Tales of Brittanis
Savage, primitive invaders from across the Narrow Sea, the Kairn have been raiding the shores of Brittanis for twenty years now, and an entire generation of folk have grown up with the looming threat of a screaming, howling horde descending on them in the middle of the night.
The kingdoms of Brittanis only recently became first-hand aware of the Kairn, though their raids had plagued the coastal regions of the Twelve Cities long before they began raiding south. Though they would appear to be inferior to “average” humans, the Kairn have proven to be implacable, terrifying foes capable of despoiling and destroying entire armies. Only time will tell if the more civilized nations will be able to withstand the onslaught of their depredations.
The Kairn appear to be descended from the same stock as ancestral humans, though they appear far more brutish and savage. The typical Kairn stands over six feet in height—male and female do not differ in height so much as build and mass— and males usually have a musculature that surpasses even the Norn. Their stature and build make them natural warriors and they use seemingly-oversized weapons with ease. Females tend to be long-limbed and highly muscled as well, but their frame seems to be more built for speed and agility rather than brute strength.
Male Kairn skulls are shaped differently from standard humans as well— they have overdeveloped brow ridges and their skulls are thicker across the top than average humans. Limbs tend to be longer in proportion to average humans, though the rest of their internal anatomy is no different from the usual human.
In general, Kairn are stronger, taller, and larger than an average human. In appearance, though, the Kairn are far more savage and uncivilized than the humans of the western lands, sporting piercings, ritual scarification, and tattoos over large portions of their bodies. Their hair is always long—apparently it has something to do with a warrior’s prowess as slaves are always shaved bald— and they often braid or secure precious stones or metals into their hair, beard and body modifications.
Those who have escaped the Kairn say that they appear to have some society, with a small ruling caste related to the worship of their savage gods— the only one westerners know of is called the Bone Queen and she promotes the enslavement of Kairn enemies and ritual sacrifice of their foes.
Though technologically savage, with little in the way of cultural advancement (as far as we can tell), the Kairn are able seafarers and shipbuilders as well as highly skilled at alchemy. Their warbeasts and creatures of war are often brought to be used as terror weapons and battlefield artillery. They are also well-known for the use of alchemical warpaint that augments the already-considerable prowess of their warriors in battle. The Kairn have also been known to use mind-altering alchemicals on their captured slaves, augmenting them and putting them back on the battlefield in a collar and chain to fight the folk they once called allies.
Kairn also practice blood magic—indeed, their religion seems to be based around it entirely. They use ritual sacrifice and the power released by torture and blood to fuel horrible, bestial magics that transform their warriors and slay enemies. Their use of this magic is so widespread that nearly every battlefield is tainted by their foul defiling magic and energy becomes difficult for less-tainted arcanists to utilize.
Well known also is the Kairn bestial magic. By some terrible enchantment, the Kairn leaders and elite warriors can harness some kind of primal spirit or evil possession to transform them into brutal, vicious killing machines. This tends to manifest in different ways but always ends up with the Kairn warrior taking on magically-enhanced strength, speed, or ferocity as well as a variety of other magical abilities granted by the feral enchantment. Their shamans and witch doctors seem to be able to manifest this rage in other warriors and others seem to make this transformation when the battle lust or injury forces the change. Regardless, unlike normal humans who get less dangerous the more grievous their wounds— the Kairn actually become MORE deadly the closer to death they get.