League of Nil-ith Horn

The Men and Orcs of the League of Nil-ith Horn

The League of Nil-ith Horn is a merchant association formed by an alliance between the cities of Grunevald, Korvald and Kirkisvald, the major cities surrounding the Bay of Nil-ith Horn. Trade in these lands is a dangerous and risky business and the only way for merchants to protect themselves is by traveling together. The impetus for the formation of the League of Nil-ith Horn (LNH) was to protect its merchants involved in trading highly profitable Gautrian hemus potions (made from the healing swamp lotus only found in Gautia), and in the vast slave markets of the Vangen Orcs. While each city has its own merchant association (merchants’ guild) the alliance forms a loose Diet, or parliament, to govern inter-city trade and common policies. The trade between Grunevald, the only human city in the League, and the Valensian Empire (the dominant human empire) provide sea routes to all Imperial cities and the only legitimate port for the orcs of the League to ship any goods through. In most respects the policy of the merchants is protectionist and aimed at producing a Grunevaldian monopoly in the slave markets they supply.

The League of Nil-ith Horn and surrounding lands

The League of Nil-ith Horn Diet meets only infrequently and is filled with divisive politics based on differences in regional priorities. It is more frequent that the regional assemblies, known as ‘Thirds’, meet. There is a Grunevald ‘Third’ based on the internal and sea trades, a Korvald ‘Third’ based on slaves bought out of Kednvald, and a Kirkisvald ‘Third’ based on the hemus trade from Gautria and minerals from the Great Northern mountains. The predominant city in all dealings is Grunevald, which holds a central position as the only human port on the Nil-ith-Horn. The orc cities often complain that the merchants from Grunevald are given advantages over their own merchants.

The Grunevaldians, a race of seafaring men now under the rule of the Valesian Empire, claim the title of Masters of the League of Nil-ith Horn. From their capital city of Grunevald they dominate the other towns and cities of the League. Recently these men have raided and taken Gautrian lands on Lake Kisilev. Led by their famous conquering hero Boyar Gert Theovald the Grunevaldians have established a small kingdom of their own from the keep town of Berwik.

Boyar Gert Theovald and his Grunevaldian heavy infantry

LNH Orc Valdgrafs in the Grunevaldian market at Theovald Hall.

Kirkisvald is the more powerful of the two orc city states within the League of Nil-ith Horn. Its position on the northern most point of Nil-ith Horn bay makes it a wealthy and important trading port in the region. The political and financial interests of this LNH city-state are closely tied to that of their human “masters”, the men of Grunevald. As such many of their orc soldiers (called smerdi or “stinking ones” by the men of LNH) serve in the armies of Grunevald under human commanders. Some of Kirkisvald’s more wealthy and prominent clans have become belligerent recently, often acting autonomously in the LNH frontier regions.  

Graf Gozek and his LHN smerdi

Korvald is an orc city-state situated on the southwestern coast of Nil-ith Horn Bay. Not as important or wealthy as its sister city Kirkisvald, the orc sailors of Korvald are known to plunder the sea ways of Valensia’s great empire, and its greedy merchants are said to smuggle slaves through their own illegal routes. Korvald has suffered damaging reprisals and repudiation as a result. Recently some ambitious orcs of Korvald have devoted their energies to bring the LNH “Temple of The One God” to the neighboring Vangen orcs who have long harried their western borders.

Competing guilds, companies, and families belonging to every city of the League of Nil-ith Horn look for economic advantage and opportunity in neighboring Gautria.  From the lands rich in minerals and peoples, to the hemus lotus native only to its “troll swamps”, the kingdoms of Gautria posses vast and varied wealth to be exploited by the LNH. The League now is focused on control of Ondskap Mere, the great hemus swamp in the contested borderlands of the Vangen and Gautrian Kingdoms.

Vangen Orcs

The Vangen Kingdom

Valden the Ruthless and his personal retinue

The Vangens are a tribe of Great Northern orcs; their recent rise has been due to the great military successes of Valden The Ruthless. The Vangen Kingdom was established by Valden, a brutal and oppressive urog Hertog. Since his conversion to the “Temple of The One God” by the influential High Priest of Korvald, Ursio Erembald, Valden’s armies have unified many of the Vangen tribes into one strong kingdom.

Valden’s horde, well-armed through trade with the LNH.

Under the direction of High Priest Ursio Erembald, orc priests of the League of Nil-ith Horn provide Valden and his urog lords with a literate body of administrators and tax collectors. With their services Valden is able to run an efficient central government from his stronghold of Kednvald.

The Vangen Kingom and surrounding lands

All of the priests are protected by Valden’s laws and his vassal urog Hertogs, and all are held in high regard. The warriors answer to Valden as does the head of the League of Nil-ith Horn “Temple of The One God”, Ursio Erembald, the Habrok of Kednvald. At his capital of Kednvald Valden has seen the many wonders of the League of Nil-ith Horn civilization and the great benefits their new religion has brought to his orc subjects.

Vangen and LNH commerce over the Kednvald Bridge.

Great Northern orcs are free-spirited and fiercely independent however, and countless rebellions have broken out in Valden’s kingdom over its 22 year history. Many Vangens and Kromgaards refuse to accept the “God of Man” and persist in worshipping their own Ancient gods. Their complete conversion is an important matter to Valden, for he has renounced goblins and shaman. Valden believes the only true god to be “The One God, Lord of Light”.

Vangen orcs gather at “The Temple of the One God” in Kednvald


The Vangen orcs were part of the Great Northern orc migration and carried with them the gods and majiks of ancient orc lore. Their religion is polytheistic and majik oriented, goblins and shaman spread their cults through great displays of power. These orcs have many different beliefs and oft times magic cults will collide and bloody strife will result. Such is the way of the Great Northern orcs.

A Vangen margrave crosses Kednvald Bridge

Valden “The Ruthless” seeks now to change their ways. Adopting the more civilized religion of the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs, he has welcomed the priests of “The One God” and forcibly converted his own subjects. The “God of Man” has been well received in Kednvald, and other urban centers, but the borderlands of Valden’s kingdom have resisted. Led by powerful goblins, shaman and urog warlords the rebels have fought for over two decades with Valden’s mighty armies.


Removable Roofs

The settings are beautiful. The miniatures are perfect for the buildings.

But what if we could play inside the buildings too?

What if the roofs came off?

What if all the roofs came off?


Orc Hall

Our Great Northern Orc Tribes needed some heavy fortifications (and feasting spots!) of their own.

Orc Temple

“What does a Great Northern Orc Temple look like?”

That question was asked at the crafting counter one fateful day. Those type of questions usually result in a hobbying frenzy and output of newly-actualized factions or architectural style. This question was no exception to the tool.


Orc City Dwellings

After construction on both the Great Northern Orc Temple and Orc Hall was complete, the workers and lesser chiefs got housing as well. 

Fantasy Jarl’s Hall

The most recent (and ambitious single building) project in our workshop is a jarl’s hall/inn with front deck, rear room overhanging the street, removable roof, and removable top story.

This building went from idea to foam pretty quickly.

Here you can see the roof removed, and the upstairs with wood-grain carved foam floor.

The upper story comes off, revealing a large common area with 2 smaller rooms.

The two downstairs rooms have doors that open into the main hall. What appears to be the front door in the ground floor is mostly a hallway, as you’ll see further down.

The details outside are balsa, placed into a layer of wood glue.

The foam is then carved on the inside to match the posts. Wood glue is then smoothed onto the carved side, and the details are scraped clean of excess glue with a toothpick.

The “wooden” overhang is foam, carved and coated in wood glue.

Even the roofs are carved foam.

We wanted a stone floor in this hall, I like the way the ground looked in the orc fortress. That needed to be carved and plastered.

You can see the front hall, and entry door set in place here.

So, time to paint 24 individual sections, front and back.

My husband began to glue the walls by himself, but soon needed another pair of hands.

I had to put the camera down to help, and by the next day, we were able to play with this:

The top roof comes off to reveal the upper story.

Then the upper story comes off.


Many patrons were found in the inn tonight!


Some patrons retired early,

While others drank the night away.


Castle Courtyard Houses

The workshop wheels are turning. Since repainting the castle & walls, we decided it was time to replace the 20+ year old card houses with something a little more fitting.

Choosing pink foam and balsa wood as our materials, my husband designed a set of four buildings that would fit up against the inside of a castle courtyard set-up. The roofs are removable.

He began with simple walls.

Then applied a layer of white glue, and the balsa for timbers.

(on the left is a trial piece, we kept the spacing between timbers much smaller in the final pieces).

The bottom piece of foam was carved, then layered in spackling.

Timbers on the inside walls were carved to match the outside, then a layer of glue to give the foam tooth, followed by a couple coats of black paint.

The front wall detail:


and the rough out:

I took over with paintbrush, and laid down a base coat of dark browns: one for the plaster walls, another for the “timber”.

A few dry-brushes and washes later, and the walls looked liked well-worn wattle and daub.


However, a slight miscalculation has resulted in the bases being too small, so we made other houses to fit the finished bases.

The rooftops are a very simple construction of carved balsa wood.

Some glue on each edge-to-side and a little tape to allow the house to dry in shape.

Then we glued posts over the corners, and secured the walls to the bases.

Completely painted, the half-timber houses were ready for use in the capital city of Mosveld.


Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #45- The Outlaws

Spring arrived early, and brought with it hope for Kvig Melgarson to continue his quest to unite Gautria. Two ships were secretly constructed over the winter for him. They were outfitted with a unit of loyal bonders each and waited at the village of Alnar to cross the lake and repel the League of Nil-ith Horn forces from North Gautria.
Wynston, Bleddyn and Kvig were en route to that village when one of the ulfhednar intercepted them with a warning. Two units of heavy cavalry under Sir Reinhard had taken over Alnar. They terrorized the population and brought hostages with them from the nearby village of Strek: Kvig’s village-wife and her father. It was the perfect trap for Jarl Kvig and his companions.
When the trio got to Alnar, master spy Wynston climbed onto the house where Reinhard and his hostages were. As she waited for Kvig and Bleddyn to get positioned, she peered inside. There were a few other women-folk about, as well as a second armored knight. Once Kvig was on the roof, Wynston dropped through the smoke hole and sprang behind Reinhard. She had her mithril long knife to his throat before anyone realized she was in the room.
Wynston was hesitant to slay Reinhard out-of-hand. He was the second of Kvig’s brother Jarl Hegg, and commanded the Gautrian cavalry in the lands of Timlin. However, Reinhard had challenged Kvig on several occasions, arrested him, kidnapped his village-wife, and was currently in possession of Bleddyn’s sword, the third-best warsword Wynston had ever laid her blacksmith’s hands on. While Wynston wavered, Kvig was spotted on the roof and left the smoke hole.
Reinhard sensed the delay and tried to elude Wynston’s grasp. Both the armored knight and the well-dressed woman in the corner drew swords. Wynston and Reinhard struggled. Bleddyn stormed through the front door and joined the melee. The combat turned deadly and Bleddyn and Wynston slew Reinhard.

Kvig was faced with one of Reinhard’s knights, and Kvig’s own man Arnsten. Arnsten was true to Kvig and threatened the knight. Others were drawn to the commotion in the house. When a bloodied Wynston came out with the keen Thuringian warsword, the men quieted. She delivered the sword to Kvig. Kvig raised it aloft and offered terms to the leaderless knights. Any who wished could swear oaths to him, the rest could ride back to Hegg and Timlin Town. A handful of men swore oaths and joined the bonder units re-forming in the center of the village. The other knights took the riderless horses with them and rode away. Kvig gifted the sword back to Bleddyn. The ulfhednar arrived and added their numbers to Kvig’s retinue.
Kvig and his followers set sail over Lake Sund, and landed near ruins that had been the village of Turlin. Their scouts were reading the signs of battle when they were met by Herigar Kolson and the cavalry from Helvik. Herigar was the Huscarl of Helvik, respected by Kvig and Kvig’s father before him. Herigar gave Kvig foul news that his other brother Olaf, the jarl of Helvik, had sent no troops to fight the League of Nil-ith Horn forces at the Battle of Turlin. King Gorm himself had been slain defending the lands here, while Olaf was too weak to fight. Instead, Olaf took much drink in his hall, and only the council of his woman Ragna.

Kvig vowed to be the one who would push the League of Nil-ith Horn from the lands of Gautria. Herigar told him of an orc camp nearby, and they marched together on it. The orcs stood little chance against the enraged Kvig Melgarson and his fighters.

The orcs were slaughtered and Kvig made ready to return to his ancestral home of Helvik. What kind of welcome could the warlord Kvig expect from his brother, rightful jarl of Helvik?

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #46- Dark Days in Helvik>>

<<Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #44- Winter Wolves

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #42- King of the Bonders


After the bonders had their voices heard in declaration for Kvig as king, many a man boasted of Kvig’s glorious battle deeds. Eventually, Kvig retired to the large tent with Halvdan, Roth, and a few of the other important bondi when word was brought of betrayal: a small group of the bonders from King Magnus’ clan were looking to make away in the night to warn the King of Kvig’s “treason”.

Wynston and Bleddyn quickly arrived behind the tent of the treacherous bonders to find several packing their belongings. Halvdan and Kvig approached from the front and accused Steinvar of Aremark. He spoke for the bonders from the King’s clan and admitted their plans, but no wrongdoing. He argued they were within their rights to leave out of duty to the true king. While he confronted Kvig, two of his men tried to slip out of the tent and into the stormy night. One evaded Wynston but Bleddyn captured, interrogated and slew the other.

With 10 traitorous bonders in his custody, Kvig and the bonders from Kvig’s fief of Strek returned to that village.


There was, as always, a warm welcome for Kvig from the adoring peasants of Strek. His wife-in-Strek was especially happy for him to see his young daughter.


As the village feasted, orc deserters from the Untak division of Valden’s army (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #40) sprung an attack.


Kvig and his companions handily defended Strek from the unorganized orcs, and continued the celebrations.

The bonders were eager to fight for Kvig, but next year, after the planting. Kvig seemed content to winter with them, however Wynston argued they needed to garner support now, while their victory at Skarken River was on everyone’s minds.


Wynston knew the jarls north over the lake would likely not give their loyalties to Kvig, but Kvig could still gain political prestige and military advantage if he had the support of Timlin’s many Kildarian knights who had fought under his banner at Skarken River. Wynston went to speak with the powerful Kildarian barons of Timlin, reminding them how Kvig kept the orcs out of their lands, and convincing the barons to come to Kvig in his hall at Strek.

First came Baron Vulmar, lord of Rathus and Herstal, leader of 50 Kildarian knights; he was bought with silver and the promise of the Barony of Timlin when the war was won.

The next baron Kvig courted was Austerchild Conley.


Austerchild felt Kvig’s choice of Vulmar for Baron of Timlin was foolish, but he would support Kvig if Kvig would marry Austerchild’s sister, Etterna.


Kvig declinced the proposition, but countered that he would find Etterna a Kildarian husband of proper station, say Vulmar, the future Baron of Timlin? Austerchild agreed and threw in with Kvig.

Unfortunately for Kvig, his eldest brother Hegg, the current jarl of Timlin, was not consulted on whether he would give up Timlin once all of Gautria was united under King Kvig’s banner! In fact, Hegg thought it was folly to challenge King Magnus. Once Hegg’s spies told him of the meetings going on at Strek, he began to fear for himself. On Hegg’s orders, Reinhard rode on Strek with 30 knights and escorted Kvig back to Timlin.


There Jarl Hegg berated Kvig for his ambitions and promised to deliver him up to King Magnus as a wedding present. Hegg demanded Kvig surrender his keen Thuringian warsword.


After handing over his heirloom sword, Kvig was unceremoniously dumped in the dungeon. That night, Wynston and Bleddyn came on 3 fast horses to the keep at Timlin.


Wynston infiltrated Hegg’s chambers undetected.


However, Bleddyn was discovered in the courtyard. Bleddyn surrendered, unwilling to shed the blood of those men who had fought Valden’s orc forces with him.

Wynston slipped away into the dark, leaving her jarl Kvig and his champion Bleddyn together in the dungeons of Timlin’s keep.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #43- Fit for a King>>

<<Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #41- The Crows of Skarken