THE GHOSTLING BROWNIES

APPEARANCE - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - PEOPLE - HOUSING - CLOTHING
DIET - WEAPONS - OCCUPATIONS - GOVERNMENT
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FESTIVALS

The Ghostlings are a savage and very primitive Rat Brownie tribe that makes their home in the Osthemangar region of Northern Sarvonia. Very little is known about these Brownies, with the only factual study having been done by Rat Brownie researcher Gratcha Swath over a period of one year, in 1668 a.S. Gratcha, who herself is a Milken Brownie, conducted her studies under the most unusual of circumstances. She was captured alive by the Ghostlings during an expedition to Osthemangar to find them. Instead, they found her, killed her research team, and kept Gratcha captive. She was unable to fit these cannibal Brownies into the usual Rat Brownie classifications due to their assortment of physical mutations brought upon them by the magical effects of the Mists of Osthemangar. The Ghostlings are a pale skinned, white haired tribe who govern themselves with primitive superstitious beliefs. In addition, these Brownies are born physically blind, with pale white eyes. This disability does not hinder them at all, as they possess an uncanny ability to navigate the landscape efficiently. Likely this is due to the mysterious effects of the Mists. Ghostlings are not friendly to any race but their own, and behave on an instinctual level like wild animals. The Ghostlings are hunter-gatherers with no known means of trade or production. They believe the Mists are the home of dark spirits to whom they perform sacrificing offerings by drowning victims in ooze pools. Unfortunately, Gratcha's experience in the Mists with the Ghostlings proved terribly bad for her as she suffered permanent madness from the Mist's malevolent effects. [1]

Appearance. Ghostling Brownies are so called because of their pale white appearance and of their uncanny ability to use the mists to remain unseen and unheard during their hunts. The name was first coined by Gratcha Swath who wrote that the Ghostlings are “mystical little wraiths among the mists, shifting through the air like ghosts”. The Ghostlings’ bodies are covered with a thick fur over their backs, heads, and partially over their arms and legs. Only their chests, their legs below the knees and their hands are bare skinned. Due to this furry coating, the Ghostlings wear very little clothing, save for perhaps a ritual headdress made of leather or bone worn by the spiritual leader. Underneath this hair is their skin, which is the same pale color.

According to Gratha Swath, Ghostlings are of typical height for Brownies. They stand perhaps 14 to 15 nailsbreadths tall, although when stalking and hunting they walk hunched and crouched down on all fours, like an uncil cat ready to pounce. Their fingers are long and thin with each finger sprouting a sharp nail resembling a claw. Their feet are bare as the Ghostlings wear no boots or other footwear. The skin on the bottoms of their feet is thick, much like a canine's paw, and each toenail also ends in a claw-like nail. Their feet and hands grip the ground's surface and by using their muscular arms and legs, Ghostlings can rapidly leap and scale stones, trees and other rough surfaces with ease.

The Ghostlings’ horrid little faces are always twisted in a perpetual cruel sneer. They typically have small, button noses and wide mouths. Gratcha Swath described a Ghostling smile as a "death grin". When a Ghostling smiles at a victim, the prey has but a few blinks to live before they are torn apart piece by little piece. Their mouths are full of yellowed, crooked teeth with breath that smells of rotted meat. Gratcha documented that one of the Ghostlings’ rituals is the sharpening of their four upper and lower teeth. They take a rough piece of bone and file the teeth to sharpened points. This provides them the ability to tear flesh with their mouths, in addition to rending with their clawed hands. Gratcha noted that a pack of Ghostlings feeding was a truly stomach churning sight.

Each Ghostling is born with pale, white eyes, devoid of any colour. Gratcha at first assumed that this was a unique trait among the tribe, but she soon discovered that the Brownies have no use for their eyes at all. Much like Faded Rat Brownies, the Ghostlings are entirely blind. The eye orbs are constantly shifting within their skulls as if searching for a object of focus, giving them an unsettling appearance.
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Coat of Arms/Sign. No known coat of arms exists for these Ghostling Brownies, although Gratcha reported that the symbol of a triangle with branch-like arms protruding from the sides can been seen around the caves and hovels of these creatures. Whether this particular symbol is of Ghostling origin or comes from another past culture is not entirely known. Gratcha insisted that the Ghostlings are too primitive to have made such a crude symbol as she could never determine what it meant to them. Some scholars have come to think that perhaps the symbol is an ancient religious marking made by the dark elves who once inhabited the Osthemangar region.
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Territory. Gratcha Swath's expedition was killed by the Ghostlings in the northern reaches of the Cartashian Woods in the peninsula of Caael’heroth in Northern Sarvonia. The exact location of the Ghostlings' habitat is not certain, though, as Gratcha's report was vague concerning where she was taken after her expedition members were attacked and killed. The orcen clan of mist hunters who inhabit the western edge of the Cartashian Woods say that Ghostlings' home is indeed along the northern borders at the edges of the Mists. This region reportedly contains a vast number of ruined watchtowers, aqueducts and caves. The Darkfang Spire is also said to be nearby the Ghostlings' home. Gratcha made mention of this tower in her research as she described the structure as "a dark, evil sentinel amidst the fog". The region is rife with all manner of twisted wildlife making it a suitable home and hunting ground for the Ghostlings.
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People. The Ghostlings are a savage race. They are bred to survive in some of the most dangerous regions in all of Northern Sarvonia. They live on instinct and have a primal nature that thrives on the hunt. Their debased culture is barbaric and bloodthirsty. It is no wonder that many of the more intelligent races of Caaehl'heroth know well to stay away from Ghostling territory. The little beasts seemingly have no distinction between friends and enemies. They do not negotiate and make no attempt to be merciful. Gratcha Swath's observations painted a very clear picture of the Ghostlings, yet many scholars continue to believe that the clan may yet be open to study.

Hunting is a major way of life for the tribe. Large groups of Ghostlings regularly dispurse all over the northern borders of the Cartashian Woods in their hunts. All males are taught to hunt and from an early age, Ghostlings learn to use their extraordinary agility and strength to climb and leap upon their prey. In order to survive the Mists, the Ghostlings learn to kill most anything that crosses their path. The size of their prey matters little to these efficient hunters. Gratcha observed large Ghostling hunting parties slay young spine wyrms, darkmist whelps and spiders twice their size. Even the large bat-like creature known as the “Onktapii” gave little resistance to the Ghostlings’ whirlwind of death.

Probably one of the Ghostlings' most remarkable abilities is that despite being totally blind, this disability does not hinder them at all in life. Gratcha perhaps regretted not being able to study this trait more closely, but she did observe how they coped with their blindness and how the Mists in fact enable them to "see". Ghostlings have a keen sense of smell and touch and can somehow navigate the Mists with ease. She suspected that the mystical nature of the Mists itself, coupled with the Ghostlings' seemingly natural ability to mentally "sense" their surroundings, enabled them to move among the foggy landscape as if they had eyes with which to see. The creatures smell and touch everything and their pale white eyes never seem to focus on any one thing. Gratcha's experience when she was first brought to the tribe was horrendous, as she wrote that every single Ghostling came up to her to touch and smell her as their way of identifying her.

Gratcha believes that each Ghostling is identified from one another by a unique smell and touch. Ghostling social gatherings are very physical, with each of their noses sniffing about each other's fur as their hands scratch and poke one another. Along with this behavior is their speech. Ghostlings speak in harsh, gutteral tones and squeaks. Their language is nothing at all like the languages of Southern Brownies. It is known that many Rat Brownie tribes develop their own dialect that is unique among them. Even similar clans living under the same city have different languages. Ghostling language, however, was unlike any that Gratcha had heard before. She described it as a mixture of sounds like a human cough, a light rasp, a monkey howl and the barking of a dog.

It would seem apparent at first that the Ghostlings have no organized culture. They are wild and seemingly lawless in their lifestyle. However, there is a clear hierarchy in how the Ghostlings rule each other. Males hold all power in mating rituals. Hunters are typically male, as is the ruling chief and the clan leaders. Females are of lower status with a few exceptions. Each dominant male possesses a small harem of females which he owns and mates with as he pleases. The females must obey him or risk death. Ghostlings male children are born and raised by the harem of females with little involvement from the fathers until they are old enough to venture out and hunt with the other males. Female children are raised by the harem as well and when old enough to mate, they are given to a leader male for his harem.

Gratcha Swath's notes indicated that she was abhorred by this treatment of the females. They were nothing more than a means to please the males and reproduce. However, the females are responsible for many other aspects of the tribe that often go unnoticed by the males. Females find and build new homes for the tribe. They are adept at carving and digging into the soil and trees. Females also function as the clan's religious leaders, something that Gratcha found fascinating in that when conducting ritualistic sacrifices and cannibalism, a small group of priestesses direct and lead that aspect. In a sense, it would almost seem as if the females hold much of the power while the males simply hunt and mate.

The Ghostlings are a superstitious people. The Mists' warping effects have no doubt contributed to their twisted way of thinking, as their primitive beliefs revolve around many odd behaviors. Gratcha noted that the Ghostlings hold their environment as sacred and believe that the Mist itself is a god-like entity. The ooze pools, gnarled trees, and the skulls of various beasts are important to the tribe and represent many aspects of their beliefs. They also practice ritual cannibalism and sacrifice members of the tribe to their dark spirits. Usually, when a sacrifice occurs, half of the victims are killed and eaten while the other half are dropped into an ooze pool to slowly drown. While this is not unusual among Rat Brownies, Gratcha noted that among the Ghostlings, this practice is taken to an even higher level as dozens of victims are killed at any one time. Thankfully (or maybe not so much), the tribe has a high reproduction rate and there is never a shortage of victims, be it adults or young ones. Unfortunately, the old and infirm are most likely to be sacrificed. Sometimes, there is no logic in choosing the victims. The Mists sometimes demand a sacrifice of two or a dozen random Ghostlings and it is up to the religious leader to determine who is killed.
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Housing. The main Ghostling settlement was at the edge of the Cartashian Forest. There were a great many trees, ruined watchtowers and aqueducts in their territory and all were made of use of their housing structures. The settlement was quite large in area and the tribe made natural use of the land. They did not build structures but rather used what was already there with very little preparation. As a result, an unwary traveler or beast could wander right into a Ghostling settlement and never know it, until it was too late.

Most trees within the Mists of Osthemangar are dead husks, blackened and twisted, with gnarled branches twisting this way and that. The Ghostlings are able carvers and used their claws to burrow within these dead trees and make a home. Because of their talent at climbing, and due to the dangers of creatures that lurk on the ground, tree holes were made high up, perhaps two peds from the ground. They choose sturdy, wide trees with ample room in which to live.

The second kind of housing the Ghostlings inhabit are the ruined watchtowers and aqueducts that litter the area. It is said that long ago, when the Deep Winds Portal was built, that there was a series of towers that connected to the Portal by bridges and aqueducts. The entire area was a massive throng of imposing structures that guarded the Portal. No one know who built them, whether the so-called Dark Dwarves or the orcs, but nowadays, most of the structures are fallen in ruin. Half crumbling ruins still stand intimidating and provide excellent housing for the Ghostlings among the many cracks and crevasses.
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Clothing. Clothing is not something that is well known among the Ghostlings. The climate within the Mists varies. Some areas are freezing cold while some regions are mildly temperate. The temperature can change at any given time within the Mists. However, the Ghostlings' habitat stays a constant mild climate at all times. The Brownies have no use for clothing to keep them warm as most of their body surface is covered in hair. The tribe has no sense of "nakedness" and thus go about their life without any covering over themselves. There is no modesty among these creatures, as opposed to their Southern cousins, as they live primitively and naturally. Perhaps their only physical covering would be headdresses made of tiny rodent or snake skulls used by the ruling shamaness and her consorts. Even then, these head coverings are worn only during certain religious occasions such as the Huur Ree sacrifices.
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Diet. Ghostlings are primarily meat eaters. They hunt and kill smaller animals, such as lizards or rats, but are known to kill large ones such as the spine wyrm or the onktapii bat creature. The meat is usually eaten raw, and rarely cooked over a fire. During a hunt, a group will kill a beast and eat some of it where it fell. Once fed, the hunters carve up portions of the carcass and carry back the meat for the rest of the tribe. Or conversely, sometimes prey will wander close to the Ghostling settlement and will be killed close by. This presents an alternative to carrying meat back as the tribe simply travels a short distance and feasts close to home.

Although plant life is rare in the Mists, as most flora is either dead or corrupt in some strange way, there are certain kinds of roots and seeds eaten by the Ghostlings. One kind of "vegetable" they eat is a smelly plant that the tribe calls a "jha'liss". Gratcha reported that this plant is actually the root of a bush that grows in the Cartashian Woods. The bush is a small, spiny plant with deep reddish colored leaves that thrives along the forest borders. The roots are dug up by hand and carved up. They appear gray in color and are a mass of twisted vine-like appendages. The tribe's females typically prepare these roots by cleaning the dirt off and breaking them up into bite sized pieces. The roots smell terribly, at least they did to Gratcha, who described the smell akin to animal dung, but the Ghostlings seemed unfazed by this odour. She did taste the root and described it as being salty flavoured.

The bush also produces seeds from hardened pods that grow along the stems. When harvesting, the tribe first plucks the seed casings from the plant and breaks them on stones. The pods usually contain six to eight seeds that are about the size of a Brownie's hand. The seeds are soft and can be eaten raw. Gratcha reported that these seeds taste like warm, bitter apples. She said that both the seeds and the root provided her with sufficient nutrients in that she was never sick or had ill effects from eating it. At least, none that she knew of, as poor Gratcha returned from Ghostling captivity a changed person. Eating anything that grows in the Mists is probably never a good idea, but Gratcha had little choice in the matter.
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Weapons. The tribe is not known to use weapons other than their own claws and teeth. These natural weapons are quite effective and a group of Ghostlings attacking a single animal has a very high chance of killing it quickly. Also, using their own natural claws and bite requires very little in the way of training. Simply stab, tear and bite. The hunters are skilled in knowing where and when to strike their prey for the most effective kill. Typical tactics are for the hunters to split up into groups. One group strikes the throat and head of the prey while another group tries to render the legs and/or arms immobile. Hunters strike and gouge eyes, nose and mouth making their prey blind and confused. Their bites cause deep wounds and once a wound is open, the hunter rips it further with their claws. They strike much like a cat, quickly, silently and efficiently, with little ritual.
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Occupations. The Ghostlings are simple in their occupations and responsibilities. Young ones are typically raised to either hunt or to care for domestic duties. Male children are expected to be cunning, fearless hunters able to lead their harems and provide food for the tribe. However, females are not uncommon in the hunter profession as well. Typically, though, females hold a more varied role in the tribe structure, despite their servitude to the males.

The difference between a subservient female in a harem and a female leader is the family into which they are born. Powerful males hold more influence in the tribe and often their daughters are permitted to move into more influential roles. While male children are taught to hunt and expected to have strong children, it is the females that manage the tribe's settlements and one female alone holds the role of religious leader.
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Government. The tribe is divided into clans, with each one having a name undecipherable to most known languages. Gratcha Swath was not able to determine the meaning behind the clan names, so she made some educated assumptions. Each clan was composed of mostly female Ghostlings ruled by a single male. Younger males, often young children of the females, lived among the clan until old enough to leave on their own.

Ruling over all of the clans was a single chief, called the "Uuss Kon Chee". Gratcha had no idea what the term translated as, so she assumed it meant "Snake Head Chief". From what Gratcha could gather, the word "chee" meant "chief" while "Uuss kon" may have meant "serpent", "snake" or perhaps the spine wyrm. The chief's headdress was a small snake skull, hence the name Gratcha assumed. Nevertheless, this Snake Chief ruled the male hunters and harems and led most of the hunts. This position of chief was not held for long by each ruler as other males made constant attempts to usurp the chief's position by means of physical challenges. The winner would assume the role of chief while the loser would die in the ensuing battle.

The religious leader would always be a female, and this position held much influence among the tribe. This leader was called the "Noo Naak Chee". Gratcha determined that "Noo Naak" probably meant "Mist" or "Holy air". The tribe held their misty home in reverence and no doubt were well aware of the Mists' magical nature. The Noo Naak chief wore feathers over her head fashioned in colorful strips of painted leaves. A naturally occurring pit of red mud near the tribe home would provide the color needed for the feathers. During religious ceremonies, the Noo Naak would coat her body hair with the blood of a sacrificial victim and dance and howl like a crazed beast to invoke the dark Mist Spirits, or the "Noo Naak Suun". Such a display would last for several minutes before the rest of the tribe would begin to dance and screech as well.

Gratcha was able to determine that both chiefs ruled independently of each other, rarely coming together except for religious gatherings. The Hunter clans were the most lawless of the groups, coming and going as they pleased and providing food for the tribe. The Noo Naak would live alone with a few other female consorts away from the tribe. She would sometimes emerge to make a declaration or give a message of sorts before hiding away again. Her words were heeded carefully, as she was believed to be able to speak to the Mist Spirits and hear their dark omens.
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Holidays, Festivals and Observances.
Ghostling Brownies are known  to celebrate the following festivals

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Footnotes.

[1] The story of Gratcha's eventual escape from the Ghostlings is one not yet told. She currently resides in Milkengrad cared for by her two children. Due to her Mist induced madness, she grows more distant from the world with each passing day. It is hoped that one day she can give a patient compendiumist some details as to how she escaped the Ghostlings. Until then, the details of that event were not recorded in this entry. [Back]

 Date of last edit 2nd Changing Winds 1670 a.S.

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