Gautrians

The Gautrians are a fierce race of Northmen who have inhabited the Gautrian Lakes for generations. They are said to have wrested the fertile plains and bountiful lakes from hordes of savage Great Northern Orcs.

The Lands of Gautria, split into two Kingdoms by the waterway connecting Lake Tagova and Lake Sund.

The Gautrian peoples are made up of several clans, the Volsung, the Sverkers, the Vastars and the Skanes. All four clans are represented throughout the kingdoms. The Vastar and Skane clans are by far the largest and most predominant; the Volsung are the most wealthy, and the Sverkers are rising quickly to new power.

The Volsungs King Magnus the Defender and his wife Queen Inga the Warlord rule over South Gautria from their fortress of Loland Keep, built of stone by Magnus’ father King Ulfrik Volsung. South Gautria is a land rich in valuable swamp lotus (hemus flowers or grey lotus)- the key ingredient for the making of healing potions. Orcs and men have fought over access to these lotus swamps since days unrecorded.

King Magnus and Queen Inga array for battle

North Gautria is ruled by King Kvig Melgarson The Usurper, a Sverker warlord, and his Queen, the bewitching Svala. King Kvig occupies the capital city of Mosveld, while he gifted his cousins valuable holdings such as  key North Gautrian coastal towns, and Kvig’s ancestral home fort of Helvik. King Kvig’s lands are not so rich as his southern allies, but Kildarian deep mining at Hellgate has recently brought a wealth of silver and other valuable minerals. North Gautria also has its own small swamps where the hemus lotus grows, ensuring competition in the hemus markets of Gautria.

Mosveld, with the Queen’s Tower at the Harbor Wall and the King’s Gatehouse at the main city Gate

The Gautrian Clans

The Volsung Clan: “The Royal Clan, Horse Clan, Clan of Kings”. The Royal Clan were the first of the clans to establish a Gautrian Kingdom between the lakes. Ruled by King Magnus the Defender and his wife Queen Inga the Warlord, the Volsung consider themselves the champions of Gautria as they are always at the fore in bloody battle against the orcs. In all of Gautria their heavy cavalry is second only to the vaunted Kildarian knights. Known as elitists and considered a disconnected ruling clan by many of their subjects in the south, the Volsung account for the majority of South Gautria’s jarls.

The heavy infantry of King Magnus rushes the gate of the LNH Orc occupied North Gautrian town of Larbro.

The Sverker Clan: “The Iron Clan, The Bandit Clan”. The Sverker King Kvig Melgarson rules North Gautria, but many say Kvig’s uncle Skala Grimson, the Jarl of Jarlin has more sway among the clans. The Sverkers are fierce warriors whose jarls are known for their effective diplomacy and ability to hold together feudal coalitions against Gautria’s many enemies. They are considered the “Iron of the North”. Clan Sverker’s smiths are renowned for their iron smelting and weapon making abilities.

Helvik, ancestral home of King Kvig Melgarson

The Vastar Clan: “The Boat Clan, The Pirate Clan, The Slave Clan”. This once powerful clan has seen many of its jarls slain in recent battles against the Orcs of the League of Nil-ith Horn and their Great Northern mercenaries. In the north, Kvig the Bandit king has conspired to dispossess their valuable holdings. Kvig granted the Vastar’s birthright, the rich mines of Hellgate, to Kildarians of House Voclain. Once known as the hardest working clan, the Vastar are now openly mocked and called the “Slave Clan” for losing so many holdings to orcs and men alike. Still, Clan Vastar are the most skillful shipbuilders and sailors in all the Gautrian Lakes, qualities which allow them to dominate the Hedemark, a Gautrian peninsula between Lake Sund and Lake Kisilev not ruled by either of the two kingdoms. The Vastar of the Hedemark are considered pirates and untrustworthy because of their frequent dealings with the League of Nil-ith Horn.

An angry Vastar mob confront Kildarian guards in the North Gaurian capital city of Mosveld

The Skane Clan: “The Stone Clan, The Bonder Clan”. They are by far the largest and poorest of all four Gautrian clans. No jarls and only a few warlords hail from Clan Skane; instead they are renowned as quarry workers, stone cutters and for their skill in agriculture. Clan Skane is often called the “foundation of Gautria” and their farmers joke that it is the many stones in their fields which earned them their nickname “the Stone Clan”. Some of Clan Skane claim no land or lord, roving the lands of Gautria seeking trade and other opportunities. A few of these traveling merchants or “Rovers” have become quite wealthy plying the dangerous roads of the two kingdoms and beyond.

Rovers stop to give service to a South Gautrian warcamp

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.

Caravan Wagons

Caravan Wagons

We wanted to explore trade and transport in the lands of Gautria, so my husband began plotting a Caravan Campaign.

Before we could start our travels in North Gautria, we would need wagons.

These were mostly constructed with balsa wood. My husband made a few rough sketches and started building.

My character, as the caravan leader and primary financial backer, got the fancy wooden carriage. This wagon came complete with locking door and attached chests.

The other merchants’ wagons were constructed of balsa beds, with canopies of glue-dipped packing paper draped on wire frames.

All of the tops come off, and various cargoes can fit inside.

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:

inside:

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 #53 – Battle of Hellgate Pass

King Kvig led his army to victory over the Varak orcs who had appropriated the mines of Hellgate from Kvig’s vassal Vestar Vastar. (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines). Kvig now had to decide who to install as jarl over the newly-recovered mines.

sgk52map

The Kildarian knight Baron Vulmar was outspoken, “We Kildarians have won many battles for you, King Kvig. Vestar has wasted the lives of many warriors and many more miners. Give me the mines and let Kildarian expertise get you rich! I will have these mines spilling forth silver the Vastars’ couldn’t even imagine.”

Vestar Vastar was enraged. “Generations of Vastar blood have paid for Hellgate silver! My clan has fought the Varak orcs time and again. These are my lands by right!”

Kvig surveyed Vestar and his many injured and poorly-armored bonders. Then King Kvig looked to Baron Vulmar and the Kilarians. The elite knights stood tall in their bloodied chainmail. It seemed an easy decision.

“Baron Vulmar shall have Hellgate mines and the keep at Sigivald Hold,” announced Kvig. “Any of Clan Vastar who wish to stay will be given positions defending the lands, or working the mines.”

“Odin curse you, Kvig Melgarson!” exclaimed Vestar. “You and your witch-queen have brought my son to death’s door and cheated my clan. I will have repayment for all your wrongs.” Vestar Vastar gathered a few loyal men and left Sigivald Hold.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

As the rest of the warriors of Clan Vastar prepared for battle, Bleddyn’s ulfhednar scouts brought a respected adversary to him. Bjorn the Mighty (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery) had come to fight against the orcs. Bjorn looked to show his gratitude for the mercy Kvig and Bleddyn showed him (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer).

“The orcs gather at Hellgate Pass. I have brought my men and those of my kin who would join you and push the orcs back into the mountains,” said Bjorn. “Bleddyn, take my brothers among your ulfhednar.”

Bjorn introduced his cousin Karlsefni. Karlsefni had been a slave to the Varak orcs in the west.

“The Varak orcs look to reclaim these lands on the lake,” said Karlsefni. “We have tracked a new group through Hellgate Pass. They scream for blood, King Kvig, and they are coming with a War-God.”

“War-God?” asked Kvig.

“You will see on the battlefield,” answered Karlsefni.

King Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston marched their troops to Hellgate Pass, and saw the orcs there ready for battle.

Several wild orcs with javelins populated the jagged cliffsides.

Scores more orcs assembled in tight formations, blocking the road through the pass.

King Kvig’s men responded in kind, spreading their forces in a long line across the pass.

sgk_53_018.jpg

The War-God stood before the orcs and bellowed to his troops.

The heavy infantry of the Gautrian army trudged into the pass.

The speedy ulfhednar and mounted knights sprinted across the gap.

The War-God held his ranks in check.

King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn charged the two-headed War-God with uncanny speed.

Wynston’s picked men ran up the hill in pursuit of the wild orcs and shaman.

The shielded orcs lined up against the human cavalry on one flank, and the heavy infantry on the other.

The War-God held fast in the center against King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn.

The Gautrians’ left flank was pushed hard by the armored orcs.

But it was not enough to threaten the integrity of Kvig’s line.

The unarmored orcs fell to the ulfhednar on the human’s right flank.

The wild orcs all routed, or were slain. The last kill was up to Wynston, Kvig and Bleddyn.

Soon, all that remained of the War-God were two severed heads waiting to be tied to Kvig’s saddle.

“They will return from their side of the mountains, King Kvig,” said Karlsefni. “You cut through their War-God in this battle, but the Varaks will send more fighters. On the other side of Hellgate pass lies their fortress of Langar. They have many of my people enslaved in that compound. Lead us there King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and we will destroy their stronghold and keep the Varak orcs from returning to Gautria!”

Kvig thought for the briefest of moments before turning to his champion Bleddyn and minister Wynston. “There is only one way to push the orcs out of our lands. We must take the fight to them! To Langar!”

What will King Kvig find through Hellgate Pass? Will the Varak orcs fall before the advancing North Gautrian army? The adventures continue…