Thuria and Beyond
Also known as the Inner Land of the Linnorm Kings, Asgurd is a barbarian land far to the north of the Thurian kingdoms, devoid of major settlements and sparsely populated by loosely allied tribes of the native Aesir people. Asgard is a part of Nordhem, the area north of Cimmeria that includes Vanahem. The tribes of Asgurd worship a pantheon of fierce, warlike gods also venerated by the neighbouring Vanir people of Vanahem.
As in Vanhem, larger and more powerful clans are ruled by a so-called Linnorm King – a warrior not only to assert his dominance over his fellows but also able to cement his reputation for strength and fearlessness by parading the head of a slain linnorm before those over whom he means to establish his dominance. Linnorm Kings (and clans large enough to be ruled by one are), however, rarer in Asgurd than in Vanahem, as are permanent settlements. This is because life is undeniably harder in Asgurd – no sea-fishing, no whaling, no sea-raiding. So the majority of Aesir live a semi-nomadic existence, moving around in search of game and foraging far and wide for food.
The frigid land of Asgurd is not suited for agriculture, and the Aesir do not practice farming. Even the herding of animals is rare. Instead, it is standard practice for the men of an Aesir village to hunt for their livelihood, with wild fruits and berries supplementing their diet. The principal danger of hunting of beasts such as reindeer, auroch and elk comes in the form of predators which feed on the same diet – wolves, smilodons etc. But the hardy, battle-hardened Aesir do not fear such foes. Feelings of dread are reserved for the evil spirits believed to be capable to possessing the remains of the dead and for the legendary White Walkers said to reside in the far north of Asgurd.
Those permanent villages which do exist therefore tend to be in areas where wildlife is most plentiful. In the centre of each of these larger, longer established villages stands the biggest structure of the settlement, the great hall of the local chief. More numerous than these villages, however, are the temporary camps of smaller, nomadic clans. Men from the smaller, nomadic clans trade with larger clans – the former bringing game and river fish in exchange for weapons and leather goods.
The Aesir are fierce warriors. With white hot enthusiasm they pursue life, facing death fearlessly with a song on their lips. War is an essential ingredient in the life of the Aesir. War is their economy. War is their social setting. War is their religion. War measures courage, honour and manhood. This being the case, weapons are of prime importance to Aesir people, who favour highly decorated broadswords and the axes.
The south-eastern corner of Asgurd is the part of the land most vulnerable to attack from hostile Cimmerians or – far worse – from slavers and non-human invaders from dreadful Hyboria. A single treacherous pass through the Eiglophian range from Asgurd into the Borderlands skirts the southern fringe of the River of Death Ice. Just north of this pass stands the crumbling ruins of an ancient Acheronian fortress known to the Aesir as Stamrak Keep. This keep is permanently manned by a detachment of warriors made up of men from many different clans. As per a long-standing agreement, all clans are required to send well-armed, well-fed and battle-ready men to the Keep in order to watch Asgurd’s vulnerable flank, ever ready for a Cimmerian or Hyborian raid.