Realms of Mythrais
The Vannulvir of Aerk
The Vannulvir (sing. Vannulver) are a barbarian people that are barely holding onto their barbaric traditions; they have fortified cities now, writing, a national monarchy and even a standing professional army. Were it not for their stubborn tenacity that clings onto ancient tradition they would have long ago become a “civilized” nation of the feudal sort found among the Karnite nations.
Most other peoples refer to the Vannulvir as “Wolf Raiders” which is a title they justly deserved long ago when their ships would disembark raiders that were infected with lycanthropy that caused plague and terror even after they had left the lands they had pillaged. To the Vannulvir though, they often refer to each other as simply “we Southmen” from the Krigerland (Land of Warriors). To them, their family and clan are most important over even their new nation; so many will correct a foreigner who calls them Vannulver by saying: “I am from the land of (insert Thanedom here) of the (insert family here) family, son of (insert father here). I am not a Vannulver or Wolf Raider…the last wolf I saw now sits on my back as a fur lined cloak!”
Personality: Vannulvir are loud, boisterous, cunning and warlike. Even their women will be seen fighting over a man both wish to have as a husband; though they will not bare weapons as two men fighting over a woman might. Their saving grace is that all men of these lands seek to always be honorable men of their word. A man who lies (except in story telling) is considered worse than a coward, because even a coward might be honest about being afraid of battle; where a liar may feign great bravery but cost his comrades their life from his fear or lack of combat experience. Fierce and proud, the Vannulvir never back down from a battle; although retreating is an option so long as they can perhaps raid the supplies of a stronger enemy to wear him down. The current King, Jom of Jomsvhaal, has been heard to say: “Better to not start a fight that you can’t win than retreat from a fight a coward; there is always a better way to attack your enemy if he at first seems stronger than thou art!”
Physical Description: Men of Vannulvheim average a massive 6’ tall and 200 pounds. Their women are much smaller at only 5’4" tall and 140 pounds. Both of these are typical of an 18 year old; with the men seeming to become larger and stronger by their mid twenties (though no taller) and the women more buxom and curvaceous. Vannulvir eat prodigious amounts of fish and meat making them much larger than other humans. Hair color ranges from honey blond to a darker red with a rare individual having black hair; brown hair is uncommon but not unknown. Eye color is universally blue, green or grey in order of being most common. Vannulvir dress heavily clad against foul weather at all times because even in the summer months their homeland is plagued by torrential rains; the nearby glacier filled mountains and frozen ice packed southlands keep even the summer heats away, but are what cause the rains. Both sexes wear their hair long and never cut it; a man that trims his beard is considered a weakling. Taking somewhat culturally from the Surdheimir Dwur both sexes also often decorate their hair with family tokens, though usually of silver as gold is so rare except as booty from pillaging. The typical Vannulver “Wolf Raider” will wear a heavy shirt of mail if that can be had, steel cap and carry a large shield. Their favored weapons are the battleaxe, throwing axe and warhammer with a missile weapon usually consisting of a hunting bow; though some of the truly vicious warriors disdain a shield and opt for a great axe (bardiche) and some of the King’s soldiers have been taught the use of the Longbow. The Sons of Jom (his personal warriors) are armored in nothing less than mail hauberk and breastplate with great helm.
Relations: Vannulvir are a contradiction to most other races. Most of their longships today partake in honest trade; but others raid so often as to make most think that all Vannulvir must be raiders. In fact, a ship leaving Vannulvheim in the spring may attack the coast of the Kur Tribes to steal some small amount of loot, stop in Vhaelin to trade, sail on to Corash and attack a merchant ship to plunder, put into the port of Hajef to trade, set to sea and raid the coast of Hesh and the Warholds of Karn, and then sell looted wares in Irongate before returning home for the winter. The various ship captains, in truth battle leaders, have various reputations in different ports of call. When a longship is seen on the horizon at port it is usually safe to assume they are liked in the city; whereas if one is seen at sea, the spotting crew will try all means to avoid contact with the possible Wolf Raider crew. Vannulvir have great respect for Dwur, especially Surdheim Dwur that long ago helped them against the giants. They also favor the fighting prowess and seamanship of the Minotaur race; some choosing friendship and trade, while others prefer to test their mettle against the powerful people of Sogar’s Hold. They usually hate orcs and usually kill them at any available opportunity; but some few Daerkur (not half orcs mind you) have found acceptance among their crews. Some few evil raiders will actually hire on an almost full ship of orcs to use as battle fodder; but such are rare. More than anything the Vannulvir hate Giants and Lycanthropes, including the good aligned ones.
Alignment: Vannulvir are above all good people; but their cultural tendencies of raiding, fighting and all around bad temperament make them a neutral race. Because only strong rulers hold the allegiances of this people, they have a seemingly might makes right attitude in life; though civilized men have been totally in awe of their bewildering codes of honor and justice. Even so, this only shows just how chaotic they are, so the race is over all Chaotic Neutral.
Vannulvir Lands: Centuries ago, before the Jarls came to rule their people; the Vannulvir lived in the land that other races called “The Land of Fire and Ice” because of the many glaciers, heavy snow and burning mountains of the Jotunheights. This same land, little changed over the centuries save for more cleared forest for small villages, is today the home of this people. The Vannulvir most often do not travel overland because of the many dangers in the forests, hills and mountains of their homeland; preferring instead small boats called Knars or their Longships for travel from village to village along the coasts and up the rivers and fjords. Those that have settled other lands (the only ones remaining true to their home culture being the various Holds within the Sea of Vhal) remain the same in habit, dress and over all culture. In Vannulvheim the ruling Jarls (equal to Dukes) answer to the King only when he is strong enough to force their vassalage. Each Jarl has several Thanes (equal to Barons) that are usually rulers of a small area, while these men have village chiefs (akin to elder Knights) that are answerable to them; while even the average man will have at least one thrall (slave) that aids his household. The rulers of the sea holds are called Jarls also, but these men are in all respects petty Kings. A special note regarding thralls: they are not kept as common slaves are; and in fact many thralls are well respected educated men and women who teach the Vannulvir as well as make fine weapons, armor and other fine items. Thralls are simply conquered people brought back to “Krigerland”. In fact, there may be as much as a 2:1 ratio of Vannulvir to thrall subjects within Vannulvheim; all of whom are simply considered a lower caste citizen with no right to bear arms but equally protected by law.
Language: Called “The Old Tongue” by the Vannulvir, their language is a mixture of Dwur and some few words left from their own native language now mostly lost. A speaker of Dwur can understand most of what is said in this language, but it is not a perfect fit. For all game mechanics purposes however, the Vannulvir speak a dialect of Dwur.
Names: Vannulvir names are Scandinavian sounding names; with male names like: Bragi, Gorm, Hemdel, Hjalm and Od. Female names could be: Erya, Gefion, Hlin, Nanna and Rahn.
Religion: Ancestor worship is most common among the Vannulvir; but a limited form in which they revere the “founders of their race” alone. Such greats include those who fought in the wars against the Giants that united their people as well as the first wizard to learn magic and the first man to learn the secret of iron. Many revere these ancestor gods while following the Druidic faith; while others have come to see that Vhal is the highest god and their ancestors his subjects. Vannulvir religion is a confusing mesh of all three of these, with even Clerics of Vhal sitting in on Druidic festivals where hero-gods are celebrated.
The racial abilities of the Vannulvir are: