Of Kings and Dragons
Heartland of the Linnorm Kingdoms
Capital: Kalsgard (72,080)
Notable Settlements: Asleifar (4,530), Iceferry (890), Turvik (5,200), Ullerskad (7,830)
Notable Locations: Gorum’s Tankard, Ice Spire, Monolith Glacier, Path of Aganhei, Sunstone Cliffs, Zar Kragnaral
Ruler: Sweinn Blood-Eagle
Major Races: giants, gnomes, humans (Ulfen, Tians)
Languages: Giant, Gnome, Skald, Tien
Religion: Desna, Erastil, Gorum, Torag
Resources: ambergris, copper, furs, leather goods, mercenaries, rope, seafood, ships, ship supplies, slaves, weapons, whale oil
The largest of the Linnorm Kingdoms is the Thanelands, a realm ruled by the steady hand of Sveinn Blood-Eagle. Sveinn is the eldest and the most powerful of Linnorm Kings, and his subjects regard him as a stern but kindly father figure. He has labored hard during his reign to expand and maintain his realm’s inf luence, greatly increasing trade with the many lands to the south, as well as capitalizing on the trade route to the north over the Crown of the World that links his kingdom to Tian Xia. Sveinn has also “taken under his wing” certain locations that markedly contribute to the prosperity of the Thanelands, including the dwarven copper mines at Kopparberget. King Opir Eightfingers of Jol fiercely contested ownership of the wealth of Kopparberget, but the Thanelands were able to finally wrest control of the mine away via a challenge that pitted Sveinn’s champion against Opir’s, a defeat that rankles in Jol to this day.
Many in Kalsgard whisper that Sveinn plans to soon abdicate his throne and make his way across the ocean to the fantastic land of Arcadia, there to enjoy his remaining days in the unearthly paradise of Valenhall. The only thing he awaits is a successor, a hero brazen enough to challenge a linnorm in its lair and return with its head, but also wise enough to rule justly. Over the years, Sveinn has sired over a score of children, but despite his best efforts, none of them have shown the aptitude or the inclination to ascend his throne. The younger thanes and hopefuls at court form alliances and listen for rumors of where to find a linnorm in the hope of becoming the next Linnorm King, or at least one of his close advisors. A long-running joke in Kalsgard ponders which task is harder — slaying a linnorm, or convincing King Sveinn that you’re worthy of his throne?
Beyond Kalsgard, most Thanelands villages can be found either on the coast of the Arcadian Ocean or along the Rimef low River. The lands around the Rimef low River and to its south are some of the most fertile in the Linnorm Kingdoms. The winters are harsh, but a more temperate climate during summer grants an adequate growing season. Villages and steadings are fortified, either with a wooden palisade or more often a stone wall, and common folk make sure to be inside well before dark. The Rimef low River itself provides an abundance of fish, although extremely large and aggressive fish such as carnivorous fang-mouthed trout and giant gars can make fishing a hazardous occupation. Much of the surplus produced by these villages makes its way to Kalsgard to feed the city’s enormous population.
Only a few small isolated villages lie in the southern Thanelands near Grungir Forest. Here it’s not unusual for a large hirsute logger or trapper to take on the aspect and form of an animal (usually a bear, boar, or wolf) during the full moon. Neighbors see this as the favor of nature spirits rather than a curse. Those few who cannot control their emotions during their change lock themselves away behind portals barred with silver when the moon is waxing full.
In the perilous northern portion of the Thanelands, dangerous creatures abound, from large tribes of trolls and giants to the infamous but extremely rare linnorms. Wild predatory animals such as wolves and bears prey on herds of reindeer and aurochs. Less commonly seen but still present are primeval beasts, including cave bears, woolly rhinoceroses, and saber-tooth tigers. A few small herds of mammoths also manage to survive in the harsh, predator-rich environment. In the sparely wooded hills, nomadic tribes of taiga giants live in peace with nature, avoiding contact with civilization and leaving little sign of their passing, while in the deep north, warmongering tribes of frost giants and their hill giant slaves rule the tundra from their strongholds in the Stormspear Mountains. To the east, foul things from Irrisen sometimes manage to slip through northern Hagreach and into the Thanelands; ice trolls are the most common trespassers, but other weird or transfigured beings, such as witchfires, have sometimes been seen dancing across the tundra in the depths of night. The southern reaches of the Thanelands are the most civilized, and here the majority of its people can be found.