Diversions

This is from a notecard created by Deek Boucher

Those who tell the tales of Torvaldsland are known as SKALDS. A skald is a combination singer, poet and bard. They are highly respected and talented men. During the feast-season of Odin, a primary holiday, a good skald is difficult to find due to their popularity. The people must bid for them and the bidding gets quite high. Sometimes though, a skald may be kidnapped for the holidays. He will be released once the feast-season is over and will be compensated with great wealth for his efforts. Entertainment is important in Torvaldsland and takes several other forms as well.
Torvaldsland has its own version of Kaissa. They have a greater passion for the game than even those in the south. They will sometimes settle differences over the Kaissa board rather than battle with weapons. They construct Kaissa boards that they can use at sea. Each square of the board has a tiny peg in its center. The pieces all have holes so they can fit over the pegs. Thus, the pieces will not move around the board in rough waters. Some of the pieces in their version differ from the southern version. They have a Jarl instead of a Ubar. The Jarl is the most powerful piece on the board. They have a Jarl’s Woman instead of a Ubara and it is a more powerful piece than the Ubara. Instead of Tarnsmen, they have Axes. The Axe is a valuable piece, especially in the early and middle game. Instead of Scribes, they have Singers that move the same. Singers are valued the same as Axes but their usefulness does depend on the phase of the game. In the end game, a Singer is often more valuable as it can control more spaces than the Axe. Instead of Initiates, they have Rune-Priests. They do have Spearman and they move identically as in the southern game. Instead of a Home Stone, they have a Hall. One strong opening is the Jarl’s Axe Gambit. That would be akin to the Ubar’s Tarnsman Gambit.
The Thing, or Thing-Fair, is esentially a large tournament and fair in Torvaldsland. The men may participate in a wide variety of contests and can win talmits. A talmit is a headband and they are not always just prizes. Talmits may also signify different districts, officers and Jarls. They may be made from a variety of materials such as the skin of a sea sleen. Men often bring their slaves to the Thing. Merchants and men of other castes from cities south of Torvaldsland may also attend the Thing. Combat is prohibited at the Thing but men can still carry their weapons. This prohibition does not extend to duels. It also enables outlaws to attend. Each free man of Torvaldsland must attend the Thing unless they are a farmer who works his farm alone. Each of the men who attends must present to the Jarl hosting the Thing a helmet, shield and either sword, ax or spear in good condition. Each man must maintain his own weapons. The only exception is mercenaries who are in the direct hire of the Jarl. In that case, the Jarl supplies their weapons. Even those who cannot attend the Thing must still maintain their own weapons and present them at least once a year to the Jarl.
Some of the contests at the Thing include swimming, archery, singing, poetry composition, wrestling and rhyming games. They also must climb the mast, a fifty-foot tall pole of needle wood. There is a broad jump on level land and a walk of the “oar” that is actually just a long pole. There is spear throwing for distance and accuracy. Riddle guessing is popular. One such riddle in the books was “What is black, has eighty legs and eats gold?” The correct answer is the Black Sleen, the ship of Thorgard of Scagnar. There is even a rough bat and ball game. In this game, there are two men on each side. The object of the game is to keep the ball away from the other team. No player can hold the ball for more than a referee’s count of twenty. The player can throw it over his head and try to catch it himself. He can also throw the ball to his teammate or hit it to him with the bat. The bats are made of heavy wood and the ball is wooden as well. Being struck by a bat or the ball can be painful and injuries are common. There are even beauty contests for bond-maids. The winner will receive a pastry while her owner will get a silver tarn. It is rare for a man to win two talmits at a Thing. During Marauders of Gor, Ivar Forkbeard wins an unprecedented six talmits at the Thing hosted by Svein Blue Tooth.
Torvaldsland men also play other ball games including a hockey-type game. Legendary Torvald is said to have been quite skilled in that game. They also enjoy playing Stones. The Oar Dance of the Rover is not quite a dance. It is actually an athletic feat requiring a superb eye, keen balance, and incredible coordination. You must leap from one moving oar to the next oar all the way down a ship and then back again on the other side.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s