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 tribes, kingdoms, and 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 or quest.
There are a large number of scattered orc tribes, but three of the tribes 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 tribe that uses fear to exert influence over a number of smaller tribes. 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 primarily occupy a land-mass to the south of the Bay of Catazar, and are kept at bay by the activities of the Freeborn corsairs. They are also found in numbers on the Broken Coast to the south of Urizen.
Smaller orc tribes 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 orc barbarians are not a monolithic threat - the tribes may form temporary alliances, but they sometimes fight each other with as much ferocity as they show to the Empire.