Illuskans, also known as Northlanders, as the seagoing, warlike people of the Sword Coast, the Trackless Sea, and the Dessarin river valley. Although their ancestors founded Illusk, one of the earliest human civilizations in Faerun, as well as the great city of Waterdeep, Illuskans have long been seen as a barbaric people, having barely risen above the status of orcs in the eyes of many southerners. Illuskans are more than just barbarians, however, as their culture has given rise to powerful runecasters, fearless sailors, and legendary skalds. They also farm, fish, and mine their rugged lands, trading their goods with southern merchants. However, long-fallen elven empires, barriers of geography, and a cultural emphasis on raiding over trade have conspired to ensure that Illuskan culture and bloodlines have not taken root in other lands.
Illuskans are tall, fair-skinned folk with eyes of blue or steely gray. Those who dwell among the islands of the Trackless Sea and in Icewind Dale are largely fairh-haired, with blond hair predominating over red and light brown. Those who dwell on the mainland south of the Spine of the World are more prone to raven-black hair, an idication of significant Netherese heritage.
Illuskans regard themselves as a strong, proud people forged by the harsh environment in which they well. They feel they have earned, through strength in battle, the right to claim the lands they have settled. Illuskans regard most southerners as weak and decadent, two much-despised traits. However, they are fair-minded and always willing to make exceptions for those who have proven otherwise. Illuskans themselves are bold and impetuous, given to proud boasts, the consumption of prodigious amounts of mead and ale, and quick tempers.
Illuskans take their measure of another person be assessing strength, martial prowess, valor, and honor. From and early age, Illuskans are tested by their elders, their peers, and their juniors, and their response to such challenges are reflected in their status within the society. To an Illuskan, there is a natural pecking order in life, and those who are weak in any fashion do not deserve to hold a position they have not earned. Deceptions, lies of omission, and trickery are despised, while straight speech and forthrightness are to be admired.
Illuskans are typically drawn to adventuring for one of two reasons. Some Northlanders hope to prove their strength, valor, and martial prowess, earning them respect in their eyes of their kin and inspiring bard's tales for generations to come. Others seek conquest and plunder, hoping to make up for the meager fare and wealth their homeland provides.
The Uthgardt and the Illuskans of the sea isles are renowned barbarians, and many find their calling as fighters or rangers as well. Bards, known as skalds, play important roles as lorekeepers and poets, giving inspiration to Illuskan warbands. Clerics and adepts play an important role in tribal life. Although Illuskans have little tolerance for thievery, many Illuskan sailors and pirates are actually rogues with a maritime orientation to their skills. Druids, paladins, and monks are almost unknown in Illuskan culture. Wizards and sorcerers are rare but not unknown, particularly within the ranks of the Arcane Brotherhood that rules the City of Sails.
Illuskans have little concept of class divisions, considering such artifices as an example of the weakness inherent in southern cultures. Honor and prestige in Illuskan society are earned through displays of strength and martial fortitude. Both magic and commerce are regarded with suspicion, for both are seen as upsetting the natural order of things.
Illuskans are expected to be self-sufficient from a young age. Those who must rely on others are treated well but not respected, although the elderly are accorded the respect they earned before the debilitating effects of age set in. Those who hire strangers to do a task rather than do it themselves are considered suspect. Book learning is admired but not expected. Those who die an honorable death are burned in funeral pyres, preferably aboard a small ship pushed out to sea. Such ceremonies are believed to free the soul from its mortal tether.
Illuskans often have difficulty adapting to other cultures, particularly socities where battles are fought indirectly through words and gestures rather than openly with axes and war cries. Most expatriate Illuskans eschew the worship of “weak” local gods, and few can be bothered to learn local languages. Instead, they find odd jobs, usually as mercenaries of some sort of the other, and they join their fellow expatriates in nightly drinking bouts in which prodigious amounts of alcohol are consumed.
Although the inhabitants of Old Illusk venerate a pantheon o beast totems and passed this tradition down to the Uthgardt, at present most Illuskans worship the deities of the Faerunian pantheon. Illuskans largely adopted the gods of the Netherese pantheon in the mixing of cultures that occurred following Uthgar's sock of Illusk, and then adopted the rest of the Faerunian pantheon as it grew beyond the ranks of the Netherese deities. The eight most prominent faiths in Illuskan society include the churches of Auril, Mielikki, Mystra, Oghma, Talos, Tempus, Umberleee, and Uthgar. Other churches with significant followings, particularly in areas where Illuskans and Tehtyrains live alongside one another, include Eldath, Lurue, Malar, Milil, Selune, Shar, Shaundakul, and Valkur.
Auril, the Frostmaiden, has long demanded and received veneration in the cold climes in which most Illuskans dwell. She is seen as the bringer of winter on the world, to be appeased with offerings of food and strong drink place upon rafts set adrift at sea during autumn and winter. The church of Auril is strongest among Illuskans who dwell in the Frozenfar (the region of the Sword Coast north of the River Mirar), but a large temple to the Frostmaiden known as the Winter Palace stands in Luskan.
Patron of the Uthgardt tribes, Uthgar is worshiped through the veneration of a beast totem unique to each of the various tribes. Even non-Uthgardt Illuskans find the worship of the Tempus-son attractive, as the heroic virtues of Uthgar;s battle-won kingdom are still celebrated in the long sagas of the Illuskan people.
Relations with Other RacesEdit
Illuskans judge members of other races and ethnic groups by the same standards by which they judge themselves. In other words, they respect strength, martial prowess, and the strength of one's word. Illuskans get along well with dwarves, although the two groups have been known to war over disputed territory. Gnomes and halflings are seen as weak and given to trickery, inspiring scron in most Illuskans. Similarly, elves and half-elves are seen as weak and overly reliant on magic, although dangerous nonetheless.
Illuskans of the mainland harbor a deep and abiding hatred for orcs, and few are willing to view half-orcs as any better than their porcine kin. Illuskans have nothing but scorn for humans from the South, particularly Calishite, Tethyrians, particularly those born in the North, are regarded with cautious respect, for the two groups have lived alongside one another and fought with each other for generations. Chondathans are viewed similarly to Tethyrains in the Silver Marches region, although their “southern” ties are considered more suspect. Plantouched are regarded with suspicion for, like elves, they seem to be creatures of magic. In particular, tieflings are seen as little better than fiends, though earth genasi are respected for their strength. Other humans are regarded with suspicion, for few Illuskans have ventured beyond the cold climes of northwestern Faerun except to raid and plunder, and fewer still have any knowledge of other cultures.