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Stäpplandskap

A rugged land where bitterly cold winds forever whistle and wail across the steppe. Those that live in Stäpplandskap are some of the hardiest folk you will ever meet, though the welcome they give you is likely to be as frosty as the weather that engulfs them. Why the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm decided it was necessary to fight such a bitter war, against such a ferocious group of peoples, to gain control of Stäpplandskap Province is beyond me….
Extract from Maximilian Hoherberg von Zottehal’s History of the Known World.   The most northerly province of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, Stäpplandskap is a semi-polar region that is dominated by thick pine forests in the south and polar tundra to the north, that merges with the ice-floes and ice-sheets that sit atop the waters of The Eismeer, that stretch like a wintery patchwork up towards the permanent polar ice-cap of Turoza's north pole. The people that live in this province are hardy folk, who still maintain the tribal traditions of their nomadic elders, and who accept the rule of the Kjörns to the south very begrudgingly. The deeply rooted tribal divides that exist between the inhabitants of Stäpplandskap mean that it is very hard to organise themselves into a unified force, and the memories of the war between the tribes and the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, that assimilated Stäpplandskap as a province of the Kingdom are still very painful and fresh to recall.  

History

For thousands of years, Stäpplandskap has been a place where nomadic tribes could roam, and it is one of the few places in Turoza where this way of life still dominates. With the arrival of the Settlement Era, Stäpplandskap was at first unaffected by the establishment of kingdoms, nations and other geopolitical entities that was going on well to the south in Turoza. However, as the first century of the Settlement Era drew to a close, Stäpplandskap experienced an influx of new tribal groups, who were being pushed up from the south as their nomadic ranges were being heavily restricted, or in many cases removed altogether, with the emergence of nations that did not want large groups of unaffiliated people moving through the territory that they had claimed.   A turning point for the area came in 207S.E., when the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm was established immediately to the south of Stäpplandskap, by Ragstan the Savage. The formation of the Kingdom, who claimed all of the territory up to the border of Stäpplandskap, and the subsequent restriction of tribal movements to within its area specifically began to lead to more and more tensions developing between the tribal groups, and the new nation to the south. Whereas before, the tribes of Stäpplandskap had been content to merely keep out of one another’s way, this was increasingly becoming a luxury as more peoples began to try to lay claim to the area’s resources and migratory routes. This led to numerous conflicts between the tribes, which caused many of the weaker groups to try their luck in the south, which brought them into conflict with Kjörnsholm, and led either to their assimilation into Kjörnic society, and the abandonment of their nomadic ways, or their destruction. As for Kjörnsholm, they began to view the region to the north as an increasing problem, not only because tribal groups kept being forced to migrate south into their territory, but also because other tribes had begun to raid over the border, in an attempt to supplement their own resource bases, and demonstrate their strength to the Kjörns.   There were many attempts over the years by Kjörnsholm to gain recognition and respect for the border of their Kingdom with Stäpplandskap, all of which failed, and increasingly the mood in the Kingdom began to shift to invading the region, and forcing the tribes to recognise the new sovereignty of Kjörnsholm over the lands to the south, and the demise of the old nomadic ways. Though initially Kjörnsholm did not entertain the idea of invading and conquering Stäpplandskap, as the land itself did not seem worth the effort of taking, it was increasingly viewed as the only way to effectively deal with the situation. At the same time, the tribes of Stäpplandskap were becoming increasingly worried that Kjörnic opinion might eventually turn in favour of war, and tribal envoys began to move back and forward between the different tribes, as they attempted to patch together some form of alliance for their mutual protection.   Matters came to a head in 289S.E., when a large, heavily armed Kjörnic diplomatic party, who had gone north to demand reparations from the Skarpfang tribe for raiding and destroying several villages in the Kingdom’s territory, were set upon and slain by the tribe, who had grown weary of the constant restriction of their movements, and who wanted to vent their frustration at the people to the south with their high and mighty ideas around ‘settling’. This massacre was the spark that ignited the flames of war. The Skarpfang tribe immediately began to summon all the other tribes that would heed their call to arms, whilst in Kjörnsholm the ruling King, Svinulf Giant Slayer began to muster his own forces to march north. What followed was a period of over three years of bitter, bloody fighting, with the united tribes of Stäpplandskap battling for their very survival against the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, and a fair number of other Stäpplandskap tribes that had thrown in their lot with the Kjörns. Eventually, the united tribes were decisively defeated at the battle of Blodig Creek in 293S.E., and this victory for the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm was swiftly followed by the tribes suing for peace.   From that time on, Stäpplandskap has existed as a semi-independent Province of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, with all major matters being decided by the royal court, within which all of the tribes are represented by a single Jarl, who they are allowed to choose from amongst themselves, but who are always partisan towards their tribe of origin. Stäpplandskap remains a tribal area, where those that live there still carry out a nomadic lifestyle, but only the toughest and most traditionally minded of the tribes that once roamed the Province have chosen to remain and honour the old ways. Amongst those tribes, the scars of the war against Kjörnsholm have never fully healed, and they are by no means forgotten. In the royal court in Kjörnsjo, one can always overhear whispered of courtiers and nobles who view Stäpplandskap’s Jarl and entourage with scorn, and who worry that the Province is a chink in the Kingdom’s armour that could well be exploited. All it would take, they mutter, is the right individual to emerge from a tribe, or to travel there and make the collective tribes an offer too good to refuse, and Kjörnsholm could find itself invaded by thousands of ferocious warriors from the far north of Turoza.  

Political Structure

Because Stäpplandskap Province is not a coherent community or geopolitical entity, but instead represents an area that is inhabited by Nomadic tribes, there is no one political structure that governs Stäpplandskap from within as a single entity. As the tribes of Stäpplandskap are often very distinct from each other, and often less than friendly towards one another, let alone the inhabitants of Kjörnsholm as a whole, all attempts that have been made to unite them as a whole have failed. The nearest that the tribes have come to uniting as a single entity was when they combined forces in their attempt to stop the people of Kjörnsholm to the south from intruding on their ancestral nomadic ranges in 289-293S.E., a move that ended in their defeat and conquest by the Kjörns of Stäpplandskap. Even in this instance, not all of the tribes joined the fight against the Kjörns and some even fought against the other tribes of Stäpplandskap, hoping to capitalise on the situation and increase their own influence in the region.   The result of the war between the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm and the tribes was that Stäpplandskap was absorbed into the Kingdom as a new province. However realising that the lack of infrastructure in the area, and the overall anathema of the people that lived there to their new overlords, the decision was taken by Svinulf Giant Slayer, the King of Kjörnsholm when Stäpplandskap became a province, to have the tribes of the area to choose their own representative, who would represent all of the tribes and their collective interests at the royal court in Kjörnsjo. Once every five years the various tribes from all over the Province come together at a place called Hvammr, an ancient ritual ground that is viewed as neutral territory for all of the tribes, where a representative is chosen from those that put themselves forward to take the position of Jarl at the royal court for the next five years. The new Jarl is chosen through a vote in which all those present, regardless of the tribe they belong to can vote for whomever they wish. Normally, members of the same tribe will tend to vote for the same candidate, and larger tribes will frequently bribe, cajole or coerce smaller tribes to vote the way they want them to.   Whoever is voted as the new Jarl will travel to the royal court in Kjörnsjo where they will represent the Province as a whole, and lobby for tribal interests in the court. Technically, the Jarl is meant to treat the petitions and concerns of all of Stäpplandskap’s tribe equally, but in reality, the Jarl will tend to promote the agenda of their own tribe.     Despite the fact that they are, technically subjects of the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm and its monarch, people from Stäpplandskap will rarely refer to themselves in this respect, and will instead state the tribe that they belong to when asked where they originate from. Those that originate there do use the name Stäpplandskap to refer to the region as a whole, as this has been its ancestral name for as long as any of the tribes there can remember, but they will rarely refer to it as Stäpplandskap Province, as it is known in the rest of the Kingdom.  

Demography & Population

There is little to say in terms of the economic demography of Stäpplandskap, as the tribal structure of the area means that barter and gift exchange are the most commonly used forms of trade, and it is, therefore much harder to get an accurate estimate of someone’s wealth. In many of Stäpplandskap’s tribes there will be little to distinguish the head a tribe from their fellows, except for the fact that they will be shown more respect and deference by other tribal members. The coinage minted by the Guild of Coiners & Moneyers is still recognised in Stäpplandskap, but it is not necessarily viewed as being of the same intrinsic value. Most Stäpplandskapers would prefer to trade for useful or rare goods, rather than pay or be paid in coin.   In terms of the racial makeup of the tribal peoples that live in the Province, the area is predominantly populated by Goliaths, Humans, Half-Orcs. In addition, there are several Minotaur Herds, Centaur Folds and Giant Kinship groups, predominantly Frost Giant Kinship groups, that migrate around the region. Stäpplandskap is also home to and draws from outside its borders more lawless groups of creatures, especially Dratokarttin Goblins, Orcs and Lupines.

Geography

Stäpplandskap is a province of roughly two halves, with the southern third being covered in coniferous forests, and the other two thirds, above the tree-line being a steppe landscape where no trees can grow. The northern two-thirds are a landscape of rolling hills with a central group of mountains, the Hvitefjell towering over the surrounding hills and steppe, who are always permanently capped with snow, which extends all the way down their slopes except for in the warmest summers. The coastline of the Province is itself a rugged landscape, with waves of The Eismeer bashing constantly along Stäpplandskap’s seaboard. The coast of Stäpplandskap is mostly made up of long rocky beaches, which are the perfect places for colonies of seabirds and sea mammals to base themselves and breed at.

Flora & Fauna

The south of Stäpplandskap Province is dominated by coniferous forests, but the further north that one goes, the thinner the tree covering becomes, until the tree-line is reached, beyond which the only vegetation in the province are coarse grasses, gorse, mosses and heathers that can survive the bitter cold of the climate, and the threat of snow and ice all year round.   In terms of the Fauna aside from the sapient species that live in the Province, the animals that inhabit Stäpplandskap are incredibly hardy, and have adapted themselves to survive in the sub-polar conditions. Herds of Bison, Reindeer and Elk roam the steppe beyond the tree-line, many of which are followed or directly farmed by one of Stäpplandskap’s tribes. Within the forests of the southern part of Stäpplandskap one will find smaller species of deer and other woodland mammals, who rarely venture beyond the tree-line. Like the northern coast of the Mountain Principalities, the coasts of Stäpplandskap have become havens for colonies of seals, walruses and also penguins who gather in large numbers to breed on the coasts. These herbivorous and aquatic animals are not only sources of food for the tribal peoples, but are also preyed upon by wolves, bears and all manner of other monstrous creatures who roam the steppes and forest of the Province.
Type
Tundra
Location under
Turoza
Included Locations
Owner/Ruler
Queen Evelina
Owning Organization
Kingdom of Kjörnsholm

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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

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