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Norsca is a fictional place in Games Workshop's Warhammer Fantasy world setting. It is analogous in position within the "Old World" to Scandinavia and its human occupants, the "Norse", are a fantasy version of the Norse peoples (including the vikings).
Norsca has a heavily indented coastline and is otherwise mountainous. To the North lies the Realm of Chaos (also called Shadowlands by Norse, Kurgans and Hung and known as Chaos Wastes), to the south beyond the Sea of Claws lies the Empire and to the east and South east the Eastern Steppes and Kurgan nation and the kingdom of Kislev, respectively. Between Norsca and Kislev is a wilderness area called Troll Country. Norsca is usually referred to be part of the Chaos Wastes; as the area is very close to the Wastes and is suffused with the corrupting power of Chaos.
Norsca was originally populated by both High Elves and Dwarfs. Humans came to this land long after them. Norse Dwarves still remain and often come into conflict with the Norse tribes, but Elves have left the land. There are many ancient elven ruins. One of these mysterious places is the Forest of Knives, in the middle of Norsca, where an ancient Elven temple is located. But this place is extremely difficult and dangerous to reach.
The Norse Dwarfs are the most northerly of the Dwarfs of the Old World. While related to the Dwarfs in their strongholds to the South the separation over the years has led to some changes and the Norse Dwarfs have taken on some more wild characteristics compared to the mainstream of Dwarf society.
- The main stronghold (capital) of Norse Dwarfs in Norsca is Kraka Drak. Other major holds included Sjoktraken (port), Kraka Dorden, Kraka Onsmotek, Kraka Ravnvake.
- In the 2008 Warhammer Fantasy Battle (7th edition) book: Warriors of Chaos, features story about destruction of Kraka Drak. This is done by "the Emperor of Chaos" Valmir Aesling. Valmir was a great general of the mighty Chaos Champion and Everchosen Asavar Kul, so this story probably happens during the time of "Great War Against Chaos" (IC circa 2300), but it is implied to have happened shortly after the defeat of Asavar Kul. Even though the story gives the idea that Kraka Drak is totally destroyed, it is still featured in many sources that are dated after the war. One possibility is that hold was retaken by the Norse Dwarfs sometime after the war (or not totally taken by the invading Chaos Horde). Or it could be a simple oversight on the part of the writers.
The Norse are in description and in the models produced similar to the Vikings. They are described as great sea borne explorers, traders, reavers and slavers who have built and maintain colonies in Lustria (the Warhammer world's version of South and Meso America). Models released and entries in publications such as Warhammer Armies for 3rd edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle and the Man O' War naval game are clearly based on the Vikings.
Main information about Norse can be found from the Liber Khorne which is Volume I of Liber Chaotica (other Volumes also have stories involving Norse characters), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP2) supplement Tome of Corruption and Hordes of Chaos supplement for Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Some information can be found from many other Warhammer sourcebooks, for example Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP2) supplement Realm of the Ice Queen, which has little information about Norsii migration. There was also large article about Norse for the use of Warhammer Fantasy Battle in the Citadel Journal Issue 6. Also Norse Marauders make an appearance in the mercenary supplement Dogs of War and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP3) Liber Carnagia adventure Crimson Rain (there is some information present on Norse customs and culture as well), which is part of Omens of War supplement. Various novels dealing with Norse characters, such as Wulfrik, Palace of the Plague Lord, Valkia and so on, also includes a lot of information regarding their culture.
- Their entries in the Warriors of Chaos armybooks state that they are 'the epitome of the Warriors of Chaos'.
- On average, the Norse tend to revere Khorne the most out of all the Chaos Gods.
- Original people that migrated from Norsca to settle the pre-Imperial lands were called the Norsii. They were the ancestors of current Norse tribes. They were driven back by the Southern peoples back to their homeland due to their violent and devastating raids on other tribes.
- Biggest (main) tribes of Norsca are: Aeslings (northern tribe), Baersonlings, Bjornlings, Graelings (northern tribe), Sarls, Skaelings and Vargs (northern tribe). Liber Khorne mentions also Brennuns, but this tribe is not mentioned in any other source which may mean that they are actually minor tribe. Possibly under one of the biggest (main) tribes.
- In the Wulfrik novel for Warhammer Heroes, it is mentioned that the Aeslings prey on Kurgans and regularly pillage their lands. It is also said that the Norse in general keep trade relations with Kurgans, to whom they sell slaves.
- The Norse, particularly the Aeslings, keep trade relations with the Chaos Dwarfs for Chaos armour and weapons. Chaos Dwarfs can often be found working for the Norse in their smithies.
- There are many minor tribes or clans among the Norse, which are mentioned in many published sources. These included Fremen, the Hound, Iceblade, Ironpelt, Snaegr, Sortsvinaer, Stormfang, Stormraven, Ten Bear, Thunderbear, Ursfjordings (Bearmen of Urslo), the Crow Brothers of Winterpyre and the Gorehunt tribe.
- The Norse tongue is a complex language with over a dozen tribal dialects. Structurally, it bears many similarities to Khazalid, the language of Dwarfs, but it is corrupted by the instrusion of words from Old Reikspiel and the Dark Tongue.
- Norse mint small silver coins called Sceattas. The coins feature the crude likeness of the tribal King from which it originates. Norse do not use gold for currency, rather they melt down gold coins to make jewellery.
- Norse law-system is called Wergild. It is similar to the actual Werglid system of law that was used by the Anglo-Saxons; every class of individual that a person can murder is set with a specific amount of Norse Sceattas that the murderer must repay to the concerned party, or they can instead be subjected to a punishment of the hurt party's choice. The administration of werglid is overseen by the Jarl. The holy men of the Norse do not have a worldly werglid that their attacker must pay; as the Chaos Gods themselves will avenge any slight made upon their priests.
- Norse "nobility" is usually referred as Jarls. But chieftains among the tribes are sometimes referred as Jerg. Jerg can have Jarls under his ruling. The highest rank is King, which usually rules one of the biggest (main) tribes. High King of Norsca is mentioned in some sources and this means that one of the tribal kings has risen to rule most of the tribes. Norse Jarls and Kings tend to be powerful Chaos Champions or those who otherwise bear the marks of the Gods in some other fashion.
- Among the Norse are berserkers and "Ulfsarks" (shape-changers into either a wolf or bear). These shape-changers are called Ulfwerenar by the WFRP2 supplement Tome of Corruption. They were also mentioned in a short story in the 6th edition Hordes of Chaos supplement 'the Weres of Fjirgard', were it is said they are fallen Chaos Champions and a type of Chaos Mutant.
- Because Chaos Wastes (and changing raw energies of magic and Chaos) are very close to Norsca, various mutations and warped effects are so common as to be universal among the Norse and even the terrain. Norse view these as marks from the Gods.
- The port settlement of Skeggi is a Norscan trading post and colony on the Lustria coast.
- In the latest edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battle the Norse, along with the Kurgan and the Hung are described as the predominant Chaos Marauder tribes.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP1) supplement Marienburg: Sold Down the River has history which details many Norse raids against the Marienburg. Also it says that Rothemuur agents manage the Royal Trading Hall in Olricstaad, which is capital of High King Svein (current year for this information is 2512 IC or 2513 IC). This is somewhat non canon, as later sources dated in this period state that the Norse have no High King and there is no mention of Olricstaad in any other source.
- During the Storm of Chaos Archaon gathered his generals, The Four, amongst the Norse. Archaons the Four are featured in the Hordes of Chaos Special Characters.
- Archaon's predecessor—Asavar Kul, also recruited his three generals from the Norse tribes: Engra Deathsword of the Vargs, Sven Bloody Hand of the Graelings, and Valmir Aesling of the Aesling tribe. Sven Bloody Hand and his Norse warriors also destroyed the Kislevite city of Erengrad during the Great War of Chaos.
- The first Everchosen of Chaos, Morkar the Uniter, was a Norse.
Norse religion is dynamic and complex, featuring a broad pantheon. Norse worship mainly Dark Gods using human sacrifices. These Dark Gods include Chaos Gods Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Tzeentch. Norse have many names for these Gods. But Norse also worship other beings (many seem to be Daemon and Daemon Princes) and spirits of ancestors and heroes. There also seems to be other Gods, which might be Gods that are not related to Chaos.
Main themes for Norse pantheon include: War, Desire, Decay and Hope. Their Pantheon rarely features just a single God per theme, rather they may have several. Norse religion is featured in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP2) supplements Tome of Corruption and Tome of Salvation. Also Liber Chaotica features Chaos Gods. In the Hordes/Warriors of Chaos supplements for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, it is stated that the all the Norse recognize the Chaos Gods as the masters of these various lesser deities and pay their highest religious devotion to them.
- Norse do not have official priests and their holymen are called usually Vitki or Shaman. These individuals are almost invariably Chaos Sorcerers. Norse may use different names for their holymen, like "Bloodfather", who worship Khorne and are powerful warriors who bear his mark and who receive visions of carnage from him. Among them these holymen are viewed with fear and they are basically untouchable, because Norse fear the wrath of Gods.
- Skaeling tribe workships a Daemon God named Mermedus (believed to be a dark reflection of Manann), which dwells beneath the Sea of Claws alongside the Four Chaos Gods. Mermedus is also acknowledged by the other Norse tribes, but he is not worshiped as he is invoked in curses made during maritime mishaps. According to the Liber Carnagia, the Skaeling are also dedicated followers of Khorne.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP2) supplements Tome of Salvation features Lesser Ulrican order called Order of the Winter Throne, which followers are simply called Ragnarites. There is secluded monasteries also in Norsca where also is orders legendary cave-system where mysterious Throne of the Snow King is located.
Outside of games, there have also been numerous novels and short stories by various authors set in the Warhammer world. Some happen also in Norsca. Some novels involving mostly Norse characters and places are C.L. Werner's Palace of the Plague Lord, Forged by Chaos and the Wulfrik, Valkia and Sigvald novels for Warhammer Heroes. The Legend of Sigmar novels also display the Norse as the main antagonists of the first two books. Slaves to Darkness, by Gav Thorpe, also shows the Norse tribes as important supporting characters to the Imperial born Chaos Champion protagonist.
Norse in other games
- In Man O' War, the Norse ships are Dragon ships and Kingships which resemble the Viking longboats complete with square rigged striped sails and carved dragon prows.
- The Norse are also available as a team in Blood Bowl where they are skilled blockers but have poorer armor than most other teams.
- Norsca and the Norse are featured in the Warhammer Online (WAR) MMORPG computer game published in 2008. Player can choose to play the side of Destruction and there to choose Norse character. Also Norse invanders are found many places in the game and Norsca is actually one game-zone. Norsca zone features only small part of Norsca between Troll Country and Sarl territory in the southern Norsca. The Norse marauders featured are the warriors of the Raven Host and are worshipers of Tzeentch. Though followers of the other Chaos Gods amongst the Norse are also featured in a non-playable capacity as enemy creatures.
- The protagonist of Warhammer: Mark of Chaos's Chaos Campaign is a Norse Chaos Champion known as Thorgar the Blooded One.
Citadel released a range of Norse miniatures in the 1980s but these are now out of production but examples of individual Norse models are still available for Blood Bowl.
Miniatures of Norscans mostly exist now as Marauder and Chaos Warrior miniatures. Though they can be painted and assembled in such a way as to portray any of the three main Chaos humans—Norse, Kurgan or Hung.
- the Citadel Journal Issue 6, Games Workshop, 1994
- Nunez Jr, Alfred (2002), Dwarfs: Stone and Steel, Hogshead Publishing, ISBN 1-899749-28-4
- Williams, Richard (2005), Liber Chaotica (complete edition), Black Library, ISBN 1-84416-394-6
- Williams, Richard (2003), Liber Chaotica Volume I: Khorne, Black Library, ISBN 1-84154-272-5
- Von Staufer, Marijan (2003), Liber Chaotica Volume II: Slaanesh, Black Library, ISBN 1-84416-043-2
- Von Staufer, Marijan (2003), Liber Chaotica Volume III: Nurgle, Black Library, ISBN 1-84416-064-5
- Von Staufer, Marijan (2003), Liber Chaotica Volume IV: Tzeentch, Black Library, ISBN 1-84416-085-8
- Ragan, Anthony (1999), Marienburg: Sold Down the River, Hogshead Publishing, ISBN 1-899749-14-4
- Werner, C.L. (2007), Palace of the Plague Lord, Black Library, ISBN 1-84416-481-0
- green, ronin (2007), Realm of the Ice Queen, Black Industries, ISBN 1-84416-433-0
- Schwalb, Robert J. (2006), Tome of Corruption, Black Industries, ISBN 1-84416-309-1
- Schwalb, Robert J. (2007), Tome of Salvation, Black Industries, ISBN 1-84416-314-8
- Stillman, Nigel (1998), Warhammer Armies: Dogs of War, Games Workshop, ISBN 1-872372-02-3
- Thorpe, Gavin; Priestley, Rick; Reynolds, Anthony and Alessio Cavatore (2002), Warhammer Armies: Hordes of Chaos, Nottingham: Games Workshop, ISBN 1-84154-222-9
- Warpstone Issue 19, Warpstone, 2002
- Ward, Mat (2008), Warhammer Armies: Daemons of Chaos, Nottingham: Games Workshop, ISBN 1841548839
- Kelly, Phil (2008), Warhammer Armies: Warriors of Chaos, Nottingham: Games Workshop, ISBN 1841548987
- XXX, XXX (2007), Omens of War, Fantasy Flight Games, ISBN 1-58994-818-1
- Games Workshop - Owner of Warhammer and publisher of Warhammer Fantasy Battle
- Warpstone - an independent WFRP support magazine
- Fantasy Flight Games - the current publisher of the WFRP and its official forum
- Warpstone - an independent WFRP support magazine
- Kalevala Hammer - Link to Kalevala Hammer Norsca Project (Norsca Sourcebook)