The Races of the Hyborian Age Part I
Fans of other versions of Hyborian Age role playing will note that my racial divisions disagree with some of the others--particularly Mongoose's, which is an exceptionally detailed breakdown of races, sub-races, and pseudo-races. For OD&D, I think it's best to keep things simple. I will, however, be adding Zingarans to my initial list of races, as on second thought I think they deserve a separate writeup.
I will not be doing detailed writeups of societies and cultures here, as these can be found in Mongoose's The Road of Kings sourcebook, which is an invaluable and largely system-free resource to anyone wishing to run an Age of Conan game using any system.
Aesir/Vanir: Hailing from the lands of Asgard and Vanaheim respectively, the Aesir and Vanir are actually offshoots of a single common race, the Nordheimr, and thus share many of the same racial characteristics. They tend to be a broad and muscular race, the Aesir sporting blonde hair and blue eyes and the Vanir displaying red hair and green eyes. They tend to braid their hair and their great beards, and are known for being berserk and terrifying warriors.
Aesir and Vanir may only progress as Fighting-Men, Borderers (if using the modified Strategic Review Ranger class), or Bards and as Borderers may only progress to fifth level. Bards amongst the Nordheimr are called Skalds and progress to eighth level.
Aesir and Vanir gain +1 to Constitution but have -1 to Wisdom. In addition, they can make fearsome berserk attacks which grant +2 to attack dice as described under "Viking Berserkers," in Chainmail, p. 26. If using the Troop Type system, this means that the berserk warrior throws two extra dice. If using the Man-to-Man or Fantasy Combat system, this means that the berserk warrior adds +2 to all attacks. Entering this berserk fury must be done in the first round of combat (and takes the whole round to whip the warrior into the fury), and lasts until all opponents are dead or the berserker is killed. The berserker may not voluntarily end the berserk fury, and so long as there are enemies to kill, will remain consumed by it. After the fury wears off the Aesir suffers from fatigue (Chainmail p. 11) for 1d6 turns (1d6 x 10 minutes). If using Man to Man or Fantasy Combat tables, translate the attack and defense value penalties as a -2 to all of the character's die rolls and a +2 to opponents' attack rolls.
Cimmerian: Cimmerians are much like their Aesir and Vanir neighbors in many ways. They are a ferocious, barbaric tribe marked by tall, muscular builds and a strong barbaric code of honor. Cimmerians sport dark hair ranging from brunette to jet black, and eye colors from pale gray to crystal blue. Where the Nordheimr are known for their endurance, Cimmerians are known for raw physical strength. Cimmerians gain +1 to Strength and -1 to Intelligence. They may only progress as Fighting-Men, Borderers, or Thieves. As Borderers they progress only to fifth level and as Thieves they progress only to eighth.
Cimmerians have the same berserk ability as Aesir and Vanir, save that they do not choose to enter the fury; rather, whenever a Cimmerian enters combat, he must make a saving throw each round against Death, suffering -1 to the save cumulative for each round he remains in combat. If he fails the save, he instantly enters a berserk fury exactly as described under the Aesir and Vanir entry. This fury occurs instantly and does not require a full round to invoke. A Cimmerian cannot choose to enter the fury; he is simply "consumed by the fighting-madness of his people."
Himelian: Dwelling in the mountains between Vendhya and Hyrkania, the Himelians are a tall, wiry, hairy and superstitious race whose tribal breakdowns include the Afghuli, Irakzai, Galzai, Dagozai, Zhaibari, and Khurakzai. They are brown-skinned with black hair and dark eyes, and often wear great beards beneath their voluminous robes. Like the above races, the Himelians are barbaric and disdain civilized codes of behavior and chivalry, but have their own code of honor. They may progress as Fighting-Men, Borderers, Thieves, and Sorcerers (though the latter are rare and progression is possibly only to level 5).
Himelians gain +1 to all checks made to perform Thief or Borderer abilities, but suffer -2 to any saves against mind-affecting magic such as hypnosis and illusion.
Hyperborian: Hyperborians are tall, gaunt, broad of shoulder and rib cage, slow of speech and violent. They are a dark and corrupt race prone to black sorcery and acts. Due to their intermingling with other races, Hyperborians exhibit a wide variety of skin, hair, and eye pigmentation. They may advance as Fighting-Men, Thieves, Assassins, or Sorcerers and are unlimited in their advancement in any of these areas. They gain +1 to Constitution, and -1 to Charisma.
Hyborian: Hyborians, the dominant race of the Hyborian Age, are normal Men in all respects and gain no special abilities or penalties. They may advance in all classes to any level with no penalty, though at the DM's discretion certain cultures may impart specific bonuses; Bossonian Archers, for example, might gain abilities with bows similar to those possessed by Shemites, while Gundermen may be exceptional Borderers.
...more to come. Stay tuned!