There are a great many whispers and stories told of the mysteries surrounding Beorning folk. Whether these stories of old have merit or are but smoke and shadow, Beorning folk themselves often give little to clarify which only adds to the enigma surrounding them.
What is known of the Beorning are that they have long dwelt in the Vales of Anduin between the great forest that is the Mirkwood and the serpentine track of the Great River. Due to their coloring and mixed bag of cultural quirks, it is believed that the Beorning share kin and history with the Eotheod and Men of Dale, they are another branch of the Men of Rhovanion.
Their name is said to have come from the numerous legends told about Beorn - their "Great Chieftain." The Beornings reverent ursine references to their Great Chieftain has given birth to a plethora of legends about a hairy man as big as a mountain, who is a bear in mannish guise, can turn into a bear, can wrestle bears, and any other incarnation depending on how drunk
Playing a Beorning
- Beorning accents, if applicable, can be found here: Accents of Middle-Earth Cultures
- Are either dark of hair and eye like Beorn and Men of Dale or follow a more shared Eotheod lineage with blonde/lighter shading. Red is very uncommon as coloring for Beornings.
- Noted by other Men as being mountainous, tall and hirsute (hairy.)
- Honorable. Generally respectful with others. Strong sense of right and wrong.
- Each Beorning is, however, an individual, some might be gruff and standoffish (as the Great Chieftain is rumoured to be) while others are more jovial and open. The latter tend to encourage the same behavior in the former.
- Farming and beekeeping are the main ways of life while, keeping great "carrock" farms like their Great Chieftain - Beorn. Other skills are practiced as needed. A small core of well-trained warriors protects their settlements.
- Be mysterious or at least private. Your people are precious to you. Their traditions, whereabouts and ways are very much a precious thing and therefor guarded for who knows what mischief outsiders are up to.
- Beorning folk do not harm animals unless it is the life or death of themselves or their kin.
- Beorning folk do not eat the flesh of animals unless the situation is most dire, such as the threat of starvation. The exception being animals that are aggressive and taken in fair battle but are clean for eating. Which leaves wild boar as the meat of choice.
- They tend to pity other Men who eat a great deal of meat, seeing them as needing care and guidance to learn the ways of farming to raise them up.
- Tend to explain concepts to outsiders in terms of bears, bees, and other animals and natural phenomenon they understand. The bee and the bear are the animals they praise and try to emulate. To "be the bear" is to be a great warrior, to "be the bee" is to be a productive and useful worker.
Beorning Folk Culture Reference
- Beorning are commonly of a tall (ranging from 72-80 inches in height), stalwart, and large physique as hard labor is the day in and day out survival for their isolated farms and woodland homesteads. Some of the mixed bag of cultural influence in the Beorning is oft most noted in even the smallest of superstitions. An example is that some Beorning believe red hair to be an ill-wrought omen and others to be a blessing. There are a great many hedge-wife tales spun in various means about this subject.
- Beornings are known to create hedge-fortified and rather isolated farmsteads as well as wood-set homesteads that at times can appear to be one with the forest themselves such as dwellings inside the stumps of trees, caves remodeled into houses and even homesteads built purposefully to blend in with their surroundings. Typically the style of their homes by nature are similar to that of longhouses and composed of logs with rare stonework. Around their farms are great hedges of the like common amongst the Men of Bree and those of the Dunlending, which feed the rumor of kin or history shared amongst them. The hedge rows are often quite thick and tall, though seemingly more to keep the wildlife at bay from the livestock of the Beorning.
- Common tongue and Dalish are common amongst the Beorning and often have a hodgepodge of Eotheod tossed in. It is not unheard of the Beorning to combine the three languages into one sentence or conversation, or borrow from one to describe something while talking in another language wholly.
- It is rumored that Beornings know how to communicate with animals, but examples of actually hearing them speak this mystical tongue is essentially unheard of.
- Village life is not the same with Beorning as it might be with other cultures of the Northmen. A village for the Beorning would likely be more a cluster of farms or wood homesteads than a village in terms of what most of the Northmen would be used to.
- Beorning are oft known to be rather ‘to themselves’, commonly quiet with outsiders and much more open with their own or those recognized as kin amongst them. Those of kin or recognized as such are treated much like family, sometimes as close as cousins or siblings. It would not be uncommon to hear a Beorning refer to another as brother, sister, or cousin. Elders are always respected and treated as that, referred to at times as old-mother or old-father. The modern terminology of grandmother or grandfather is alien to them and they tend to use sister-son or brother-daughter to explain nephews and nieces.
- Beorning have a deep respect for the earth and nature around them. Due to their respect for life and living it is very rare for weapon-working amongst them. They typically are fond of working with wood, working with herbs, farming, and working with animals. Due to their great love of food, they are keen towards cooking, baking and brewing. And particularly enjoy focusing on foods made with and from honey. Beorning do not consume the flesh of slain animals themselves, though do consume cream-based goods from kept goats and cows as well as the eggs of their chickens and ducks.
- Beorning are cautious in terms of dealing with outsiders. While respect and well-spoken with strangers, they are traditionally quiet and guarded with information in regards to their people, their doings, the location of their farmsteads and forest dwellings. It is extremely rare that outsiders are taken in as kin and never done lightly. It is rumored that there are great feats required of someone to prove their worth to be one of them. It is also rumored that it is only women who are taken in, as rare as it is, to keep their breeding lines clean and such marriages are done with great fest for the sheer rarity of it and perhaps the welcoming of new kin.
- Bears are said to be the most sacred of beasts to the Beorning, perhaps a rumor oft held with the legendary source of their name; the bear-shifter himself Beorn. Due to this, bear-fashioned goods such as pelts, hides, rugs, and the like cause issue. Some Beorning, perhaps due to the collective variances in cultures, will look at the use of bear as a great sin while others might look at is as an honoring. It is a general agreement that they themselves would never lightly bring harm to a bear unless one of their kin were in great peril.
- Marriage unions between Beorning are, like many unions within the Northmen, a closed union. They do not take another so long as they are wed, nor do they remarry if their wife or husband should die. Such celebrations are closed off to outsiders with little information given to the feasting or traditions otherwise undergone during such. It is fair to suppose that like other Northmen, Beorning are little different in seeking the blessing or permission of parents and elders of either intended’s family.
- Beorning, while close-lipped about their lives and the doings of their kin, are known to share what they have in terms of food and goods when others are in need. Due to this, there are whispered rumors of Beorning not tolerating theft amongst their kin or perhaps not even understanding the concept of ‘mine’ over ‘ours’ within their kin but this has never been fully legitimatized.
- It is a rarity that someone is banished amongst their people, meaning of their own kin. That is not to say that it is not impossible, though whatever comes of it is unknown.
- It is rumored that the farmsteads and woodland dwellings will have amongst them a chief old-mother or old-father, though no exact title can be known for Beorning are close-lipped over the matter. It would though, from collective sources, be supposed that such a person would be the eldest or wisest of the area and therein entrusted with issues or concerns.
- Larger more collective and organized settlements have a Cheiftain, whom is said to report to Beorn directly, sending word across great distance. Whether by foot or some magic remains speculation by other Men.
- Beorning are rather open about their love of honey-cakes, bees, honey in general and the by-product of such pursuits; mead.
- Beorning, like many Northmen like them, have a great, deep hatred of goblins and orcs. Due the dark-inclined nature of such beasts, it is too believed that Beorning harbor grave dislike for wolves and wargs, the canines oft a predator known to farmlands.
- There are rumors and whispers of Beorning have issue with dwarves for their metal-and-stone natures as well as rumors of a fondness for Woodland Elves for a shared love of nature and life. As per usual with the mysterious ways of Beorning and their varied cultural veins, it is supposed that there might be conflicting views of that within and differences of opinions over the matter in general. It could all, again, just be smoke and shadows.
What Would Other PCs Know About Beorning Folk?
- Outsiders would know few concrete things of any substance pertaining to Beorning folk. What they would know is that they are known for their love of woodworks, farming, animal husbandry and food.
- Beorning folk are rumored to keep bees as pets, be fond of mead, and feast not of the flesh of animals.
- Beorning folk are, like other men of the North, known to reside in and around the great woodland realm that is the Mirkwood.
- Beorning folk are famous bakers and their honey-cakes, in particular, are a delight to any who has ever eaten one. As such, their freshly-farmed ingredients, food and baked goods are their primary export to nearby surroundings.
- Beorning feasts to one who witnesses them are something to behold, with a great spread of food and the joyous if not thunderous dancing of large, hairy men (and sometimes women!) is something to truly witness.
- Beorning do not keep forges and are thus known to on rare occasion make trade for weapons and armaments, though with the uncommonness of such it would be believed that warriors are not so common amongst their numbers.
Suggested Backgrounds and Roles
Requires 1 RPP
Strongly Suggested Skills: Herbalism, Foraging, Medicine
Other Useful Skills: Farming, Cooking, First-Aid, Gardening
Background: You hale from one of the isolated farms of Beorning folk and whether by craft or happenstance, you’ve earned a little bit of a reputation amongst your kin and neighbor-kin as an herbalist. While womenfolk outnumber the men rather heavily, male or female, you’re known as a Hedge-Witch amongst your kin. Whether isolated further yourself in a woodland dwelling or living amongst others in a cluster of hedge-fenced farms – you’re the one sought for aches, pains, wounds, sickness and more; from the littlest of bothers to the most grave. You are fond of herbs and know much about them as well as medicines from balms to tonics and teas to your sworn-by cure-alls. You may even have a hand at growing your own little herb garden.
Beorning Farmer or Shepherd
Requires 1 RPP
Strongly Suggested Skills: Farming, Cooking, Forage
Other Useful Skills: Woodcraft, Herbalism, Baking, Gardening
Background: Whether by farmstead or forest-dwelling, by your parents, or other kin, you’ve learned some about keeping a farm or keeping a flock. Used to heavy, strong labor, you’re no newborn to working for your supper and keeping long hours with a very watchful eye out for winter. You, like your kin, have a deep fondness for animals and are very protective and caring of your flock, whether farm-bound or ranging through the woods with you. Growing things and tending things is what you do.
Beorning Cook or Baker or Brewer
Requires 1 RPP
Strongly Suggested Skills: Cooking, Baking, Brewing
Other Useful Skills: Farming, Gardening, Herbalism, Foraging
Background: Whether your delight is cooking, baking or brew-making, whether farm or forest-bound, you delight in using what farm or forest provides and delight your close kin and neighbor-kin with only the very best of foods and drinks. You find great delight in feeding those around you and ensuring that good food is enjoyed by all.
Requires 1 RPP
Strongly Suggested Skills: Woodcraft, Forage, Hide
Other Useful Skills: Farming, First-Aid, Herbalism, Farming
Background: You hale from either farm-stead or forest-dwelling, from isolated hedge-rows, stumps or a cluster of farms that buzz with bee-life. Whatever your beginnings, you’ve long since joined others of your kin in the trees, roaming the great woodland realm of the Mirkwood in pursuit of felled trees or those ripe and ready to give way to the younger saplings struggling for a taste of sun and sky. You are good with your hands, keen of eye and have a knack for building things of the wooden ilk.
Beorning Warden of the Wood or Farm
Requires 1 RPP
Strongly Suggested Skills: Hide, Sneak, Short or Long Bow, Small-Blade
Other Useful Skills: Brawling, Bludgeon, Woodcraft, Farming, Long-Blade
Background: Whether by farm or forest, you hale from Beorning folk and have taken the uncommon route of being a warden, or guard of the farmlands and woodland dwellings – a responsibility that requires keeping wolves, wargs, orcs and goblins at bay as well as the occasional brigand venturing too near your kin. Short bows and small-blades are likely the preference of the woodlands where range is minimal though the open plains and meadows of the farmlands would find longer bow and blades of better use.
Stories and Songs
Beorning folk are quite fond of songs and stories, especially those of the forest, bears and the legends of Beorn himself.
Players are encouraged to submit songs and stories for Beorning folk as they’re playing. Please respect all Copyright Laws. If it is someone’s work, heavily or loosely based on someone else’s work, or even that of work too old to maintain a maker’s name – give the source, when submitted, due credit.
To read the general background of the forest-village of Veidreborg, click here.