A shieldmaiden of the Vikmordere Valley

The Vikmordere Valley (Part 1)

Dense, moss-strewn forests cover the lands of the Vikmordere Valley. Ever-present mists form thick clouds in the forest canopy. Shelf ice on Serpent Lake takes on the form of arched waves against the shore in the winter months. Winds from the Adövyc Mountains, even in the warm summer months, are a chill reminder of the glaciers in the high peaks and the terrible jötunn who dwell there.

Surrounded on all sides by the mighty Klavek Kingdom, the Vikmordere Valley has remained the sovereign home of the Vikmordere for countless generations. Despite the presence of a Vikmordere village or stronghold on nearly every isle and at every river mouth, the Vikmordere Valley is an untamed place, with settlements divided by leagues of frigid water and misty forests.

Ancient fir, hemlock, darkwood, tranteum, and spruce trees climb the mountain sides beyond the snowline. In the lowlands, cold springs feed idyllic streams and rivers. There is no end to the game trails from fox, sable, hare, wolf, boar, hart, and more. All the vast forests of the Vikmordere Valley are unspoilt by human progress. The mists that cover the valley hint at the dangers and discoveries one might find within.

Vikmordere Valley Random Encounters

d100 Encounter d100 Encouter
01-04 kobolds 53-56 pesta
05-08 dire boar 57-60 snow screecher
09-12 cave bear 61-64 verei stalkter
13-16 dire wolves 65-68 white wailer
17-20 frost wisp 69-72 treant
21-24 barrow mound 73-76 sleipnir
25-28 brunmuggi 77-80 derutryst
29-32 icy vigil 81-84 firbolg shepherd
33-36 aptrgangr 85-88 elderfey
37-40 young fafnir dragon 89-92 hoyonde outcast
41-44 huldufolk 93-96 yeti
45-48 vættir 97-98 lindworm
49-52 tundra troll 99-00 Fenrir

Aptrgangr. These drowned Vikmordere bicker as they did in life, but they are aligned in their unified goal: to bring more souls into the Serpent’s Abyss.

Barrow Mound. This barrow mound is clearly ancestral to the Vikmordere, but it is a rare shaman who could speak further on its historical significance. A barrow mound might be a good place to set camp for the evening or to go treasure hunting, but for the spirits that are said to inhabit them.

Brunnmuggi. The ruins of this homestead are home now to a brutal brunnmuggi, who moved into the well after drowning the Vikmordere family who dug it. Anyone who hears its mimicry would mistake it for the cries of a child struggling to stay afloat.

Cave Bear. Throughout the valley there are few beasts as fierce as a territorial cave bear. A cave bear on the hunt will likely retreat if it mistakenly selected prey capable of fighting back, but few hunters are brave enough to face one in its den.

Dire Boar. Hunting boar is a rite of passage amongst the Vikmoredere and Klaveks alike. The dire boar of the Vikmordere Valley, however, fear no man’s spear and will fight to the death to protect their young. Wild piglets—young enough yet to domesticate—are a prized get in any village.

Dire Wolves. A wolf pack led by an alpha will harry even well-armed travelers, waiting for signs of faltering before targeting the most likely prey, but they’re smart enough to realize when they’re outmatched. However, in the wild forest merely driving off a wolf pack is no guarantee they’ve given up the hunt.

Derutryst. This ancient oak has a gnarled face and its branches are shaped in the likeness of five beautiful maidens. The maidens appear at rest, but their mouths move in unison with the oak itself as it bellows its challenge, “Who ‘as enter’d m’grove?”

Elderfey. Lumberjacks fell its heartree. Its long life will end, its forest will fall. It must grow a new tree, before it is too late. The seed must take root. Only lifeblood will let the seed grow. The seed must take root.

Firbolg Shepherd. This shepherd, with three sheep in tow, is searching for an errant goat. Most firbolg are congenial enough to barter if no threat is present, but this one is particularly suspicious that someone has stolen his goat.

Frost Wisp. The Vikmordere have learned to dowse open flame when a frost wisp wanders out of the mist. Legends tell of spirit shamans who befriend frost wisps and never need fear the winter’s chill. Klavek outfits have yet to learn the trick of appeasing these heralds of the hoarfrost.

Huldufolk. The Vikmordere teach their children not to idly skip stones across the water for entertainment, lest they summon the ire of the fey. Whether it protects ancient stalactites or wind-carved stones perched on the cliff’s edge, a huldufolk will turn from curious to ferocious—and vengeful—should it bear witness to the destruction of its precious stone garden.

Høyonde Outcast. A høyonde cast out from their ancestral clanhold is far from doomed in the wilds of the Vikmordere Valley. This hermit has earned the trust of the Vikmordere Village nearby, but most of them aren’t aware of the outcast’s small army of undead servants.

Icy Vigil. The greatest sacrifice a Vikmordere can make in service to their clan is to give up their mortal body and become one with a statue carved of ice in their likeness. But the village or stronghold this icy vigil was created to protect has long ago fallen to ruin, her people killed or driven off. Though this shieldmaiden longs to join her people in the embrace of the Ancestor Spirit, eternity is the price of vigilance.

Lindworm. This lindworm has just claimed this valley as its domain. It spends its days sunning on isolated isles in Serpent Lake, or skulking through the mists of the deep forest, secure in the knowledge that none can threaten it, within its domain.

Kobolds. Throughout the valley kobolds inhabit caves and barrows near human settlements to better glean sustenance from them. They build conical rafts of naught more than reed and moss, but somehow have need to raid mines for ore, all while ignoring stockpiles of forged iron. Kobolds seldom attack out in the open, instead preferring to lead combatants into traps and ambushes.

Pesta. At first you thought this person was but a vagabond, a beggar lost in the wilderness. Now that they are close, within arm’s reach, you see the open sores oozing with puss, the blacked veins beneath yellowed skin. This is a pesta, a plaguebringer. Only by passing on the mantle of disease will this lost soul find rest.

Sleipnir. The tale of the sleipnir is one all Vikmordere know: the eight-legged horse of kings, last of survivor of the Equitaur King, the last ruler to have tamed the ice giants. Many a beleaguered sailor or lost mountaineer will claim to have been guided by the sleipnir when a safe return home seems unlikely.

Snow Screecher. It is not known from which realm the snow screechers hail, yet the piercing howl carried on the wind that announces their arrival is known to all. It seems this valley—and its many human settlements brimming with terrified prey—is but the breeding ground for this wintry predator fey.

Treant. To have encountered a treant in the wilds of the valley is to become the bearer of an omen. For the omen to be weal, rather than woe, one must obtain the favor of the treant. This may involve a task or quest, but for a lonely treant whose charge is well kept—meaning, their forest is unspoilt—simple conversation will suffice to earn a boon.

Tundra Troll. This wizend troll pulls a crooked cart laden with dented pots, worn furs, torn scrolls, and all manner of bric-a-brac it considers valuable. As you approach, the lumbering beast adroitly turns the cart on its end, removes its peaked and shingled cap, and gingerly places it atop his makeshift stall. With a gap-toothed—yet still menacing—grin, the malicious merchant turns in your direction and asks, “What’ll it be?”

Vættir. Not alive, and not yet dead, a vættir has committed the gravest of sins to survive. Survive they have, but at the cost of that which makes them human. A vættir who has not yet realized the breadth and depth of their transgression may yet perceive itself as human, still struggling to survive. Only when it sees its own reflection—and comes to understand what it has done—will the body and spirit be laid to rest.

Verei Stalker. When a hoyonde jarl’s retinue of undead servants grows thin, they send vereri stalkers to prowl the frozen moors of the low valley. The souls and heads the stalkers become new recruits in the jarl’s undead army.

White Wailer. Known to the Vikmordere as the Witch of the Mist, a white wailer leads a tortured existence, its wailing cries forever echoing the pain of its death. It is said only the cry of a newborn babe can still the witch’s wailing, but what might set the spirit to rest is unknown.

Yeti. To the Vikmordere, yeti are just another dangerous beast to be killed or driven off. However, to Klavek nobility who value such things, a yeti is a savage reflection of man, or what man would be without culture and art. Many a Klavek noble would pay a king’s ransom to have a live yeti in their menagerie.

Young Fafnir Dragon. Pezol knows these fragile humans have treasure in their longhouses and strongholds, but he is not yet strong enough to face the lot of them openly. Only once he has discovered where his prey keeps their valuables—and managed a few isolated murders—does he reveal his true form. Perhaps a stronghold will make a good chamber for his new treasure horde?

Tune in next week for part 2: Peoples of the Vikmordere Valley! Jump in the comments or join the Discord and let us know the most dangerous thing you’ve faced in the frozen north!

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