In the cold north of the Thillonrian peninsula dwell the barbarian tribes of the Cruski (Ice), Fruztii (Frost), and the Schnai (Snow). Molded by their harsh homeland into tough and capable warriors, they have a long tradition of raiding their neighbors and each other. During the summer, they come out of their northern holds through either the mountain passes or by sea, sailing their longships to destinations further afield to sack towns and villages. Chieftains lead these raids, and the Harbingers, or those who bring the doom, are at their sides.
Harbingers are rangers that lead the barbarians to their targets through good and, more importantly, through bad weather. They rely on their survival training and ability to tap into primal magic to ensure success.
While the raiders call upon the god Vatun, Kord, and Llerg for strength in battle, the Harbinger also praises Xerbo, Jascar, and Norebo to give them safe passage. The Harbinger will often perform sacrificial rituals to these gods periodically to keep them appeased until they return home.
Harbingers usually spend years among these neighbors learning the lay of the land and the best targets to riad before returning north. Because of this, Harbingers are traditionally social and friendly, making it easier to mingle amongst potential victims.
The Watchers of the Adri are an elite group of rangers formed by a splinter group of the Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom in 65 CY. A select few knights with forester skills took to the Adri to protect its inhabitants from the beasts that lurked within. Over the years, as the face of the Great Kingdom changed, the Watchers found themselves the guardians of those living within the forest and refugees fleeing the ever-increasing evil of the Great Kingdom's despots.
The Watchers work in conjunction with the free people of the Adri to ensure that the forest remains a place of refuge for those who flee the evil of the Great Kingdom. They work around the elven Sentinels and respect their charge of protecting the Coldwood. They ensure that treasure hunters or malcontents seeking the Coldwood are turned away before encountering the Sentinels.
Since their founding, the Watchers of the Adri have become an organization no longer composed of Knight Protectors but rangers raised within the forest. Adri is their home and nation, and they pledge their lives to protect it and its inhabitants.
Part of the culture of the nomadic Rovers of the Barrens is the worship of the spirits of the land. Shaman attempts to commune and learn from these spirits, and so does everyone else. Chiefs will make offerings to the spirits of the bear and eagle for strength and courage. At the same time, others might pray and make offerings to the spirit of fish so that they might have a bountiful catch. Among these plains warriors are a group of rangers that are chief among the hunters and gathers; these are the Spirit Guides.
Spirit Guides have a strong connection to the land and its spirits. They cannot only commune with the spirits but can also gain enhancements from them in short bursts to increase their abilities. To achieve these enhancements, the Spirit Guides protect the lands in which the spirits dwell and make simple offerings to them.
While each tribe would have one or two Spirit Guides, their numbers have been reduced to only a handful because of the wars against Iuz. In the past, Spirit Guides were picked by the spirits themselves. Still, with the dire circumstances of the Rovers, many have begun teaching what they can to those that show any promise and hope that the spirits will accept them.
Among the gods worshiped by the Tiger Nomads is Incabulos, the god of plagues, famine, nightmares, and disasters. He is revered by some who wish to win his favor and gain some of his wicked power, but most want only to appease him and keep his vileness at bay. From this belief came the Black Riders, a group of rangers that believe the only way to keep Incabulos pacified is to give him the death and destruction he craves. These rangers did not wish to commit these acts upon their people, so instead, they commit vile deeds upon others in Incabuloses name.
Black Riders conduct their raids into foreign lands under cover of night when possible, but this is not always possible when they roam far from their homes. The Black Riders are also valued combatants whenever the Tiger Nomads go to war as shock troops and scouts.
Black Riders, like their name suggests, dress all in black and even dye or paint their armor and weapons black. A side effect of the indoctrination process turns their skin a pale blue color like that of a corpse. Those who can survive the process are forever changed and must live apart from the rest of their tribe for the tribe's safety.
The Defenders of the Greenkeep are little more than a motley collection of survivors from the invasion of the Bandit Kingdoms by Iuz and the massacre at Steelbone Meadows. They inhabit a section of the eastern Fellreev Forest that was traditionally a zone of contention or a border region between the Dazark orc tribe and sylvan elf clans. The worship of Olidamara was the bonding agent that kept most of them together through the roughest of times. These bandits view life with a devil may care attitude. With the constant threat of possible death just around the corner, they laugh and live life to its fullest.
The Defenders of the Greenkeep exist in loosely knit bands of bandits turned foresters that move freely throughout their territory—Scavenging and avoiding trouble. A handful of permanent campsites are located throughout their area of the Fellreev, but are shared by all. They come to these camps to share news and recoup after encounters against Iuzian's Dazark orc and sylvan elf tribes.
With a grim sense of humor and determination, they learned the ways of the forest. Their very name is a joke, as they can't defend the Greenkeep, their name for the Fellreev, they can barely hang onto their territory. While they have not allied with their stronger and more numerous neighbors, they have benefited from the alliance between the displaced Reyhu and the sylvan elf tribes.
The Defenders have become master ambushers and deadly archers. They excel at hit-and-run tactics and are highly mobile when it comes to traversing the rugged terrain of the forest. Despite the close ties between the various bands of Defenders and their sharing of a common worship of Olidamara, no new leader has risen to forge them into a cohesive force.
The Dreadwood is a large forest in southern Keoland that separates it from the Hool Marshes. This forest is home to a fiercely independent nation of wood elves that aggressively defend the wood from intruders, most notably monsters that filter in from the Hool Marshes. Still, even greater evil exists in the wood's thick interior centered around ancient ruins once used by dark wizards.
A royal writ was bestowed upon the elves giving them the right to govern most of the forest as its protectors. A convenient way for Keoland to save face appearing to grant the elves that which they already claimed. Still, the Keoland crown and the elves have been on good terms for centuries.
The Dreadwalkers were founded over 900 years ago by House Lizhal to help protect against the foul and dark magics of House Malhel. House Malhel fled into the Dreadwood to escape their punishment by House Neheli and the Silent Ones for ravishing parts of Keoland with their foul magic. Unable to eradicate them, the Dreadwalkers did contain them in the deep interior of the woods. Aberrations sometimes emerge to torment the forest from these very same areas, and an evil taint has twisted the forest there.
Over the centuries, the Dreadwalker's mission has changed and become one in line with the visions of the wood elves. Today, they protect the entire forest against all its enemies. Traffic traveling along the Dreadwood Road is often targeted by bandits and humanoids infesting the forest, forcing the Dreadwalkers to patrol its length constantly.
The Dreadwalkers are comprised of wood elves, humans, and a handful of the indigenous gnome population. They are on good terms with the Keoland garrisons, the wood elf nation, the great druidess Reynard Yargrove and the druid circle that calls the Dreadwood their home. While they often work with these other organizations, they predominantly scout the forest in their own bands.
Over the generations, many of those that found themselves persecuted by the evil Aerdy despots fled into the Adri Forest. Eventually, out of this grew small but well-organized bands of rangers, priests, and druids dedicated to protecting the forest and those that live within it.
Among these groups, one organized by the priesthood of Ehlonna, calling themselves the Warriors of the Huntress, took shape. These militant foresters believed in being aggressive and proactive against threats to the forest. They also bring the blessing and teachings of Ehlonna to all who wish it along the way.
As the reputation of these priests grew, they took on followers of like mind and faith. Chief among these followers are the rangers who aid in their crusade to keep the forest clear of the evil that ruined and broke apart the Great Kingdom.
The Warriors of the Huntress are on good terms with most in the forest, even if they are considered hotheaded by some. This lustful approach to defending the Adri has led to the warriors pursuing threats, or perceived threats, outside of the forest. Because of this, the Warriors of the Huntress have a reputation outside of the Adri. In the North Kingdom, the warriors are wanted criminals with bounties on their heads.
The Warriors of the Huntress have no real structure to their organizations and instead make decisions by committee. But the priestess Lisara Elmhern is regarded by most outside of the Warriors of the Huntress as being their unofficial leader.
Deep within the depths of the Burneal, a cold primordial northern forest, live the aboriginal Uirtag flan. These forest dwellers who once lived upon the fringes of the Burneal withdrew into its depths at the onset of the Great Migrations to avoid these conquerors. Well aware of the dangers that dwelt deep within the forest's interior, the Uirtag relied heavily upon their rangers for guidance and help in adjusting to this new isolated form of living amongst the trees. Fortunately for the Uritag the Mist Wolves of the Burneal were there to help them.
The relationship between the Uirtag and the Mist Wolves had already been a strong one of mutual respect. Still, it quickly evolved into a mutual existence that has grown well beyond a partnership into a close bond between the two. From the Uirtag the Mist Wolves gained a valuable ally in their constant crusade against the evils of the Burneal, and from the Mist Wolves the Uritag tribes that adopted them learned an good and orderly view of life within the forest.
From this bond grew a new warden of the Burneal, the Mist Walkers. These rangers live alongside the Mist Wolves and have joined them in their never ending quest to keep the dangers of the Burneal at bay.
Prominent among the loosely knit organization of the Gnarley forest is its seven Ranger Knights. While there is no recognized hierarchy amongst the rangers of the Gnarley, the knights unofficially serve that role. Each of the knights watches over a section of the forest and trains a number of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights.
The history of the Ranger Knights can be traced back to the 400's CY when a disgraced knight made his way into the forest to hide out from those seeking his head. Who he was before entering the Gnarley is unknown, but this knight became known as the Knight of the Gnarley Forest soon after. Called Tedric by his friends, the Knight of the Gnarley soon found and became fast friends with one of the Gnarley's rangers, Drikel Zondwin.
Secretly looking to redeem himself for whatever his past transgressions were, Tedric began a campaign against the evils that dwelt in the Gnarley and preyed against its inhabitants. In this endeavor, his trusted friend Drikel accompanied him and taught him the ways of the forest, making him the first Ranger Knight of the forest.
Tedric's party of close companions grew to seven in total. Each one an experienced ranger in their own right, but Tedric began teaching them the ways of knightly virtue and courage. In turn, he knighted each one and appointed them as the official Ranger Knights of the Gnarley forest. Even though the knights have no written charter or bylaws, or a lord liege they serve, the Ranger Knights follow the example of chivalric duty as shown to them by Sir Tedric. They swear to protect the weak and the innocent of the Gnarley with unto their last breath.
Today there are still seven Ranger Knights of the Gnarley, a number they hold as a sacred symbol of their order. Unlike in the days of Sir Tedric, the knights have their sections of the forest they oversee and protect instead of roaming around altogether. Each knight, in turn, trains a group of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights. These squires are instructed in the ways of living and surviving in the forest and the virtues of being a knight. While they do not fit the typical image of knights in their worn leathers and sporting bows, falchions, and axes, they act with as much virtue and grace as any other courtly knight from around the flanaess.
Every two to three months, the knights travel to the town of Corustaith, where they exchange information about what is happening in their forest sectors. If threats are deemed concerning enough, the knights band together and will assault the problem with all of their numbers, but this is rare.
As the Wolf Nomads or Wegwiur as they call themselves settled down into their new homeland in the northern Flanaess, the elite outriders of the Relentless Horde found themselves without purpose. Under the guidance of the late Kha-Khan, they scouted ahead for plunder and grazing lands. Still, they now found themselves simply wandering their new homeland without purpose. They found occasional purpose in killing the rare monster or leading raids against their former allies, the Tiger Nomads, or into Perrenland. Still, those callings were few, so their numbers dwindled. They might have even faded into legends had it not been for the rise of Iuz, and the threat of a new foe to fight.
With the coming of Iuz, these once outriders evolved into the Wolf Sentinels, ranging the lands between their's and that of the forces of the Great Old One. They took prominent roles in the battles that soon followed Iuz's return and leaders in the continuous skirmishes and raids along their borders with Iuz's empire.
Within the rigid structure of Wolf Nomad society, Wolf Sentinels answer only to their tribal tarkhan. When donning the ceremonial red wolves head of their station, they sever all ties to their families and clans to remain uninfluenced by clan rivalries. Wolf Sentinels take no wives and have no children so long as they remain a Wolf Sentinel. They may retire from their station if they wish and live a family life, but this usually only happens if the Sentinel has lingering injuries that keep them from performing the tasks of a Wolf Sentinel. Even when they set aside the red wolf head helm, they are still without their original family.
A Wolf Sentinels are solitary figures conducting their duties alone or in the company of a personal pack of wolves that they keep. They follow the tribes they are originally from when not raiding or in a war party but always make their camps a few miles from that of the tribe. They often join or form raiding and war parties to strike against their enemies despite their isolated existence. Wolf Sentinels are a common sight in and around Ungra Balan. They travel there to meet with others of their kind, exchange information, and speak with other tribal tarkhans.