School of Skaggers
|School of Skaggers|
|Proficiencies||Axe Combat, Shielding Combat, Dagger Combat, Spear Combat (All based on chosen Discipline)|
|Race||Velheim Ailor or those outsiders devoted to the Old Faiths|
|Location||Drixagh, Regalian Archipelago|
Much like other aspects of Velheim Culture, the School of Skaggers has a deep history steeped in folklore. The modern forms of the School trace their roots to an ancient variant, which died with the Skagger Horde during the conflicts fought in Drixagh decades ago. Each Discipline that survives today is a bastion of what is deemed to be honorable combat by the Velheim, and shares an identity with an animal of the north. During the Burning of the North, many Skaggers were killed and their numbers have slowly recovered thanks to the arrival of Velheim not native to Drixagh. Only time will tell how the School of Skagger evolves, but many see promise and positivity where once there was often shame, sadness, and counterproductive stubbornness.
The School of Skaggers claims an ancient legacy, even dating back to before the formal recognition of any Skagger Horde within Drixagh. While the Velheim did not possess the warrior spirit as a key element of their identity until later, there were still recognized Velheim warriors as early as 350 BC. However, these men and women, while sometimes serving as extra muscle for naval voyages, were often Skorda for Velheim burial sites. Dedicated to keeping the Helbolwen and their tenders safe, individual Skorda gradually formed centers of martial learning. In time, their role as Skorda faded as the Velheim began to face more issues that required a skilled fighting force. Gone were the men and women who solely defended their local community and in their place arose the School of Skaggers, for those who “lost themselves” and their home in the cause of defending it. Early on, the School lacked prestige, as the warfare they participated in was seen as almost senseless to the Proto- and early Velheim. For this reason, the term Skagger itself became tied to the concept of someone who has forsaken their home through tragedy and is searching for a new place of belonging to find themselves again. Ultimately, the School expanded and soon had teaching facilities in most lands colonized by the Velheim, both in Drixagh and The North Belt.
The zenith, and some would conversely say downfall, of the School of Skagger came with the Skagger Wars. Velheim warlords formed the Skagger Horde, consisting of several smaller, individual Hordes who began to raid the south, dismantling regional powers in an effort at both preemptive self-defense and territorial expansion to accommodate their large population. Leading the charge were the Skagger warriors themselves, trained in increasingly diverse forms of combat. They came to symbolize both the Hordes they served and the nature of the Velheim people in the minds of the broader Regalian Empire. While this was false, the School of Skaggers had such an influential role within the Horde at the time that it might as well have been true, at least when it was related to the Velheim of Drixagh. As the Skagger Wars raged on and the Regalians grew in power, several Skaggers fled elsewhere, and after the Tvål Treaty, the School of Skaggers as it had been before, broke. Non-Skagger Velheim killed their kin or assimilated them, and the diaspora away from Drixagh saw the old iteration of the School die. However, some of the original way remained, and grouped up, retreating to isolated, ancient ground to begin all over again.
In the hundred and twenty-five years since their retreat, the School of Skaggers had been reborn, albeit without as many of the sub-variants as it supposedly had at its height. Recently, they have suffered a terrible tragedy in the Burning of the North. Seeing the actions of the Empire in their land as a violation of the Tvål Treaty, they engaged the Regalian Army, which had a disastrous cascade effect. Part of the then Undercrown’s plan, knowing his actions would provoke a reply from them, the Army came to purposefully target centers of the School. Thousands of students and warriors died, including the notable Shieldmaiden of Drixagh, Johanna Uëxkulla, a graduate of the Nøyaktigfort Discipline who fell trying to defend the culturally significant settlement of Ensomtreby, her home out in the Drixagh tundra. The other Shieldmaidens escaped the destruction, yet ultimately reclaimed her body in the aftermath. Regional leaders loyal to the Empire quickly moved to protect what Skaggers remained, though a number did still rush into more battles to specifically attack hosts responsible for the terrible atrocities committed against the Skaggers. By the time the conflict was finished, approximately 80% of the School’s warriors were dead. In the past few years though, a huge surge of newcomers, largely from foreign Velheim lands, has helped to give hope for the School’s future. With them, each new student has also brought a detachment from the conflicts that have so defined the Skagger identity for nearly three centuries, which by many Velheim is seen as necessary. Long a bastion of toxic machismo, the School has now been revitalized and reforged into a true expression of the Velheim people. Unfortunately, it took such a horrific event as the Burning to accomplish it.
Code of Conduct
The School of Skaggers was once an incredibly exclusive School, only accepting Velheim from Drixagh into it. With time and the erosion of Velheim prestige and power, the School has opened itself to outsiders to keep its numbers up, even permitting Old Gods faithful Highlanders in their ranks though the enmity between the two Cultures makes such occurrences extremely rare. Indeed, any foreigners who want to be accepted must be devoted to the Old Gods to join the School while the institution also has the policy of accepting any Velheim automatically, whether they are from Drixagh or not.
Each of the different Disciplines pushes its own set of ideas and requirements to graduate onto 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 are considered fierce warriors and graduated at the top of their class, though each Discipline employed its own methods for electing them. After the Burning of the North, the number has drastically dropped in many regions, often with a quartet of only four Grandmasters to a Lodge, though some still do have enough warriors remaining to field the full complement of eight. Additionally since the Burning, Velheim nobility now often have a representative or a role in these councils to help maintain the ancient ways, as well as keep an eye on the proceedings. To become a Grandmaster, one must be at least 30 years old and can no longer serve in active conflict unless the situation is dire, as they are instead the master instructors of the School. To disobey them is often dishonorable, and to challenge them is dangerous socially and politically, but also physically. As a result, few are ever challenged, but those who risk losing the title of Grandmaster to the one who has defeated them. As for the code on the lack of a temper, Skaggers are famous in the wider world for being cool-headed, only allowing their anger or frustrations out during combat as a way of extinguishing their ferocity. Skaggers are taught a meditation of sorts, along with an internal mantra as a way of repressing and controlling their anger while out in the wider world. This does not mean that they are dispassionate or cannot express annoyance, or even anger in their speech, but their actions must be carefully controlled and their temper ultimately saved for combat. A number of survivors from the Burning have difficulties with accomplishing this task, though the younger generation lacks such issues.
The School of Skaggers has a variety of Disciplines that educate their students in a variety of ways. Despite this, there are still two single guiding principles in the School of Skaggers: the axe, and one’s age. Whether it be the Skagger Axe, being a medium axe wielded by the ancient Skagger Horde, or a simpler hand axe one might find in more general hands, the teaching around the use of one’s axe takes up a majority of the time in the School. They train in wielding the axe alone as well as in combination with another weapon or shield, and how to use it against a variety of opponents. Nøyaktigfort Discipline is the sole School to see the axe as secondary, and instead take only one year in instruction with the axe before emphasizing the This process takes two years, followed by a further two years of education in the other tools the Discipline might use resulting in four years total of standard education. However, students often stay longer and continue to hone their abilities. The second aspect is age, as all students must begin between the ages of twelve and sixteen. The School also trains its members on how to control their anger for sole use in battle and express themselves in functional ways, often helping their students to avoid becoming the stoic, dispassionate, and cruel person as ascribed to them by other Cultures. Additionally, while training of one’s body or the ability to increase one’s strength is not part of the School, as the Velheim way of life often doesn’t require it, students can engage with those forms of education to help them bulk up or remain fit.
Disciplines of Skaggers
The Skjærenek Discipline is the most traditional form of the School of Skaggers and has the most Lodges dedicated to its instruction. It is also the oldest form of education as from it, the other Disciplines, both modern and lost, emerged. This Discipline emphasizes rapid, pressing attacks when engaging an enemy, relying on forward momentum to gain the upper hand. When on the defensive, the Discipline requires a firm, but maneuverable series of actions with one’s protective instrument, all while keeping full focus on a foe. This mixed, generalist approach has endured the test of time and has allowed the Discipline to be flexible to the individual’s needs in both sides of a fight. The Skjæreneks commonly associate with the Northern Brown Bear, the common symbol of the School overall and one taken on after the fall of the Tungklo Discipline in Gallovia, involving the wearing of bear pelts and bear-heads over one’s own. Some who heavily favor defensive tactics also take on the iconography of the Northern Moose. Its weapons of choice are dual-wielding small hand axes or a heavier axe paired with a roundshield.
|Entry Requirements||Old Gods faithful Ailor and other Races/Cultures|
|Major Location||The Crag, Drixagh|
|Discipline Proficiencies||Axe Combat, Shielding Combat|
The Voldsomarg Discipline is the wilder cousin of the Skjærenek Discipline, and also one of the most niche, lacking the same numbers as the other Skaggers Disciplines. Its main focus is on highly aggressive maneuvering and a nimble physical form, requiring highly aggressive if not outright dangerous head-on attacks, with a specific focus on the limbs. The Discipline even suggests that if one’s weapons are out of commission, they claw at their opponent’s eyes, or try to bite their hands. When on the defense, adherents to the ideas of the Volds prefer to dodge, roll, or duck out of the way as needed, and keep up close and personal in the fight. The Discipline is popular among mercenary bands run by Blackmarks, who enjoy the ferocious nature of Vold fighters. The Voldsomarg have a heavy alignment with Wolf imagery, and its members have been known to sharpen their canine teeth or wear helms with motifs reminiscent of wolves, in addition to donning Wolf pelts on their bodies. Its tools of choice are the use of a small to medium axe and dagger at the same time, one in each hand.
|Entry Requirements||Old Gods faithful Ailor and other Races/Cultures|
|Major Location||Ulf-Bein Lodge, Drixagh|
|Discipline Proficiencies||Axe Combat, Dagger Combat|
The Nøyaktigfort Discipline, also known as the Nøya, is practiced by the Shield Lodges, a specific distinction among the Velheim as a collection of facilities refounded after the Skagger Wars. Shieldmaidens and Shieldbaches are the only Skaggers who forgo the axe as the primary weapon, in favor of the spear for precise strikes. The mantra of this form of education is to keep one’s opponent at a distance, and unable to harm you, before moving in to strike with precise blows to defeat them. This is the only Skaggers Discipline to emphasize defense over attack, as even the axe and spear combo that can be part of a Nøya student’s education emphasizes keeping a distance from opponents. The Discipline makes heavy use of Owl imagery, specifically the Throatcapswald War Owl, commonly seen in specific helms, and clothing imagery, alongside trailing cloaks which are often shed for practical combat. The Discipline also has a heavy disposition towards women. While the School of Skaggers has long been open to both genders, tales of all-female Skagger groups who decimated unprepared male-dominated armies in the past inspired this Discipline and kept it all-female for years. However, in the last two decades, the practice of accepting Shieldbaches (male warriors) has taken place among the Shield Lodges, and as a result, they have swelled in number above the Voldsomarg Discipline that they once equaled.
|Entry Requirements||Old Gods faithful Ailor and other Races/Cultures|
|Major Location||Peak Lodge, Drixagh|
|Discipline Proficiencies||Axe Combat, Shielding Combat, Spear Combat|
OOC Rules for the School
- 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.
- Players are free to invent Lodges where they have trained or visited.
- Members of the School of Skaggers, despite their mental conditioning as a part of their training, are still more prone to making ties with other Skaggers. This has inadvertently created a small society within the order, as many members intermarry with each other, and produce offspring that too go on to become Skaggers.
- The religious devotion of the School of Skaggers is high, and many Skaggers also engage in the Rites of Passage, which is also partly why the Skaggers begin training so young so that they might have time to perform a Rite during or after their education.
- The School of Skaggers often has a heavy crossover with the School of Sølslåssing, helping to teach its warriors both physical care, as well as hand to hand combat.
- The School also has much in common with the School of Beorl, as the Discipline of Tungklo was birthed from mixing of their ideas, and many non-Skagger Velheim warriors are Beorlists today.