A nation split culturally in two, the Vendel part is a mash-up of the powerful Dutch traders and the neutrality and financial clout of Switzerland, while the Vestenmannavnjar are clearly just Vikings by another name.
”Selling your soul used to be a metaphor. The Vendel made it a lifestyle.”
Once upon a time, the nation of Vendel was called Vestenmannavnjar (Ves-ten-mahn-nah-ven-yar), its chief island, Oddis, was called “Oddiswulf” and its capital city of Kirk was called “Kirkjubæjarklauster”. But times change. Some say the Vendel have thrown away their heritage, but what they have gained may be equally powerful. The power of the Vodacce merchant princes is beginning to fade, and that just might be due to the Vendel League.
The Lay of the Land
The nation of Vendel is a chain of nine islands. Its capital, Kirk, is located on the island of Oddis. Flat and arable near the coast, the interior of the land quickly becomes rocky and unscalable. The large, obtrusive central mountain range on Oddis is known as the Hjalmarr Mountains, and it takes up more than half of the land’s area. It is impassable, so a single road has been built to connect the cities that circumscribe its girth. The great Hjalmarr Mountains once produced metal for the greatest weapons in northern Théah – second only to the dragon-steel of Eisen. These days, instead of being hammered into swords, axes and polearms, it is shaped into coins.
The weather is almost always cold in Vendel, although it is tempered by many natural hot springs. Cities have popped up near such springs, and many Vendels claim that their springs hold mystical qualities. Some are said to heal, others to prolong youth and still others to prolong other less mentionable activities.
Added (21 Dec 13, 4:14 PM)
While still technically a monarchy, Vendel has not had a King for many years; he vanished after an argument with the League on military matters over a hundred years ago. Since his disappearance, the political structure has all but disintegrated, leaving the League in complete control of matters military and other wise. It makes, interprets, and enforces all the laws and serves as ambassador to Vendel’s foreign neighbors.
The League’s structure is divided into nine “Chairs” and 91 “seats”. The Chairs are reserved for the Guilds who created the League, save for one held by an Eisen who inherited it from the old Eisen Imperator when he died. The seats are put up for auction every year – for sale to the highest bidder.
Vendel’s political stance has been vague at best. It has declared neutrality in nearly every political and military issue in the last century. One issue the Vendel have not remained neutral on, however, has been the Guilder.
Initially, the guilds created a system of paper credit vouchers to be used in lieu of currency. However, the “Guilder”, as the vouchers were called, became more useful to merchants than local coined money, and the League saw an opportunity. They issued paper money, based on the funds of the League, and set up a standard value guaranteed never to change. It was a risky maneuver, but one that put Théah’s economy into Vendel hands.
Now the Guilder is the most popular form of currency in Théah. The only countries that do not recognize it are Ussura, Castille and Vodacce. In fact, creation of the Guilder has brought the Vendel/Vodacce trade war to a new extreme. If the Castillians or Ussurans officially accept the Guilder’s worth within their borders, it could mean the end of the war.
It could be said that Vendel and Vestenmannavnjar are two separate nations. In the lands of the Vendel, the greatest craftsmen and tradesmen in the world have built buildings to house the richest merchants in the world. While Vodacce has always had the best courtesans in all of Théah, Vendel certainly holds the best courtesy. Visitors to the country receive the best food, the best drink, and delicacies of all kinds, imported without regard to expense. “When you are in Vendel,” one merchant once said, “you are covered in comfort and excess.” Of course the Vestenmannavnjar would correct that sentence, replacing the word “covered” with “smothered”.
The people who now consider themselves “Vendel” have done everything in their power to make their nation more accessible to foreigners. They have adopted a new culture that does its best to seem as familiar and friendly as a next-door neighbor. They’ve changed the names of their islands, cities, streets, even their own personal names, to make certain visitors are comfortable. Names such as Eskjö, Örnslköldsvik, Sorøya and Thørshöfn were transformed into less “colorful” titles, a philosophy that has not gone over well with Vestenmannavnjar traditionalists.
The traditionalists have fled the Vendel cities for the mountains and cold wastes. They cling to their old ways, huddling together around bonfires, telling tales of ancient heroes and wars, branding their bodies with runes said to hold the power of creation itself. They look to the glowing lights of the Vendel cities and know that their brethren have not forgotten their heritage, but sold it.
A significant element of Vestenmannavnjar religion involves the importance of names.
past, so they may be remembered and remain. When the Vendel changed the names of the cities and islands, they endangered the memory of those heroes, risking Vestenmannavnjar’s relationship with its ancestors in the name of the all-holy Guilder.
It’s no wonder that many Vendel cities have recently come under the cloud of Vestenmannavnjar nationalism. Piracy has plagued the Vendel waters for many years now and word has begun to spread. It’s rumored that Vodacce gold funds many Vestenmannavnjar pirates, but none can say for sure. Before Elaine took the throne, many Inish could be found on Vestenmannavnjar ships. The Queen of Avalon has made the O’Bannon swear his people will not participate in such violent and antipolitical activity. Of course, O’Bannon’s promise and Vodacce assurances have not stopped the Vestenmannavnjar raids. In fact, in recent years, they have increased dramatically, driving away Vendel’s visiting merchants and causing the League to consider more violent solutions to their problems.
Added (21 Dec 13, 4:14 PM)
Common Male Names: Alfgeir, Bragi, Brøn, Eldgrim, Gellir, Hägin, Hallbjørn, Hrafn, Jön, Ketil, Magnus, Olväld, Reinn, Serk, Sigurd, Solmünd, Thørfinn, Thrand, Ulf, Veleif.
Common Female Names: Asgerd, Asny, Bera, Dalla, Grøa, Gudrid, Hrafnhild, Ingibjørg, Jofrid, Kadlin, Ljüfa, Osk, Rannveig, Sæun, Sigrid, Thørhild, Ulfeid, Vigdis, Yngvild, Yr.
The magic of this nation belongs only to those who still consider the islands Vestenmannavnjar; the Vendel merchants and traders have no interest in magic. This magic, called Lærdom (pronounced lair-dom) is the study of twenty-four words believed to be the true names of their gods and when cast in Lærds (pronounced lairs, but basically runes) can unleash great power.
A beginner worker in Lærdom can invoke the power of these words, later learning to inscribe those runes and finally to become the runes. Each rune/word has a different power, mostly adding bonuses to different rolls (such as magical resistance, social interaction, damage, and so on) but also having other effects, like speaking in code or healing wounds.
Leegstra isn’t so much a style of fighting, as a style of killing. Warriors are trained to wield heavy broadswords or huge battleaxes and attack the enemy with little regard for their own safety. Imagine the clichéd Viking berserker and you won’t be far wrong. The big weakness of Leegstra is that it is a cumbersome and slow method of fighting – a berserker may take your head off with one swipe of that heavy axe, but by the time he’s got it moving your sword should have already cut his throat.
A beginner at Leegstra knows how to use his axe to the best advantage, and the player may swap an Action for more damage.
Some Character Ideas to Get You Started
- A Vestenmannavnjar pirate, intent on ruining Vendel and restoring his country to its rightful state.
- A Vendel trader, desperately trying to recover the money he has stolen from his investors.
- A Vestenmannavnjar sorceress, in love with a Vodacce courtesan and working with her to ruin any Vendel merchants she can.