The aftermath of the Shattering saw the highly civilized, technology-dependent Maruzarians uprooted from their cities to wander in search of the basic necessities. Billions died. The survivors lived any way they could, the strong and aggressive taking from the weak. Many who fled to the remotest regions never managed to rebuild their societies but instead formed savage and insular tribes; they became the new barbarians of Maruzar.
As a rule these barbarians live only in village-sized settlements, wear only hides and furs, and live by hunting and gathering, some crude farming, and raiding. Their technology is crude, many tribes not even knowing how to make iron. Barbarian tribes are scattered across the western shores of the Opaline Sea, and both sides of the Nacreous Sea, where they are beyond the reach of the annual Swarm. A few hold out in mountain fastnesses between the Inland Kingdoms, at heights too cold for the Swarm. Indeed, most barbarian settlements are in hidden dales among high mountains.
Other than these common characteristics, barbarians are highly diverse, each tribe different in some way from every other. There are dark and fair barbarians, giants and pygmies, warlike and peaceful tribes and so on.
The Karanthor Hills were once an island chain fringing the coast; now they are a range of hills on the mainland, but the easternmost hills face the Opaline Sea. These hills are honeycombed with enormous sea caves now left high above the water, and these are inhabited by the numerous Karanthori barbarians. These warrior tribes live most of the year in scattered cave settlements, but when the drift kelp rises they gather by the sea to hunt the giant sea lizards from leather coracles.
The Karanthori sometimes cross the equator in coracle fleets to raid the Empire's coastlands. Most Karanthori wield weapons tipped with sea lizard teeth, and wear armor of scaly sea lizard hide. However many of them now have swords and other metal weapons, thanks to visiting traders who bartered these for sea lizard glands and ivory.
The Barutar are a barbarian tribe who settled near the site of an ancient air-space battle, littered with the wrecks of ancient skyships. Their ancestors salvaged the metal of these and a single working power plant, and with it crafted enough wondrous suits of armor and weapons to equip all their men before the power plant died.
Now the Barutar treasure these items as precious heirlooms, proudly passing them down from father to son along with a tradition of an egalitarian warrior republic. They rule a swath of the Zireyan Hills from their citadel at Castle Akumon, but because they forbid intermarriage with outsiders they are in decline. Many suits of armor no longer have any to inherit them. Quite a few Barutar have left the tribe with their armor to serve as mercenaries.
Barutar armor is a full-body suit of plate, all black cerametal and gleaming like glass, but every suit has now been customized and barbarized by generations of barbarian warriors. A Barutar's armor may be decorated with garish painted patterns -- usually crimson, beast claws and teeth, and worn with a mantle of fur.
The Sigkari are a barbarian tribe renowned for their skill with javelins. These equestrian hunters live at the edge of the Karboulian Marshes far to the north, where they spear lizardbirds in flight, and also harvest the marsh lotus for the southern drug markets. They have frequent conflicts with the Beastmen, to whom the disappearing marsh lotus is a necessity for winter hibernation. The Sigkari are normal humans and do not have the ability to hibernate, so when winter comes they migrate south to their winter homes in the caves beneath the Sigkarran Mountains.
The Guoroon tribe lives beneath the Abaddai Mountains, in a labyrinthine cave system that stretches for over a hundred miles and with many hidden exits. Widely feared as cannibal bogeymen, the Guoroon are said to be pallid, hideous pygmies, mutated by centuries of isolation and their cannibalistic diet; few have ever seen one as they attack only by ambush, and rarely leave survivors. It's believed that they are led by mentalist 'wizard-priests,' who also lead the hunts for human prey and subdue the victims by telepathy.
The Vanavar tribes live amid the high crags of the Comyrium Mountains. A powerful warrior tribe, they live by hunting and raiding. They are alternately the terrors and the leaders of neighboring tribes, who sometimes join them for big raids against Alcyonis. The Vanavar are tall and muscular, bearded, and because of their rocky highland environment are excellent climbers.
Once, they liberated some Gliders from an Alcyonian merchant who was going to sell them as slaves, and inspired by the Gliders' ability to fly they began experimenting with crude hang gliders. Now they often soar for sport, and some Vanavar warriors enter battle on hang gliders.