderland and the Goralian Hills means passing through Murrogh territory. They often raid into the Border Kingdom and Gunderland.
The Murrogh number roughly 600 and are situated to the North of Cimmeria. It is because of this that the tribe doesn't favor the use of the sword and instead practices spear use.
These spears, especially among the older members of the clan, often have a solid shaft of metal rather then wood. In the hands of a normal man this would be useless, but in the hands of a Cimmerian it becomes a deadly tool. In battle, a Murrogh hunter has been known to throw a spear straight through one opponent and on into another. Even so, the Murrogh do not often use these weapons for warfare. Instead, the spears are saved for hunts in Aesir land. The Tribe of Njalsteinn and the Murrogh are close allies and it is members of there tribe that reside with the Aesir there. The two often raid into Vanaheim and Hyperborea, combining the skill of Aesir huntsmen with large numbers of Cimmerians.
Among the clans this new found wealth is frowned upon. Such success comes with a price and many believe they are betraying there heritage by allying so closely with the Aesir and there are even whispered rumors that the Murrogh are beginning to inter-marry. This of course, only adds fuel to the on going blood feud with the Canachs who see the Murrogh as traitors to the true Cimmerian way.
Raeda - This is another clan of Cimmerian savages. This clan has long noses and braided hair. Their greatest warrior was a barbarian named Chamta who was killed fighting a scaly menace from Ben Morgh.
Tunog - This Cimmerian tribe paints their faces blue in war and have high foreheads. They wear wolf-skin loincloths instead of kilts.
MAJOR GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES OF CIMMERIAEdit
The country claimed by and roved over by his clan lay in the northwest of Cimmeria, but Conan was of mixed blood, although a pure-bred Cimmerian. His grandfather was a member of a southern tribe who had fled from his people because of a blood-feud, and after long wanderings, eventually taken refuge with the people of the north. - Robert E. Howard, Letter to P.S. Miller
Cimmeria is a dark, heavily wooded land of hills and shadowed valleys. Snowy run-off from the Eiglophians and dark clouds that bring near-constant, stinging rain turn the land into a dismal, damp country that bears little comfort for visitor or native alike. In even a land as untamed as Cimmeria, there is an order to it all, a way things work, a mechanism to mother nature. Each morning, for just shy of an hour, it will rain. In the ice fields, children would hike there and pretend to slay ice giants on its slope.
This land is north of the Aquilonia, west of The Pictish Wilderness, east of The Border Kingdoms, and south of Asgard and Vanaheim.
The Black Mountains - The Black Mountains are a range of mountains in south-western Cimmeria. They form a natural border with Pictland. The source of the Black River can be found in these mountains.
The Breaknecks - This is a rough land between the Broken Leg Lands and the lower Eiglophian Mountains. This area is full of canyons, thin forests and jutting escarpments. There are passes into the Eiglophian and through to Vanaheim in this area.
Broken Leg Lands - The Broken Leg Lands are in north-western Cimmeria, just south of the Breaknecks and the Eiglophian Mountains. This area contains some of the most treacherous ground in all of Cimmeria - a high plateau country cut apart by narrow canyons and sharp-edged bluffs falling hundreds of feet into piles of boulders and white-water rapids.
Eiglophian Mountains - The Eiglophian Mountains form the border between Cimmeria and Nordheim. This is a mighty mountain range of ice and snow characterized by dangerous and difficult passes. Deadly glaciers abound, awesome rivers of ice and death.
Ben Morgh, The Mountain of Crom - Ben Morgh is the holiest place in Cimmeria, a fascinating wall of precipices and sheer cliffs as well as the tallest mountain of Cimmeria. Ben Morgh is believed to be the home of Crom, from whence he sends forth fearsome fates and dire deaths. Ben Morgh is also simple called Mount Crom. It is in north-eastern Cimmeria.
- Field of the Dead - The chiefs of the clans are buried at the base of Ben Morgh in a place called the Field of the Dead.
- Conall Valley - Conall Valley is the home of the Gaud, Taur and Cruaidh Clans in Cimmeria. The mountains that create the valley are called the Teeth. The northern end of the valley is the Pass of Blood, which leads into Asgard. The Pass of Noose leads into Snowy River country.
- Pass of Blood - This is a pass through the Eiglophians into Asgard at one end of Conall Valley.
Field of the Chiefs - This field in north-eastern Cimmeria is where clans gather. It is dotted with ancient Atlantean stone structures, including the Standing Stone, a central shaft of mossy black rock. No clan claims this land of eerie, carved stones with a certain weird geometry depicted on them.
Hoath Plateau - This plateau is where the Field of the Chiefs is located; its eastern end is steppes. It lies north and west of Frost Swamp. It lies east of the Black Mountains.
Murrough Forest - Murrough is a forested land to the south of Conall Valley. It is an immense tangle of trees and undergrowth. It has wide streams, a few rivers and many ponds. It has quiet glades and sudden ridges. There are marshes with quicksand and other dangers lurking in these woods.
Snowy River - Snowy River is a Cimmerian river somewhere to the west of Conall Valley. It takes three days travel to reach this river from Conall Valley.
Ymir's Pass - Ymir's Pass is a rocky pass into Cimmeria from the Border Kingdom. It is guarded by the fortress of Atzel.
FUTURE OF CIMMERIAEdit
Five hundred years after the Age of Conan, the Cimmerians were still ensconced in their ancient homeland. Hyrkanian invaders exploded into other Hyborian kingdoms; but their thrust fizzled out amid the ferociously defended Cimmerian hills. They swept into the Cimmerian hills, driving the black-haired barbarians before them, but among the hills, where cavalry was less effectual, the Cimmerians turned on them, and only a disorderly retreat, at the end of a whole day of bloody fighting, saved the Hyrkanian hosts from complete annihilation. Only the great Nordheimr surge in advance of the glaciers finally displaced the black-haired barbarians. The Vanir beat back the Cimmerian defenders and took the heads of the warriors who opposed them. Many ousted Cimmerians then moved eastward, all the way to the southwestern shore of the Vilayet. In this movement, no one could stand against them. They surged across and completely destroyed the kingdom of Gunderland, wiping it off the face of the earth. The Cimmerians marched across ancient Aquilonia, hewing their irresistible way through the Pictish hosts. They defeated the Nordic-Nemedians and sacked some of their cities, but did not halt. They continued eastward, overthrowing a Hyrkanian army on the borders of Brythunia. The Cimmerians, wandering southeastward, destroyed the ancient Hyrkanian kingdom of Turan, and settled on the southwestern shores of the inland sea. The power of the eastern conquerors was broken.
The ocean flowed around the mountains of western Cimmeria to form the North Sea; these mountains became the islands later known as England, Scotland and Ireland. The territory about the slowly drying inland sea was not affected, and there, on the western shores, the Nordic tribes began a pastoral existence, living in more or less peace with the Cimmerians, and gradually mixing with them. In the west the remnants of the Picts, reduced by the cataclysm once more to the status of stone-age savages, began, with the incredible virility of their race, once more to possess the land, until, at a later age, they were overthrown by the westward drift of the Cimmerians and Nordics.
The Cimmerian descendants would include the Goths—ancestors of the other Scandinavian and Germanic tribes, including the Anglo-Saxons—were descendants of a mixed race whose elements contained Vanir, AEsir and Cimmerian strains. The Gaels, ancestors of the Irish and Highland Scotch, descended from pure-blooded Cimmerian clans. The Cymric tribes of Britain were a mixed Nordic-Cimmerian race which preceded the purely Nordic Britons into the isles, and thus gave rise to a legend of Gaelic priority. The Cimbri who fought Rome were of the same blood, as well as the Gimmerai of the Assyrians and Grecians, and Gomer of the Hebrews. Other clans of the Cimmerians adventured east of the drying inland sea, and a few centuries later mixed with Hyrkanian blood, re-turned westward as Scythians. The original ancestors of the Gaels gave their name to modern Crimea.
OVERVIEW OF CIMMERIANS AND THEIR LANDEdit
- Population: over a million people
- Capital: None
- Ruler: Various chieftains and petty kings (including Snow Hawk, Grey Bear, Black Wolf, Black Owl and Ice Leopard clans)
- Major cities: None (small villages)
- Resources: Cattle, furs, timber, iron, copper, tin, grazing land weapons
- Imports: Extensive raiding of cattle and women from Asgard, Vanaheim and Hyperborea
- Allies: Asgard (tentative)
- Enemies: Asgard, Hyperborea, Vanaheim, Pictland, Aquilonia
- Tech level: Dark ages
- Religion: Crom
It should come as no surprise to you that the path Cimmerians usually choose in life involves weapons, blood and a lot of hard work.