Regions of Sermersuaq
Rich forests, cold lakes and windswept tundra feed the people of Wintermark

Overview

Sermersuaq is the ancestral home of the Suaq people, taking its name from the legendary figure of the same name. The forests and tundra of this territory are rich with animal life that sustains the Winterfolk, ranging from great furred beasts to small game and hunting birds. The northern waters are home to seals and penguins, and full of fish and whales. As one travels further north, the land becomes colder and colder until a traveller comes to transient ice floes that mark the farthest extent of the land claimed by the Winterfolk. This fertile territory is under constant threat from both the Thule and the Jotun whose hunting parties also seek to exploit the profusion of life here, regularly engaging in skirmishes with the Winterfolk who live here.

Sermersuaq is notable for the interconnected freshwater lakes of Lansipari, Ittanpari, Atkonaroq, Sarda, Rikkivesi and the Eastern Floes. Deep and frigid, often dotted with chunks of floating ice in the coldest winters, perhaps half the area of Sermersuaq is made up of these frigid "inland seas." these massive waterways teem with fish and are said to be connected to each other by flooded underground passages and the lakes on Kallavesa and Hahnmark. Old stories speak of the lakes being "carved by mountains" in some fashion. There are many halls built along the shores of the lake who prosper through fishing and occasionally trading across the cool waters.

Beyond the ice floes is the wasteland of Tsirku, where the ground is permanently covered in snow. The landscape is far from flat, there are ice plateaus pock-marked with crevasses and areas where the ice is rent apart giving way to cold salty lakes. Here rages the eternal ice-storm Sydanjaa, a roaring blizzard that blows all year round and from whose depths no traveller has ever returned.

The Senator for Sermersuaq is appointed by the Suaq during the Summer solstice, and is almost invariably from Suaq stock.

Recent History

In the Winter of 370YE the Jotun invaded in force, taking Stark and Tanikipari. Before they could consolidate their hold, however a joint campaign by Wintermark and Marcher armies drove them out under the leadership of a young Skarsind general named Britta. Without her excellent leadership and inspirational presence is it widely believed that both Sermersuaq and Kallavesa would have been lost to the orcs. Further attempts at invasion were stymied by the re-vitalised and re-equipped armies left behind to guard against another attack.

With their eyes focused on the western and eastern borders, however, the Empire was unprepared for the invasion of Skarsind in 373YE. Following that invasion however, the intensity of Thule raids actually declined a little as their forces focused on stripping the fallen Wintermark lands. Now that the easternmost of the Winterfolk territories is back in Imperial hands, it is assumed that the frequency of raiding bands coming through the mountains will begin to increase again. By contrast, the Jotun ceasefire has led to more Jotun raids from the west, as barbarian warriors denied the opportunity to face Winterfolk in battle have sought other outlets.

In 378YE, the Thule sent armies from Otkodov to invade the Silver Peaks, in an attempt to create a beachhead into Sermersuaq. Barbarian and Imperial forces were well matched, but the advantage appeared to lie with the Thule as they slowly pushed the defenders back.

During the Autumn Equinox 378YE, the Battle of Ikka's Tears took place on the cold plains east of the glacier. The Thule had sent a large force of elite warriors, accompanied by a massive warbeast, to steal an artefact of unknown power from the Face of Ikka. They were intercepted by a warband of the Empire's heroes using the Sentinel Gate. This powerful barbarian army inflicted a painful defeat on the Imperial heroes, perhaps the most significant since the death of Empress Britta two years previously.

In Summer 379YE a delegation of Thule attended the Anvil summit and brokered a peace treaty with the Empire which the Senate later accepted. This required the Silver Peaks be ceded to the Thule, in return for land surrendered to the Empire elsewhere. With heavy hearts, the defenders of the northern mountains withdrew and allowed the Thule to take the Stonefield Ice Caves.

The territory was relatively peaceful until Winter 381YE, when a major force of Jotun champions led by the Ice Fishers of Ldansk moved into Stark and began making preparations for a major invasion. Shortly after the Solstice, the Jotun made use of the preparations to invade seizing control of Stark and a significant part of Tanikipari. They went on over the next three months to conquer the whole of Tanikipari, and to take Sealtoq as well, winning three decisive battles along the shores of the Atkonartoq culminating in the conquest of Atalaq. By the start of the Autumn Equinox entire territory was in the hands of the Jotun.

In the Spring of 383YE, the Thule of Otkodov proposed an unlikely alliance with the Empire. In return for concessions elsewhere, they would commit their own armies to fight alongside Imperial soldiers against the Jotun in the liberation of Sermersuaq. Despite early misgivings by the Imperial Military Council, the Empire accepted the proposal. Armies of both nations engaged in a campaign of liberation in Sermersuaq that ultimately saw the Jotun driven back into Skallahn and Tromsa, and the capture of two massive orc fortresses along the western border. The alliance was not without controversy; the Thule were eager to carry away Jotun thralls as slaves. Outrage swept Anvil, and following a resolute stand by the Imperial Orcs, the Thule ultimately forswore the practice of slavery entirely, releasing those orcs they had captured back to the Jotun as the war drew to a close. SInce then, Sermersuaq has been the staging post for several successful attacks into Jotun territory.

Time spent under Jotun control has left a permanent blight on Sermersuaq, however. The followers of Blood-on-the-Snow took the opportunity to creep down out of the northern wastes and corrupt several groups of Winterfolk trapped under Jotun dominion. After the war, WIntermark was left with several unpalatable decisions about what to do. Ultimately, the worst offenders were slain or driven into hiding, and mercy shown to those who expressed true contrition.

Unfortunately, Blood-on-the-Snow was not done with Sermersuaq, sending his twisted spawn to bedevil the northern reaches. Nor was he the only eternal to threaten the fragile peace there. Hayaak, the Griffon-King, unleashed his vengeance on the Thule warlocks gathered at Tanikipari in Autumn 384YE for their part in the fight against the Jotun. The Empire tried to prevent the massacre, but they were too late to stop an army of Hayaak's followers from descending on the warlocks and ripping them limb from limb. After the Thule were dealt with, Hayaak's monsters did not return to the Summer realm. Instead they scattered across the land. And unlike Agramant's twisted offspring, the instruments of Hayaak's bloody vengeance seem only to eager to prey on unwary travellers.

The Northern Lights

The northern lights are a mystery. They shimmer brightest in the Winter months, visible from the northernmost territories of Wintermark, and Varushka, and from the new demesne of the Imperial Orcs. Beautiful, terrible. They dance like fire, gold, and green, and blue, and red.

During the coldest winters, they may be seen further south. Coiling, dancing. On nights when they are bright, wise Suaq know not to sleep outside; to lace the tent and urge their Kallavesi and Steinr friends to shutter their windows. Those who sleep under their illumination suffer unsettling dreams; stories say that in time they come to crave the touch of these dancing lights. When Spring comes, denied the light, they are maddened. They turn on themselves, or their brothers and sisters, or they disappear – last seen walking north, into Sydanjaa or Otkodov seeking some communion with the lights in the night sky.

Perhaps these are only stories.

Some Suaq say that their light reveals hidden messages and secret places to those who know how to look. Some Suaq starwatchers say that these nameless lights can be evoked to work magic. They are the law “things are unknown” - Wyr, or that rune that is nameless, serpentine in the night sky. The dark counterpart of the Key, and the Lock, of the Spider, and the Web. The answer to the riddle “who hides the stars?”

Of course other stories suggest that starwatchers who try to evoke the dancing lights of the north can do so only be determining their name, by understanding what by its nature must remain unknown. They say that Barsai the Sealspeaker learnt the unknown name, and in his moment of understanding was drawn into the night sky and known no more by the Suaq, encompassed ultimately by that which he thought to encompass.

Major Features

Sydanjaa

To the north of Sermersuaq is the great ice-storm that never abates. No one has ever entered and returned to tell what might lie on the other side. Occasionally the Artok are found emerging from the storm, and if not tamed, return again.

Olgafsdottirshal

Built during the occupation of Sermersuaq by the Jotun, this grand fortification dominates the land around the hot springs of Tanikipari. One of two great castles built by Igya Olgafsdottir, and bears her name. Besieged by Imperial and Thule forces in the Summer of 384YE, the Jotun were forced to abandon it shortly after the Solstice. Like the fortress of Kalant, the castle is very much built in the Jotun style - a hulking citadel of white granite carved with depictions of the orc ancestors, especially the tenacious Skjaldi. Even with the crimson banners of the Jotun removed, it remains an unmistakable reminder of the Jotun defeat of the people of Wintermark and their domination of Sermersuaq. OOC Note: Olgafsdottirshal is a rank 2 fortification.

Fortress of Kalant

The other great fortification in western Sermersuaq stands in Stark. Apparently built by Igya Olgafsdottir for the Jarl of Keirheim, it is in some ways even more splendid that Olgafsdottirshal. Here Skjaldi is joined by statues of wise and wily Raðljóst - something that makes those Winterfolk who know the legends of the Jotun uneasy. Their tales claim that their ancestor tricked the trolls out of their mastery of the runes - and not the clever heroes of Wintermark. Few runesmiths appreciate the reminder that, in the eyes of the Jotun, they are little more than thieves. OOC Note: The Fortress of Kalant is a rank 2 fortification.

The Pride of Ikka's Tears

The Pride of Ikka's Tears is a new Bourse resource located in Suaq Fount - the first discovered in Imperial territory in over a century. Discovered by Peter of Hintown and his companions in 380YE, the newly established mine cuts into the lower parts of the great glacier known as the Face of Ikka. Custodianship of the Pits is an Imperial Title that brings with it a Seat on the Imperial Bourse. It produces 15 Imperial wains of mithril every season. Control is allocated to any Wintermark citizen by private ballot of the military captains of the nation, during the Autumn Equinox.

The Stonefield Ice Caves

The Stonefield Ice Caves were a Bourse resource located in the Silverpeaks. Custodianship of the Caves was an Imperial Title that brought with it a Seat on the Imperial Bourse. It produced 5 rings of ilium every season. Control was allocated during the Spring Equinox to whichever Wintermark military unit performed the biggest raid. The Stonefield Ice Caves are no longer in Imperial hands, having been ceded to the Thule as part of the ceasefire agreement.

The Ford of Berusen

To enter Stark from Sealtoq means traversing the thick corridor of land between the Atkonartoq to the north and the Rikkivesi to the south. In recent years, the land bridge has been the site of two furious engagements between Imperial troops and the conquering Jotun,. The first was in Summer 382YE where three days of fierce battle saw the Empire fight desperately to prevent the forces of King Gudmundur of Narkyst from pushing through to assail Atalaq. Imperial troops were forced to fall back, and the Jotun raised a great burial mound at the western end of the Ford before advancing into Sealtoq. Nine months later, there was a second battle that nearly ended in catastrophe when the fighting spread out onto the surface of the Arkonartoq. Only the intervention of the hylje prevented significant loss of life by the Imperial forces. In the end they were triumphant, and the Empire managed to secure both ends of the land bridge.

The Grave of the Giants

In Tsirku a great ice-cavern lies by the edge of the waters of Nutjuitoq. The way to it is through a treacherous, shifting maze of icebergs. The cave is where great sea-creatures go to die – whales, kraken and the like struggle up out of the sea from under the ice. No-one knows why. The ivory from this place is plentiful, and particularly prized.

Face of Ikka

In the Suaq Fount a great glacier grinds into the water on the borders between Tsirku and Sermersuaq; the Face of Ikka. The salvage rights to the face of the glacier is a much-prized thing, for – hanging perilously from ropes and using snow-axes – prospectors often find ruined artefacts from the troll nation that’s said to lie under the glacier. Also, from time to time, they find other things – creatures entombed in the ice, or intact pieces of lore.

The Meeting Place

To the west of Sermersuaq, outside the borders of the territories, there once stood a low stone worn by the elements. It stood by itself in a wooded glade and is relatively unremarkable. This stone however represented a place of truce where Jotun and Winterfolk representatives could meet together without fear of violence. Such meetings were irregular, but did take place - when Emperor Guntherm negotiated a ceasefire with the Jotun leaders, this is where he did it. This place was considered neutral ground, and neither human nor orc claimed it as part of their nation.

In late 382YE, however, the stone at the Meeting Place was destroyed. The Jotun were extremely angry about this, and blamed the Empire. While the culprit was ultimately identified and executed, the Jotun refused to be mollified. The Meeting Place remains empty, and its diplomatic legacy appears permanently tarnished.

The Mountain Passes

Armies cannot pass freely through the mountains that bound Sermersuaq to the east; there are only two passes large enough to permit free movement of troops. The first - Crow's Path - is in the north, and connects Silver Peaks with Crow's Ridge in Skarsind. Both regions are controlled by the Thule, so for an Imperial army to use the Path would require dealing with the northern orcs. The second path through the mountains lay in the south, but following the Winter of 383YE a Jotun Yegarra force under the walrus banner of the human champion Eisa Winterborn sealed the western end of Pakanaan's Pass. Unless the Pass is cleared, it is unusable by Imperial armies. Smaller military units can still risk the higher and less-accessible paths through the mountains, but for the time being Imperial (and for that matter Jotun) armies cannot move directly between Sermersuaq and Skarsind without permission from the Thule.

Regions

Monsters of the Tundra

When the Jotun conquered Sermersuaq, the Ability of the Imperial Conclave to protect the territory from malign influences faltered. Specifically, its ability to keep Blood-on-the-Snow at bay was removed. The Jotun erected blood-red stone markers around the main settlements, carved with runes and decorated with weltsilver and ambergelt to try and contain the malice of the howling beast. Either they don't work, or there weren't enough of them, but whatever the case, they weren't enough to stop the Howler releasing all manner of beasts and monsters into the wilds of Sermersuaq. A few of these creatures were twisted heralds of Wastewalker. Most are simply monsters, released by Agramant from the Winter realm, these horrifying beasts with snarling jaws and bloody teeth pose a terrifying danger even without the Howler's hand to guide them.

Sadly, these horrors are not alone. Hayaak, the Griffon-King, unleashed his vengeance on the Thule warlocks gathered at Tanikipari in Autumn 384YE. The Empire tried to prevent the massacre, but they were too late to stop an army of Hayaak's followers from descending on the warlocks and ripping them limb from limb. Bad news for the Thule maybe... but not just for them. After the Thule were dealt with, Hayaak's monsters did not return to the Summer realm. Instead they scattered across the land. And unlike Agramant's twisted offspring, the instruments of Hayaak's bloody vengeance seem only to eager to prey on unwary travellers.

The slavering beasts that Blood-on-the-Snow and Hayaak have set on Sermersuaq will surely be a danger for years to come, threatening individual lives and posing a risk to travellers. But thanks to the establishment of the Hall of the Hunters they will not become a coherent force that could threaten the safety and security of the territory. Imperial heroes might have to travel by sentinel gate to deal with an individual monster, but they shouldn't ever become a danger that needed the attention of the Senate or the Military Council.

East Floes

The two freshwater lakes of the East Floes are called "Big Sister" and "Little Brother" by the Suaq - but there is little agreement which lake is which. This is the source of some humour among outsiders, and there are several jokes and long stories told around campfires whose punchline is the inability of a traveller to tell the difference between two things so obviously unalike. The lakes are the spawning ground of the Sermer Salmon, a particularly hardy breed of fish favoured in the Empire for its rich taste, and sometimes used as a symbol of Courage.

On the edge of the southernmost lake lies Wreck. The rib-bones of a gigantic ship of an ancient make jut from the ice here and lie part-submerged under the water. These rib-bones have been covered to make a shelter, and a small settlement has existed around it for as long as anyone can remember. The ship is sometimes credited as being the creation of giants, or trolls, while others point to the idea that it is not a ship at all - it is too wide and too deep to have travelled down any of the waterways linking the ice floes with the sea.

Sealtoq

The most temperate of the Sermersuaq regions, Sealtoq is the site of Atalaq, the largest permanent settlement in Sermersuaq. It lies on the waters of Atkonartoq, and is gathering and resting place for the scattered hunters who follow the Suaq traditions. Built on the shores of the cold lake, there are a large number of long piers and jetties with buildings on them and occasional stilt-homes in the Kallavesi style. It is rich in oils and pelts, a place of cunning and craft, where whale-followers, walrus-herders, Icewalkers and painted hunters return after long treks over the ice.

Silver Peaks

The mines of the silver peaks are known for silver, iron, weltsilver, tempest jade and even ilium. At the foot of the silver peaks are the Stonefields, a cratered plain covered in fragments of rock. It is known for a number of rich veins of tempest jade, quite near the surface, but it is also the location of a number of mana sites built amongst the rocks. These mana sites are regularly scavenged by packs of trogoni; no matter how many caves the defenders block up, the ravenous beasts always find a way to come back.

Following the invasion of 378YE and the peace treaty of 379YE, the Silver Peaks were conquered by the Thule.

Stark

On the southern border of Stark is Rest, built at the meeting point of two trods out in the far West, where enterprising souls have erected a hall specifically to welcome far-travelling Navarr - the fare is simple but wholesome, and welcome warm. The settlement is also a small garrison of Suaq scouts, who keep a careful eye to the west. Some Winterfolk and Navarr refer to the hall here as the "Last Lantern", referring to its position as the furthest wayside inn from the heart of the Empire. A partially ruined tower near the settlement called The Sentinel's Rest serves as both a place of pilgrimage for followers of The Way dedicated to Vigilance, and as the site of a beacon that can be used to warn the rest of Wintermark about barbarian orc invasions from the Jotun lands.

After the Winter Solstice 381YE, the Jotun invasion saw Rest captured and converted to a base of operations for the western orcs.

Suaq Fount

The wastes of Suaq Fount are among the most desolate parts of the Empire - but only with regards to permanent human habitation. Animal life is common here, but the wastes are also known to be dotted with rich fields of bladeroot. Suaq hunters claim that the animals that live here and often graze on the bitter herb are particularly wily quarry - and that the predators that prey on them have less fear of humans and are more prone to hunt the hunters in their turn. Mystics point to the Face of Ikka as explanation, and sketch the rune Feresh in the air to ward off evil.

Sermersuaq Region Map.png
A very rough region map of Sermersuaq

Suaq Wastes

The wastes, like the Suaq Fount, are fairly desolate - there are few permanent settlements here but the tundra is littered with well known camping sites used by travellers and hunters. The Grave of the Giants lies on the western coast of the Suaq Wastes. The Hall of the Hunters stands here on the shores of Lake Atkonaroq, serving as a haven for those who hunt the monsters unleashed by the cruel Blood-on-the-Snow and the vengeful Hayaak that still haunt Sermersuaq.

Tanikipari

In the middle of the cold wastes of Sermersuaq are The Hot Springs of Taniki a lagoon filled by hot springs, full of mineral goodness. Bathing in its waters is rumoured to cure any sort of ill. The springs are said to be the centre of a strong regio aligned with the realm of day and (allegedly) the eternal Ylenrith. Since time immemorial Icewalkers have used water from the springs as a focus for scrying rituals, and many Kallavesi mystics make a point of travelling there at least once in their lives to bathe in the hot springs. Travellers who have chosen to walk into Sydanjaa follow the example of Empress Mariika and spend three days ritually cleansing themselves here before continuing their long trek into Tsirku.

Strategic Considerations

In addition to the qualities of the individual regions, there are certain strategic consideration that affect military campaigns in Sermersuaq. The Atkonartoq lake means that armies cannot move between Suaq Wastes and Sealtoq, or between Tanikipari and Sealtoq (and vice versa). The collapse of Parkanaan's Pass by the Jotun following the Winter Solstice 383YE prevents movement between East floes and Skarsind. The only remaining pass large enough to allow a campaign army to move between Sermersuaq and Skarsind lies between Silver Peaks and Crow's Ridge, and both regions are controlled by the Thule orcs rather than the Empire.

SummitElected
Summer Solstice 385YEAtte Arrow-Tongue Metsastajason
Summer Solstice 384YEAtte Arrow-Tongue Metsastajason
Summer Solstice 383YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 382YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 381YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 381YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 380YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 379YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 378YEAtte Arrowtongue
Summer Solstice 377YEAtte Arrowtongue
Winter Solstice 376YEAtte Arrowtongue

Recent Senate Elections

As an Imperial territory, Sermersuaq was represented by a senator elected in the Summer. This title is currently held by Atte Arrow-Tongue Metsastajason; it will be reelected at Summer Solstice 386YE. The table to the right shows the citizens who have been elected to hold this title in the years since Empress Britta died.

OOC Notes

  • As of the start of the Winter Solstice 384YE, the Thule control the Silver Peaks. Wintermark, and by extension the Empire, controls the rest of the territory
  • The Citadel of Bone and Silver in the Silver Peaks is a rank 2 fortification.
  • Olgafsdottirshal in Tanikipari is a rank 2 fortification.
  • Fortress of Kalant in Stark is a rank 2 fortification.
  • Farms in the territory benefit from the Smokehouse of Atalaq and produce an extra 72 rings each season.
The farms of Sermersuaq
Sermersuaq is a fine example of a territory where farms are more likely to represent herds of animals than fields or orchards. A character from Sermersuaq could easily role-play making their money from hunting, fishing or whaling, rather than more traditional agricultural activities. Diversifying the "farm" to include herbs and measures of rare natural materials could be a good way to support this theme.

The rarest "farmers" in Sermersuaq would be those that follow the mammoth herds, carefully picking off the weakest and oldest members of the herds and selling the meat, hide, hair and ivory produced - only a few mammoths every season would be enough to provide a character with a regular income.

Rituals such as Blessing of New Spring work equally well on herds of deer or sheep, schools of fish or colonies of seals as they do on farms or orchards, but represent a great opportunity to rename and reflavour the performances to reflect their target being animals, rather than plants.

Further Reading