Picto-Celtic

A rural world of scattered farms and villages where the typical person is a farmer with the boredom of day to day life broken up by the occasional cattle raid and fey pranks.

It is also a land where the deep forests, ancient barrow mounds and moonless nights are feared.


The deep forests harbor communities of elves, firbolgs, gnomes, halflings, treants and fey.

Near forgotten stone circles dwell packs of elven were-wolves and unseelie fey.

Skulks and the people under the hills come up from beneath their ancient long barrows to steal cattle on moonless nights.


Raiders live in fortified island villages to the North.

These villages are comprised of mongrelfolk fishermen and farmers, half-orc pirates, half-ogre champions and fomorian overlords.


To the west lies a land of warring tribal humans, hill giants, goblinoids, ogres and orcs, just as happy to fight their own kind as each other. The mountains are home to petty frost giant jarls and their white dragon pets. Slightly more organized are the fire giant cheifs and their red dragons.

To the east is a kingdom of bronze dragons and high elves.

To the south are more civilized areas of warring human city-states, some ruled by merchant princes and others dominated by snake worshiping theocracies.


Picts - The Pict tribes are a group of peoples loosely tied by similar language, religion and culture. They have no central government and are quite as happy to fight each other as anyone else. They are warriors, living for the glories of battle and plunder, nailing the severed heads of enemies to the doors of their home and wearing them on their belts, warfare is a sport.

Clans are bound together very loosely with other clans into tribes, each of which has its own customs. Druids act as priests, political advisers, teachers, healers, and judges. They have their own universities, the right to speak ahead of the king in council, act as ambassadors in time of war and uphold the law. They are the glue keeping together the culture and hold their religious rites in woodland groves, waterfalls, springs and bogs.


Characters

PCs can be humans, half-elves or outcasts from the forest or underfolk trying to blend in.


The PCs will fight or unite other tribes, fend off fomorians, explore the forest, barrows, or maybe even the western or eastern lands, perhaps even trade with or raid the advanced southern human merchant/slavers, etc.


Permanent Lesser Geas - Every pict starts with one lesser geas and you get another at 5th level, 10th level, 15th level and 20th.


Each tribe has its own, common ones include

never kill a fey (or bard or woman or crow)

never harm a horse (or druid)

never eat mutton (or dog or horse or fish or during a raid)

never drink mead (or during a full moon)

never lie

never refuse a meal, etc, etc, you get the idea.


Archetypes and Classes


Its just a name: Bards use the druid spell list are called Apprentice Druids, Mystic Theurges are called Druids.

All classes are illiterate except bards, clerics, druids and wizards.


Use some common sense, if it's forest or fey oriented it probably fits right in, if it's a workaround to be a forbidden class then you're a douche. No druids, monks, paladins, etc.


Pict Fighter Archetype

Lose armor proficiencies and get 6 Skill points per level.


Prestige Classes

Mystic Theurge, Horizon Walker

Other non-Pathfinder prestige classes that would work in the campaign

Fochlucan Lyrist (Complete Adventurer)

Arcane Hierophant (Races of the Wild)


Religion

For the most part the picts revere nature, rivers, mountains, oceans, lakes, the standard D&D druid religion, plus each tribe also has its own various ancestor demi-gods and gods. They worship in sacred groves, springs, lakes, waterfalls and bogs, not at the stone circles. The stone circles were built 3,000 years ago by a different culture.


Two of the ancestor gods are so common that they have become Intermediate deities.


Brigit - chaotic neutral red haired goddess of fire and poetry and also the triple aspect of maiden, mother, and crone. Only females may become one of her clerics.

Domains - Magic and Fire. The third domain varies, it's Charm for maidens, Protection for mothers and Knowledge for grandmothers. (its charm until the cleric has a child, then its protection until she reaches old age and then its knowledge).

Her clerics are not proficient with armor or shields. They are proficient with swords, daggers, spear & short-spear.

Once per day they can perform a greater turning against undead in place of a regular turning

(they burst into flame and burn to ash, the undead that is, not the cleric).


Horned God (combination of Arawn and Cernunnos) - antlered pale skinned man who leads the Wild Hunt. His clerics are lawful neutral and choose from the domains of animal and death

Duties of priesthood: Priests of the Horned God preside over burial and funerals, and must hunt and destroy all undead they encounter or hear about. They can only turn undead. They are likewise prohibited from casting any spell or use any item that can raise or animate the dead. These forbidden spells include animate dead, create dead, create greater undead, raise dead, reincarnate, and resurrection. Otherwise, priests of the Horned God are the traditional guardians of "mortuary mounds", that is: cold, damp, and foggy places where the buried heroes, rulers, and other important characters are. Such places often contain gates that lead to the underworld.


and for those still reading...


History

(4,000 years ago) Wood elves and fey dwell in the forested river valleys and a small population of scattered neolithic human farmers live in small stable communities of rectangular log cabins built on the upland hills and on the coastal plains, avoiding the thickly wooded valley bottoms. They plant wheat and barley, and raise sheep, cattle and pigs and hunt as a supplement to their agriculture. They build communal graves that also serve as centers of religious activity centering on a cult of the dead and fertility. They are driven from the coastal plains by the Fomorians.


(3,000 years ago) Builders - These bronze age folk were farmers, archers, brewers and metal-smiths, they lived in round thatch-roofed houses and built round barrow mounds for their warrior-chieftains and stone circles on the neolithic religious sites for their own gods. They fight off the Fomorians from the coastal plains and slowly drive back the neolithic people who begin hiding in caves under the hills and the wood elves and fey deeper into the forests. 1000 years later after being weakened by a famine and plague, the Fomorians having grown strong again, strike back and kill the rest of the Builders. The famine was brought about by increased cattle stealing in the winter by the people under the hills (as the neolithic folk are now called) and half the wood elves embracing a dark god of vengeance and their clerics cursed with lycanthropy, the elven were-wolves destroyed outlying settlements and small groups of travelers.


(2,100 years ago) The Black Hand - An orc tribe settles in the area and within a few years are decimated by the lycanthropes and Fomorian raiders, a plague finishes the rest. Some of the orc's human slaves survived and formed their own society, worshiping at the great stone circles. 100 years later the descendants of the escaped slaves were forced into serfdom by the high elves.


(2,000 years ago) High Elves - with horses, better weapons and powerful magic drive back the lycanthropes and the Fomorians. They avoid the stone circles and barrows. 500 years later they are defeated by the Pritani.


(1,500 years ago) Pritani - Several iron age tribes who build hill-forts and farms (stone houses with walls around their fields) settle in the area. The Pritani do not pray at the stone circles, in fact they scavenge the smaller stones to build their houses and walls, they do adopt the practice of barrow mounds for their dead though. They are led by a warrior aristocracy that hunt with large war dogs. 1000 years later the last of the high elves have gone away or died, although those with elven blood still exist (half-elves) and their culture merges with that of the Picts.


(500 years ago) Picts - An iron age warrior culture led by druids begin settling in the area.


So its a mix of mythology, history and D&D

The high elves are the Tuatha De Dannan from mythology, the builders are the beaker culture from history, the formorians are the vikings.


Random bits of unorganized Picto-Celtic information


Each tribe is led by a king, who is subject to a High King, there are two high kingdoms: one of the north, the other in the south.


Elected Kings lead the tribes, and society is divided into three groups: a warrior aristocracy, an intellectual class including druids and bards and everyone else.


Women participate in warfare but not in kingship (maternal grandsons and maternal nephews can be elected king).


Picts use a matrilineal line of succession, descent through the female line, not the male.


After a battle they often dedicate their enemies weapons to the gods and throw them into a river or lake.


Warfare is endemic, society is organized around warfare, but this is more of a sport focused on raids and hunting. Tribal conflicts over leadership, land and resources are commonplace, it is more a matter of ritual, than of slaughter, most of the time, this is an age of Hillforts, brochs, crannogs and duns.


The chiefs and the wealthy wear armor taken in battle, bought from other cultures or copied from other cultures.


Though they have a written language, the Ogham script is only used for ceremonial purposes and the picts have an oral tradition. All classes are illiterate except bards, clerics, druids and wizards.


Males are clean-shaven with mustaches, some tribes favor ritualized scarring for the barbarian and fighter warrior elite, some prefer tattoos, some use a mix of both.

Copper is used for blue tattoos, ash for black, woad is used for battle wounds and dye.


The intellectual class (bards & druids) use tattoos on their legs to help remember things (+1 to Knowledge skill checks for each leg that is tattooed).


Merlin gets to be the leader of the woads cause he is covered with the most dirt and doesn't do anything (King Arthur movie reference).


The ritualistic killing of aging Kings and replacing those who have any infirmities. Losing a finger or eye or even going bald, basically any perceived weakness, real or not.


No towns. The basic economy is mixed farming and a few farmsteads around a broch. Cattle raising is more important than cereal cultivation in rocky, colder regions. Wealth is determined by the number of cattle, horses and followers, but gold and silver are good too.


Criminals are killed during a holiday with their guts festively strung in a sacred oak tree, drown in a holy spring or thrown into a bog with their throat cut, each tribe has its own custom.


Regional Traits


One With The Land (trait)- Before sleeping you may draw power from the land to revitalize your body and mind. You recover 1 hit point or ability score point, double that if the day was spent in complete rest. This stacks with other healing, such as that provided by someone with the Heal skill. This trait only works outside and does not work underground or in cities, towns or villages.


White Stag Clan (trait) - You gain a +3 to hit when charging instead of +2.


Cat Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 to Stealth checks and once per day you can make a full attack as part of a charge action.


Wolf Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 to trip attacks and to resist trip attacks.


Forest Fighter (trait) - You gain +1 to AC when in a wooded area and light undergrowth does not impede your movement.


Survivor (trait) - You can travel at full speed while making survival checks to forage.


Rabbit Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 to Reflex saves.


Boar Clan (trait) - Add 10' to your movement when charging.


Dog Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 to attack when flanking.


Bear Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 to Fortitude saves. You also gain an additional +2 bonus to Fortitude saves made to avoid nonlethal damage from cold environments.


Dragon Clan (trait) - You gain a +1 bonus on Perform checks involving songs, poems or any other spoken form of performance. In addition, the DC of any saving throw required by mind-affecting effects based on your song or poems (such as bardic music) is increased by +1.


Horse Clan (trait) - Add 10' to a horse's base speed when you ride them.


FEATS

Shield and Spear [Style]

You have learned to use a spear or longspear one-handed while using a shield

Prerequisite: Str 13, Weapon Focus (longspear), proficient with shield, and base attack bonus +4

Benefit: When using this style, if you are using a large shield you can use a longspear one-handed.


Woad Warrior

Prerequisite: Charisma 12+

Benefit: When fighting unarmored and covered in woad you get a +1 to attack and damage.

Special: This Feat can be taken again if the character has a Charisma of 16+, its effects stack.


More Randomness


Heads taken in battle if carried or tied to your horse give a +1 to AC for a week. If nailed to your house the head gives you a +1 to Saving Throws for a month. Druids can preserve a head in ceder oil or make a skull into a cup and the effects last indefinitely but only one preserved head's bonus affects the character.


The people under the hills are descendants of bands of humans who were forced to live in the caves and twisting passageways of the underground world. Over generations, these humans adapted to this strange world, filled with natural wonders and dangerous creatures. Some people under the hills have not ventured to the surface in generations, and others have forgotten their true origins altogether.

However, those who live close to the caves that give entry to the underground realms make occasional forays to the surface and even engage in limited trade with surface dwelling humans.

The people under the hills are a simple, clannish people dedicated to their homes and the safety of their families. Because of the multitude of evil and predatory races and creatures in the caves and tunnels they call home, people under the hills have become quick, stealthy, and survival-oriented. Although rather primitive and rustic when it comes to technology, people under the hills make up for this lack with a superior knowledge of how to survive beneath ground, although even they avoid the deepest depths of the subterranean realms.

UNDERFOLK RACIAL TRAITS

• Humanoid (human): The people under the hills are humanoid creatures with the human subtype.

• Medium: As Medium creatures, people under the hills have no special bonuses or penalties due to size.

• people under the hills base land speed is 30 feet.

• Darkvision: people under the hills can see in the dark out to 60 feet.

Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and underfolk can function just fine with no light at all.

• +2 racial bonus on Perception checks: Living as underground hunters for generations has given people under the hills keen senses.

• Camouflage (Ex): Underfolk can change their skin coloration at will to mimic the surrounding terrain, giving them a +2 racial bonus on Stealth checks. Underground this bonus increases to +4. This ability works even if viewed with darkvision, although true seeing negates the bonus.

• Light Sensitivity (Ex): people under the hills are dazzled in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.

• Automatic Language: Common. Bonus Languages: Drow, Giant, Gnome, Goblin, and Undercommon.


I want to make an outline of two or three neighboring tribes and was thinking about common geas for the different tribes, like one against drinking mead.


Each magic item should have a history. The +1 elven chainshirt the party finds in a monster lair was awarded to a human chieftain by local wood elves for slaying a Merrow (aquatic ogre). The +1 longsword the party finds after defeating the merrow's brothers was made by the duergar for a human traitor who led Formians to a sacred wellspring to ambush some druids. Years later, overcome with guilt, he threw it into the well. The +1 dagger was made by a high elf for his daughter long ago and lost when she was mislead by will-o'-wisps and drowned trying to sneak off one night to elope with her human lover etc, etc.