Kingdom of Nordskag
Nordskag, a kingdom famed for its history and military, is currently a vassal of the Regalian Empire. From the rugged terrain to the deepest marshes, Nordskag is a frosty island chain that features great diversity in environment. Home to hardy Northerne Ailor, the kingdom boasts a well-trained and disciplined army, taking part in many of Regalia’s wars and conflicts. Worship of the Old Gods is a prominent part in any Nordskagian’s life, with the Union of Air being heavily supported amongst the militaristic, soldierly people. However, where the kingdom prospers in military, it falls short in domestic economy and infrastructure. The islands of Nordskag face many difficult challenges when it comes to the economy, as agriculture is poor, and many industries are either failing or in a weak state due to the national emphasis on warfare.
Following the fall of the Elven Empire and the consequent Void Invasion, many Ailor slaves saw the opportunity to flee and made their way northwards through Ithania to eventually what would become Nordskag. Many Ailor of Nordskag today claim their ancestry from the migrants who fled to the island chain. When the Cataclysm arose a few years later, these Ailor had already settled down amidst the islands and formed their own communities.
After the disastrous Cataclysm, these Ailor, now part of a Northerne culture, were safe from the civil war that occurred in Daendroc amongst the Nelfin. In 3 A.C., many men and women remained on the southern isle of Sydligsteg, though eventually vigor for exploration and expansion pushed them further to what would now be Midtenna within five years. Banding together under one of the main ringleaders, the plucky folk built a small village in the bay that would someday be Kongehjem. This certain man, known as Jjol Ragnvald, became the first official king of Nordskag, and united the smaller groups of Ailor underneath him in the year 9 AC. Kongehjem’s great construction came about in 32 AC.
The Ragnvald lineage ruled Nordskag for over a century, with the family’s royal heirs encouraging and even enforcing migration into the northern island of Nordligga, and finishing the mighty city of Kongehjem on Midtenna. It became a tendency for people to avoid the marshlands and instead frequent the woods and mountains, whereas fishing villages and townships sprung up along the coast. These one hundred years are what is known as the Velstandfrist, meaning the prosperous times. However, peace and plenty were not for long, as the kingdom of Nordskag was drawn into a crippling war with the Regalian Empire under King Tomasz Ragnvald in 179 AC. This war was difficult, and cost the lives of many Nordskagian men. The Ragnvald dynasty was overthrown by their own people, who were devastated at the tremendous loss of life and the crippling economic handicaps of the war. Quickly after the family’s deposition, one of Tomasz’s advisors usurped the throne in 184 AC, initiating the brief rule of Schaksson dynasty.
King Olai was the first king to introduce the feudal system in 192 AC, modeled after that of Regalia, creating baronial roles to assist him in governing his lands. Under the rule of Olai Schaksson, the subjugation of Nordskag under Regalia occurred in 235 AC at the hands of Arch-Chancellor Morgann Kade, henceforth ending years of negative and hostile opinions of the Empire. This act was taken with difficulty by many who saw the Empire to be the body which slaughtered their people and diminished their prowess. The new monarch assured his people that Nordskag, despite being financially ruined during the war all those years past, would become more powerful with the aid of their former enemies; being vassalized would lead to a rise in trade, support, and wealth for the country.Some time after his reforms, however, Schaksson died of a debilitating fever in 241 AC. This allowed his cousins, the Krummes, to take the throne. The Krummes rebuilt and completely restructured the military, supported the funding of lumber camps, and gave Nordskag repute during the Chrysant War against the Naylar. Nordskag has seen significant changes under the Krumme’s rule, though has remained poor nonetheless.
Looking to Nordskag today, the land has suffered recently due to the loss of Nordskag soldiers in the Elven War of 302 AC, and further losses of many young men who had signed up as part of the Ithanian colonial levies during the proxy wars against the Qadir. Nonetheless, Nordskag remains loyal and supportive of Regalia and the Emperor, steadily regaining its strength, though still stuck in a situation where internal political squabbling is rife and therefore hinders economic and political progression. King Markus Krumme remains ill, though keeps a steady presence in the court.
Nordskag, meaning Northwards, is an ancient name in the Northerne language of Tunge. It was named this long ago when the Ailor migrated northwards and settled in the frosty lands away from Daendroc, developing the Tunge language over the years. Nordskag itself does have separate names for each island, these being these being Nordligga (the northernmost island), Midtenna (the central island), and Sydligsteg (the southernmost island). The names are rather simplistic and have literal translations: Nordligga means northern, Midtenna means middle, and Sydligsteg means southern. The capital city of Nordskag is Kongehjem, which means King’s home. This is again literal, as it is where the monarch’s palace resides.
Nordskag is situated to the north of Ithania, and just below Jorrhildr. Comprised of three islands, Nordskag is dominated mainly by mountainous terrain. The mountains, capped with snow, hold deposits of copper and coal within them. The mountains tend to smoothen out into valleys and hilly basins with beautiful lakes. Dense pine forests dot these mountainsides and valleys, home to wolves, boars, deer, and other woodland animals. Due to the poor quality of the land, many hamlets and villages can be found bordering these forests instead. Further down from the forests can be found low-lying marshland, full of ice-coated ponds, mucky soil and reeds. The land can become akin to a quagmire, especially in the summer when the permafrost begins to melt and the mud thickens into bogs. Many bird and fish species can be found in these marshes, as well as a variety of hardy fruit-bearing plants. Not all of Nordskag shares the same mire-like conditions, as the southernmost island of the country has more arable, fertile land and is therefore where much of the farming takes place.
The land gradually evens out closer to the coast and is accompanied by lighter woodland and coppices, alongside small lakes and pebble-strewn shores. High chalky cliffs are found where the land rises, and the northern coast of Midtenna and Nordligga is peppered with sea stacks where the cliffs have eroded. For residents of Nordskag, larger settlements seem to be more favorable on the coastlines of the islands due to the sturdier land and distance from the wetlands. The capital city, Kongehjem, is just one example of these settlements.
Nordskag is generally quite cold due to its position nearer to the north of Aloria, with arduous, chilly winters, mild spring and moderate summers. Temperatures average from 37.4°F (3°C) to 50°F (10°C), though can drop significantly come the winter months. This doesn’t necessarily apply to parts of the southern island Sydligsteg, as the offshore winds from Ithania blow a cooler breeze. The weather is quite foul, however. Nordskag is unlucky enough to be met with regular rainstorms, which further worsens the quality of the soil due to the excess water seeping through it. Snow flurries aren’t altogether uncommon either, especially higher up in the mountain passes. The spring time is generally seen as a period of relief, as the snow recedes, the rainfall becomes lighter, and the temperatures rise.
- Kongehjem is the capital of Nordskag, an ancient city on the coast of the Midtenna island. It was first constructed in 32 AC in a natural bay, protected from the strong sea wind and making it an excellent port. The buildings here are made of stone with wooden beams, and often packed in tightly. These are all built upon the sloping walls of the bay. Kongehjem is famous throughout the Kingdom for the overpowering stench of fish that wafts up through the streets from the many fish markets that line the waterfront.
- Found higher up from the city of Kongehjem is the Kongeslot palace, a home for the Krumme family and the official court of Nordskag. Kongeslot is a rather imposing castle with fortified battlements and leering gargoyles, hewn from dark granite and fashioned upon a large rock arch upon the cliff face. Although boasting an expansive view over the sea and city below, there have been fears that someday in the future the entire Kongeslot will tumble down into the waves as natural erosion on the rock arch takes its toll.
- Located in one of Nordligga’s can be found the serene lake Stillevand. Stillevand, meaning calm water, is the largest inland source of water that Nordskag has to offer, and runs off into several waterfalls and rivers. It also has an abundance of freshwater fish, including salmon and trout that inhabit the lake’s deep recesses. As a consequence, Stillevand is normally beset with many land feuds from vying barons who wish to make a claim over it and have access to its fishing rights.
Nordskag has been ruled as a monarchy for centuries, with a feudal system set in place underneath King Olai Schaksson. Nordskag is overseen by a king with many barons underneath him who govern their land, and pay taxes to him. The current king, Markus Krumme, is old and sickly, and therefore does not have such a tight hold over the runnings of his country as he did when he was younger. This has led to squabbling amongst the aristocracy for land and power, with some barons resorting to blackmail, bankruptcy, and brutal force to absorb weaker families and eradicate competition. As a result, the island of Nordligga is affected the worst by feuds and squabbles for land due to it having the worst climate out of all isles in the Nordskag chain. Midtenna, the main island of Nordskag, generally has a less volatile political situation amongst the barons due to Krumme having his seat of power there. Nonetheless, families will make determined efforts to overcome others if they see the opportunity for a chance at power arise.
List of Rulers
- Before the Cataclysm - Ailor groups
- 0 AC to 9 AC - Various groups of Ailor
- 9 AC to 40 AC - Jjol Ragnvald
- 40 AC to 79 AC - Harald Ragnvald (Died of dysentery, throne passed onto brother)
- 79 AC to 142 AC - Friedrich Ragnvald (Died of old age, rule passed onto son)
- 142 AC to 184 AC - Tomasz Ragnvald (Deposed)
- 184 AC to 241 AC - Olai Schaksson (Died of a fever, rule passed to cousin)
- 241 AC to 303 AC - Markus Krumme
The kingdom is classified as a substate, or vassal, under the Regalian Empire, and therefore owes allegiance to the Empire. Nordskag essentially works for Regalia, paying a yearly percentage of taxes as tribute, and having many men drafted into the Regalian army and Imperial Fleet from Nordskag’s lands. This is not to say that the two have always had a good relationship, as they were once at war, with Nordskag only being subjugated in 235 AC by Arch-Chancellor Morgann Kade. Trade with Regalia goes on slowly with the main import being grain and food resources from the Angle lands.
Nordskag is fairly liberal when it comes to foreign relations, being on good terms with the Ithanian kingdoms, and happy to work alongside other neighbours. Even though they are happy to co-operate with Ithania, those of the D’Ithanie culture regard Nordskagians to be barbarians. This willingness to co-operate with allies of Regalia is mainly due to the poor economic state of Nordskag, as the King and his government hope that better relations will mean more money and more prosperity.
On the other hand, the Kingdom of Nordskag does have its enemies. For instance, due to the hostilities between the Empire and the Qadir Pasha, Nordskag shares the same negative views of the Qadir and refuses any relations with those of Farah’deen. This is also worsened due to the occasional presence of slavers who sail up past the Nordskag chain in order to enslave Ur and Thylan from the nearby Koari Federation and Ursula Federacy of Jorrhildr.
Nordskag’s best asset is its army, the army itself forming a portion of the Regalian Armed Forces. Men who wish to pursue a soldier’s life are recruited around the age of sixteen and trained for four years. The training is often quite tasking, with activities such as swimming in chilly ponds to build stamina, sparring early in the morning on the beaches, or taking mid-afternoon runs through the spacious highland woods being just a few of the many vigorous pursuits.
The military is thus split into two main divisions. One division is that of the Spydenhed, men famed for their skill with spears and bows as a light force. These men tend to act as the scouts, runners and archers of the army. The other is the Tvangruppe, who feature as Nordskag’s typical infantry with swords and shields. A separate wing of the military is the King’s honor guard, named the Bashturr Akser (the axes of Bashturr). These are soldiers hand-picked by the royal administration to serve and protect the royal family of Nordskag. They are infamous for their use of curved axes to cleave their enemies open, breeding a feared brutality of them. It is customary for one son of a baron to join the military, and they are usually absorbed into the ranks of the Bashturr Akser, having had access to weapon training from youth. Naturally when the Tvangruppe and Spydenhed serve under Regalia in the army, they tend to assimilate with the other troops and lose their names, though their fighting methods remain the same.
The uniform for those of the Nordskag army varies for each division. Spydenhed soldiers tend to be presented with light leather armor and furs, the armor itself highlighted with dark blue cloth. On the other hand, Tvangruppe warriors customarily wear steel armor or chainmail, alongside having rounded shields that are painted dark blue and marked with the stag symbol of Nordskag.
Lastly come the Bashturr Akser, who wield axes and wear very little in the way of armor. They will wear an assortment of steel armor, though the norm is to go bare chested so to show off one’s tattoos, and to hopefully gain a scar. Although impractical, these soldiers believe that each scar gained in combat against an enemy will gain them favor from the deity Bashturr, and they will proceed to tattoo around the scar after.
Economy and Technology
The economy of Nordskag is not the best. Although Nordskag runs on the Regal currency, the economy’s problems are due to the issues within the aristocracy where barons and landowners have the tendency to argue and disrupt economic flow, but also as a result of the poor land. Nordskag is fairly expansive, but land suitable for agriculture is rather minor. Marshlands and bogs take up a large proportion of the low-lying land, and the cold climate further impedes this. Nordskag therefore relies on the lumber and fishing industries to gain coin, using the pine from the forests and the fish from the lakes and sea to trade. Ergo, fishermen and lumberjacks are the biggest forms of employment underneath the military.
Mining also occurs on all of the islands, though Midtenna boasts the most profitable copper and coal mines within the Nordskag chain, and there are a few quarries on Nordligga that mine granite and stone, though these are typically small. Alcohol is also a fairly popular product of Nordskag. Made within breweries found in the marshes of Midtenna, the kingdom sells a special distilled spirit named Sumpbær. This is made from the berries that grow in the mire, and the Sumpbær is an exceptionally strong, sour-tasting concoction that warms the throat and heart.
- Northerne Ailor - 88%
- Regalisch Ailor - 6%
- Ithanian Ailor - 2%
- Ur - 4%
When looking towards Nordskag’s culture, the Northerne influences are evident. However, many influences from Regalia still remain, more so when it comes to law. The law is strict in Nordskag, following the same rules and as those in the Regalian Archipelago. Be that as it may, jails and prisons are rare, mainly found in the few major towns and the city of Kongehjem. As a result of this, some prisoners are sent off to locations high in the mountain forests where they serve their sentence as woodcutters in guarded lumber camps.
Wealth is a touchy subject for those of Nordskag, as around 80% of the population are the peasantry and either live in destitution or mild poverty, leaving the aristocratic families of baronial status with the money. Family sizes vary. Because of the need for a child to be conscripted into Nordskag’s army at age 15, lower class families will normally bear four or five children so that they have others to continue working for the family. On the other hand, nobles will have smaller-sized families of around two to three children, with the youngest son usually being raised for an army-based position for when he becomes a teenager.
The attire of the lower classes is that of cloth and wool at best, usually dyed in reds, browns and greens, though leather and tanned hides are also fashionable. Being of Northerne descent means that it’s common for people to dress themselves with furs. Wolf and deer pelts are the most desirable due to the warmth they give. Barons, on the other hand, reserve themselves to better clothing, enjoying the opportunity to get better tailored clothes. One of the main things that doesn’t separate the two societal castes is the cultural use of tattooing, with typical dark or blue Northerne tattoo markings and designs. It is customary for people of the islands to grow their hair in different fashions; those of Nordligga enjoy shaving the sides of their heads, Midtenna folk have hair of medium length with braids, and people from Sydligsteg will often grow their hair long and plaited, regardless of gender.
Food-wise, the staple diet is that of fish, bread, and a few varieties of vegetable and tuber which the commonfolk can grow in the soil. Trappers who catch hares will sell these on too, but deer are usually protected on a baron’s land for the sole right of the baron to hunt or eat. The architecture of Nordskag is also basic. Many builders can’t afford fancy homes, bar those employed by nobility. Therefore, buildings and abodes are fashioned from pine and forest wood, with log cabins being the most common sight. This is not strictly true for the city of Kongehjem or other major towns, which use stone.
Nordskag is home to predominantly Old Gods believers. People of the kingdom, being strongly in favor of military strength, tend to hold the Union of Air as their preferred worship. Bashturr is therefore one of the most attractive deities to those of Nordskag, so much so that the King’s royal guard is named after him, and there are often small sparring rings and arenas to be found where he is honored through duels and fights. King Markus is a fanatical believer in the Old Gods deity, Handrin. He does all he can to try and please Handrin, hoping that his reign will be elongated for a few more years. Unionism’s influence in Nordskag is minor and held by some of the Regalian Ailor who live there. The government does try to appease Regalia though, having built an Unionist chapel in each town.
Nordskag’s flag features a grey stag standing proudly, set against a backdrop of dark blue. This stag is meant to represent the historical figurehead of the Ailor settlers, Jjol Ragnvald, who supposedly wore the antlers and pelt of a deer on his person. For those of Nordskag, a stag symbolises regal power and prestige, which is one of the reasons why hunting stags and deer is forbidden for all bar the nobility. A more toned-down national image is simply a stag’s head ringed by a circle of dark blue lines.
Baronial families take their crests from the trade or commodity that is special to them. An example of this would be the Krebsdyrit family from the east coast of Midtenna - their noble crest features a crab and lobster in combat, which reflects the abundance of crustaceans within their seaside barony.
- For believers of folklore and legend, it is told that the Old Gods deity Alu is the reason for the sodden marshes. It is for this reason that the marshes are called the Alumose.
- The Nordskagian language Tunge is similar to real life Danish. Speakers of Tunge tend to have firm, yet pleasant voices.
- Over the past few years, small bands of Ur have been seen migrating from Jorrhildr to Nordligga in Nordskag, settling down in the higher hill regions. Most of the Nordskagians respect the Urs’ choice of seclusion and therefore leave them be, but hunters have been spotted recently making their way into the valleys and returning home with fine ursine pelts.