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The Domain of Steingardby Jacob Skytte
Steingard is placed at the southwestern part of Noslo Island in the Kingdom of Ostland. It is made up of six hexes of light forest. The domain exports a lot of wood to other Ostland domains. Hunters and fishermen also ply their trades here, with plenty of game and excellent fishing waters. Foreigners are allowed in the domain, and other Ostlanders are always welcome. Raiders join other members of Clan Romaland in the neighbouring domain of Romaland.
Head of Domain: Jarl Hygelac the Doubter is the ruler of this domain. His son Skamkel Frost-Eyes manages it.
Population: 2400 people carve out an existence in Steingard. Of these 600 are thralls, 1300 are non-warrior freemen, and 500 are warriors. 1000 people are armed and able to fight if threatened.
The timber camp of Steingard (population 350) is also the site of the great hall of Steingard. Skamkel's quarters lie in a wing separate from his men, and are always kept at low temperatures. A low palisade surrounds the camp.
Warriors of clan Steingard traditionally had to face a test before they were accepted as real men. They were told to enter a cave, which lies in a secluded grove in the forest not far from the timber camp, unarmed. Inside the cave is a terrible creature, the darkhood. An undead creature that feeds on the fear of its victims, the darkhood is bound to the cave it inhabits. The darkhood is a grey, translucent, robed figure, whose face lies hidden in the shadows of its cowl. When facing its victim, the darkhood will draw upon his or her greatest fears and make them manifest inside its hood. Any victim who succeeds at an Intelligence check on 1d20 is overcome by fear and starts an exhausting flight. The darkhood pursues its victim, gliding through walls to appear before him or her. Once the victim falls unconscious from exhaustion, the darkhood leaves him or her alone. Warriors returning from the cave were accepted as men, but if they were still shaking in their boots, they were ridiculed for at least a year. Some warriors who were overcome with terror the first time around, insisted on going back into the cave, and were allowed to after three months had passed since their first test. Now that Skamkel rules the domain, this practice of testing has been suspended indefinitely.
Chaotic 9th level Fighter (Str 16, Int 9, Wis 7, Dex 12, Con 13, Cha 10, AC 3, hp 52)
Personality Traits: Modest/Proud 5/15, Generous/Greedy 4/16, Reverent/Godless 6/14, Energetic/Lazy 5/15
24 years old, Ashy grey hair, Extremely pale grey eyes
Skamkel is presumably the son of Hygelac the Doubter and Bera the Pale. While he was born by Bera, Hygelac certainly isn't his father, and Bera can hardly be called his natural mother. Skamkel simply isn't human. He was created by followers of Hel and placed into Bera's womb where he grew as a normal human baby. Skamkel is a cross between a real human being and a magical construct made of ice, a Spawn of Hel.
Spawn of Hel
These creatures are created in a ritual, where a follower of Hel is magically impregnated with the essence of Hel. The follower goes through a normal pregnancy and gives birth to the Spawn. A Spawn looks like a very pale human, but their body temperature is always very low. They advance as regular humans do, having class and level. Spawn do not take damage from cold, not even magical cold. They take double damage from fire and always try to avoid exposure. Further, they are immune to poison and charm, and regenerate 1 hp/round in freezing temperatures. If exposed to temperatures above human body heat they will lose 1 hp/round. They can survive indefinitely in cold water, but dissolve (2 hp damage/round) in hot water. If wounded they will bleed thick, syrupy blood. They need limited amounts of food, and always consume their meals cold. Spawn apparently age as normal humans, but can't die of old age. Should a Spawn be killed, they will either melt to a mixture of water and blood or shatter into icy chunks of flesh depending on the temperature of the surroundings. Spawn are not inherently evil, they can be of any alignment, but since followers of Hel raise most Spawn, they tend to take a dark and bloody path.
As a child Skamkel was cared for by followers of Hel, specially placed in Hygelac's great hall as servants. When he came of age, he was told of his special inheritance in a ritual at a secret temple of Hel in Romaland, and embraced what he thinks of as his destiny. Skamkel is convinced that he is meant to become the ruler of the world and one of the Gods, and that he is in fact a son of Hel. So certain is he of this that he simply cannot be bothered by ordinary mortal affairs. He also thinks that the "other Gods," as he calls them, are childish and weak, and is certain that they will bow to his power once he becomes a true God himself.
Hygelac sent Skamkel to Steingard two years ago to conquer the domain in his name. Skamkel was aided in this by followers of Hel and easily managed to defeat the old jarl of Steingard, Kolbein Hemmingson, on the field of battle, when said jarl grew faint and dizzy from Skamkel's first strike. The followers of Hel had secretly coated Skamkel's sword with poison. Since then he has remained in Steingard as its ruler, though he leaves the management of the domain to "advisers" since he simply can't be bothered with such mundane affairs.
In battle Skamkel wears chain mail+1 and carries a sword+2 called "Istap" (Icicle) and a shield. He also wears a ring of spell eating given to him by Bera.
Lawful 6th level Fighter (Str 11, Int 10, Wis 15, Dex 8, Con 9, Cha 17, AC 8, hp 29)
Personality Traits: Modest/Proud 15/5, Peaceful/Violent 16/4, Courageous/Fearful 6/14, Honest/Deceitful 15/5, Loyal/Unreliable 14/6
37 years old, Red hair, Blue eyes
Groa was a shield maiden who met, befriended and married the jarl of Steingard, Kolbein Hemmingson, 13 years ago. She became stepmother to his children, but didn't bear any children of her own. She lived happily with him for a decade before Skamkel Frost-Eyes showed up leading a small force of men to attack the domain. Though Kolbein was certain to win the fight with the young upstart whelp, he faltered when struck, and was slain by Skamkel. Groa fought with her stepchildren, but they were subdued. Given the choice of serving Skamkel or being put to death, Groa witnessed her family heroically sacrificing themselves for their beliefs. When the turn came to her though, she found that she could not choose death over life. So she swore to serve Skamkel for the rest of her days.
Groa has observed Skamkel over the past two years and has come to the conclusion that he is a megalomaniac who cares little for anyone beside himself. She has managed to become one of his "advisers" and she uses this position to better the lives of her people. Secretly she hopes that somebody will rise to defeat Skamkel, but she is still too scared to organise a revolt herself. Groa wears leather armour in battle and carries a spear+1 called "Torn" (Thorn).