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- Frostmark & the Islingr Waste – land of the Ice-witch Ishkala and her demons.
- Wintergaard – Island of the lost Jotuns.
- Frostlingr Barrens – Northern Tundra wilderness.
- Trollheim and Haglebergen – Lands of the Trolls.
- Odemark Peninsula – Deadly Half-frozen wilderness of adventure.
- Nordgaard – Centre of the Dwarven-Skannfyrd nation.
- Norgren Weald – Forested Northlands inhabited by Skannfyrd, Banebrood &Trolls.
- Skannmark – Coastal realms in the south – home to Skannfyrd traders & Seawolf raiders.
There was a time when the Northlands were not a grave menace to all life on Gorn. That was before the end of the Age of Immortals. Ice-ages came and went, as the influence of the elemental planes of ice and fire waxed and waned. Frigestra was apparently once a Selkie princess, one of the elemental race of ice, who had successfully followed the Path of Eleminaris, transforming over millennia through various incarnations to a greater Ice-dragon and then into a greater Ice-Elemental. She ruled the northlands of Calydorn and perhaps other worlds too. When the majority of the Demon-Kings were trapped in the lower-world after the demon-wars, those who survived hid or took on other forms. Queen Ishkala was one of those. She successfully possessed Frigestra and through a process of consumption and melding, gained permanent dominance, inheriting Frigestra’s powers. The frozen realm of Frostmark became her haven. When the Asrae decreed they would never again set foot upon Gorn, many of the Demon-Lords began to assert their power. It was then that Ishkalla built the city of ice, which men call Iskalberg. From within her palace beyond the Riphean Mountains, the Ice-Witch assembles her demon armies for winter invasions of Nordgard, Bannbhara, Vagolga and Volturna.
Major Cultures of the Northlands
Dwarves are the elemental race of earth, stone and metal. Enclaves of the second-born elemental Dverger still dwell in roughhewn corners of Calydorn, but organic Dwarves far outnumber them today. Over the centuries these regular flesh-and-blood Dwarves diverged into three strains: Mountain-Dwarves (Hjetanger), Underworlders (Svartangr) and hill-dwelling Woldlanders (Dwerrow).
Strongest and sturdiest of the Dwarves are the Hjetangr, who are apt to live among the mountains, plateaus and godlands, and who are the best suited to lives as masons and warriors. Hjetangr have larger lungs and faster hearts making them well-adapted for high altitudes.
For the most part the Svartangr prefer to lead lives underground, among the rock and gravel (where the gods once abode), and are consequently the greatest miners, smelters and smiths.
The Dwerrow prefer an agricultural lifestyle among the plains, wolds, rolling hills and coasts, and though they possess no great lore of nature, their mastery of sands, clays and soils affords them bounteous harvests. As an earth-race, all Dwarves are uneasy at sea, and this aversion to water encouraged them to build the continental bridges and tunnels which crisscross Calydorn. Some of these structures still stand today, 20,000 years after their construction, (due to the application of earth-magic). Dwarven bonded-stone employs no mortar, making walls both immensely resilient and also partially flexible, and accounts for city ruins that still stand today which date back to the hoary mythical ages.
Dwarven society is first and foremost founded upon the clan and family. Hundreds of these clans make up the population of the eight kingdoms, which are divisible into dozens of tribes. The most powerful tribe in a kingdom controls the throne of each one of the six Dwarven realms of Nordgaard, and so these six tribes and a dozen others maneuver for supremacy within the court of the Alvater (High-King), occasionally warring with each other. The High-King is selected by the council of lords representing the main power-groups of Nordgaard’s society in a council called The Thing. Fortunes of tribes rise and fall and so the political landscape is in constant flux.
The social structure of Nordgaard is by no means the same as that in other Dwarven lands; for the culture matured over millennia, absorbing many outside influences which helped solidify various power groups, one of which is the guilds. The guilds began as collectives of various trades, working to fix prices, settle disputes and empower individual craftsmen. As cities and commerce increased, the guilds have grown into powerful political groups backed by huge sums of gold. Today they wield more power together than any of the six leading tribes, causing kings to be wary of them. During times of civil war, the guilds lend the nation some measure of unity and consistency, while the clans fight it out.
Skannfyrd Humans & Ogres
Tall and imposing, the Skannfyrd look down on other Mortals both figuratively and literally, employing their muscular physique to advantage in their reckless pursuit of personal glory. Like all mortal peoples across the world, the Skannfyrd are composed of both Humans and Ogres who have co-existed inseparably for millennia. Skannfyrd Ogres are so brash and brawny their favoured pastime is wrestling aurochs bulls to the ground.
Both Human and Ogre Skannfyrd possess a pale complexion, a mop of flaxen hair, and an indomitable will smouldering in their sapphire eyes. This intense resolve and aggression produces some individuals who are so wild they are unable to live even among the rough society of the Skannfyrd; retreating instead to the countryside to live as Ulfhednar berzerkers and Chainslayers. One reason for the remarkable toughness of the Skannfyrd is their familiarity with pain, for when a boy reaches manhood, he undergoes a 31-day ritual of scarification. Skannfyrd scars denote their family and clan and record their accomplishments in life.
Stinngangr, Fjellgangr, Fjordgangr & Frontgangr
Nordgaard also has another race living within its borders, the giants known as Gangr. Haldan and Thorgan Bergthor, the demigod founders of Nordgaard, won the friendship of the Jotuns, and the nation has benefitted from a continued alliance with them ever since.
Though the mighty first generations of Jotuns no longer exist on Calydorn, their descendents do. The dwindling curse they suffer has caused each successive generation to become smaller, and these diminutive descendents are referred to as Gangr, while the title Jotun is reserved for the few remaining members of the second and third generations who live upon the world of Prothenus.
As children of Dhannya, the Jotuns and Gangr are well adapted to survive in all parts of the cosmos, from the fire-lands of the south to the depths of the oceans and the cloud-lands of the high heavens. In the northlands the Gangr have adapted to the bitter cold and mountainous terrain. These Stinngangr, Fjellgangr, Fjordgangr and Frostgangr live within Nordgaard’s borders and in the northlands beyond, even deep within the arctic where the mountainous land of Jotungaard towers over the ice-plains.
Steadings and villages are keen to attract Gangr to live nearby, gifting them food, clothing and tools. Not only are they helpful in construction and forest clearing, they also make powerful allies who fight beside their Dwarven and human allies.
All of the northern barbarians stand almost two-meters tall and have black hair, pale-white skin and extensive body-fat, for in the Northlands, skinny people do not survive.
They can be roughly divided into three different types geographically and culturally. They are the Snelingr, living in the permanent arctic snows, the Islingr just to the south of them, and the Frostlingr who live on the northern border of Nordgaard.
It is believed that all the Northern Barbarians, are descended from Prymorhtian humans stolen away by Ishkala at the dawn of the mortal race.
The Frostlingr Barbarians possess the same constitution as the Skannfyrd, but have rather redder undertone to their skin. Most are semi-settled herders of Aurochs, Musk Ox, Reindeer and Elk. Others are hunters, raiders, bandits and traders. Frostlingr even sail south to Annyrion to trade, for they are not universally hated as the Islingr and Snelingr Barbarians are.
The Frostlingr are no great friends of the Ice-demons, and are often themselves targets of demonic raids. They embrace worship of Ishkala when it suits them – generally when her armies are camped at their doors.
Unlike their northern cousins Frostlingr possess considerable cavalry forces, riding northland cold-blood horses and musk-ox. They are most usually at war with Trollheim, even more so than with their Northern neighbours or with Nordgard. Even during times of “peace”, Frostlingr and Trolls are constantly raiding each other’s lands.
Frostlingr society is very fragmented, with dozens of small tribes, which can become united during a crisis by the most charismatic leader available.
Their land is covered in snows six months of the year, and during the rest of the year the permafrost is 12 inches below the surface. Besides herding they are also able to survive on the plentiful berries, leaves and nuts.
They live in structures called Goathe – a wooden framed dome covered by turf bricks. Winter snows add additional insulation. They wear furs as an outer layer, but their other clothes are colourfully dyed wool and even linen traded from Nordgaard.
When approached correctly, most Frostlingr can generally be reasoned with, but there are predatory bands of outlaws too.
Islingr live in the most northern land which has summer melts 5 months of the year. It is a land of tundra covered in lichens moss and little else during the summer, while the permafrost lies only a few inches below the surface. Upon the higher ground, the snow never melts, and glaciers are common. During winter, the land is covered in 1-2 metres of snow. Temperatures range from 10 degrees in summer to -30 in winter. Their diet consists of arctic rabbits, foxes, birds, caribou and elk. Not to mention the occasional bears, and white wolves. In summer they eat various lichens and moss as well as berries and grass seed.
The Islingr Barbarians, live in goathe-huts like the Frostlingr do, but their clothing is of plain wool and furs. They live a nomadic life by summer, herding caribou and elk. Before winter they return to their settlements, and perform the slaughter rituals, freezing the dead animals for consumption during winter, and thus saving valuable feedstock. The Islinger are the tallest of the Northland Barbarians, and generally have yellowish undertone to their skin.
They have learned to hate the inhabitants of Nordgaard, but they do not particularly love their northern kin either, but they will easily ally with them when Ishkala launches raids or all-out war. Islingr go whichever way the wind is blowing, happy to raid to the north or south on week and ally with them the following week. Most Islingr pay tribute to Ishkala, but are more serious about placating local spirits in their shamanistic beliefs. Islingr generally have an unpleasant demeanor to any outsiders and will generally slay any they find on their lands, unless they have something substantial to offer. They are quick to violence, especially when drunk on their alcoholic beverage made from wormwood flowers and caribou blood.
Are demon-worshipping barbarians living in the permanent arctic snows at the southern edge of Frostmark. They are very much servants of the Ice Witch and could be considered to be truly evil with no redeeming qualities.
The Snelingr in the Northlands of Gorn are united under a single king who keeps a permanent army. They worship and fear the Ice-witch Ishkala as their chief goddess, and fighting for her is considered a holy duty. They are on good terms with the other servants of Ishkala.
The land in which they live is the most northern place that humans can survive, with temperatures in summer averaging from 1-3 degrees; in winter -25 to -40 degrees. They are all expert cross-country skiers and they also use dog sleds.
In terms of culture, they dress in furs and live in igloos, hunting arctic bears, seals, penguins, snow-wyrm and Selkie. In times of hardship they will eat birds and fish or even each other. Their priests are gifted with demonic magic and their rituals often include blood sacrifice. Due to the value of all resources, animals and people are almost never wasted in sacrifice.
Some Snelingr willingly tempt possession. In these rituals the demon tries to take control, and if it wins, then they become ice-men – creatures surviving on raw magic and immune to cold. If the Snelingr wins, then he remains human and has access to all of the power and skills of the demon he controls.
Troglodytes live in the northlands and even in Frostmark. They are dedicated to battling the forces of the Ice witch, and often ally with the Selkies (Ice-Niads) who are the rightful owners of Frostmark. Over the millennia, Troglodytes living in the north have adapted, gaining skins of light gray or white, as well as near total immunity to cold. For example, they are comfortable in temperatures of -40, and can even survive in temperatures as cold as -90 degrees Celsius.
Apart from that, they are much like other Troglodytes, and their lands in the north are under the control of the empire in Morkenberge (see Tartovara section).
History of the Northlands
Elemental Age – circa 22000 BSC – 16000 BSC
- The Dwarven betrayal of the Tetrassor Council renders Earth the strongest element in the cosmos and precipitates the near extermination of the Dwarves in the Lodestone War as Shadow seeks to rebalance the cosmic scales.
- The surviving Dwarves migrate north to the wild plains and mountains of Darag, where their culture collapses, and they revert to hunter-gatherers.
Age of Immortals – circa 16000 BSC – 12000 BSC
- Thorgan and Haldan Bergthor are born – sons of the Asrae Goddess Vantarja and the Vanitan god Strengvar the son of Gaard.
- Haldan and Thorgan Bergthor befriend the Jotuns, learning of the World-Runes and how to bind the 12 Keraunoi powers with the 5 elements and harness the resultant powers as enchanted items using rune-magic.
- Thorgan teaches the Dwarves how to forge rune weapons and they produce many to equip the armies of the gods in the Demonwars.
- The Rhundras are founded by Thorgan; an elite cadre of the finest Dwarven smiths, dedicated to protecting the secrets of the runes.
Dawn Age –circa 12000 BSC – 8000 BSC
- On the continent of Zephyr, the newborn Human people called the Anthalon thrives and diversifies into Annyr, Algaervanen, Vagolgan, Peuktran, Vedhyan, Pharsians and others tribes. These children of the Asrae gods fight beside their creators in the Demonwars.
- Demonwars – During the Demonwars in Zephyr, the god Haldan Bergthor marries Skannya, a daughter of Algaer of the human Galmar Tribe, becoming father of the Skannyr race.
- The Skannyr and Vannyr, (both Algaervanan clans) multiply and migrate north to the peninsula of Skoggsunden on the continent of Zephyr.
- The clans expand into populous tribes.
- The Vannyr are devastated by demons and the survivors are assimilated by the Skannyr.
- Each tribes expands into an entire people.
Golden Age – circa 8000 BSC – 6500 BSC
- The Tartos and Minaxon Emperors on the continent of Ghorn invite Dwarven masons and smiths, to come from the world Prothenus. Many structures such as the continental bridges and tunnels are constructed by Dwarves and Jotuns. This new wave of Hjetanger and Dwerrow Dwarven settlers, led by Haldan’s brother Thorgan Bergthor, establishes a homeland in Darag (future Nordgaard), and teaches the fallen Svartangr Dwarves living there the lost skills of forging and masonry.
- Everkill War – After the collapse of the Mortal empires due to the Baneplague, the Dwarves of Darag seize their chance to recover ancestral lands dating back to the Elemental Age. They concentrate on re-settling defensible mountain realms. These become the South-Holds. The new Dwarven nation takes shape based on the shattered remnants of the Iron Empire.
Halcyon Age – circa 6500 BSC – 4000 BSC
- Frostflame War – Haldan heeds the call for aid from his brother Thorgan in defending the mountain rune around Darag in northern Ghorn. Haldan leads the Skannyr Tribes from Zephyr to Darag across the frozen sea.
- the founding of the Hornreich in the south leads to thousands of Reaver barbarians moving into Norgren Weald, just south of Nordgaard.
- Under mutual threat from Ice Demons, the kingdoms of the Northlands and the Skannyr unite into a single realm ruled by a Haldan and Thorgan.
- 5520 BSC – Official founding of Nordgaard.
- After the defeat of the Ice-Queen’s armies, Nordgaard builds the great stone Jotunrwall on the northern border to prevent demonic invasion.
- The Skannyr and Myrgaerder are granted the autonomous lands of Idvar Lar, Hornmark and Myrgaerd by the High-King, and are referred to thereafter by their Dwarven name – Skannfyrd.
- The coming of the Wyldfolk to Ghorn precipitates centuries of intermittent war on the southern border.
- Destiny Wars – attacks on the Dwarven South-Holds by the three great empires of the Destiny Wars prove to be costly misadventures. Pacts of neutrality are signed with the Kassobar Khanate, Gnostic Cabal and Theocracy of the Sacred Flame. Dwarves and Skannfyrd work as mercenaries for the empires.
Age of the Second Dawn – 4000 BSC – 3000 BSC
- Malentian Domination of Calydorn. Nordgaard proves one of the few lands that refuses to yield, and gains the respect of the Asrae gods thereby.
Dark Age – circa 3000 BSC to 1200 BSC
- Nordgaard weathers the Nine Woes and the resultant chaos better than most parts of the world.
- The Skannfyrd expand faster than the Dwarves and migrate west to Wintergaard and south to the Norgren Weald.
- Troglodyte migration to northern Ghorn from Volturna becomes an invasion of Nordgaard. The Troglodytes are repulsed, but thereafter, the shadow race occupies the lands to the east of Nordgaard.
- Haldan ascends to his feast-hall in Asraedia.
- Founding of the Order of the Gøderguard. Worship of the Asrae spreads among the Dwarves of Nordgaard.
Age of Ancients – circa 1200 BSC – 700 SC
- The 2nd migration period of the Skannfyrd – they settle in the mountain ranges of the South-Holds across Ghorn.
- A massive invasion of Ice-Demons and Nordlingr Barbarians almost destroys Nordgaard.
- The Skannfyrd are chosen by the Asrae as one of the Blessed Peoples partly at the urging of Haldan.
- Thorgan departs the mortal world forever as he enters the Cavern-Court of Gaard in the Elemental Plane of Earth
Blessed Age – circa 700 SC – 1800 SC
- A Dwarven Civil War lasts for several hundred years, ended by Banebrood invasion.
- 1000 SC – The Anointed Champion Hargan Isenwolff is born, a direct descendent of Haldan. This half-ogre’s army – the Fyrd-Host – pacifies Tartovara and sails their Seawolf Armada to Zephyr, beginning a 80 year campaign, carrying them westward , all the way to the fabled Dawnfire Lands. He founds the Gødermark (holy land) in Zephyr – an empire ruled by Skannfyrd lords, worshipping the Asrae.
- Isenwolff is murdered. The Sacred Gødermark fractures into warring kingdoms over the following centuries, ruled by Isenwolff’s generals.
Age of Woe – circa 1800SC – 2930 SC
- Civil War in Nordgaard is ended only when the race of Gangr (descendents of the Jotuns) grows tired and seizes control of the throne.
- Peace in Nordgaard creates a generation of landless younger sons. The High King the 3rd migration which causes waves of settlers to move into Annyr and Banebrood lands, and even into the Mortan and Halodyne lands of Gonatar. They settle Nordmark, Scylsingland, Volsingland, Ursken and Valros.
- 2901 SC – Great Annyr-Nordgaard war. Cath Godeau – Battle under the Trees. Skannfyrd conquer Wyldfolk lands in Norgren Weald.
- Skannfyrd Seawolf Pirates plague the shipping in the Ar-Gorna Sea prompting the Mortans to launch a campaign against Skannfyrd coastal towns.
- Incursions by Nordmark into Albharicum result in war with the occupying Mortan legions and the construction of the Antonian Wall.
- The Skannfyrd invade the Northcape of Annyrion, settling Skanntir.