Sea Rune - Way of Life

The people of Sea Rune subsist primarily upon the fruits of their raiding; unlike historical Vikings, these look upon farming as an ignoble trade unworthy of the attentions of a warrior. They do not organize overland travel or trade as the Vikings did, nor do they trade or fish upon the sea; they only plunder, burn and kill, for they are really only a gang of pirates.

The nobility, or earls, own land that is farmed by their slaves, the thralls. A class between these, the peasants, or carls, is by far the most numerous. A few carls supervise their own farms and their own thralls; a few others carry on some sort of craft such as smithing, but most depend entirely upon raiding. An entire community of this size making its living by predation upon nearby fishing villages and merchant convoys presents an awesome drain upon those villages and convoys. Thus, maritime trade in the vicinity carries dire risks, are the fishing villages are slowly dying out.

The 135 able-bodied men consist of 15 earls, 87 carls, and 33 thralls. They man three longships, and the classes are divided evenly among them. There are many sons of carls and earls approaching manhood at this time, so a fourth longship is under construction. The earls wear chainmail; the richest of these have had their chainmail reinforced at vulnerable points by solid metal plate. They also wear open-faced helmets with nasal-pieces. The carls wear metal-scale surcoats and open·faced helmets; the thralls wear leather jerkins and open-faced helmets.

The thralls are armed almost uniformly with round, wooden shield, 12’ spear, hand axe (being unworthy to carry a sword) and shortbow. Of the other two classes, 30% have light crossbows and 12’ spears; 50% have light crossbows and battleaxes, and 20% carry two-handed melee weapons of various types. The spearmen also carry round, wooden shields.

Three nearby coastal hamlets, each with 90 able-bodied soldiers, each have two longships; thus, each Sea Rune longship is the flagship of a three-ship squadron. The Skandiks of Sea Rune are far less powerful than in the old days before the orc migration and the Gnoll Times, but they are regaining their former strength, much to the detriment of the merchants of the Sea of Five Winds and the fishermen down the coast.

The governor (jarl) of Sea Rune is, in fact, a Druid, Drudnak. He is considered to be very peculiar and flippant, leading the people of Sea Rune away from their traditional gods. Yet, a temple is maintained by the Skandiks in honor of their ancient gods, and the competition between the two ways of religion is growing; discord among the adherents shows itself in all facets of life from the division of raiding-spoils to cooperation in battle. Though the Skandiks are growing in numbers, their fighting efficiency suffers due to this difference. A primary cause for dissent is the Druid’s opposition to shipbuilding requires lumbering.

Some trade comes into the small but well·protected Sea Rune harbor; the Skandiks do not sail these ships but tolerate their presence. A Merchants’ Guild, controlled by Altanians who have become civilized in recent generations, works this trade as well as a few well guarded caravans into Barbarian Altanis and beyond to the City State of the Invincible Overlord. The thralls hunt for meats and furs and forage for fruits, nuts and berries; these, and the grains they raise on the few farms are traded in the marketplace. The market of Sea Rune is well·known and is frequented by the men of the three adjacent hamlets and by the herdsmen of the hills.

The Norse religion centers around Odin, Chief of the Gods, Freya. Goddess of Fruitfulness, and Thor, God of Thunder. These form a sort of trinity, and statues of them are in the Sea Rune Temple, with Thor at the center. If there is danger of plague or famine, offerings are made to Thor; if there is danger of war, or if a raid is being launched, offerings are made to Odin; if a marriage or the birth of a child is to be celebrated, Freya receives a sacrifice. There are general sacrifices made to all three gods at the Spring Equinox, Midsummer’s Eve, the harvest, and Year’s-End. Sacrifices include nine males of each of these species: dog, ox, horse, end sheep.

The Long House of each village is the site of meetings ofvillage elders and of all the village’s men. Here, the men gather and muster for battle and raid, Here is where the massive feasting and carousing goes on, festivals after the holy ceremonies or after successful raiding. Here, the village elders and their families make their homes, on the second floor above the meeting hall.

The Skandiks of Sea Rune have a single Inn, and the nightly singing, drinking, and merry.making there is only bested by the wildness of the festivities on the holy days. Overindulgence is a common fault among the carls, earls, travelers, merchant-crews, and caravan drivers and guards who frequent it. Among the few craftsmen who drink there are a miller, two smiths, a carter, a fletcher, a tanner, and a tool-maker, brother to one of the smiths.

Being a Cleric of the Norse gods is not a full-time job, and the ones who are servants of the Temple supervise their own farms and thrall laborers on the outskirts of the village. When preparing for battle, a great ceremony is held at the Temple in which certain members of the community are selected or volunteer as berserkers. These men are stripped of their armor, and various symbols are carved deeply into their chest by the Clerics; the most popular is the Hammer of Thor. A mystic concoction of goat’s milk (representing the goats that draw Thor’s chariot) and other ingredients is poured into the wounds by the clerics, magically healing them. This also contains a subtle drug that excites the carved warrior into a kind of blood-lust or battle-frenzy.

The berserkers don their armor again and march directly off to the ships or to confront an invading enemy. Upon confrontation with the enemy, the berserkers find it difficult to control themselves before the charge, often biting the edges of their shields. When the order is given, they quickly shed armor and Shield and charge, naked, into the enemy ranks before the rest of the war-band. The red scars on their chests, in the form of the mystic signs, combine with their howls and vigorous melee to awe the enemy. The courage of the berserkers, who actively seek glorious death in battle and will onty hope to take as many enemy with them as possible when they die, is always an inspiring sight to the peculiar battle logic of the rank and file. The berserkers can often, in their suicidal charge, cause disorder in the enemy ranks and make the follow-up charge by their more conservative fellows far more effective.

Sea Rune - Way of Life

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