Balar Ethnicity in The Sundered Worlds | World Anvil
BUILD YOUR OWN WORLD Like what you see? Become the Master of your own Universe!


Those who bow to no master but their own land.

No mortal person should ever have to compromise their own soul and safety in their own home. No mortal person should ever have to answer to a monarch that has never set foot on the land they claim to rule. No mortal person should be denied the land they care for because of someone else's whim.
— From the original Affirmations of Freedom
After almost 800 years of growth and development and prosperity, the coastal nation of Boracia sought to expand its borders. For the first 84 years after the creation of the Abyss, they pushed east and north. After clashes and eventual treaties with {FANTASY ROME}, the Boracian King Eos turned his attention south. Early excursions across the {NARROW SPIT} were stymied by weather and strange magic, but with greater resources they tried again. Caravans of homesteaders were sent into the Hinterlands—at the time presumed unpeopled—to lay down roots and establish trade and landownership in the region.
But the Mythic Hinterlands are harsh, and those who survived did so with the aid of the giantkin communities who already called the region home, not the aid of the monarchy they had left behind. When imperial tax collectors came through, the people of the regions they began calling Varazslem and the Balarkavi Range refused to pay. When the imperial army began marching across {NARROW SPIT}, homesteaders and native giantkin alike prepared to defend their land to the death. But the Mythalenairra had recovered their lost leader and ascended her to divinity. Ready join the world they had made their home, their first act was to defend against tyranny and facism. The Abyss-hardened warriors marched out of the mist and repelled the Boracian army from the Mythic Hinterlands. The freeholds of the Balarkavi Range and the villages of the Varazslem breach have maintained a strong relationship with the Mythalenairra since then.

Ideals & Values

"Each of us a ruler of our own land."
Above all else, the Balar value independence and the right to one's own property. The Mythic Hinterlands have a great bounty for those willing to engage with the land, and that willingness proved the key to the first homesteaders' survival. The Balar stood against Boracia not because of


The Range sees many travellers and visitors from across Tangra twice a year for the annual sowing and reaping festivals. As a result, many people have opinions about the Balar. They are generally viewed as welcoming and boisterous, but that's due mostly to the landowners consciously keeping travellers to the freeholds willing and able to accommodate them. This occasionally leads to misunderstandings, and certain groups perceive the Balar as selfish, their dedication to landownership necessary to accommodate Balar egos.
pride or spite, but because they had connected with the people and the environment in a way that no distant king could ever understand. They knew that laws and governance from afar would only harm Varazslem and the Range. If the land is to be ruled, it will be ruled by those living in concert with it.
To that end, Balar freeholders have only a loose centralized government. The owner of the greatest acreage in any given freehold is the de facto leader of that freehold. The Balar Missive—a newsletter constantly updated as it circulates through the freeholds—keeps these landowners informed of decisions made by their peers, any dangers or excitements in the region, and the dissolution or formation of freeholds. Within their freeholds, the chief landowner organizes festivals and blessings, determines any
laws or regulations, manages trade and resources, arbitrates disputes, and decides when to call in the Mythalenairra. It's assumed this landowner acknowledges the concerns of other landowners within their freehold, and that they only enforce their doctrines on the land deeded to them. In the event the chief landowner breaks that social contract, other freeholds may intervene or the lower landowners may simply declare their lands independent freeholds. Even among the freeholds that practice forms of democracy or are run by council, their neighbors are on alert for mismanaged freedoms. Indeed, each freehold not only maintains records of its own land deeds, but those of nearby freeholds as well.
Every person living in a freehold is a landowner, even if that land is only the ground their home is built on. Every adult in a family is considered an owner of the buildings and land that family manages, and complex deeds prevent any one individual or organization from acquiring more property than they can use. Renting is almost unheard-of among the Balar. Where it happens, it's temporary or rent-to-own.


The virtuous Balar takes great pains to ensure that as they exercise their freedoms, they do not limit or curtail others' ability to exercise theirs. They defend the land against threats magical, mundane, and natural, and maintain the conditions that allowed them to thrive. They own only what they use, and hold personal responsibilty in high regard.


Theft is one of the highest offenses among the Balar, and meticulous property records are kept of everything from children's toys to farmland. Property consolidation is reprehensible, and more than one violent conflict has occurred as a result of the freeholds breaking up a burgeoning monopoly. Sport and trophy hunting are considered violations of the natural land.

Conventions & Customs

For many, "independence" is connected to solitude and remoteness. For the Balar, it means each member of a society has full agency over how they interact with and contribute to that society. Formal education is rare, but apprenticeships are abundant and accessible. Balar are encouraged to choose their own profession, artistry, or role.

Daily Life

The Balar live necessarily agrarian and rural lifestyles. They are generally rugged folk accustomed to choring and hard work. To that point, the Balar value manual labor like farming, smithing, and mining equal to intellectual or emotional labor like recordkeeping, caregiving, and teaching, and "hard work"


The Balarkavi Range is famous for its fertile soil and the bounty it produces. Those who farm the land grow both native plants as well as global cultivars. In certain locations, this duality has led to a philosophical schism among the Balar. Traditionalists believe that only what grows naturally on the Range should be farmed, and that it honors the land most fully to encourage its natural variety. Cultivators are of the opinion that showcasing the versatility of the soil is its best use. While most Balar fall somewhere in between, these two factions have been known to cause strife within and between the freeholds.
takes many different forms. That is not to say the Balar dedicate all of their time to labor. In fact, folks more often subscribe to the "work hard, play hard" philosphy than not. Because of their Boracian roots, competitions are common. From riddle and storytelling contests, to games of strength and chance, to art and crafting shows, the freeholds are regularly trying to best each other. The practice maintains and reinforces contracts and relationships and encourges individuals to reach for excellence.

Personal Identity

Because the Balar value independence, they make efforts to display their individuality. This can take the form of the produce they farm, the style of their craft, their appearance, their name, the way they practice their magic, the way they decorate their home, or something unique to that individual. Interestingly, the Balar have a grand mix of personal identifiers. Genders, sexualities,
professions, and home freeholds are common personal identifiers, but not just along the axis of which gender, sexuality, etc, but also the axis of whether or not that identifier is relevant. A Balar might consider himself a man, but when he introduces himself, he mentions only the variety of pumpkins he farms and the poems he writes. It is the individual's responsibilty to determine the self, and to do that for someone else is considered an infringment on their freedom.

Language Groups & Dialects

The Balar primarily speak dialects of Boracian and Ord, with Common as a secondary necessity due to their relationship with the Mythalenairra. Trade keeps their languages current, and a Balar Boracian speaker can communicate easily and effectively with a Boracian speaker of the same language. Ord is a little more complex due to the nature of the giants, but speakers from different cultures can communicate simple ideas.

Naming Conventions

When they first separated from Boracia, the Balar had Boracian names: a given name followed by a patronymic name, the latter of which was replaced by her husband's father's name when a woman married. In an effort to distance themselves from the Boracian patriarchy and establish individualism, the Balar adopted a myriad naming conventions. As a result, there is little to no standard pratice of naming among the Balar. Mononyms are not uncommon, and appending one's freehold to the end of their name has gained popularity over the last several decades. Some folks have adopted Mythalenairran naming practices, while others have maintained versions of the patronymic system.
Uniquely, nicknames are rare. The Balar believe that only an individual should name themself. If a Balar changes their name in adulthood, records of birth and chosen names are kept, but use of the chosen name is strictly enforced.

Rites & Rituals

Even among their traditions, the Balar practice independence. Below are the most common examples of recurring celebrations. Specifics and even whole ceremonies very between freeholds, the only common thread being produce from freehold farms present at most.
Harkening back to the early days of unsure surival, every Balar birth is a notable affair. The entire freehold is usually involved, with neighbors and extended family managing day-to-day household chores and maintenance for the first few months so parents and baby can focus on each other. There is, of course, a feast on the first day the parent who gave birth is well enough to attend, served to the family in their home.
The newborn's name is recorded as soon as it's available and sent to nearby freeholds for keeping among their records. If for whatever reason the newborn is not named after one month, the chief landowner names them.
Coming of Age
Nineteen years passed between Boracia relinquishing its rule over the Balar people and the opening of the {ABYSSAL RIFT}. The oldest of those who had been born to a free people stood and fought. To remember them, Balar are declared adults at the age of nineteen. The ceremony involves a freehold-wide feast and gifts to the new adult related to their profession, or professions they have expressed interest in if they have not yet chosen one. It begins at dawn with the chief landowner adding their name to the family's property deed. In a circumstance where the new adult's name is already on a land deed, the document is re-witnessed by the community. The rest of the day involves some combination of feasting, dancing, competing, and generally honoring the new adult.
Many of the original homesteaders were unhappy with Boracian marriage practices and were in fact taking advantage of legal loopholes to avoid unwanted marriages. When the freeholds gained their independence, these practices were one of the first they left behind.
Today, a Balar marriage is primarily about landownership. No one person can have more than three spouses, and no more than three properties can be consolidated via marriage. Individual freeholds may tweak these rules a bit, but their neighbors monitor marriage arrangements closely for fraud and abuse.
The ceremony itself begins with the newlyweds preparing the home they intend to live in, such as bringing new belongings in or moving everything to a new property. Often, the newlyweds, their families, or their entire freehold will decorate the chosen property with wildflowers. The chief landowner witnesses any records to transfer or consolidate property ownership, as well as the vows. The latter is usually performed in front of the entire freehold and involves each person getting married reciting a list of why they've chosen the others. If the reasons seem too different, family might intervene or the chief landowner might choose to not formalize the union. This is incredibly rare and almost always results in an investigation from nearby freeholds. Finally, the day ends with feasting, dancing, and competing, as per most Balar celebrations.
Death is a more structured occasion than other Balar rites. The Balar people rely on the framework of ownership and its related formalities to manage their grief, with wills and property dispersion at the center of ceremony.
On a more social level, the freehold takes care of the grieving household's meals and chores for up to one month after the death. The funeral itself involves burying the deceased in a fallow field to fertilize the next crop to be planted, or burning them if they died of disease or in the winter. Grief is a deeply personal thing even outside of a culture so fiercely independent, and the Balar take their cues from the grieving to know how much and what kind of community support is needed.
A plethora of divinities are honored among the Balar, many of them associated with aspects of agriculture. Across the Range, the Balar have celebrations and ceremonies for everything from first planting to last harvest. The two largest are the festivals of Sowing and Reaping, held on the spring and autumn equinoxes respectively. Over the years, these have grown in popularity and are now seasonal destinations for those with the means to travel. The Festival of Sowing is marked by games and crafting competitions and feasts that use up winter stores. The Festival of Reaping is for the arts, and for using up whatever game and produce has not been preserved for the winter.

The Arts

Balar individualism is the driving force behind their arts. Each person seeks to express who they are and contribute something that is entirely theirs to the world. The Balar honor whatever form that takes.


Because the Balar reserve as much of their land for agriculture as possible, they have no real culture of livestock or animal husbandry. Balar farmers work the land, and their produce is supplemented with meat from hunters, trappers, fishers, and traders. As a result, meat and meat dishes are side courses in Balar meals. Vegetables—grilled, stewed, roasted, baked, blanched, and raw—are the heart of every Balar table. A variety of grains make breads, ales, and beers, while a few fruits and a myriad wild berries are the bases for sauces and wines. Paired with local herbs and those imported from the Zekken Preserve, Balar cuisine has astounding variety.
Full meals usually happen twice each day, before the work day begins and after it ends, with breakfast being the larger of the two. Families most often eat together, but a few smaller freeholds are known to have community-wide meals. Most laborers snack during the work day, but a proper lunch is rare.


Trends from many industries travel the trade networks, and fashion is no exception. The Balar are a resourceful folk, and while many of them require a certain amount of practicality in their day-to-day wear, that doesn't stop them from incorporating colors from {NATION} and patterns from {CITY} into their field clothes. As one of primary cotton producers on Tangra, Balar textile makers also have a certain level of influence on those trends. It's rare for any one freehold or cotton weaver to be credited with the latest styles of {FANTASY PARIS}, but recognizing their cloth and colors is a point of pride for many Balar makers.


Boracian theatre is admired the world over for its traditions, and the Balar have retained certain elements thereof. While they lack the grand amphitheatres and precision acoustics, they still write in Boracian verse and the three- and five-act structures. Themes are wider and more varied, and avant-garde plays that break every tradition are almost as common. Plays are a staple of both the Sowing and Reaping festivals, as well as smaller celebrations throughout the year.
Using traditional Boracian instruments in new ways has fed the development of several new music styles. Balar folk music is more obviously related to Boracian choral accompaniment, while influences from across the Mythalenairran trade network can be heard in contemporary genres.


Boracian verse consists of dialogue interspersed with expostion (or choral odes in the case of theatrical performances), where the dialogue is written in iambic trimeter and the exposition in a meter that complements the theme and emotion. Balar poetry is known for both this structure with vastly different themes than traditional Boracian works, as well as subversions thereof. The complex relation with their land of origin has lead to deeply meaningful art that explores those complexities.


Friendly competition is the heart of most Balar relationships. Not limited to the various athletics accessible in the wide-open spaces of the Range, the Balar have a tendency to turn everything from pottery, to smithing, to storytelling, to eating into a game. Gambling and games of chance are popular winter activities, betting food stores and rations. In better weather, horse races and obstacle courses for hounds and hawks provide cross-freehold entertainment. Festivals often have days reserved for foreign competitions, as the average Balar is willing to try their hand at any game they've never heard of and do not know the rules for.


Balar philosophy encourages creating everything a person and their community is able to. Though they are deeply enmeshed inthe Mythalenairrae trade network, the Balar most often trade for raw materials and supplies as opposed to finished goods. Crafters and artisans within a freehold know the needs and styles of those freeholds best and have more success creating what's needed.
Stylistically, the Balar are diverse. While architecture most often shows their Boracian roots, the same cannot be said for any other good or tool crafted on the Range. Balar goods are most commonly identified by their absolutely absurd uniqueness, or the specific blend of Boracian, Mythalenairran, and Zekken influences.


Magic among the Balar is utilitarian. It nourishes crops and reinforces homes against the winter winds and preserves records for generations. Some hunters magically enhance their connection to the land to be more efficient, and many apothecaries and herbalists dabble in healing arts. The lack of formal education or standing armies means that powerful magic is the purview of outsiders and nature. It's not necessarily viewed with awe or suspicion, but it is a very obvious marker of unfamiliarity.
A mood board
by Athevra via Adobe Spark

Character Creation

Use the guide and statistics below to create a Balar adventurer. {NATION} had imperial aspirations for some time, and the modern-day Balar freeholders believe every person has the right to their own land. Most ancestries go unquestioned among the Balar, and those that don't are only a curiosity; Balar hostility is the result of actions, not exisitence. Additionally, a vast array of skills are needed to maintain the freeholds' independence. The least likely ancestries and subclasses would not by themselves raise suspicion among the Balar, just mild surprise and curiosity at most.

A list of names to use directly or help generate ideas can be found here.


The original homesteaders were a representative cross section of Boracian ancestries. Because no mortals other than the Mythalenairran elves lived on the Balarkavi Range or in Varazslem at the time of the expeditions, the Balar have maintained a similar makeup.
Most Likely Ancestries
Minotaur, human, heblin, gnome, elf, birdfolk, lapienne, bugbear, genasi (earth, dust, air, ice), goblin, hobgoblin, lettin, bulettefolk, petallion
Least Likely Ancestries
Abolethi, cephalid, krokon, tembota, merfolk, yuan-ti genasi (fire, magma, smoke, steam), gith, demonborn, couatl folk, lothran, dhampir, behirborn, phoenixborn, salamandrite


Balar adventurers most often learned their skills in the wild, or from travellers willing to take on an apprentice.
Most Likely Classes
Barbarian (beast, berserker, storm herald, totem warrior, wild magic), bard (lore, valor), druid (any), fighter (cavalier, champion, eldritch knight, gunslinger), monk (four elements, sun soul), ranger (any), rogue (arcane trickster, scout), sorcerer (storm sorcery, wild magic), witch (constellation, herb)
Least Likely Classes
Barbarian (zealot), bard (eloquence, whispers), cleric (arcana, knowledge, order), fighter (banneret, psi warrior), monk (kensei, shadow), paladin (crown), rogue (soulknife, thief), sorcerer (aberrent mind, clockwork soul, shadow magic), witch (familiar), wizard (any)
Var Witches
The spellcasters that rely on the dark, pine-scented magic of Varazslem are collectively known as witches. Mechanically, they can be any witch or druid, clerics of the nature or grave domains, shadow sorcerers, or great old one warlocks whose patrons are, by all accounts, the forest itself.


While every freehold has its own unique character, certain skills and abilites are ubiquitous among the Balar. A Balar character has the following traits:

Languages. You can speak, read, write, and understand Common and Boracian.

Tool Proficiency. The Vars and Balar are a self-sufficient people of variety. You are proficient in one artisan's tool of your choice, and your choice of one instrument or gaming set.

Off the Land. You are proficient in the Survival skill. Additionally, when you make a check related to identifying the properties of naturally-occurring flora, you may add double your proficieny bonus instead of whatever proficiency bonus you would normally add.


The Balar people are fierce and free in all that they do. Time and again, they have proven they will defend the uniquely mortal quality of free will. A Balar character has strong opinions on the following values, regardless of whether or not they align with their kin's.

Individualism. Every person is owed the opportunity to create their own self.

Independence. An individual has a right to their own person and property, and no right to another's person or property.

Competition. Testing your skills against others' avoids complacence.

Example Characters

Related Articles


Cover image: by Athevra via Adobe Spark


Please Login in order to comment!