One of the races of Lindwurm, included in both Warcrow Adventures and Warcrow. They are present in the following factions: The Northern Tribes.
The sturdy tattoo-covered bodies of the fierce and fearsome varank tell the tale of a people that has perfected their forefathers’ expertise: warriors, raiders, and whalers. A people whose dexterity and ferocity have turned into foes both bloodthirsty and relentless.
Together with the orcs, they’re part of The Northern Tribes. However, what keeps such ruthless predators together?
The Northern Tribes have dwelt in the Boreal Lands for centuries.
It was the orcs who first called those large, frozen extensions their home.
The varank, on the other hand, arrived in small waves as they left behind the north of the Central Continent due to the civil war that ultimately consumed the Elven Empire of Gae Assail.
A few years ago, the Fog started to descend in a worrisome fashion and a tribe of orcs initiated their march southwards to get away from what they call the Lurking Sea.
Meanwhile, the varank had always wanted to regain control over the lands they used to call theirs in ancient times: the lands bathed by the waters of the Gulf of Grjotgard and of The Cauldron. When the news reached them that the orcs were moving south, they saw their chance.
Thus, these two peoples struck a temporary alliance that took them into the Central Continent.
We’re varank. And war is in a varank’s blood.” Arndis Firehair.
The warriors that make up the varank host are organized around the jarl, the supreme leader of the clans in their region. This great warlord names his personal retinue and sets up the individual warriors into units commanded by the hersir, powerful and wealthy chieftains from the different clans tasked with guarding and protecting their land.
They usually act in small groups of light infantry that can go deep into enemy territory easily.
Their main means of transportation are ships, using them as much as they can. These vessels are used for piracy, transporting troops, or attacking coastal towns by surprise. They’re even known for taking to the rivers to reach unimagined escape routes.
Watching their ships come out of the mist is a blood-curdling experience. The bow of these boats is adorned with horrendous griffin heads, while larger vessels boast dragons with their maw wide open.
Both types of heads are carved in wood with pieces of metal and are put in place to scare away hidden beings or the guardian spirits of the towns they invade. When they return home, these visages are removed and stored until the next journey, so as not to offend the Bölstorr Gods. Lest they believe they’re being challenged…
Varank society is made up of free individuals and, to a lesser extent, slaves.
Their population dwells in family houses, where anyone from the youngest to the oldest lives together. They are bound to answer the call of their jarl or hersir, either to take part in expeditions, and surveillance missions, or to march to war.
Slaves live in chains and are imprisoned. They’re usually prisoners of war or people the varank have kidnapped and divided among the most powerful members of the tribes as loot. A slave can fight if their master allows it, but it isn’t a common occurrence. They have, however, three ways to gain their freedom: they can buy it, they can be freed by their master, or they can be bought by others to then be freed.
In any of these cases, the varank will uphold their part of the deal by setting them free, but first, they’ll eliminate any chance of revenge on the slave’s part. If, for example, an archer is captured, the varank will cut off their middle and index fingers, so they may never again lose an arrow in their lives.
For a varank, honor is paramount. Whoever lacks honor is nothing more than a wretch. Or even worse, a craven. Logically, a society with so much pride begets friction and infighting.
Justice plays a key role and it’s delivered by the jarl, whose authority is supreme. Any varank who would disobey the jarl is banished and branded an outlaw.
As their name suggests, outlaws are considered outside the law and are therefore stripped of their lands, rights, and property. As if that wasn’t enough, any other varank has the obligation of killing an outlaw on the spot if they meet one. Such is the harshness of varank law that any warrior who crosses paths with one of these outcasts and doesn’t kill them will, in turn, be declared an outlaw.
However, this punishment lasts only three years. If they manage to avoid death for that period of time, they may return to their clan and fully regain their rights regardless of what did during their banishment.
Varank tattoos are a tradition that’s been kept since time immemorial and have become part of their very essence. Through them, they immortalize the most relevant events in their lives.
There are several types, but the Spirit Totem is the most relevant one. It’s revealed on the varank’s skin when they reach their twelfth year, during a ceremony led by the tribe’s shaman and the tattooist (they’re the only ones that know the secret of its making).
Through this Spirit Totem, the animal inside the varank is revealed. This is the animal they may even transform into, but their totem has to be incredibly powerful to overcome the core nature of a fierce varank.
Most of them only display some of their features, such as the regenerative capacity of Scarred Skule or the toughness of Borg Bloodless’ skin, which no arrow has ever been able to pierce. Only those whose totems are as powerful as the predators of the earth, winds, or waters, can ever be called Shapeshifters. The countless legends on them have been repeated from generation to generation.
Characters and Units
- https://www.facebook.com/corvusbelli/photos/a.2110139289105094/5453591961426460/ Published October 18, 2022
- https://warcrow.com/blog/varanks-northern-tribes Published January 26, 2023