Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Green Lands: The Walds

Some centuries ago, the Walds came from the outlying regions of what is known as the Cold Wastes, a frozen inhospitable land to the east, when their own lands were taken by men and/or monsters.  The High King of the Carthan lands allowed them to come and settle, and granted them some lands in exchange for their fighting for him.  Which they did, and bravely.  But in time, the King became inconsistent, and a turncoat, and refused to give them more lands, even though they had shed their blood for him.  And eventually, infuriated by his betrayal, the Walds took the lands they needed, by force.

This is the way the Walds tell it.  The Carthans' version of the story, of course, says the Walds were the betrayers - selfish and greedy and treacherous.

In any case, years and years and years of war followed, with the Walds taking lands, and the Carthans sometimes retaking it.

Two generations ago, the last of the wars ranged.  The High King of the Carthans stopped the progress of the Walds, but at the cost of his own life.  Since then, the Carthans have had no High King.  The lands of the Walds exist in a state of uneasy truce, a cold war, so to speak.  Some on both sides feel it is time to end the enmity - the Walds have been here for centuries, after all.  Others among the Carthans will never be satisfied with anything less than the complete subjugation, or extermination, of the invaders.  And among the Walds, even those who seek peace with the Carthans believe that, one way or another, it is the ultimate destiny of their people to rules these lands.

The Walds mostly occupy the southeast portion of the Green Lands.  They have kingdoms their, some founded, some taken by force.  Like the Carthans, they are nowadays a divided people, and the kingdoms are not necessarily in full alignment with one another.

The people live pretty much the same as the Carthans - in villages, farms, and in some places, cities.  They have a similar diet (though Walds will eat goat, which no self-respecting Carthan would do).  They too start their social organization with the clan, but their clans are patriarchal.  Like the Carthans, the clans are organized into tribes with elected leaders.  When the tribes unite under a single leader, a king, they are a kingdom. Walds are loyal to their kings.  They will fight for him when called, and share a portion of their loot from battle with him.

The social structure is largely the same as that of the Carthans: tenant farmers, freemen, wealthy warrior nobles (called "Thanes.").  Clothing-wise, they favor earth tones, green and brown, but like finery almost as much as Carthans.  They consider the extent of Carthan jewelry-wearing to be excessive and effete, however.  They fight with great axes and swords.

Walds value courage, honor, and hospitality.  They believe it is better to share and cooperate than to hoard.
They are protective of their women and children, and abhor the way the Carthans waste good warriors in pointless blood sports and duels. Walds like to boast about the great deeds they have done, and the great deeds they will do. Men who don’t boast must be hiding something. Men who boast about things but fail to do them are mere braggarts. Not matching another’s boast with an equally grand one of your own is an
insult to him.

Men are warriors and women are the keepers of the hearth. This is not because women are incapable of being warriors. It’s simply that men are better at it. Much better. Men are bigger and stronger and much
more skilled at crushing their foes in battle. Women are better at nurturing. Women should be protected – it is wrong for the Skathak and Carthan to send their women into battle, no matter how feisty they can be.  Nonetheless, some Wald women still seek the way of the warrior. Marriages are monogamous and may be ended by agreement, at any time and for pretty much any reason.
Women may own property and inherit from their father.

If someone commits a crime, themselves and the wronged party must go before a judge at the monthly "folkmoot." Criminals must pay compensation to the clan of the person who has been wronged. For some crimes, the wronged party may refuse compensation, and is allowed by law to commit mayhem against
the person who has wronged them. A few crimes, such as rape, crimes against your king or your clan, senseless murder or theft, are punishable by exile. If you are exiled, you no longer belong to any clan or kingdom, and you can (and probably will) be killed by your enemies – hung from a tree and buried in an unmarked grave.

Walds raid by land like others, but are more feared for raiding by sea. Favored targets are harbor and river towns that have stores of goods and coin. Sea raiders hug the coasts by day and beach by night, avoiding
sailing too near by daylight for fear of being spotted (if spotted, they can expect to be met by soldiers when they land). If they allow themselves to drift too far from shore, they can be caught in squalls and thrown off
course. Upon landing they steal horses and raid deep into the enemy territory. If confronted, they dismount and fight. They steal anything valuable including preadolescent children who will make good slaves. They
row quickly home in the dark, hoping to avoid other Wald boats which may, if so predisposed, take their loot by force.

They also make war in order to carve out new landholdings. In battle, they form a crude phalanx and charge forward, a wall of spears and swords. In war they are ruthless –leave no enemy standing, and freely burn his villages, take or destroy his fine things, and slay his women and children in their name of your god, Furor.
Walds do not demand or accept ransom for captured foes. They are either sold into slavery or sacrificed.

The Walds regard the Skathaks as strange, tattooed savages who live in the wilds. They respect them for their fierce fighting and fine crafts, but find them unpredictable and possibly insane.  They see the Carthans
as  ruthless people,tainted by Chaos. Their culture is a perversion of their own; their bards indulge in hideous
caterwauling, their warriors claim honor but conduct themselves without regard. They kill each other in pointless bloodsports.

Nevertheless, any smart Wald admits (at least in private), that the Carthans are fierce warriors, and that their druids are a match for the Walds own holy wizards, the gothi.


Cultural Level: Ancient-Medieval-High Medieval/High Fantasy
Racial Type: Wald
Found: Mostly in the South-Eastern regions
Occupations: See Professions Table
Equipment: As per occupation
Cultural Weapons: longsword, spear, bow, throwing axe
Magic: Basic Magic, Divine Magic, Rune Sorcery
Gods: Furor, Fjorgynn, Thunor
Notes: Considered invaders, but have been around for centuries now.

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