Finland and Rus

Finland and Garðaríki (Russia)

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Once the heartlands of the Norse people, Denmark and Sweden are mere shells of what they once were. Despite their cold and unforgiving northlands and the stereotype of frozen wastelands throughout, both nations have a wider variety of environmental conditions, forests, grasslands and fertile soil than are often pictured in the minds of those who imagine Scandinavia.

Or at least they did. With what some call the Fimbulwinter—the everlasting winter that precedes Ragnarok in the myths—upon them, the Norse heartlands have become a harsh and unforgiving place for civilized people. As the human gods have withdrawn, the gods of the Jötunn and the trolls have not, and the tribes and chiefdoms of those races have grown bold. Coming down from the north, breaking pacts reached a century ago, they have spent years expanding their holdings and in the process destroying much of what were once great nations. The countries of “Denmark” and “Sweden” live on more in the spirits of the people who remain than in any sense of concrete reality.

As well, the Linnorm—what the Norse call dragons, although they are not winged, and not color-coded for ease of identification—have been stirring. Servants of Jörmungandr, whose awakening signals the beginning of Ragnarok, they normally remain closeted within their fastnesses in the northern and central mountains. Yet they, too, have been roaming. The linnorm humans call “dragonborn”, their scouts and servants, rarely seen until recent years, have been spotted. Occasionally scouts for attacks or warriors in their own right, they have also been seen aiding humans or warning them. More often, though, the small linnorm are spotted only in advance by those lucky enough to escape an assault by an assault by a much larger linnorm…but usually the only sign of that is the crater left behind after it has come up and swallowed a village whole.

The survivors have had many reactions to all of this. Many have fled, and the only ones still in any regular contact with the settlements in Denmark and Sweden are those who have established a foothold in Scotland via the Orkney Islands. The remaining Danes hold on in the south, holding the last good passage remaining between the Baltic and the Atlantic. North, in Uppsala, the stronghold of the Swedes holds what remains of the Swedish Kingdom.

Denmark At A Glance

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Capitals Hedeby, Denmark
Ruler None
Language Norse
Population 80% Human, 10% Trollblooded (Goliaths, some Firbolg & Half-Orc), 3% Dwarf, 2% Elf, 2% Half-Elf, 2% Aasimar, 1% Genasi, Trace: Tiefling, Linnorm (Dragonborn)
Pantheon Norse
Waystone Runestone at Hedeby – Denmark
Major Threats Trolls, Giants, Linnorm, Germanic Tribes, Fey
DM Scott Roberts

Denmark

While Denmark was the smallest of the Viking countries, in the hundred years since the Waystone Epoch began it has become smaller still. In the last ten years, concerted campaigns by giants and trolls took Ribe in the northwest, and from the east, a number of Linnorm were heard destroying the ringfort at Trelleborg, the only survivors escaping on their longships as the wyrms tunnelled up through the earth and devoured man and fortification alike. The original capital, Jelling, fell to a combined assault of giants and trolls five years ago.

What remains is Denmark’s largest city, Hedeby, where the Danish culture lives on, and Hollingsted, its sister town to the west. This last water link between the Baltic and the Atlantic is what keeps all the Norse peoples connected: the Swedes, the Finns, the Rus, the Scots, the distant settlement in Greenland, and the forbidding coastal villages in Norway—but for how much longer?

Most adventures in the western Norse lands will have their starting point in Hedeby. As a central transshipment point for the Norse civilizations, almost any Norse character can be found here. The port facilities and shipbuilders do not have the same equipment nor modernization of other civilizations, but what they can do with a longship is not to be underestimated.

While the Norse religion does not particularly revolve around temples, it is also the site of almost fanatical worship as the people grow more and more desperate as threats mount from all sides. Prayers can be heard day and night to all of the Norse pantheon, and the smell of smoke from burnt offerings of all sorts fills the air.

Hedeby is surrounded by a large fortified wall, which is constantly manned by the town’s veteran soldiers. The men and women of the city have all survived in the harshest conditions any Norse has ever faced, and the trials they have been put through have hardened their bodies and spirits—but not their souls. The sounds of raucous partying can be heard from the longhouses and taverns of the city, for the Vikings have never been a particularly dour people; Hedeby’s open trading ports make it one of the few places in the Norse lands where goods are at least somewhat plentiful.

Hollingsted, to the west, is connected to Hedeby by a well-guarded road which is wide enough for men—or, more often, thralls—to move the large longships that the Vikings use from the Schiel to the Trelle. This portage keeps the Vikings alive, and guarding it from raiders is the most important task that Viking warriors have. Hollingsted is not a terribly large city, but the people in it are glad to greet visiting traders and provide services to the foreign sailors who arrive there and must stay with their ships as their merchants and others travel on to Hedeby.

Sweden At A Glance

Capital Anna Uppsala, Sweden
Ruler None
Language Norse
Population 80% Human, 10% Trollblooded (Goliaths), 3% Dwarf, 2% Elf, 2% Half-Elf, 2% Aasimar, 1% Genasi, Trace: Tiefling, Linnorm (Dragonborn)
Pantheon Norse
Waystone Gamla Uppsala – Sweden
Major Threats Trolls, Giants, Linnorm
DMs Scott Roberts

Sweden

Of all the former Norse kingdoms, it is Sweden that has seen the greatest fall from grace. Once the largest, it has been reduced to a handful of villages surviving along the coastal regions along the southern Scandinavian coastland, with the primary center of culture and population safe from the depradations of those who would conquer all of the Norse being found in Uppsala, also known as Anna Uppsala, after the source of its protection.

Although the gods have not answered the prayers of the Norse people for a little more than a century, and their servants have been called to guard their sleeping forms from further attack, it is said that when Uppsala, the last of Sweden’s major settlements and the home to the gods’ grandest Temple was in danger of being overrun, and most of her warriors lie dead on the battlefield, a vision of the Chosen heroine Anna appeared above the battlefield. A line of runes appeared around the city in a fifty-mile radius, and half the warriors were raised. The runes pushed back the attackers with a fierce glow of divine radiance, and the city was saved as the vision of Anna faded from view.

While Freya’s Voice has not been seen or heard from since, and the runes have ceased to glow, the city remains unmolested by the troll and giant tribes. That is not to say life in Anna Uppsala or Sweden has become easy. First, the city is inland, and it is no easy trip to the sea from here, though it is made as that is the only lifeline the city has to the rest of the Norse lands. Second, there is no guarantee that the runes will function again, and the warriors guarding the city are growing older. Lastly, the arable land and fishing is becoming overworked, and the city cannot support those who remain there for very long.

Yet the temple still stands, one of the few in all of the Norse lands, and the people still come there to pray for salvation.

Finland and Rus

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