Varg

Sometimes mistakenly referred to as 'werewolves', the Varg are lean and powerful wolfmen, a mixture of human and bestial characteristics. Though they walk upright, long tails, lupine heads, and elegant fur leave little doubt as to their origins. In comparison to humans, Varg enjoy enhanced seeing, smell. and hearing; they can clearly recognise objects and movement at far greater distances, though their ability to sense color is significantly weaker.

Like humans, Varg are at home in a wide range of habitats. While most commonly encountered in temperate climates, sub-species of this race can be found roaming sweltering tropical savannas, scraping out a minimal existence on misty moors, or braving arctic conditions. Fur colors and thicknesses vary accordingly, simultaneously serving as insulation and camouflage appropriate to a Varg’s adopted surroundings.

Vital Data

Representatives: Kelger Vlondett (FFV), Lone Wolf (FFV, FFVI)
Typical Height: 1.7-2.1m (Male) / 1.5-1.9m (Female)
Typical Weight: 85-120kg (Male) / 60-100kg (Female)
Fur Colors: Grey, tan, brown, white, red, black
Eye Colors: Yellow, green, brown
Habitats: Forests, Hills, Mountains, Grasslands, Tundra, Deserts, Marshes
Lifespan: 50-65 years
Young: 5-10 years
Average: 15-25 years
Old: 40-50 years

Society

Varg are hunters tamed by the slow encroachment of civilisation; where their ancestors fought with tooth and claw, today’s wolfmen place their trust in a stout shield and well-honed sword. The hunting pack still remains the basic building block of Varg society, creating a social unit ranging in size from five to fifty, depending on the environment and available food sources. Packs that forsake the nomad's life tend to be secretive, building as far from other races as possible; potential homes are chosen as much for their natural resources as defensive properties. Given the choice, Varg gravitate towards geographic features like ravines and caves; buildings are often constructed in suitable cracks and openings to take advantage of the sheltering rock-face. Other habitats require a little more ingenuity; in highlands, hillocks are converted into dwellings, while in swamps and forests large trees serve as the basis for most buildings. Walls, however, are omnipresent, erected out of whatever material may come to hand.

On a social level, packs are tightly knit associations where the good of the community always comes before that of the individual. The entire pack is expected to work together to ensure that every member’s needs are met in full; selfishness is treated as a cardinal sin, and ‘parasites’ quickly expelled into the wild to fend for themselves. Conversely, those who contribute most to the pack enjoy the highest status, a fact that allows larger, stronger males to dominate communal affairs. However, their influence can be fleeting if they fail to keep up their achievements; should their contributions slip, they too risk being cast out by their fellows. Matters of importance to the pack as a whole – such as punishment of individuals or mediation of disputes – are resolved on a communal level, with every pack member of age casting a vote towards a decision.

Varg as a whole are rarely warlike, preferring to settle their disputes through mediation. Direct competition between packs is rare; if two groups of Varg find themselves contesting the same resources, one of the two will cede their claim in exchange for help in relocating to a more suitable area. Packs will, however, take up arms if the situation demands it, using their hunters as a first line of defense.

Though not innately religious, Varg keep close ties to the nature spirits surrounding their homes for personal security, calling on spiritual protection through a variety of crude rituals and dances. These are conducted by pack members that are not yet old or strong enough to hunt, usually under the tutelage of an older, magically gifted supervisor. Other, more animalistic ceremonies accompany births and deaths; funerals in particular can be a chilling affair for outsiders as the pack joins together in a ‘death howl’ audible for miles.

Culturally, the Varg borrow heavily from other races. As craftsmen, the wolfmen are capable, if ultimately mediocre; many of a village's luxuries and manufactures are likely to originate from outside the pack. Tailoring poses an exception, though other races are unlikely to find much use for the Vargs' idiosyncratic sense of fashion; due to their underdeveloped color vision, the wolfmen routinely turn out clothing many shades brighter than most races would find comfortable, let alone acceptable. As most colors are imported at great expense, the most flamboyant outfits are reserved for senior members of the pack; when dealing with Varg, adventurer wisdom has it, “look for the one who leaves your eyes watering.”

Roleplaying

Adventuring Varg can be neatly divided into two categories: outcasts and everyone else. Those who have been rejected by Varg society at large, usually for ‘anti-pack’ crimes like idleness, theft, or deliberately inflicting bodily harm on another pack member, have little choice but to adopt a nomadic lifestyle. Other packs tend to be innately distrustful of ‘strays', and only take them into the fold in the rarest of circumstances.

Some outcasts wear their independence like a badge of pride, falling in with those they regard as fellow 'free spirits': brigands, criminals, rebels, and everything in between. Others feel genuine regret for their exile, and attempt to reform themselves through deeds of merit and valor. Either of these paths can bring an outcast Varg into contact with an adventuring group, though they can both pose problems for the group; free spirits refuse to do anything that doesn't serve their own interests, while reformers zealously oppose anything they deem morally dubious or reprehensible.

Traditional Varg are reluctant to set foot outside of their villages, except in large numbers. Their isolation makes them distrustful towards outsiders, if not other races in general; even friendly visitors are treated as potential enemies and subjected to intense scrutiny until their motives become clear. Once someone has earned the pack’s trust, there’s little the Varg won’t do to assist them, though getting there can be an uphill battle. Strength and age earn a certain degree of respect in Varg circles, but selflessness is the cardinal virtue – any adventurer with a reputation for chivalry and charity will find herself well-positioned to make friends among the wolfmen. Canny negotiators can also exploit colors to their advantage, as the Varg instinctively regard eye-searing clothing as a mark of stature.

Varg speak Common Tongue with a deep, guttural emphasis on the ‘r’s. Their own language, a remnant of their feral days, predominantly uses growls, barks, and howls to communicate. By casually slipping these into 'normal speech,' Varg can incorporate coded messages in almost any conversation. Varg names tend to be Germanic or Nordic-sounding; possible examples include Arnlaug, Eriulf, Horst and Vegeir. Family names are not used in Varg society, though some Varg are awarded a second name to commemorate a particular accomplishment. Where necessary, nicknames such as ‘Fang’ are used to distinguish between several wolfmen sharing the same moniker.

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