Northlanders


Northlanders

Northlanders are known to be stout warriors who live off the land, pray to their ancestors, enjoy honey meads, and see portents everywhere. Among them, strength is respected, weakness abhorred, and sharp wit tolerated. A skald and wise woman are staples of every village, the former to minister to the mind, and the latter the spirit.

They emigrated to the valley generations ago. Almost exclusively human, these barbaric people live in the grassy prairies and foothills known as the Borars. Intensely insular and quick to violence, the tribal Northlanders have not made any attempt to integrate with other societies.

Relations

Northlanders value strength, independence, and cunning. Traits they often find lacking in outsiders. 

  • Amore: The city-dwelling folk of Amore are, by and large, weak and unable to survive in the truly rugged environs of the valley. They are not welcomed among the tribes. 
  • Eldrinael: Very little interaction exists between the Eldrinael and the Northlanders, but the barbarians respect the elves whom they see as kindred spirits, if a little on the weak side. 
  • Ptah: The dwarves of Ptah are respected for their strength and courage, the gnomes are a mystery, and the halflings of Ptah are welcomed in all tribal lands for their friendliness and gentle spirits. 

The Names of Things

Society

Northlanders are self sufficient, dependent almost entirely on the bison herds for sustenance throughout the year. Food, shelter, and prestige can all be claimed from a successful hunt. While the bison provide for the Northlanders, their proclivity to capture and tame the region's predators, such as dinosaurs and wolves, has allowed them to maintain control of these wild lands in the face of vast goblinoid hordes in the nearby mountains.   

Though attempts have been made, it is difficult to estimate the number of Northlanders due to a lack of any official census and their high mortality rates. Each of the thirteen clans are comprised of between 12 to 40 villages ranging in size from a few dozen adults to a few hundred. Their towns are centered around a great hall where village leaders hold court, skalds regale audiences with rousing tales of bravery, and feasts are conducted after great events and successful hunts.

Honor

There are two broad social classes among the tribes: warriors and civilians. Unwed warriors live, eat, sleep, drink, and carouse in the great hall, while civilians live in longhouses capable of housing up to twenty family members. These homes typically include several generations of a family.

Festival of Oxmead

In the late summer, warriors from across Borars begin their preparations for the great festival of Oxmead. The festival unfolds in stages over several weeks beginning with the Games, which lead to the Great Culling, the Red Feast, and finally ending with the Scouring. 

In the late summer, a temporary highhouse is constructed on neutral ground. While the bison herds begin gathering together into one massive horde, Northlanders gather at this temporary highhouse where the festival kicks off with several days of games. The greatest warriors from each clan compete, all hoping to earn the title of Master of the Hunt. When the games conclude, 100 warriors, chosen from the champions of each clan and led by the Master of the Hunt, spill forth from the highhouse and begin the Great Culling, slaughtering as many bison as they can as the beasts stampede towards Bison Vale. 

Oxmead

The culled bison are taken back to the temporary highhouse where fully one-third of the population Northlanders waits to assist with the processing. Every part of the bison is used, from the hides which are tanned, meats that are smoked, and bones ground up or shaped into implements. When the work is done and the hunters returned, the Red Feast begins. Clan by clan, family by family, they feast on the abundance of bison and oxmead. Every Northlander is expected to partake in the Red Feast at least once every three years. 

Finally, with their families provided for, the warriors gather into war parties numbering 75 to 100 (along with dinosaur mounts and entire packs of trained wolves) and make for the low mountain passes. Here they scour the mountains for goblin caves. When they find one, they gather en masse and slaughter the goblins within, often suffering significant casualties. They use large boulders to seal the caves, seeking to disrupt food stores and hobble the goblins, who vastly outnumber the Northlanders. Many believe the annual Scouring is all that keeps the goblins from overrunning the entire valley with their immense numbers. 

Finally Oxmead ends when the victorious survivors limp out of the mountains, returning to their clans. By this time, the temporary highhouse has been dismantled and clan rivalries are back in full swing.

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