Welcome to more of part six. This is the second in a series of slightly shorter posts that explore the inhabitants of the plane: creatures, peoples, notable figures etc. The last post covered the dream giants, the Grorn. This episode covers the nomadic peoples of the eponymous Bandren Range.
The other parts of the articles relating to the dreamscape are listed below and will be linked when they are complete:
- Part 1 – Background and Entrances
- Part 2 – Adventuring
- Part 3 – Journeys, Environs and Hazards
- Part 4 – Map and Regions
- Part 5 – Key Locations: A-D, E-J, K-S, T-Z
- Part 6 – Inhabitants
- Part 7 – Items and Objects
- Part 8 – Appendix of useful tables
Many travellers on the Plane of Dreams meet the Bandren. This distinct culture is made up of creatures of many different species, some native to the plane, others not. These travellers, traders and hunters roam far across the plane and many lost in the Lands Between have been saved by a lucky meeting with them. Their traditional homelands is the eponymous Bandren Range in which their clans hold some control. The Bandren are unaffected by wanderlost in the Range and they navigate its instabilities with relative ease. Bandren encountered further afield seem more lost, independent, unruly and occasionally unhinged. Regular return assuages the development of such characteristics and prevents ‘Losing your clan’. Many Bandren live a semi-nomadic lifestyle, travelling to trade posts, traditional hunting grounds and ritual sites until finally returning to their homesteading. All Bandren make their way to the Bandren Moot when the moon calls them.
Chetrach Riders. The Bandren have an ancient bond with the agile and dangerous chetrach. These large, feline creatures serve as mounts for their Chetrachine to roam the range and aid in their clan’s hunts. Without such mounts, the multi-limbed, bison-esque Hlandrells would be a nigh impossible prey due to their speed. Chetrach are not easily tamed, even amongst Bandren. A Chetrach must willingly shed one of its tails, which is worn by its chosen Bandren as a badge of honour and loyalty. As a result, Chetrachine are rare and held in high esteem. However, in Bandren culture, a bonded chetrach is considered power enough and the Chetrachine’s influence is usually curtailed. Only some of the more violent clans are led by their chetrachine. In all clans, Chetrachine perform outriding, scouting and engage in hunts where speed is prime.
Welcoming but Dangerous. Most Bandren are amiable and welcoming to outsiders, as long as their traditions are respected. If offered a Turmeress pipe for instance, one would be foolish to refuse, lest you be marooned at the next opportunity. If more than courtesy or the exchange of tales is required, the Bandren are not foolish enough to offer it for free. They know well that their talent of avoiding the dangers of the landscape makes them valuable guides. Those who wish aid or kinship may be subject to tests of prowess or hunting skill, the Bandren are tough people and respect those who can hold their own. Sometimes this independence and strength leads a clan to don the raider’s mantle, believing the hunt for pillage as valid as the hunt for food. Fierce clan loyalties and territorial disputes bring conflict between clans and with the nearby Hsunites and people of the Plains of Wold. Despite such disagreements, all clans submit to the adjudication of the High Priest of all the Widelands.
Archepton Watchers. The Bandren have an unusual relationship with the semi-divine entities known as Archeptons. Their homeland is particularly prone to their formation or appearance. Many Bandren pay reverence to these entities whilst eschewing the common religions of the material plane. Most believe believe their appearance an omen, even when they do not trust or praise them. Traditional Bandren tales claim that each Archepton has the potential to rise to Godhood and that the Bandren may shepherd them on their path. However, it appears that if an Archepton crosses the plane’s boundaries it ceases to be of interest to these enigmatic people.
The following traits are common amongst the Bandren but are only indicative. In particular, outside of The Bandren Range and its surrounds other attitudes and customs are common. Bandren are often:
- Consummate hunters and survivalists. Given to helping those in need of sustenance or shelter.
- Tough under pressure and not given to panic.
- Respectful of age and possess long memories. History and ancient grudges are transmitted and preserved through undulating poetry. Elders are invited to share their tales around campfires.
- Uneasy with staying in one location for too long and suspicious of pompous decadence.
- Reverential to Archeptons but also wary of them. Dismissive of the gods of the Astral Sea.
- Respectful of tradition, oaths and ancient bonds.
- In tune with the landscape of the Plane of Dreams and unlikely to get lost in the Lands Between.
Each Bandren Clan has its own specific traditions beyond those shared by all Bandren. Induction rituals vary, some are lengthy processes involving many tasks whilst others are simple ceremonial affairs. Some clans allow dreamselves to become members and these clans’ numbers change depending on how many slumber.
|d12||Clan Culture / Behaviour|
|1||They seed wild farms across the plains and guard them with controlled hazards or hide them with magic. The clan is more concerned with forage and farming than hunting but will defend their holdings to the death.|
|2||The clan is relatively static, however when a clan member dies, they move on. They will not return the place of death until all who knew the deceased have also passed on.|
|3||The clan only moves at night and loathes the daylight. Members may have developed dark vision or be primarily creatures comfortable with darkness.|
|4||The clan is aggressive and warlike. Wounds treated with ointment form scars that shimmer like starlight. Esteemed warriors are referred to as ‘starbloods’.|
|5||Tents are made from monstrous hides and decorated with elaborate swirls, moths, owls and scorpions. New members must obtain a hide for a tent or live with and serve a member.|
|6||They raise sculptures of wood and bone in the lands through which they pass. These might be markers of territory or dedications or commemorations.|
|7||Suspicious of outsiders and slow to take new members. Elaborate and difficult tests are required to join. Clan size is limited but all are strong and deeply bonded.|
|8||They move to the Material Plane for a short time when the heavens aline. They have relatives there and understand waking lives. They may raid or trade between.|
|9||Have no time for Fae, their courts or coin. Believe that Wylderhalt was stolen from the Bandren. They harass travellers on the Fae Coast.|
|10||They produce a particularly sought after magical incense made from a dangerous animal and rare plant.|
|11||The clan has been mesmerised by an Archepton for many years. Their culture is informed by its character and act on its will.|
|12||A promise or deal must be signed with a blood oath. Oath breakers are hunted across the planes and a list is kept by the clan elders.|
Bandren wear a variety of clothing but most mix easy movement with decorative flourishes. Clan aesthetics vary but there are some common elements: tassels, furs, geometric patterns and elaborate hair or headpieces. The longer people stay with the Bandren the more they develop physical quirks. Once this appearance change is complete, they become eligible for induction. If a Bandren is expelled from their clan, their appearance may remain but their Bandren Brand will fade.
|1||Horns erupt from the skull or bone ridges form along the spine.|
|2||Skin, hair, scales etc. turn a deep crimson or blue. When suffering strong emotions, this colour changes.|
|3||Teeth become jagged fangs or claws replace finger nails.|
|4||Each member of the clan is followed by a moth with beautiful mottled, yellow wings.|
|5||Eyes are a swirling, shifting whirlpool of colours. Their blood matches this when spilled.|
|6||The skin of their hands takes on a metallic hue. When holding a weapon it visibly vibrates.|
|7||The air around them slightly distorts the light, like a heat haze.|
|8||At night, their countenances are monstrous, during the day, they are extremely beautiful.|
Bandren Brand. As well as the above appearance quirks, all Bandren are marked by brands or tattoos unique to their clan. These magical signs are ancient markers of inheritance dating back to the clan’s far past. When a clan splits, they are as likely to maintain their marks as they are to change them. Occasionally, rather branding or tattooing a clan will indulge in scarification. A brand marks final acceptance into a clan.
|d6||Brand Location||Brand Appearance|
|1||Flowing across the back.||Elements of the sky: The Black Sun and Bright Moon in a partial eclipse, clouds and stars, birds in flight, leaves on the wind.|
|2||Around one eye.||Interlocking knots / spirals / geometric shapes in vivid colours.|
|3||Covering one hand.||A totem animal, a literal portrait, an element or a symbolic representation. Only visible: during the day/night, when washed with blood, when beset by emotion, when that creature is near.|
|4||From centre of chin down to navel.||Hundreds of eyes with swirling pupils and heavy lashes. They appear to move and blink.|
|5||Covering one leg.||Intricate dots and lines related to star constellations or showing routes across the range.|
|6||Outside of one arm.||Alternating thick and thin lines occasionally interrupted by concentric circles or zig-zags.|
Names: Each clan has a group of associated names, often derived from the clan’s name. Names are given to members according to their skills and often replace their fore or surname. For example, the Hajnan clan’s names include: Hajul, Hajuk, Qanan and Hanochinok. Othwyl Fyrnan, a wood elf from the material, became Hajuk Othwyl upon their induction. Some clans are small and do not maintain family surnames, as their members and their lineages are known to all. Clan names include: Aglar, Bagrach, Bokholeg, Bubenes, Durutai, Hamzin, Kenekir, Khaurine, Makou, Merrud, Mushia, Nomotan, Odstimeg, Qanar, Regrud, Tekahok, Yesumeg.
Alignment: A Bandren clan can be cruel or kind. Most Bandren bear allegiance to other Bandren and the Bandren Moot. Bandren are often Lawful, within the norms of their clan, and are commonly neutral or true neutral.
Languages: Teraull, the old tongue, is a terse but complex language of metaphors and historical references. It is used only between full clan members. The language is impenetrable to magical abilities, such as comprehend languages, and takes many years on the dreamscape to fully understand. Many Bandren also speak the tongues of their former lives but some forget these entirely.
Stats: Use any humanoid as a base. Bandren tend to be quick and wily and are in tune with their (super)natural surroundings. The Bandren are resistant to the effects of Wanderlost that manifest on the Dreamscape. Conversely, they are more affected by any affects that relate to the material plane. Armour tends to be light, staffs, spears and bows are common.
- Dreamscape Attuned. Has advantage on any saving throws related to Effects of the Plane and Hazards. In addition, once per day, they can make a DC 14 Wisdom check to ignore these for one hour.
- Trapper. Once per combat, if it begins in an area the Bandren could reasonably have prepared ahead of time, they may use their reaction to cause one of the following effects:
- Trip Hazard – A moving creature must make a DC 14 DEX Save or be knocked prone.
- Hidden Beast – As an opportunity attack, a beast type creature half the CR of the Bandren appears within 10 feet. The Hidden Beast takes its turn directly after the Bandren. It will not move more than 15 feet from where it first appeared.
- Slow Time Pocket – A creature who is the target of a ranged attack gains + 4 AC.
- Keen Hunter. Innate spell casting: Hunter’s Mark. They may double their proficiency bonus on Stealth and Nature checks to track other creatures. Attempts to track them are made with disadvantage.
- Divine Resistance. Bandren weapons count as magical when attacking celestials or fiends and they have resistance to radiant damage.
Bandren Player Characters
The Bandren attract those who wish to roam free in their dreams. A PC can be inducted into a Bandren clan if they align with their goals. They must spend significant time with the clan, do them a great service, and undergo an induction ritual. Alternatively, a PC may be born into a clan, the Outlander background is likely appropriate. A Bandren PC will generally have respect from other Bandren and be offered safe harbour. They may have difficulty adapting to the strange permanence of the material plane. If a PC is inducted as a dreamself, the characteristics of your clan may manifest on the material plane or only on the dreamscape.
- The Bandren Range – This is the heartland of the Bandren Clans.
- The Pilgrim Paths and Fae Coast – Bandren reside or travel here for trade. Some clans pillage and/or dispute territory.
- The Brink – Whilst their trade is welcome, Menlin is suspicious of the clans and as a result keeps them at arm’s length.
- The Draconic Bleed – The clans have been long courted by Meathabher for support.
- Nightmare Nests – Some wilder clans, more inclined to roaming, make forays into or subsist here. Some cursed or disreputable clans have been driven here.
- Emissaries, individualists, exiled or clan-less Bandren can be found in most areas of the Dreamscape.
- The Deep Mountain Sculpts – The Bandren dislike damage to the land, although some find work around the Gyre as guides.
- The Astral Encroachment – Bandren often feel unwelcome here, their presence and association with Archeptons makes Astral creatures uneasy.
Kruz Kenika, Bandren war leader of the Kenikou Clan, this Dwarven Chetrachine raids the Expanse of Adshaminath. Members of their clan are fervent believers in the Manithat and seek to hasten their return. They claim to know who stole the Golden Thatch, offering the Dream Court their services to find and return it. The price is steep and payment may make the clan uncontrollable. Leaders of the court are suspicious that Kruz himself may have taken it.
Odstimor Klasin-Tur, famed Hobgoblin artist and mage, moves between the Glass Temple and the Range. Their independence upsets Art Gluttons and Patrons alike but her crafts are so valuable none have sought to control her. Her latest works are strange and captivating, miniature mazes. Perhaps they are floor plans of a long lost palace of an Archepton buried in the Lands Between.
The High Priest of all the Widelands, the one without clan, the First Elder. This mysterious figure is at the top of the Bandren’s loose hierarchy. Their true identity is a closely guarded secret and many Bandren refuse to acknowledge their existence. It is rumoured they only appear at the Bandren Moot when their judgement is needed. Outsiders are sometimes permitted at the moot but an audience with the First Elder is exceedingly rare. Common belief holds that the First Elder is a temporary position chosen during the Moot but other tales refuse to die. The most intriguing tale says that the First Elder is an old god who retreated to the Dreamscape. From there, they enact subtle revenge on newer gods by directing the Bandren to empower the Archeptons.
Adventure Seeds Involving Bandren
Bokrakka Stjern, a charismatic and dangerous Bandren leader, has united several clans around an unstable Archepton. They seek to cut through barriers to the material plane and unleash the Archepton there. After it has done its damage, the clans will assume control of the lands left in its wake. Preliminary intrusions into the material must be re-sealed whilst the Archepton itself will need defeated in the dreamscape or on the material if the PCs are too late.
Hamrass McKazuk, heir to a throne in Strace, was sequestered with a clan of Bandren to raise and protect. She is sought by the traitorous fleshcrafter, Flense to end any challenges to their rule. The exiled hand of Hamrass’ father offers a treasured heirloom to any who can return her and overthrow Flense. Discovering the correct clan will not be easy, nor will gaining acceptance from them. Hamrass, physically changed, can only be identified by a magical locket that will resonate in her presence. Unfortunately, this locket has been stolen by Worshippers of the Hound.
Ok some concluding words… I hope you enjoyed this description of the nomadic Bandren. Not sure yet what element will come next. If you have any suggestions, I will take them. If not we will let the fates, or my fancies, decide. If you are enjoying these articles please let me know and please feel free to share them around. If you have any questions about Dreamscape stuff ask away. As always, thanks for reading and sticking with this long drawn out series.