Steel, Wood, and Honey in Balance
Languages: Vaiar, Western Svertan, Eastern Svertan
Ruler: Theuda at the top, Haira below, and local Thanes
Example Names: Agnar Ormson, Hjor Isgautson, Tonna Ayrdottir, Istrid Skaldottir
Some of the cities of Svertheim have existed for a millenium, initially united under the first Svertan Theuda, Maghnus Serdheim, who myth says conquered the land in the wake of the falling Urul Imperium, repelling Vandaran raiders and monsters alike. Serdheims lineage ruled for millenia before the alliance fell into chaos during a period of intense Vandaran aggression. The current alliance of the cities under a single, non-hereditary, authority only occurred a thousand years ago, resulting from the rise of the charismatic and powerful Theuda Kurda Sigurd. Sigurd united the Svertans first by pushing back the alliance of Vandar invaders and then by organizing governance, trade, conquering local aggressors, and reestablishing a common law for the land.
Vilkappi: ‘Wild Warriors’, a group encompassing both the Vargenar (“Vargr Skin” Wolf-warriors) and the Svinfylking (“Boar Heads”) who wear beast skins into battle. Half-mad, hardy, and bloody-minded trance warriors.
Usari: Wild rangers known for their survival prowess and skill with animals (Typically Wolves, Clanbar, Daedon, Gulogar, or Jaghunds). Trappers, Hunters, and Animal trainers with a unique connection to, and ability to enhance their companions.
A vast land of dense forests populated by an alliance of city-states all set in the shadow of the treacherous Sword Peaks. A frigid and dangerous land with hardy people who use cunning, hard work and sheer will to survive. Svertheim is know for its fortified settlement-cities, some hundreds or thousands of years old. These are bastions of civilization in seemingly endless wilderness. Svertheims power comes from a robust economy of farming, foresting, and mining, all of which are under constant threat of attack by savages, monsters, and bandits. As a result, Svertan rulers are largely disinterested in the broader politics of the world.
The Svertans are a federation of “bastion cities”; semi-independent city-states each led by a local Thane. There are three tiers of governance in Svertheim. The Thanes rule locally, typically over one or two cities at most, but the Theuda is the high lord of the country, the figure to which all Thane swear fealty. The Haira sit in the middle; Thanes who have been chosen to act as advisors and have left their positions of local power, moving to the capital to act as council to the Theuda. Each Thane exercises unilateral control within their domain. The Hairas act as a council to the Theuda, the High Lord of Svertheim. Each Thane sends an annual tribute of trade goods, taxes and soldiers to the Theuda. On the death of a Theuda a new Lord is elected from the Haira council and a Thane moves up to fill the newly open position of Haira. As a result every Thane sees the possibility of High Rule, though not all of them seek it out. A new Thane is determined by the now Haira, often, but not always, by hereditary succession, and often, but not always, the first born son.
For the most part the Thanes concern themselves with local matters; in particular Svertheim’s forests and mountains conceal a panoply of threats from the mundane to the terrifyingly unknown so it’s enough work to simply to keep their modest holdings intact.
Svertan culture does differ slightly depending on region: The western Svertans are more martial as a result of their frequent skirmishing with Vandari raiders. Central Svertans enjoy a general peace and prosperity that makes them friendlier and more open to trade and outsiders. And Eastern Svertans are generally known as half-mad seafarers who enjoy the bounties of the sea, at the cost of its many dangers.
Svertan history is mostly that of stability and the value of trade and alliances. Inter-city alliances sealed by marriage are common and local Thanes are often friendly, recognizing that they might need each others aid at any time. A few Thanes seek more unified power over multiple cities, but the traditional loyalty of the Svertan people to their Thanes, and the watchful eyes of the Haira limit such ambitions. The Svertans have not had a major war in a century, though some express concern over the increasing power of the Kingdom of Granden in the south. The strong Svertheim relationship with Lux has only grown stronger in light of this shared concern.
The Svertan people are hardy and industrious and their trade networks are strong. Their warriors are not as organized as the Ossandrians or Granden, nor as brutal as the Luxi, but they are skilled skirmishers. The greatest advantage of the Svertan soldier class is their loyalty and morale. They will fight tooth and nail for the Thane, even in dire circumstances. A rich industry of skilled mercenaries further enhances their defense. The pride of the Svertan warrior elite is the Vargenar, hunter-warriors who don armour made of Vargrskin and employ a terrible blood lust in combat.
In many cities Svertan culture is stratified into lower classes who do manual labour, tradesmen and merchants, and the landed nobility. Despite this, the peasant and drudge class is generally content, so long as the Thane is doing their job of protecting them and providing access to sufficient food, alcohol, and the occasional festival. The abundance of resources in the North generally makes this uncomplicated.
The north is dotted with Urul ruins, many of them untouched. This is a result of two factors: 1) a widely shared superstition amongst Svertans regarding these places which extends from a general piety and common polytheism and 2) the deadliness of many of the defenses guarding those ruins. Svertans won’t stop outsiders from delving the ruins but they’re almost always vindicated when said outsiders fail to return.
The one technology possessed only by the Svertans is Corewood. As the name suggests this is a rare type of wood found only in the north and harvested from the heart of Ygir Oak trees. Once treated corewood is harder than steel, resistant to fire, and self-healing when exposed to water and sunlight. A skilled woodweaver can craft a variety of structures and even armour from the material, but it’s most common use is in powerful longbows. Corewood trades for high prices outside Svertheim.
Svertheim maintains only a single major military force – the Theuda’s Host, who are assembled from across Svertheim only as necessary. Many Thanes do maintains a smaller personal force which can be dispatched to deal with threats or to clear trade routes for caravans but some contract this work out to mercenary companies as required.
Svertans are, more often than not, open to outsiders and quasi-humans. Small Tollam tribes known as the Felyagr often trade with Svertan bastions, swapping bounties and game for crafted goods. Occasionally these Tollam will even join the Svertans as labourers or soldiers. Tamaa are rare but not unheard of. Most Svertans consider Bellatori to be a myth, but a few elders speak of dealing with such creatures in the deep woods.
Svertan Attitudes Towards quasi-humans:
- Bellatori: “Oto’s Sword! Is that what I think it is? My gran used to tell tales about your kind…how do you feel about a little work.”
- Tamaa: “Aia’s swinging sack! Is it true you can change your look? I only ask ’cause there was this girl I liked when I was younger…”
- Oneiri: “By Omo’s Hammer! I used to hear stories… can you really see my dreams? Like… all of them…?”
- Tollam: “By the Vox! Ten gelt says I can out-drink you!” / dies of alcohol poisoning
- Kaeki: “I heard you can see the future. What’s the weather going to be like this spring? It’s my crop you see….”
Svertheim society is relatively unbiased by gender, sexual preference. Female Soldiers, Artisans, and Thanes are no more uncommon than male ones. One quirk is that women are often more trusted with numbers than men and women are frequently found in key positions in the certain bureaucracies.
The favoured pastime of most Svertans are drinking, ball-sports, non-lethal gladiatorial combat, raucous tavern music and more drinking.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors in the success of the Svertan and Selenian cultures are their open attitude towards change. While it seems a bit unnatural to many outsiders, both cultures welcome change in a way that, paradoxically, makes their society more stable. The Svertan mindset is often looking for ‘the next thing’ which translates into new industries and a more welcoming attitude towards foreigners than in many other areas. This readiness to change is not universal; there are still political and social habits and mores which remain static, but the prevailing attitude in these cultures is much less conservative, making the desire, capacity, and resilience to change much higher.
Svertan ales, meads, and spirits are widely considered some of the best in Aeldos, and are considered valuable trade goods in the across Aeldos.
The Svertan Gelt has the Sword Peak symbol on one side and a crown on the other.
Svertans are highly practical and prefer simple armour and weaponry. Armour tends to incorporate furs and leather to mitigate the harsh climate but otherwise is primarily simple leathers, scale, and plate. The exception to Svertan simplicity is the nobility which has a strong preference for ornate weaponry, particularly swords. Svertan noble swords are always unique and personalized by the wielder and can take many forms. Broadswords and bastard swords are common across the culture while great axes are also a favored weapon of Southern and Eastern Svertans. Long and short bows are the most common ranged weapon. Heater and tower shields are frequently used by soldiers and adorned with wilderness motifs.
Loyalty (to family, friends, Thane), Honour, Humour, Hard Work.
Theuda: “High King”
Felyagr: “Mountain Hunters”
Clanbar: “Clan Bear”a type of semi-domesticated Northern Dog-Bear.
Sotaher: Valour, literally “War-heart”
Degan: “Freeman”, sometimes conflated with “Noble”
Vargr: A type of monstrous wolf found in the north.
Eno: “Uncle” (mothers brother)
Isoisoäiti: “Great grandmother”
Herra: “Sir / Mr” (Honorific used in polite conversation for a male)
Rouva: “Lady / Miss” (Honorific used in polite conversation for a female)
Iron, Timber, Fur, Hides, Alcohol, Fish, Meat
Svertans like rules… particularly the breaking of them