The Mark of the Fade
Legend tells that the Alamarri tribes were driven across the Frostback Mountains by a “shadow goddess,” where they settled in the lands that came to be known as Ferelden, where they fractured into three warring tribes. The main Alamarri tribe settled in Ferelden Valley, eventually becoming the modern-day Fereldens, another was pushed into the Korcari Wilds and became the Chasind, and the last returned to the mountains and became known as the Avvars. Fereldens bear little resemblance to their barbarian ancestors, and the Chasind remember only a few of the old traditions, but the Avvars have changed very little throughout the ages.
The Avvars are not a united people, each clan looking out for itself, beholden only to its thane. They live their lives in subsistence conditions, spending their time gathering tools for survival rather than spending them on recreation. Avvar goods rarely feature ornamentation except those that are religious in nature, preferring well-made items that will last in the Frostback Mountains extreme climate.
The Avvars have good relations with the dwarven kingdom of Orzammar, where they trade furs, goat milk, and other services for arms and armor.
Avvars live a life constantly in flux, where permanence holds no meaning. Their settlements, alliances, and even their marriages are temporary. When to Avvars are married, the bride sings a hymn to one of their gods, while the groom attempts to undo knots in a rope. The number of knots the groom manages to untie is the number of years the two will be wed.
The Avvars are divided into clans, each centered on a settlement called a hold. The hold and the clan are so intertwined that they share the same name, so the seat of Clan Craghold is Craghold. Avvar names have three parts: a first name, a byname, and a clan name. Clans are matrilineal (as they say, one’s mother is obvious to all), so the byname indicates an Avvar’s mother by use of “An” (daughter of) or “Ar” (son of) in front of the mother’s name. This is followed by “O” and then the clan name.
Here’s a complete example of an Avvar name: Arcill Ar Dubne O Wyrmhold. So Arcill is the son of Dunbe and they belong to the Clan Wyrmhold.
Sample Female Names: Annis, Cathal, Deirde, Ete, Bethac, Grissall, Kattrin, Muire, Ninne, Swannac.
Sample Male Names: Arcill, Colban, Domnall, Dubne, Garnait, Martain, Nechtan, Padraig, Sithig, Tralin.
Sample Clan Names: Bearhold, Craghold, Falconhold, Frosthold, Helmhold, Peakhold, Redhold, Spearhold, Stormhold, Wyrmhold.
The Avvars worship the old gods of the Alamarri. The most important of which are Korth the Mountain-Father, Hakkon Wintersbreath, and the Lady of the Skies.
Korth the Mountain-Father
Korth is the eldest and strongest of the gods, everything found in the mountains stemming from him. The Avvars believe that all caves were carved by the Mountain-Father, and that the dwarves are his children. Through his benevolence, the Avvars get everything they need. It is unwise to demand more than one’s rightful due. When game is scarce, the Avvars do all they can to mollify Korth.
The majority of Avvarians believe that Korth has always been, but in Frosthold they sing a different tune. The Winter Song, sung only during Wintersend, tell a story that Korth was once a man and hunter without peer, who led his people into the mountains when the world was young.
The Lady of the Skies
After the mountains below their feet, only the skies overhead are as sacred to the Avvars. She is the patroness and protector of the birds and the wind, as well as the goddess of the dead.
The Avvars do not cremate or bury their dead, but instead dismember them and offer them to the Lady through her messengers, the birds. Ferelden scholars refer to this process as an “air burial.”
Hakkon is Korth’s firstborn son and Lord of Winter; master of the two bitter colds, frost and steel. Respect for him leads the Avvars to follow him in battle, leading them to raid the lowlands in the winter months, when their resistance to the cold gives them an advantage over their enemies.
Sigfrost the Great Bear
Wisest of the mountain spirits and so large that Korth once mistook him for one of his smaller peaks. The great bear sleeps at the foot of the Mountain-Father’s throne and is the guardian of wisdom. The Avvars may challenge him to gain knowledge, but the bones of those who have failed are strewn about his den. Outside of the Avvar, several Circle mages claim Sigfrost exists, saying they have met him in the Fade.
Avvars hold all bears sacred, and while they sometimes hunt and skin them, they do so with great solemnity. Avvar consider bereskarn to be particularly blasphemous.
Imhar the Clever
Imhar is the trickster of the Avvar pantheon, a slight man who must rely on his quick tongue instead of strength. The most popular tale of the cunning deity is the story where he bested an evil seductress who lured him into facing her and an army of demons unarmed. By pretending to be a coward and fleeing into a mountain pass. When they thought they had cornered him, he let out a loud laugh, the sound of which caused an avalanche that crushed the pursuing horde.
The gods of the Avvars are capricious, demanding appeasement for perceived slights. When the Avvars suffer, they have no doubt that they have done something that has offended one of the gods. A warrior who suffers a wound fears he may have insulted Hakkon, while a hunting party that returns without game fears they have slighted the Mountain-Father.
When forced to consider these complex spiritual matters, the Avvars look to their shamans, the lore keepers of the mountains; they who watch the birds for messages from the Lady, keep the old songs, and retain knowledge of ancient rites to honor the gods and spirits of the mountains.
The majority of the Avvar’s shamans are powerful mages who practice magical traditions long predating the foundation on the Circle of Magi. The Chantry holds no sway over the Avvar tribes, and its templars are not welcome in the Frostbacks. The Avvarian shaman’s rituals tend to invite spirits to speak through them for a limited time, a process which would seem an abomination to Chantry faithful. However, the shamans are aware of the threat of possession, and have ways of dealing with spirits who reluctant to release their host.
|Suggested Trait||Bad Reputation|
|Suggested Skills||Animal handling, athletics, intimidation|
|Tools||Climber’s kit, mounts (land)|