The Varou occupy the expansive Evermere forest to the south of Andaria. They are a race of large, bipedal wolves. They are an aggressive species, prone to violence among their clans as well as against the Andarian men who encroach upon their territory.
Legend says that long ago a human hunting party pursued a great wolf deep into the Evermere. The wolf had attacked a village woman, and the humans sought revenge. This wolf, however, was clever. At night it would stike from out of the darkness, killing man after man until only one was left. This lone survivor was the greatest hunter in the land, and he vowed he would not rest until he took the hide of the wolf.
For days the hunt went on, with neither besting the other. With both at the brink of exhaustion, the hunter cornered the wolf at the bank of a wide river. Instantly, they leapt at each other. The hunter stabbed with his long dagger, and the wolf slashed with teeth and claw. They suffered grievous wounds, but fought savagely as the hours wore on. Finally, they fell to the ground, still locked in battle, and the darkness of death crept forward to claim them both.
Their blood flowed into the river, turning the waters red and summoning the spirit of the forest, who looked upon the dying man and wolf and felt both anger and pity.
“You fight out of fear and ignorance,” the spirit said. “Now each shall know of the other.” He transformed the hunter and wolf into one beast, and breathed new life into the distorted form.
And so the Varou where born … a creature that is both man and wolf and yet neither.
The Varou live in isolated clans. Each clan consists of several familial packs, with the clan as an extended family. Packs hunt together and live together, and the bond of a pack can often supersede the will of the clan.
The Varou are fiercely protective of their territory, and consider the Evermere to be sacred ground under their guardianship. When angered or under threat they are prone to a condition known as “wilding”, in which they succumb completely to their bestial nature. Some Varou have been known to give themselves permanently to the wilding, either willingly or because they could no longer suppress their primitive nature. These wilders roam the Evermere free of all pretense of humanity.
The Varou worship the Evermere as a spirit. They see the spirit as a mortal being with a life connected to the health of the Evermere. Every tree felled is a wound to the spirit. It is their sacred duty to protect and preserve the Evermere.
The Varou practice shamanistic magic, with the “Spellgivers” given special authority and respect within the clans. Their magic is generally nature-focused, and of relatively limited scope.
Varou stand between 6 and 7 feet tall. Their body is generally covered with fur, though the amount and color of the fur can vary. Their walk upright, but have been known to sometimes prefer to move on four legs—especially when in a wilding state. Their heads are wolf-like, with a long snout, imposing teeth, and hazel, gray or brown eyes.
They wear simple clothes fashioned from the hides of deers. They adorn their fur with braids and beads as a reflection of their status and place within a pack and a clan.
The Varou communicate through their own language, which is comprised of growls and low throat sounds. It is very difficult for non-Varou to speak.
Some Varou have learned bits of Andarian, though this is rare.
The Varou are feared and despised by Andarians, and they resent the incursion of Andarian’s into their sacred ground. Their only interaction with human society is violence or threats of violence. Some say that they have welcomed Elves into their territories, and vice-versa, but that is difficult to confirm.
Varou clans are often at war with each other, whether it be over territory or perceived insults or old grudges. This tendency to focus on internal disputes has kept the threat against Andarians in check, and the human logging operations have taken advantage and pushed further into the Evermere.
However,rumors persist that the Varou clans have united for the first time in memory. In the past few months, they have made several organized attacks against human timber camps in force.