Month: July 2017

The Fjarrstrand Sagas: Pt. 2 (Cultures)

CULTURES OF FJARRSTRAND

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AUSTRMEN (MEN OF THE EAST)

Austrmen are the most prominent and influential cultural group among the men of Fjarrstrand.  Nearly all major settlements along Fjarrstrand’s northeastern coasts and Western marches are Austrmen holdings, and nearly all guilds, noble houses, and ruling bodies are of Austrmen origin.

Descended from the Teutonic people of Northern Europe, and tracing the lineage of their kings from Óðinn, they established the first settlements and noble houses of Fjarrstrand after their exodus from Midgard nearly 30 generations ago.

While they were once a brutal and warlike folk, who constantly thirsted for battle and plunder from sea-reaving, their rise to dominance has done much to curb those impulses. There are, however, a confederacy of island-dwelling clans, the Gamlegard, that keep to the old ways.

Appearance:  Most Austrmen have strong Nordic features: a thin face with prominent cheek-bones, blond or red hair, and blue eyes. Austrmen males are sometimes clean-shaven, although most prefer mustaches or full beards.

Austrmen are a tall, powerfully built people.  Both men and women often wear their hair braided.

They wear cloaks, broached upon the right shoulder, over woolen tunics and leggings. Leg bindings are often worn to protect their leggings from wear and to provide the wearer protection from mud and cold weather.

Culture:  Austrmen, unlike their ancestors, are reserved and not given to excesses. A hard-working and stoic people, the Austrmen are fatalistic.  At the same time, they value both good judgment and common sense.  Their word, once given, is kept; for honorable dealings are key to maintaining order and stability.

Austrmen are known for their codified and comprehensive legal systems, and for their use of scribes and chroniclers to record both historical and demographic data.  Austrmen speak the Gotrtung language.  Many Austrmen nobles are literate.

Politics: Austrmen holdings are made up of seven semi-independent jarldoms united under the rule of an elected king. The three most influential royal families are the Austrlings, the Hárvagri, and the Knýfelungs.

Most of the time, the jarls are locked in age-old rivalries that predate the arrival of the Austrmen upon these shores.  However, over the years, a few kings have managed to unite the tribes in order carve out an expansive realm.

 Political Bodies:  Løgting (The Jarls’ Assembly)

Resources:  Spruce, oak, ash, alder, yew, hazel, and rowan.  Deposits of iron, truesilver, silver, and gold. Mead, cheese, livestock, and ale. Wool, amber, livestock (cattle, sheep, and lamb), fish, whale oil, and both walrus and whale ivory. Artisan handiwork: ship builders, tapestries, manuscripts, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Grimstad, Hammerhall, Holmestrand, Kaupenborg, Sigestad, Stórrhafn, Sunneheim, and Torvik

Male Names: Aldhelm, Alfhere, Ashbere, Beastan, Becca, Beow, Beowulf, Breca, Eadgil, Eanmund, Edgelaf, Edgetheow, Eofor, Eomer, Eormenric, Finn, Folcwalda, Freotheric, Froda, Gewulf, Gislere, Garmund, Guthhere, Guthlaf, Halga, Hama, Hareth, Healfden, Heardred, Heathoric, Helm, Hemming, Heoden, Hengest, Heorogar, Herebeald, Herefaran, Heremod, Hildeburgh, Hlithe, Hnaef, Hrethel, Hringweald, Hrothgar, Hrothmund, Hrothulf, Hunlaf, Hygelac, Ingeld, Mearchealf, Mearca, Offa, Ohthere, Onela, Ongentheow, Oslaf, Oswine, Raedhere, Rendhere, Rumstan, Saeferth, Sceafa, Sceafthere, Scyld,  Secca, Sheaf, Sigehere, Sigemund, Swerting, Theodric, Unfenh, Unwen, Wada, Waels, Wald, Weoxstan, Widsith, Wiglaf, Withergyld, Witta, Wod, Wonred, Wudga, Wulf, Wulfgar, Wyrmhre, Yrmenlaf.

Female Names: Aesa, Aedha, Aethelred, Alfhild, Bodwyn, Brecca, Britta, Brynhilde, Caedwella, Caewlin, Eadhild, Ebba, Edda, Edrie, Elga, Ella, Elvina, Endrede, Eowyn, Essa, Freaja, Freawaru, Gerda, Gilda, Grimhilde, Groa, Grytha, Hedwig, Helga, Helma, Hilde, Hildeburgh, Ingerd, Kara, Lynde, Modthryth, Myna, Olga, Rae, Ragna, Sigrid, Swanhild, Thryth, Tylda, Thyra, Wealhtheow, Wertha, Wyn, Vaetild, and Yrsa.

Ruling Clans: Austrlings, Beornwalding, Froedelung, Hárvagri, Knýfelungs, Saeglafing, Unferthr

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, executioner, farmer, mercenary, noble, physician, sailor, scribe, seducer, seer, skald, thief, thrall, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Blood of the Immortals, Brawler, Born-at-Sea, Born-in-the-Saddle, Carouser, Excellent Library, Excellent Workshop, Fearless, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Giant Strength, Great Wealth, Hard-to-Kill, High-Born, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mimir’s Gift, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Tools of the Trade, Trademark Weapon

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, City Dweller, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

 

brjotaband BRJOTABAND (THE UNSHACKLED)

The Brjotaband or “Unshackled” are former thralls who revolted against their Austrmen masters, nearly two centuries ago, and laid claim to several settlements in what was Fjarrstrand’s southern frontier.

Most trace their lineage to a group of Midgardian tribes collectively called The Gaels.  These tribes were enslaved by the forebears of the Austrmen and brought into these lands to serve as their thralls.

Their clanholds now span the southern lands of Fjarrstrand, allowing them to trade as equals with, and defend themselves against, their Austrmen neighbors to the north.

Hostilities between Austrmen and Unshackled forces are infrequent but bloody… fueled by years of open, brutal warfare following the Unshackled’s uprisings.

Appearance:  The Brjotaband are slightly shorter than both Austrmen and Fraevolk.  They are of fair to ruddy complexion, with wavy hair of red, brown, or black and blue, green, or grey eyes.  Facial hair is uncommon on men, and both men and women tend to wear their hair at shoulder-length.

The Brjotaband favor brightly colored and embroidered tunics, along with woolen trousers, and cloaks fastened at the shoulder with a brooch. These cloaks are striped or checkered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colors.   Women wear floor-length skirts or dresses made of wool or linen along with shawls or cloaks.

Jewelry of bronze, gold, tin, silver, coral and enamel is common among the upper classes, with nobles and warriors wearing a circular twisted metal neckbands, called torcs.

Culture:  The Brjotaband, who call themselves The Unshackled or Braegalic tribes, revere their ancestors through sagas, ballads, and epic poem that pass down the deeds of Unshackled heroes from one generation to the next.  In spite of the fact that The Unshackled rely of oral tradition, their scribes are famous for their beautifully illuminated manuscripts.  Austrmen nobles pay handsomely for the fine work of Brjotaband scriveners.

Honesty, diligence, bravery, and generosity are valued by the Brjotaband. A passionate people, the Brjotaband hold family and friends dear but make vengeful and merciless enemies to those who cross them.  The Brjotaband are known for their wild revelries and love of the arts.

The Brjotaband speak the Braegalic tongue.  Its written form uses a unique set of runes.

Politics:  The Unshackled, unlike the Austrmen, are not united under the rule of a single leader.  Instead, their settlements are ruled by councils made up of the heads of prominent families.  Property within these settlements, and their outlying lands, are collectively owned by the extended families of these council members, with every person responsible for his or her share of the property and its obligations.

Political Bodies:  The lands of the Unshackled are divided into several clanholds that are comprised of allied settlements.  Clanholds, in turn, are ruled by an assembly made up the council leaders for each settlement.

Local druids act as both priests and judges within their precincts, and noble families (those holding lands) are held responsible for enforcing the law and carrying out the sentences imposed by druids.

Resources:  Ash, yew, oak, and elm.  Deposits of copper, tin, silver, and iron. Mead, grains, livestock, whiskey, ale, and dairy. Artisan handiwork: fine bows, jewelry, pottery, glasswork, tablewares, tapestries, manuscripts, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Abon, Baelsend, Blackwater, Corben, Graighan, Lochlann’s Fall, Muginshed, Newbridge, Shoreham, Tyne, Wall

Common Male Names:  Aeddan, Aonghus, Branwen, Brian, Cairbren, Cathal, Ceallach, Coeth, Conarn, Conall, Cormac, Dermaid, Guiare, Eoghan, Fearghus, Ian, Liam, Liogach, Loarn, Niall, Oenghus, Oisin, Raeghan, Raon, Seamus, Sean, Tuathal, Ultain

Common Female Names:  Aileen, Aillin, Anara, Bragwaine, Brighid, Caer, Cearnait, Caite, Daona, Eadaoin, Eanna, Fiachra, Maire, Nease, Niam, Oona, Rhiannon, Sadhbh, Sinn

Ruling Clans: Albannaich, Brythune, Drebhain, Éireannaigh, Meath, Ollaibh

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, noble, physician, priest, sailor, scribe, seducer, skald, thief, trader, tumbler, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Attractive, Alert, Blood of the Immortals, Born Athlete, Brawler, Carouser, Deft Hands, Detect Deception, Elven Grace, Fearless, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Hard-to-Kill, Healing Touch, High-Born, Inspire, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Low-Born, Marked by Fate, Quick Recovery, Silver Tongue, Sneaky, Trademark Weapon

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, City Dweller, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

archer fraevolk

FRAEVOLK (THE PEOPLE OF FREY)

Fraevolk are an independent, frontier-dwelling people with blood ties to the Austrmen, Brjotaband, and, some say, elven people.  They are an earnest, hard-working people that make their living through hunting, foraging, and farming within the expansive forests that lie west of the Vestrmark.

Fraevolk youths above the age of twelve are expected to defend their tribe and are trained in wilderness survival from early childhood. Tales are often told of painted, feral Fraevolk warrior bands that are made up of men, women and children.

The clans of the Fraevolk have held to their long-held customs and religious practices, engaging in animism and nature worship.  It is thought that some hold the elves in reverence, offering sacrifices and fealty to them.

Despite their isolation and the wilds they inhabit, Fraevolk are gifted jewelers and craftsmen in silver, gold, and copper… which they trade for weapons and armor of iron and steel.

While they engage in trade with Austrmen and Brjotaband merchants in frontier settlements, they are fierce in the defense of their lands, and will brook no intrusions into them.  Austrmen lords who have sought to expand their holdings into, or hunt within, the game-rich forests of the Fraevolk have paid heavily for their trespass.

Fraevolk warriors are usually hunters or oath-sworn retainers who serve their lord in return for lands. Household warriors of lords and chieftains are usually close kinsmen to their liege lord and called their “hand.” Thus, the elite warriors of a chieftain name Angus would be called Angus’s Hand.

Appearance:  Fraevolk are slightly shorter than their Austrmen cousins.  They are of fair to medium complexion, with straight to wavy hair of that ranges from palest blonde to black (with blond and light brown being most common).  Their eyes are blue, green, or grey.

Their clothes are similar to those of their Austrmen and Brjotaband neighbors, though of coarser materials and simpler fashion.  Their gifts for fine handiwork is evident in the knotwork that adorns their woolen cloaks and tunics, signifying their lineage, and in the fine jewelry that they possess.  Rings of are often worn in their braided hair and knotwork patterns are often tattooed onto the arms or torso.

Culture:  Fraevolk believe that life is a transient state, for even the gods were fated to die. Fraevolk live to the fullest, ready and willing to die at any moment.

Honesty, bravery, and generosity are held in high regard, as are celebrations and revelry.  The Fraevolk are known for their wild revelries and for their ferocity in battle.

Fraevolk speak Gotrtung mixed with some elements of Elfsong, particularly when speaking of concepts related to hunting and the wilderness.

Politics: Their tribes have formed a loose confederacy, with each being led by a chieftain and a council of judges comprised of godi, skalds, and respected warriors.

Resources:  Spruce, oak, beech, ash, alder, yew, and elm.  Deposits of copper, tin, silver, and gold. Mead, animal pelts and furs, wool, amber, trained birds of prey and hunting dogs. Artisan handiwork: fine bows, woodwork, and jewelry.

Major Settlements:  The Freavolk have several trade-posts along the eastern border of their holdings in Vestrmark frontier.  These outposts include Esdun, Stanburg, Sunderport, Valsburg, and Waldensburh.

Common Male Names: Adalbert, Aelfwald, Aelric, Aethan, Aethelred, Aethelwulf, Albert, Alfred, Angus, Arthur, Bard, Bede, Bedwin, Bertram, Brand, Caedmon, Carl, Cnute, Coel, Conner, Conrad, Dunstan, Edgar, Edwin, Egbert, Frederick, Geoffred, Gunther, Halbard, Harold, Hereward, Jon, Jude, Lothair, Luke, Luther, Mark, Morgaire, Osric, Oswald, Oswine, Oswulf, Rolf, Sigmund, Terence, Theodric, Uther, Walter, Willem

Common Female Names: Ada, Adelinde, Agnes, Anne, Berta, Brunhilde, Charlene, Eadda, Eaddith, Elspeth, Emma, Erin, Freida, Gerta, Gertrude, Gwenn, Helga, Hildegard, Ida, Idaine, Idelle, Judith, Lorelei, Loren, Margaret, Olga, Una, Ursula, Velda, Winnefred.

Ruling Clans: Angrim, Cuthbert, Henegar, Scylfing, Walden

Common Careers:  Assassin, berserker, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, priest, seer, skald, thief, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Alert, Beast-Friend, Blood of the Immortals, Born Athlete, Carouser, Elven Grace, Fearless, Forest-Born, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Hard-to-Kill, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mighty Shot, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Sneaky, Swamp-Born, War Cry

Common Flaws:  Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

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GAMLEGARD (KEEPERS OF THE OLD WAYS)

The Gamlegard, or Keepers of the Old Ways, are Austrmen that broke with their kin and declared their independence over 300 years ago.

Unlike the Austrmen, who tamed their more warlike impulses as they tamed and settled the wild coastal lands of Fjarrstrand, the Gamlegard sought to preserve the beliefs and practices of their forebears.

Sailors without peer, Gamlegard longships prowl the eastern coast of Fjarrstrand and Gamlegard reavers conduct brutal raids into both Austrmen and Brjotaband lands.

The strength of their fleets, the ferocity of their warriors, and the isolation of their homes among the mist-shrouded Bleikrbjargg Islands and in the northernmost frontier settlements of Yggselund.

Appearance:  The Gamlegard share the strong Nordic features of the Austrmen: a thin face with prominent cheek-bones, blond or red hair, and blue eyes. Their men are rarely clean-shaven, with most preferring mustaches or full beards.  It is common for both men and women to partially shave the heads.

They are a tall, powerfully built people.  Both men and women often wear their hair braided.

They wear cloaks, broached upon the right shoulder, over woolen tunics and leggings. Leg bindings are often worn to protect their leggings from wear and to provide the wearer protection from mud and cold weather.

Culture:  The Gamlegard are a fatalistic people and do not fear death.  Instead they fear a life without purpose.  To these ends, Gamlegard warriors strive to make a name for themselves through acts of heroism and valor in combat.

They are given to excess, enjoying great feasts and drunken debauches; and make generous hosts to those who call upon their hospitality.

At the same time, they value both good judgment and common sense.  Their word, once given, is kept; for oaths are sacred to the island clans of the Gamlegard.

The Gamlegard speak Gotrtung.

Politics:  The Gamlegard islands are ruled by a king, Lofr Brakkison, liege lord of the five jarls representing the ruling clans of the Gamlegard.  Despite his advanced years, Lofr Shield-Splitter is said to be one of the fiercest warriors in the isles.  It is also said that all mercy died in him long ago… making him a cruel lord and dangerous enemy.

Political Bodies:  Væringjarmote: “Meeting of the sworn men.”

Resources:  Spruce, ash, birch, oak, and rowan.  Deposits of iron, copper, tin, and gold. Mead, cheese, and ale. Wool, livestock (goats, sheep, and lamb), fish, whale oil, and both walrus and whale ivory. Artisan handiwork: ship builders, tapestries, weapons, armor, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Austnaeyjar, Fljótborg, Gardabær, Gatastaðir, Niflfloi, Scyldhöfn, Valgard, Vestrvik

Male Names: Aldhelm, Alfhere, Ashbere, Beastan, Becca, Beow, Beowulf, Breca, Eadgil, Eanmund, Edgelaf, Edgetheow, Eofor, Eomer, Eormenric, Finn, Folcwalda, Freotheric, Froda, Gewulf, Gislere, Garmund, Guthhere, Guthlaf, Halga, Hama, Hareth, Hathkin, Healfden, Heardred, Heathoric, Helm, Hemming, Heoden, Hengest, Heorogar, Herebeald, Herefaran, Heremod, Hildeburgh, Hlithe, Hnaef, Hrethel, Hrethic, Hringweald, Hrothgar, Hrothmund, Hrothulf, Hunlaf, Hygelac, Ingeld, Mearchealf, Mearca, Offa, Ohthere, Onela, Ongentheow, Oslaf, Oswine, Raedhere, Rendhere, Rumstan, Saeferth, Sceafa, Sceafthere, Scyld, Secca, Sheaf, Sigehere, Sigemund, Swerting, Theodric, Unfenh, Unwen, Wada, Waels, Wald, Weoxstan, Widsith, Wiglaf, Withergyld, Witta, Wod, Wonred, Wudga, Wulf, Wulfgar, Wyrmhre, Yrmenlaf.

Female Names: Aesa, Aedha, Aethelred, Alfhild, Bodwyn, Brecca, Britta, Brynhilde, Caedwella, Caewlin, Eadhild, Ebba, Edda, Edrie, Elga, Ella, Elvina, Endrede, Eowyn, Essa, Freaja, Freawaru, Gerda, Gilda, Grimhilde, Groa, Grytha, Hedwig, Helga, Helma, Hilde, Hildeburgh, Ingerd, Kara, Lynde, Modthryth, Myna, Olga, Rae, Ragna, Sigrid, Swanhild, Thryth, Tylda, Thyra, Wealhtheow, Wertha, Wyn, Vaetild, and Yrsa.

Clans: Austrlings, Dragelungs, Eymund, Hárvagri, Valsungs, Wulfings

Common Careers:  Beggar, berserker, blacksmith, champion, executioner, farmer, mercenary, noble, physician, priest, sailor, seer, skald, thief, thrall, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Brawler, Born Athlete, Born-at-Sea, Blood of the Immortals, Carouser, Fearless, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Giant Strength, Great Wealth, Hard-to-Kill, High-Born, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mimir’s Gift, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Strength Feat, Trademark Weapon, War Cry

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lumbering, Taciturn, Zealot.

viking_queen2

STÍGRANDI  (PEOPLE OF THE PATH or WAYFARERS)

The Stígrandi, or People of the Path, are a nomadic people who make their living as laborers, beggars, mercenaries, tinkers, and entertainers throughout Fjarrstrand.

Made up of people from every human culture, the Stígrandi have incorporated elements from their varied backgrounds in order to forge their own cultural identity.

Bound to no lord and no clan, they are often mistrusted by outsiders… thought of as thieves and worse.  At the same time, settlements are willing to accept them when short-term laborers are needed.  The Stígrandi typically travel the roads in caravans made up of extended family groups.

Their nomadic and neutral nature also makes them well-suited as couriers, spies, and diplomats.

Appearance:  The skin tones of the Stígrandi range from pale to ruddy; their hair is ranges from flaxen blond to deep brown or black, with grey, blue, hazel and sometimes green eyes. The Stígrandi people are of shorter stature than all other cultural groups, and tend to be athletic of build.

The clothing of the Stígrandi is well-made, with dark- colored wools being combined with brightly dyed velvet and linen. Intricate patterns are often woven into the jackets, vests, skirts and shirts of the Stígrandi. Shoes and boots of soft leather are commonly worn, and these typically have pointed toes and patches of bright color. Jewelry is worn by both men and women.

Culture:  They honor The Norns, whom they called The Three Queens, above all others but also revere ancestral heroes and nature itself. A superstitious people, they are known for their many folktales and folk remedies (as well as curses). Their history is passed through oral tradition.

They have social taboos that are perceived as virtually unbreakable that prohibit such things as marrying outside of their own culture, or teaching their language to non-Stígrandi. While they are permitted to deceive and swindle outsiders, they are harshly punished if bilking their own people.

They speak Gandrimál.

Resources:  The Stígrandi trade in furs, handicrafts, woven goods, and all manner of trinkets.  Their main resource, however, is the labor or entertainment that they offer.  As constant travelers, it is also common for the Stígrandi to turn a profit from the information they carry from one lord’s lands to another’s.

Common Male Names: Aethan, Anghus, Bard, Bertram, Brand, Branwen, Brecan, Brian, Caedmon, Coel, Conall, Conner, Cormac, Dermaid, Edgar, Edmund, Edwin, Finn, Gareth, Ian, Liam, Morgan, Niall, Oslaf, Oswine, Sean, Terence, Willem

Common Female Names: Adele, Agnes, Aileen, Anne, Berta, Bragwynn, Bridget, Brunhilde, Caite, Eadda, Eaddith, Elspeth, Emma, Erin, Freida, Gerta, Gertrude, Gwenn, Helga, Hildegard, Ida, Idaine, Idelle, Judith, Lorelei, Loren, Maire, Margaret, Olga, Rhiannon, Ursula, Velda, Winnefred.

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, physician, seducer, seer, skald, thief, trader, tumbler, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Attractive, Alert, Born Athlete, Carouser, Deft Hands, Detect Deception, Escape Artist, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Low-Born, Marked by Fate, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Sneaky

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful.

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