Barbarians are people that are not part of the Empire, that the Empire is currently at war with.
There are several distinct barbarian powers which represent hostile nations. The barbarians are designed to look cool in massive numbers in battles; to provide immersive, exciting and dramatic combat encounters; and to allow a range of interactions outside of combat. Most of the barbarian powers that currently surround the Empire are orcs.
Players are not able to play barbarian characters - by definition, they are not welcome on the playing field, however everyone has the opportunity to play a barbarian by volunteering to monster a battle.
There are a large number of scattered groups of orcs, but three of the nations neighbouring the Empire are large enough that they are considered threats to the Empire.
- The Jotun are warlike but honourable, and occupy a large swathe of land to the west of Wintermark and The Marches.
- The Druj are a comparatively small nation that uses fear to exert influence over a number of smaller orc nations. They are found in the swamps and forests to the east of Dawn and Highguard and known for their treachery and their love of terror-tactics.
- The Grendel are a sea-faring nation with a love for wealth and power. They hail from Attar and the Broken Shore, lands to the south and east of the Bay of Catazar.
Smaller groups of orcs are scattered across the Empire as bandits, or live outside its borders in numbers. The orcs of the hills between the Brass Coast and their foreign neighbours (Faraden and The Iron Confederacy) were a case in point.
The barbarians are not a monolithic threat - the nations may form temporary alliances, but they sometimes fight each other with as much ferocity as they show to the Empire.
Distant barbarians primarily exist in downtime, although their representatives may attend events or enter correspondence with Imperial citizens. They represent nations that are on par with the Empire in terms of influence and capability - and an interest in worldwide events. They are all physically within four or five weeks of hard-sailing of the Empire which means it is largely unfeasible to try and invade them or for them to invade the Empire.
There is only one barbarian nation active on the world stage which is a peer of the Empire:
- The Asavean Archipelago, an old and self-satisfied nation with a taste for luxury.