Part 52: Regarding Low Men, or the Folk of the StormRegarding Low Men, or the Folk of the Storm
The kindred of men known to the high men as the low men, and to themselves as the Folk of the Storm, are the descendants of various men who in the days of the founding of the Confederation lacked any wizard-lords of their own, and further had only the rudest and most simple of settlements. Though they did till the earth in some fashion, they had only the simplest agriculture and supported themselves largely by hunting and fishing. Under the rule of the Confederation they learned some of the civilized arts, but they did not penetrate deeply despite the years and a very great amount was lost after the collapse of the Confederation. Today they live as clans and as tribes, clans bound by close family ties and tribes being related clusters of clans. Their hair is very fair, and is often a striking fiery red essentially unknown amongst other men. Though in their prime they are perhaps hardier than the high men, they fade to age more quickly, having a natural span closer to sixty than to seventy years.
They have some reasonable skill in many crafts, although the skill and excellence of their work in many areas lags behind that of high men. They are skilled weaponsmiths, matching high men in the art, but the height of their skill as armorers rests in mail rather than plate, and they assemble it with greater difficulty. Perhaps the only other craft in which they match the skills of the high men is in shipbuilding, in which they are most excellent, and retain the knowledge of how to build roundships that far outmatch any other roundship known to any race and are in fact suitable to war. Though they are now a settled folk and will gather in towns in their districts, the authority by blood of their clans is very strong, and every low man is expected to look first to the good of his clan. Should a low man not obey their clan chief, they are cast out of the clan, and may be freely taken as thrall by any clan. Clan chiefs bow to tribal kings (or, rarely, queens, but few daughters of the low men are warriors and no tribe will follow any man not a warrior), and the tribal kings to their High King. There are amongst them four ancestral tribes, although as they have spread beyond the district they held to the end of the dark years after the Collapse many tribes have split, and several tribes will dwell in the district about each town. When they feud amongst themselves or war with outsiders, they will take thralls, although the children of thralls are born not as thralls but as the lowest members of their adoptive clan. In war, also, they will take spears or small axes along with their other gear, and hurl volleys of missiles at their foes before closing to the press of battle. They breed very swiftly, raising families larger than even other kindreds of men, despite the shortness of their lives.
Their religion permeates their lives completely, although few regard it with much fervor, rather simply as a part of their life. They have many priests, although the learning of many of their priests is imperfect and only a fraction know any lore of magic, most generally some knowledge of the magics of Nature, Chaos, and Sorcery. Magical ability is perhaps somewhat more widely-spread than amongst the dwarves, but any other branch of learning is less-developed, and their magical knowledge is badly marred by superstition and folly even where it exists. They believe that spirits of magic dwell in every substance and creature of the world, which may be spoken to or persuaded by wise men. They tell many tales of gods, both Bright and Dark, but their understanding is muddled and they treat the gods in their tales as more like the spirits of Chaos or Sorcery that are sometimes found, not appreciating their true magnitude of power nor having any real insight into the beliefs and virtues of the gods. Their tales of the Stalwart Warrior (who is amongst them the Bright God with the most tales, though all have their own tales), who they call the Sword God, for instance, depict him merely as a mighty man who craves the challenge of battle, having no concept of the inner strength the Stalwart Warrior seeks to have mortals cultivate, which even the beastkin are well aware of.
Their society is rude and unpleasant in my estimation, and they have developed little patience for or understanding of the justice demanded by dwarven society. Their clan chiefs and warriors might well resent any acts which help better ensure freedom and justice for common members of clans. That said, they ultimately bow to strength, and such resentments would not be a critical challenge to bringing them under dwarven rule.