In the interest of providing some notes on a Heortling clan, here are my notes to the players in the Taming of the Dragon Pass Campaign regarding Clan Varmand and its neighbors, circa 1350. At this time, the Varmandi consist of no more than 350 adult members with twenty some odd major bloodlines. This is told from the perspective of the thane Hrothgar and is filled with inaccuracies, half-truths and gossip.
At the core of the clan is the household of Varmand the Strong, consisting of Varmand's war-companions (his ten huscarls), his offspring, his wife, his aged mother, his younger brother and his family, his war-thralls and all of the wives and dependents of the household. In all, there are some fifty folk living in Varmandshall.
At the center of the household, is Varmand the Strong, the master of Ormsthane Vale. A large bear of a man, Varmand has energy, courage, pride, and generosity in abundance, as well as cunning, vengefulness and a notorious ruthless streak. He is a man who should never be underestimated, for he has literally fought his way up in the world, ever since he and his family fled to the Oakland Back after the Tree Brothers killed his father Orlmandan. His initiation into the honored status of Wind Lord was recognized by none other than Chief Colymar. He maintains a shrine to Orlanth the Warrior at the Oak of Vengeance (where his father was burnt in the Oakland Back) even when the clan does not have a war-ring.
Although Varmand was rudely raised and thoroughly illiterate, his wits are sharp and he is known for his shrewd cunning. He is also known to appreciate staves and good poetry, despite his own lack of talent at the art. Further, his respect for Heort's Laws is seen by the high status he accords Heort the Lawspeaker, who sits on his ring.
Varmand's household was formed during those years that Varmand and his brothers indiscriminately raided the lands between the Creek and the Stream. Ruthless and violent men joined Varmand and his brothers, swearing oaths of fidelity and sword-brotherhood to Varmand. These years of cattle-raiding, hired raids (as mercenaries of a sort), and during the lean seasons, hunting in the Oakland Back, formed their outlook on life. Varmand, his brothers and his war-companions are a very tight-knit group, well accustomed to hard-ship and brutal violence. By and large (with two exceptions- Varmand and Urenstand) they are indifferent to their new role as clan leaders.
Varmand's aged mother Penene is of a different mold than his companions -- although she is just as ruthless. Penene long goaded Varmand into avenging the death of his father, Orlmandan the Traveller, and ever since her husband's death, it has been her goal to make her bloodline as feared and respected as possible. Her motives are understandable -- her grandchildren, at least, will never see their father cut down like a nameless dog -- rather if he is to die, he will die like the kings of ancient legend. Penene is behind Varmand's decision to make a clan and is perhaps the wily chief's closest councillor, she encouraged Varmand to recognize five of the wealthiest settlers as elders and to seek their support of his actions.
Varmand's young wife Eonislara is the daughter of Kulbrast Blackmood, a powerful thane of King Mad-Blood Malan, with lands on the far side of Two Ridge Fort. Attractive and clever, Eonislara seeks to insure that her husband be respected as a thane or a chief by the Three Kings. Eonislara oversees her husband's stead and insures that the food-stores are well stocked. Because of her youth, Eonislara is often concerned that she might not get the respect due a woman of her status and is quite insistent that she does.
Of Varmand's two brothers, the elder is Urenstand. Practical, self-reliant and independent of mind, Urenstand is totally devoted to his older brother and his companions. His counsel is usually quite accurate and often profound. It is said by dishonorable wags that he does not fully trust his mother, believing that the intrigue that she weaves is as dangerous as his sword to the unsuspecting. He lives on his own stead with his wife and children.
The younger brother, Argrand is more reckless and more dependent on Varmand, but has the makings of a fine warrior.
Kaelor Warwind -- ruthless in battle, utterly loyal, a hunter/warrior with no time or patience for farming or farmers. I praise him in war, avoid him in peace. He gives yearly sacrifices to Humakt, the God of Death.
Arndala the Priestess -- ever since Orlmandan died, Arndala has looked to her older brother Varmand for protection and leadership. After the hardship of her upbringing, Arndala understands and approves of Penene's drive, however she does not share it. She is most pleased that Varmand decided to settle the Ormsthane Vale and it has truly become her homeland. It is her vision that this Vale be a fertile and domesticated oasis in the Wilds and she can often be found working with the elders on plans to increase the productivity of the land.
Five carl families can be called clan elders because of their wisdom and their importance within the clan. Varmand usually heeds the council of the elders when it comes to internal clan affairs like land grants.
Snorri Stormblown and Renedali were among the very first farmers to settle in Ormsthane Vale -- he and his wife were here in the Vale before Varmand even came here. Snorri and his wife are exceptionally independent, they avoid borrowing anything, although Renedali is generous with advice and aid. Snorri has a flinty personality and is quite suspicious and easily annoyed, although he is a tireless farmer and a fearless warrior. Lod the Hunter is practically a member of Varmand's household and knew Varmand back when he was a landless wanderer in the hills. A mediocre farmer, Lod supports his family by hunting and trapping on the Oakland Back, and by aiding Varmand on his raids. Lod is proud and suspicious,and tries to stay out of what he calls "disagreements of land boundaries." Lod's wife, Neneva, generally negotiates the family's affairs with the rest of the clan.
Personal observations about Hrothgar: An excellent and very energetic farmer, Hrothgar divides his time between the fields, his livestock and the clan hall, entrusting his children and kin to follow up on his instructions. He has a well-developed sense of hospitality, and Elgane always makes sure that guests are fed first. During the harvests, Hrothgar "hires" several young men without land, for Hrothgar has more land under the plough than any other carl. Most of the families on the north bank of the Ormsthane Stream defer to him and he generally organizes and oversees the seasonal labor projects.
Gunnar the Good is thought to be the wealthiest carl in the Varmandi. He owns five horses and keeps a winter herd of more than twenty cattle! He firmly supports Varmand and his sons Hoskuld and Hrut are often found in his war-band. However, Gunnar is an exceptional just man and an able friend. His wife Grizel is known for her hospitality. His youngest son, Venharl, is married to Theya Two-Mothers and is initiated into the rites of Orlanth the Warrior.
Gulik the Fat and Vostena head the only carl family that rivals Gunnar in wealth. Vostena is a shrewd negotiator and runs the stead with talent and inspiration. It is said that she knows secrets that will let her herd drop three calfs for every five cows each year! In contrast, Gulik is a generous, indulgent and often impulsive man who is well-liked by the clan's farmers. Each year, Gulik and Gunnar help organize a cattle drive to either Two Ridge or Clearwine (depending on which of the kings Varmand is on worse terms with) and sell some of the clan's yearlings for finely worked goods. Gulik's oldest son, Boranthos, is cunning farmer and a respected warrior. Killer-Korol is Gulik's foster-son and he sits on Varmand's war-ring.
Besides, Varmand's family and the five elder steadholders, several other families are note-worthy:
Volund the Smith is an important man, even if he isn't considered an elder. If you ever need bronze worked, he is the one to do it. He makes swords, spear and mail for Varmand's household and can rim a wheel in bronze! He is from Hendrikiland and is said to know many magical secrets. He enjoys the full patronage of Varmand.
Honey Elena, who tends the clan's beehives, is a healer and has the ceremonial robes of the White Goddess. She is a gentle person, although she has little patience for stupidity. The honey her bees make has curative powers.
The steads of Argalant Millmaker, Hoskuld, Harstaglar Woodcarver, Geidman, Apple-Dronlan, Stone-Erik and Algaar are all doing quite well. One day, Argalant will actually build the watermill that he keeps working on, and he might become quite well to do. Apple-Dronlan's orchards are finally taking shape -- and his cider is a great friendship-gift!
Heorl the Lawspeaker is a learned thane from the south who now sits on Varmand's Ring, be it in times of war or in times of peace. His knowledge of the law is so great that he humiliated King Barngradus several years back with that law suit where he gained his wife and his horses. His family, headed by Theya Two-Mothers, is a wealthy family and has much influence with Varmand, Gunnar and Gulik. It is said that Theya Two-Mothers was initiated into the ways of the Orendanae and knows many deep secrets of the Goddess.
6. Who are our neighboring clans/families/tribes?
Near our vale are the forts of three kings. These kings lead confederations of clans, and can lead great war-parties against their foes.
The Colymar - Clearwine Fort -- clans include the Arnoring, Ernaldori, the Konthasos, the Orlmathi and the Zethnoring. Kagradus Colymarson was the most powerful of the Quivini kings and both the Malani and the Hyalorings paid tribute to him. He has even tried to make the slave-taking Grazers pay tribute.
When Kagradus grew old, however, Tarndisi grew tired of him and demanded that he be sacrificed at the hands of a new king. His son, Borngold the Ring-Giver, gently gave him to the goddess at the Sacred Grove, but the goddess wanted blood and strife to prove her new husband's devotion. A rival warleader of the Colymar, Barngradus the Proud, proclaimed himself King of the Colymar when Borngold failed to extract the Orlkar Tribute from Mad-Blood Malan. We fought for Varmand at Borngold's side, since Borngold had lost two sons fighting for us against Mad-Blood Malan. Unfortunately, Barngradus wielded the Black Spear and enjoyed Orlanth's favor, for he killed Borngold at the battle of the Nymie Vale.
Clearwine Fort is the hill fort of the Colymar kings. Before the Dragonkill, it was a fortress of the Empire of Wyrm's Friends, but Colymar defeated the evil spirits of the EWF and made it his. Each Earth Season, there is a great cattle and horse market. Traders from all over Quiviniland come to sell wares, purchase livestock and to make negotiations for the next year.
The Malani -- Two Ridge Fort. Clans include the Isolting, the Orleving and the Tree Brothers Triarchy. Mad-Blood Malan is the self-proclaimed "King of the Malani", though it is doubtful that he ever participated in the Sacred King rites or performed the Alakoring kingship rites. Malan is the leader of several warbands from the southlands who fought for which every tribal king or Hendriki eorl gave him the most. Eventually, Malan's host had fought just about everybody and, for their own safety, his host left the south and travelled to Quiviniland. When Malan attempted to pass through the Torkani lands, his tribe was repulsed with casualties. The great Chief Colymar agreed to let him pass through his lands, provided that Malan's folk moved quickly, peacefully and paid a hefty tribute, called the Orlkar Tribute.
Malan did not pass through the Colymar lands, instead he stopped halfway and settled in the Arfritha Vale. Many of the local settlers were forced out of the Vale or killed, including Orlmandan the Traveller. Malan's own clan, the Isolting, settled beneath an old Empire of Wyrms' Friends' hill fort known as Two Ridge Fort. Malan claimed the fort as his own and his household resides there.
Mad-Blood Malan is known to worship Humakt the War God, and most of his thanes wear that grim god's runes. The Isolting are said to have been a War Clan all of these years, while the lesser clans pay tribute to the Isolting and Malan. Malan himself is a great warleader, although he is now in his early fifties. Even more than his skill at battle, Malan is feared for his temper.
The Hyalorings -- Runegate Fort. Gudvingkor Firebrand is the king of the Hyalorings, a triarchy of three clans who speak a tongue almost unrecognizable as Heortlending. They raise magnificent horses which they sometimes trade at Clearwine Fort. King Gudvingkor dislikes Varmand, since Varmand took his kinswoman as a year-wife some years ago. Eventually, Gudvingkor stole her away with his horse-riding companions.
The clans of the Hyalorings - the Enhyli, the Narri and the Lonisi - only marry amongst each other. The Enhyli hold Elmal favorite amongst the gods and claim to be descended from his sons, Hyaloring Horsebreaker and Kuschile the Archer.
The Chiefs - there are many independent chieftaincies in Quiviniland. Here is a list of some of the more notable:
The Hiordings -- Swan Vale. Old Hiord married Sofeela the Swan Maiden, who is a little goddess of the Swan Vale. His many sons and daughters form his small clan. Sofeela has blessed them with much wealth and many new steads dot the Swan Vale.
The Tree Brothers - Arfitha Vale. Three warriors of Malan - Antor, Lysang and Namold, each with a warband and followers, formed a ring they called the Tree Brothers. They killed Orlamandan the Traveller and settled in the lands beyond the oak ridge. Each clan holds a tree to be its symbol. Although the Tree Brother Clans tend to support Malan, they rarely show up to his fyrd, unless Malan gifts them very well indeed.
The Orleving - Along the Creek. Orlev the Tall is a warleader in Malan's host who settled along with his kin and followers on the banks of the Dragon Creek. When King Borngold fought King Malan beneath the slopes of Two Ridge Hill, Varmand nearly killed Orlev and chased him from the battle after taking his clan war banner. After the Battle of the Nymie Vale, to show that the Varmandi were still strong despite the defeat of King Borngold, we raided the Orlevings the day after their Harvest Festival. We took 50 cows and much of their grain and goods.
The Jenstali -- in the southern Thunder Hills. The Jenstali are a small clan of relatively recent settlers who live south of the Hound Knob. They are notorious cattle raiders and Killer-Korol slew his first man defending Gunnar and Gulik's herd from a Jenstali raider that boasted he was "Braver than Youf."
There are many other clans around Quivini lands that we don't have as much contact with. They include: the Vostang of Starfire Ridge, the Karandoli of the Brambleberry Hills, the Rangdani who are near the Upland Marsh, and the Peluski who are also near the Upland Marsh. There are probably more.
There are other folk at the northern and western borders of Quiviniland who are not Heortlendings:
The Grazers -- vicious slavers, who live from horseback and hate farmers. Their king had a feud with the Colymar King Kagradus. They speak a barbaric and unintelligible tongue and worship foreign gods, although I've heard that they hold Elmal to be King of the Gods. They do not even know the laws of Heort, making them a nation of outlaws.
The Northerners -- near great Wintertop. Don't know much about them, although it is said that they have a great and magical King who claims to be a hero of Orlanth. They are said to respect the laws of Heort although their tongue is barbaric and degenerate.
The Trolls -- throughout Dragon Pass. The Trolls are an ancient and cruel folk who dwell in the Darkness and eat children if they can. Nonetheless, their old king, the Only Old One, was a friend of our ancestors before he was killed by Belintar the Stranger. Some trolls still follow the ways of their dead king and make good trading friends,but all trolls are hungry and should be watched carefully.
The Dragonnewts - on the north side of the Dragon Creek. The Dragonnewts are the mysterious and magical scions of the great dragons. They were friends of the Empire of the Wyrm's Friends until they betrayed the evil dragon lords and destroyed it. Their magic is inhuman and ungodly. Before Chief Colymar broke the Dragonnewt Curse on Dragon Pass, their Inhuman King was the ruler of all these lands. Beware of the Dragonnewts!
Durulz and the Beast Peoples - south of the Upland Marsh. The Beast Peoples and the Durulz live in the lands south of the Marsh and along the lower Stream. They are primitive folk, neither man nor beast. The durulz (ducks) live in reedy huts near the water and fish from their reed boats.
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