The Feni are human barbarians most commonly encountered in wild places of the Marches and occasionally other parts of the north-western Empire, primarily Hahnmark. They lived in much of the area that is now the Marches since before the first Marchers arrived in those lands and drove the orcs out. History suggests that some of the Feni were once the subject people of the orcs who occupied this area. They seem to have a clannish structure, with individual groups of Feni being geographically and socially separated from others.

As of 384YE, the largest concentration of Feni in the Empire appears to be in Liathaven, despite the territory labouring under a terrible curse, and the presence of conquering Jotun.


The Feni dress primarily in leather and fur, and use spears and bows where they can get them and javelins where they cannot. They paint or tattoo their bodies with bands of colour and intricate spiral designs, almost always in muted greens and yellows. They make extensive use of camouflage, which makes it easy for them to hide and to attack from ambush.

Culture and Customs

The Feni are widely believed to disdain the trappings of civilisation. They mostly keep to themselves, but at semi-regular intervals they raid into parts of the Marches, southern Wintermark and the northern Brass Coast. These raids are primarily concerned with stealing goods and produce - they kill anyone who gets in their way, and anyone with a weapon or armour is fair game, but they do not go out of their way to murder non-combatants.

Sometimes the Feni are more destructive, killing every person in a village, and burning the place to the ground. Some circumstantial evidence suggests that they do this when they are launching revenge attacks against people they believe have wronged them in some serious way.

The Feni are skilled scouts who excel at hiding and attacking from ambush. They make regular use of herbal potions and poisons, but they seem deficient in battlefield magic - few magicians have ever been encountered among their number. Some scholars theorise this is less due to a lack of magicians, and more due to their magicians having responsibilities that prevent them taking part in raids.

For centuries it was assumed that the Feni had access to some magic that makes it hard to track them or locate their settlements, leading to speculation that each community had a number of ritualists specialized in the magic of Night, or that their settlements are built in areas that are naturally warded in some fashion. More recent revelations however have uncovered that Feni settlements appear to be build inside regio chambers making them extremely hard to approach for anyone who does not know the secret of entering the chamber. Like all humans, they have at least a little lineage. There are reliable accounts of Draughir and Briar among their raiding groups. It is surprising that given their tendency to live inside powerfully magical areas, that they do not have more lineaged folk among their number.

They appear to have an absolute hatred for orcs. There have been numerous incidents where entire orc patrols have been encountered butchered and their corpses horribly mutilated, clearly the victims of the Feni. Unfortunately, they seem to lack either the ability or inclination to differentiate between the barbarian orcs and the Imperial Orcs, and at least one legion of orcs has been lost to Feni while on manoeuvres in the northern Marches.

Their "primitive" appearance is highlighted by what seems to be a lack of indigenous metalwork - they use stolen weapons and armour when they can acquire it, but some have been encountered using bronze or even flint weapons. Items recovered from dead Feni, or occasionally thrown up for trade by peddlers, have been simple and functional, suggesting either that improvements in crafting techniques over the last six centuries have largely passed them by, or that they have cultural reasons for eschewing iron and steel work.

The common perception is that it is difficult to make peaceful contact with the Feni; while some beaters and itinerant merchants are able to arrange a meeting with one or two representatives of the Feni, they describe them as uncommunicative, suspicious, and uncooperative. Again, more recent developments - especially with regard to the large enclave in Alderly in Mournwold - have suggested much closer, borderline friendly, ties between some Feni and their Marcher neighbours.

Recent History

In Summer 381YE, a giant sinkhole opened up in the north-western Empire. While this caused problems for the Imperial citizens in Hahnmark, Temeschwar, Miaren, and Upwold. More significantly impacted were a large number of Feni in the woodlands of Birchland and Wood Heath. Their homes having fallen into the sinkhole, the Feni split into two groups forced to move across the Empire to find new homes. One group went south through Upwold into Mournwold - dubbed the "Woods that Fell" Feni - while the other went north through Hahnmark. Both groups picked up more Feni as they travelled, until they presented a significant problem for the western Empire.

The Wintermark group eventually moved out of Hahnmark into Hercynia, where they disappeared, most likely with the assistance of an eternal. The group in the Marches however gathered momentum as it moved south, After several pitched fights, they eventually sued for peace and were allowed to leave the Mournwold for Liathaven. In the process, however, the Marches came into possession of instructions for how to find the settlement of the Feni living in the depths of Alderly. In the lead up to the Winter Solstice 382YE, the Drakes used this information to destroy the Alderly enclave.

It seems that the Feni are living more openly in Liathaven - despite the presence of a terrible curse over the territory - rather than hiding in regio. There are also reports of Feni from other settlements making their way to the former Navarr lands. Navarr activity in Liathaven - initially aimed at the Heirs of Terunael group - revealed more information about the situation in Liathaven with the discovery of Hotter's Mire and an uneasy detente with the Empire. As on Autumn 384YE, however, the Jotun have once again invaded Liathaven and the Feni appear to have been scattered.

Origins of the Feni

In Winter 383YE, the Imperial Advisor for the Feni, Watt of Lambrook, directed the Department of Historical Research to "Research the origins of the Feni people and their contact with or links to other contemporaneous peoples or civilisations." What follows is the report provided by the Department.


A lot of what we know about the Feni is based on speculation and hearsay. The Feni themselves have never been interested in cooperating with the Empire, for the most part they have kept their distance and cultivated a healthy distrust on both sides. Most of our information comes from the handful of Marcher folk who maintain close but covert ties with their reclusive neighbours.

The Feni are human barbarians most commonly encountered in the few remaining wild places of the Marches and occasionally other parts of the north-western Empire. They lived in much of the area that is now the Marches since before the first Marchers arrived in those lands and drove the orcs out. History suggests that some of the Feni were once the subject people of the orcs who occupied this area. They seem to have a clannish structure, with individual groups of Feni being geographically and socially separated from others.

Grim Origins

There is some evidence to suggest that the Feni predate the Terunael Empire, or at least that they existed at that time. There are several surviving documents from the Terunael period which strongly suggest that they conquered and subjugated the Feni, or at least some of them. The Feni refer to the coming of the vallorn as the the "Rain That Washed The World Clean" and rather than seeing it as a disaster, they seem to view the event as a cause for celebration. That would certainly fit if they were enslaved by the Terunael.

It appears however the Terunael are not the only people who have oppressed the Feni. They are known to loathe orcs, especially the Jotun, but they have no affection for the Lasambrians, the Imperial Orcs, or any other orcs as far as anyone can tell. They are generally careful to avoid open battle with anyone, but they will ambush and kill orcs, any orcs, if they get an opportunity to attack with little losses. If asked they claim that the orcs were created by their enemies expressly to kill them, but then claim not to know who their "enemies" are.

There is some speculation that the Feni might be related in some way to the Gwerin Morfa, but given that they lived in what is today the Mallum, on the far side of the Empire, this seems to be unlikely.

The Marchers - the people who perhaps know them best - can only say that when they reached Upwold there were Feni there in the woods and wild places, hiding from the orcs. Likewise, the Winterfolk appear to have had little contact with them until around the time of the Steinr, following which there are references to "wild folk" in the hills of south-western Hahnmark.

The Feni are unwilling, or perhaps unable to provide further insight. They are known to keep no written records, and few of them can read or write. They claim to have no rich aural tradition to preserve memories and stories between generations instead they "give their songs to the gods". This is most likely to be a reference to some kind of crude ritual magic that allows them to create records of important memories they wish to preserve.

Strange Interactions

The Feni appear to have precious few contacts with other civilisations. As far as we know they eshew any contact with the orc nations to whom they are unremittingly hostile. they don't appear to share any borders with the Iron Confederacy, but it's hard to imagine the two people enjoying harmonious and positive relations. Indeed it's even possible that they have encountered the Surrani before and either been driven off or fled. However the presence of the Kahraman mountains appear to have formed an effective wall, it's notable that while the Marchers have extensive contacts with the Feni, the Freeborn don't. There have been some raids in northern Kahraman, but nothing further south, suggesting that the Feni are loathe to roam too far from what is today Marcher land.

There are isolated bands of Feni scattered across the Marches, and Wintermark, and of course there is (now) a large group in Liathaven, many of whom have moved there recently. Another group - the other part of the Woods that Fell - disappeared in Hercynia and it is likely they are still in hiding there, but there have been no report of raids. Indeed, the Feni seem to have surprisingly few contacts with the Navarr.

For the most part Imperial contact with the Feni has been hostile and involved roaming bands of Feni raiding outlaying settlements looking to take food, herbs, forest resources and other valuables. They are usually driven off by any show of stout resistance, they seem to avoid fights, but just occasionally they will put up unexpectedly stout resistance and nobody knows why. Those occasions can be dangerous, even deadly for their victims, especially if they have got into the habit of expecting the Feni to run at the first sight of trouble. This is not to say that every Feni enclave raids nearby settlements. Some can go for long periods of time without really interacting with their Imperial neighbours at all. Indeed there have been a few incidents over the last three hundred years where the first a Marcher household or Wintermark hall has known of their Feni neighbours has been an unexpected raid.

The only people they have much interaction with the Feni appear to be the Marchers. There are small groups of Feni in every territory in the Marches, usually dwelling the more inaccessible locations, where the land is unusually barren. There are small populations in Bregasland and there used to be a large group in the Mournwold, but most of those were killed when the Empire sent an army to crush the Feni at Alderly.

The Alderly situation apparently involved a significant degree of intermarriage between the Feni population living in the forest and the Marchers living on the edge of the forest. Those Marchers clearly felt a tie to the Feni of the deep woods, and fought fruitlessly to defend them. Those Marchers who lived on the edges of the woods were always considered a little "strange" by their neighbours. While that's not uncommon in the Marchers, and often indicates nothing more than an odd name, in the case of Alderly there was definitely more to it.

Similar accusations of association with the Feni are occasionally thrown at other settlements near areas they are known to roam. A few very old stories suggest that some groups of Feni may even have been absorbed into Marcher communities, especially in Upwold and Mitwold. These stories have been obscured by time but it appears that not all Feni groups were automatically hostile to the Marchers when they left Dawn and may have enjoyed cordial relationships that eventually, over time, lead to the Marchers assimilating their neighbours. There are no such tales from Wintermark, but it's not impossible that some of the Winterfolk have attenuated familial connections to the Feni of Hahnmark.

Superstitions and Hidden Homes

The Feni are highly superstitious people, but they're also flagrant blasphemers and heretics. The Empire has largely ignored them because they're not significant in the broader picture and because nobody has ever been able to imagine successfully converting them. The Feni are passionate about their gods, they claim to meet with them regularly, to talk with them, to receive aid from them, and to be protected by them. Different groups of Feni seem to worship, or sometimes propitiate different gods. In the majority of cases it is very clear that these "gods" are nothing more than eternals, or occasionally powerful heralds. The Feni don't deny that they treat eternals as gods, and when questioned on it, they don't seem to see any meaningful distinction between the two terms.

At Alderly there were constant rumours of the folk who lived closest to the Feni being drawn into their blasphemous ways, and practising wicked rites in the woods. How mixed up in these matters the Alderly folk actually were is now impossible to know. The Empire sent an army in to crush the Feni and the few survivors fled West to Liavathen. If any Marchers remain with sympathies for the Feni, you would need to the Silent Bell to look into that, not historical records. But at a guess, it is very unlikely. Those Marchers whose loyalties were with the Feni will have fled with them, those whose true loyalty was the Empire or the Marches will likely have abandoned their erstwhile allies and are sensibly having nothing more to do with them.

This veneration of eternals as gods is most likely the reason the Feni were able to live inside the chambers of regio, even building settlements there as was seen at Alderly. Not only does the eternal patron provide an almost impossible-to-reach lair for the favoured Feni, but their patronage seems to bring other protections as well. The Feni at Alderly, who seem to have been associated with the Winter eternal Wise Rangara, certainly enjoyed a bounty of herbs and knowledge of herb lore than appears to have been almost a match for that of their Marcher neighbours.

This residence in regio may go some way toward explaining the high incidence of lineage among Feni groups - and that in turn may reinforce their peculiar behaviour and their reputation for being a strange, almost inhuman people.


Right lad, this is very much off the record. You now know basically everything the Department of Historical Research knows about the Feni. I know the Senate has given you the power to commission Historical Research but I have to tell you that there's not a huge amount more we can tell you about the Feni. My completely unofficial advice to you would be to use this power to find out about other things you are interested in while you can, because further requests for more historical information about the Feni are likely to prove disappointing just because we don't know anything else.

This is a group of people who want nothing to do with the Empire. If they are a part of the Empire's history then they are little more than a footnote at this time. What happens in the future is anyone's guess - they keep heading west towards Liathaven and that could be storing up trouble. But if it is, then it's it in our future... not in our past.

The Feni in Play

The Feni (as a people) are barbarians, although some specific groups (such as the Woods that Fell) have been recognised as foreigners. Most peoples' experience of the is as raiders who target Imperial villages and farmsteads in the Marches, Hahnmark, and Kahraman, then melt back into the wilderness. They draw on themes of border raiders and operate in a similar manner to the cattle raiders of Irish myth, a stereotypical view of the border reivers in the north of England, and a little of the raiding vikings along the British coastline in the middle-ages (without the boats, obviously). These are a people that want no part of the wider world; an insular folk who view strangers as both a threat and a source of resources.

It should be noted that while they often steal cattle, grain, and other resources, they don't go out of their way to kill people unless they are doing so as part of a vengeance raid.

The Feni are more likely to be encountered as enemies during a skirmish or small-scale encounter than they are in a pitched battle. Their irregular raids may lead to complications, especially for Marcher characters, but it is easy to see how they could feature in the backgrounds of Navarr, Wintermark and Freeborn characters.

It is not unknown for a village or hall to have cautious peaceful relations with the Feni; there may be a neutral location near a settlement where occasional trades take place, for example. Such trade is illegal in the Empire. The Feni do not have anything to trade that is not available in the Empire, and have no use for money, but seem to be quite good with herbs. Contact with the Feni could serve as an interesting explanation for a character's herb garden personal resource.

You cannot have a Feni as a character because they are considered enemies of the Empire. A background in which you spend extensive time among the Feni is likely to be rejected; part of the point of the Feni is that they are outside the Empire and not especially understood by its citizens.

Further Reading

  • Shimmerglisten - Summer 384YE Wind of Fortune about the Feni settlement of Liathaven
  • Make good use - Summer 382YE Wind of Fortune about the situation with the "Woods that Fell" Feni
  • Words to make things right - Autumn 382YE Wind of Fortune about potential solutions to the problems of the "Woods that Fell" Feni
  • Treaty - A treaty ratified in Autumn 382YE regarding the southern Woods that Fell Feni
  • The Rattle of the Bones - The Winter 382YE Wind of War about the invasion of Alderly.
  • Lethal and elusive - Winter 382YE Wind of Fortune dealing with the Feni groups
  • People of the North - general history about the pre-Imperial peoples of the northern Empire