Stout and hearty, brave and strong, the men and women of the danagrim are among the most resilient in the world. Standing around five feet in height, they are typically far more broad and stocky that other races, and have the endurance to match. They have a tremendous affinity for earth and stone, and the making of things, whether they be stone buildings, fine armour, masterwork weapons or exquisite jewelry.
The stereotypical danagrim is dour and taciturn, and some live up to this reputation, particularly in the company of strangers or those of other races. But many are opinionated, outspoken and passionate, while others still are garrulous and inquisitive. Aside from their skill with their hands and talent for craftsmanship of all kinds, danagrim are also known for their love of silver and gold. Again, this is not always the reality, and although many danagrim do cherish material wealth and security, they can also be extremely generous folk.
The danagrim are an ancient people, yet for reasons of history and geography they are now commonly encountered in Europe in two distinct lineages. These are typically known as the Norse and the Roman ‘seams’ of the danagrim race.
The Norse seam is common in the hills and mountainous lands of Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, Scotland and Central Europe. Organized into clans, they are fiercely independent and have proud traditions going back many generations. Typically led by a chieftain, who is often a great warrior, these clans often come into conflict with araken and goblins which have been pushed into danagrim lands by the expansion of human kingdoms over the last few centuries and compete with the stout clansmen for resources.
With the guidance of their mystical praise-singers, the Norse danagrim worship a pantheon of gods known as the Aesir. They also revere their Stoneseers, danagrim blessed with extraordinary power over the elements who can manipulate earth and stone like no others.
The clans live in strongholds in the hills and mountains, often with stone bastions above ground and extensive networks of chambers and passageways beneath. They are designed to be highly defensible and are very difficult to penetrate, particularly given the military prowess of their defenders, which has been honed by centuries of warfare. Given their skills, many danagrim clans produce excellent mercenaries, but equal numbers are craftsmen and merchants.
The Roman seam has its origins in the expansion of the Pax Romana over a thousand years ago. Danagrim clans in the mountainous areas conquered by the Romans – in Italy, Spain, Greece and elsewhere – found that their resilience and discipline was highly prized by the legions and were assimilated into the Empire. Over the next few centuries they and their communities adopted the language, culture and gods of the Romans and became some of the most loyal and valued Imperial citizens.
The danagrim legions became renowned for their courage and unbreakable discipline, and served with distinction in many of the Empire’s most challenging conflicts. They also established themselves as some of the Empire’s finest weaponsmiths, armorers and builders, being responsible for many of the wonders of Roman architecture. As they became established, and indeed essential to the Empire, they spread throughout its borders and flourished. The network of danagrim throughout the Empire became a powerful mercantile force, with the bonds of family and honour across vast distances facilitating trade and establishing great dynasties. And as the Empire became Christianised, so too did the Roman danagrim.
Despite their prowess and financial resources, the Roman danagrim were unable to prevent the fall of the Empire by the middle years of the first millennium. However, their resilience enabled them to survive its collapse better than other peoples, and their distinctive culture and military traditions ensured that they retained a coherency even in the face of the chaos that surrounded them. Finally, their Christian faith bound them, both to each other and to the emerging power of the Church in Rome. Most Roman danagrim view the Pope as the heir to the authority of the Roman emperors they served for generations, and today this seam are fiercely loyal to the church and staunch in their faith.
As a final footnote it should be said that, technically, there are two seams of Imperial danagrim. In addition to the Roman seam in the west, an Imperial seam survives in the eastern empire of Byzantium. Subscribing to the Orthodox faith and loyal to the Emperor in Constantinople, the Byzantine danagrim nevertheless share many cultural bonds with their Roman cousins and these relationships underpin important political and trade links between east and west.