Folk and Folklore of the North – Part 1: The Wolf Kin
‘Aye, it’s true what they say: “it’s grimmer up North!” Those folk have their own way of doing things. They brook no guff from no one — least of all a Reiklander. The first bunch of pies I hawked there went down easily, but they didn’t half carp about the comet design! Have we got any cutters the shape of a wolf’s head?’
— Hugo Rumster, Sales Representative
The stark yet striking north of the Empire is the setting for the upcoming Power Behind the Throne. For characters used to the fertile and temperate aspect of the Reikland, it serves well to know a bit about the factions and behaviours of northern folk before venturing forth to its chilly hillsides and deep forests. Sigmarite Witch Hunters can find that the same attitude of authority that sees folk jump to their command in Nuln can find themselves hoist upon their own pyres under Drakwald eaves.
The Reikland is the heart of the Empire, at least insofar as its citizens like to think. They imagine themselves the beneficiaries of long history and rich culture. Altdorfers, whilst grateful for the efforts the folk of northern provinces make in defying Beastmen and Norscan raiders, can also be somewhat dismissive of their remote countrymen. In many ways the north is as foreign to them as Bretonnia, a cold land of rugged mountainside and spray-flecked rocky coasts, the people wild and fierce.
In fact, citizens of Middenheim and Salzenmund have as much access to luxury and entertainment as those in southern cities. Sure Altdorf’s and Nuln’s theatres and palaces may be larger and more opulent, but only by a degree. And the north knows how to party! The Middenheim carnival takes place every year, drawing talented performers from all over the Old World (and beyond) to delight the baying crowds. Compared to eight fun-packed days with a vast range of entertaining events taking place at every hour, all over the city, even the Reikland’s famed Schaffenfest looks like a glorified village fête in comparison.
Yet it is undeniable that there is a wild side to the north. The example of Ulric, god of wolves, battle and winter, inspires the folk of Middenland who, on the whole, prefer to honour him with the same fervour Altdorfer’s reserve for Sigmar. Ulric is a rather harsh god, whose creed emphasises personal prowess and the will to confront hardship.
Most Ulricans expect little from their god, turning to him during midwinter festivities and before battles to beseech him for the strength needed to endure. But he has his fanatics too, the Wolf Kin foremost among them.
It would not be entirely correct to describe the Wolf Kin as a faction, rather a manifestation of a pattern common to certain Ulrican extremists. They have no formal organisation, and the only thing that links them is their commitment to a tough and individualist lifestyle. To be Wolf Kin is merely to embody the spirit of Ulric in facing challenges on one’s own terms. Such folk are often deeply cynical, regarding civilisation as a ridiculous artifice, and a denial of powerful and primal aspects of their natures. For them the worship of Ulric is not undertaken in magnificent temples or as part of firelit throngs at midwinter, but through resilience by withstanding the icy months with nothing but an axe for company, or sheer bloody mindedness through tracking down and slaying a band of marauding Beastmen alone.
So for any party of Reiklanders heading north, remember you’ll need more than a warm shot of Echte Brandenburger or a block of Nordwander’s mint cake to fortify you on your sojourn.
Dave Allen, WFRP Developer
Middenheim: City of the White Wolf Art Reveal
Check out the career art below from upcoming WFRP release Middenheim: City of the White Wolf – PDF coming Quarter 4 2020.
Browse all of our WFRP titles here including Enemy in Shadows and Death on the Reik — the first 2 volumes for the Enemy Within Campaign.
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