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Soderfjord (Kingdom of)

Location: South of Vestland, east of Rockhome, north of Ylaruam and southwest of Ostland.
Area: 31,060 sq. mi. (69,885 km2)
Population: 153,000 humans, 8,000 dwarves.
Languages: Heldannic.
Coinage: Markka (gp), penne (ep), gundar (sp) and oren (cp).
Taxes: None. Most revenue is raised from tolls to use roads and bridges. The rest of the money is raised by raiding other nations.
Government Type: Monarchy, although the jarls (lesser nobles) still hold tremendous power.
Industries: Cattle, goats, sheep, fishing, logging, furs, piracy, and trade.
Important Figures: Ragnar the Stout (King, human, male, F17).
Flora and Fauna: Deer, elk, and wolves can be found throughout the coniferous forests of Soderfjord. Various herd animals, such as sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and bisons can be found in the plains of the nation.

Goblinoids used to be very common in the southern Hardanger Mountains, but they have been defeated and now pose little threat.
Further Reading: GAZ7 - The Northern Reaches, AC1010 - Poor Wizard's Almanac to AC1012 - Poor Wizard's Almanac 3, and Joshuan's Almanac.

Description: by Misha Mananov

Once nothing but a collection of petty jarls and nobles, Soderfjord has recently been united under the rulership of the charismatic Ragnar the Stout.

The Land

The south and west of Soderfjord is nothing but a rocky plateau, uninhabited by all except for wild tribes of goblinoids. Along the coast, however, as well as the length of the Soderfjord River, prosperous farmlands can be found. Since this is usually not enough to feed the entire population, fishing is very popular.

It is in the arable land that most of the northmen live in Soderfjord. These coastal plains are a good dozen meters above sea level, with cliffs dropping sharply into the waters below. There are very few places for a ship to land except at an occasional alcove along the coast.

Deeper inland lies the Great Marsh, a place where entire caravans have been reported to disappear. The northmen claim that the living dead haunt this evil swamp, and I for one believe them. Only the famous Marsh Road is safe, and even then only during the day.

Finally, there are the mountains themselves which act as borders to Rockhome and Ylaruam. Somewhere in the jagged Makkres Mountains to the east lives the Modrigswerg Dwarves, a clan of exiled dwarves who prefer to be left alone. Although the southern Hardanger Mountains are claimed by Soderfjord, no one has lived there since it has, up until last year, been populated by barbaric gnolls and kobolds.

The People

Above anything, the Northmen honour bravery and scorn the weak. As with Ostlanders, they believe that using words is cowardly and dishonourable. They fear nothing, not even the darkness of eternal death, and march off to battle foes even when hopelessly outnumbered. To a northman, death in battle is the only method of finding happiness in the afterlife. Thor is the ideal example of their lives, and he is almost universally worshipped throughout the nation.

Northmen from Soderfjord are very closely tied to their clan and sadly view all others, including (if not especially) other northmen, as rivals. This has to do with generations of fighting between the clans - the blood spilled during those battles has yet to be forgiven. But such feuds have been decreasing. The new King of Soderfjord has forbidden the most bloody of the clan wars under pains of death. He allows skirmishes and raiding (in fact encouraging it), but draws the line when outright massacre is involved.

Although just as fierce as their brothers of Ostland, the northmen of Soderfjord care little for one another unless they are direct kinsmen. During a battle against a common enemy, they will not watch out for each other, a fact that caused many deaths in the recent war against the Hardanger Kobolds.

Although I have mentioned that the Northmen do not fear anything, this is actually untrue. There is one thing they fear in this world: wizardly magic. To them, it is powers granted by Hel herself, and mages are reviled as stealers of souls and fiends incarnate. If in battle with northmen, by casting a simple magic spell, you might manage to cause all your enemies to flee, or, should your luck turn bad, cause them all to try twice as hard to slay the foolish mage.

Recent Events

In the year AC 1012, war leader Ragnar the Stout managed to convince his fellow jarls to name him King of Soderfjord. With this, he promised to rid the Hardanger Mountains of all kobolds and embarked upon a holy war. Unfortunately, the battle was not easily won, and Ragnar lost a lot of prestige during the two years of fighting. Still, at the very end, the goblinoids were eliminated, but many of the jarls believe this was only accomplished with the help of Vestland, and not because of their king.

This year he participated in the civil war of Ostland, hoping to obtain plunder for his warriors. When the war ended peacefully and Ragnar returned home with very little gold, his reputation dropped more.

Now, rumours in the taverns talk about various Jarls plotting to overthrow the King in the near future.

Don't Miss

There is a sight that marvels my eyes and makes me believe all the stories about the greatness of the Immortals. About 10 miles (15 kilometres) south of the mouth of the Angesan River, the coastal cliffs reach a height of nearly 150 meters (500 feet). This in itself is a breathtaking view, yet it is not the wonder I speak of. Carved directly into the cliff face are several large runes of unknown origin. These runes are nothing like those taught to worthy warriors and godar [northmen priests in plural form, singular: godi. Ed.] by Odin. Many believe that they are the ultimate runes, and when deciphered, it will allow the reader to attain Immortality at the side of Odin and Thor [course, those wanting to know what they really are should read p.22 of GAZ 7]. It is through such wonders that my faith in the Immortals is strengthened.