The Crescent Islanders are a wide collection of islands located in the far north that follow the curve of the Northam Sea. These barren and inhospitable islands are home to the hardiest people in the world. Fierce raiders and hunters they travel the Northam Sea on their great longships and skin boats, trading, hunting and raiding. The coastal peoples dread the sight of square sails on the horizon, not knowing till the boats run aground whether they’re there to trade or to raid.
A hardy people the Crescent Islanders are a cross between the origianal residence of the island, the Skae and the Northern Wildmen that live on either side of the Northam Sea. Decades ago the Wild Raiders of the north moved east across the winters pack Ice in search of game when they came across a short dark group of people who were hunting the small open patches of water for seals and whales from small skin boats. Low on food and freezing in the windswept, featureless, ice choked seas they accepted the miserable shelter given to them by the Ice Hunters and spent the winter trapped on one of the smaller islands.
When summer arrived the pack ice began to break up, and the Lost Raiders realised that here was a place where no foe could reach them. So taking some of the small skin boats the Ice Hunters called Kayaks, the traveled back to the west where they captured a few longships and fishing boats in a small fishing village. These they filled with captives, animals, food and as much timber they could cram on board before they returned to their island stronghold. Spending the warm summer building a snug and strong village on the island which they called Frostburg, they made frequent trips to the mainland trading rare whale oil and scrimshawed carvings and seal meat to the coastal villages in return for the supplies they still needed.
The people of Frostburg made alliances with the Ice Hunters and soon the two people began to inter-marry. A few generations later the people of Frostburg began to overfill the simple town so some raiders moved south and east to the next large Island where they found a sheltered cove and built a new town from local rock and imported timber. This larger town they called Torvik after the single mountain, or Tor, that sheltered them from the winters chill bite.
Over Generations they took slaves and came across lost hunters and explorers from the confederacy. These people’s culture, mixed with their own and the culture of the Ice people and a new culture began to form, one that adopted parts from each others. There are no pure Ice Hunters left in the Crescent Islands, either interbreeding with the wildmen or confederates to completely eradicate their lines from the earth. There are still pure Ice Hunters further to the north, but they fear these new people and flee from them when they spot them.
Gradually, the tribesmen spread to each of the crescent Islands, each clan taking an island, but all of them sharing the largest and the city of Torvik. There are 8 main clans of the Islands, The Clan of the Wolf, the Elk, the Bear, the Snow Eagle, The Orca, the Stag, The White Fox and the Sea Clan. While Torvik is a Free city where all of the clans may live and trade the island it sits upon is the home of the Clan of the Stag, which is the largest and most powerful of the clans, followed by the Clan of the Wolf, and the Clan of the Bear. While every clan raids and trades on the mainland and is similar to each other there are subtle differences between each one.
Stories of old spoke of the raid of 100 ships that sailed the length of the long island, sacking each town before turning west to raid the coastal towns and fishing villages of the fae before turning beating up the great river and laying seige to the imperial city of Mendahen. All winter they held the river before the city leaders paid a great bounty to the raiders and they went home in the spring rich in booty and captives.
There are some who say that those were good days, days that should come again soon.
The Clan of the Wolf
The Clan of the Wolf is secretly matriachial. It is run by a council of elders that are advised by their wives. The wives, themselves, form the womens circle. While the men technically have the power, it is a rare occurance that one will act contrary to the wishes of the women.
There are few mages among the Clan of the Wolf, instead young men opt to become warriors. Those with the potential that follow through on the path of magic or psychic become Shaman, rare and respected, or feared, these wanderers travels from encampment and town wherever they will. The Clan of the Wolf, like most of the crescent islanders see no difference between magic users and those with mind powers. Instead the see only someone the gods have blessed…. or cursed.
A warrior clan these vicious fighters are adept at most weapons found in their sphere of influence. Using Swords and axes, wearing armour of every type and employing huntsmen armed with bows or spears they raid in large packs, killing and taking what they want, seeing the spoils of war as justly the possesions of the victor. Few Shaman walk with the packs of the Wolf, but those that do are adept at fighting as any warrior, and prefer the magics and psychics of war and battle to those that heal, preserve and nurture. As a result most magic users of The Wolf prefer the elements of fire and air over earth and water, and should a mage reach the level of power to go on to the pure elements almost invariably chose void over essence. The majority of the Wolf Clan are human with a few orcs and kaern among their number.
The Clan of the Elk
The Clan of the Elk is a large tribe with little power among the other Crescent Islanders. They take their name from the annual migration of elk and reindeer and the odd moose that crosses their island. Mainly hunters they trade meat and skins with the confederates and other Crescent Islanders. They hunt twice a year, taking vast numbers of animals down, and hauling all the carcass back to their island to be butchered, skinned and preserved. The meat is salted and in the summer loaded aboard boats for trade.
The Clan of the Elk is lead by the Master of the Hunt and his shaman who listens to the spirits and advises them when to hunt and when to trade. There are few magic users here, instead most of their Shaman are psychics.
Tending more to the hunt rather than to war and raids, most Clan of the Elk warriors tend towards the use of the bow and dagger or shortsword over the larger more warlike weapons. Indeed they see no difference between war and the hunt, seeing only a diffence in quarry. When they wear armour, they prefer to wear natural and quiet armour over the more bulky metal or chain mail. Leather, heavy cloth and in rare occsions metal plate in small quantities are their choice. The only Fae that hunt with this clan area small family of Kaern numbering less than 10.
Magic users are extremely rare in this clan, instead Shaman are more likely to be psychic, outnumbering their magic user cousins greatly. Every tenth shaman may be aware and these Shaman are outcast from the Clan. Not despised they are seen as rare and powerful people, blessed by the spirits and only approached in times of need. Every time their services are used they are paid for with gifts of food and fur, as well as rare treasures if the favour needed is great. Indeed it is seen as bad luck to ask for or receive aid from a magic user and not repay them with a gift. The natural world will take offense to the ungrateful recipient and unfortunate happenings begin to befall them until they make penance and deliver a gift of thanks.
The Clan of the Bear
The clan of the Bear also follows a warrior tradition, though they prize strength and bravery over skill with weapons. These warriors wear bearskins for armour, disdaining most metal and tend to fight hand to hand rather than with ranged weapons.
The Clan of the Bear warriors are lead by a cheiftan and warleader, both the strongest of the clan. There is a select group of elite warriors who wear the skin of the Great White Bears of the north, they fight clad only in these skins, and will not use weapons, instead have the claws of the bear attached to the back of the hand or in rare instances a club, that they use in combat. These berserks are looked upon with awe and reverence and receive the finest food and drink at feasts. Like the Clan of the Wolf there are few shaman amoung them.
A rough and hardy clan they rule by strength of arms rather than wisdom. A Clan of the Bear character would stick to combat skills, choosing toughness over armour, strength over skill, they prefer large mass weapons such as maces or hammers to the finiky effeminate shortswords and rapiers. A Clan of the Bear Character would never NEVER use a bow in combat, seeing it as dishonourable and a weapon for children. The elite warriors of the Great White Bear shun most weapons instead prefering to grapple with or bludgeon into submission a foe with their bare hands. They have a unique weapon that they use, being the fighting claws of the bear. Made from the polar bears own claws they are a weapon proficiency on their own. Occasionally they weild huge clubs studded with the teeth and claws of fallen bears. Each Great White Bear warrior wears a skin from a beast he slew himself in a lone hunt. This is the rite of passage of all Bear Clan warriors, though only the bravest, strongest or most foolhardy young warriors head north after the polar bear, most choosing to seek the smaller and less feirce brown and black bears of the mainland. Mostly human there are a few orcs and kaern among the families of this clan.
The Clan of the Snow Eagle
The Clan of the Snow Eagle are viewed with awe and reverence. Unlike the Wolf or Bear Clan this small clan is comprised mainly of Shaman. Magic users and psychics this clan rarely raids and does not hunt or fish beyond the whims of the individuals. Instead they subsist from the offerings and trade of the other clans who come throughout the year seeking wisdom and guidance. Said to be wise enough to listen to the wind for news and see portents in the ocean currents they are the focus of most tribes mystical legends and histories. At every great event in the history of the Crescent Islands, a powerful member of the Snow Eagle Clan has been present.
There appears to be no central organisation with this tribe, each member drifting where he or she is most needed by the spirits. This is where most fledgling shaman of the other Clans eventualy travel to learn what the Clan of the Snow Eagle deims to teach them.
Mages and psychics on the whole, there are a few alchemists as well. Not a particularily violent Clan they tend more to mediation and wisdom, seeking to acheive by word or manipulation their ends. There are few warriors from this clan, though they are caable of defending themselves.
Mostly human there are few to no examples of the fae among this clan except for elves. Other elves would be hard pressed to see themselves in Snow Eagle Elves. Cold Eyes and cold hearts these elves have no concept of the faerie or of the code, despite living by it amoung themselves. They look down upon other elves as weak and inferior, protecting them only as an elder sibling would a weak and pathetic helpless child. The Snow Eagle elves revel in their primitiveness, bringing an unconcious elegance to the leathers and furs they wear. They will however take other fine clothes, but prefer leather armour over metal and use bows and daggers rather than swords.
The Clan of the White Fox
The Clan of the White Fox is a small one, comprised of craftsmen, hunters and warriors. These adventurous Islanders take the meat and skins of the elk clan and make fine trade goods from them. They hunt the few animals that drift close to their island in the seasonal migrations and trade with the two clans to the north. Prizing wit and cunning over brute strength they often mock the Clan of the Bear and a great many of their tales are about how they have outwitted the stupid bear clan warriors. One of their favourite stories is of the bear clan warrior, who was locked in a building on a raid and battered at the door until he broke it down. When he related this tale of prowess and strength to the rest of the party a cunning Fox Clan Raider raised an eyebrow at the same time as he raised the simple latch that held the Bear Warrior captive.
Smaller in numbers as well as in stature the Snow Fox Clan is more like the confederates than any of the other clans. The reason for this is the constant trading expeditions this clan makes to the other islands and to the mainland. Hunters and traders this clan prefers quickness of mind over quickness of arms. Most Fox clan characters will dislike Bear clan characters on sight, only fighting alongside of them at need or on raids, then they will rook and take advantage of them as best they can. There are a large number of skilled craftsmen amoung their numbers, scrimshanders, leather workers and a number of other artisans that take the bounty of the region and turn it into fine trade good for the summer expeditions to the south. They prefer smaller weapons than the large bulky ones prefered by the Bear Clan, and will have no problems with filling an advancing foe with arrows before chopping him down with a sword or spear.
The Clan of The Orca
The Clan of The Orca is one of the smallest. They hunt in small skin Kayaks, traveling over the ice in packs to hunt seals and whales, the bravest of the clan going after the fearsome Orca whale. They rarely leave their island except to hunt and only rarely trade to the south, instead waiting for the Fox Clan traders to arrive with goods in the summer months. There is a council of elders, but there is little need for leadership as they follow a monotonous annual routine of hunting and resting.
A small clan in numbers there are a little more than 60 on their desolate island. Hunters of the sea they use their harpoons and knives in combat and rarely wear more than leather armour. Vicious in combat they are similar to the Bear clan relying on toughness over armour and fearocity over skill, they have some traits that are unique to their clan. In combat they tend to strike from ambush, silent and deadly they wait for their chance, but when they strike they do so with intense fury, ripping and slashing at their foe in a frenzy until they win or die. They truely are like the killer whales thay take their name from. Warriors from this clan tend to skills like fury, berserk, and assassinate and usually limit themselves to their hunting tools as weapons, the spear, harpoon, bow and knife are favoured with the warriors of this clan. Fae are non existent in this clan.
The Sea Clan
The Sea Clan is the smallest and the most like the origional Ice hunters. They hunt the seas for food and skins. They live in sealskin tents, and build small shelters of stone and skins. The poorest of the Clans, they rarely leave their island and almost never go to the mainland, except on rare wide flung hunting trips. This Clan is led by a hunter and a shaman both of whome discuss quietly before any major descision is made. Like the Orca Clan they follow a time honoured traditional routine of hunt and rest, hunt and rest, but unlike them they follow a more traditional ice hunter life. They almost never participate in raids on the mainland.
The smallest of the main clans, they number a mere 40 members who’s entire life revolves around the sea. They receive their food from the sea and their dead are returned to it’s depths. Unlike the other Clans they follow the Ice Hunter ways venerating the sea as a living thing and the great spirit that lives beneath the waves is placated with offerings before each trip from the island. Magic users of the Clan always learn the mysteries of water, though a few secretly learn the powers of the earth. Other shaman consult the sea spirit before major descisions, often receiving an aspect of her into their bodies at meetings and gatherings. They never wear metal armour, and most of their weapons come from the rock instead of forged from metal. Metal is not unknown though, but it is prized and hidden away in the clan tents. There are no Fae with this clan.
The Clan of the Stag
The Clan of the Stag is the largest of the Crescent Island Clans, living on the largest and most southerly of the islands. This island is one of the few that still has any stands of timber, but the Stag Clan treat these small woods as sacred and refuse to cut the trees down. All the timber they build with is brought to Torvik from the mainland. Unlike all of the other islands, The Island of the Stag has two major towns, Torvik a city with a constant population of 200 people that ballons up to around 500 in the summer trading months, and Freeburg on the northern shore which is the stronghold of the Stag Clan. The Stag Clan trades with all the Clans of the Islands, and with the Mainland. They also tend to lead the many raids of the mainland villages throught the summer. Each major raiding party that heads south tends to start at Torvik. The Raid of 100 ships began here. The Stag clan is filled with warriors and hunters, craftsmen and traders, each person takin up his parents trade by custom, unless they prove better suited to another one.
Interestingly this is the only clan that diferentiates between the users of magic and those who practice the arts of the mind. While both are considered shaman, the mages are called shapers and the psychics are called spirit talkers. There is even a lone sage living in Torvik that came north a little over a decade ago to raise a tower and house in the center of town there to practice magic and learn in relative solitude. Lead by a council of Elders they meet in Freeburg once a month to discuss the doings of the Clan and of the other Clans. They take it upon themselves to be the leaders of all the Crescent Islands, hence the throwing open of Torvik to any and all who wish to live there.
The Largest and most cosmopolitan of the clans, characters from here may easily follow any path. Also characters from the Stag Clan are more likely to be literate than others of the Islands. They have more of an understanding of the outside world and are better equiped to deal with it. Hoever there are a few small items or idiosyncracities they’re likely to follow. Magic users are always called “shapers”. psychics are likewise called “spirit talkers”. There are examples of most races of fae in their number and if there was the unheard of chance of a Crescent Islander halfling or faun it’s likely they would live in Torvik or be from the Stag Clan. As warriors they follow a diverse practice, wearing armour and using a wide variety of weapons. It’s likely that even the more civilised weapons such as crossbows may have found a home here.
There are a few smaller clans, almost merely families that exist here in the Crescent Islands. They are the Lynx clan, the Snow Lion Clan, the Martin Clan, The Seal Clan and the Clan of the Shark. The last is greatly disliked and wanders the islands hiding from the larger clans and stealing what they need to survive. It’s rumoured that they are canibals eating the weak or loners they can catch.
There are few fae in the Crescent Islands. There are some orcs among the Bear and Wolf Clans, as are a few white kaern.
The Snow Eagle Clan have a few elves among them, each descended from captives taken in raids and traded to them. These elves would be considered primitive by the citizens of Tor’jadin, with no idea of the code beyond a few memories imparted to them by their parents in their youth. Despite their ignorance of the Code there is an instinctive tendency to follow it. They do know of the Elves to the south, but on the whole consider them weak and comfort driven pampered fools.
There is a small family of dwarves living in Torvik. Sven Stronginthearm brought his family north in search of diamonds he was certain would be found there. Instead he found a people in need of good blacksmiths and stone masons and settled his family in the city and began a thriving business. Instead of taxes the family tithes one tenth of the year working to build stone walls around the city, and rebuild the many public buildings that exist within the walls. However old Sven Slips away with one of his sons each summer to prospect for the diamonds he knows are there, somewhere. Mainly male, this family is typical of any dwarven family anywhere. They have a tendency to smithwork and masonry and make excellent weapons and armour for sale to the many warriors greedy for the excelent quality of their items. Every Stronginthearm will have some knowledge of masonry regardless of their proffession or path in life as part of the price for residency is a tithe of one tenth day’s work on the defenses walls and public buildings of the city. Apart from this one lifeskill required by the family characters may learn any skill they wish.
There are no known fauns or halflings among the Clans. Halflings prefering the warmer climes to the south, and fauns, despite their probable delight at the often raucous parties and the vice ridden longest night celebration each year, have yet to make an appearance.
The Fae of the Islands are similar in most ways to the Clans to which they belong. They tend to follow the precepts and traditions of the Clan over any others. However, there are a few things that must be said. Orcs tend to be found among the Wolf and Bear Clans. Elves as have been noted earlier are almost exclusively of the Snow Eagle Clan. Kaern are found in the southern islands amoung the Wolf, Bear, Stag and Elk clans and are almost all white or light gray in colouration taking after white tigers or lions and the smaller furrier lynx of the north. The only dwarves are of the Stronginthearm family or are rare travellers and wanderers that have drifted north singely or in small groups. There are no fauns or halflings here in the Islands.
The city of Torvik is small and crude by the standards of the Empire or even some of the Confederacy. Located at the head of a long fjord and sheltered by two outcroppings of the great Tor rising from the center of the island, this city is hard to assail by most means. Ships sailing in war towards the city can be ambushed from the steep cliff walls above, and should they reach the city they would have to beach themselves and cross a wide area filled with ships and shipyards before reaching the gates of the city. Each year that passes these city walls and gate become even more imposing thanks to the efforts of the Stronginthearm family of dwarven craftsmen and the many masons that reside here. Small when compared with other cities Torvik is wide and sprawling, with large open areas in the center of groupings of wooden and stone longhouses and sections of stone and wooden houses similar in style to those of the imperial city of mendahven. In the common at the center of the city a five story tower crafted by magic and without seam or mortar stands. This is the abode of the sage of Torvik, one Lord Pareve. A mage of great power and considerable age. Above the city on the Tor is a wide flat plateau that is the meeting of the Althing every few days. Any Karl or free citizen may attend this meeting and vote on it’s proceedings, though mostly it’s attended by the cities elders and wealthy.
Characters from Torvik may be of any clan and may follow any path, however they are likely to be human over fae and if fae they will be either elf, orc or kaern. The elves here are likely to be from the Snow Eagle Clan or descendants of slaves taken on raids and follow the template previously set out.
Tips For Playing a Crescent Islander
All of the Clans are similar but there are a few differences that should be given some consideration when creating your character. The Crescent Islanders are a tough, hardy people, used to the harsh life of the Northam Sea. Only a Crescent Islander from the city of Torvik would be used to the luxuries of life beyond that which is taken back to their halls and homes in raids.