[Culture] The Norvägen

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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
title of norvagen.PNG

Welcome!
Here you will find all information on the Norvägen culture. It has been a long time coming, but it is finally here, and ready to roll!
If you do happen to have any questions in regard how to apply, lore, or exactly what I was smoking when I wrote this whole thing, feel free to pitch ‘em to me somewhere over here:

Click!

Now... Enjoy, I suppose!

+ CONTENTS +
~How to play a Norvägen~
How to apply
Not as scary as it looks
Rules
And other boring but necessary things~

~Lore~
Introduction
Brief summary of culture
Geography
Homeland and territories
Physiology
Common physical traits
Personality
Temperament and typical viewpoints
Hierarchy
Structure and ranking in communities
Society
Raw culture, from customs to names
Warfare
Weaponry, armour and tactics
History
Ancient tales to recent events


~Other~
Approved Characters
Complete list of approved Norvägen characters
Thank you!
Credits and acknowledgements
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
~ RESTRICTED CULTURE ~
Playing a Norvägen character does require OOC approval from Faelin (oh, wait... that’s me!).

Argh?! Run! Flee! Head for the hills, hide your children! Big scary capital letters and words that mean you have to write a huge application, answer a ton of meaningful questions and risk all that work being rejected, right?!

Wrong, my friend!

+ TO JOIN +

Simply read (and follow!) the rules below, and send me a PM with a copy of the character profile you intend to use. From there I can make sure your character is lore-friendly, and then you’re off into the big wide world of RP!

Yes, I do have to approve you but, if you are willing to show willing, I will ensure all enthusiastic applicants are able to play, be it on a main account or an alt. Being declined/removed from the culture altogether is very unlikely if you are happy to follow advice.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
How to play a Norvägen for dummies highly intelligent individuals such as yourself...
The dos, don’ts and other prerequisites.

1. Don’t be a bore; read the lore!
It is not brief. Trust me, I know. Even if you get through it bits at a time, read the whole thing in one go, whatever, you will need a at the very least the basic groundings in the nature of your character's world and belief system to properly understand your character. No, you do not need to memorise everything - heck, I wrote the thing and I’m still learning. But what I do not want to hear is people saying “hey, can my earthspawn join?”, when it is clearly stated in the first few lines that characters are born into this culture, and that it entirely consists of humans.

2. We’re not vikings!
Though the Norvägen have a history involving longships, clans and all that lovely fun stuff, it does NOT mean they are the beard-braiding, axe-wielding berserkers that spring to mind when we think of our very own Norse culture. It is important to realise that while much influence has been drawn from Norse, Celtic and Pictish cultures/mythologies, the Norvägen remain only inspired by them - not based on. Think of them as having developed since then, more on par with the medieval period. If you like your references a little less historical, consider them somewhere between the northerners of Winterfell (from George R. R. Martin’s "A Song of Ice and Fire" series) and the Nords of Skyrim (from the Elder Scrolls games by Bethesda).

3. It’s character building! Literally...
I would require (at least for the early stage of this culture being released) that all Norvägen characters were created anew, from scratch, and not adapted old characters. They may be alts, but they must be new. Any exceptions should be directed to me personally.

4. You’re all MINE- Uh... I mean-
Again, for the sake of encouraging a RP community among these new characters, I would require that all start out as citizens of their city of Stormhold, the seat of the House Lonmar. Am I trying to convert you all to the dark side? Probably. Actually, no. Please understand that the primary motivation here is in promoting realistic and engaging RP.

5. Magic is a no-no.
This is a big red nope due to various lore shenanigans, so I will not hesitate to throw heavy objects at you if I find any Norvägen characters using/trying to learn magic without my prior permission OOC. The occasional (rare) exception may be allowed only if I choose to approve a direct appeal to myself via a forum message detailing why and how your character has reached a point of being able and willing to do so.

6. “Imma keel you with my epic skillz!”
Playing a Norvägen does not grant you any additional perks whatsoever. If I catch wind of any characters being overpowered, I’ll kill you with my over-sized battleaxe. (*Smirks*) On a serious note though, I do reserve the right to remove anyone from the culture who is found to repeatedly breaks roleplay rules and etiquette using their character.

7. Warning! Metagamers will be shot.
Okay, maybe a little melodramatic, but please do remember that I might be trusting you with OOC information that I do not want your character suddenly leaping to conclusions about IC. Abuse of the trust I put in you will result in Cherry getting grumpy, and nobody wants to see that.

8. Have fun, numbnuts!
Now that I’ve likely scared the living daylights out of you, you're ready to play! There are some really fun schemes in the works, and I can’t wait for things to start rolling. Remember to have fun and enjoy the ride!
http://hollowworld.co.uk/conversations/add
Start your application now!
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
+ THE NORVÄGEN +
(Nor-VAY-ghen)
“Salt of the earth, blood of the seas, the flame born of ashes, the chill on the breeze.”


The Norvägen (pronounced “nôrvāgən”) are an ethnic group of humans unified by a number of distinct similarities, namely in ancestry, religion, culture and physical appearance. Under different names they have endured the long winters of the North since even before the Cataclysm, but of all names spoken, it is "the Norvägen" which they chose, literally meaning "the Northborn" in their dying tongue.

Now, it is in the Third Realm of Altera where they lay their claim to new lands, lands far to the North: a home and haven for those who survived the great losses of the Crown Wars; the torment of the Long Silence; and the desperation of the Second Exodus.

This would become the land of Avanor: a new North, and a new age.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Geography
“For centuries, the North has been our home, and for centuries more we will defend it.”
- Jarl Grimar Lonmar

Graced with wild moors, wilder forests and towering mountain ranges untouched by the greedy hands of men, Avanor’s is a harsh beauty, and one that oft goes unseen in the eye of the beholder. The western reaches of a continent north and east of the rest, life here is a cold and hard affair, but those who look closely will see more than just land, sea, and sky.

Over icy streams and frozen rivers, across misty moorland, and rocky vale; past the silvered branches of the great pines and firs, beneath which wild beasts roam free and fierce. Past the twisted peaks that guard their homes and holdfasts - the peaks on which, when the moon rises, the frost glitters and gleams. This is one land that is truly free, and one that will remain so, lest the rage of its people be wakened.

And yet the folk of the North were never ones to be sated on appearance alone, for truly the first thing most are like to notice about the lands of the Norvägen is the bitter, bitter cold. Their calendar shares the same seasons as the South, yet it is oft jested that the southern winters are far kinder than the summers of the North.

For the Norvägen, their spring is named "Avamar" - literally translated as "New Time", or "Time of New", marking the thawing of the ice in the mountains and the flowing of rivers and streams once more. "Esmar" or "Time of Warmth" is their summer; Aldmar, "Time of Old", their autumn and harvest. The "Time of Cold" or "Lonmar" is their winter, the season of storms and endurance, for which the noble House was named.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Physiology
“A wildly diverse people, the Norvägen are notoriously difficult to group when it comes to appearance.”
-Altera’s Anatomy, by Albard Smythwick

Built for strength and endurance, it comes as no surprise that the Norvägen are among the most physically robust of the human cultures. Indeed, individuals of this culture are more like to grow to be taller than remain shorter in stature, but this trend is by no means overwhelming, as with so many of the patterns in Norvägen physiology.

With evidence of hardened muscles and generally stronger features, the men in particular often appear to be rather bulky or broad shouldered next to the comparatively lithe builds of their southern cousins. With most plying a trade the year they are old enough to lift a sack of grain, swing an axe or pull an oar, all of the Norvägen tend towards a good level of stamina, and many may develop fair resistance to pain and hardship over the course of their working life. Even many of the women are lean-bodied and hardy, toughened by the many labours of life in the North.

Because considerably less sunlight reaches their snow-capped homelands, almost all of the Norvägen have a rather pale skin tone. After a lifetime of work and winters, however, it is common for skin to appear ruddy, freckled or weather-beaten by the harsh winds that lay siege to the landscape. In particular, it is the women of Avanor who are known for this fair complexion, though (as with so many of the beliefs about the North) this characteristic is often romanticised and exaggerated by the storytellers and bards.

Another common group of traits among the Norvägen is in the bone structure of the face. While the size and shape of facial features can vary as diversely as any other part of the world, they tend to have noses sure and straight, and defined jaws and brows. Most women have finer-boned features, though angles tend to remain hard and distinctive. They often have roundish, almond shaped eyes and a clear jawline, though the shape itself might be rounder or more triangular depending on personal heritage. In men, there is a tendency towards a stronger, more pronounced jaw and rather prominent brow, yet both genders share the same high, flat foreheads.


Not vastly different to the dwarves of the West, Avanor’s men are no stranger to beards. Unlike the dwarves, however, this is not a means to display wealth, status or personal victories, but merely a commonly accepted style among the people. Women belonging to the peasantry often choose to wear their hair in simple braids or held back in a ponytail whilst at work, but otherwise tend to leave it loose about their shoulders according to personal preference. As passing travellers swiftly come to realise, practicality plays more of a part than vanity in Avanor.

As with most humans, their senses tend to be decently resilient, not suffering too greatly with age or wear. These have all standard human limitations - almost laughable in comparison to the fine-tuned perception of other races. As such, sensitivity of eyesight and hearing is very much an individual trait, one which can be decided by any number of factors. There is, however, a steeper incidence of eye disorders in this culture, especially in diseases that cause opacification of the lens, though most other sensory impairments are not notably prevalent or otherwise.

Other than this, the Norvägen can be extremely troublesome to group on the basis of physical likeness. In the time of the clans, the Norvägen were previously divided as a people, and as the smaller factions began to merge there eventually remained only two: the Aervägen and the Eldvägen, "iceborn" and "fireborn" respectively. Stemming from two main bloodlines, the pigmentation of hair and eyes can vary greatly.

Many today have very fair hair and eyes, the latter ranging in colour from light sea blues to clearer blues and greys. Those who still bear semblance to such are likely to be descendants of the people of ice: the Aervägen clans. In contrast, those with Eldvägen blood (or potential unknown or undisclosed southern roots) are likely to have darker hair; all shades of brown from mousy grey to the blackest of black.

If the sages of the North are to be believed, this trait was originally caused by the soot of the dragonfire that - according to legend - once wreaked havoc upon their lands. Southern scientists have even speculated that the shadows cast by the great mountains dividing the two clans prevented these Eldvägen ancestors absorbing the sun's light into their hair, causing it to darken from its original, fairer shade.

Unbeknownst to any Alteran scholars, both theories are - of course - utter nonsense. The most likely cause for this variation is the enduring geographical divide between the two groups, allowing the more isolated iceborn to retain the recessive fair hair gene, while the more diverse fireborn passed on the darker haired characteristic. In their histories and mythology, before the division of the people into clans, all of the Norvägen had red hair, though it has become quite a startling rarity in the culture today. Despite this, many of the people of Avanor continue to regard it as one of the oldest and most telling marks of the people.

An old Norvägen proverb states that “the age of youth is the youth of age”, and this holds especially true in terms of female fertility. For Norvägen woman, the likelihood of being able to conceive a child after the age of 36 or so years decreases sharply. But then, with lives so fleeting in comparison to the likes of the elves of the forests or the dwarves in their caverns, there are many Norvägen who consider living to see the next summer a blessing in itself. With the low temperatures of their homelands there comes the cost of a high infant mortality rate, with nearly 12% of births resulting in or leading to the death of mother, 10% the death of the child, and a tragic 5% resulting in fatality for both. From the safety of the womb, to the harshness of the outside world, a further 10% of infants will be lost to starvation, sickness, or just the bitter breath of winter before their first year. After this, a Norväg will generally witness his final spring at around 60 years of age.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Personality
“They say ice flows through the veins of our people, but that is not so. Fire burns within, only the exterior is frozen.”
- Jarl Draco Lonmar

Bound to protect their home and their family, the Norvägen are a proud people with a fierce sense of loyalty. Like the wild wolves that roam the forests of their homeland, they know only too well that in times of hardship, it is only through unity, bravery and steadfast determination that they may survive. The Norvägen are also strong purveyors of independence; resourceful and dignified by nature, with even "noble" children learning to be self sufficient from a young age, brought up to find the line between pride and arrogance, bravery and recklessness, right and wrong. They are raised to make the right choices, believing that this will lead to a better future, and ultimately a better afterlife.

Well-used to hard toil, nor do they shirk hard work should it come their way. While they may resent it, their perseverance is greater than their doubt. They are known for the rugged wisdom that comes with the hardships of bitter winters and long wars, and respected throughout stories and legends as noble warriors and stoic companions - stout of heart with a will of iron; a people who continue to live in hope throughout the darkest and most dangerous of times.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Philosophy
“May ice shield your heart, and fire light the Path ahead.”
- Common Norvägen blessing

While the vast majority of Alteran people worship the Fifteen Gods of the Pantheon, the Norvägen are bound together by a common belief in the Path of Fire and Ice. This religion (for want of a more apt word), known simply as "The Path" by those who practise it, is a fairly simple concept teaching that all is held in balance by extremes: fire by ice, love by hate, life by death, kindness by cruelty, and good by evil.

In essence, the Path is a representation of the choices made throughout one's life, and the choices they make at each fork in their way. For the world to remain safe and pure, the aforementioned balance must be maintained, requiring followers of the Path to make the right decisions that combat the cruel ones which so disfigure it. It teaches that what the sages call "the Old Evil" in the world is enough to cause suffering, and it is only by making these right choices on one's own spiritual path that these evils may be vanquished. Represented in common folklore by demons, faeries and other mischievous creatures, the Old Evil may take the form of disease, injury, disaster or indeed any natural cause of suffering. With only these "evils", harmony might be maintained, but with this can be tipped by ill-choices made along the Path (named as "Chosen Evil"): human temptations, human malice - all of which are said to stem from magic.

While all Norvägen accept the existence and, by extension, have a high level of respect for the Gods of Altera’s Pantheon, they feel that the Gods too are held in balance by good and evil, and therefore see no cause to worship them. Believing them to be above the fusses and frivolities of mortals, any divine intervention is seen as an event of unfathomable importance, but also (crucially) inevitable and entirely neutral. No prayer or offering may change it, and in fact there is no word "to pray" or "to worship" in their ancient language.

Instead, those who believe in the Path (known as “Followers”) find their spiritual guidance from the two patrons of their belief: the Dragon and the Warrior representing fire and ice respectively, who together are known as the Guardians of the Path. These Guardians are believed to bring protection and wisdom in choices which all must face throughout their lives.

It is also important to remember that the Norvägen believe that all sentient lives follow a Path, whether or not they formally believe in the concept. Those who make this journey without knowledge of this faith are simply referred to as Wanderers, for they have not seen the direction they must follow. To this, though, the Guardians are believed to be somewhat indifferent; they will give guidance when it is asked for, and judge an individual on their decisions, and their decisions alone.

When considering beliefs surrounding the body and soul, the Norvägen are strictly dualist, believing the body to be a vessel driven by a metaphysical force. This spirit is thought to endure even after death. Of course, when this time comes, every Follower and Wanderer will face judgement at the gates of Vallaryn (valarən), the Norvägen name for the afterlife. Here, the Guardians are believed to give one of three ultimatums. The first will occur if the Guardians decide an individual’s Path is not yet finished, they will return, commended unto the world once more, as if they had never been touched by death. This usually only happens in the case of premature, unnatural deaths where another has taken the liberty to bring one’s life to an end. This accounts for the actions of the Sisterhood and the Norvägen theory on rejuvenation.

If the Guardians decree one's Path to be at its end, however, the individual's spirit will be judged based on the choices they made on their Path. Should their verdict prove positive, the deceased’s spirit is thought to be accepted in Vallaryn, though if their final word is anything less, their spirit is returned to the world anew, to begin an entirely new life, and new path entirely; they are, by our terms, reincarnated. For this reason it is said that when one Path ends, another begins.

The birth of these beliefs occurred centuries ago with a simple story widely believed to be based on true events - an age old myth known as the Tale of the Two Guardians. Although some scholars agree that many events in this story are indeed coincidental with Alteran history (for example, the sudden decline of dragons in the world), in reality this legend is just that: a legend, with no foundations in fact. Although naturally there are many wild and wonderful variations of the tale (some even cropping up under different names), the story is usually fairly consistent, and the resulting ideas the same.

At the beginning of this tale, the Gods created a world in balance. Harmony between extremes guaranteed stability, and stability endured. In the days when dragons were said to roam the lands of men, when peace and harmony existed betwixt them, the tale goes that, when man discovered magic, it corrupted them - made weak their spirits to all the evils in the world - greed, lust, envy, pride, sloth, wrath, gluttony; vices echoed throughout philosophies across cultures and continents. With perhaps one too many of these vices prevailing, man wielded their newfound power in attempt to tame the dragons, and harness their strength for their own ends.

Naturally, the dragons were enraged beyond any anger that had ever been seen before, and reigned terror on the mages who had seen fit to abuse their power. As with all conflicts, the fighting escalated, until the Jarl of the time (the “fool leader”, or “Jarlbjan” - the suffix literally translating to “barren”, as in barren of wit) demanded - in equal rage - that every dragon be slaughtered without mercy, and every egg shattered without hesitation.

In response, the dragons turned terror and fury against all of humanity, and soon a war raged between fire and ice. Divided by the destruction of their homes, the few remaining people of the north split into wandering clans and roamed the wilderness, some travelling further north to risk death by exposure and cold, while others remained further south to face the dragons’ fire. These were the ancestors of the Aervägen and the Eldvägen - the two main bloodlines from which the Norvägen are descended today.

Years were said to have passed in this way, until eventually only one known dragon remained. Little changed throughout this time, but though attacks were infrequent and somewhat half-hearted, still there was distrust between the races and, eventually, the elders of the clans elected that a warrior (whose name is lost to legend) be sent forth to slay it.

The warrior’s quest is famed throughout sagas and tales, and though plenty of variations exist, the battle between man and dragon culminates with the Northern Lights - the only remaining earthly sign of the Path’s existence, and one rumoured (even today) to hold secrets of the future, and future decisions. Seeing untold visions and possibilities in the Lights, the Warrior came to the realisation that, with the natural balance upset, the only way to restore harmony to the world would be to right the wrongs done.

Neutrality would never return, but harmony might yet. And so, the Warrior refused to kill the Dragon, and it is this act of mercy which allowed the Dragon to see hope in the future of men. Known forever more as the Guardians, the pair strove to rebuild and protect the world their races had destroyed, allowing the clans to heal and reunite over time. When the two reached the end of their lives, they rode into the heavens, and once more the Lights guided them to the end of their Path - the end of all Paths. They not only found Vallaryn, but they founded it, and from there they still watch to ensure the balance is maintained.

For this reason, the northern peoples have loathed and feared magic since the its very beginning. Once, its usage might have earned the wielder a death sentence in their territories, whereas now it is merely distrusted and disliked to a great extent - with all Norvägen raised to view it as a dangerous force that can only result in the corruption of those who wield it.

Though kept a hushed whisper for an age, with southern influences even leading to the construction of a holy temple to Rahas in the second Stormhold, faith in the Path never truly died. A belief planted and nurtured at the heart of every young Norväg, one practised but not worshipped, one of guidance and not praise. It is only now, after the second Exodus, and the fall of their Jarl that a new leader has given the Norvägen the courage to openly practise their beliefs once more...

And long may they tread their Path.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Hierarchy
“You may not conquer the Norvägen. You may only convince them to follow you.”
- Old Proverb

In terms of this hierarchy, from the relatively young introduction of Norvägen nobility most settlements run a similar system to Southern cities; they rely on a basic feudal system that roughly categorises the social standings within them. At the bottom of this “system” (for want of a better word) peasants work the land and gather resources; higher up, the freefolk ply a trade, skill or craft - the luckiest of which hold positions of esteem within noble households; and leaders work to ensure the peace and prosperity of the settlement, with warriors coming from nearly all of the categories - from butchers’ sons to heirs of a holdfast.

Across the entirety of Avanor, however, there is only one that the Norvägen respect as the their leader - as they have done for centuries in the past. This leader is the effective equivalent of a high lord over all the settlements of their land, holding all others in steadfast vassalage born from centuries of mutual trust. These allied lords (too closely loyal to be called formal vassals) are known as "Thanes" of their holdfast, while the high lord is known as a “Jarl” (literally meaning “leader” in their dying native tongue), who they will follow before any other. In terms of Alteran politics, the Jarl has a status equivalent of any other leader of a house, however - to his people - this man remains as if their king, from his appointment to his death.

Of course, the Jarl’s household itself is much like any other noble holding - the council, in which he may or may not choose to invite a Watcher of the Path, an advisor (usually one who acts as a treasurer and/or a scribe), leal wards or older heirs, and a leading military individual, as well as the Thanes of his lands. Other than this, his household is generally reserved for his family, but there may be place for a few personal handmaidens, pages, tutors or stewards.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Society
“Be prepared to stand alone but when the winter comes, with howling winds and bitter snows, together stand as one.”
- Freya’s Lullaby [Not RP knowledge]

As a people whose bones were forged by hardship, it might come a surprise that the culture itself is built not only on solemnity and remembrance for the past, but on hope and cheer for the future. From attire, to rites of passage; crafts to language, all echo the fierce determination and sheer grit of their ancestors in more ways than mere words can convey.

For clothing, many Norvägen will opt to wear thick wools with furs, leathers, animal pelts and skins, to protect them from icy winds of their homeland. With the climate having such a huge impact on the lifestyle of these people, it is a common sight to see both genders wearing a hooded cowl, heavy cloaks or thick furs, as well as tough leather shoes stuffed with moss or hay to keep out the cold.

Most men wear loose fitting breeches held up by a drawstring, under a woollen tunic with a belt at the waist. These belts are fairly wide strips of leather, and their buckles forged with decorative symbols, runic lettering or likenesses of animals. Particularly in times of war or winter, men will wear thick tabards of boiled leather as a form of light armour which serves an extra layer of protection against the cold, as well as resists the wear that a tunic might be subjected to otherwise.

Meanwhile, women are oft seen in a long linen shift underneath a thick woollen overdress or kirtle. A bodice or apron might also be worn, often decorated with simple embroidery at the hem, or else pinned in place by engraved metal brooches. They might also wear a belt and cord around their waist, and from this they will suspend any number of tools and useful things that they might need.

For both men and women, the majority of garments are fairly dull in colour - ranging from sage greens to dull browns and greys, as well as whatever other colours natural dyes will allow. Another more decorative aspect of Norvägen clothing is the simply embroidered patterns that sometimes adorn the edge of a tunic or dress. Otherwise, it is as a result of plain practicality that, this style has remained greatly unchanged throughout the years, regions and social classes. With the culture - in the end - wrestling survival from winter’s grasp, it is not difficult to see why with the children of Jarls will be raised in the same furs as a cobbler’s apprentice.

Of accents, it is widely thought by those raised in the South that the Norvägen accent seems oddly clipped in comparison to their drawn out vowel sounds and relaxed, often slurred, pronunciation of consonants. Much to the distress of lesser travelled Southern singers, the Norvägen speak with shortened vowels - disregarding the more commonplace Alteran “ar” in words such as “grass”, “path” and “after”, and using a sharper “ah” sound in its stead.

Another distinctive feature of their speech would be the very definite “r” sounds, made by quickly tapping or rolling the tongue against the roof of the mouth. Due to the pronunciation of their native tongue, sounds made by the letters “t” and “d” (especially at the end of words) are often confused, as well as “a” and “o”, and therefore a word such as “Stormhold” may sound more similar to “Stoarmhahlt” from the lips of a Norväg.

Trade and commerce both play a large role in the Norvägen way of life, although this trade is often between villages and holdfasts, be it grain, cattle, wool, lumber or stone from the mountains. Pastoral and arable agriculture is a primary provider of sustenance for these people, yet fishing, hunting, and even small mining communities have sprung up over the years.

While no fine silks, glass or shining trinkets are crafted here, that is not to say that artisans and craftsmen are not perfectly at home. Wood carving and stone inscriptions have long been coveted forms of art among this people, with wild beasts, violent storms and battles long past frequently depicted in runes and knotwork, looping and twisting around pillars, statues, beams, and the curved prows of longships designed to slice through waters frozen for years.

Leatherworking, stitching and dying cloth, weaving, carpentry, smithing and masonry, each and every one functional, and for use in the hard lands of the North. Even the materials used by these artisans are picked from the remains of necessity - the bones of elk and deer are often carved into flutes and whistles, while antler and horn might be used for handles and hilts of weapons. Sinews and heartstrings could make anything from darning thread to lutes, bowstrings to fishing lines, while skins and pelts of animals are beaten into useful textiles, or stretched across drums, when the occasion calls for music and dance.

And this music, though not nearly as developed or common as that of the South, is often said to reflect the path of their people more than anything else. In a way, their song and music echoes their vast histories in such a way that no scroll or tome could hope to accomplish. Melancholy and merry, hopeless and determined. A wildness untameable, freedom without chains. An ongoing rhythmic drumbeat usually underlies the lively melody of a flute or pipe, and sometimes the strings of a lute may join the harmony from the corner of a smokey tavern or the side of a pathway.

Yet another age-old tradition of these people is their great love for the few times of celebration they allow themselves. Indeed, every year since they first found the Path, they have marked the days of midsummer and midwinter with joy and jubilation, as the days of the Dragon and the Warrior respectively.

Midsummer’s day plays host to the Festival of Embers - “Eldreval”, in which much dancing and laughter graces the towns and cities, with food, fairs and fanciful things flitting through markets and halls like wildfire. Much mead will flow, to be sure, but - more than anything - it is a day in which sorrows may be forgotten, before the summer days begin to wane once more, to bring them back into darkness.

But rest assured that the Norvägen do not allow such darkness to go unpunctuated by light. Come the night of midwinter, “Aegreval”, the Festival of Frost takes hold, and fires will glow in the hearths and hearts of the people and their homes. Great pyres and bonfires litter their lands this night, where man, woman, babe and crone might all stand in solemn unity, stronger together than alone. Though there is no open celebration, this is the night in which the Norvägen may reflect and remember their past, and there are many who still believe that the past stir in more than memories that night. More than anything, it is a symbol of ongoing perseverance in the face of centuries’ adversity.

Though the twinned festivals (“Svrevaln”) are fundamental aspects of Norvägen communities, there are other more personal rites of passage which must be observed throughout the lives of these people. The first, and most fundamental rite in one’s lifetime is, of course, their day of birth. In Avanor, this is known as one’s “Vadag”, their birthday. While this is the day they honour as their first throughout their lives, due to the high risk of infant mortality it is a common custom to refrain from giving the child a name until their first year is past - when on their “Nardag” (nameday) they are formally called by their new name.

This in itself is another core part of Norvägen culture, as names are viewed to carry true weight and significance, even foretelling of each Wanderer’s path to come. Some classic examples of male names include Ulldhin, Wulfric, Sven, Olaf, Thorek and Dagmir, which are all attributed to various words in their ancient tongue. Some archetypal female names are Eira, Yrsa, Lynet, Ingrid, Svala, and Frida, which also pay homage to old legends, tales and folk stories. Last names, also, oft originate from this dying language, but many have been influenced by Southern sources and are therefore far more varied than forenames.

Norvägen officially consider their children adults upon reaching the age of 16, although the day of their coming of age may be accelerated in the case of marriage. While most men wait until later in life to take a wife, some (but not the majority) of women are wed sometime after their 15 or 16th birthday, and in times now long past even as young as 12. There is actually no written law on how young a man or woman may marry, though in most cases it is considered extremely bad practice for a woman to marry before they might conceive. If their marriage precedes their official coming of age then they are considered an adult from the day of their wedding. Otherwise, it is only in extreme circumstances that a child is deemed an adult before time.

In the absence of a premature wedding, the Norvägen traditionally mark the transition from child to adult with a physical or mental test of endurance. These range from the simple act of holding one’s hand to a flame, dousing their head in iced water, to making a pilgrimage to high peaks or spending a night alone in a forest. The nature of this test is rumoured to also play a defining part in each Norvägen’s Path to come.

Looking specifically at the rite of marriage, it becomes clear that in this case Southern influences have certainly made their mark. Though still known by the old name of “Parjnen” (or “joining of the pair”), the ceremonies are in some ways quite similar to typical Southern weddings, with the only differences being that a Watcher of the Path usually oversees the vows in the place of a priest, and that their paths are united in the sight of the Guardians as well as the Gods.

Celebrations are usually minimalistic, with a simple ceremony with a few guests, and a small feast or meal in which both families share meat and mead. Depending on the wealth of the couple, the ceremony might also entail music, dancing or entertainers, though large and frivolous weddings are rare affairs.

The last, and most sombre rite of passage for this people is of course, that which takes place after death. Norvägen funerals are symbolic of the end of each person’s path, and so this final journey is made on a small longboat which, when launched into the water, is set alight by a flaming arrow or torch. Betwixt the ice of the waters below, and the blazing flames above, they at last find the balance between fire and ice as their spirit ascends to the gates of Vallaryn, to seek judgement and solace there.
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Warfare
"Our flag will rise to end this fight, turn red to valour, black to white."
- Extract from "the Siege of Cobblefist Keep"

Despite often being regarded by the Southerners as wild, brash and violent as a collective, any honest traveller would swiftly deliver them the truth of these claims, finding them to be - on the whole - a falsity. While their fond love for raucous celebration can scarcely be denied, the stigma of mindless violence is the one which stings the most.

Their histories torn and broken by the horrors of war, the people of Avanor love violence no more than any other culture, and those who do choose to take up arms and train in the art of combat will do so only in defence of their home and their fellows.


Sword or spear, axe or dirk, torch or rusty pitchfork - it makes no matter; when the time comes that their freedom is denied, when the time comes that their lands are threatened- Gods help whoever wars against them. The ancient House of Lonmar is oft referenced with the words “a storm is brewing”, and when the fire and ice of battle awakens in the hearts of the North-born, no words could hold truer, and a storm will come.

[To be continued. Blame Steel?]
 
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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
History
“If history is ours to write, then lay down your swords! Be armed with quills and ink if you truly believe it will keep the present at bay.”
- The Jarlbjan

The Norvägen are known to be proud, and it is with pride that they guard their own version of their histories, with all before the Cataclysm left unproven and uncertain.

+ THE AGE OF LIGHT +

The Spark

All stories have a beginning, and for the Norvägen, it began with a spark. But this spark was not of fire- nor even of ice. This spark was the creation of something from nothing. Sometimes referred to as the First Intervention, this was the moment the Gods of the Pantheon made the world, a world of complete neutrality.

The age wears on...
The peace brought by the God’s neutrality endures for a period of time unknown to any, living or dead. No new life, no death. No good and no evil. Only choice.

+ THE AGE OF DARKNESS +

The Fading
Magic is used for the first time, and results in the first seeds of corruption being sown in the hearts and minds of men.

The age wears on...
This wakes the wrath of the dragons, and an age of darkness is born. The northern people divide into roaming clans and factions, warring with each other for survival.

+ THE AGE OF FIRE AND ICE +

The Birth of the Path
The Warrior and the Dragon forge new order in the lands of the North. The Path of Fire and Ice emerges to keep the balance, with good combating the natural evil of magic.

Years pass...
This time of harmony lasts. The clans prosper and begin to reunite. The Path becomes influential and, when the Guardians depart for Vallaryn, the Watchers form to protect it.

The age wears on...
Many, many more years pass, and by now the Norvägen are united under a single Jarl, whose claim passes on through a bloodline, if and only if their people are willing to follow them.

+ THE AGE OF SMOKE AND TEARS +

Cataclysm
Queen Grief unleashes havoc on the land, casting the Norvägen back into such chaos that had not been witnessed since the Fading. The people scatter.

The Founding of Avalon
Eventually, Draco Lonmar, son and heir of the previous Jarl, comes forth, and he leads them - refugees - to a new home; Stormhold. The territories around it are named “Avalon”, literally meaning “new cold”.

The Avalon-Myrithas Wars
The Avalonian alliance of dwarves and men war with the nation of Myrithas, a collection of mage cities of the South, in an effort to restore balance to a land steeped in corruption.

The Protarian Wars
They fight for the safety of their homeland against the bandits of Protaras in a series of bloody battles, sieges and raids. Draco enters a terrible, unbreakable feud with the bandit overlord, Dead Press.

+ THE AGE OF WARMTH AND CHILL +

The First Exodus
The Norvägen see through the first Exodus, although many are lost fighting to protect Skara Brae, Stormhold, and other cities laid to waste by Grief’s forces of corruption.

The age wears on...
When peace is restored once more, when the portal is sealed at least, Draco leads his people to a new home in this land, and builds Stormhold anew.

The Crown Wars
The Crown becomes contested, and - in a bid to protect the land from religious fanaticism - Draco speaks against the Caledonian Federation, and opts to take the Crown himself. His hopes at dissuading a conflict, however, are dashed when Arcturus and Arduin ally, and he reluctantly sits the throne, caring for his people as best he can. Draco eventually abdicates, with some claiming him to have lost his mind. He returns North, and is not heard of again.

The Long Silence
To the outside world, the Norvägen are silent. No trade, not a word is heard of them or their movements. Draco is presumed dead, they are forgotten. No heir openly comes forth to claim Lonmar.

The Last Path
They learn of the Exodus, Draco’s only remaining heir finally stands forth. They lead the last of the broken people South, in a desperate attempt to reach the Second Exodus portal on time. They succeed, but many fall on the long march South.

+ THE AGE OF FROST AND EMBERS +

The Second Exodus
The Norvägen travel North. Their story is about to begin once more.

The Future?
...Only time will tell~
 
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Faelin

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Faelin

The Court Jester
Retired Staff
Written bloody slowly by me.

OVER 6000 WORDS AND I’M NOT EVEN DONE.
WHAT IS THIS SORCERY-?!


Ahem.
Anyway, I have credits to write!

First off, a special mention to @Tomahawk777 for giving us the initial kick up the backside needed to get this thing going. Vielen Dank, my friend.

Next, a great big hats off to @FrostGuardian and @d_fry for invaluable brainstorming on Norvägen philosophy. Next step, the world!

Further thanks to @MRPolo13 and @d_fry (again!) for being my part-time Norse warfare research monkeys. ‘Twill all be put to good use soon... Hue-?

Also, to @Ced because quotes are a good idea!

And, of course, @dracoboy2, the best muppet this side of Altera, for being the catalyst to the founding and continuation of House Lonmar and the Nords.

...Oh, and @SparkInSpace?

If you ever ask me to typey typey again after this, I will personally feed you to the crows. :heart:
 
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