Enslaved millenniums past by the Khansmen raiding Ancienia, brought to Discoverie and then successfully revolting the Hesclek have had no better luck in the modern era. Desert Raiders and Khansmen raid them and the civilised nations of Discoverie (Starakand, the Faraway Kingdoms, Lorraland) treated them as vermin. They had constant wars to fight against Elves, Orcs and the Picts. To make matters worse their home territory has been invaded and colonised by the Ancienian powers – Duninaden, the Freyorians , Scandivar and Yesyanolans.
The remaining free Hesclek exist in the foothills, swamps and forests fighting their traditional enemies, the new colonisers and of course, being of Crimyelan descent – each other.
Obvious influences are Pat Mills Slaine stories and Robert E Howards Conan stories and Apocrypha.
Build: They are broad shouldered and muscular.
Colouring: The Hesclek are invariably dark haired, white but easily tan with predominately blue or grey eyes.
Endurance/Resistance: The Hesclek are tough sons of bitches with an almost inhuman resistance to disease. Hesclek sports and games (the infamous ‘murderball’ or the Tagnar Roilly ‘Endurance Death Foot race’) encourage such hardyness.
Height: Hesclek tend to be tall 6’ for men and 5’10 for women being common.
Lifespan: A hunter-gatherer lifestyle, the traditions of sacrificing political leaders and the constant wars of the Hesclek mean a tribesperson of 40 years is considered sage and ancient.
Clothing and Decoration: Stereotypical Hesclek clothing is a breach knout with a girdle for weapons and trail tack. This is more the wear of a warband warrior on a raid. In fact the Hesclek usually wear a simple kilt after the Khansmen fashion but with the sort of tartan patterns that the native peoples of Tartha Na Og or Ecotch highlanders wear in their belted plaids. Practical sleeveless jerkins are also common, often in leather with capes for foul weather. Simple moccasins are worn though warriors often temper their feat and go barefooted.
Fears & inabilities: Unless born to the mystical classes (Bards, Ovates, Druids) the Hesclek have a natural fear and superstition of magic. Horses are rare amongst the Hesclek, who seem to have a collective phobia or riding perhaps born of their intial abduction by the Khansmen.
Lifestyle: Hesclek live in small villages sustained by hunting game and gathering the bounty of the forest. Agriculture is found in pockets but frowned upon as the Hesclek pride themselves on being able to uproot and go in the face of overwhelming aggression. This lifestyle is coming under threat as Ancienian colonists take territory squeezing them against the territory of other Discoverie tribes and races.
A number of villages unite in a Clan with an elected Chieftan. A Chief is a great honour and rules for 7 years and a day married to a Druidess who represents Mother Earth herself. After Seven years the Chief is ritually sacrificed by the Clan’s Druid (usually burnt in a wickerman.) A Chief which abandons this contract with the gods who find himself at war with neighbouring tribes and with precious warriors following him.
It is held by the Hesclek that they could have easily founded an Empire following the fall of the Khansmen but left such matters for other more primitive peoples.
There are three principle classes to Hesclek society each further divided into three classes:
Gatherers: Harvesters, Farmers and Providers. Harvesters gather nuts, seeds and other vegetable life. Farmers grow it (but are something of an outcast) and providers prepare and cook it. Most women are in this class.
Sages: Bards, Ovates and Druids. Bards remember the history of the clan and its geneology. Ovates are healers with arts of herbs and medicine. Druids are masters of true magic and speak to the Gods.
Warriors. Shieldmen, Night-stalkers and Warp Warriors. Shieldmen are the usual hunters of the tribes who fight with bow, spear or axe often with a wicker shield. Night-stalkers are superb hunters who have refined their craft on the trickiest game – man. Their weapons are the bow, the dagger and the night. Warp Warriors are cursed berserkers blessed with magics by the druids who mutate into mindless killing machines on the battlefield.
Hesclek way of war is for Night-stalkers to erode an invaders will to fight, then to meet the attacker with an army of Shieldsmen until he gets in close enough quarters to release Warp Warriors. Aggressive warfare is for Night-stalkers to scout enemy territory to find settlements that can be destroyed by Shieldsmen and/or Warp Warriors.
Marriage Pattern: Hesclek religion allows for several forms of ‘hand fasting’ some temporary and some for life. The contractual obligations are clear as are the terms for breaking the contract. The future care of children is written into any marriage and often it is a given they will be fostered by uncles or aunts. The line of property is uncle to nephew or niece and it is divided amongst the inheritors. As the Hesclek do not hold with primitive notions of land ownership this is not such a big deal.
Religion: Hesclek through their Druids acknowledge and respect the spirits of earth and sky, beast and plant. They do not worship them though as since their exodus the universe has been a cruel and pernicious place. They may however bargain with them through the songs of their bards, knowledge of their ovates and sacrifices of their druids.
Demeanour: Amongst themselves the Hesclek are a joyful and generous people. They are said to be quick to anger and hold blood-grudges amongst clans. To outsiders they tend to show themselves as dour, sullen and suspicious.
Language: Hesclek speak a Crimyelan tounge with loan words from Khansmen, Malkian and Starakandian.
Prejudices: Hesclek hate Khansmen, but merely loathe Elves, Picts and Orcs. Starakandians, Farawaylanders and Lorralanders are an irritant. The Ancienian colonists are despised but with none of the intensity of ancient enemies.