Clanleader: Graytir Stormjarl
High Priestess: Svayla Stormjarl
Warleader: Bolverk Stormjarl
Primary Settlement: Jotunvik
Clan Stormjarl is located on the western side of Mardrun. Seated deep within Clan Grimward territory, the ocean borders much of this clan’s territory. A complex network of riverways wind through the territory, making travel by boat a regular method of transportation. The vast plains of the area have proven to be very fertile and Stormjarl farmers do quite well. Large farmsteads cover the clan’s territories. Although it is not heavily wooded, this location is home to a good number of game and many Ulven go through at least basic hunter training. It is a requirement that all main settlements be connected to the rivers in Clan Stormjarl so that their Viknar ships may sail all the way to the coast. Fledgling villages have sprung up outside of the riverways but these are sporadic and usually focusing on farming… but any large village or settlement is connected to the sea in some way.
More importantly, this clan specializes in fishing and owns the largest number of seaworthy vessels of any Ulven clan. Most of these boats are small fishing vessels, but the Chieftans and Clanleader own and maintain a number of longships. Able to sail across the open ocean and then get into shallower channels and rivers, moving trade goods and transporting travelers is much more efficient with the use of these ships. More so than any other clan, travel by boat and water is a staple to their people.
TRADE & ECONOMY:
With the heavy focus on farming and fishing comes a focus also on trade. Exceptionally skilled craftsman make all sorts of items and harvest food and crops to sell or trade to other villages, settlements, and even other clans. The sprawling main settlement of Jotunvik, second only to Clan Nightriver’s main settlement or the condensed city colony of Newhope, sits near the coast and is home to a larger Ulven population in comparison to others. The elaborate trade system and tithes levied from numerous settlements have allowed Jotunvik to legitimately be a thriving hub of trade, culture, and sea travel. The main settlement is a bustle of activity all the time as ships dock and cast off, goods are moved and stored or shipped out, and wagons arrive to move and transport goods. The Great Hall of Stormjarl is home to the Clanleader and the High Priestess and is the main seat of political discussions, votes on Clan matters, and a place to air grievances or challenge/settle disputes. This is also a reminder that Jotunvik is the heart of Clan Stormjarl; most of the trade comes through it, and anyone of political note must travel to it.
Although smaller than Clan Grimward and Clan Nightriver, they are are the third largest clan on the continent.
POLITICS & LEADERSHIP:
Because of the massive size of the founding Stormjarl pack and the gradual absorption of smaller packs into the founding pack, territories of land are separately ruled and overseen by Jarls. It is a common practice for Jarls to wear a specific design arm torc and then their followers would wear a torc resembling their Jarls. To be a Jarl, the elders and influential members of a territory will cast a vote to bring in and keep the Jarl in service. This has allowed the title to shift often. Neighboring Jarls have sometimes been involved in smaller feuds themselves, similar to how an entire pack can feud against another, but this rarely results to violence. Jarls work hard to keep their title and being unable to remain diplomatic with other Jarls is a fast way to be removed from this honorific. Similar to a small Chieftain, Jarls answer to the Clanleader and help govern different parts of the Clan’s territories. While uncommon among the other Ulven clans, this division of authority has helped Pack Stormjarl maintain a strong leadership and more complex trade and barter economy than some of the other clans.
Because of the heavy use of the Jarls for leadership, individual packs that wish to remain their own entity are required to maintain at least one longship and a crew of Viknar. This fighting force is a sign of respect and authority and without it, a Pack is not allowed to make a legitimate claim to rule their own territories. Many a times a fledgling Pack has been consumed by Pack Stormjarl, the largest Pack in Clan Stormjarl, similar to how two warring clans might conquer warriors and villagers and force them to join their new Clan. Most of the time, this is a ceremonial occurance; should a Pack be unable to maintain a longship and a crew of Viknar to support the Chieftain, then ships arrive with the Warleader and the Pack is taken over and then controlled by Pack Stormjarl. If a Pack and its Chieftain knows they have not fulfilled the requirement to maintain their Pack’s independance, the Chieftain will usually “bear throat” and step down. This is not seen as dishonorable; an admittance to a shortcoming for the benefit of your people is viewed favorably. Most Chieftains that bear throat to the warleader are picked to become the newly appointed Jarl to reside over the populace. Chieftains that do not agree to this may challenge the warriors that arrive. The specifics for this duel can vary; sometimes it is the Chieftain fighting the best viknar warrior the Warleader has brought with them, sometimes it is the 3 best warriors from each crew. The Warleader never participates in the duel due to his significant role in the Clan’s honor but is there to oversee the details. Regardless, there is some sort of challenge, duel, acceptance, or agreement of terms to either prove that the Chieftain is maintaining his force or proof that he is not… or a stalling of time in order to make adjustments. If a Chieftain and his crew challenges the Warleader’s crew and wins, that Chieftain gains immense word-fame and honor and is paid a boon. This could be weapons, armor, supplies, or more warriors for the Chieftain’s viknar. If a Chieftain challenges and loses, the Chieftain is removed from leadership and is considered dishonored… the Chieftain should have known to either submit to Pack Stormjarl or to have the assurance to overcome whatever challenge is presented to maintain their Pack’s independence. This poses an interesting choice to a Chieftain under the questioning review of the Warleader; submit without incident and benefit from the new rule but accept the changes… or fight for independence which would gain word-fame, honor, and more wealth at the risk of losing it all should they fail? All villages, settlements, and Jarls that swore allegiance to Clan Stormjarl have requirements and taxes that are levied on them and a Chieftain maintaining his Pack’s independence is able to avoid these tithes. These are fair and seen as honorable tribute to the main settlements which in turn invest in those communities and settlements. It is a system that has worked for generations and is one of the key reasons why Stormjarl has progressed so far ahead of some of the other clans. In this system, independance from the main Pack is accepted as long as you can earn it, or acceptance of the rulings of the Main pack is required if you cannot. To an outsider, it makes it look like Clan Stormjarl’s politics are based on warrior culture. It actually is not, as it takes a full thriving community, tended fields and a pleased populace, a leader with an eye on the future and prosperity, built wealth through trades and barter, and discipline to train and equip elite soldiers such as the viknar. A strong community is required to maintain the warriors, their equipment, and their boat… and to do so is proof that a Chieftain has earned the priviledge of independence. If a Chieftain earns the right to rule and remain independent, the Warleader will not return for a minimum of 5 years. However, this usually takes place only after a major change (such as a Chieftain passing away or an accusation of bad leadership) and usually a community is left alone for a decade or more.
When it comes to ranking of these statuses, a Jarl is subordinate to a Chieftain and has less sway in political dealings… but not by much. More than a few times a pompous Chieftain has been targeted by a Jarl after boasts or jealously has increased the tension surrounding one incident or another.
Clan Stormjarl is led by Clanleader Graytir Stormjarl who is an accomplished warrior and has seen many years. His more diplomatic and trade skills have allowed him to build Clan Stormjarl to a well supplied and powerful clan. His Warleader is Bolverk Stormjarl, a seasoned warrior and sailor. The Warleader personally oversees the Stormjarl ships and the training of the Viknar, even making routine stops among the different settlements and testing the Chieftains to ensure that their crews are up to standard.
When it comes to matters of politics, Clan Stormjarl has a suprisingly open forum. Political meetings are held every 6 months in Jotunvik at the Great Hall of Stormjarl. This massive building is not just home to the Clanleader and High Priestess, but also to the assembly area that clan members visit during matters of political importance. This assembly hall is one part auditorium and one part stadium; there are seats that line the walls all around the chamber where members of Clan Stormjarl can visit and witness the dealings of political nature. Recessed below these seats are the chairs and waiting areas for Chieftains, Jarls, and ambassadors to reside. Here, matters of importance are discussed and voted on by the leaders of the Clan and witnessed by all those present. Space is limited in the stands and are usually packed in a first-come first-serve ordering. Bearing witness to these meetings is seen as an honor, and anyone who is beligerant or speaks out during the meetings is forcibly removed from the chamber. Weapons are permitted to be worn at these meetings but it is well known that drawing a weapon within the assembly hall is punishable by death.
Because their borders are surrounded by Clan Grimward, who are very brutal and vigilant in their defense against the mordok, Stormjarl is noted to be one of the safer clans on Mardrun from mordok raids. Their distance from the dirge swamp and the Great Wolf’s Hackles means that attacks from mordok are much less common than with other Clans. However, this means that if a tribe of mordok does make it into Stormjarl territory then they are usually fierce, hearty, and especially savage.
This relative safety from mordok attacks does not mean that they have less skilled warriors than other Clans; many Ulven train and refine their skills, they just have less actual experience then some of the other clans or must venture outside their borders to gain word-fame as a warrior. Clan Stormjarl warriors are warpacks of individuals banning together under the leadership of a Chieftain, Jarl, the Warleader, or a group of Viknar. Sophisticated, well disciplined, or brutal fighting tactics are absent from the base warrior of Clan Stormjarl. Fighting and making war is not the primary responsibility of most Clan Stormjarl warriors.
Because of their heavy usage of these ships, each Chieftan and some prestigious Jarls maintain a group of “Viknar”, trained and veteran warriors that are also skilled sailors, making them a formidable force if used to raid or attack any location near the coast or along a connecting river. Although the need to raid Mordok groups near the coast is sporadic at best, this has been key to the survival of some war packs finding themselves retreating from Mordok attackers, usually after being ambushed and caught unaware that mordok are in the territory. Falling back to the coast or a large enough river in Stormjarl territory, the Viknar have arrived just in the nick of time to save several groups from being slaughtered or overrun. Being a Viknar is an great honor, as the pledge to serve and protect chieftans and ambassadors is taken very seriously. A warrior must pledge to serve the war packs of Clan Stormjarl and test to become a viknar. They are put through grueling feats of strength, endurance, and martial prowess. Where the basic Stormjarl warrior is a farmer with a sword and some skill to use it, the Viknar are trained and elite professionals of sailing and fighting.
Viknar train daily in martial and sailing skills. They are expected to be close to their boat at all times, able to rally and organize at a moments notice. Martial training includes disciplined fighting in small groups, an emphasis on heroic levels of endurance, and focusing the willpower of the crew. Should a crew of Viknar find themselves in battle, they are most often put in situations where striking quickly and with intensity is important, but then having the endurance to last should a fight draw out for long. With the boat at their backs, sometimes retreat is not an option… and the Viknar take steps to ensure that should their crew be overrun or killed, they attempt to set fire to the boat in order to deny its capture. Tight knit comraderie and intense focused training is paramount to the Viknar.
Many communities find honor in supporting the viknar and to know a ship is nearby brings comfort to some communities. Trading a night’s rest and a hearty meal for favor to the local Jarl is a tangible resource to barter. Staple diets of fish, dried meat, beets, and hearty grains are important to enhance the fighting condition of the Viknar; extra care is taken to ensure their crews are well stocked and well fed.
Clan Stormjarl is made up of a more progressive ulven than some other clans. They have some unique traits that set them apart.
A superstitious norm is shared by a lot of the Clan. For a society that focuses a lot on sea travel and coastal sailing, this could have evolved from the sailors trying to read the weather and listen to portents they feel may help them on their journey. The mention of a “Wolf’s Wind” is a common saying; it basically means that something mysterious or odd is about, even if not entirely known or understood. For example, a sailor may try to read the clouds to know when to sail and feel uneasy about it, commenting that there is a wolf’s wind in the air or that they “feel a wolf’s wind”.
The Sax knife has specific meaning in Clan Stormjarl territory. A sax is a sign of freedom and ownership over one’s own life. Those honor bound for payment or service are not permitted to wear a sax, but a free man/woman is allowed and expected to wear one. This is usually on a sax sheath hung from two straps on a belt, either in front of the body or just below the lower back. The sax represents the working tools of the tradesmen, the cutting knife of a farmer, the weapons of the warriors, and the symbolism of politics and free choice. A Stormjarl clan member who was without a sax would be viewed as a servant, even if they were not treated wrongfully or disrespectfully. A young Stormjarl member who becomes an adult is gifted a sax from his local Jarl, Chieftain, or a Priestess.
Arm torcs are worn by many Clan Stormjarl members. They are commonly gifted to community members that are above the free men and woman but still below a Jarl. This system calls out special attention or honor to village leaders, community members, or representatives that have gained favor with a Jarl. To earn the right to wear one is a great honor and to have one removed due to lacking deeds or service is a dishonor. This item is viewed favorably but it is also meant to be a constant reminder; those who serve Jarls are part of a system linking the larger Pack Stormjarl group together. Unlike Jarls, Chieftains in Clan Stormjarl do not wear arm torcs; this is another status symbol of independence among the Stormjarl people.
Clan Stormjarl seems to have a higher occurrence of people serving time under honor bound payment than other clans. People, or the time they can put in and work, seem to be a very viable currency to use in bartering with other territories. It is not uncommon to have groups of villagers travel frequently to other locations and put in work… or for villagers to be forced to do so. For example, a Jarl may approach another Jarl and barter 10 working hands for 1 month in exchange for food and lumber. If agreed upon, the Jarl will send these working hands as payment. In this instance, they are viewed as freemen coming to do work for trade; they would be permitted to wear their sax and enjoy certain freedoms. Should a Jarl anger another Jarl and a raid is conducted or a duel fought that proves one is the victor, forcing the other Jarl to hand over people as tribute/honor payment is seen more like a spoil of war or plunder. These honor bound workers are still treated well, but they are servants… not free people… and are not permitted to wear their sax. During their time, they are given more basic accomodations and food; they are servants working off payment, not freemen coming to work.
RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY:
Religious practices and spirituality in Clan Stormjarl follow the similar paths of most ulven clans. However, due to the clans more superstitious nature, the rituals and spells of the Daughters of Gaia within the Clan tend to incorporate water, favorable luck, or both. Similar to most ulven spirituality, this does not mean that the people of Clan Stormjarl pray to Gaia or the Great Wolf to solve their problems or ease their pains but instead give them courage to see themselves through it… but if luck happens to be on your side, it could give you an edge. Many Stormjarl ulven wear totems of luck or importance and have a heavy influence on using runes on their equipment and clothing.
STORMJARL COLORS, HERALDRY, FASHION:
Although home to any number of colors and fashions, Clan Stormjarl is typically home to a number of colors of tunics, dresses, and art that follow blues and grays. This is most likely due to the fact that Pack Stormjarl, the largest Pack in the Clan by far, has specific heraldry displayed on banners and flags and even uniforms for Viknar and colored sails on their ships. This is usually in the form of a symbol representing a torc along with a knotted design.
Initially, Clan Stormjarl was not very involved in the conflict with the colonists years ago. They helped move warriors and supplies with their longships and a number of Stormjarl hunters assisted their Ulven allies, but they were not at the forefront of the conflict.
Clan Stormjarl keeps to themselves and does not get involved with hardly any colonist settlements. However, a movement within the Clan’s Jarls pushes for an expanded economy after the introduction of the goldwood coin. Tales of Jarls getting rich or striking deals with some of the colonist settlements helps bring the Clan forefront onto Mardrun; not for conflict, but for economical expansion.
When the civil war engulfed all of Mardrun, Clan Stormjarl initially declares neutrality. Representatives from both Grimward and Nightriver have been sent to discuss the war with the Clanleader, but Graytir Stormjarl knows that choosing either side could be disastrous for his clan. Many of the people of Clan Stormjarl continue with day to day lives but worry and rumors spread among the Packs about what the future could hold.
After several political meetings have taken place and letters sent back and forth, Clan Nightriver and their allies seem intent on gaining Clan Stormjarl as an ally. However, the needs of the safety and the future of his people are not being met and instead the discussions stall through the year. With war looming on the horizon… one way or another… the Jarls and Chieftains tend to their settlements, their longships, and their warriors. A longstanding debt owed by Pack Longfang is called up; Clan Stormjarl invested in the building of Onsallas Outpost in exchange for service in the future. When finally pressed by Haygreth Grimward late in the year, Graytir Stormjarl chooses neutrality for his people… a move that should have been respected. Unfortunately, this sparked the conflict between Clan Stormjarl and Clan Grimward as Haygreth refused to acknowledge Graytir’s choice of neutrality, pulling Clan Stormjarl into the war.
Lightning fast and well prepared attacks from Clan Grimward carve into Clan Stormjarl territory, taking a lot of territory from the Clan. The attacks in the dead of winter prove harsh but effective… for both sides. A fighting retreat for months finds the defenders of Clan Stormjarl giving ground and trying to finalize a defense in their final settlement to the south; Jotunvik. The call for help is answered; Clan Nightriver warriors and soldiers from numerous colonies and factions come to the aid of Clan Stormjarl, punching through the sea based blockades and landing troops in the settlement. An enormous battle takes place and builds up to the famed Battle of Blackwolf Creek, where hundreds of warriors are killed on both sides of the conflict. Clan Grimward’s momentum is stopped and Jotunvik is saved; it forces a stalemate for the rest of the year.
The battles lines are drawn to the north by land against Clan Grimward and to the south by sea against Clan Squallborn, Clan Stormjarl spends most of its time maintaining defenses. Raids and counter attacks are conducted periodically against territories controlled by Clan Grimward. Organized formations of ships are used to punch through or drive off Clan Squallborn sea raiders who only fully commit to attacks when they have the upper hand. Through no small amount of Coalition coordination, however, the Squallborn blockade was broken, allowing fresh troops and supplies to be deposited on their shores. Proud to a fault, Graytir Stormjarl offered small fortunes to any and all willing to assist them in retaking their stolen homelands, though none stepped forward. This continues for months, including raids to liberate Clan Stormjarl ulven that have been conquered and force to the labor in camps and villages. A bold move is put into motion by the people of Clan Stormjarl; the territory in between held territory and Clan Grimward’s setup defenses is destroyed. Villages are razed, farms are harvested and salted or destroyed, and anything valuable is taken and returned to Jotunvik. This “scorched earth” approach proves costly but effective, denying immense amounts of food and supplies to Clan Grimward. This swath of land, a wound upon Gaia’s sacred ground caused by this war, has been colloquially named “Haygreth’s Scar”, in mocking honor of the Grimward Clanleader. As the other side of the civil war escalates, Graytir orders his Jarls to take their longships and land warriors deep into Clan Grimward territory and to attack their settlements, hoping to cause confusion or force Clan Grimward to split their resources. This appears to help as more Clan Stormjarl captives are liberated, settlements are raided and looted for goods, and news eventually reaches the main Stormjarl settlement; Haygreth Grimward’s forces were defeated in a decisive battle called the Battle of Pyre Hills, forcing him to retreat and setup peace talks. The warriors of Stormjarl rejoice but the Clanleader and his Warleader brace for news of what will happen next.
This is the current year.