From the savages of demon-claimed kingdom of Sarkoris (now the Worldwound to the tribesmen of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, those primitive people who dwell apart from the so-called civilized lands are collectively known as barbarians. Considered backwards and vulgar, barbarians are products of rich cultures steeped in tradition, with fierce spirits born of surviving at the very frontiers of humanoid society.
Although considered primitives, barbarians merely follow a different, more basic view of civilization: a combination of ritual tests of worthiness, trial by ordeal, and survival of the fittest. Their ways and traditions are every bit as complex as those of city-dwellers, although usually more brutal. Like more “civilized” folk, though, there are rationals for every tradition – those of the barbarians are usually a matter of lifer or death, not just for the individual, but for entire tribes.
Of course, the barbarians of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings have traditions far removed from those of the Mwangi Expanse, and each would no doubt consider the other “primitives” or “savages”. The practice of cannibalism may be perfectly acceptable to the nomads of the Sarkoris wastes, who might, in turn, find the harsh manhood rituals of the Shoanti a sign of degeneracy. Of course, most any man’s culture is another man’s barbarism.
Barbarians are a varied people, for the term describes countless separate societies scattered across Golarion. There is no single “barbarian tongue”, for example: Savage tribesmen of the far north speak a combination of Dwarven slang and the rolling Giant language. Cinderlanders’ speech is sprinkled with Ignan verbs, and Numerians speak Hallit with a sort of deep gurgling tone. With the exception of the Linnorm King language of Skald, which takes its alphabet from Dwarven, few barbarian tongues have a written form. At best, they employ pictograms to express a few basic concepts.
Barbarian garb is similarly disparate, though it shares common traits: plain dress made of fur, leather, or sometimes scales and often adorned with beads, disks, or bones to mark their allegiances – or bring good luck. Tattoos are common, especially in the sweltering jungles of Garund, where body decorations often replace clothing.
Barbarians occupy those regions where civilization surrenders to the savagery of marauders and the unyielding rigors of climate – places like the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, where the bear clans battle mammoth-riding giants, and the Storval Plateau, where the Shoanti have become as savage as the native ogres. While the noble Ulfen clans battle dragons in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, the barbarian kings of Numeria fight for their very souls on the fringes of the Worldwound.
Southward, the deserts of northern Garund are home to nomads astride hardy horses and plodding dromedaries. The Sodden Lands are home to insular tribes of raft-dwelling savages rumored to feast on the living hearts of any who dare venture into their grasp. In the jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, entire kingdoms of fierce barbarians are said to dwell in vast ruined cities.
While barbarians are known to have an uncanny reflex when encountering traps, those barbarians of the cold north have faced other dangers. While these barbarians would fall to a trap more easily, their skin is naturally resistant to the cold around them.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting