Proper Name: Kingdom of (the) Cruski
Ruler: His Most Ferocious Majesty, Lolgoff Bearhear, the King of Cruski, Fasstal of all the Suelii (CN male human Bbn15)
Government: Independent feudal monarchy with hereditary rulership, though with little actual control over jarls, who act independently of one another; king controls the area around the capital and farms within 30–50 miles
Major Towns: Glot (pop. 5,100), Jotsplat (pop. 3,200)
Provinces: Seventeen jarldoms (five around Jotsplat), over thirty minor noble holdings, and Glot (capital realm)
Resources: Furs, copper, gems (I), rare wood (sablewood, not exported)
Coinage: Kronar (gp), haf-kronar (ep), linnwurm (sp), thrall (cp)
Population: 158,800—Human 96% (S), Dwarf 2% (mountain 65%, hill 35%), Halfling 1 (stout), Other 1%
Languages: Cold Tongue, Common, Dwarven
Alignments: CN*, N
Religions: Kord, Llerg, Norebo, Xerbo, Vatun
Allies: Snow Barbarians (sometimes)
Enemies: Sea Barons, Stonehold, North Kingdom, Scarlet Brotherhood, Frost/Snow Barbarians (sometimes), Ratik (sometimes)
Overview: The northern and eastern coastal regions of the Thillonrian peninsula are home to the Ice Barbarians, or Cruski. Their land is the coldest and most severe of the Suel barbarian kingdoms, but the hardship has served to strengthen their independence. Dwelling in seaside towns and mountain steadings, they make hunting, fishing and whaling their major occupations. Shipbuilding is clearly important, and piracy is as well, with seasonal raids southward providing both wealth and the opportunity for battle that the barbarians crave.
Their military consists primarily of war bands of medium and heavy infantry led by local jarls. Shipcaptains lead crews of sea-raiders gathered from the same infantry, who serve as rowers at sea and warriors on land. They are usually armed with sword or axe, wearing chainmail and iron helms, and carrying the round shields favored by all barbarian Suel. Cavalry is not unknown on the western tundra, but few tundra-dwellers are Ice Barbarians, most having Flan ancestry and being related to the Coltens of Stonehold. They do not serve as warriors for the Cruski, instead paying tribute to their Suel overlords to be left alone.
The Cruski themselves are a people of pure Suel race, speaking the Cold Tongue as their native language. Though they have always been the least numerous of the Suel barbarians, their royal lineage is the oldest. The king of Cruski holds the title “Fasstal of all the Suelii,” indicating his preeminence among the nobles of the Suel race and giving him the right to pronounce judgment on any of them. Politically, this has little real importance, for he has no power to enforce his judgments. However, it is said by some that the god Vatun granted this authority to the fasstal of the Suelii; if Vatun awoke, the full authority of the office would return to the fasstal, and a new barbarian empire would emerge under his leadership.
History: The tale of the Cruski is in many ways the tale of all the Suel barbarians. Driven from their homelands by the Rain of Colorless Fire and the awakening of the Hellfurnaces, their ancestors entered the Flanaess as a people without any final destination. Over years of war with the conquering Oeridians, they were pushed to the very edge of the Flanaess, yet survived even in this forbidding landscape. As a people, they were always distinct from the high culture of the civilized Suel. They were thought of as a mere rabble, with a primitive dialect and no magic. In the north, they became the strong masters of their own land, from which they would never be cast out. Thus, they called it Rhizia, which means immovable.
The Suelii called themselves by names in the Cold Tongue, too: Cruski, the Ice Clans, who are the most noble and brave; Schnai, the Snow Clans, who are the most numerous and strong; and Fruztii, the Frost Clans, who are the bulwark and first in battle. They battled with each other over the long years since Vatun lay down in the cold, but they would always join their hosts together when an outsider threatened. The Schnai perfected the art of building longships, and the Fruztii found adversaries for the barbarian nations to fight and plunder. The Cruski joined with their cousins on many of these raids, taking special joy in fighting their particular rivals, the Sea Barons of Aerdy.
This was the life of the barbarian Suel for hundreds of years, through victories and losses. Their freedom was undiminished, but it was subtly threatened several decades ago. Travelers from the south came to call at the courts of the barbarian Suel. Calling themselves the Brothers of the Scarlet Sign, they claimed to be kin of the Fruztii, Schnai, and Cruski. By blood, perhaps they were kin, though distantly—but, in spirit, they were the same devious manipulators who claimed to rule the ancestors of the northern Suel. They came with tales of the lost glory of the Suel race and its ruined empire. They told how the Cruski were descended from an Imperial House, the noble and loyal servant of the last Suel emperor.
Old King Cralstag knew well that his ancestors, be they slaves or scoundrels, were never the lapdogs of an emperor who stank of magic. So he told the Scarlet Brothers, and before all in his court, as his judgment on their words. For this, the Brothers murdered him soon thereafter—not with clean blade or strength of arms, but with hidden venom in his cup.
The king’s nephew, Lolgoff, knew the old king’s judgment and the manner of his death. When the Brothers were brought before him, they spoke words of praise and honor for the dead king, and they smiled. Lolgoff smiled too, as he cut them apart with the old king’s sword, for he honored Cralstag in deeds, not words. As king and fasstal, Lolgoff pronounced his judgment: The Brothers of the Scarlet Sign should receive only death in the kingdom of Cruski.
Since the Greyhawk Wars, the Cruski have heard little from the Scarlet Brotherhood, though they are rumored to be present among the Fruztii. Territorial disputes with Stonehold that predated the wars were finally brought to a head three years ago, when a combined host of Cruski and Schnai entered the eastern hold. They were unable to capture the town of Kelten, but the Cruski reinforced their control of the Taival Tundra.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Royal hatred of the Scarlet Brotherhood grows, as does distrust of the Frost Barbarians. Stonehold accuses the Ice Barbarians of attacking Vlekstaad. There are secret parlays between the Snow and Ice Barbarians for raids against the Sea Barons and possibly the Lordship of the Isles.
Idee (see Ahlissa)