Kellids are belligerent and barbaric, but not inhospitable. True, two warriors knocked out some of my teeth because my everburning torch wouldn’t extinguish in the snow. But once our cleric proved that we were merely effete southerners, and not agents of the Witch Queen, they took pity on our frostbitten frames, fed us raw bear meat, and told their pet giant not to step on us. practically an invitation to join the tribe! -Seldeen Finch, Pathfinder
Physical Description and Physical Outlook
Kellids mostly have dark hair and a dark red skin. They tend to dress in simple clothing appropriate to the climate of their homelands. they favor durability and ruggedness, and therefore tend to wear hides, leather, and furs made into loose clothing. In the coldest areas they claim, Kellids line their leather and hides with furs and wear layers of linens or silks underneath. Where the climate turns warmer, Kellids favor the lightest, most supple leathers they can acquire.
Pragmatism is not a character trait for Kellids, it is a survival mechanism. Indirect behavior is for soft people who have time to waste. Although suspicious and violent toward most magic, Kellids are more respectful towards druids. They still don’t necessarily like druidic magic, but they sometimes see it wielded usefully.
Clad in animal furs and bearing fetishes of feather and bone, hordes of brawny, dark-haired Kellids wander the cruel, cold mountains and tundra of northern Avistan, from the Tusk Mountains in the west to the plains of Numeria in the east. Kellids are common throughout Avistan, especially on the northern fringes of Cheliax and its former holdings in the east. Although clearly of common descent, Kellids in different nations live in significantly different cultures, with varied religions and mores. Still, Kellids share a predilection for violence and a well-earned distrust of magic.
More than any other ethnicity, the Kellids are a people shaped by threats. The harsh, cold Lands of the Mammoth Lords and Numeria force Kellid tribes to stay moving, to live lean and primitively. Threatened by savage beasts, ice trolls, wicked fey, mechanical monstrosities, orcs, demons, and more, Kellids learned to fight constantly – if not the monsters, then each other. These threats would kill a lesser people, but the Kellids endured and thrived.
Trapped between the treacherous Witch Queen of Irrisen to the west and the disastrous Worldwound to the east, Kellids tend to distrust magic. Even those who abandon their superstitious homelands for the civilized south tend to hold arcane matters in low regard. many Kellids cannot differentiate between arcane and divine magic, and so most visitors find it wise simply to refrain from magic use as much as possible.
Tribes make up the main cooperative unit for Kellids, and their tribes hold their main allegiance. Tribes clash over hunting rights, campgrounds, or anything else they can find to disagree on. While most disagreements and clashes resolve over the course of a few years, some tribes are ancestral enemies and continue to feud and war for reasons neither side can recall.
Despite this, Kellids have a tradition of rough hospitality. Although they would kill an armed warrior charging at them, they would take the same warrior, half-frozen and near death, in and care for him. Dying of exposure to the cold and starvation is a death too grim for anyone, even if it means giving succor to a sworn enemy.
Kellids in different regions differ in customs and quirks. Mammoth Lord Kellids revere giants to a point that young barbarians raid into hills and slaughter as many giants as they can, leaving a single young giant alive for capture and adoption into the tribe. This giant becomes a protector and are revered by the clan’s mystics. Most tribes have one giant, while larger tribes support more. Tribes in the Worldwound territory band together more readily, as common foes are numerous and relentless. Scars and malformations are common aftereffects of living next to a demon waste, and some Kellids are transformed into evil-looking creatures themselves. A number of them become as evil as the things they fight, and mystics conduct regular cleansing rituals to cast off the evil effects. The Kellid barbarians are said to kill as many demons as all the crusaders in Mendev, but with less fanfare. The wildmen in Numeria are largely a dissolute, cruel people. The sorcerers of the Black Sovereign and his metal soldiers hunt the nomads for sport, while the decadent barbaric court is addled with their drugs. The mutations and disfigurements here are even greater than in the Worldwound, and some drive the Kellids living in the area to madness.
Kellids, particularly in the region of the Mammoth Lords, move easily among the great prehistoric beasts that inhabit their lands, taking the ones they need for meat, fur, and beasts of burden. Part of their success is due to their belief that they are the chosen natives of these lands, but they are also aided by magical talismans created by their druids. These zoic fetishes are collections of hair, stone, and fibrous twine bundled together in loose approximations of the creatures they are supposed to affect. They have the power to dominate animals for as long as the user needs them to be. These fetishes only work on mammalian creatures.
In all regions, strength, bravery, and guile are winning traits. Mammoth Lord Kellids hold yearly contests to test each of these virtues, with prizes plucked from a hidden treasure stash somewhere in the Tusk Mountains. The prizes are said to be much more valuable and powerful than the wildmen understand, and well-informed outsiders are beginning to compete.
As an oral culture, some Kellids have exceptionally well-developed memories. These people can memorize long ledger sheets read aloud, convoluted riddles, and extensive oratories. All Kellids typically remember everything they say, and much of what they hear. Practiced Kellids can repeat conversations word-for-word – sometimes years-old conversations. Reciting meaningful conversations with the dead is part of the ritual of Sending Beyond, commonly practiced by Kellid shamans. Because of their memories, Kellids living in more civilized environs infrequently make livings as secure messengers.
Some Kellids practice an animistic religion, seeing spirits and lesser gods in most visible creatures, places and objects. Most Kellids, though, bow to Gorum, their imposing Lord in Iron. Those Kellids who know of the recent claims by some half-orcs that Gorum is one of them find such preposterous suggestions utterly offensive, leading to a recent growth in warfare. Tribes in the northernmost reaches of the Realm of the Mammoth Lords worship the giant god Minderhal. In the Worldwound and Numeria, some greatly feared tribes pay feasance to Rovagug, the Rough Beast, by committing terrible atrocities. Most tribes also venerate Desna, goddess of travelers. Although depicted as a light, graceful elven woman in the south, the Kellids see her as a stately human woman astride a powerful elk, leading them to successful hunts as they follow herd animals on their yearly treks. Every tribe also has a set of superstitions to preserve life and bring harm to its enemies.
Despite their lack of sophistication and occasional confusion in understanding magic, technology, and other cerebral concepts, Kellids are not inherently stupid. They simply lack the good fortune of living in places that can afford the luxury of education not tied directly to survival. Indeed, Kellids make some of the most talented and skilled barbarians, druids, and rangers in Avistan, and many citizens of the more southerly nations pay handsomely to keep Kellid guides and plainsmen on retainer.
Language and Naming
Most Kellids speak Hallit and have little time for the fancy written languages of weaker peoples. And while their language has no written form, they do use signs to convey messages to others who might pass a spot of importance.
First names are curt affairs, favoring harsh consonants and guttural sounds. Second names are seldom necessary in small Kellid tribes, but are sometimes adopted or given when necessary or noteworthy. When used, last names typically refer to lineage or significant, memorable achievements or occurrences.
Male: Barek, Dolok, Dorn, Gannok, Ganef, Gurog, Holg, Jokum, Kart, Kod, Kronug, Nonek, Roga, Takek, Zoresk
Female: Annik, Belka, Dagur, Fasha, Inkit, Jalket, Kala, Lesit, Luka, Nalket, Selka, Sheleg, Varka, Valki, Yala
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting