Once the cruel breath of winter warmed up, I braved the rain and elements barely making my way south to a warmer, more humane climate. This journey was hellish at best, I had contracted some kind of bizarre illness from living in the filth of the giants which gave me itchy inflamed spots which burned in the rain, but I knew that if I were to survive, I would have to endure it. I some how managed to make it to the city of Rookroost thanks to a band of kindly mercenaries who aided me and tended to my terrible wounds. I was in sad shape, and stayed in a fine room in the city until I felt better, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Though scared from my ordeal, I finally set out once again into the dark neither-regions of unwanted and uncivilized lands of the humanoids.
I didn’t have to go far, following a road East, I took up camp near a roadside cemetery, which was reported by several travelers, to be haunted, however the evidence that they reported did not necessarily fit what I knew of ghosts, thus I thought that it would be worth my time to investigate it personally.
This cemetery was used during the great migration when the plague of burning fevers wiped out more then half of the pilgrims. Since that time it has just been used by travelers who have lost friends and loved ones. The cemetery is very basic, all of the buildings have crumbled and returned to the earth long ago, many of the graves are no longer marked, however recent additions can easily be identified. Entering the cemetery it is easy to know why the place is reputed to be haunted, the place has become infested by thorny bushes, poisonous nettles, and other horrid weeds, which chock the life from a place.
Bits of bone, burned wreckage, and charred metal fittings are not evidence of ghosts, but of raiders, and despite its forlorn appearance, all was not dead in this place, for keeping base in this roadside field of corpses and failure resided a small tribe of Bugbears.
It appears that my illness has made my duty all the more easy. The bugbears assume that I am a racial turn-coat, which will give them a higher status by keeping me on. I must admit that I do look the part. I had suspected that the humanoids would be more generous with me if they believed that I was as dark and as twisted as them. It also doesn’t hurt that I pay them in fool’s gold, a nice little spell I had learned from my master. I shall keep the spell active as long as I am here.
These creatures share characteristics of many different creatures, but for identification purposes, they resemble a cross between a giant goblin and a bear. On average, they stand over 7 feet tall, Males have yellowish brown skin, while females are much yellower; all bugbears are hairy, in fact they are born with it. Their hair is brown, a stone red, or a mixture of both. Their heads are unique to this race, they have a bear-like snout with a keen nose, and sharp teeth typical of carnivorous races. Their eyes are wild and deeply unsettling to gaze into, as they are green with red pupils, which are much more sensitive to light then our own eyes.
Bugbears carry weapons, however nature has given them curious hands; which are both human in shape however armed with the thick brutal claws of the bear. Their bodies are always in exquisite shape, which is typical for a society that dictates that only the strong survive. Bugbears are definitely predators, both physically and mentally!
They have their own language which is beyond a human's capacity to speak, as it is formed in a part of the throat which humans do not physically possess, thus the common tongue is beyond them, however they believe that our language is weak and that we are of lesser intelligence then they themselves are.
NATURAL FUNCTION OF THE BUGBEAR
I do not believe that these creatures are of nature, they are too out of place to be anything but an experiment gone terribly wrong. They serve only to kill, they are excellent hunters. Their subterranean fort made in the old catacombs below the cemetery is host to a grizzly sight, even by humanoid standards. While the bugbear hunts for food, he is incapable of not hunting, thus their lairs are full of corpses which have been gutted and hung to age. Besides humans, all manner of creature is on the menu: animals, goblins, demihumans, kobolds—it appears that the bugbear will eat anything which is smaller then it is, including their own children.
While all bugbears wear clothing, I have not seen any evidence that they themselves manufacture any of it, and it is a mystery to me as to where they get it, as all of them are too large for human clothing, and it is all of a style which I cannot recognize.
Bugbear’s do tend to weapons, keeping them sharp and clean, though this is rather mysterious since their natural weapons are formidable all in themselves, perhaps this is another example of mockery, such as is the case with Hobgoblins? At some point the Bugbear seen human society and simply chooses to copy it the best that they can, regardless of how much sense it makes.
The weapons of the bugbear are typically stolen, however they do possess the technology to construct their own, as well as to repair what they already own. Many of these weapons have been painted black, as has all of their armor. The only areas which aren’t painted are blades, nightly bugbear men sit around a roaring fire sharpening and repainting their arms while they chat.
The bugbear also seems to be artistic, they have their own music, and simple paintings which replace a need for a written language, however no bugbear seems to have any interest about things from the past, their art always talks about the present or their plans for the future.
All creatures fear this race, for obvious reasons; however there are a few exceptions. I know from my time with the goblins, that these two creatures can form an alliance, however this alliance must be shakier then I originally assumed, as goblin flesh seems to be more prized than any other kind of meat.
I believe that the only alliance which is in any way stable is the mysterious relationship they have with the Dark Elf, perhaps it was the drow which created them? While left to its own devices, all bugbears are fiercely independent, however this strong sense of self instantly melts away into one of servitude in the presence of such evil.
They hate everything and everyone. The only thing that keeps me alive is the fact that I supply them with money which they know not where it comes from. It is their greed which forms their greatest weakness. When they think that I am asleep they ruffle through my things in some vein attempt to find my unknown catch, they are obsessed with money, and gems, but more to the point, shiny objects! They will do practically anything to obtain it, and this place is built upon this idea, close to the road which they ambush and slay all victims. They take all of their treasure and burn the evidence.
THE BUGBEAR GODS
As far as I can tell, there are three deities which they observe. The most praised god to this tribe is Grankhul, the bugbear god of thievery. They have regular sacrifices in his honor, killing the victim, giving the poor hapless creatures soul to Grankhul and they feast on the flesh to celebrate.
A higher god which is common to all bugbears is the cruel Hruggek, a god of war, but not one as warlike as the Hobgoblin’s, but of the pandemonium and chaos which war causes. It would take years to study this subtle religion to gleam some sort of sense from it, but that would be time that no creature but the bugbear could hope to gain. I believe that this god has actual priests, or at least at some point they did, but it is very hard to tell working with old drawings on the cave walls.
It is also noteworthy to bring up one of my own inner-feelings. I believe that this tribe is hiding from Hruggek, perhaps if this is a true religion then the priests hunt and kill those who do not worship the proper god? One of the cave paintings has depicted a strangely dressed hobgoblin saint holding a human head, the next section clearly shows the same bugbear slain and the tribesmen running away . . . but obviously this could mean many different things, yet according to the tribal king, this refers to a prophecy of things to come.
While Hruggek could be a devil, the third god most definitely is greatly feared by the bugbear, it’s name is Grankhul, the god of darkness of fear! Any bad luck, death, or ill omen is seen to be the work of Grankhul. The bugbear does not worship this god for pleasure, but out of shear terror for what would happen if they stopped! This I find to be curious, as in my travels I have encountered much fear and superstition among the humanoid races, but it is the bugbear which actually identified it and gave it a name and a persona.
In dealing with religion, it is always to the present or future in which the myths are in regards to, never the past. As a race, there is much doom to the myths, they have learned how they as a race will parish, however they know not where they have come from, nor how old their race is.
Much mystery still haunts me in regards to these creatures. I have only my powers of observation to depend upon, but as far as I tell, all of the bugbears pay tribute to the tribal king, who in return gives them protection. This race is not as thriving as many of the others are, and they have themselves to blame. The only person who is allowed to procreate is the king, all of the other males serve him, and if they are caught with a bugbear woman, they are slain else forced to establish a bloody revolt.
Women who have a child tend to hide their newborns until they are old enough to present to the king, the king inspects them, making sure that they are his, if they are weak they are judged not of his blood and the child, as well as the mother is slain as well as the male whom the king suspects fathered it. Many times the mother presents only the strongest and healthiest of children, killing the weak ones themselves.
It is the women who raise acceptable children, there is no favoritism even from a child’s true mother, but all are brought up to understand themselves and what they are. By the time they reach maturity, they are already trained to except their rank in a complex social structure that I have to admit baffles me. How they chose who gets the choice cuts of meat, and divide up treasure amongst themselves eludes even my powers of observation and logic.
A revolt is truly terrible for everyone, but it does happen. A strong male can kill the king, and he doesn’t stop there, he kills all males who do not support him, and he always slays all of the king’s children who are not yet old enough to fight in the general ranks. This causes a chain reaction among the females of the tribe, those with child fight those without, and the social structure among the female bugbears change dramatically. Those who once used to be on top in the old harem are now on the bottom of the class and may never be allowed to breed again. This is the curse caused by marrying a weak husband who can’t maintain power for more then a couple of years.
OF MAGIC AND SCIENCE
While there is no priest in this tribe, I do believe that they exist. The spiritual leader is a shaman, a very wicked and manipulative thing. He is immune to the social pressures dictated by class, and he serves as a personal adviser to the king, as well as to everyone else. Much of his work revolves around double dealing his followers, casting curses for a price, as well as selling objects which counter the curse to his own victims. This creature has a collection of heads, these are the heads of former kings which he claims to consult and gleam occult knowledge from. In the event of a revolt, the head of the former king is recovered by him and hidden away where the current king won’t find it.
The spells of the shaman are not clerical in nature, but witchcraft and folk magic. His duties are to insure that the gods are happy, to observe time accurately, and to keep the tribe strong and healthy, yet he makes all of our most violent and terrifying leaches seem gentle in comparison.
DEATH & LIFE-CYCLE
These creatures, if they are allowed to survive past infancy, are rather long-lived, yet old age is unheard of. In a society were only the strong survive, venerable age is impossible. Those too old to function for the tribe or perform their duties typically leave, walking out into the wilderness where they are overcome by the elements.
In all other cases, the bugbear eats their dead. This is not done out of anger, but in ceremony. Mothers eat the young that they kill, believing that they are absorbing them back into themselves to try again with the same soul in a stronger body. Kings are devoured by their treacherous sons, great heroes are transformed into great feasts as it is believed by these creatures that by eating the flesh of their dead, they gain the powers of them.
In events of death by poison, or illness, the bodies are burned alive on a pyre before whatever aliment has a chance to spread, infecting the rest of the tribe. Sickness and illness is terrifying to these people, yet those with scars from such illnesses are held in the highest of esteems as they had the power to defeat it . . . of course this requires that you leave the tribe and suffer alone and without medications or potions of any kind.
Regardless of how this sounds on the surface, the bugbear is not suicidal and will never knowingly run to their own deaths, death is not worshiped such as it is by other races, and each creature places a high value on their own. As far as people, they may actually be more advanced then we are as far as understanding their own self-worth, however this can never be offset by their natural brutality for everything around them.
LAWS OF THE BUGBEAR
As mentioned before, it is the tribal King who controls everything. While inbreeding is common, and they do seem to be able to successfully copulate this way, obtaining new females is always a cause for war.
Money and treasure is always divided between the tribe in a way that defies my logic, theft is a high crime and all crime is punishable by either death or worse, expulsion from the tribe. Expelled bugbears must find some new means to survive, which they are highly social creatures so this is not preferred over death. Often expelled bugbears find each other and create new tribes but I have no evidence to support this outside of my own observations.
The king is a very wealthy creature, even by human standards! He gets the best of everything, and he rules with an iron fist. If he doesn’t he will be replaced, commonly the king will have an aid who is almost an equal to him, however if the aid is allowed to gain to much strength, then he runs the risk of being slain by him. It is up to the king to make the decision of if the aid is strong enough to support the tribe or not, if he is then his tribe will continue to live even after he is gone. Typically this aid is always the kings most favored son, which means that when he kills his father, he will be slaying all of his young siblings as well, and perhaps this is the key to understanding the complex hierarchy of the female harems, if they were kind to him when he was a child they will be seen in a better light then if they were cruel?
War is most common among the different bugbear tribes, and never with any other race. The spoils of war are greater wealth, new women, and more power to the king. A successful war will see all of the concurred kings belongings being taken, his children slain, his strongest warriors absorbed into ones own army, and the typical sense of glory which comes from defeating ones enemies. It is the people of the fallen king which suffers the most. All of their property is taken and they must start over again, which is forgiven as again, this race does not care about the past, only the present and the future. The defeat did not come from anything that you did, but from having a weak leader.
High ranking bugbears are always executed, but the common bugbear gladly pays the steep tribute as they are more assured to get a greater amount of the cut under the stronger lord.
For this reason, the bugbear throne is jealously guarded, while there is never any formal contact between the tribal kingdoms, each king is completely aware of all of the other kings standings and business’. If there is any hint that now would be a good time to strike, they always will.
In regards to all other races, they do not engage in any formal wars. They are predators who see others as just food, and while there is some jealousy in regards to human and demi-human social structures and desire for the land which they own, they lack the numbers to do anything about it, thus they rarely even try.
They will work as mercenaries if the king believes that a mission could be profitable, but this will be only for money, and money alone. The only employer who can safely depend upon Bugbear ranks are the Drow, and the drow alone.
THE BUGBEAR TRIBES OF THE REALM
It must be understood that the tribe in which I studied is one of the weakest, any attempt to study and learn of the more powerful Bugbear Kingdoms, such as those in the Bandit Kingdom or elsewhere in the world is simply to dangerous. The more powerful and successful a king is, the more aggressive that he must become. It is also my belief that there is a church of Hruggek, which is truly terrifying as to the implications that this means.
The bugbear is definitely intelligent, and possesses a social structure that may be even more complex then our own. If there is a true organized church that mirrors bugbear society then it would probably be in our best interests to discover it and do our best to raise it to the ground before it reaches a pentacle to rival that of the Temple of Elemental Evil, however I think that like the bugbear, deep down we humans ignore our past just as quickly as they do, which will, no doubt, serve to be our own undoing as well.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
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