The primary race that inhabits Salvagard are the werewolves, or Wolf Kin, descendants of those who migrated to the kingdom over 1800 Years ago. It is of not that years of isolation has caused several changes in their physiology that, whilst not too apparent, still helps them to stand out amongst the others of their kind who still inhabit human lands.
Firstly, Salvagardian werewolves are normally much larger then other lycanthropes, in human form usually being between 6’ to 6’3” and in wolf form being half as large again. The most common hair colouring is light blond, and eyes of blue or green are also common. In wolf from this translates into pure white colouring all year round whilst retaining the same shade of eye colour in every form. They are also known for having smaller ear cups as full wolves to help retain heat and have a larger paw tread to enable better traversing of the snowy climate.
There are two major biological elements to Salvagardian werewolves that must be discussed. The first is the lack of any kind of infectious bite. Human literature is full of tales that tell of werewolves biting normal humans and changing them into werewolves themselves. This is not the case for Salvagardians, for whom the need for an infectious bit became irrelevant in a world where there was no-one to infect. Whilst they still have strong jaw muscles able to give an incredibly powerful bite, there is no chance of infection of their condition to another, be they human animal or other.
Because of this, werewolves of Salvagard rely solely on procreation in order to propagate their race. However, the harsh conditions of the climate meant that it was vital that all fertile females have as many children as possible per litter. To do so the mating process is almost always done in wolf form by both parties, after which the mother will remain in wolf form for the duration of her pregnancy until the pups are born, where she is able to return to changing between forms as normal. This means that litters of 6-9 pups are a regular occurrence in Salvagard, although there is a sharp decline in population numbers as the age rises due to the many dangers that are still present in the kingdom.
*Birth and the Family
In Salvagard there is no such thing as marriage, as the community usually works as a whole, and any sort of binding ceremony would be pointless. Relationships are normally very close between all community members, with disputes being rare. After a group of pups are born and weaned they will be given to the father, who will help teach them the basics of survival in such a harsh land, along with the skills to hunt in any form (Note, this differs in the royal family, where the male hairs will remain almost exclusively with the father whilst the female heirs will remain with the mother most of their youth).
They will also be taught rudimentary weapons handling with the professional soldiers based in the community. Literacy is common, with almost all young Salvagardians learning the basics of reading and writing, although many not continuing the practice beyond their early years.
At the age of 10 the child will be returned to the mother, who will then begin to educate the child in the roles they will be fulfilling in the community, which can range from being a guard to the local tanner. However, they still continue their hunting and fighting skills to prepare for the Trial of Ascension when they reach 18, a rite of passage to mark them as worthy full blood adults. Once it is completed they will become full adults in the eyes of the law, able to own their own land or move to another community, although that is rare. Family ties remain strong for the entirety of a werewolf’s natural life and the loss of a relative always affects the family emotionally.
As with all living things, the werewolves of Salvagard all age and eventually die. However, like all of their kind the span of years by which the people remain on this plane of existence is greater then that of the average human. Many who survive the trials of youth live well into their 100’s, with some even reaching the age of 150, although none have been known to live beyond the age of 152.
Most deaths in the Kingdom occur whilst hunting, as the dangers in the forests of Salvagard are many even after all this time, from the savage beasts to the trolls and even magical beasts from the nether realm itself .
The next most common is death in combat, as the raids by the Icemen still continue even after 1300 years, and all people of Salvagard are required to do a full year’s military service every 10 years to help bolster the numbers (usually broken up into two month stints).
The last biggest killer is old age, as many who reach the age of 130 are retired from the battlefields and gain a place as honoured elders in their community before dying surrounded by friends and family.
There are very few deaths from disease, as a werewolf’s natural constitution keeps them healthy when most people would be stricken by infections.
Funerary arrangements are almost solely cremation, where the dead are consumed by flame and sent on to the afterlife, whilst their possessions are distributed amongst their friends and family. On the battle field when the bodies recovery is unlikely only their silver tokens are taken, which are then melted down in a symbolic ceremony to help the tortured spirit find the afterlife.
"You don't have to be mad here, but it helps."