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SODERFJORD (Kingdom of)
Location: South of Vestland, east of Rockhome, north of Ylaruam and southwest of Ostland. OW
Area: 31,060 sq. mi. (80,445 sq. km.).
Population: 153,000 humans, 8,000 dwarves.
Coinage: Markka (gp), penne (ep), gundar (sp), 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), Guthorm Brittle-Bone (Jarl).
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 bison 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, previous almanacs.
Description by Gilor Rockcrusher.
The Soderfjord Jarldoms, as they used to be called, are a collection of small domains led by jarls, under the rule of a king, much like Ostland is, but they are very loosely united under the new king, Ragnar the Stout. Centuries of feuds and independent rule make it almost impossible for a single man to hold rulership of this territory. King Ragnar has managed to do so for five years now, but he is watched closely by the other jarls for any sign of weakness, especially by his close rival, Jarl Guthorm Brittle-Bone of Clan Boddergard.
Since the men of Soderfjord have always been at each others' throats, this land is the perfect place for an aspiring mercenary to make not only a name for himself, but also fill his pockets with gold from a grateful employer. You just need to be sure that you can defend your hard-earned gold from jealous rivals, since nobody will come to your aid if you haven't proven yourself superior to them.
I started out my mercenary career fighting for the jarls of Soderfjord, and I have returned there every once in a while, when my purse was empty, and I had trouble finding decent work in Ostland. In Soderfjord you're always sure to find employment if you know how to wield a weapon skilfully. This fall I returned to Boddergard for a month's employ by Jarl Guthorm Brittle-Bone.
The Jarldom of Boddergard lies at the border to Vestland, north of the overland trade route and southeast of Landersfjord. The domain is covered by tight coniferous forest. Walking through these oppressive woodlands, with tall trees hanging over you everywhere, can be a gloomy experience. The deep woods are home to varied wildlife, such as cannot be found on the islands of Ostland. Wolves are common and compete with the human occupants for deer and elks, but also plague the sheep and goats kept by the local populace.
Throughout these woods you find small homesteads with large families living out their lives peacefully. In places a number of homesteads have gathered together for the added protection offered by a small village. Some of these villages may have wooden palisades to protect them from wolves and bandits. They are cosy places with honest, hardworking folks.
Ranwood is the great hall of Jarl Guthorm Brittle-Bone. It is a small town of 1,000 inhabitants, located at the base of the hilly country just north of the overland trade route. Ranwood is built of wood from the surrounding forest, and the great hall itself lies on top of a low hill, where, from the top of three-story towers, the jarl's men can see for about a mile around the city, an area that has been cleared of trees. The great hall is circled by a wooden palisade at the base of the hill, and a low moat has been dug around it. There are only two entry points, both easily defensible by 20 men.
The rest of the town consists mostly of farms, with small fields and plentiful livestock. The town is also home to two different smiths, one of them a dwarf, a tailor and an excellent bakery. A large mill is constantly at work providing flour for the local populace. Vermund the Ghostly, the local miller, is one of the richest men in town, and he employs his own small mercenary guard, with the permission of the jarl.
The folk of Boddergard are a hardworking bunch, who carve out their simple lives from the fertile lands, with which they have been blessed. They are fiercely independent, and if asked what they think of King Ragnar, will often respond indifferently or with outright hostility. The king is seen as a man who's too ambitious for his own good, and who has unrightfully usurped the throne. They feel sure that honest men, such as their own jarl, will be sure to put the king in his rightful place one of these days.
Jarl Guthorm Brittle-Bone is the undisputed ruler of the domain. He is an aging warrior, who has seen many a campaign in his time, and who is a respected leader of men and a capable ruler. During his reign, he has secured Boddergard from outside raids and has also conquered the neighbouring domain of Hodderland, which is managed by his son, Aske Guthormson. The jarl won his nickname when he blocked a blow from a frost giant, a blow so mighty that it broke his shield-arm.
The reign of Guthorm Brittle-Bone has been fairly safe from outside raids, so the domain has been prosperous. So prosperous in fact, that the jarl began considering expanding his domain. He managed to conquer the neighbouring domain of Hodderland in AC 998, and spent some years making sure that he could hold onto it. War leader Ragnar the Stout wished to punish him, but Guthorm managed to ally with the neighbouring clans of Haltford and Hillgard. In the face of this alliance, Ragnar backed down.
Eventually Ragnar the Stout managed to gather enough support to proclaim himself king. Though Guthorm was opposed to this, Ragnar had bought or extorted the support of most other clans. Guthorm has been watching Ragnar for any opportunity to depose him, and has been quick to criticise him during the campaign against the kobolds of the Falun Caverns started in AC 1012. When Ragnar failed to side with winning faction in the Ostland civil war of AC 1015, Guthorm was also sure to have men ridiculing him. In both of these ventures, Guthorm made sure to only send old or inexperienced warriors, while saving his able men for his own plans.
During my employment this fall, Guthorm convinced his neighbours and sometime allies to raid the neighbouring Vestlandic domain of Clan Bornbank. The lands of Bornbank provide access to Landersfjord, and would allow Guthorm a safe place from which to launch longships, ensuring him greater power and riches. Jarl Ceowulf Rotolfson of Clan Bornbank is a young and inexperienced warrior, whom Guthorm feels assured that he can defeat. The raid served both to test clan Bornbank's defences, Vestland's resolve to punish such raids, and Ragnar's current power among the jarls of Soderfjord.
The raid was a roaring success, as we fought all the way to the town of Vanger before meeting serious resistance. Since the raid was merely a test, we turned back, loaded with plunder, before a real war broke out. Though Vestland issued protests, Ragnar could not gain enough support to punish Guthorm, and was forced to send idle threats. I predict that the rule of Ragnar will soon be over.
If you find yourself in Ranwood make sure to visit Arnora Grimadottir's bakery and tell her that Gilor sends his best and misses her pastry. Make sure that you try it out yourself! Also mention my name to Gorur the smith, and he just might give you a discount. I still fight with the axe I bought from him.
Being caught in the woods at night is not recommended. The wolves can be driven off with a nice fire, but you'll likely be kept awake most of the night, listening to their howls, and watching for their shining eyes at the edge of your vision. In the winters, when food grows scarce, the wolves are said to become so bold as to even attack men wielding torches. A hungry wolf is a dangerous opponent!