School of Skaggers
|School of Skaggers|
|Proficiencies||Varies based on Discipline (Summary of possible Proficiencies: Axes Combat Skill, Shielding Combat Skill, Fast Blade Combat Skill, Pole Combat Skill)|
|Race||Velheim Ailor or those outsiders devoted to the Old Faiths|
|Origins||Drixagh, Regalian Archipelago|
Much like the other aspects of Velheim culture, the School of Skaggers is steeped in folklore and deep history. It draws its roots from the symbolism of the Old Faiths, namely from the Northern Brown Bear, Northern Moose, Northern Wolf and Throatcapswald War Owl which inspire the School’s various fighting styles. Deriving a history from the days of the Skagger Horde’s occupation of Drixagh, the School of Skaggers takes its name from the progenitors of their unique discipline. Institutions which teach the School and its Disciplines to prospective students are small ringforts nestled in the dense and sweeping pine forests of Drixagh; the foremost is The Crag, an ancient stone arena flanked by a great hall. The School of Skaggers continues to be a controversial School, many Regalian civilized people considering them barbaric, usually inaccurately so. As opposed to the regular Velheim "screaming warriors," Skaggers are actually very self-reserved and self-controlling and do not lose their temper at all. One can hardly ever find a trained Skagger with a wild temper, though their Trances, which are induced through a combination of plant-life introduced to the skin and nasal passages, can certainly be fierce. Featuring a startling balance between emotional control and unbridled rage, the School of Skaggers is truly a unique martial institution.
Before the expulsion of the Skagger Horde in 179 AC, many tribes from the Horde sent champions of considerable skill to battle against the ever-encroaching threat of the Regalian Empire’s conquest of Drixagh and the Calem regions. These elite warriors wore little else besides a beastly animal’s pelt, trusting in their skill and the ceremonial warpaint marking their body to keep them from harm. They were said to charge into battle with furious vigor, howling at the top of their lungs or biting their shield in a display of uncontrollable rage. Traditions for preparing a champion were preserved past the Skagger Horde’s expulsion by the remaining denizens of Drixagh, who began to unlock the secrets of berserking discipline through careful examination of the Horde’s customs and their surroundings. Even as the Regalian Empire consolidated their rule of Drixagh, many country folks continued to prepare their fighting sons and daughters in the old Skagger way. Years later, an alchemist from Drixagh by the name of Vydemir von Freudstein, discovered various properties in the local plant-life that could provide hallucinogenic effects when introduced to the skin and nasal passages. In conjunction with a group of friends from his hometown, von Freudstein managed to emulate the harrowing ritual of producing a Skagger champion, referred to as a Berhednar. His findings were sent to higher authorities in the capital city of Regalia, where the discovery was deemed worthy of martial applications. Von Freudstein, along with various military educators, began to perfect other aspects of the creation of a Berhednar, to the point where they also trained prospective warriors on how to control their rage and discipline themselves outside of combat.
At around 230 AC, members of von Freudstein’s Skagger Order were sent alongside the military levies of Drixagh to fight overseas. Each member proved to be an exemplary warrior, even impressing Nordskaggers, who were traditionally seen as the more quality troops in the Imperial Army. Upon the end of various campaigns, the Skagger Order was officially recognized as a military organization in the Regalian Empire and von Freudstein was given a sizeable monetary stipend to propagate the Berhednar in his home province. A Berhednar of the Skagger Order remains the highest class of warrior in Drixagh, encouraging the respect of old traditions in young warriors in the present day. In more recent years, the School of Skaggers and its chief order (The Skaganek Order) have become heavily criticized for breeding revolutionist warriors who seek to undermine, if not outright overthrow, the Crown Government of the Empire. While this is mostly fear mongering, some of the more prominent Skaggers in recent memory have fallen under this umbrella. Such fears, along with other issues, fielded the Burning of the North which saw thousands of Skagger practitioners wiped out and the minor places of education obliterated. The central fortress of the School, the Crag, was also severely damaged by the conflict. As a result of this series of events, Skaggers have become a rarity on the battlefield and the School’s controversial status in Ailor society has only been further solidified.
Code of Conduct
The School of Skaggers was once a highly restricted School, only accepting Velheim from Drixagh into it. With time though, and the erosion of Velheim prestige and power, the School has opened itself to outsiders to survive. Anyone devoted enough to either of the Old Faiths from foreign cultures may join the School, in addition to their more open policy of accepting any Velheim whether they are from Drixagh or not. Each of the different Disciplines pushes its own set of ideas and requirements to graduate into its students, but there are two commonalities: the role of the Grandmasters and the control of one’s rage. Each Discipline’s instruction location was once headed by a council of eight Grandmasters in a reflection of the four Unions of the Old Gods faith. The Grandmasters were considered fierce warriors and graduated exclusively at the top of their class, though each Discipline employs its own methods for electing them. More recently, what Velheim nobility exists often have a representative or a role in these councils to help maintain the ancient ways. Some of these, particularly if they are young nobility, only serve a representation role and cannot be considered Grandmasters themselves. Many Grandmaster Councils are also limited in number, with three to four being the norm for the past two decades and become a Grandmaster, one must be at least 30 years old. These Grandmasters are the master instructors of the School; to disobey them is often dishonorable, and to challenge them is dangerous. As a result, few are ever challenged, but those who are risk losing their Grandmaster role to the one who has defeated them. As for the matter of rage, Skagger tradition holds that only when engaged in a Trance state should a warrior express heightened aggression toward anyone. A bitter word or two is acceptable in the wider world, but it is unacceptable to lose control of one’s emotional state. This has not been helped by recent events, where Skaggers have been forced to combat intense feelings of negativity due to Regalia’s policies over the last several years.
Disciplines of Skagger
The traditional form taught to a wide variety of students, the Skagenak Discipline is infamous for its use of twin hand axes. Being the most well-known form, the Skagenak Discipline is the one most sought after by aspiring practitioners. The Discipline’s popularity peaked in the year 305 AC when it seemed as though Skagenak students were popping up all over the Regalian Empire. Almost parallel to this spike in aspirants was the abrupt decline of the Discipline’s public reputation following events within the Crown City of Regalia and they became the rarest Discipline in the aftermath of the Burning of the North.
In combat, members of the Skagenak Discipline are renowned for their mix of ferocity and focus, allowing them to act as highly effective shock troops against enemy forces. Their real reputation, however, is centered around their definitive Trance state, that of ferocious rage. This rage comes in the form of a massive adrenaline spurt in the upper body which allows members of the Discipline to throw, swing, and slash powerfully with their axes for up to an hour, given they have small breaks in the fighting. If not, they run out of stamina within forty minutes. The most advanced students of the Skagenak Discipline are known as Berhednar, taken from the language of the Horde which roughly translates to “Bear-Headed Ones” in today’s Skodje. This comes from the bear pelts the original Skagenak warriors once wore as cloaks into battle, and thus to receive one such pelt-cloak as a battle reward is a high honor.
|Entry Requirements||Velheim Ailor only.|
|Form Code of Conduct||To enter a Trance is to take upon yourself a great religious burden, to misuse, this is to become
Utstøtt or outcast.
|Symptoms of Trance||Physical exhaustion for up to six hours upon exiting the Trance.|
|Sub-School Location||The Crag, Drixagh|
|Form Weapons||Exclusively twin hand axes.|
The Älgträffar Discipline (more commonly known as Moose Antler Form) is one of the more recently developed Skagger combat forms. The Moose Antler Form is the most defense-oriented form, as it draws inspiration from the Northern Moose’s large antlers. Practitioners of the School are not as common as Skagenak but are often far hardier than their counterparts due to the requirements of the discipline. While rare, the Älgträffar Discipline is most commonly taught to leaders of Velheim society as they are expected to protect and care for their people.
When locked in the heat of battle, Älgträffar students are known to use their shield first and axe or sword second. Oftentimes this results in what is known as “Elg Presser” or "Moose Pushing" in which the practitioner uses their shield to shove or even carry their enemy across varying distances to protect allies. The Älgträffar’s Trance state gives its practitioners increased reflexes, making them difficult to hit with projectiles and allowing them to block multiple incoming attacks with ease. This breaks down when confronted with relentless opponents or artillery, such as that fielded in recent years by the Regalian Empire. The Trance lasts as much as an hour, though constant, repeated bombardment or attack by the enemy will reduce it to 40 minutes. When working in units of their own, Älgträffar students commonly form shield walls to block off avenues of attack and to defend against incoming ranged projectiles such as arrows.
|Entry Requirements||Muscular or Higher Body Build Velheim Ailor only.|
|Form Code of Conduct||Be the shield that covers your ally, focus on the protection of others.|
|Symptoms of Trance||Doubly reduced reaction times for 12 hours after exiting the Trance.|
|Sub-School Location||Elgsund Lodge, Drixagh|
|Form Weapons||Handaxe and shield, shields may vary. May alternatively make use of a Valsgärde sword.|
The closest cousin to the traditional Skagenak Discipline is Vargklor, known in Common as Wolf Claw Form. The most agile and vicious of all the Disciplines, Vargklor are quick on their feet and incredibly precise with their weapons, comparable even to the Griffers from the School of Griffer from the south. Vargklor students are among the rarer breeds as the Velheim often have little need for precision combatants due to the sheer volume of shock troops. This has led to the Discipline falling into the background while others have garnered greater renown.
During combat encounters, Vargklor students weave between larger opponents to cleave, stab and hack away at weak points. They are trained to target arteries, joints, and other similar features of the anatomy to bring down more substantial threats on the field, ensuring their heavier troops have less work. Their Trance takes the shortest time to initiate and is typically only done as a last resort in life or death situations. This is because the practitioner loses all self-control and must be restrained and calmed by larger Velheim warriors if they survive the battle, often resulting in injuries. The effects of this Trance, while similar to the Skagenak Discipline, run deeper, producing intense points of muscular pain instead of general physical exhaustion. While in Trance, practitioners are like living arrows, darting everywhere and attacking the exposed weak points of foes with animal ferocity. Even if disarmed, they tend to claw or even bite at vulnerable spots on their opponent, which can be quite brutal. This effect lasts the longest, between one to two hours.
|Entry Requirements||Ripped or Lower Body Build Velheim Ailor Only.|
|School Code of Conduct||Ferocity and speed, Trance as a last resort only.|
|Symptoms of Trance||Deep muscle pain upon exiting the Trance, cannot go untreated.|
|School Location||Ulf-Bein Lodge, Drixagh|
|School Weapons||Axe and dirk, though occasionally applying the usage of teeth or nails especially when in the Trance.|
The strongest warriors of the Skagger horde are those who study the Björntass Discipline or Bear Paw Form. Placing great emphasis on brute strength, the form has drawn the attention of the most muscularly gifted of the Velheim who have taken admittance to the Discipline’s respective lodge as a great honor and testament to their strength. The reputation of these warriors’ utter ferocity and endurance often spreads ahead of their presence on the battlefield, giving enemies pause before engaging in skirmishes.
On the field, Björntass warriors are known to cleave through multiple adversaries at once with their massive great axes and to break bones with their bare hands. Some of the Björntass have adopted axes with hooked heads to rip open the guard of shielded opponents as shields have seen an increase in usage within the past decade. The barbaric Bear Paw Form has only grown in infamy as more seem to trickle out of their Lodge in Drixagh in recent years. Similarly to other Disciplines, the Björntass have perfected their own Trance. Practitioners experience a surge in strength which lasts roughly ten minutes, allowing them to go almost toe to toe with Warlord Orcs. During the ten minutes, it is advised to stand back and let the Björntass get to work. They remain clear-headed during this experience, hence why they are “superior” to Skagenak, but their period of exhaustion is much longer.
|Entry Requirements||Strongman Velheim Ailor Only.|
|School Code of Conduct||Merciless, sheer power overcomes all obstacles.|
|Symptoms of Trance||Bedridden from exhaustion for 6 hours upon exiting the Trance, will remain mildly exhausted for an additional 12 hours.|
|School Location||Kløydalen Lodge, Drixagh|
|School Weapons||Great Axes and Hooked Axes.|
The most ranged of the Skagger Horde are students of the Uglassjel Discipline. Regarded as the guardians of Soldi (honor), the Owl Soul warriors are a rarity among the Velheim in that they only admit female warriors. This practice does not have any known roots but is something the Uglassjel Lodge has not strayed from since its conception. Despite this oddity of admissions, many young Velheim women seek to prove their mettle here as it is heralded as an institution of great honor and wisdom, like their patron animal the Throatcapswald War Owl native to the surrounding Throatcapswald.
When put to the test, Owl Soul Discipline practitioners prove they are capable of going toe to toe with any other of the Disciplines, favoring tactics to cut down their opponents, often males, to a smaller size. With their spears and shields, they lunge into battle with careful thought, ensuring they outperform their adversaries through the focus on precise strikes. This is where the Uglassjel battle Trance comes into play. Their Trance grants them great focus and great perception to help them precisely stab their spears. This is not a magical ability, as even Uglassjels can miss, but it is made far less likely. Their Trance is one of the shorter ones, a mere twenty to thirty minutes depending on the intensively of the battlefield, and after it they are almost useless in combat.
|Entry Requirements||Female Velheim only.|
|Form Code of Conduct||Wisdom and honor triumph over all.|
|Symptoms of Trance||Greatly reduced cognitive ability, lack of higher thinking for 12 hours after exiting the Trance.|
|Sub-School Location||Uglassjel Peak Lodge, Drixagh|
|Form Weapons||Small round shield paired with a spear or pike, occasional use of throwing axes.|
OOC Rules for the School
- To use a Trance state, a warrior needs to have graduated from the School, which requires a solid ten years of dedication. They also need to emote or specifically mention the act of spreading the material under their noses to trigger the Trance when in RP or in a progression. Additionally, using the Trance in everyday combat is looked down upon by all and only in a hard-pressed fight or battle can it be used without shame.
- The plants involved with the Trances are Skagger secrets, and revealing their specifics is a grave offense.
- The School of Skaggers is generally incompatible with other Schools, primarily for its religious devotion but also its use of chemicals, something most other Regalian-based Schools frown upon.
- The School of Skaggers was recently devastated by the Burning of the North. Thousands of students died, and this must be reflected/mentioned in any Character Applications involving characters in the School of Skaggers.
- Members of the School of Skaggers, while not inherently disadvantaged socially by their mental conditioning, are more prone to making ties with people who are emotionally strong. This has inadvertently created a small society within the order, as many members intermarry with each other due to the lack of any suitable partners elsewhere.
- The School of Skaggers is likely to go extinct within the next 50 years unless it manages to move itself to new lodges and halls in other Velheim areas of Aloria.