The Tus’gkors are a race of humanoid creatures native to temperate forests across the continent. In their own language, their name means “Teeth People,” though most intelligent races refer to them by their more common nickname: Tuskers. Given the quasi-religious significance the Tus’gkor place on their impressive teeth, they have accepted the name as a badge of honor.
The tuskers resemble humanoid boars, complete with tusks, though their teeth are designed more for a carnivorous life than those of the herbivorous boars. An adult male stands between seven and eight feet tall and weigh several hundred pounds. Females are only slightly smaller, though they are often stronger than the males due to the simple fact that they claim first dibs on shared meals. Tuskers live in small tribes, typically numbering less than 50 adults in each tribe. They tend to maintain good relationships with nearby tribes, with intermarrying and trade between tribes being the norm. Each individual tribe is ruled by three individuals: the Chieftain, the Shaman, and the Butcher.
The place as Chieftain is held by anyone strong enough and smart enough to do the job, and the position is passed around often. Any tusker may challenge for the role. The exact method of determining leadership varies from tribe to tribe, but trials of strength or combat are common. The Chieftain’s primary role is as a war leader. Chieftains decide when to fight, where to fight, and who to fight. Given tuskers’ natural aggression, they often stage raids on nearby villages belonging to other races, planned and led by the Chieftain.
Tusker Shamans hold little actual authority beyond advice given to the tribe. Shamans tend to break the mold of belligerence and stubbornness from which most tuskers are cast. They are trained by other shamans, the eldest tribal shaman picking any young tuskers who show exceptional wisdom or a connection to the natural world beyond the simple survival skills possessed by all tuskers. Trained in the druidic traditions, they aid the tribe with their magical talents as well as their more mundane skills, and dispense wisdom as needed for the tribe’s collective survival. Many tribes owe their success to their shaman.
Butchers are the controlling force in tusker society. Chosen for their roles at birth, they are part cook and part priest, serving as intermediaries to Moloch, the bestial god of hunger and savagery. Moloch’s holy symbol is a mouth filled with mismatched teeth and fangs from numerous animals, and his chosen are born with a full set of teeth and fangs. Any tusker child born with all of his or her teeth is taken and raised by the village butcher. When he reaches adulthood, he assumes his full responsibilities as a butcher. All animals caught by the hunters must be shared with the butcher, who claims two-thirds of each kill and all gathered plants and fruit. He prepares a meal for the tribe each night from this collected food, and must divide the food as he sees fit. A tusker who has angered the butcher will find himself going hungry, forced to survive on the remaining third of his collected food which he is allowed to keep while he watches the rest of the tribe feast each night.
Moloch is a powerful demon that has gained godlike power from the worship of the Tus’gkor race. His sole demand is the sacrifice of children, a practice that has found its way into tusker society. Born in litters of three to five, a tusker is only considered an adult after his litter-mates of the same gender are dead. By killing or simply outliving his siblings, a tusker makes his sacrifice to Moloch and so earns his blessings. Exceptions are made for butchers, who are neither required to kill or be killed by their siblings. Tuskers tend to form close bonds to older and younger siblings, and will often help their favorite younger brother kill off the competition. This practice can be temporarily suspended by a tribe’s butcher, usually in response to a devastating battle when the tribe needs to be repopulated.
Beyond the institutionalized infanticide, families in tusker society are very important. Unlike most societies, they follow matriarchal lines. A tusker places very little importance on his father, and treats him no different than any other member of the tribe. Many warriors owe their skill to the training given them by their fathers, and therefore show respect to their fathers, but any affection, trust, or respect must be earned. Conversely, tuskers virtually worship their mothers, and trace their heritage by maternal lineage. Where a typical human may throw a punch over an insult to his mother, a tusker will gleefully commit murder over such an insult.
Beyond their maternal lineage and his teeth, the most important things to a Tus’gkor are his weapons and his armor. Most tusker tribes lack the metalworking skill to make armor, and their large bodies make it difficult to trade for armor that they can wear, so any fitting metal armor is considered a sign of very high status. Those who cannot get metal armor will adorn their leather or cloth armor in barbaric finery, such as skulls, furs, and semiprecious stones. Armor is chosen for its cost and not its usefulness. Many tuskers have died because the weight of their armor outweighed the protection it offered, though this does not discourage the rest of the species from investing in the heaviest armor they can get.
The weapons of the tusker race fall into two cultural categories: weapons of peace and weapons of war. Bows and spears are considered peaceful weapons and are used almost exclusively for hunting. Axes, passed down along family lines, are considered weapons of war. Swords and the like are generally disdained by tuskers as weapons for the weak humans and elves. Weapons are well cared for, axes in particular. Attacking another tusker with a peaceful weapon is considered very treacherous, though this isn’t actually a vice among tuskers. Treachery among the Tus’gkor is merely another method of survival, though a tusker would prefer not to resort to it.
This is something I wrote up for a comic my friend is working on. Don't be surprised to see it somewhere else.
Old world development posts that have been reviewed and incorporated or put aside.
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