Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Races of Uhl: Gaugaths

Each Friday for the next so many weeks I'm going to highlight some aspect of Uhl, the fantasy world in which I set my novels. Posts will include details on Uhl's people, places, races, and more.

An excerpt from The Hall of the Wood, wherein we find the gaugath warrior and brewmaster, Nohr, on his way home from a job not done well.

Nohr walked east through the Simarron, back towards his tribe, his family, and his beer-making. He had done what the witch had wanted of him. Not successfully, but he had tried, and now considered himself free of his commitment to her. If the witch saw things differently, then let her journey to Desolation Peak and challenge him there. Nohr chuckled at the thought, for only fools came to a gaugath village looking for trouble. Nohr had agreed to accompany Skave into the woods only because Lord Gral had so commanded it. Soon the Meat Peddler would rule the Simarron. He would have no time or care for what Nohr had or had not done for the witch. Nohr spat, cursing the witch and her buggery beneath his breath. Let the Peddler deal with her, for Nohr planned to never lay eyes on her again.

After their confrontation with the heroes, Nohr had run far enough away that pursuit was unlikely and hid. Then, when he deemed it safe, he returned to the ambush site to gather up Skave's body. He left the stalker's weapons behind, for they were too small for Nohr's own use and not worth much in trade. Gaugaths, even young ones, did not fight with swords and knives, preferring hammer, mace, or morning star. But the haurek's body, even unseasoned, would make a tasty meal on the road home. Nohr had already bitten off one of Skave's hands. The bones were crunchy, but the skin tough, and Nohr had longed for his beer to wash it down. Nohr thought with anger of the knight, who had spilled the last of his prized mead. It had been a fine brew, and well worth the effort of lugging it down from the mountains and through the forest. Curse the knight for wasting the last of it, and curse the witch for bringing him here!

"By Chaeick's balls," Nohr grumbled, "I'll have Desolation Peak in sight by week's end or I'm a—"

"Where do you think you're going?"

The witch stepped from the brush, barring Nohr's way and stopping him dead in his tracks. Swallowing hard, Nohr tried to say something, but instead choked on the bile rising up from his throat.

The witch, who came only to the gaugath's shoulder, studied him for a moment, then looked to the body he dragged behind him. "What has happened?" she asked, hissing. "Lie to me, and I shall know it!"

As the largest, strongest, and most ferocious of goblins, gaugaths could lead all others of their kind if they so chose. But gaugaths, for all their warrior spirit and battle prowess, prefer nothing more than to dwell in their mountains, cultivate their lands, and brew their seasonal beers. Of all goblin-kind, they alone do not occupy any part of the Underland, referring the highest of elevations where they can feel the coolness of the mountain breezes on their faces and, more importantly, where few will ever bother them.

Gaugaths are extremely territorial. They dwell in tribal units where the strongest of the males serves as chieftain. They are possessed of incredible strength, are savage warriors whose own stamina and bloodlust easily exceed that of the greatest of Anolgan berserk warriors, and are known far and wide as perhaps the most tenacious of opponents.

They are omnivores, feeding upon everything from berries, roots, and plant bulbs to ground dwelling rodents, moose, elk, mountain goats, and mountain sheep. They often raise the latter. A particular favorite nut of theirs are whitebark pine nuts, which they will horde when in season. With their excellent sense of smell, gaugaths can locate carrion from miles away. They have no reservations concerning eating such fare. They are not even averse to eating humanoids, though they find them inadequate morsels for the most part. They do not cook their food; their teeth and digestive systems are well suited to eating tough roots or raw meat alike.

The gaugath mating seasons runs from late spring to early summer. Males can become quite erratic during this time as they vie with each other over the rights to mate with the most select females. Birth occurs in early spring following a gestation period which coincides with the gaugath hibernation cycle.

Gaugath warriors do not use missile weapons in combat as they prefer to close with their opponents where their great brawn always gives them the advantage. They can be tactful and sly, setting traps or lying in wait in ambush when such tactics are necessary. Their weapons are large as suits their bulk. Amongst their favorites are massive iron hammers, clubs, morning stars, and flails. An unarmed gaugath is equally deadly, for they can strike with their thick claws, dealing considerable damage to unprotected flesh or simply stunning or bashing an opponent from shear force of the blow.

Armor will be varied and mostly mismatched, though the greatest of the tribe may have a full suit akin to plate mail. Their fur, thick as it is, provides fair protection on its own.

Gaugaths enjoy a good hunt as much as a good brew. Their beer—a particularly thick stout—is unpalatable to most. Even dwarves find Gaugath stout repugnant.

Note from the Author

Gaugaths are basically bugbears. What’s a bugbear you ask? The eternal source of knowledge known as Wikipedia defines it traditionally as:

A bugbear is a legendary creature or type of hobgoblin comparable to the bogeyman, bogeyman Budy, bugaboo, and other creatures of folklore, all of which were historically used in some cultures to frighten disobedient children.

However, many will know the bugbear from Dungeons and Dragons game-playing:

A bugbear is depicted as a massive humanoid distantly related to goblins and hobgoblins. Named for the bugbear of legend, the bugbears of Dungeons & Dragons are goblinoid creatures, larger and stronger than hobgoblins.

For those who played 'back in the day', who isn't familiar with this picture?

While classic, that particular image is a bit dated. You can head over to my goblin gallery on Pinterest to see some more modern takes on the bugbear.

Bugbears were already distantly related to goblins, but they were considered a separate race. I decided to make them a bona fide member of the goblin race. It should come as no surprise that they are a blend of goblin and bear (how this union came to be is probably best left unexplained). Bugbears therefore share many traits with those two species. This made their creation kind of interesting because I wound up doing a little research on the behavior, eating habits, and social structure of real-life bears and incorporated those findings into my take on this species. Their omnivorous diet came from this as well as their need to hibernate and even their mating cycle.

Generally, bugbears are a fairly sparse race. However, of the four mountain ranges of Uhl (map can be viewed here), they can be found in three of them. Namely, travelers might encounter them in the Ugulls, Alzions, or Alderdens. The Anolgan Peaks is the one place you won't find them as those mountains have been scoured clean by the dwarves of Rillock and Anolgan barbarians.

View my gallery of goblins on Pinterest.

Read more about the people and places of Uhl at the World of Uhl.



Comments (2) -

  • Daniel R. Marvello

    3/22/2013 7:05:15 AM | Reply

    I can't resist commenting on this one. You had me at "bugbear."

    Thanks for the trip down Amnesia Lane. I do indeed recognize that image. I still have all my old D&D stuff and periodically look through it for fantasy inspiration. It's cool to see others do the same thing. Your treatment of the bugbear characters in Hall of the Wood was excellent, giving them true personality. I didn't recognize them as bugbears at the time, but in retrospect the comparison totally makes sense.

  • scottmarlowe

    3/23/2013 5:34:27 AM | Reply

    Thanks for the compliment re Hall. I had some fun writing about Nohr and Skave.

    I also have all of my old "D&D" stuff (along with boxes and boxes of comics), much to my wife's chagrin. I do look at them occasionally, but haven't actually played in decades. Still, I have a hard time parting with them.

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