- 1 Overview
- 2 Recent History
- 3 Major Features
- 4 Regions
- 5 OOC Notes
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.
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 lead 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 lead by the Ice Fishers of Ldansk moved into Stark and began making preparations for a major invasion. Shortly after the Solstice, the Jotun made us 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, the entire territory was in the hands of the Jotun.
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.
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 artifacts 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 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 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.
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.
The Meeting Place
To the west of Sermersuaq, outside the borders of the territories, is a low stone worn by the elements. It stands by itself in a wooded glade and is relatively unremarkable. This stone however represents a place of truce where Jotun and Winterfolk representatives can meet together without fear of violence. Such meetings are irregular, but do take place - when Emperor Guntherm negotiated a ceasefire with the Jotun leaders, this is where he did it. This place is neutral ground, and neither human nor orc claims it as part of their nation.
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.
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.
Quality: Hilly, Otkodov
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 traveling there at least once in their lives to bathe in the hot springs. Travelers 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.
- After the victory of the heroes at Anvil during the Winter Solstice 382YE, the region of Sealtoq was reclaimed by the Wintermark (and by extension the Empire). The Silver Peaks are under the control of the Thule. All the other regions of Sermersuaq are under the control of the Jotun.
- Imperial citizens whose personal resource is in Sermersuaq suffer the conquered territory penalty.
- Some of the prominent halls of Sermersuaq are detailed here.
- A historical research essay touching on the pre-Wintermark chief Apaay Ukiuking includes some notes about the early history of Sermersuaq has been made public by the civil service.
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.