And no elves!
We started by creating the village and stronghold where the characters live, Eagles' End.
Sitting on a hill at the end of a fjord, the village is surrounded by a wooden palisade with small towers for archers constructed along strategic points along the wall. Armed with spears and bows, the people of Eagles' End defend a library where scholars and scribes study the writings left behind by the Empire of Eagles as well as collect stories and legends of the Old Gods that were worshiped before the Empire took control of the region. The countryside is plagued by bandit clans who think of themselves as the last true Imperials trying to survive amongst lawless savages, and neighboring villages grow jealous of Eagles' End inflating treasury.
click the map to make it bigger
There are three kinships of people living in Eagles' End...
Driven by a desire to gather and collect knowledge left behind by the Empire of Eagles, and consolidate it with the lore of the Old Ways that survived the Empire's reign, most Aetosians revere book keeping and historical record. The Aetosians living in Eagles' End wish to found a school and are the stewards of a library, and they keep the old Eagle shrine maintained. Most of them are cynical scholars, getting greedy as they collect more treasure and artifacts. They look fat and stocky, with pale skin and curly brown hair. They often wear gaudy, bright clothing. They obsess over the traditions and customs passed down from the Empire of Eagles, a few practice sorcery, as they hold any knowledge that can be acquired sacred.
They have the longest and strongest ancestral ties to the land which they call a sacred bond between the land and the people. They were once subjugated and enslaved by the Empire of Eagles, but now they speak of themselves as a people reborn. They look athletic and muscular, with straight blonde hair and tan or tawny skin. They are a simple people, but the loud coloring of clothing that the Empire wore, and that the Aetosians wear, has begun to creep into their fashion sense. They are master archers, craftsmanship, and practice single combat extensively. A loyal people, the Ferdigen consider themselves benevolent protectors of the Aetosians who search for the lost heritage and traditions of the Ferdigen people, and Ferdigen loyalty has led to many of them beginning to emulate their scholarly wards. The celebrations where they venerate the uprising of the Old Gods sometimes last for days.
Once part of a vast and far-reaching empire of their own, the Munii were displaced by the rise of the Empire of Eagles and fallen into decline and ruin, scattered to many regions as disparate families of rogue pagans. They look tall and fair-skinned, with muddy-red hair that they keep loosely cut or tie back with simple ribbons, and typically wear simple clothes without ornamentation or unnecessary coloring. Near Eagles' End is one large family that settled along the river and built a small village where their descendants now fish and hunt and only trade with those who prove themselves worthy. A few Munii have spread into Eagles' End proper and prosper as messengers and prophets of the Old Gods. They are ever vigilant against monsters and trolls, their ruthlessness is matched by their great beauty, their sorcery and enchantments as well as their marvelous feasts are envied. They hold the brutal cycle of nature sacred by worshiping spirit animals, especially predatory beasts such as wolves and bears.
Amongst the leaders and influential voices of Eagles' End are...
Lothric, the Ferdigen head of the Shrat household, is the Keep-Liege and rules Eagles' End. He tries to seem discerning and fair to his subjects, but he has always been more skilled in fighting than in law or judgment. He has personally established trade with many of his neighbors, though his overbearing physique and skill in combat are more likely responsible for the favors he has earned than diplomacy or skilled negotiations.
Ozan Renjara, the Outranger, was trained by the Ferdigen people to be a capable warrior though he was born as an Aetosian. His family was slaughtered by the Rapuns and has been adopted into, and earned a place of honor in, the Shrat household. He sometimes acts as Lothric's eyes and ears and is empowered by the Keep-Liege to forge trade with neighboring communities. He sometimes acts as a guide for travelers and exiles as his status affords him welcome in many places.
Leon Sofia, an Aetosian and Lothric's Court Wizard, spends his time maintaining the library and fostering expeditions in search of scrolls and parchment left behind by the Empire of Eagles. So far he has ignored the rising popularity of a return to the Old Ways amongst the people of Eagle's End but a schism of influence has already started to foment within his own household.
Hypatia Sofia, an Aetosian and self-proclaimed Dragon-Herald. She wants to return to the Old Ways and believes the dragons are benevolent and will return if more people embrace and worship the Old Gods. She also favors gathering knowledge left behind by the Empire and learning from it, though she still believes the slumbering dragons despise anything related to the Empire and will destroy those remnants when they awaken.
Hurit of the Arania household, a Munii and Wicker-Wise, the healer and midwife of Eagles' End, she is a master chemist and wears elaborately embroidered clothing and many rings and earrings as a sign of her status within the stronghold. She requires that supplicants kiss her hand to show proper respect before she will address their problems or assist them when she is fortune-telling, which many Ferdigen come to her for.
Togquos of the Arania household, a Munii and War-Champion. She recently gave birth to a daughter and the father was a Ferdigen who fought beside Togquos, Jesse of Pyreth, after the battle they spent much of their private time together. Togquos is well-known everywhere she goes and she is known by the Munii as "the Eagle-Killer." She dresses fancy, has many piercings, and carries a magical dagger which causes wound that no man has ever recovered from.
Aranck is a Troll-Killer and was adopted into the Arania household, her people and home are known only to her. As a child Aranck was rumored to be a troll born into the body of a child, and as she grew into adulthood she began traveling as a mercenary. She was determined to prove that she wasn't trollborn and became a hunter and killer of trolls but was still exiled by her aunt, who was also the chieftain of her tribe.
Other people who neighbor or live near Eagles' End are...
A small nomadic band who worship the god, Stone, a being who lives in natural rock and is composed of stone. They are the closest neighbors to Eagles' End and typically fish and herd sheep upriver, but also trade with the Munii village to the north. They look tall and stocky with bronze skin, stoop shouldered and keep their wiry hair and beards short. They have an insular disposition and are typically untrustworthy of others. They are responsible for many of the circles of standing stones that can be found inland, and manage to travel through many areas where they know the land is rich.
the Spider clan
An outlaw band of descendants of former scholars and craftsmen who took up the sword, they hold the Empire of Eagles up as a paragon of civilization and consider the villages and townships in the area to be savage and filthy. They look much like Aetosians, as they were once members of the shrine stewards in Eagles' End, they are pale skinned and wear bright clothing, but have spare and willowy bodies topped with curly blonde hair. They tattoo their arms and legs, often with web patterns and depictions of spiders, and ornament their weaponry and fur clothing with amber stones. They have become skilled fighters and are known to make daring and fearless raids on weakened or vulnerable people. They have sworn blood vengeance upon the Ferdigen and the Aetosians over minor disagreements that nobody remembers. They venerate a mysterious spider god whose legends were told within the Empire of Eagles, but whose stories were never committed to parchment.
They worship the Witch-King, which is a person but also a title worn by their current king, Malik. The last Witch-King died at Malik's hands last summer, and since then trade with Eagles' End has ceased. Matosians look fair-skinned with muddy red hair and wear simple, dark clothing. They have been ruthless to their enemies in the past and crucify their criminals rather than exile them. Malik is also known to dislike any who do not worship the Witch-King before other deities. Matosians view the Empire of Eagles as a decadent and corpulent society that deserved to die, and they consider any who recite knowledge of the Empire as being corrupted by it. They love spicy food and bitter alcohol.
The last descendants of a military order from within the Imperial Legionnaires. The Aetar look pale and dark-haired, and wear bright yellow and white clothing or armor. They are fanatically devoted to Imperial law, which they pass down as an oral tradition. The Aetar hold everything about the Empire of Eagles sacred and would likely become allies with Aetosians if the Aetosians weren't trying to study the Old Gods and collect knowledge about the Old Ways before the Empire destroyed most of it. They have dwindled in numbers as they refuse to recruit Munii or Ferdigen or anybody else into their ranks. When they attack a community they do not take prisoners and attempt to slaughter anyone they find.