Verthandi Revision as of 11:23, 26 June 2019 by GuiltyConscience
- 1 Overview
- 2 Recent History
- 3 Major Features
- 4 Regions
- 5 Thule Forces (Summer 381YE)
- 6 Game Information
Verthandi is a territory in Otkodov. It is in the south of the Thule nation, to the east of Urdur and to the west of Sküld. It lies to the south of Nithoggir. It shares a border with the Varushkan territories of Miekarova and Volodmartz.
Once past the mountains along the southern border, most of the territory consists of chilly plains and tundra interspersed with cold lakes and several rivers. Some of the naturally occurring bodies of water are warmer than those found in the Empire - in some cases they actually bubble and steam at temperatures near boiling. The cold plains are home to a sizable population of mammoths, hunted and in some cases herded by the orc tribes that live here.
Verthandi seems to be quite populous, with many orc settlements. The largest number of settlements are built along the shores of a large, shallow lake in the region of Erskjuvaten. The lake freezes over from early autumn through to mid-spring; it is more often traversed with sleds and skates that with boats. The territory is not rich however, at least not compared to an Imperial territory. Much of the population lives in tribal groups, organised and overseen by warlocks in the name of the Dragons. There are a number of farms and mines, but the farms are nowhere near as fertile as those of the Marches, and the mines seem to have quite low production compared to their Imperial equivalents.
Verthandi imports fish and grain from Urdur, and exports meat and metal to the other three territories of Otkodov. Anything of true value (especially mithril and crystal mana) seems to be exported north to some central point, and then trickled back down to the people of Verthandi in line with some incomprehensible plan.
One point of interest is that a number of the farms of Verthandi appear to be underground. There are reports of caverns of indeterminate size where Thule slaves work to cultivate and harvest a great profusion of edible mushrooms and fungi. The fungus is processed, and turned into a sweet tasting but ultimately bland foodstuff that seems to be a staple of Thule diet. Some of the fungus is apparently fermented to produce a strong, volatile spirit that tastes disgusting but appears to be extremely alcoholic.
In 241YE, during the reign of Emperor Guntherm, parts of Verthandi were conquered by a combined force from Varushka and Dawn. Their occupation was short lived - in 243YE they were forced to retreat back across the mountains, pursued by a counter-invasion force of Thule orcs that laid siege to Skarsind and Karsk. Some historians suggest that the Varushkan and Dawnish forces lost interest in defending their territorial gains when the rich mithril mine they had seized was allocated by the Imperial Senate not as a Varushkan national seat as had been expected, but as an Imperial seat that was immediately won by a League citizen from Holberg,
In Summer 377YE, the Thule attempted to move forces south from Verthandi through the mountains of southern Tjinfalla into Volodmartz. The mountains there are believed to be riddled with hidden passages, and the Thule attempted to use these to launch a surprise attack in support of their invasion forces in Karsk. Imperial heroes managed to disrupt their effort to establish a base camp near Void - and within striking distance of the Granites of Veltsgorsk. Varushkan armed forces drove the remaining scattered forces back through the mountains, and the tunnel they were attempting to use was collapsed.
The Empire maintains a spy network in Verthandi, established in Summer 377YE. After an initial survey of Otkodov, the spy network was largely ignored by Imperial forces until the Winter of 379YE, when a number of scouts from Wintermark made the trek north - during one of the worst Winters on record - to cautiously explore the territory. The details of this force can be found on the Imperial Roll of Honour.
Following the Spring Equinox 381YE, a second expeditionary force made use of the spy network, primarily made up of Wintermark independent captains with the support of a solitary group of League soldiers. They greatly expanded Imperial information about Verthandi, especially with regard to major points of interest. Again, details of this force can be found on the Imperial Roll of Honour.
Slavery in Verthandi
Slavery is endemic in Thule lands – with large numbers of slaves employed to operate and work farms, mines and other resources. They are worked hard and poorly fed, but in that regard they are not radically different to those who do not wear chains. Verthandi is neither rich nor fertile and it is clear that the Thule must toil hard to make the land yield anything of value. Punishments are harsh. Those who rebel are packed in ice and allowed to freeze to death, those who attempt to escape are permanently maimed if they are recaptured. But it is clear that the Dragons limit their demands to obedience – there is little of pointless brutality common in Druj lands and familiar to any who fought in Reikos.
More than half of the slaves are orcs – many look like Thule who have fallen from favour with the Dragons, but there are definitely members of other tribes as well thought it is hard to tell which for sure. The remainder are clearly human, perhaps half of whom are clearly of Wintermark or Varushkan descent. The rest could be former Imperial citizens, or descendents thereof or they might be related to one of the few small scattered groups of humans living in Otkodov.Most of the slaves employed in Verthandi are engaged in hard labour, such as mining or farming. There is some talk of human slaves forced to work for the Dragons as artisans and runesmiths but there is no sign of them here. All the evidence suggests that if such a group exist, they are likely far to the north, closer to the throne of the Dragons – the volcanic Dragonvault - in Nithoggir.
This large lake covers most of the border with Urdur to the west. Imperial scouts have marked small boats traveling both east and west, trading with Urdur, as well as small fleets of fishing boats. The Thule favour the use of oared vessels rather than anything with sails, and there were several sightings of small one- or two-person vessels similar to the canoes used by some Suaq hunters.
The waters of the lake are significantly warmer than might be expected. It seems likely that this great body of water is fed by underground hot springs as well as cooler waters. Scouts report that the waters "taste funny" - although they seem potable enough. It is noteworthy that it did not freeze even during the dreadful winter of 379YE (although chunks of ice were still visible on the surface, there is a possibility that they originated elsewhere). It is theorised that the great body of water is fed by underground hot springs as well as the cooler waters Scouts report that the waters "taste funny" - although they seem potable enough.
A large seal population lives in the lake – many of them with white pelts marked with odd red striations. As the majority of the seals are in Urdur it is hard to say much more about them except that the local hunters seem to give these white seals a wide berth for some reason (while being more than happy to slaughter a group without such a beast among them).
In eastern Askja is a peculiar forest - dubbed the Stone Forest. At first sight the woodland appears normal. Only when one approaches closer does it become apparent that the trees are dead - and more than dead. They have been petrified - turned to stone by some cataclysmic magical or natural effect. Stretching for several miles, there are numerous hot springs scattered among the trees. While the trees themselves appear dead, the earth itself seems supernaturally fertile. The entire area appears to be a massive herb garden. Perhaps even more interestingly, despite the cold climate the garden appears to produce a significant amount of the delicate herb the Empire knows as Cerulean Mazzarine. The herbs are tended by slaves but the scouts who discovered the location recount that they all have one unique feature in common - they are all blind.
Houses of Silence
High in the mountains of Tinfjalla are a series of cave mouths that do not appear to lead to mines. The local orc tribe refers to them as the Houses of Silence. Earlier Imperial scouts were unable to get too close; this time, it was possible to get a good look at the location, and even explore some of the caves. They appear to be tombs, filled with mummified orc remains, some of them apparently extremely ancient. Many of the orcs had been interred with tomb goods (a rare practice among the resource-hungry Thule), but the caves were extensively protected with traps both mundane and magical. One group reported encounters with dessicated, mummified, unliving guardians that came out of nowhere and inflicted terrifying, crippling wounds. According to the scouts, several of the lower caves also contained mithril runes and mirrors intended to focus magical flows - and slaves tasked with harvesting a large amount of crystal mana. What the relationship between the tombs and the mana sites (if any) is hard to say.
OOC: Whatever else they do, the Houses of Silence seem to provide a significant bounty of crystal mana each season. In Imperial terms, it seems similar to a sinecure.
Wheel of Sighs
In Hengill, not far from the settlement of Samkǒma, is a great wooden wheel laid horizontally on a tree-trunk thick axle. The orcs call it the Wheel of Sighs. Perhaps thirty feet across, it is slowly turned by dozens of orc prisoners. A cadre of whip-wielding overseers ensure that the slaves keep the wheel turning. It seems to be some sort of punishment device - one scout reported a scene where a blue-clad warlock was escorted to the area, stripped of their finery, and forced to join the slaves toiling at the wheel while another was removed from their shackles, given the very accoutrements her replacement had shed, and escorted away from the area. The wheel turns day and night, without pause. Sometimes, when a slave drops at last from exhaustion, they are dragged away and brutally beaten to death. Other times, they are dragged away and deposited in low stone buildings near the wheel, given a short time to recuperate, before being returned to their onerous task. The scouts also reported something a little odd - what they at first took to be grease lubricating the axle was actually a material being collected by other slaves, and stored in small clay pots under armed guard before being transported north towards Nithoggir.
On the cold plains of Askja stands the fortress Őrnhjorfal. It juts out of the plains without warning, a tall and slender keep of white granite surrounded by high, smooth walls. The tower has an eerie grace to it, quite at odds with the more practical aspect of most Thule architecture. The top of the tower is carved in the shape of a great eagle, clutching a polished weltsilver orb in one talon. The warlock-lord of Őrnhjorfal is said to be a favoured initiate of Hinodir of the Bright Orb, one of the Thule Dragons. The structure is built over a "place of power" that allows Hinodir to observe everything that happens in Verthandi - and to visit her wrath on anything that displeases her. In Imperial terms, this appears to be a very powerful day regio, tended by a skilled and well-supplied coven of Thule warlocks that might well be even more dangerous than the fortification itself.
This deep mine is found in the mountains of northern Yurah, overlooking the Erawayugot plains. It has only a single entrance - a massive double door forged from an alloy of orichalcum and iron, set in a doorway of white granite surmounted by a massive mithril-inlaid Rune of Wealth. Above the mine opening is an immense carving - a rival to the Face of King Ulmo in Kalpaheim - depicting a great five-headed dragon. The eyes of the carving appear to be enchanted such that they glow brightly after sunset, illuminating the gate with a pitiless silver glow.
A small town lies below the gate, swollen with mineworkers. The mine is believed to delve deep into and beneath the Yurah peaks, and if overheard stories are to be believed it burrows deep into the roots of the mountains in an endless array of tunnels and galleries that have never seen the light of day. There are also stories of massive lightstones, and great weltsilver mirrors, which are used to light the abyssal depths of the mine.
While it produces only a small amount of precious metals, it produces a steady stream of mithril ore. Estimates suggest at least twenty-two wains a season. All the mithril ore is transported north into Nithoggir by heavily armed and armoured caravans made up of elite Thule soldiers and accompanied by powerful warlocks.
According to some historical documents, Feyanksyothen was briefly captured by a joint Varushkan-Dawnish force during the early reign of Emperor Guntherm. The Imperial forces were unable to maintain their foothold in Verthandi unfortunately, and quickly lost control of the mine,
OOC: Feyanksyothen is a rich mithril mine, easily equivalent to an Imperial bourse seat. Precisely how much mithril it produces each season is unclear.
Verthandi is broken up into seven regions.
In the north of the territory, large parts of Askja's cold plains are covered in eerie craters. Many of these craters are filled with water, usually boiling or at least very warm. It is a hostile area, but there are still several small settlements of Thule tribesfolk here, many of whom appear to be engaged in tending to the larger "cauldrons". Opinion is divided as to whether the hot springs are sites where crystal mana is harvested, or whether the heat allows the cultivation of herbs that might otherwise be unable to survive the cold climate. Indeed the Stone Forest in eastern Askja provides a significant bounty of valuable herbs each season. The region is watched over by the sinister fortress Őrnhjorfal.
The most populated region in Verthandi, Erskjuvaten is dominated by a great shallow lake fed by the Juvaten Cascade that flows down the side of the unscalable Mount Huversk that is frozen over for nearly half the year. The shores are scattered with settlements, the largest being Skjuhalm on the northern shores. The orcs split their time between hunting, cultivating a tough but hardy strain of edible grass, and fishing in the lake - both with small boats and more commonly by cutting holes in the ice.
Cold tundra stretches from Erskjuvaten and Tinfjalla east toward Sküld. There is some sign that there were once forests here, long ago. Today there are only stretches of frozen stumps and stretches of tough, woody brush that seems adapted to the cold temperatures.
The region is home to several nomadic clans of Thule hunters who move regularly, favouring animal-hide tents and yurts over more permanent structures. They are primarily involved in tending and hunting the mammoths herds that roam the tundra here.
Hengill is a cold plains, with several stretches of woodland and hills especially in the northern parts of the region. Wild woodlands are rare in Otkodov outside of Sküld – these trees appear to be given a wide berth by the scouts, although several report what look to be orcish faces carved into their trunks.
There is one major settlement - Samkǒma - which lies on the northern shores of Lake Dauthötter. The lake stretches east into Urdur, and boats are regularly seen passing back and forth across it surface. Unlike the waters of Erskjuvaten, Lake Dauthötter rarely freezes solid – but in the colder months chunks of ice are visible bobbing on the surface. Not far from Samkǒma stands the Wheel of Sighs, an enigmatic locale that appears to serve as a place of punishment.
As with Ierkul and Askja, Erawayugot is primarily cold plains. The tundra becomes more hilly the further north one travels. As with Ierkul, the population here are somewhat nomadic - they live in the north during the spring months, and travel south in late summer. The clans here are not mammoth hunters - it's not entirely clear how they make their living. Several scouts report the presence of eerie structures here and there in the northern part of the region – tall trees stripped of branches and carved and decorated in unsettling fashion.
The hills of Tinfjalla are riddled with mines, and according to scouts it is likely that somewhere in this region lie the hidden tunnels through the mountains into Volodmartz that the Thule have used in the past. This is particularly hostile territory – even without the deathly chill and constant snow of the deep winter the paths are treacherous and a horrible fall with a sickening crunch at the end seems all to common a fate.
There are several cave mouths high in the hills here that are clearly not mines, but are marked with runes and curtains of bones tied to thin cords that clatter and jerk madly in the wind. Known as Houses of Silence, these caves appear to be both tombs and a rich source of crystal mana.
As with Tinfjalla, this is a hilly region. There are several settlements here low in the hills. The largest of these is called Sasuihk and is built on the shores of a deep mountain pool fed by a magnificent waterfall that cascades down the side of a mountain. Called Virt Sasuihk Ussa, this waterfall is crystal clear and appears to be an object of veneration by some of the Thule.
While there are mines in Yurah, there are significantly less than are found in Tinfjalla. The largest, however, is without doubt the wealthiest and most prominent in the entire territory - the mithril mine of Feyanksyothen.
Thule Forces (Summer 381YE)
After the Spring Equinox 381YE, the scouts reported five Thule armies in Verthandi. Each occupied one or two fortified camps, scattered across the plains and foothills of the territory. Many of their number were engaged in peace-time activities – hunting, farming, patrolling – but the warriors could be recalled at a moments notice to defend Verthandi from invaders. This information has been gleaned from the extensive spy reports and is presented here as an example of how the Thule armies operate when they are in friendly territory. it is correct as of the beginning of the Summer Solstice 381YE.
Banner of the Rime Hound
Quality: Warbeasts. This quality allows the Banner of the Rime Hound to take a powerful attacking order by unleashing their creatures onto a battlefield.
The Banner of the Rime Hound is a large force, familiar to many who fought in the Sermersuaq campaigns of 378YE and 379YE. Beneath banners depicting white dogs, they are notable for the number of warbeasts included in their ranks. Wintermark warriors who fought at the Battle of Ikka's Tears mark the war rhinos, but they also make use of packs of barely domesticated dire wolves, armoured bears of great size, and a unique breed of creature that seems to combine all the worst traits of wolves and bears with the aspect of an ape. They seem mostly engaged in hunting and training new beasts for their army, presumably still working to replenish the creatures slain during their attack on the Silver Peaks.
Chasm of Thunder
The Chasm of Thunder march beneath dark blue banners often bearing the Runes of Dominion and Strength. They were noticably camped apart from the other armies on the plains of Erawayugot. They seemed to spend almost their entire time training – fighting viciously in shallow pits dug out of the ground for that purpose, as well as sending out small war parties to hunt mammoths with hand weapons. They appeared to be especially bloodthirsty – after every victory, the victory was daubed with the blood of their opponent.
Claws of the Icy Grasp
The Claws of the Icy Grasp appeared to have spread out across much of the territory. Their banners show taloned hands or paws, and the rune Pallas is common – and also appears to be a common tattoo worn by many of the soldiers. They seemed quite disciplined – even spread out as they were they drilled regularly in small groups and kept their weapons and armour ready to go at a moments notice. More so than any of the other Thule forces in Verthandi the warriors were engaged in “civilian” work – farming, mining, hunting – and a significant portion of their produce was channelled to stockpiles at Skjuhalm in Erskjuvaten.
Dance of Binding
The Dance of Binding were primarily camped on the cold hills of Tinfjalla in the south-east. Their banners show a chain motif, and the Tykonus rune. Of note are the number of forges they maintain – there seem to be a number of smiths among them who are engaged in forging weapons and armour. Interestingly, they seem to be using old and damaged weapons – melting them down and reshaping them – more than they are using fresh material. Many of the warriors seem to spend long periods engaged in great ritualistic dances, often fully armoured and wielding their weapons, during which they push themselves to the point of exhaustion and beyond, apparently to strengthen their bodies and their will.
White Mountain Fire
The White Mountain Fire were camped in the hills and mountains of Yurah. Their banners usurprisingly incorporate themes of mountains and fire, and the runes Diras and Sular. They appeared especially at home in the hills and mountains – indeed scouts suggested that the entire army is drawn from a single sprawling clan of hill-orcs that dwell in Yurah and Tinfjalla.