A twisting jagged mountain range with occasional northern-like winds, Fate’s Summit holds treacherous cliffs and wide flat breaks, housing various types of trees and undergrowth. Clouds often hang mid-rise, obscuring the peaks from those who pass by leaving what lies above a mystery except for those daring enough to make the trek. It is rumored that those who make it to the peaks are led by fate and may experience a life-changing event.
Vanderfell Woods was founded on similar beliefs to that of the first High Queen’s birth pack. At its core are Nordic roots with a deep desire for strength and honor. All members are required to pull their own weight, with strong encouragement to specialize in a set of valuable skills.
While the pack may care for one another like family, members are expected to remember their place. Do not go against the word of those ranked in tiers above you. Additionally, the word of the King and Queen is law, and advisors of The Skald are trusted to speak in their place.
Respect is everything and common formalities such as bowing one’s head upon greeting, using proper titles, or other forms of acknowledgment to one’s status are expected unless said member allows casual pleasantries. Trespassers who refuse to leave pack grounds are to be escorted to The Skald for questioning and/or punishment.
Any pack member caught committing or planning an act of treason, be it to a Vanderfell wolf or an ally, will be executed or exiled unless it was in self-defense. Accused individuals may plead innocence or for a lesser punishment by partaking in a Holmgang. Those who act in ways that threaten the wellness of the pack may be stripped of their honor and moved to The Thrall.
Honor— Let it be known that when honor is at stake, none shall interfere. The wolves of Vanderfell are prideful and believe in upholding one’s honor. Honor can be in terms of yourself, your family, or the pack as a whole. If issues arise and can not be settled then a Holmgang may be proposed though most matters don’t reach such severity (see rank challenges). Once a challenge has concluded issues are considered dealt with and are not to be resurfaced.
Upon acceptance, wolves become honor-bound and are to provide for their packmates to ensure Vanderfell thrives. Should one be caught tarnishing the name of the pack their honor may be stripped at the discretion of the High King and Queen.* Wolves who have been honor stripped may be given the chance to rebuild their name from The Thrall, though banishment is not uncommon.
* Ex. A wolf planning another pack without the permission of the Skald may be seen as traitorous and result in banishment
Elders— Given how rare it is to see an elder in the ranks, those who live long enough to see such a day are held with the utmost respect. Elders sit near the top of the Hedrad for the knowledge they have accumulated throughout their life that they can now offer to the pack and are often tended to by their packmates to ensure the remainder of their life is comfortable.
Elders usually retire by choice to the Hauldr around 8 to 10 years of age, though injury or liability may lead to forced retirement at the discretion of The Skald.
Marriage/Blood— Blood ties are very important in Vanderfell due to the honor of one’s legacy. Those who hold high standings within the pack and mate bring forth a promising new generation for Vanderfell hence birthing rights are reserved for those in the Hedrad or Skald. It is common for the man to ask the father of the bride for his blessing, though should no father stand present, the High King may act in his stead.
Some choose to announce their union privately, though if desired a feast and celebration may be held in the honor of the new couple. Marriages may only take place at the end of the week while the days prior are spent preparing for the ceremony. Men will spend their time filling the caches while women gather feathers or flowers to decorate where the ceremony will be held. The bride and groom will spend their time alone searching for offerings to exchange with their vows. Offerings can be anything, though most present pelts or trophies.
On the day of the ceremony, feathers will be woven into the couple's fur and a race across the territory will be held. All may participate in the race, though those who finish last will be tasked with bringing the food. Afterward, the pack will spend time together exchanging stories and feasting until golden hour when the couple will present their offerings to each other and to the Gods. Vows are then exchanged and afterward, the newlywed couple may excuse themselves for the night or stay to socialize.
Arranged Marriages and Allies— With blood an important focus in the pack, Vanderfell values the blood of their allies as well. In order to solidify an alliance, a member, preferably a child of a leader or honored member will be offered to close ties and bring both packs closer together through marriage. The children they bear represent the packs coming together as one and strengthening the alliance.
Because the alliance stands on the foundation of the marriage, the wolf offered may be allowed to speak with their potential mates and court one of their choosing to ensure they are happy. A large ceremony is highly encouraged so the packs may mingle and associate themselves with one another, though it is not required. Often the wife will follow her husband to live in his pack, though if desired the husband may move in with the wife. Alliances should be reforged every few generations to renew and restrengthen bonds.
Breeding— Wolves may not breed unless they have proved their worth to The Skald. Any wolf ranked amongst the Hedrad or Skald are automatically given approval to breed upon promotion, though some may ask for permission anyway. Those who breed ranked as or with someone below the Hedrad without The Skald's permission break Vanderfell law and risk their rank being stripped or exile.
Coming of Age Ceremony— Coming of Age is perhaps the most anticipated event in a pup’s life. At the age of 9 months, a child will undergo the ceremony before the pack that will carve out their future and place them into the adult ranks. Essentially the ceremony is a bridge from childhood to adulthood where a kid proves they are an adult.
Standing before the pack, children will pick a set of skills they would like to pursue* then partake in a trial suited to their path. Once the trial has been completed, the child will be promoted into the Drang to carry out their practices. When all trials of the day have been finished, a feast is held to celebrate the new men and women of Vanderfell.
*this choice is not locked in and can be changed later in life should the pup find another interest
Yule (December 21st - Jan 1st)— A mid-winter celebration in honor of peace, harmony, and the spirits. There is an emphasis on spending time with loved ones during the festival and often allies and friends from outside the pack will be invited to partake in some festivities.
Much of Yule is spent feasting, telling stories, or singing in the evening after a long day’s work. It is also common for wolves to present gifts to loved ones or to the Gods to show their appreciation.
Death— When a packmate dies the event itself is sorrowful, though most take comfort knowing they have gone to a better place. Members of the pack who greatly contributed and have completed honorable deeds will have a proper burial to commemorate and remember them as the soul is wished safe travels to the afterlife.
A grave is dug on burial grounds and items the individual may have liked are placed with the body for them to cross over with. Common items to be buried with are the meat of a favorite meal, pelts for comfort, and anything that might remind them of their loved ones. Once the grave has been covered, a large stone will be placed atop for communication so those who remain may speak to those they have lost.
Due to the structure of Vanderfell, ranks may only be challenged for if the wolf you are challenging shares the same rank. You may not challenge someone of a different rank for their title. For instance, the Skald is handpicked and equal aside from the King and Queen; they may not be challenged for nor may they challenge the leading pair. Two wolves ranked as Aesir however may fight for their placement within the rank.
Any challenges given to those who do not qualify such as an Aesir challenging a Radningar may still take place, but the duel will be founded on honor as opposed to rank. Honor is what determines your place within your ranking during natural shuffles. These challenges are often referred to as Holmgangs. Losing a Holmgang will lower your standing, but you will not lose your rank as a whole.
Rank Match— Should the requirements be met, a challenge may take place for one's ranking within their tier. These are not serious fights and as such, the goal is to pin or knock your opponent to the ground as opposed to inflicting harm. A member of The Skald is required to be present for validity and fairness.
Should the officiator find the means of the match or one's actions in battle dishonorable they may conclude the match early or deny the change in rank. In severe cases, the offender may also be stripped of their rank and moved to The Thrall.
Holmgangs— A Holmgang is a challenge proposed when two wolves can not set aside their issues. Traditionally honor is on the line, though in rare cases other factors may be at stake such as a bride, trophies, or banishment.
The rules of a Holmgang are simple; the challenge must be announced publicly and witnessed before the pack so there may be no false accounts of the event. Before the duel, both parties will have one last chance to settle their differences through words, though if an agreement can not be reached then the challenge continues.
A Holmgang begins at the call of the High King or Queen and after a Holmgang has begun no one may interfere until a victor has emerged. Typically these are not fights to the death, but until one is unable to continue. However, Holmgangs officially end when one party resigns. Due to this requirement, those who are stubborn or stupid have lost their lives.
Past Holmgangs— Challenger / Opponent — season Y — Victor
— Name / Name — N/A — N/A
High King / High Queen — Equal leaders, mated pair traditionally of opposite sex
Jarl — Trusted advisor / Tends to needs of packmates
Thane — Military advisor / Commander in times of war
Arftaki — Selected children of the King and Queen old enough to marry. They are responsible for solidifying alliances and expected to remain partnerless until one has been decided for them.
Hauldr — Elders
Modir — Expecting and nursing mothers of the Hedrad
Radningar — Expertise skill holders
Aesir — Specialty skill holders
Vanir — Base skill holders
Laering — Adults who are practicing a skill with guidance from the pack and have not yet developed their talent enough to prove they are capable on their own
Drang — Young wolves who have dedicated themselves to their skills with guidance from the pack. They will remain here until they have proven their skill and maturity to advance the ranks, or are 2 years old where they will then be moved to the Laering if they are still learning.
Commoner — Wolves who call Vanderfell Woods home but have no specialized skills to offer and are not currently working on a skill
Affiliate — Honorary rank for any creature that may align with the pack but are not formally part of the group
Drifter — Those who have recently been accepted into Vanderfell Woods and are still settling
Arving — Children of the King and Queen
Nipper — Children of Vanderfell Woods
Scorn — Those within Vanderfell who have broken Vanderfell law and disappointed, disobeyed, or challenged the word of The Skald or packmates ranking higher than themselves.
Servant — Those who have wronged Vanderfell Woods in some way and are paying off their debt. Servants are only ever outsiders and are released once they have paid their dues.
Ira | Paladin, Adventurer, Hunter, Counsellor, & Medic
Petra | Adventurer & Hunter
Runar | Paladin, Hunter & Adventurer
Hieronymous | Hunter, Paladin, Entertainer, Counsellor & Adv.
Olivier | Hunter & Adventurer
Katja | ???
Valette | Hunter & Adventurer
Torben | Paladin
Gunnhildr | Paladin
Rea | Hunter
Renn | Ecologist
Andor | Ecologist
The SkaldHigh King / Queen | Hieronymous ♥ — Ira / Ira ♥ — Hieronymous
Jarl | None
Thane | None
HedradArftaki | Renn, Cleo
Aesir | Valette ♥ — Greyback
Vanir | Rea, Torben
CiviliansLaering | Greyback ♥ — Valette, Ilya, Dagr
Drang | Andor, Petra, Olivier
Affiliate | Quicksilver
Drifter | Solare
LapsiArving | Runar, Gunnhildr, Ulrik, Katja