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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: 156,000 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 (Former King), Guthorm Brittle-Bone (Jarl of Boddergard).
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.
Last Year's Events: See below.
Description by Gilor Rockcrusher.
The nation of Soderfjord has long been made up of a number of small, squabbling domains, loosely united against outsiders, yet constantly at each others' throats. The recent unification under a king, Ragnar the Stout, was short-lived and doomed to failure. Now, Soderfjord has returned to being a place of constant danger and opportunities for adventure. Such a place calls out to the heart of any adventurous mercenary such as myself. It will come as little surprise for you that I have spent the last year in Soderfjord, working for the gnomes who have recently moved into the Falun Caverns.
Separated from the pleasant forests and grassy lowlands by the Great Marsh, the harsh Hardanger mountain range represents some of the most hostile terrain of Soderfjord. There are precious few human settlers near the mountains; only the valiant souls of Castellan and Snowvale dwell in the shadows of the massive mountains. Hardanger is riddled with caves, ancient caves that have been home to various species. Originally said to be home to gnomes native to the area, they were overrun by kobolds a very long time ago. After Ragnar the Stout routed the kobolds from the caverns, they lay empty for a while. Now they are again home to a clan of gnomes, come from a faraway place close to Glantri, I've been told!
The gnomes of the Torkyn Clan are a curious people. They have faced losses and impossible obstacles, travelled through hostile terrain, all in search of a new home. When they were granted the rights to settle these caves, they found that sinister occupants, the duplicitous Modrigswerg, already coveted the area. Yet, in the face of severe adversity, they have still managed to settle and make this a new home. Most amazing, they still hold joy and laughter in their hearts, after a year of harrowing experiences.
Cave dwellers at heart, gnomes also have a desire for grand, open construction. They are skilled at working the rock, though not quite as skilled as dwarves, and have already begun carving their new home into something magnificent. Life among the gnomes consists of hard work, day in and day out, with only a rare few holidays observed. Each individual has a role in their society, be it working the rock, preparing food, or guarding the community. The last task is a difficult one, particularly for the peaceful gnomes, so outsiders have been contracted to fill this part.
My role in this society has been as a guard, and I am proud to say that I have fulfilled my duties diligently. The life as a guardian of the gnomish territories is an exciting one. You never know what will happen next. Will you be required to rescue missing gnomes from the depths of the earth? Is an attack by cave monsters imminent? Perhaps you will need to act as a caravan guard to protect the monthly supplies from the human town of Castellan? Or maybe you will need to explore the cave system in an attempt to map the area and find new resources.
Everything is complicated by the presence of the Modrigswerg that dwell somewhere in the caves. Though they remain faceless adversaries, there is little doubt that they are to blame for the trouble in the area. It is a well-known fact that they live here, as the gnomes know that the Modrigswerg have had contact with the humans. They are known to build elaborate traps and use the natural dangers against outsiders, and this is exactly the kind of trouble the gnomish community has faced in this past year. Gas pockets, collapsing corridors, explosions, and monsters from the depths of the earth have all been attributed to the Modrigswerg.
In the human world outside the Hardanger Mountains, the Modrigswerg are also suspected of foul doings. King Ragnar the Stout, he who would call himself leader of men, fell under a mysterious curse. Turned to amber by magic suspected to be of Modrigswerg design, his rule came to a sudden end. It is said that his worst rival, the Jarl of Boddergard, Guthorm Brittle-Bone, displays the cursed king in his great hall, proof of his worthiness to the throne of Soderfjord. Alas, Guthorm's alliance with dark powers has alienated him from the other jarls, who are very unlikely to accept him as ruler, when he utilises foul sorceries.
The clans of Soderfjord have begun to prepare for war. They watch their borders closely, prepared for surprise visits from their neighbours. In the mountain domain of Castellan, the people are very concerned that their nation might truly crumble into warring factions. The wise and benevolent Jarl of Castellan, Vermund Solvison, tirelessly pleads with his fellow jarls to come to their senses and stand unified against the outside world. I am told that only a few jarls listen to him, most of them convinced that he is lobbying to become the next King of Soderfjord.
With the nation of Soderfjord seemingly on the brink of civil war, there are few places that are safe to visit. But come to Castellan and you will enjoy the comforts of a well-run trading town and perhaps find an opportunity to serve the gnomes of the Falun Caverns as I do. If you are not that adventuresome, you can still admire the fort of Castellan-dwarven workmanship at its best.
The journey to Castellan, unfortunately, is a dangerous one. Coming from Ylaruam, you will have to traverse the Jotunvalk Pass, commonly regarded as one of the most feared caravan trails in the Old World, outside of the Broken Lands. The weather is unpredictable and often forces caravans to make camp. With human and humanoid bandits, strange monsters thriving in the cold, and clans of warlike giants, it is a journey that you will soon wish was safely behind you.
Coming to Castellan from interior Soderfjord, you have to travel through the Great Marsh, wetlands that have a particularly foul reputation. Witches and demons are said to be the only true inhabitants of the marsh, and in the wet season trails become so hard to follow that you are in very real danger of becoming lost and swallowed by the swamp. Persistent tales in Castellan say that an army of my fellow dwarves from Rockhome was lost in the swamp this fall. I don't know what to make of these rumours, but the gnomes believe that a force of dwarves was coming to help them, and that force has never been heard from.