Kimmeria – Valley of the Five Fires


A world-building post today… Valley of the Five Fires is a Mongol-inspired sandbox-style module from New Big Dragon Games. (You can read the review at tenfootpole.)

I picked up the pdf when it first came out and have been thinking of how to integrate it into Hyperborea. My proposal – the Valley of the Five Fires is the Kimmerian ‘homeland’, and their legendary subterranean city of can be found therein.

Hyperborea HR

Kimmerian History:

Kimmerian roots trace their ancestors to the Caucasus Mountains of Old Earth. Their traditions say that they were driven into a foggy vale by their hated enemies, the Scythians, and overcome there by eldritch mists and a terrible piping. When the fog cleared, they found themselves in lost Hyperborea.

LandOfFiveFires-PlayerMapOver time, the Kimmerians spread across the Kimmerian Steppe and Fields of Vol, and inhabited a vast underground city – known as Krimmea to outsiders. When the Green Death ravaged Hyperborea, the underground city was closed off and the Kimmerian nomads were decimated. (They eventually lost the Fields of Vol to hybrid Kimmeri-Kelts.)

Now, there are five major groups occupying the Kimmerian Steppe – the Nergüi & Bolad Hordes, the Eagle Clan & Clan of the Worm, and the Mod Khöndii (or People of the Trees). The Five Fires of these tribes encircle the valley known as the Cradle of Man – home to the subterranean city, which now has limited relations with their above-ground kin. (There are also additional “animal tribes” and Kimmeri-Kelts who range further south into the Fields of Vol.)

Hyperborea HR

Kimmerians in Astonishing ACKS:

Kimmerian PCs are assumed be members of the above-ground clans (or Kimmeri-Kelts) – their subterranean kin remain mysterious and inscrutable.

Classes & Backgrounds: I already have rules for Kimmerian Barbarians, masters of the composite bow. Kimmerian Scouts would be popular as well (my version of the Explorer class). The Shaman from the ACKS Player’s Companion can represent worshipers of the various animal tribes, and priests of Krimmr can be treated as Horse Shamans. Fighters and Thieves would also be common. Kimmerians favour mounted or cavalry-based background templates.

Armour & Weapons: Kimmerian armourers are highly regarded throughout Hyperborea. Highly-valued suits of gold-chased Kimmerian plate mail are manufactured in the subterranean city. Their aboveground cousins produce high-quality composite bows and various weapons which can be used on horseback.


Religion: The Kimmerians do not observe formal religion to the extent of other peoples – although they will at times pay homage to their deity, Krimmr (also called Krom), his name is often used as an expletive. Shamans of Kimmeria practice a form of animism that draws on the power of animal and nature spirits. They also hold respect for elders (the living) and ancestors (the dead). Kimmerians build stupas and ovoos – shrines and cairns – of throughout their lands at sites of religious significance.

Kimmeri-Kelts: By-blows of Kimmerian and Keltic mergers during the Dark Age that followed the Green Death, they combine traditions of both their parent races but are fiercely independent.

Hyperborea HR


About K-Slacker

Gamer and 5th-level magic-user.
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3 Responses to Kimmeria – Valley of the Five Fires

  1. K-Slacker says:

    Although their culture is Mongol-inspired, the Kimmerian appearance is as specified in AS&SH: large-boned men of fair to weather-bronzed skin, black hair, steel grey eyes, and thick, blue-black beards.

  2. K-Slacker says:

    Kimmerian Arms & Armour
    (adapted from

    The arms and armours forged by the Kimmerians of the steppes are dominated by a single Kimmerian ideal: the horse is all. Due to this outlook, cavalry are everything in Kimmerian society, and infantry are considered all but worthless.

    Melee Weapons

    With Kimmerian infantry being composed entirely of hastily assembled peasants, these footsoldiers bring whatever they can scavenge or cobble together to the field, typically an assortment of clubs, maces, hand axes, daggers, scimitars, and short spears.

    The superbly-skilled Kimmerian cavalry is divided into two types: light horsemen, these serving as mounted archers and skirmishers; and cataphracts, heavily-armed and armoured shock cavalry comprised of nobles and other wealthy, proven Kimmerians. Both sorts wield sabre-stiyle scimitars and straight daggers, both with ring-shaped pommels, the latter sheathed at the right thigh and an indication of worth in steppe Kimmerian culture. Beyond the ubiquitous scimitar and dagger, some light horsemen also carry a short spear, but the main focus of their armament is on ranged weapons. The same cannot be said of the cataphract. In addition to the scimitar and dagger, the Kimmerian cataphract always wields a long, spear-like lance, and often a further melee weapon such as a hand axe or smooth, flat-headed horseman’s mace (crafted from beautifully-carved wood with a short, one-handed steel grip at the end of the haft).

    Ranged Weapons

    Kimmerian infantry may use a motley assortment of slings, shortbows, and even hurled stones, but all Kimmerian cavalry carry composite bows, light horsemen and cataphracts alike. Kimmerian horse archery is beyond compare, and their light horsemen make great use of the famed ìparting shotî in combat. The bows are carried in open cases that include the quiver, and such cases may be intricately decorated. In addition to the bow, many light horsemen also carry two or three javelins to increase their options.


    Shields are primarly used by foot soldiers, as Kimmerian cavalry as they prefer to keep both hands free for the use of a bow while mounted, and rely on speed or heavy armour to protect them in any case.

    Kimmerian infantry shields are made of wound wicker, creating a round, often bowl-like form. The wound wicker is often covered with leather (often lacquered), reinforced with metal plates, or both.

    As beneath contempt as they are in Kimmerian society, peasant levies are not provided armour, and light horsemen eschew armour, relying instead on speed, mobility, and striking from range to keep them from harm. At most they might wear a quilted kaftan (treat as padded armour) or leather armour, as much for warmth as protection.

    Kimmerian cataphracts bear some of the best heavy armour in Hyperborea. Depending on wealth, they will wear a full suit of scale armour, chain mail, banded mail, or lamellar, sometimes combining elements of different types. Highly-skilled subterranean Kimmerian smiths have also begun to supply plate mail to their steppe brethren; though this is rare, highly-coveted, expensive, and must be custom made.

    Kimmerian helmets are simple domes affixed with scale or mail aventials to protect the neck, and also sometimes mail veils to protect the face. Most top the dome with a short spike from which a decorative horsehair plume hangs, the tail of a favoured stallion.

    Cataphracts also purchase scale, chain, or lamellar barding for their horses, resulting in a heavily-armoured mount and rider both. Staunch traditionalists among the cataphracts only buy half-barding (half the cost, only provides the AC vs. attacks from the front) that only covers the horse’s chest, head, neck, and forequarters, leaving the rear unprotected. Only cowards flee, they state, so barding is not needed behind the saddle. Fortunately for the horses, such diehards are becoming scare.

  3. K-Slacker says:

    Kimmeri-Kelt Arms & Armour
    (adapted from

    While some Kimmeri-Kelt tribes strongly favor one culture to the near exclusion of the other, in most the merger has produced a remarkably balanced approach to defense with strong Keltic infantry married to the Kimmerian love of horse archers and cataphracts. In large part, this has helped the tribes resist attacks by both Kimmerians and ordinary Kelts.

    Melee Weapons

    Kimmeri-Kelt weapon use favors those of Kelts for footmen and those of Kimmerians for horsemen, retaining the typical Keltic anthropoidal hilt, but extending the figure’s arms to form a ring-shaped pommel.

    Ranged Weapons

    The Kimmeri-Keltic tribes were quick to adopt the superior Kimmerian composite bow, though javelins are also still commonplace among footsoldiers and cavalry alike, with slings and staff-slings rounding out the ranged weapons of the former.


    The Keltic influence has led to the adoption of the shield even by many Kimmeri-Kelt cataphracts. Similarly, although the Kimmeri-Kelts make use of of most Kimmerian armour, including barding, the superior Keltic-style helmet has replaced the Kimmerian one in use even among cataphracts. In some Kimmeri-Kelt tribes the helmet has even developed further, becoming a deep pot-style helm with built-in rigid cheekguards and nasal, often decorated with bestial horns (see AS&SH Player’s Manual, p.33).

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