OVERVIEW: The enemy of the Empire since the earliest days, the wild Northmen - while divided into two Kingdoms who when they are not raiding other civilizations, hone their fighting ability by warring against each other. The Northmen are fierce and fearless, seeking only glorious death on the field of battle.
WESTERN WILDS: No mans land inhabited by the Wildmen who owe no allegiance to anyone. While they generally keep to themselves, they have no love for outsiders and are rumored to kill and eat uninvited visitors..
GRIMMERHEIMER CASTLE: The scene of battles with the Empire since time immemorial, this castle guards the Western approach to the Northlands.
THE WHITE VOLCANO: Is an active Volcano and one of the tallest mountains of the continent. Believed to be the home of a Fire Giant Demi-god.
KALDERLAND CASTLE: 'Cold Land' Castle is aptly named and is a freezing outpost that serves as the main point of defence to protect against sea-raids from the Eastern Kingdom. Most of the warriors garrisoned there have committed some misdemeanor or another and are frequently sent here as punishment.
MENHEIMER CASTLE: The primary bastion against invaders coming from the North.
ENDAHEIMER: Largest town in the Western lands - is a major nexus point for the fertile farmlands surrounding it.
DREGHEIMER CASTLE: Easternmost bastion against the Eastern Kingdom. The snowy plains to the North are often red with blood.
NORDSTROM: Capital of the Western Kingdom. Surrounded by fishing villages.
Just want to give this one a bump as it has had no replies, but has a lot of potential to be filled out.
What we have so far is that the Northmen have been a threat for over 1000 years, first attempting to gain access to the main continent from their peninsular home by land, and later becoming a real threat with their new Longships.
Their culture is basically brutal and 'evil' to outsiders, whom they consider to be of no value and, like the Norsemen they are loosely based upon, believe that to die of old age is dishonrable, true glory can only be achieved by death in battle - making them reckless, fearless and extremely dangerous.
They are divided into two main camps - that alternatively war against each other or briefly unite to conduct mega raids. Their gods are bloodthirsty and essentially demonic in nature. And yes, they have Valkyries. Indeed, one redeeming feature of their culture is that men and women are essentially equal, and the Valkyries - in addition to being powerful fighters in their own right, are also magic users/warlocks.
Here is the official pic we have purchased the rights to use for the Northmen portrait.
So from here, lets try and flesh them out a bit more.
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 6, 2017 10:00:28 GMT
Don't know what the two northmen kingdoms should be here on the map.
Northmen are devided into 2 major tribes relating to north germanic gods:
1. Vanjar (Vanir), of course warriors, but farmers, craftsmen and magicians too, living in the farmlands, chaotic neutral.
The "j" is spoken like a "ye", like "jarl", not "dsh". "Jar" means "people/tribe", "jarl" means their leader, "Jir" means "clan/order".
2. Asjar (Aesir), warriors, raiders, chaotic evil. After long wars the tribes live together, but still have rivalry. ("A Vanjar can't command a ship!" vs. "An Asjar can't build a ship!")
The Vanjar live in the farmlands, the Asjar man the fortresses, but not exclusively, they live together and share the tasks, like men and women too. Long ago the Asjar conquered the Vanjar, now they still stand 2/3 of the captains but both have equal rights in the Jarthing and the same culture.
The White Volcano is the center of a common religion, a mixture between Walhalla and Crom (northmen steel), still older tribal gods are worshipped. The Valkhajir are a religious order of female warriors/magicians. They have their ordensburg Valkhajirhall at the White Volcano and take honorably died heroes to a burial there.
They also are the source of the rare swords (guess what they look like), which are only given to chiefs and heroes. The Volcano forges produce the best northmen steel and swords. This is related to the religion of the volcano smith god Valkha.
Asjar usually fight with spears and hammers, Vanjar with axes, both use big round shields, not much armor. Many have leather helmets clad with boar teeth, which sometimes are mistaken for horns. Both use a seax-like weapon, the Valx. An elite warrior order is called Barsakrjir ("Sakr" is some kind of adrenaline mushroom - makes eyes shine blue, "bar" means urine).
The inhabitants of the Western Wilds are the descendants of early Asjar who didn't want to live together with the Vanjar after the Asjar conquered the Vanjar land and remained more primitive. The think of themselves as "pure blooded people" and their name for other peoples is "food" ("Hamrjar").
The progressive Asjar and Vanjar call other peoples "slaves" ("Workrjar").
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 7, 2017 8:28:31 GMT
Northmen are ferocious fighters, but not strong in number, the northern land is not fertile enough to have more than 5000 warriors. So they weren't able to conquer other regions.
The Vanjar with their farmland formed the first Northmen kingdom in the east. The Asjar live in the west as hunters and pastoral tribe, something like the mongols with herds of cattle, a mixture between rendeer and bison, and horses. They always tried to expand into the south and the Vanjar land.
Since the Asjar conquered the Vanjar and they live together the Northmen culture concentrates at the Vanjar land.
In the old Asjar region still live clans, but without a political structure.
The northern Empire legion keeps them away from the Empire but isn't able to invade the Northmen land. They tried, but had problems with supply lines into the north and were always stopped near Grimmrheim. Similar to Napoleon's attack on Russia.
The Northmen develloped their longships from the common fishing boats and raid coast regions, but never were enough warriors to conquer and hold such a region.
Next chapter coming soon: The Valkhajir order, Northmen swords and the riddle of volcano steel.
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 7, 2017 16:16:54 GMT
The White Volcano is a very high and moderate active volcano, seldom its top is not hidden in clouds. It is considered as the seat of Valkha, a volcano smith god. He is not like the demonic tribal gods of the Vanjar or Asjar. He doesn't care about being worshipped or not. The only way to please him is good steel forging.
All Northmen know to produce bloomery iron and steel with not very good quality, they made spearheads, axes, maces, hammers or the simple one edged valx.
Only the order of the Valkhajir produces good steel. Its ordensburg Valkhajirhall at the base of the White Volcano is the source of good swords, usually only for chiefs or well known warrior-heroes.
The order is led by only nine Valkhajir, female warriors and magicians, but has other inferior members for supply, work and steel forging or goldsmithing. The master-smith is called: (who of our smiths in the forum wants to see his name here?)
In warm caves in the volcano grow certain mushrooms. If men consume them in certain ways they become extremely agressive and belligerent (even for Northmen), don't feel pain any more and fight with more power and speed. Those are called Barsakrjir. Some women instead develop magic abilities and become Valkhajir-adepts. After long time consuming the eyes start to glow bright blue.
My idea of the special Valkha Northmen swords is crucible steel made in lava pits with some magic, forging hammers powered by heat/steam. Some (magic?) armor can be made this way too.
There is the ritual of fallen chiefs and heroes guarded to Valkhajirhall by some Valkhajir for a honorful ship funeral on a volcano lava stream (Wagner's Siegfried's Funeral March in the background and many torches). A hall of fame for heroes' swords, lighted by a lava stream?
Awesome contribution here Andi, I think that the lack of fertile farming land is indeed why the Norsemen could not increase their population to more than around 5000 raiders/warriors at any given time. In the early history we are developing, the Norsemen tried to push south down the peninsula but could never quite push through. First they had to deal with the Spider riders from the mountains who dominated a huge range - then once these tribesmen withdrew they were jammed in by the Empire.
The Empire also chokes them at Tuath De, and patrols the seas with Stormwater - so they have more or less been stuck and frustrated for over 1000 years.. I imagine their hatred of the Empire would be quite extreme..
Will consolidate all of this to the new site this week - very good stuff..!
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 9, 2017 8:25:04 GMT
That can be the reason for the Asjar, who had the main conflict with the Sakkala, to develop throwing hammers, better against big spiders with chitine armor than axes or spears. In the early times only stone hammers/maces, later iron. And long spear-lances against their riders.
Good thinking - those spiders are mean.. rare these days as the Sakkala are essentially extinct (one final tribe remains). Just for fun, HERE is a sneak preview of the spiders from the Bestiary that will be going on the dedicated site..
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 10, 2017 15:12:38 GMT
The Northmen have a rich and expressive language, used by scalds for epic poetry and battle songs, but they don't know a word for "mercy".
They live in huge longhouses, several families of a clan together with the valuable cattle and even slaves. Children grow up in big families with dozens of uncles, aunts and cousins and so there is free choice for women, even mothers, to follow the warrior's path. Usually all children, boys and girls, are trained in fighting techniques, riding and sailing.
Much work is done by slaves. Asjar and Vanjar consider themselves more or less as equal, all other people are slaves or possible slaves. Only a fearless foreign warrior earns some respect and perhaps only if he wins the fight.
The most important purpose in a Northman's or Northwoman's life is glory and fame for deeds in battle or other fighting. It's more important than surviving. The body fades but the fame lives forever! While wise elder people are honored, in fact senority is not a aim in the Northmen's life. The highest goal is to be considered worthy a funeral in the White Volcano.
Less than warfare but still well respected is craftsmanship (more by the Vanjar) or cattle breeding (more by the Asjar). Both respect highly smithes and forging.
The Northmen believe in an afterlife not much different from their normal life, living and fighting together with ancestors, family and friends (perhaps more party and fighting, less hangovers and arthritis pain), no special place for warriors. But they fear a death in disgrace, which makes it impossible to join the afterlife. The more glory and fame a Northman or Northwoman has achieved in his or her live the better is the living in the afterlife for him and his family.
Their gods don't demand sacrifices, but gave them power and strenght. They might help in battle or go to hell! But the tribal demonic gods at least are good for blaspheming.
Disgraceful is for example less to be not strong, but not to try to get stronger or do your best other ways, not to lose a fight, but to flee.
Wealth isn't the greatest goal in Northmen's live, but no one says "nay" to silver and gold as a booty, or of course slaves.
Post by AndiTheBarvarian on Aug 12, 2017 16:20:20 GMT
Possible idea: In the vast ice-plains north of the northmen's lands live intelligent cat people, a mixture between inuit culture and icebear-tiger-like appearence. Not strong in number, carnivores (including humans), old foe of the Northmen.
They could be the origin of the "Grendel" legend, a people called Grindaljar. But also they can have the role of the Jotunns etc. in stories or myths ("Granduncle, granduncle, please, please, please, tell us again the story of Snarri Uvarsson the Greatest Fisherman, who was caught by the Grindaljar but could palaver them into a strange fishing contest!").
And if you ever need for the story a Wookie... ... or an ash blonde tigress warrior lady ...
Kanr the Brotherkiller: Valkha adopted two brothers to teach them forging swords, Hrablu made the better sword, Kanr slaughtered him out of jealousy and Valkha banned him to wander allone through the ice-plains endlessly. If some Northmen sit around a camp fire at night in the wilderness, sometimes there is one more hooded guy sitting silently and sharpening his sword, don't speak to him ...
World's End: The Grindaljar arouse the dead Northmen and Grindaljar corpses to storm the gates to the afterlife realms. Valkha makes the White Volcano break out to prevent this and all is burned by the fire and lava.
The Black Sword: Kanr killed his brother with the mastersword forged by Hrablu, it drank his blood and soul. Valkha broke it into two parts for this and threw it into the volcano. But it wasn't destroyed, the two parts were found, Hrablu's blood burned in as a black patina. Everytime when a hero is needed the sword is forged again for him, the hero can fend off the danger, but his beloved always are all killed by the sword and at last the hero himself, the sword breaks again then.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
There's an old saying about those who forget history. I don't remember it, but it's good...
carbon: Sharpened one of my C/S H&H swords for the first time using an adjustable fixture I made. Went from a little better than butter knife to an even, polished, paper slicing edge. It's a slow process but it does work.
Nov 27, 2022 15:45:40 GMT
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