Nordenfiir


Nordenfiir

Basic Information
"Norden" "Bearkin" Nordengaard, Eretejva Approximately 100 years Carnivores Nord
Physical description
Above Average Muscular, fair skinned, typically baring a "glyph" marking
Cultural
Common, Fiirevik
Out-of-character information
Lake Hurwitz, "Blue Bear Hunts"


Nordenfiir are shifters. Bear shifters to be more specific. Their base form is that of a human, albeit they are often broader and larger than typical human stock. They appear as a warrior folk, almost never seen without armor and weapons at their disposal. While every Nordenfiir has the power to take the form of a bear, not every Nordenfiir will gain the ability. A Nordenfiir must undergo a right of passage - either tested or through the natural course of their lifetime - where they must overcome great challenges and pursue a path of self discovery in order to gain the ability to shift, or what they refer to as their discovering their Svalen ["soul" in their language].

Nordenfiir PCs:
Maude - Newly risen Queen, born in the Frozen Halls
Vand - Jorn of Withereach, born in Withereach
Arnor Skuldsson - Mercenary, born in Faarin,
Sigguatur Eilifsson - Mercenary in the Summer Lands, born in Faarin, wandering
Signe Hagen - Mercenary in the Summer Lands, born in Hjerim
Gunnar Bergstrom - Mercenary, born in the Frozen Halls, Queen's Harem, wandering
Haldiir - Woodcutter/Adventurer, born in the Spine, traveling
Emeria - Fallen Shield Maiden of late Usurper Borvenir, born in Nordengaard
Hugi - Queen's Council, born in Nordengaard
Valthar Ardullsson - Fisher, born in Faarin's fishing port Klausvig, presently in Nordengaard
Brenna Ardullsson - Teacher / Soldier in training, born Faarin's fishing port Klausvig, presently in Nordengaard
Mikaela Ryurik - Scout of Nordengaard
Signe Orkhammer - Adventurer and Mercenary, born in Withereach, presently travelling the world
Gylfi Runarsson - Hunter, born in Indeholm, causing trouble in Nordengaard
Runa - Enchanter, born in Hjerim
Grimolf Ozursson - Bounty Hunter, born in Withereach, wandering
Orvik - Mercenary, born in Nordengaard, wandering the Kingdom
Reda Sunshield - Mercenary and Enigmatic Jorn of Clan Sunshield
Ruvsá - Shield Maiden, born and raised in Hjerim. Currently a Jarna of Jorn Aggar of Indeholm.

Nord PCs:
Sigrith - Transient Witch of the tundra wastes, born in Hjerim - daughter of Jorn Thurna, residing in Withereach
River PaleBlood - Daughter of a Withereach miner and a human merchant, wandering Mercenary
Haesteinn Skraelingson - Mercenary, born in Hjerim, wandering
Rainer - Vedymin vampire, unknown birthplace, monster slayer
Britta - Mercenary, born in Graywind Pass outside of Vel Anir, wandering
Crocus - Faerie Changeling, born in Nordengaard, hermit in the wilds

Overview

Language

All Nordenfiir are taught to speak Common tongue and that is, on the whole, the main language of their people.

The Fiirevik language, though their native and ancestral tongue, has becoming something of a contact language spoken less among the common people of their Kingdom, and more among the nobility closer to the Capital. A good majority of Nordenfiir are capable of speaking and understanding it, but it stand that the more removed from the capital one is, the less likely they are to learn it unless they come from a particularly devout lineage.

There's a fair amount of shame attached to a Nordenfiir not knowing or being capable of speaking Fiirevik, especially should one ever encounter a noble or, Eogorath forbid, royalty.

The Fiirevik language is not widespread beyond the kingdom of Nordengaard, and to be of any other race and speak it is quite rare.

For OOC purposes, Fiirevik is celtic/gaelic based and any translator of said variety could be used for the language.

Some established translations:
  • Dea'roh - A small, red bird native to southern Eretejva. Rare. Said to be a sign of luck.
  • Dott'rhi - Queen
  • Dott'rhi'aor - Queensman (a male within the Queen's harem)
  • Havraekae - A challenge issued to a ruling Jorn or King for the rights to their seat of power.
  • Herrevan - Large, three-eyed ravens native only to Eretejva. Semi-sentient and capable of parroting speech, they are used to carry messages between Nordenfiir settlements.
  • Jorn - Lord. Chief. Leader of a Nordenfiir settlement. Jorn is used for both male and female leaders.
  • Jarna - Referring to a female within a Jorn's harem.
  • Juren - Referring to a male within a Jorn's harem.
  • Kulean - Cub, a term used to refer to young Nordenfiir children, a charge, or pupil
  • Preske - Glyph. Referring to the identifying marking a Nordenfiir receives on their body after finding their Svalen.
  • Rhi - King
  • Rhi'aen - Kingslady (a female within the King's harem)
  • Ruuk - The tower within which a settlement's Herrevans are kept. There is one in every Nordenfiir settlement.
  • Shek - Expletive. Referring to dung, droppings.
  • Svalen - Soul. A Nordenfiir's spiritual reflection, referring to and synonymous with their bear form.

Appearance

Nordenfiir are often indistinguishable from normal human stock. Aside from their warrior physique and often strong, earthy scent, if their glyph markings are not present or cannot be readily seen it is easy to mistaken them at a glance. The glyphs are typically the easiest way to tell them apart, but there are a few other things that inherently give them away.

GLYPHS
Every Nordenfiir who has found their Svalen can then be identified by glyph markings that appear on their skin during their first transformation. These glyphs are unique to every Norden, signifying the identity of their Svalen like a thumbprint, and will appear on their human form similar to tattoos. Once gained they never go away and never change and follow the Norden from human to Svalen form. Glyphs are always black in color.

It is most common for a Glyph to appear on the back, chest, or shoulder/arm. Typically this mark is only found on one side of the body, rarely does it extend so wide and far as to cover a majority of the flesh, but can also be found around the neck and face - leading those individuals to be the easiest to identify if one has the capability of sensing the magic tied to them.

SVALENS
Svalen is a term that refers to the word "soul" in Fiirevik, as well it is also used to refer to their bear/beast forms, as the two [bear and soul] are nearly synonymous with one another within their culture.

Many Nordenfiir undergo a pilgrimage/coming of age/rite of passage called "Taking the Path" in their early adulthood (generally age 16-18) and venture out into the wilderness for a year to survive on their own against many challenges and dangers. This path to self discovery can take many forms and may be different from individual to individual. Some acquire their Svalen during this time, others may not, and some yet never return home. It is unusual for a Nordenfiir to reach their prime and still have yet to gain their Svalen. As it holds great importance in their culture, those who never gain their Svalen usually leave in a form of self-exile.

No matter the age a Nordenfiir gains their Svalen, they must then undergo maturation in their beast form - denoted by the color of their coat and their size. All new Svalens begin with a black coat and their size is typically reflective of their human stature. Svalens age quickly, and the more a Norden takes their beast form, the faster they mature. Their coats turn from black to brown and eventually to white, though there have been rare reported instances of a Svalen maintaining a black or brown coat through maturation. The majority of them turn white. Fully-grown Svalen will top out at sizes that would be considered unusually large for a mortal grizzly bear, though again some may remain smaller if they are slight of build in their human form. Males are typically larger than females, though the females boast the greater ferocity.

Once gained it is quite easy for a Nordenfiir to take their Svalen form and being in it is as natural to them as their human forms. Some Nordenfiirs grow to prefer the Svalen body and maintain it for the majority of their lives afterwards. Scars, wounds, and permanent injuries transfer between forms. Impregnation can only occur in their human form and once a female Norden is pregnant she cannot shift again until she has given birth.

Normal humans are compatible with Nordenfiirs - a pairing will result in a 50% chance of the magic that makes a Nordenfiir passing down to the offspring - they either are born as a Norden or they are not. There is no in-between. The bearkin parent will be able to tell at the time of birth by scent alone. A child born unblessed with a Svalen will be deemed a "Nord" and though they may never be able to take a bear form, these children may yet gain other magical skills and powers. They often maintain a fair amount of Nordenfiiri traits - greater strength, stamina, and tolerance of cold than a typical human.

For more information on the Svalen form read here.

Habitat

Nordenfiir live in the frozen tundras of Eretejva, their Kingdom of Nordengaard stretching from the high peaks of the mountains where their capital of the same name is located, down to the southern shores where their southmost settlement of Withereach can be found. This landscape is an unforgiving one but the Nordenfiir have evolved over many hundreds of years to live quite contently within it.

There are no sprawling meadows of green or vibrant forests stretching across the horizon. What marks this land are the jagged white peaks of the mountains and the stark, endless tundra. A deciduous forest lines the base of the mountains where the storms aren't quite so bad, but they are more often than not covered in ice and snow.

Winter lasts for the majority of the year and summer is but a short and often forgettable season. There have been very few records of a summer lasting long enough to melt the landscape and reveal the greenery hidden beneath the snow.

As a whole, most Nordenfiir are not well-traveled beyond the realm of Eretejva and their Kingdom. Those that venture beyond often do so on the basis of exile, self or otherwise. At present day, trade with foreign Kingdoms was newly established only within the past five years under the rule of the late King Iordahn. No external Nordenfiir colonies have been made.

Any lands south of Eretejva are collectively referred to as "The Summerlands / Summer Lands" or simply as "The South" by Nordenfiir. Only the more well-learned of their kind are familiar with foreign nations or the actual names of those lands. The settlements situated closest to the coast have the most familiarity.

Nordengaard Kingdom Settlements

Traits

Their scent is typically strong, earthy, sometimes musky for the males; this gives them away to other beastfolk and animals as well. Horses, especially, are terrified of Nordenfiir, which is just as well since most Norden's are terrible at riding them. The places that require the use of horses in Nordengard are few and far between - only the horses raised and trained specifically by Nordenfiir seem to be immune to this fear of them. Dogs also tend to dislike them.

A Nordenfiir's sense of smell is incredible - they can pick up blood on the air from miles away, can tell what you ate for dinner the previous evening, can track game through the tundra for days, and a Norden can always, always, always sniff our another Norden (and in most cases, Nords, too). They usually dislike strong, sweet scents like perfume and many males find it to be repulsive, preferring the earthy smell of their own kind. A good majority of Nordenfiir suffer from allergies to pollen - flowers aren't very common up in the frozen north.

Their demeanor can be another identifier. While there is always an exception, most Nordens tend to be short-tempered, gruff, and prickly to social situations. Among their own kind and especially their own family they can be quite friendly and outgoing, but in a crowd of strange people and foreign races, a Norden will more likely choose to keep to themselves, often rebuffing friendly advances from others for the simple sake of wishing to be left alone. Nordenfiirs are prideful, honor-bound, and can be more than a little racist against humans. Much like any bear, they are not likely to seek out trouble on their own but are liable to engage should trouble happen to find them. Common knowledge throughout most lands: if you suspect a bear - don't go there. If you must, bring a steak rarer than rare.

Leading into their ...healthy appetite. Nordens easily put away twice the amount of food of a hungry human. Their metabolism runs fast, allowing them to maintain a cut figure but requiring a larger supply of sustenance. Nordens aren't into blood-feasting, but many of them do like their meat rare, given the choice. A hungry Norden will eat just about anything and their stomachs are well-equipped to handle even spoiled food. It is not unusual for a Nordenfiir to pick at an old carcass while traveling if it is convenient, and a good cook, even a human, will gain favor from a Norden for a delicious meal. Fish are a favorite for them - they are quite skilled at catching them, bare-handed to boot. Water is prime choice to wash everything down, though Nordens do have a taste for mead. Fresh honey and fruit is a delicacy since they can't get it up north.

Their stamina and strength are legendary. Nordenfiirs maintain the wherewithall to march for days on end provided they are properly nourished before or during - however they are equally as capable of sleeping for days uninterrupted to recover. It is bad, bad luck to rouse a sleeping Nordenfiir. The Nordenfiir are a warrior race to the bone that has spent the last several hundred years developing a deeper culture and expanding its territory. They know their mountains well and they protect them fiercely. All Nordenfiir receive combat training and every adult has their own set of armor. While not all Nordenfiir may go on to dedicate their lives to battle, every last one of them can serve in war.

They are quite comfortable in colder temperatures and keep warm much more easily than humans can, however Nordenfiir have an extremely difficult time dealing with hot climates. Given this, you will never see a Norden willingly living in the tropics or deserts. If they are there you can bet it is against their own will.

Only Nordenfiir who have gained their Svalen are capable of using and learning other magic, but their abilities do not stretch far. They may pick up one or two magic skills and hone them to respectable level, but they will never be as powerful in magic as what other races can produce. Elemental-based magic is the most commonly learned form.

Culture

Despite their brutish tendencies and their warrior heritage, Nordenfiir maintain a strong reverence of their heritage, customs, and culture. While historically leadership roles have been held by males, a female looking to claim her right to rule will find herself equally respected for the successful effort. It is common knowledge among Nordenfiir that while the males tend to be larger, the females are far more vicious and, arguably, more dangerous.

Leadership
Nordenfiir settlements are lead by a Jorn (pronounced "yorn") who answers to the King. Leadership is commonly handed down through the generations by blood, from parent to groomed and worthy child, but the opportunity for another Nordenfiir who thinks themselves suitable for the seat is always there. At any given time any Jorn and, yes, even the King, can be challenged for their position. This challenge is referred to as Havraekae and demands its own rights and honors to be followed.

A challenger must fight for themself and the fight must be deemed fair. Both parties should be provided armor and weapons should either party be without. Challenges can be held in either human or Svalen form, but both fighters must be capable of taking their Svalen form. At any time either fighter may relent and that mercy must be granted. The winner must then offer the loser the chance to pledge their loyalty or leave the settlement in exile, never to return. Should they chose exile, it is customary for the family of the losing party to depart with them, but this does not always happen. Historically, hundreds of years ago, Havraekae was a highly bloody affair. The losing fighter was not always granted the opportunity to live or leave and often they and any of their progeny were purged from the settlement. This act of savagery was outlawed during the reign of King Iordahn, who opted to bring his people to a more civilized style of life.

Courtship & Mating
Monogamy is not common among Nordenfiir and marriage does not exist. Due to their culture and very nature, it is normal for Nordens of any gender to spend a good majority of their lives traveling for their skill, fighting, or in general spending a good deal of time away from home. Because of this it is typical for Nordens to keep several mates - in this way they are seen as being rather promiscuous. There is no taboo nature to sex in the Nordenfiir culture, however some unspoken rules can change if you happen to be a woman standing within the harem of a King or Jorn.

Male Kings and Jorns often keep harems of females who have proven themselves worthy in battle - typically Shield Maidens or Warriors, but other cultured females may also find themselves honored with the position. These females are specifically spoken for by the Jorn or King as a means to ensure that any offspring produced by them are of the Jorn or King's blood. Male Jorns and Kings have every reason to produce many strong heirs due to the higher likelihood of losing an heir to war or battle. Females who are chosen for the harem of a King are referred to as Kingslady (Rhi'aen in Fireviik), while those who are chosen for the harem of a Jorn are referred to as Jarna (yar-na)

Keeping a large harem, however, can be dangerous for a King or Jorn who has fallen into disfavor with their women. It is not unheard of for a harem to turn on their Jorn and kill him should they become highly displeased with him for major slights or offenses. In such a circumstance, the harem may collectively choose a new Jorn to rule or, if a leaderfigure exists within the harem a female may step into the role.

Queens and female Jorns have been known to keep their own harems of males, but these tend to be smaller in size. Male harems are used more as a trusted council to the Queen or Jorn, as well as personal guards. Since a Queen or female Jorn can only produce an heir once a year, the males she chooses to place within her harem are those she has deemed worthy to father her children. Often she will only choose one of them a year for this task, basing her decision on the traits she finds admirable in him to produce an heir that would reflect those same traits.

Female Nordenfiir experience 1 heat cycle a year for 4-6 weeks during the late spring through the early summer. This is the only time of the year a female can become pregnant, with intercourse that occurs outside of the heat cycle being simply recreational. Their gestation period is approximately 6 months with twins being a common. The birth survival rate is fairly high considering the environment Nordenfiir live in, with a low occurrence of disease or sicknesses that would effect pregnancy in a negative manner.

Economy
Among the Kingdom of Nordengaard there is no form of currency. They work on a system of trade in services, goods, and supplies - which lends well to the diversity of their settlements spread across Eretejva. Most settlements will create a specialty for themselves, be it mining, hunting/trapping, crafting, forging, etc.

Communication
Contact is kept between the settlements through the use of Herrevens (also commonly referred to as ravens) - large, semi-sentient black birds of prey bearing three eyes and the uncanny ability to speak, recall, and carry messages. Every settlement keeps a Ruuk that houses the trained Herrevens.

History



Background


The Nordenfiir are descendants of an ancient race of humans indigenous to Eretejva called the Nords. Known for their hardy nature in one of the realm's most hostile and dangerous landscapes, they lived in relative peace, isolated from the major empires of the world south and beyond their home lands. When human settlers from the summer lands arrived at the south shores of Eretejva, they discovered a place ripe with opportunity.

This new empire had need for greater resources and, upon learning of the vast landscape of mineable ore and materials within the mountains of the Nord lands, quickly mobilized to take advantage. Partnering with the Nords and using their curious strength, seeming immunity to the cold, and knowledge of the mountains, these people quickly established a form of power over the local populace with their larger army and greater weapons. For a time it was good. The Nords learned how to build ships and sail, as well they learned new forms of smithing and forging the ore found within their home. They learned new battle techniques and way of life, how to fortify their settlements and use the materials of the lands they'd not seen use for before. Trade with the summer lands suddenly became a major source of interest for the Nords and they quickly began producing and sending out large shipments of tundra steel and ironwood.

The Nords were smart and learned quickly and their overseers quickly saw reason to feel threatened and to take care with how they continued to use this people.

War arrived in the form of a rival empire from the summer lands. They were outnumbered and outpowered ... but the Nords were not afraid. They held belief that their Gods would protect them as they always had. Their overseerers saw new opportunity within them.

We Began As Slaves
Most records of the years following the outbreak of war are lost to time. What is know is that a large population of Nords were killed in an attempt to create something monstrous. Through trial and error, the mages of their overseers produced within the Nords the ability to shift into their totem: a bear, and within the Nords created the Nordenfiir. No one today knows how this was accomplished or who was directly responsible for what the Nords became, but what can be remembered through the passing of verbal tales and stories is that the Nords lost their freedom in exchange for great power.

The Nordenfiir lived on as slaves for their overseers, going to war to protect the lands within which their riches were found. It engendered a culture of power, war, and savagery that the Nords never practiced, but it also created fear, resentment, and malice.

EOGORATH THE FIRST
Many years after their creation, when the wars had been won and the need for battle had passed, the Nordenfiiri's power was used instead for mining and forging of great weapons. Adorned in chains and forced to volunteer their children to their owners as pets and forms of entertainment, it was only a matter of time before someone elected for a better way of life.

Eogorath was said to be the first true Nordenfiir, the mightiest and most fierce of them all. Many revered him as a God for his great power, others feared him and rightfully so. When Eogorath moved to liberate himself of his oppressors, the fight that ensued was bloody and merciless. It is known that he provoked his fellow bearkin to revolt and that the night was filled with terror for their human overlords and would come to be known as Havraekae. By daybreak not a single human remained - if they had been slaughtered or driven out to flee on their ships is uncertain, but from that day forth the Nordefiir were free.

They took to the high mountains, claiming the city of Nordengaard erected by the humans for themselves. Eogorath stood as their first King and ruled for many long years, fostering prosperity, pride, and honor within his people, but also fierce loyalty and widespread awe. When he died he was praised as a God and his bones were used to craft an amulet said to retain his power and Svalen. It is passed down from ruler to ruler, granting them Eogorath's ferocity and gargantuan size so that they may protect their people unchallenged and unmatched - as he was.

The Right to Rule

Our Allies in the Cold

Lore

Never wake a sleeping Nordenfiir. If you must, make sure you have a fresh slab of meat and a barrel of mead.


References

He Is No King of Mine
The Road to Hallenrul
Misery Is the River of the World
Leave All But the Memories Behind

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