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PRE-ORDER: Stalkers

The Nords

In the harsh climate of Mannheim, possessing the divine blood of the Einherjar is a tremendous boon, but, much like everything else in the north, it comes with a cost. The mighty Ugr possess the frame and power of their ancestor, but lack the grace and refinement to hone it, while the Valdeyr retain the ability to shift shapes but are cursed with an absolute lack of control over their form. The Stalkers have been gifted with the bestial senses of their forefather, possessing keener eyesight and an unparalleled sense of smell and hearing but, much like their half-blooded brethren, they possess no control over these gifts.[break] As is often the case with the blooded individuals, the greater the concentration of divine blood in them, the greater the power and the earlier its manifestation. Legends tell that Asvald the Loud, greatest of all Stalkers, was born with these gifts. Unable to quiet his crying, his desperate mother was driven to abandon him in the forest hoping the cold would kill the child quickly. The legend goes on to tell the tale of how Asvald was found by a pack of Fenrir who miraculously chose to nurse him, rather than devour him. In time, Asvald would become one of the most renowned heroes of the Nord, stalking his monstrous prey, flanked by the Fenrir pack he came to dominate.

For most Stalkers, the onset of their powers is more gradual. As they manifest, the din and clamor of village life makes it impossible for them to sleep or concentrate, to say nothing of the stench their nostrils bathe in at all times. Slowly driven from their homes, they soon find a peace of sorts in the frozen forests and mountains of Mannheim. There their gifts allow them to thrive like none other could. Invariably becoming accomplished hunters and woodsmen, they develop some rudimentary control over their abilities. In time, they find it possible return to civilization, bearing rare pelts and trophies for trade. But almost invariably, the clamor of village life will once more tire them, and the frozen north always beckons… After a few days or weeks, ‘civilized’ life will exhaust a Stalker and they will return to the quiet, harsh embrace of Mannheim’s frozen lands.

It is not uncommon for Stalkers within a region to develop a camaraderie of sorts. Unlike the usual Nord way, this is not forged over roaring flames and flagons of mead. It is rather a quiet communion, conveyed across leagues and seasons through rock piles and broken twigs, through firewood caches and hidden rations. Face to face meetings are rare, driven mostly by chance or necessity. Loners by choice, the Stalkers will readily band together when needed to take down fearsome prey, or tackle a danger greater than they could handle on their own.

It is not uncommon for Stalkers to answer a daring ship captain’s call to raid. While booty and thralls hold little appeal, the call for exploration, experience and discovery echoes ever loudly in their hearts. The sheer diversity in scents and sights that the sun-lands offer is surer a bait than any promise of glory or plunder. It is a fortunate captain indeed who can count on a Stalker band amongst his forces. These master woodsmen are invaluable during a raid, eliminating sentries and cutting off lines of supply while the main forces move into position. Once the battle is met, Stalkers provide much needed ranged cover for their brethren before wading into combat themselves.

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