Hostile to all other Kingdoms in Eletreus and a threat first by land and later by sea for over 1,500 years, the harsh frozen lands of the Northmen are infamous for breeding some of the most ferocious and brutal warriors the world has or ever will see.
In a state of perpetual warfare with their neighbors, and even among themselves, their long-ships appear suddenly and without warning all along the Northern coastlines to attack any vulnerable target they can find, and the Aelutian Empire must devote considerable naval resources to patrol against their almost constant raiding parties.
Driven on by a lack of fertile lands, they are thankfully limited in the number of warriors that they can maintain at any one time, and this has prevented them from being able to hold any lands they conquer. However their harsh climate is also their shield, as despite numerous attempts by the Aelutians to invade their lands and stop the raids at their source, no attack force has ever made it further than Grimmerheim due to issues with supply chains and the long, bitter winter months. Likewise, their fast longships, while not as powerful as the Aelutian navy head to head, have historically been deployed to scatter and counter-attack all over the coast when a concentrated naval assault is attempted. As such, with constant patrols required to keep the seas safe from their raiding, the Northmen are locked in a stalemate – unable to conquer new lands, nor be conquered by their enemies, and wage an eternal and fever pitched endless war against all their neighbors – and have no allies or trading partners.
The Northmen originally worshipped their own gods, who were diefied great chieftains of previous ages, the greatest among these the mighty Odin – but in recent centuries their priesthood has been subverted and infiltrated by the Fallen, who drive them on to greater acts of violence and bloodlust. They also revere the spirit of the White Volcano, Valkha, a volcanic blade smithing god, and is the location of their famous, isolated and independent sword forges.
Fearless in battle, the warrior class/tribe known as the Asjar have both male and female warriors, the females elites known as the Valkhajir and are a religious order of warrior priestesses and magicians, while the strongest males are called the Barsakrjir, both consuming mushrooms native to their lands that enhance their combat abilities, remove all pain and drive them into a frenzy with eyes glowing bright blue.
Internally, their history is a series of cycles of civil war followed by a period of unification under a High King and, upon the Kings Death, a return to squabbling among themselves. Externally, when they fight among themselves, the seas become safe, and conversely, when united – their raids are almost constant. Previous attempts to attack them when they war among themselves have not been successful, for they immediately put aside their differences if attacked by an external enemy, and in the past such attempts to take advantage of their own aggression have even led to the creation of new High Kings..
The end result is that despite relatively small numbers, the tenacity and ferocity of the average Northman warrior equals 3 Imperial Legionnaires – with normal casualty rates from 3-5 Imperials for every Northman slain, and Imperial strategists have theorized that to be able to defeat them once and for all and annex their territory would required the entire Aelutian army and navy concentrating attacks on their lands for 5-10 years and would result in the deaths of up to 30,000 Imperial soldiers.
As a result, the neighbors of the Northmen contend themselves to containing them – blocking their advance by land and patrolling the seas to try and keep them in check, a strategy that is for the most part successful.
Military: Between 5,000-10,000 warriors at any given time, continually replenished.
Racial Characteristics: Northmen and women are typically tall, physically imposing and tend towards a quick and violent temper. Hair color varies, but blonde and red are the most common. Eye color is naturally usually blue or green. Many Northmen and women suffer from an affliction known as the ‘red mist’ in which, when angered, they are unable to control themselves and work themselves up into an indiscriminate bloodletting fury.
Language: Norsc, some speak a smattering of Aelutian. 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”, which is an alien concept.
MAJOR TOWNS, CITIES AND PLACES OF INTEREST
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: The White Volcano is a very high and moderately active volcano, seldom its top is not hidden in clouds. It is the seat of Valkha, the 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.
KALDERLAND CASTLE: ‘Cold Land’ Castle is aptly named and is a freezing outpost that serves as the main point of defense 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.