Of Kings and Dragons
Isles of Future Opportunity and Ancient Danger
Capital: Halgrim (26,340)
Notable Settlements: Averaka (1,780), Frembrudd (1,230)
Ruler: White Estrid
Major Races: dwarves, giants, half-orcs, humans (Ulfen)
Languages: Dwarf, Giant, Orc, Skald
Religion: Desna, Gorum, Torag, giant deities
Resources: ambergris, iron, mercenaries, rope, ships, slaves, weapons, whale oil
The Ironbound Archipelago consists of 13 major islands and dozens of smaller ones, and stretches all the way south to the infamous Mordant Spire. Over the years, the Linnorm Kingdoms have ruled a variable number of these islands, but they’ve never ruled them all. Currently, this kingdom consists of the islands of Antler Rock, Battlewall, Dragon’s Rib, and Flintyreach, along with the many smaller uninhabited rocks that dot the waters surrounding these isles. These islands are watched over by White Estrid, the only Linnorm King to date who claimed her defeated linnorm as a living ally rather than a slaughtered trophy. Under her rule, the so-called Ironbound Islands have become more fully integrated with the southern lands than any other Linnorm Kingdom.
Whereas Broken Bay represents the Linnorm Kingdom’s history of violence attempting to reassert itself, the Ironbound Islands look to a future where the Linnorm Kingdoms coexist in, perhaps, a more peaceful way with other nations of the Inner Sea region. White Estrid is an unconventional leader in many ways, and she is eager to take her kingdom in new directions while at the same time honoring the traditions of her ancestors—a feat of balance that, to date, she’s managed admirably. While on the surface Halgrim’s propensity for war and raiding may seem no different than that of the raiders of Broken Bay or the Thanelands, raiders of the Ironbound Islands target only nations and sites that “deserve” raiding—as far as White Estrid judges. They ignore peaceful ports and nations, and of late have specifically marked the coastal cities of Nidal as targets for their wrath.
While many raiders in other Linnorm Kingdoms see this as a weakness, the Ulfen of the Ironbound Islands are anything but feeble. In their constantly improving ship designs, their acceptance of an unusual king and her linnorm pet, and their welcoming of half-orcs and other “misfits,” the Ironbound Ulfen continue to innovate rather than follow. Halgrim is more cosmopolitan even than Kalsgard, a city three times its size. The islands are much closer to the great cities and new ideas of the South, and are primed by White Estrid to see those new ideas as useful tools and ways to get ahead, rather than as contaminants to avoid. While Halgrim’s shipyards are smaller than either Kalsgard’s or Bildt’s, they focus on newer ship designs, including those that utilize triangular sails rather than the traditional square sails of Ulfen longboats. They also produce new deep-draft raiders that can take more sail without capsizing, at the cost of needing deeper harbors to put in at (an abundant resource in the steep-shored Ironbound Isles).
Ulfen are not the only inhabitants of the Ironbound Isles—here, more so than in any other Linnorm Kingdom, other races are accepted and encouraged to take part in the regional lifestyle. Dwarves and half-orcs are by far the most common, but it’s not unusual to see other humanoids in Ironbound Isles settlements. That half-orcs are tolerated to an extent unseen elsewhere in Avistan speaks perhaps to the isle’s tolerance more than anything else, and a slow and steady in flux has resulted—the docks of Halgrim are awash with half-orcs eager to serve as longshoremen, and Flintyreach’s interior is gradually being turned to productive uses by half-orcs who want to own and work land, an opportunity not generally available to them elsewhere. White Estrid encourages this immigration of dwarves, half-orcs, and others from across the Ulfen lands and beyond, gleaning inspiration from their strange customs and ideas and getting a larger labor force out of the bargain.
White Estrid is, of course, a nontraditional king, less so for being a woman (though she is the first female Linnorm King in the lands’ history) than for defeating a linnorm without slaying it. She is also the first Ulfen king since the Winter War to openly encourage the use of magic among her advisors and allies—she doesn’t see magic as a crutch used by those who lack the physical strength to be raiders. Further, rather than relying on her reputation as an iconoclastic monarch, White Estrid has occasionally played against her reputed strengths, leading a traditionally Ulfen and highly successful raid on Nisroch, the capital of shadowy Nidal. Though some outsiders question her unique path to becoming a Linnorm King, many of her subjects consider her to be the ideal king, and see her as a candidate for High King if the need for Ulfen unity arises and Sveinn Blood-Eagle has already departed.
The waters that surround the Ironbound Isles are rife with sea monsters, from dire sharks and giant cephalopods to fjord linnorms and sea serpents. Some Ulfen ships, eschewing traditional fishing, hunt these great beasts for sport, exotic meat, and bounties set by White Estrid, who hopes to make these waters safer for travel and thus encourage trade between the isles and the southern nations. Battlewall has enough of a population that dangerous creatures are confined to the central mountains, which host various monstrous humanoids and magical beasts. Flintyreach is more sparsely populated and consequently has more wild areas for monsters to roam. Dire wolf packs inhabit the interior, and a dwindling population of giants makes raids from the heights. The influx of dwarves and half-orcs, however, has pushed back these monsters into a smaller and smaller area.