The Skairn are a semi-nomadic, tribal people of north-central Aerne. Insular and distrustful of outsiders, they value clan and honor highest. They are traditionalists who hold to the Old Ways, worshiping the spirits of the land and of their ancestors. The clans can be found from the northern Vales, across the Barrowlands and into the forests of the northern Dale Lands. Each clan has its ancestral territories, and are often named for an animal frequently found there. Some clans include the Red Elk, the Bloodhawk, the Ice Bear, White Crow, the Frost Wolf, and the Stone Owl. Loyalty to the clan is paramount in a Skain’s life, followed by loyalty to the Skairn as a whole.
Skairn warriors are often barbaric fighters, wielding primitive iron weapons in a frenzy of battle, while others are skilled at ranged combat and skirmishing. All are skilled trackers and hunters. Magic is generally practiced by shaman connected to nature or given patronage by ancestral spirits. Some are born with the innate gift for spellcasting, but those with that kind of bloodline are rare. Clans are lead by both a war leader and an elder shaman.
Many of the Skairn encountered outside of their lands are exiles, driven from their clan for one reason or another. Others have left on their own accord, seeking to experience the world outside of their closed off society. These Skairn are often quiet about their origins, attempting to blend in with the outsiders they choose to live with. This is because of common superstitions and rumors about the Skairn that are prevalent among non-Skairn. Some claim that the Skairn are all blood thirsty shapeshifters who eat the dead of their enemies. Others say that the Skairn are what’s left of the Dal’Riadan Empire, thrown low by the cataclysm of a millenia ago. The truth of these rumors is almost impossible to prove, as the Skairn themselves are talking to outsiders about it.
The civilized people of Aerne try to leave the Skairn alone while passing through their territories. Too often an enterprising homesteader or prospector is attacked and driven off by Skairn who feel their lands have been encroached upon. Travelers and merchants can generally pass through unmolested. In fact, it is considered ill luck by the Skairn to treat traveling peddlers poorly.