Return of the Dark Ones
In modern times, the Fereldans still face two enemies born of the Alamarri. Several centuries after their ancestors first came into Ferelden, a great civil war rose among the tribes that caused one large faction to break away from the Alamarri. The rebels eventually became known as the Avvarian hillsmen, a bloodthirsty offshoot of an already fierce people. Despite their brutality, they were gradually pushed high into the Frostback Mountains where they dwell still, nursing their ancient bitter grudge against their kin. They cling to the old ways, worshipping the nature gods that they once shared with the Alamarri and despising “lowlanders” as blasphemous weaklings softened by the trappings of civilization. While they are comparatively few in number, they are fell warriors, hardened by their harsh lives. Their winter raids, though rare, are still greatly feared by all Ferelden.
The Avvarian hillsmen, also known as Avvars, are a rugged human people who make their homes in the Frostback Mountains. In centuries past they were one of the many barbarian tribes that lived in and around the Fereldan region. When the Alamarri clans united 400 years ago under the first king of Ferelden, the Avvars refused to join them. The hillsmen were too independent, too proud, and too stubborn to pay homage to any king. Their continued raiding into the lowlands led to many long and bitter wars, but ultimately the Avvars alone could not stand up to the united forces of Ferelden. The hillsmen were driven back into their mountain homes, but no commander dared to fight them on their home ground. Since then there has been an uneasy peace between the Avvars and Ferelden.
Inevitably encountered only in the midst of winter, unless one happens to be traveling through the heights of the Frostbacks, Avvars are skilled hunters and fierce combatants who exult in battle. They raid into the Fereldan lowlands under the cover of heavy storms, using the great cold to their advantage, as their mountain homes have all but inured them to its bite. Their treacherous homeland has taught them to avoid heavy armor. They prefer strong chain links, dwarf wrought if they can get it, wrapped in warm furs. Avvars favor axes and spears over swords. Their bows are heavy, with long shafts ca¬pable of piercing a man’s torso at great distance.
It is nearly impossible to catch a hunting party of Avvars unawares, due to their great skill at falconry. A hunting party will nearly always have a mountain eagle or two, highly clever and well-trained birds that scout for them. Indeed, Avvars are far more likely to ambush others than be caught themselves. The hot blooded Avvars are proud, honorable, and relish any opportunity to prove themselves superior to those they consider to be heretical lowlanders. A clever combatant with knowledge of the Avvars’ ways can try to use either their arrogance or their many superstitions against them.
Today the Avvarian hillsmen are largely isolated in the Frostbacks. They do trade with the dwarves and some Avvars descend to the lowlands to work as mercenaries or adventurers. Most people in Ferelden consider the hillsmen uncivilized barbarians, while the Avvars think their old foes weak and corrupt. It is thus no great surprise that there are still sporadic raids from the Frostbacks, but the hillsmen have learned to strike quickly and retreat to their holds before they are counterattacked.