Darryl Speed's Collection of Characters
Tribes and Peoples of the Savage Lands
As the ancestral homeland of all beastmen(besides ratfolk). Many of Lithnagantas’s disciples have opted to remain near the resting place of their forefather. The primary races of the Savage Lands are: Savage human tribes who have given themselves to the feral power of the Hydra god, the brutal dignity of the lizardfolk, the curious and mischievous vanara, the sociable and cunning catfolk, the brutal and cannibalistic boggards, the kindhearted but shy grippli, and the cunning yet tyrannical serpentfolk.
While in millennia past there was a great human civilization that latched its tendrils into the very heart of the sanctuary of nature, it has long crumbled underneath the hungry vines that fill the abandoned, cavernous pyramids. It is rumored that the human tribes that remain in the Savage Lands are descended from the kings and priests of this civilization, as the peasants were crushed under the mountainous stampede that destroyed their civilization. The current tribes have long forgotten what these pyramids were or what they represented and now fear them as howling monuments to evil old gods who were struck down by the great hydra in their hubris. These tribes have rarely been able to settle far from their original pyramids, often losing clashes with the Serpentfolk warlords looking to plunder these great tombs and round up any slaves they can. Most of the Pyramids in the upper jungle have been wiped fairly clean by serpentfolk looters or expropriated as bases and cities for these new masters, often ignoring the pleading of the human shamans begging them not to awaken the gods that sleep inside.
The culture of the lizardfolk is one steeped in tradition. Their entire recorded history is etched into the cavernous Zenithi shrine and is forbidden to be written elsewhere(despite the insistence of foreign scholars). Their view of the many headed god is one of respect and reverence but also one of distance. They have created a rift between the primal, animal side their creator instilled them with and themselves. Lithnagantas is held as their aspect of war and battle, a god of combat who instills them with a ferocity that allows them to overcome their foes. In daily life they revere a different god: Mek, the First to Speak. Mek invented their language and writing system and created the caste system that stands strong even today. There are 6 castes one can be born into: The sun caste, the moon caste, the wind caste, the earth caste, the water caste, and the blood caste. The Sun and Moon castes represent the dual sides of the highest duties in the kingdom, the King, the military, and the guards and their counterparts in academia and the clergy. The wind caste is that of the merchants, the diplomats, rangers, and the missionaries who take the word of Mek to the far corners of the world. The Earth caste represents the builders and the artisans that the civilization rests upon. The water caste is that of the hunter, the farmer, and healer, the very lifeblood that the civilization needs to survive. Finally is the blood caste, that of the cursed, the exile, and the criminal. Once one is sentenced to the blood caste they are trapped there forever. They’re sent on suicide missions, relegated to the lowest jobs, or even exiled from the jungle forever, set adrift on a raft with no destination or hope. Each new adherent of Mek or young lizardfolk is required to take an aptitude test(often administered in large groups of up to 50) where a Magistrate of the Sun caste and a Scribe of the Moon Caste gauge their aptitudes and assign them where they’ll do best(supposedly). One can petition to have their caste changed if various trials based on the caste they wish to enter.
The vanara are one of the rarest races within the Savage Lands, with scarce few communities they’re often thought to just be strange apes that stole clothes from travelers rather than a sapient race. Their natural ability to climb and hide in trees has often lead them down a path of avoiding conflict rather than fighting so they often rely on trickery and simple magics to conceal their existence from the ravenous eyes of conquerors. They hide their small villages high up in the treetops or on concealed cliff faces that won’t be spotted from the ground. While this concealment provides safety it has lead many vanara, especially the youth, to turn to trickery and mischief. Their pranks most often look rather terrifying from a human’s perspective but as the boredom sets in, dropping your best friend off of a 100 foot high branch starts to appeal to you more and more. This prankster culture among vanara has lead many to develop a rather unconcerned attitude in the face of what many would see as grave danger. Some of the especially wild vanara take to adventuring to give them the thrills in life that even the most exciting pranks could of the dream of providing.
When Boris Rockholm first set foot within the Savage Lands the catfolk were waiting for him, riches in hand, looking for trade. Catfolk are the most recognized race of the Savage Lands by foreigners due to their aggressive pursuit of trade connections with anyone they come in contact with. The only Savage Lands city known to foreigners, Sadiv, is one built for them by the catfolk on the Savage Coast. Wealth and worldly power are the prizes catfolk spend their lives trying to achieve. Their society reflects that, those with power do what they can to keep the poor from being able to compete with them(though many poor cubs will travel to faraway lands in search of riches as a means to escape even this) creating slums filled with cutthroats, kidnappers, and gangs struggling for control while the plutocrats reside in opulent palaces filled with Trioti wine and Traedornian marble. The catfolk have all but abandoned their hydra god, his temples dwindle in attendance by the day. Many foreign theologians have observed that the catfolk’s god is himself. Sadiv is also the only place in Lurinth where slaves can still be bought and sold, much to the ire of the Traedornian populace, who have come to stereotype catfolk and untrustworthy backstabbers.
Tagrid Greenbeard remarked when he first laid eyes upon a boggards he said “Rather disgusting animals, they devour their own young frivolously, clearly far from sapience.” Little did he know that these disgusting toads actually are sapient and the devouring of weak young is their own twisted form of eugenics. Boggards value the strength and skill of their young and those who don’t reach the benchmark of their generation are viewed as having no value in nurturing so they are devoured. Boggard priest-kings serve as the only openly practicing magic users and do their best to keep the other boggards stupid and controllable. A common and rather humorous practice is to switch working and hunting duty to prevent any one boggard from becoming exceptional. This also has the effect that boggard tools are rudimentary at best, most of their more advanced tools are stolen from unlucky travelers who wander into their marshy, wet homes. While they do give lip service to the hydra god, rarely is it their true deity. Priest kings often, in secret, answer to some darker force that grants them the power to control their people and defeat any outsiders that wander into their turf.
Grippli are quite often confused as young boggards, this confusion is perhaps one of the most offensive things to a grippli and they’ll often cease conversation with those who make this seemingly minor mistake. Grippli, similar to vanara, have taken a path of relative isolationism, using their small stature and familiarity with their swampy terrain to slip away from any would be attackers to their hidden villages. Grippli often hide their villages on cliffs above water or deep inside normally impassable marshy terrain. Grippli society generally takes the form of simple hunter gathering, asking for blessings from the great hydra before each hunt. They see Lithnagantas as the territorial but kindhearted guardian of the Savage Lands who rewards those who protect their family and their people. The grippli’s continued survival is often seen as the goodwill of the hydra.
Serpentfolk are the deadliest and most sinister of the races in the Savage Lands. They traded their father in for some dark gods who outsiders have yet to identify, as of recent decades they’ve been on the offensive, carving out several large territories inside of the Savage Lands each run by some warlord or mage-king with dreams of controlling the vast wealth of the jungle. Serpentfolk have grown drunk on the power of their mysterious gods and continue to ask for more and more in order to conquer their rivals. Some grippli within these vast territories have been telling tales of them preparing to bring these gods to the Savage Lands, they want to create a clash between the hydra and their new masters. Within serpentfolk society magic is seen as the penultimate means to becoming powerful, with the warriors serving as companions to augment and defend the powerful sorcers, wizards, and priests who do most of the battling.