Thynghowe Forest Skogarmaor
Hrothgar is an unapologetic bandit and makes no effort to hide this; he takes what he needs for his men and sheds no tears about it. That said he does not have a reputation for cruelty but rather does what needs to be done. Those that fight him he kills, those that surrender he robs and lets them go on their way. He is very much at home in the forest and a life as a brigand suits him. Hrothgar grew up in poverty with his family tenants to a lord that was no better nor worse than any other but he hated the grime. When he was fourteen he stole his father’s bow and slipped away, never to return. He has a reputation as a fine shot, a skilled tracker and a formidable hunter. With him he has his Vølve (witch) wife whom he captured whilst travelling through the forest. Hrothgar was so taken by Veleda, his future wife, he claimed her as his own and killed two of his men who tried to lay hands on her. At that time Hrothgar had seven ‘wives’ and several children but he cast them all aside for her. Since then Hrothgar has grown in strength.
Freydis Bjorgsdóttir and the Hacksilver Horde
The Hacksilver Horde is bizarrely made up of pirates driven inland when their fleet was destroyed by the Duke of Epave’s squadron. The infamous pirate Bjorg One-Eye was famed for his raids on the Divine Empire, Successor States and even the Elves of Edhel-Duntolas. He carried out the great traditions of his Blood Isle ancestors in reiving his way around the Indertsa Sea and the Ocean of Mists. Bjorg One-Eye was a sea-priest of the goddess Besmara; a deity of pirates and sea monsters. He had a very successful career till his wealth and ego grew too big and he started to raid the Crimson Coast. He annoyed the rulers of the coast so much that the squadrons of both Cramois and Epave co-operated in hunting the pirates down. Eleven years ago his fleet was outmanoeuvred and ran aground or sunk on the western shore. Bjorn was either killed, captured or escaped, the legends and rumours are so numerous, but much of his pirate force fled inland to the Thynghowe Forest. Bjorg’s men all carried the Mark of Besmara upon them; members of his crews had this branded on them as an initiation rite. It made them easy to identify and bound them closely together but it hindered them is slipping away back in to normal society as there was a bounty on all of the pirate’s heads. His three sons bickered over who should command but overtime their deaths led to his only acknowledged daughter, Freydis, becoming leader. Freydis Bjorgsdóttir is now the unchallenged leader of the Hacksilver Horde and has inherited all of her father’s ruthlessness and cunning. Most of the Horde are of Blood Isle and Coaster stock but there are some of other cultural and racial backgrounds and they prey on any and all their neighbours with little care for the harm they cause.
Erol and the Tattered Banners
The bards have often said that some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them, Erol is one of the latter. The son of a petty noble he led an exemplary life till matters turned otherwise. His father was a poor steward of his meagre estate and soon ran up debts which Erol was forced to adventure to pay off. Whilst he had been away his father had become somewhat of a figure of ridicule for the locals and upon his return Erol was not at all pleased with this. His sweetheart was now engaged to another man that openly mocked Erol and made disparaging comments about his family; it was far too much to bear. Everyone who saw it said the fight was both fair and honest but it led to a blood feud the moment Erol slew his detractor. To save his family he became an outcast, a Skogarmaor, to lift the burden of the feud from them. As an outlaw he was beyond the protection of the law and honour so he took to the Forest intending to lead a quiet life but men like Erol are not so blessed. He slew the Giant Spider of Gleve’s Dell because no one else would or could. He fed the singing Tree of Wax Covert when all wanted it felled and then even ended the Braxton Feud. For a man wishing for a quiet life he made a name for himself and men flocked to him. At first he turned them away but in time he led a small and then not so small band whose motto became “honour may have left us but we have not left honour”. People called on him for help and he came but he always extracted a price of a future favour for some unspecified deed which was usually an annoyingly good one. He made the Hag Witch cure a child of summer fever when all she really wanted to do was curse the whole family but she owed Erol. He made people good by his actions and a network of debts and not everyone liked that.
The Sherriff of the Western Woods served Duke Rankin in name but really was a shallow man of poor character; that is was everyone said of course. They say he lured Erol in to a trap using his onetime sweetheart as the bait, for even a man as wise as Erol is a fool in matters of the heart. Erol was arrested and tried for beating his ex-fiancé to death though all knew he could never do such a thing. He now resides in the Sherriff ‘s donjon awaiting his trial but has forbidden his men from any attempt at rescue for they and their loved ones would have to pay the price for his folly. Not all of his men are convinced of this.
The Háukon family had served the Duke of Epave for generations as Masters of Coin and had done well out of it. Sadly greed is the downfall of all though and Heston Háukon, the latest servant of the Duke, was caught embezzling funds. While awaiting trial he and his family tried to flee but the ship they had hired failed to arrive and they had no other choice but to flee in to the Thynghowe Forest. Heston’s elder son, Inge, was a famed warrior and he led a competent band of huscarls who carved out a niche for the Háukon family. In exile with them were Heston’s second wife, Latifa, and their son Innocence who was named after the ruler of Divine Empire from where Latifa had been born and raised. Latifa was younger than Heston and only in her early thirties while he was well over sixty; Innocence was a bright lad of nineteen and Inge in his forties.
They did well with the Háukon establishing themselves as a force in the forest. Like the other outcasts they raided and stole but with Inge leading them it went well enough. Then recently things went wrong when both Heston and Inge died in an ambush with the Green Noose Band. This left Innocence and Latifa on their own in effective control of the Háukon. Things got worse when Latifa fled with the remaining coin of the group leaving Innocence on his own. Since then the luck of the group has dropped off with several defections from the ranks. Innocence himself is an intelligent and educated young man with some skill in magic but has never led men and it shows.
The Green Noose
The Green Noose are a collection of the outcasts of the outcasts; truly men of very low worth with little or no morality. They are a cruel bunch who enjoy their reputation as torturers, rapists and cutthroats. They are hated by the Forest Folk as they prey on them more than any of the other bands. That said they are happy to fall upon anyone without mercy. They have horrible initiation rites that would curdle the stomach of any decent man but still their ranks grow. They are a force for evil within the Forest and the recent murders of Heston and Inge Háukon was a great success for them. They have at least one priest of Erythnul, the god of Hate, Envy, Malice, Panic, Ugliness, and Slaughter, within their ranks along with at least two assassins.
They are also one of the oldest bands in the forest but have changed their name several times when leaders have died or been murdered by a new ruling faction. They currently are led by Rygela Thorn, a female ranger of immense cunning and ruthlessness. She has already killed two rivals and is looking for the next. She has several husbands who are gelded if they fail to please her desires; the position of her lover is not sought after.
The Craven Crows
The Craven Crows are a group of professional bandits that have been steadily losing ground to The Green Noose. They are also the most mixed group in the forest having Coaster, Halvras and Hugond in their ranks. They recently lost their cleric of Obad-Hai, the god of Nature, Woodlands, Hunting, and Beasts, to a Green Noose assassin. Morale has dropped and they have retreated away from the rival groups but cannot keep doing so with more effort being spent on defending their families. Recently a foreign woman called Sanala the Red has joined the band who is a warrior-priest of the demi-god Stratis. She has brought much needed increase organisation to the ranks and possibly hope. She preaches of a better life for all beyond the forest and asks for them to have faith.
llustration: Purchased from Daniel Comerci Stock Art