The Witch Queen goes forth to meet them. Alone. Should've been a warning sign, really.
Of course, she cheats. They meet in the fields of Eris Aman, the orcs thick as ants to the horizon and the Queen atop a white horse on a hill. "You shall not pass," the Queen cries, and sings a song that tears the land asunder as she shatters her staff over her saddle and Jahzir closes to strike her down personally. The strength of the North is drowned at Eris Aman, beneath a crushing wall of water, as an immense furrow is dug from the foothills of the Highhorns to the Sea of Pelluria. A second such cataclysm affects the Aruun, separating it from Sarcosa by a roiling and turbulent channel. Earthquakes are felt across the continent, and even Theros Obsidia trembles.
What such magic might have cost her, no man can say. She has not been seen since, and the elves mourn her passing. But her last act has greatly impeded the war effort, both by drowning orcs beyond count and by placing a miles-wide channel full of unknown obstacles and treacherous currents between the shattered Isles of Avalon (as they come to be known) and the lands of the Shadow.
The orcs are not known for their seamanship, and develop a superstitious dread of the channel in any case. The legates turn to the Dorns to map the channel and mount raids against the elves in exchange for freedom of armament and travel while the orcish armies are reinforced and trained for an amphibious invasion. Rumor has it that the Pirate Princes were offered amnesty in exchange for their services, but whether they took this bargain is unknown. Regardless, sellswords and brigands from across the North flock to the new coastline, there to build longships in the manner of their forefathers and raise the Raven Banners for plunder. Clans long since dispersed are united, and althings held once more. Oaths are sworn, boasts made, swords forged, and blood feuds begun in the wooden towns attending the longship havens. It is an time of energy, if not unity, among the long-downtrodden Dorns.
Some among the Legates are concerned by this, and reasonably so. Who knows what treachery a clever captain might manage on elven shores? And should a chieftain emerge so well-respected as to unite the clans under one ruler, a great deal of trouble could be had. Such Legates keep these concerns to themselves, of course, instead preferring to show faith in Izrador's ultimate victory, but dispatch collaborators, spies, and minions to join the raiders and keep an eye on the Dorns nevertheless...
Enter the PCs, as dornsvikings, their bondsmen, dwarven and halflings slaves, heretic legates, mercenaries, secretive warlocks, and assassins and scions from the courts of the Traitor Princes, all set on having their glorious deeds recorded in the final Fimbulwinter Saga, that when the world ends, the last man dies, and the Veil is broken, their names might be read from the standing stones and earn their restless spirits entry into Valhalla...
Rivals: Other viking captains, orcish warband leaders, elven pirate captains, Dornish mercenary companies
Patrons: Legates, Dornish chieftains, elven officers?
Unholy Terrors: the Night Kings (some of whom may have been killed in the Flood and subsequently replaced), demons of the Aruun released during the Second Sundering, hungry aquatic Fell
- Available at start: Barbarian, Fighter, Explorer, Assassin, Thief, Venturer (with some -magic +fighting tweaks; Vikingier merchant), Skald (Bard)
- Available at start, but consider the consequences:
- Evil, may impede double-crossing: Cleric of Izrador, Priest of Izrador, Anti-Paladin, Warlock in service of Ardherin, Black Iron Dwarf Fury, Vaultguard, Craftpriest of Izrador, or Machinist
- Magic users, short life expectancy, especially in party with Evil member: Runespeaker (Mage), Seithr (Warlock)
- Nonhuman, limited liberty: Enslaved Dwarven Fury or Vaultguard, Enslaved Halfling Cook/Thief
- Available exclusively via recruiting on Avalon: High Elven Spellsword, High Elven Nightblade, Wood Elven Ranger, Wood Elven Whisper Adept, Wood Elven Savage
- Not sure yet: Witch, Valkyrie (both fit thematically, but the divine magic is a problem), Orc (fits setting, but outclasses human fighters, evil, pack animal, and doesn't like boats), Ruinguard (fits thematically, but might require some reworking of the race)