Vanirheim, Norland, The Sea Kingdom, Thuleland, Land Beyond the Lakes, Land of Ice and Fire.
Vanisk Tunga (Vanir tongue): the tongue of the Vanir, it has several dialects but is overall understood by the different groups of Vanir.
Common Tongue (aka Comyn, Eldian) or Trader’s Tongue: Most Vanir speak the “Elder Tongue” because it is needed in trade and because the ghosts of the Elder Ones will be angry if they do not hear their songs sung in their tongue and they will come from their barrows and haunt the world once more.
Geography & Geology
Size & Location
Nordheim lays in the northern region of the continent of Vendia. It is bordered on the west by the Aegir Sea. In the south, Nordheim is bordered by the North Rheic Inland Sea. The only access to the mainland of Vendia is a series of mountain passes north of Tynár-Dazûr. To the east, Nordheim is bordered by the North Rheic Sea. The mainland stretches to arctic circle and Frozen Seas. The Vanir also lays claim to several islands in the northern seas.
Nordheim’s climate ranges from polar arctic in the northernmost latitudes to temperate in the southern regions. The north and east coasts, due to the ocean currents, tend to be temperate with milder temperatures than the north and interior regions. The growing season is slightly longer along the coasts than in the interior.
Fall and winter are long and relatively cold. Spring and summer are short and cooler than that of Nordheim’s southern neighbors.
Like much of Vendia, Nordheim is also a land of tall mountains, deep valleys, and gentle rolling hills. The southern mountain chain extends down to the North Rheic Inland Sea, forming stunning fjords. The valleys are dotted by lakes and rivers and offer rich, fertile, and arable soil. Both the east and west coasts are very mountainous with some of the ranges being a series of volcanoes. North of Höggormurinn (Serpent Lake) is a snowy, mountainous land with numerous glaciers. Except for some of the bays and fjords, the coasts tend to be steep and rocky.
Nordheim is ringed by mountains, most of them volcanic. Dotted throughout the icy northern landscape are deep blue lakes that never freeze because of geothermal activity. There are earthquakes, more common in the volcanic regions, but often felt inland and in the valleys.
Population Numbers: < 500K
The Vanir are a race of Murians and the dominant race of Nordheim. The other races of Nordheim are the Skadir, a small race of Murians said to have intermarried with the ancient Gwerin long ago, and some Wyr living here and there in Nordheim. There is a small population of Sedayin in Nordheim. They are respectfully left alone, as the Vanir are very superstitious when it comes to the “Elfkin” as they call them.
There are several ports along the coast of Nordheim: Thule, Uppernarvik, and Olport. These are centers of trade and culture where people from other lands converge to barter and trade with the Vanir.
Nordheim is a rough land, with some fertile areas in the Midlands. They grow flax, rye, and a hearty winter-wheat. Where it is possible, they raise sheep, chickens, and a sturdy highland breed of cattle. They have numerous iron ore, gold, and silver mines, but they are not craftsmen. The iron and other metals are sold to the Dwarrow.
One of their main exports is ships. The Vanir are recognized as the best shipwrights on Aereth. They get orders from all over the world and are quite willing to design and build vessels for other realms. However, they do not share their shipbuilding secrets, and the design of their own ships is a closely guarded secret.
The Vanir are still raiders, and this is how they acquire some of the products that are then sold to their trading partners. They are skilled traders. The Vanir have built a network of trading relationships. When not raiding, they often sail to Xia, Stygia, and even the Howling Islands to acquire rare good which they, in turn, trade to the Gwerin, Aquitaine, Kingdom of Vales, and other lands.
High: Internal stability is very high. There is very little in the way of unrest. Few nations make the mistake of attempting raids on Nordheim so their external threats are low.
Danger to Outsiders
Low: Since trade is very important, there are a large number of people traveling to and from Nordheim. It would not serve the Vanir well if they were in danger or threatened from within Nordheim.
Form of Government
Current Ruler: Thorvald Stormurson
Thule is the Seat of the Sea-Kings and as such the Capital of Nordheim. It is also the Seat of the Great Thing. Thule is a city above Stavanger-Fjord and one of the major Vanir ports.
Hierarchy & Structure
Before Halfdar Blackspear united them, there was not a central government or ruler of the Vanir. Instead, there were numerous small settlements and kingdoms. When Blackspear rose to rule, some chose to follow him, others he conquered in single combat.
Outside of their King’s leadership, there is the Thing, an Assembly of all free men of a region. A Thing disperses justice, decides on matters of the community and might even question succession. In the case of the current King, Thorvald Stormurson, the Thing almost ruled against him when his father died.
The Vanir do not have a codified system of laws. The Thing is both judge and jury. Their decisions are usually fair but final. Even the Sea King may not override the Thing’s ruling. Much of what the Vanir consider to be “law” is comprised of traditions and a long cultural memory.
Freedom and Oppression
With the Thing to mediate disputes and the Sea King relaxed and comfortable in his rule, there is little need to oppress the people of Nordheim.
The Vanir do not have a standing military. A ship’s Hetman (Captain) or his Steersman chooses the crew. For large raids, several ships and their crews will be combined. If the Sea King sends out a call-to-arms or the Thing decides to declare war, all clans and ships will join the banner.
This may sound disorganized. However, the Vanir are fierce warriors. They fight as well on land as they do at sea.
Name of Founder
Origins & History
“And as the days grew old and the guard became weary the doors of Jotunheim broke open and angry flame consumed the land, from the dark the giants came, and the great sea-serpent broke its ancient chains and raged in the seas. And the Aesir’s blood was spilled on the land and seas, Vanirheim’s shores drowned under the waves, and its heart burned in the fire when Skadi finally understood the warning Mirmír had given him.
So he took his clan and all those he could find and led them to Snorri’s Berg and there they found ships. But the great sea-serpent would not let them go, whipping the ocean into a frenzy and casting the boats adrift in a storm like none Gefion’s children had ever seen. For ten days their ships were tossed and torn in a never-ending storm when Skadi saw a light shine above the waves and felt like there was another hand than his grasping the steering oar. And he knew that Lír himself had come to his aid. He followed his guidance, and within a day the ships made landfall on an unknown coast that he named Vanirheim.”
~ The Saga of Skadi
While this is the legend the Vanir remember, it is very likely that they lived on several islands off the coast before Uthuria was destroyed and were driven towards the northern lands when their home islands fell to the waves as well. It might all be legend – there is no proof for either. Whatever the truth, there are chronicles from other lands that note clashes with the Sea Wanderers or Sea People.
In more historical terms, Vanirheim is first mentioned in the chronicles of the Gwerin, which notes around the end of the last Great Ice that a group of daring Sea-Raiders was harassing the coast and only driven off by the Morrighan.
The nation as it exists today, the Realm of the Sea Kings is fairly young compared to other nations and kingdoms. Founded by Halfdan Blackspear, it has existed for scarcely three generations, with his grandson the third to wear the title of Sea King.
Flora and Fauna
Plants and Trees
Nordheim is the home of very hardy and cold-resistant plants and trees. Evergreens are the prominent type of tree although there are small deciduous forests along the southern coasts and in the interior. The plains and arable lands around the lakes have strong, very nutritious grasses.
There is a huge range of wildlife in Nordheim. The top predator in the northern regions is the Arctic Sabercat. It is huge and colored similar to a white Siberian tiger. In the mountains, there are snow and clouded leopards. Other predators include foxes, dire, arctic, and gray wolves, mink, and sea and river otters.
Large herds of giant elk and reindeer roam the lowlands. In the arctic region, there is a small breeding population of mammoths.
All sorts of sea birds populate the coastal regions. There are numerous large marine mammals such as seals, sea lions, and whales.