By Ivan Sorensen
Today I wanted to talk about the Dusklings: The big brutes that add muscle to your warband...and also one of the hostile elements that you will frequently be fighting.
First, let’s have a look at what is actually given in the book: We know they like to fight with a martial culture; they have their own set of deities they worship; they have an affinity with darkness (hence their name); and they fiercely hate both the undead and the use of magic. We also know they can cooperate with humans just fine (since they can show up in your warband and nobody minds).
What isn’t really said is exactly WHAT the Dusklings are.
I was trying to be careful with my descriptions to allow as wide a range of miniatures to be used as possible, allowing for player interpretations to be used. As such, they may be fantasy Vikings (ala the Vikings in the Thorgal comic books or the film The 13th Warrior), Conan-style barbarians (complete with fur underwear and big swords); they may be orc-like creatures (or even straight up orcs) and so forth.
Now I have my own specific interpretation of what Dusklings are and I suppose if there is a canon, then that’s the correct answer. That’s why I am not telling (not yet anyways) because I wanted players to be able to pick and choose as widely as possible.
I’ve noticed that some players have very specific fantasy settings in mind when they play. If your game is set in the world of Conan or Warcraft or Glorantha, then you will of course want your Duskling to fit in that setting and I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that (too much). Conversely, you may already have a miniature in mind that you want to use and the setting will have to adapt to that choice of miniatures. This is also exactly as intended.
For that matter, you may well assume that the Dusklings you make friends with are different from the ones you fight against. One of the two may be renegades who have turned from their culture, or they may, in fact, be completely different creatures after all. You may like to use your orc army minis for the enemy Dusklings but a hulking barbarian for the one in your warband.
One of the things I have tried to avoid in the setting is to have things be too clear-cut. While many of the forces you fight are hostile to humanity and would see humans destroyed, most of them have some sort of goal they are trying to achieve. The Gnawlings and the Fey both have grievances against the world (though this is not much solace when you are being pelted by half a battalion's worth of skirmishers with slings or eaten by a tree). Others like the Whispers Beyond are acting as agents of some ulterior motive not yet discerned, but are bad news just the same.
The world of Five Leagues is alive partially because it has a sense of history to it: Just like a real place, things happened before you were here and they will continue to do so after you leave.
The answers you pick will help give shape to that world as you play in it.