The Reign Of Winter
The days of easy pillage from the south are mostly over, as Ulfen raiders can no longer pass through the Arch of Aroden into the Inner Sea unaccosted. At the same time, the Ulfen are increasingly hired as sailors, marines and bodyguards throughout Avistan, prehaps because they combine great seamanship, ruthlessness, and exotic looks.
Ulfen men and women set great store by personnal appearance, valuing their flowing locks, tight braids, and well-kept furs of ermine, mink and fox. They wear necklaces of amber, carved narwhal horn, and mammoth ivory, as well as finely worked bronze and silver in a braided style. They consider themselves the handsomest men and women in all Avistan, and the damnable thing about it, to other peoples, is that they are often right.
Ulfen hail from the Land Of The Linnorm Kings and are typically sailors and traders; those from the Irrisen lands ruled by Baba Yaga are more often riders than sailors, although they share cultural ties. The Ulfen traditionally keep thralls-slaves whose period of service ends in a set amount of time. Children born to thralls are always born free, and thralls can file a complaint against a harsh or unfair master (which shames the master, certainly, but also runs the risk of the masters fury). Thralls have either been captured in battle or condemned to service by a thingmar, a court of justice of the Ulfen consisting of the victims peers, overseen by an elder jarl or chief. Even chiefs or jarls can be condemned as thralls if they have foresworn an oath, killed a child, or betrayed their fellow warriors.
Ulfen men are fond of competitions both athletic and alcoholic. Their athletic contests often occur at the approach of winter or the start of spring and include climbing ice walls, hurling timbers, axe throwing, sled pulls and races on foot and on snowshoes. Swimming is not a skill that Ulfens value although sailing and rowing are. The drinking competitions happen during great feasts, when Ulfen men boast of their ability to down kegs or even barrels of mead, ale, and cider. Outsiders tend to take away from this a view that Ulfen are boors and louts, which is not entirely true. Their boorish loutiness tends to be confined to special occasions such as feasts- Ulfen men who do try this approach at other times find that Ulfen women mock them mercilessly. Few care to repeat the experience.
In general dueling and feuding are popular pastimes among Ulfen, with great emphasis on personal honour and the value of a sworn oath. Insults are usually answered with axe and shield in what is know as a holmgang, and while deuling is considered a purely a temporary argument, fought to first blood and forgotten as soon as it is over, feuding is a more serious thing. In a feud among the Ulfen, entire families and clans can go to war over a conflict as simple as the proper way to mend nets or the rights to a particularsalmon spawning ground. Sheep and cattle raiding are also popular pastimes.
Finally no discussion of the Ulfen would be complete without mention of the high incidence of lycanthopy among them. The curse of lycanthropy is not considered an especially dishonable state among the Ulfen, but rather a mark of favor from nature spirits. during the full moon, those who suffer from it and cannot control their violent urges are required to stay in a longouse or spirit house, which is barred with silver and stocked with enough food to satiate even the largest appetite.
Appearance:The Ulfen have a reputation abroad for being strong, dumb, and quiet, as well as having strange acceents and smelly furs. Most Ulfen are quite tall, with men starting at 6 feet and the women just a few inches shorter. their skin is pale and their hair long and braided; women’s braids tend to be more elaborate. Men usually wear beards.
Languages: Known- Common, Skald. High Intelligence- Humans with high Intelligence scores can choose any languages they want (except secret languages, such as Druidic).
Traits:Ulfen humans usually have one the following racial abilities but are by no means restricted to this.
Heart of the Sea: Humans born near the sea are always drawn to it. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Profession (sailor) and Swim checks, and these are always class skills for them. They can hold their breath twice as long as normal, and spellcasters gain a +4 racial bonus on concentration checks when attempting to cast spells underwater. This racial trait replaces skilled.
Heart of the Snows: Humans born in chilly climes treat cold climates as one category less severe. They gain a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saving throws against the effects of cold climates, on any check or saving throw to avoid slipping and falling, and to CMD against trip combat maneuvers. This bonus applies on Acrobatics and Climb checks made in slippery conditions. This racial trait replaces skilled.