Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

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Halbarad
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Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Halbarad » Sun Jul 10, 2016 9:32 pm

A few ideas for people who might conceivably exist in the regions to the east of Mirkwood.


The Wagon Folk of Rhovanion (The Austarmenni - Shadow People)

After the defeat of their horde at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, the people known as the Balchoth were never again to threaten the security of Gondor. The vast majority retreated back to Rhùn from whence they had come, but some few remained on the Rhovanic Plain where they remained a thorn in the side of the Éothéod and other Northmen of the Anduin Vales. At first, these 'Austarimenn' lived in settled dwellings along the eastern eaves of Mirkwood, but they discovered, to their dismay, that the forest was as hostile to them as it had been to the Northmen who lived there previously. They moved out onto the plains and adopted a nomadic lifestyle, roaming the Rhovanic Plain in extended family groups. Their homes are ox drawn wagons and their Champions and Chieftains ride into battle on chariots, decorated with the scalps and heads of fallen foes. Long axes, pikes and bows are their weapons of choice and they wear armour of rust brown leather, worked from the hides of the Red Cattle that accomany their clans.
Warriors of less renown fight from the backs of shaggy ponies that they also use for herding their cattle. These riders favour long handled axes and short bows in battle.
It is not known how many of these Austarmenn clans roam the arid central plains of Rhovanion, but Barding Scholars believe that if they were to be united, they might pose a serious threat to the Dalelands. They are related to and have broadly similar outlooks and appearance to the Erringmenn of the Anduin Vales.

Jangar

This is the word used by these wandering folk to denote the riding men of the clan, the warriors, raiders, herdsmen and hunters. They normally fight from horseback and rarely wear better armour than a leather corselet. They wield long handled axes with wicked efficiency and carry short recurved bows of horn.

Attribute level: 4
Endurance: 14
Hate: 4
Parry: 6(4+2)
Armour: 2d

Leather Corselet, Long Hafted Axe, Bow, Dagger, Shield, Steppe Pony(Palfrey)

Weapon Skills: Bow 2, Long Hafted Axe 3, Dagger 1

Common Skills: Personality 2,Movement 2,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: No Quarter

Assaman

The Assaman is the chieftain and champion of the clan. His word is law and he can only be deposed by a warrior who can defeat him in mortal combat. The Assaman of the clan is armed with axe, spears and a bow, fighting from the platform of a chariot. He is clad in the heaviest armour that his clan can provide and visored helmets with leering demonic face plates are preferred, being obtained from traders out of 'Dorwinion'.

Attribute level: 6
Endurance: 24
Hate: 4
Parry: 7(6+1)
Armour: 5d+4

Chariot, Mail Hauberk, Buckler, Helm, Long Hafted Axe, Bow, Spear.

Weapon Skills: Axe 4, Spear 3, Easterling Bow 2

Common Skills: Personality 3,Movement 3,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 3,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: Commanding Voice, No Quarter




The Blood Drinkers of Rhûn (The Hunkarim - Shadow People)

These Easterlings are the descendants of those of the old Wainrider peoples who refused to submit to the Balchoth conquerors and fled north, over the River Running.
In the centuries following their defeat by Eärnil of Gondor, they had become a peaceful and mostly sedentary nation, living alongside the remaining Northmen on the southern banks of the River Running and along the borders of Dorwinion.
When the Balchoth arrived out of the east, they easily defeated the armies of the Wainriders, who were betrayed and deserted by their Northmen auxilliaries. Those who would not submit to the Balchoth yoke, escaped across the River Running and into the lands known as the Nether Marches. For the best part of a century, they feuded with their Northman neighbours. Finally, in the year TA2590, the Dwarves returned to Erebor from their failed holdings in the Grey Mountains. A new alliance was forged between them and the Northmen of Dale, with the purpose of driving out such Easterlings as dwelt north of the River Running and west of the Redwater. The descendants of the Wainriders were swept away in a rising tide of fire and steel.
They fled in panic across the Redwater, taking with them such possessions as they could carry in haste and the first winter on the frozen steppes of the Kuza Bozkir devastated these refugees. Fully three parts of the people were lost to cold and hunger. Yet, out of adversity, a new nation was born.Those who survived, learned to domesticate the shaggy ponies that were native to the steppes and evolved into a culture dependant upon their pony herds for future survival.
The ponies provided meat and mare's milk for sustenance, hides to be worked into leather for clothing and bone for combs and needles.
Adopting an almost entirely nomadic existence, the folk migrated across the northern steppe following their pony herds and living out of hide tents called yurts. The great wagons that they once crossed the Rhovanic Plain in were gone, mere memories from a dim and distant past. They are few in number and women fulfill equal roles to men in their society. Young, unmarried, maidens are trained to defend the camps while the men are hunting or raiding.
The bow and the spear are their favoured weapons and around their campfires, a common argument is whether they despise the Austarimenn descendants of the Balchoth or the Northmen who betrayed them more. Encounters with either group are inevitably hostile and typically end in bloodshed.
They are known as the Hunkarim in their own tongue, which translates into Westron as Blood Drinkers. This is a reference to the fact that , in desperate times, they supp upon the blood of their mounts for sustenance. Of course, the Northmen of the Redwater Valley have misconstrued the name to imply something else entirely.

Saglayan

Saglayan is a Hunkarim title meaning 'provider' and it is the term of reference used for the raiders and hunters of the Hunkarim clans. It is rare for these fellows to enter melee combat unless they outnumber their foes by a considerable margin. Bows are their armament of choice and their curved swords are, usually, only drawn when victory is certain.

Attribute level: 4
Endurance: 116
Hate: 3
Parry: 4
Armour: na

Steppe pony(Palfrey), Bow, Sword

Weapon Skills: Bow 3, Sword 2

Common Skills: Personality 2,Movement 2,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 1

Shadow Abilities: Deadly Archer

Emekhtar

The Emektar is a veteran warrior, found only among the largest groups and charged with the responsibility to train the young women of the Tigkizim(Arrow Maidens). In such pitched battles as the Hunkarim choose to fight, Emekhtars are the most capable close combat fighters.
Unlike the Saglayan, the Emektar is an armoured and skilled melee combatant. Although not as well equipped as the Northmen of Dale and the Long Lake, he is not to be underestimated as a foe.

Attribute level: 5
Endurance: 16
Hate: 4
Parry: 6(5+1)
Armour: 2d+1

Steppe pony(Palfrey), Bow, Buckler, Sabre, Leather Corselet, Cap of Iron and Leather

Weapon Skills: Bow 3, Sabre 4

Common Skills: Personality 2,Movement 3,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: Commanding Voice, Deadly Archer

Tarkhan

These are the chieftains of the Hunkarim clans. Veteran warriors and accomplished hunters, they do not rule their people with absolute authority but as a 'first among equals'. Tarkhans may be, and occasionally are, replaced by the mandate of their peers. This usually follows some catastrophic event that can be directly attributed to a decision made by the Tarkhan.

Attribute level: 6
Endurance: 24
Hate: 5
Parry: 7 (6+1)
Armour: 2d+1

Steppe pony(Palfrey), Leather Corselet, Cap of Iron and Leather, Bow, Buckler, Sabre

Weapon Skills: Bow 3, Sabre 4

Common Skills: Personality 3,Movement 3,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: Commanding Voice


Tigkiz

Unlucky raiders have disovered to their chagrin, that an absence of men from a Hunkarim camp does not equate to an absence of defenders. The 'Tigkizim' are young women, trained in the use of the bow to defend their homes and possessions. As soon as a girl becomes a woman, she is expected to take a husband and have children. Until a suitable husband is found she becomes a Tigkiz. Although many of these 'Arrow Maidens' are barely more than children, they are both fierce and fearless in defence of their homes.

Attribute level: 3
Endurance: 112
Hate: 3
Parry: 3
Armour: na

Steppe pony(Palfrey), Bow, Sword, Dagger

Weapon Skills: Bow 2, Sword 2, Dagger 1

Common Skills: Personality 2,Movement 2,Perception 1,Survival 1,Custom 2, Vocation 1

Shadow Abilities: Deadly Archer


The Men of Dorwinion (The Rouavalda - Free People)

The land of Dorwinion has, long since, ceased to exist save in the minds and writings of Scholars who have not bothered to establish if the region they currently refer to by that name is, in fact, the ancient land that is mentioned in the Lays of Beleriand.
The land, they currently refer to as Dorwinion is actually known as Rouavald by it's indigenous inhabitants, the Rouavalda. These are a curious people of mixed ancestry, exhibiting the appearance and behaviours of both their Easterling and Northman forebears.
The wines of Rouavald are of the highest quality. There are none to compare elsewhere in north western Middle Earth and it is for this reason that the Elves of the Woodland realm refer to it as Dorwinion(a name that has become common parlance among the Northmen and other Westerners).
The Rouavalda are both pragmatic and opportunistic in their dealings with their neighbours. They trade happily with both Northmen and Easterlings and despite their fluctuating allegiances, the quality of their wines and other exotic merchandise ensure that their traders are usually welcomed in the settlements of the Free Folk.
(Rouavalda pragmatism and instinct for self preservation means that when the War of the Ring finally comes, they will throw in their lot with the Dark Lord's armies and become counted among the Shadow Peoples.)

Druskja Warrior

The finest warriors of the Rouavalda are gathered by the Nobility into companies of retainers called Wendruskja. Individual members of these companies are called Druskja and each man is trained to fight in heavy armour, both on foot and from horseback. Most of these warriors, but not all, come from families with strong Northman bloodlines.
Wendruskja translates as 'Wine Drinkers' in Westron and indicates that these warriors are paid, in part, for their service in the exquisite wines of the region. Some few retain their wine entitlement for trading when they retire from military service. The majority simply consume it.

Attribute level: 5
Endurance: 20
Hate/Hope:2/2
Parry: 7(5+2)
Armour: 4d4+4

Palfrey, Spear, Sword and Shield or Long Axe, Mail Coat, Helm.

Weapon Skills: Spear 2, Sword 3 or Long Axe 3 , Dagger 1

Common Skills: Personality 2, Movement 2,Perception 2, Survival 2,Custom 1,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: No Quarter

Druskja Noble Captain

Attribute level: 7
Endurance: 24
Hate/Hope: 3/3
Parry: 7(5+1)
Armour: 5d6+4

Courser, Mail Hauberk, Helm, Sword and Shield or Long Axe, Spear

Weapon Skills: Spear 3, Sword 4, Long Axe 4

Common Skills: Personality 3,Movement 2,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: Commanding Voice, No Quarter

Serjuk

The vast majority of the warriors of Rouavald are members of local militias known as Serjukan. These men are volunteers, well fed and well equipped. They provide standing companies of archers, axe men and pikemen for the army and complements of sailors and marines for the merchant fleet.
They are raised, for the most part, from among Rouavalda men whose families are descended from Easterling bloodlines.

Attribute Level: 3
Endurance: 14
Hate/Hope: 2/2
Parry: 3
Armour: 1d

Leather Shirt, Spear and Shield or Bow or Long Axe, Dagger

Weapon Skills: Spear 2, Easterling Bow 2, Long Axe 2, Dagger 1

Common Skills: Personality 1,Movement 2,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 2,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: No Quarter

Serjuk Captain

Attribute level: 5
Endurance: 18
Hate/Hope: 3/3
Parry: 5
Armour: 2d

Leather Corselet, Long Axe, Dagger

Weapon Skills: Long Axe 3, Dagger 2

Common Skills: Personality 2,Movement 2,Perception 2,Survival 2,Custom 3,Vocation 2

Shadow Abilities: Commanding Voice, No Quarter

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Otaku-sempai » Sun Jul 10, 2016 11:15 pm

What made you decide to link the Hunkarim to the Balchoth who didn't enter into the history of Gondor until hundreds of years after the invading Wainriders were defeated (in TA 1944)? I have to wonder if the two peoples would have ever encountered each other. The Wainriders seem to have been fairly aggressive themselves. Do you see this as having changed after their defeat and the utter destruction of their invading forces?

It's true that we don't know much (if anything) of events in Dorwinion during the War of the Ring. I prefer to think that the folk did not actively support Sauron, but did not oppose him either.
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

Halbarad
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Halbarad » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:06 am

That's a good question Otaku Sempai.

When Tolwen was writing his piece on the demographics of Rhovanion for OM14, we corresponded on a number of things as we searched for evidence, however flimsy, of the potential for the existence of cultures in Rhovanion and Near Rhûn.

We established that the Wainriders had settled the Rhovanic plain after the defeat of the Northmen and defeat at the Battle of the Camp, that their petty princedoms existed until they were conquered by the Balchoth.
There is evidence that several groups of Northmen refused to submit to the Wainriders, fleeing to Gondor, the Dalelands and the Anduin Vale. It seemed reasonable to me that there would be a similar group of Wainrider descendants, reticent to submit to the Balchoth.
Where might they flee to? North into the Dalelands is supported by the writings in UT. It is noted therein that when the Dwarves came to the Lonely Mountain, they made an alliance with the Northmen to drive the local Easterlings across the Redwater.

Thus I concluded that these Hunkarim were to be the descendants of the Wainriders, finally driven onto the Steppe of Kuza Bozkir and that they were almost unrecognisable, having been forced to adapt their culture to survive.

In the final draft of the Demographics of Rhovanion, Tolwen stated that the Hunkarim were believed to be displaced survivors of a war with the Balchoth in the South and East. The Hunkarim above are based on my original submission and I believe that it should have read South and West.

Halbarad
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Halbarad » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:17 am

@Otaku Sempai

Regarding whether there was a change that overcame the Wainriders following the Battle of the Camp, I believe that to be absolutely the case. Their defeat was catastrophic and I believe that they were forced to accept the new boundaries of their lands, settling down and becoming much less aggressive over the following centuries. It's an old story, young and aggressive empire builders reach their limitation and settle down into comfortable indolent and fall victim to the next group of aggressive young conquerors.

Otaku-sempai
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Otaku-sempai » Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:17 am

I see. Yes, that tracks. Good research and interesting reasoning!
Last edited by Otaku-sempai on Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Far, far below the deepest delvings of the Dwarves, the world is gnawed by nameless things. Even Sauron knows them not. They are older than he."

Halbarad
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Halbarad » Mon Jul 11, 2016 1:40 am

Thank you. Tolwen was a pleasure to work with. The man knows his stuff. 8-)

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Falenthal
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Falenthal » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:33 am

Leaving aside that the reasoning behind the cultures is excellent, what I mostly enjoyed are the small details for them: where does their name come from? Why do they have the kind of living they have now? The fact that the dorwinrrim don't call themselves so, that this is only the name the Elves and Northmen know them because of the main interest in their wine. Or the "blood-drinkers", that may sound to the heroes as a semi-vampiric foe and, if they get to meet them, will learn that they are in fact a poor folk that does what it takes to survive.

Great job, Halbarad. Congrats.

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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Finrod Felagund » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:08 am

Very interesting and a good attempt I think. A few things jarred for me:

Austarmenni

Does this name fit with Assaman and Jangar? It almost seemed to me that you've got names there from 2 or 3 different linguistic roots but I may be wrong.

Heads on Austarmenni Chieftain's Chariots? Didn't quite fit for me but I guess it could happen - what was the inspiration for that if you don't mind me asking?

Assaman - your description of their governance didn't work for me at all. Why would you want this role if you know that at some point someone stronger is going to come along and kill you? Also if single combat is the only qualification for leadership, isn't wisdom or the ability to trade effectively (or negotiate with stronger clans) valued? What about a weaker member of the clan who is far more clever and would make a far more effective leader? If their word is law, is their no mechanism for councils and are there no customs? What about a clan of weak members who hate their leader? I think the sort of thing you described looks good for RPG systems but actually breaks down when you start to consider it.

By the way, if Adventurers meet some of their guys do they have to fight them or could they just talk? A frugal society such as this will definitely need trade (Iron, cloth, clay for pottery etc). They will also want alliances, form marriages, have massive trade fairs etc.

Hunkarim

I winced a little when I read the description of their forming but its possible I guess. Were this group living in Yurts before they were displaced - if not they underwent a rapid lifestyle and cultural change.

Could you really base a civilisation around a steppe pony? I can see that they would become a cultural icon (as horses are for the Rohirrim) but in reality people would need goats, cattle, sheep and some way of gathering native plants - or they'll die quite frankly. Not to mention they would need to trade (if only for Iron) and where there's trade there's diplomatic relations. Arguably the Steppe Pony should be more important for the Austarmenni who, after all, are a mobile people.

Rouavalda

I wondered a little about the name Rouavalda (and its fit with the name Dorwinion), but it can work I guess. I got less sense than with your other two descriptions about the lifestyle of this people. The Austarmenni live in wagon clans and the Hunkarim live in Yurt hamlets, but how do the Rouavalda live? Do they have a central Town or Towns where the leader can control (tax) traders? Do they have a King - if I'm a Barding and I want to negotiate a Wine contract who do I speak to? They probably did join Sauron, but is their a chance they did so reluctantly (or some resisted)? Were they occupied and if so did trade end before the War of the Ring. If the Rouavalda were reluctantly occupied is their a chance that Adventurers could be based there to try and prevent this?

Halbarad
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Halbarad » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:40 pm

@Falenthal

Thanks for the kind words.

@Finrod Felagund

Constructive criticism is always welcome and I hope to make my efforts less jarring for you.

The original Wainriders, we named 'The Mardumhesta' as we used the language of the Achaemenid Persians for these conquerors(Old Persian iirc)
Subsequently the Balchoth were named using later languages(Pahlavi and Parsi I believe)

In the original post, I followed on from Heart of the Wild and used the Northman name for this people. Austarmenn/Erringmenn. Their own name, in their own language, for their people is 'Bozorgana' and the Rhovanic plain is known as 'Bozorganush'. Austarmenn and Erringmenn are, more or less, the same folk. The latter, however, have made themselves less aggressive due to their small numbers and proximity to the Northmen of the Anduin Vale.

'The people known as the Bozorgan, referred to by Western historians as the 'Balchoth', arrived on the plains of Rhovanion in the final years of the 25th Century TA. They were a nation of brutal conquerors who crushed the descendants of the Wainriders and enslaved or slaughtered such Northmen as still remained in the region. None, it seemed, could stand against them.
Finally, in 2510 TA, a combined force of Gondorians and Eotheod cavalry defeated them at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant and the tide was turned. Although the defeat was far from catastrophic for the Bozorgan, it did put a halt to their relentless advance, dented their morale and fractured their unity.
Over the next few hundred years, their fledgling Empire would splinter and fragment until by the middle part of the 30th Century there would little left save for nomadic bands, living out of horse drawn wagons and competing for the scarce resources of the Rhovanic Plain.

The early armies of these Bozorgan relied on vast numbers of poorly equipped, but highly motivated warriors to overwhelm their foes. Due to their fractious nature and this tactic no longer remains a viable option. Thus, despite their traditional resistance to change, the Bozorgana have adapted their warbands to include large numbers of mounted warriors and horse archers.

As for the idea of skulls, I borrowed that from the Scythians who were contemporary with the Parthians. According to Herodotus, these Scythians took scalps and drank blood from the skulls of their enemies. They had to collect their enemies' heads to get the skulls, so it's reasonable to believe them to be headhunters also.

The description of the Assaman chieftain is very basic. Although his word is the law, it is probable that he takes advice from other members of his clan, before making decisions.
There is nothing in the descrition to suggest that he needs be a big, dumb brute.
In the event that such a fellow does become Assaman and threatens the security and existence of the clan, it's reasonable to assume that he may meet a rather unfortunate accident. He can only be deposed through trial by combat. That doesn't mean that he can't be removed.

Unlike the Erringmenn, I see the Austarmenni/Bozorgana as extremely hostile to all Northmen cultures and probably Gondorians as well. They probably do have trade fairs and cultural/ religious gatherings. I do, in fact, mention that they trade with the folk of 'Dorwinion' in the Assaman description. This is because many of the Rouavalda of Rouavald are Easterlings as far as the Bozorgana are concerned.

It should be noted that the Hunkarim may hate the Bozorgana with a passion, but that the latter believe the former to be insignificant and not even worthy of their regard.

The Hunkarim were still the Mardumhesta when they were driven from the Rhovanic Plain by the Balchoth(Bozorgana). They were no longer the Wainriders, having settled to found permanent principalities.
Those who fled the Balchoth and settled in the Redwater valley, I imagine, built villages of wood and lived very much like their Northman neighbours until the latter united to drive them east on to the Kuza Bozkir in 2594TA(?)

It is 2770 (nearly two hundred years later) before the recognisable Hunkarim culture appears on the steppes north of the Sea of Rhûn. Tolwen notes that they serve as mercenaries for the Rouavalda against the Bozorgana or, occasionally, against the Northmen.

As to whether an entire culture can be based around the steppe pony, I don't see why not. The pony provides for them in the same way that it provided for the Mongols, or perhaps in the same way that the seal does for the Inuit people.

That is to say, that it provides the staple of their diet but I have not suggested that diet is not supplemented by fish, game, berries and tubers. I'm only providing broad brush strokes with occasional little details which I believe might be of interest. Likewise, they hate the Northmen and the Bozorgana but are ambivalent towards the Rouavalda and trade with them or using them as intermediaries.
Tolwen added two permanent settlements, Tufak and Tinmin on the map of Kuza Bozkir and clarified that these were trade settlements.

What the linguistic root was for these, I do not know. They were added in the later article in OM15.

Regarding the origins of Rouavald, there too I am at a loss. I originally named the Dorwionion region as Wendragaard and envisaged a Kievan Rus style group of Principalities where a Northman merchant noble and military class lorded it over Easterling peasants and traders from their fortified towns and trading posts.

Wine contracts would be negotiated with the individual Princes and I believe that mst served Sauron in the War of the Ring with varying degrees of reluctance. I doubt that many, if any, refused to serve for fear of retribution.

The Wenndruskja to me, are the Easterlings with Axes mentioned in the same paragraph/sentence as the Variags of Khand. The folk of the Kingdom of Dale might have recognised them as Rouavalda but the folk of Gondor and of Rohan had likely only ever heard of Dorwinion and would have no idea who these fellows were.
Anyhow...wow...that went on for longer than I intended. I hope some of the things that jarred are less jarring now and I really appreciate the time you took to critique my efforts.

Cheers :)

Finrod Felagund
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Re: Peoples of Rhovanion and the Sea of Rhûnen

Post by Finrod Felagund » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:22 pm

Hi Halbarad

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Austarmenni

The explanation of their name now makes sense so thanks for that. I guess the Balchoth are a brutal Sauron-influenced version of the ancient Scythians so your description of headhunting and leadership through combat would work. I still think it's a bit of a one-note description - the ancient Scythians were actually a sophisticated confederation of tribes across the Asian Steppes that managed and grew rich from huge trade routes. In their day they constructed the largest city in the world (40 sq miles). They had art, culture, and diplomacy, and their armies were skilled horsemen beyond compare. I'll bet you anything that kingship passed from father to son.

Hunkarim

OK I guess that 2 centuries would allow for a new culture to emerge. The key thing in moving from houses to Yurts would be the availability of wood. If it's scarce or can't be traded for, then a more tent like structure would work. My only comment regarding the steppe pony is that Tolkien tends to use noble creatures as symbols for his cultures (i.e. horse, swan etc). Don't modern Men of the Steppes tame Eagles? I was wondering whether it wouldn't be more interesting for the Hunkarim to have tamed the Giant Falcons of the Steppes and use them as a symbol instead of shaggy ponies, but it's your decision!

Dorwinrim

Actually I like the thinking behind this culture. It hadn't occurred to me that the Bearded Easterlings with axes could be men from Dorwinion. It also fits that they would be used to attack Minas Tirith rather than Dale (you can imagine that Sauron would distrust using them to attack their kinsmen). As for origins, they are probably a mixture of all types of Easterlings who wondered past and settled in what is probably some of most fertile land in the area, and ruled by migrating Northmen. It is a smaller area than Kievan Rus, so a more centralised government and sngle kingship might be possible depending upon whether you want to do this.

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