Northern Cimmeria, in the icy lower slope of the Eiglophians, mid-way between the Field of the Chiefs and Mount Crom.
Settled. The Ice Leopards occupy a sprawling settlement in a deep glacial valley that is protected from the deep snows of the winter by the thick tree line and natural depth of the valley itself.
Raeda, Tunog, Murrogh. Both of the latter clans have been the target of raids by the Ice Leopards into the Blood Glens.
The Ice Leopards venerate the big, pure-white cats of the same name, wearing their pelts, teeth and claws and marks of clan membership. As occupiers of the mountainous region of northern Cimmeria, the Ice Leopards are experts at survival in the cold weather, understanding how to harvest and store food to see them through the freezing winter months, as well as protecting themselves from the attacks of mountainous predators such as the Frost Giants that wander through the mountain passes onto Cimmeria’s slopes.
As one might expect from a clan taking its name from a mountainous predator, the Ice Leopards are warlike and ﬁerce. They enjoy descending into the lowlands to raid and make war on clans such as the Tunog and Murrogh, but they especially enjoy battle against the Picts. The Ice Leopards made a name for themselves at the battle of Venarium where Fenrik, one of their champions, and a delegate to the Cimmerian war council, excelled in the slaughter of Aquilonians even though it cost him his own life.
Life in the Ice Leopard’s territory is simple and harsh. The clan has few speciﬁ c rituals, concentrating instead on the day to day practicalities of survival. Despite their undoubted skills in survival, infant mortality during the winter is high, and the clan accepts this without any sentimentality. The fact that only the strongest survive means that the clan takes advantage of its natural hardiness, being prepared to travel far in order to raid from others in order to ensure its own survival.
Within their own territory, which is steep, heavily wooded, frequently snow-choked, treacherous and cold, the Ice Leopards rule supreme. Even the Tunog and Murrogh, who hold blood feuds with the Ice Leopards, are wary of travelling so far north in search of revenge, and they know that, even if the natural hazards of the Ice Leopard’s territory do not kill them, the Ice Leopards know the terrain so well, that even a large force is at a disadvantage.
One tradition adopted from the Nordheim is that of the community council, known as the Thing. The Thing meets three times each year to discuss clan business, petty injustices and so forth. The chieftain chairs the Thing, but the entire community makes the decisions. The Thing works on precedent, so oral accuracy is of paramount importance, and several individuals within the clan are tasked with listening to, and memorising, every case and judgement the Thing attends to, so that justice is served consistently. Where the interest of the entire
clan are concerned, the judgement is known as Wapentake; he clansmen show their support for a decision or course of action by clashing their weapons against their shields, with the loudest display sealing the judgement.
The most prized treasure of the Ice Leopards is the skin and pelt of the Frost Giant Jhurl. This immense monster from Nordheim tore through the Cimmerian side of the Eiglophians in a terrible rage, hurling trees and boulders before him. The Ice Leopards had no idea what had angered the giant so much, but were quite prepared to meet the monster in battle. So it was that the six champions of the Ice Leopards, Colm, Dara, Mhorn, Jurgen, Micha and Ionhar, set out to meet the 18 foot-tall monster and engage it in combat.
When the battle was ﬁ nished, Colm, Dara and Micha were dead, snapped like twigs or pulled apart. The forest where the battle occurred was slicked with blood and, even now, snow does not fall there or turns red when it occasionally settles. Jhurl was dead too, stabbed through the heart by Ionhar’s mightiest spear thrust. It took thirty strong Cimmerians to drag the corpse of the giant back to the settlement where it was skinned and put on permanent show outside the camp as a warning to other frost giants of the welcome they faced if they dared attack the Ice Leopards. Colm, Dara and Micha’s bravery has been immortalised in the Jhurk Saga, a lay taught to every Ice Leopard youth, and their weapons and armour are considered sacred items to be used only by the chiefs of the clan
Ragnal, son of Rhegad, is the current chieftain and has been for six years. He wears the pelt of the great white leopard slain by his father, and wears its teeth as a belt. Ragnal is young, sombre and taciturn. He has a reputation for even handedness even though his temper, typically Cimmerian, is short. Ragnal’s position as chief was ratiﬁed by the Thing and only the Thing can challenge it. In the six years of his tenure, no one has seen ﬁt to bring a complaint against him.
His wife is Vanya, a Nordlander from Vanaheim. Vanya was part of a raiding party that came through Ice Leopard territory a decade ago. In the ensuing battle, Ragnal and Vanya met in combat and, even though the rest of the Vanaheim part was slain, Vanya and Ragnal fought on, evenly matched. The ﬁ ght only stopped when Ragnal cast down his axe and told Vanya, bluntly, that, since they could not kill each other, they had better marry instead. Vanya replied: ‘Think of the children,’ and so they were. Vanya is now a ﬁrm part of the Ice Leopards and has renounced her Vanaheim heritage
Notable Clan Members: None -
History and Outlook
The Ice Leopards originate from central Cimmeria although the clan did not go by that name originally. It is remembered that the clan was driven from its lands by what became the Raeda clan, and so a feud exists between the two. Travelling north, the survivors of the nascent Ice Leopard clan found the snowy valley that is now their home and established a settlement with only a handful of huts. It took many generations for the clan to grow to its current strength, and it weathered many hardships, but over the years it forged its own identity and, recalling how its originators had been driven from the lowlands, it decided never to place its trust in cast-iron alliances and to remain aloof, as much as it could, from general lowlander affairs.
The clan fought hard against incursions from Vanaheim and Asgard, always holding its own and creating heroes in the process – although many brave warriors were lost as a result. The clan has survived avalanches, frost giant assaults, Nordheim raiding parties and the occasional attack from the south, such as the ill-fated war band the Raeda sent against the clan eighty years ago (resulting in the massacre of Snow Peak, where not a single Raeda warrior survived the fury of the outnumbered Ice Leopard warriors).
The Ice Leopards rely on no-one. They respect good foes, but do not concern themselves with seeking alliances or soothing existing feuds. That they have achieved alliance with the Snowhawk and Bardh clans is perhaps Crom’s will, so the Leopards believe, rather than through any overt desire to make friends.
The people of the clan are pragmatic survivors, taciturn, aloof and disdainful of the soft southerners who once drove them from the Cimmerian plains. Despite their battles with the Nordlanders over the years, they hold a grudging respect for the tenacity of the people of the north, who share similar values and instincts to the Ice Leopards. The marriage of Ragnal and Vanya raised no eyebrows because she is a stout warrior equal of one of the clan’s champions and was prepared to accept Cimmerian ways over those of her blood-kin. Those who ﬂ ee clan feuds in the south, and who brave the snows and cold, and are willing to join fully with the Ice Leopards are given a similar welcome – although any new additions must always prove their worth and be prepared to stoically accept the hardships of life in the frozen mountains and valleys of the Eiglophians.