Forgotten Realms: Birthright
Rashemen is a cold, rugged land, populated by hardy and fiercely independent people. Its men are berserkers, disdaining armor and fighting with axe, spear, sword, and bow. Its women wield powerful magic tied to the land, training those with magical potential to serve the land and the Rashemi race. Although Rashemen is ostensibly ruled by a powerful warrior called the Iron Lord, the true powers behind the throne are the Witches, who choose the Iron Lord.
The land is full of nature spirits, any of which can turn jealous or vindictive against those who offend them. Rashemi laws are simple and based on honor, and they disdain the trappings of civilization. The people are devoted to the warrior ideal competing in athletic contests and other harsh physical activities such as swimming in near-freezing rivers. These challenges keep them strong, for weakness would doom them to death at the claws of the land’s many monsters.
Faerûn knows Rashemen as the Land of Berserkers, a cold, alpine-and-rock land of fierce warriors ruled by masked Witches. Colorful tales tell of the Witches’ cruelty – but such stories stray far from the truth. The Witches rule with absolute authority, sternly and firmly, but they hate cruelty, having repeatedly tasted it at Thayan hands.
Rashemi warriors are fur-clad or leather-armored pony riders. Showing cowardice or incompetence at arms results in shunning. They fight in loosely disciplined warbands known as Fangs, each led by a chieftain. In time of war, Witches command the Fangs. When fighting, a Witch of Rashemen wears black robes and a mask, arming herself with magic rings and whips that dance in the air, animating to fight by themselves while their owners cast spells.
The armies of Rashemen are commanded by the Huhrong, or Iron Lord, who is expected to be the epitome of the Rashemi warrior. He is chosen by vote of the Witches, during a secret meeting at which any Witch may propose any person as Huhrong. The Iron Lord is expected to rule wisely, keeping order rather than deciding policy. It’s his task to keep travel between cities safe, frontiers secure, and marauding monsters to a minimum. The Witches instruct and protect the Iron Lord, and can remove him from office at will.
Throughout the land, Witches are revered and heeded. It’s certain death to harm a Witch, and usually death to disobey one (unless one is a child, another Witch, or an ignorant outlander defying the word of a Witch for the first time. Among themselves, Witches strive to understand living things and their fellow Rashemi, so that open disputes are few. Their manipulation steers folk toward agreement, and the land is kept strong and united, regarding Thayvians as deadly foes and Rashemen as sacred land to be protected and tended. All Witches are female; the few magic-wielding males in the country are known as Vremyonni, or Old Ones, because they are preserved by magic to great age. Kept hidden in the Running Rocks, they devote themselves to crafting new spells and the magic items the Witches use in battle.
Most Rashemi never leave the realm after the dajemma of their youth, a year-long journey wherein youthful Rashemi become adults and see the world. Age, experience, and accomplishment determine rank within the Witches (the age of most Vremyonni placing them high among the Wychiaran, the Witches’ name for themselves and then in the same order within all native Rashemi who cannot work magic, with outlanders ranked at the bottom.
Rashemi are a short, muscular, hardy race, given to cross-country racing in fierce winter weather, exploring the old northern ruins of fallen Raumathar, and hunting snowcats while unarmored and lightly armed. They herd sheep, goats, and snow rothé, export wool, furs, carved stone, bone, and jhuild, or firewine (which costs as much as 15 gp per tallglass elsewhere in Faerûn} Rashemi love sjorl a heavy, smoky-flavored cheese that outlanders find horrible.
Weapons: Battle Axe, Two Handed Sword
Armour: Hide, Leather
Mounts: Horse, Dire Wolf (rare), Dire Boar (rare)
Two-Handed Weapon Fighting Style
Chauntea, Mielikki, Mystra, Malar