The Estridians are tall, muscular, and extremely fierce clan residing in the southernmost part of Entheria.
They tend to be of fair hair and skin. With hair color predominantly pale white blond to golden blond, though some are known to have shades of red and light brown (those who happen to be born with darker tresses are known to dye them). Eye color varies as well but blue being the most common, to pale greens, and light golden. They are known for their broad muscular build, barbaric like tendencies, and fierce hatred of outsiders.
Estridians are tall with broad muscular bodies (for both male and females). Males average height range 6.5 feet tall (1.98 meters) and average weight 250 lbs. (113 kilos). Females average height 5.11 (1.56 meters) and an average weight of 170 lbs. (77 kilos)
Most Estridians adorned themselves in lamellar armor or some such variety. Armor is made of hardened leather and iron/steel, lanced together onto a fabric backing, sometimes silk. Mail armor was also sometimes used, but was rare, probably due to its difficulty to repair. The Lamellar armor consists of hundreds of small rectangular iron or steel, leather (rawhide), or bronze plates (or lamellae) which are pierced in various locations and laced together into horizontal rows to the proper length needed to construct a particular armor item. Under this armor it is common to find a cloth or material backing for warmth and added protection it is called gambeson. A is a padded defensive jacket, worn as armor separately, or combined with mail or lamellar armor. Gambesons were produced with a sewing technique called quilting. Usually constructed of linen, wool, or silk the stuffing varied, and could be for example horse hair. These are usually laced up the front. An arming doublet worn under armor, particularly lamellar armor contains arming points for attaching the Lamellar. This may include gussets sewn into the elbows and armpits to protect the wearer in locations not covered by plate.
Aging and Life Expectancy
As with all mortals, the Estridians aged three times faster than elves. Thus, a human would take one year to reach the same maturity level an elf would in three. Estridians can reach up to 75 years of age.
If you had to describe an Estridian in one word, you'd say 'tough,' because that is exactly what they are. Tough. They live in Clan-based societies and live in the harshest climate of all Entheria, and they have tamed it; actually harnessed its very power.
Their bodies are compact and hard but they are surprisingly agile which makes them even harder to hit, and if you do hit them, they barely notice it. Due to their fierce nature and fables widespread (which they tend to encourage) it is with great surprise to fine that they are some of the greatest craftsmen. Although Elves can craft beauty with a hammer, Estridians craft excellence. An Estridian sword, although heavier than an Elf's, will last longer without magical enchantments and does not require as much sharpening. An Estridians suit of armor is unmatched in its perfect balance between protection and mobility.
Furthermore the Estridians are fierce horsemen and highly territorial, and are known to be a touch impatient and headstrong, and are, in general, not very likable since they can't take a social hint and the aforementioned territorial claim. So it is worth repeating that the Estridians are first and foremost Warriors and they are among the best, taking advantage of their strong arms and sturdy constitution to overwhelm an opponent, or tire them out. They take advantage of their specially crafted armor, and prefer axes and hammers over swords. Instead of going for a specific place to hit like other warriors do, an Estridian would simply try and hit the opponent, and let their incredible strength do the rest. However do not underestimate them as Estridians archers do exist!
Most outsiders have come to calling these fierce warriors barbarians as it can be said they tend to exhibit and maintain a primitive nature over the other human and elven kind. They have an autocratic society and culture. What a true Estridian values is demonstrated by their choice of leaders. A strong and wise one, able to lead their clan into battle and win, and come back home to wine, mating and bawdy song.
Magic is embraced and treated with great respect. It is thought that a true Estridian Warrior is one that can wield his/her axe and conjure blots of ice to impale their foe.
An adult Estridian acknowledges that they have survived a childhood of hardship and it is that hardship that has helped developed their character. At first signs of walking their young begin training; and has no doubt as to his or her value to the clan. Unlike some human and elven races, the Estridians do not create their societies depending on monetary assets or privilege. Among these fierce warriors, you fight for what you earn, and you keep it because you have the strength to defeat anyone who might have the courage or stupidity to try and take from you what is yours.
Estridian children learned to ride before they could walk and they learned to shoot bows soon after. By adulthood Estridians were master-horsemen and master-bowmen. In battle they had the skill and control to ride as one; creating a whirlwind of destruction.
The Estridians collect skulls from the enemy after battle. Commanders would sometimes make drinking cups from the skulls of especially formidable foes. Many Estridians will hang skulls off their horses as a symbol of their viciousness.
The Estridian’s themselves are still a people of mystery and terror. Arriving on the fringes of Entheria (before written history ever documented) they came riding their war horses out of the great tundra of the south, and struck fear into Elves and Men alike.
They have a tribal society. Many families making up the clan and many clans making up a tribe. These tribes are united with a commanders seeing over his or her tribe and all of them hailing whom they select as their high chieftain. Each clan had pastures and watering holes that they used for their herds. Although they were nomads, they did not wander aimlessly, but had summer and winter pastures that they used each year. Migrations were caused only by severe winters and warfare.
It was not until the influx of gold from the north that the tribes actually cared of gold and as they plundered so did their individual wealth. But, still to this day they live in these tribal units. Every member of the tribe, clan, and society gains the benefit of their commanders. The difference being he who got the spoils was the richest! By the time documentation came about it was noted that disobeying the Estridian Chieftain could get you impaled in a horrific manner. They developed specialists in tortured death.
The Estridian’s do not have Estridian slaves! Foreign captives yes, were often enslaved. Commanders and the Chieftain would sometimes own a foreign slave but for the most part, the Estridian economy could not support large numbers of them. A slave owned by a tribe was often well treated oddly enough and were allowed to buy their freedom by fighting by their master’s side in combat. If this occurred, they would become a member of the tribe. One would think they were too uncultured for this way of thinking but a sickly slave was of no use! Best to keep them healthy to get the production needed.
The early Estridian’s, used the traditional tactics of mounted archers, which their mounts alone seemed like monsters from the dark to their more civilized contemporaries. A famous Silver Elven historian, Maechenebon, wrote about this barbaric society of great aggression, he described their savage customs and elaborated on their military tactics:
· The nation of the Estridians...surpasses all other barbarians in wildness of life....And though they do just bear the likeness of men (of a very ugly pattern), they are so little advanced in civilization that they make no use of formal housing, nor any kind of relish, in the preparation of their home, but instead choose to live in homes constructed of ice! · When attacked, they will sometimes engage in regular battle. Then, going into the fight in order of columns, they fill the air with varied and discordant cries. More often, however, they fight in no regular order of battle, but by being extremely swift and sudden in their movements, they disperse, and then rapidly come together again in loose array, spread havoc over vast plains, and flying over the rampart, they pillage the camp of their enemy almost before he has become aware of their approach. It must be owned that they are the most terrible of warriors because they fight at a distance with missile weapons having sharpened bones admirably fastened to the shaft. When in close combat with their warhammers and axes, they fight without regard to their own safety, and while their enemy is intent upon parrying the thrust of a swords, they throw a net over him and so entangle his limbs that he loses all power of walking or riding.
Obviously, when the Estriadian’s first appeared on the edges of the Silver Elves Empire, they made a strong impression, but after their initial threats they settled down, particularly the southern tip. They did though forge alliances with the Wood Elves, Orc, and Marayat on the whole, these relationship work well although the trade route is a bit precious.
According to the Silver Elves, the Estriadian’s lived, ate, and sleep on horseback, and that they would become dizzy when setting foot on the ground. This is an exaggeration, the horse is a highly important part of their society. In reality, horses are a necessity for travel, hunting, wealth, survival, and of course, warfare. In short, it was their way of life. It is no surprise how these points are emphasize by northern accounts.
Because of the great interest the Estriadian’s had in gold and plunder, one can infer that the wealth and power were greatly interdependent. After a successful campaign, the strongest and usually the higher-ranking officers received most the spoils, and the spoils were important in securing high positions. The clan was run by a group of officers either selected by the Chieftain or was battled for between ranking officials. These officers served as commanders who had direct control over a small "personal" army and tribe. But it should be noted that any member could acquire these spoils if they were in battle. So a high-ranking official could have very well once been just a herder.
Hunting, herding, and plundering is the foundation of the Estridian economy. Livestock is a major part. Some Estridians raised an Icelandic cattle and others raised wooly sheep and goats. All Estridians raised tundra-horses. Hunting was important because it not only supplemented the Estridians food supply, but helped train their young for war. Hunting also brought in hides that could be used for clothing as well as sold or traded. Estridians in the Ice Sea region, were known for being fur traders. Large amounts of furs were brought into the north from this region only.
When some tribes migrated to the north, their economy changed to one that was more dependent on the settled peoples around them. The Estridians of this region based their economy on extortion and raiding. During times of war, they earned their loot by pillaging and during times of peace, they traded.
Chieftain Youi of the Estriadian’s was well versed in the ways of the Silver Elven royal courts and knew about the court’s tradition of giving lavish gifts to emissaries. Youi would send his Estridian nobles to the courts to enrich themselves. Maechenebon states “Youi made a lucrative business out of this custom. Under the flimsiest of pretexts he would send embassy after embassy to the royal court” (The World of the Estridians). In this way, Youi kept his commanders in gold.
Many Estridians were hired by other races for warfare. Some Estridians joined the ranks of the Silver Elves armies and earned money as soldiers for hire. Records show that rich and important Silver Elves would hire Estridians as personal body guards. All this gold was shared amongst their tribe with the commander getting a slightly larger share.
Two other contributors to the Estridian economy was the ransoming of prisoners and the selling of slaves. Important prisoners (those of high status) were ransomed. Less fortunate prisoners were sold to whomever in the slave markets. The Estridians felt no conflict selling captured human or elves back to their people, they have a lust for riches. Soldiers were sold for a mere 10 gold per-head. Wealthy citizens would be sold for 500 to 1,000 each.
Besides selling the meats, furs and slaves, the Estridians also sold tundra-horses. In return, the Estridians sought cloth, coins, hay, vegetables, and alcohol. The northerners often put bans on selling wine to the Estridians (for obvious reasons) and many treaties included the opening of trade markets, their location, and the selling of these items.
The Estridian government is a chieftain or clan society. A chieftain society differs from a state/empire in that it has no central government. Instead it is ruled by one central chieftain and several commanders, each of the commanders has his/her own domain of influence. In order to maintain their power, a chieftain has to gain followers (I.E. Commanders) who will support him/her in an armed conflict if necessary, who will then promote him/her as a leader and spread his/her fame, and who will pay him/her taxes in the form of a share of their crops, game, and other resources. In return the chieftain can be counted onto protect the rights and welfare of his/her supporters and to take their side in legal and other disputes. In times of famine or other disasters he/she would share his/her supplies to ensure the whole clans survival. Chieftain societies are competitive and often unstable.
Chieftains’ power is based on the number of supporters they can muster, as well as the quality and wealth of the supporters. In a society such as that of the Estridians, where business transactions did not involve money but goods, the chieftains wooed supporters with gifts of land, livestock, and goods and luxuries. The greater the gift, the more obligation the receiver owed in support.
A person’s bearing and leadership qualities were also factors in chieftainships, much like in modern Entherian politics. A successful chieftain distinguishes there self in warfare and trade; with impressive spoils from plunder, clothing, jewelry, and trinket possessions to show their success. Chieftains strive to maintain their status of authority by hosting elaborate bonfires, in festively decorated robes and armor, serving as much food and drink as possible. Imported foods such as fruits and vegetables (which did not grow in the south), spices, and wine were used to impress the clan.
Although called barbarians by other races it should be noted that to an Estridian, the chieftain was their leader and the commanders maintained order and discipline, but every single Estridian was of a value to the clan. There isn’t a higher “society” or a low class one. Everyone has a duty to perform and each one duty is just as vital as the next to ensure the survival of the clan.
Chieftain societies are rarely stable. Inherent in them is a constant competition for power by the commanders.
The Estridians practiced a form of Tengerism which is an animistic belief system in which all things have spirits. This includes everything from animals and plants, to rocks and rivers. Animals can also have significance. Among the Estridians, bears symbolized peace while wolves symbolized war. When the spirits needed to be consulted, the Estridians would turn to a spiritual specialist called a Kam.
Estridians recognized a range of spirits dwelling in particular objects and places, such as trees, stones, waterfalls, lakes, animals, and small handmade idols. These localized deities, would receive offerings from religious leaders, Kams, through the use of Sami altars, which were placed among the tundra and mountain sides which would be designated and restricted for certain deities. These altars were seen as the only means in which to confirm receptiveness of the offerings by the clan.
Although not educated in the traditional sense, Estridians education is to prepare young for future battles. This also gave them a leg up on their opponents in battle who almost always had a formal education, rather than a martial one.
An Estridian's education began in the toddler years, when they were given their first riding lesson. At this time, toddlers were given sheep to ride, as they were far too small for regular tundra-horses. They then were each handed a miniature bow, with which they were tasked with shooting rodents and birds. When they were finally deemed skilled enough at this, older students were graduated to their own horse and the assignment of shooting hares and foxes. The Estridians were educated in this hunting until they finally reached adulthood, which only happens when they were strong enough to be able to use a full adult's bow.
An important perspective of this type of education that is often overlooked is that this meant Estridians never learned to read or write. With only a miniscule percentage of literate Estridians, there are no recovered records written by them, so all written information about their society is tainted with bias, usually Elven. Because of the lack of literate Estridians, Chieftains often invited scholars from many different empires to their court to teach them about the world. Most did this not because they are particularly interested, but because they felt it was necessary to be able to conquer all of Entheria successfully, most often a life goal of an Estridian Chieftain. In an Estridian court, the closest advisers were not Estridians. They were those who spoke and wrote the common tongues well. The main function of these literates is too allow the Chieftain to converse with foreign foes.
Customs The brutal customs of the Estridians is largely what gives them the fierce reputation they have today. These stories have been passed down through the generations to today, and they are what make the Estridians a villain in almost all other cultures.
There are many rumors of Estridian monstrosities and their terrible practices float around as terrifying images. But do Estridians really turn cannibal every now and then or pull enemies limb from limb? Although some of these rumors are true, the majority are just stories from scared northerners to justify their fears. But rather than being offended by these stories, the Estridians encouraged them as a way of psychological warfare. They knew that a scared enemy was half defeated already.
A few rumors have been proven true, including ones which say the Estridians sometimes drank human or elven blood, slaughtered children, and violated young ladies and men. However no custom is more prominent than the tradition of slashing the cheeks of baby Estridians. This painful custom was performed on male and female infants, and the slashing was done with the blade of a dagger. Although the Estridians did this to every baby, it was not because they took delight in the pain of others, it was to harden the child against the pain they would feel in battle in the years to come. Cheek-slashing achieved this lofty goal, because if the baby wanted milk because it was hungry, it would have to persevere through the pain that came with sucking. As the Silver Elven historian Maechenebon wrote, "For they cut the cheeks of the infant with a dagger, so that before they receive the nourishment of milk, they must learn to endure wounds."
Entheria's tundra home of the Estridians and the coldest, harshest biomes. This Tundra is almost treeless rand found in the most southern portion of the continent, where the climate is cold and windy and rainfall is scant. Tundra lands are snow-covered for much of the year, until summer brings a burst of wildflowers.
Mountain goats, sheep, marmots, and birds live in mountain, or alpine, tundra and feed on the low-lying plants and insects. Hardy flora like cushion plants survive on these mountain plains by growing in rock depressions where it is warmer and they are sheltered from the wind.
The Estridians have called their tundra home Krummholz, where the average temperature is 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 to -6 degrees Celsius), supports a variety of animal species, including foxes, polar bears, gray wolves, cattle, tundra-horses, caribou, snow geese and musk-oxen. The summer growing season is just 50 to 60 days, when the sun shines 24 hours a day.
The Arctic tundra is changing dramatically due to global warming. Already, more southern animals like the red fox have moved onto the tundra. The red fox is now competing with the Arctic fox for food and territory, and the long-term impact on the sensitive Arctic fox is unknown.
In much of Krummholz it is frozen year round. In the northern regions the surface layer above the permafrost melts during the summer and this forms bogs and shallow lakes that invite an explosion of animal life. Insects swarm around the bogs, and millions of migrating birds come to feed on them.
Climate for the Southern portion of Entheria: We can say weather in the southern portion is really unpredictable. There are several types of weather, high humidity, with precipitations over 1000 millimeters a year, very dry with precipitations under 300 millimeters; and Tempered Cold with a transition between 33 degree F (1 C) and 14 degree F (-10 C).
Longer Days The Southern summer offers warm, sunny days and cool nights. The days are long, the sun rises at early and almost never sets. Typically temperatures are around 68 degrees F (20 C) during the day, dropping to about 46 degrees F (8 C) at night. Higher elevations will be experience a slightly cooler climate, and frosts have been known to occur at night, even during the summer. A typical thing of the most Southern tip weather is that strong winds sometimes appear out of no-where. A ferocious whirlwind that lowers from mountains, generated by the steep changes of pressure between the ices and the sea.