Strand is the starting point of The Banner Saga and the biggest trade town along the borders of the kingdoms of men and varl. It is overseen by the Governor of Strand, with Eirik acting as his steward.
As close as anything comes to a bastion of racial tolerance, both men and varl compete to scratch out a living in this, the biggest trade city along the west coast. Many people still believe the god Denglr still watches over it, granting good fortune.
Strand was established as a small fishing village and existed around the time of the Death of the Gods. The residents initially faced difficulty in living in the area due to its harsh climate, but it eventually developed into a city due to the trade, fishery and lumbering under the grandfather of the current Governor of Strand, becoming the largest of the trade cities on the border between the kingdoms of humans and varls.
Though nearly all of Strand's inhabitants were humans and it was a part of the kingdom of men, it also paid tribute to the Varl King as part of an alliance agreement that mandated taxes in return for the varls maintaining the northern strongholds, that protected both races from the dredge. This agreement continued even after the dredge completely stopped attacking others and mysteriously disappeared. It also became the capital of a province due to being a major city, and had towns like Karlshus under its suzeranity.
As time went on, many families gained influence and power. But the crop failures starting two years before the Third Great War were what led to crime going out of control. The failures caused a flood of refugees from elsewhere to Strand, but the number of jobs in the city were not enough to meet the demand, leading to a chaotic and desperate the situation. This resulted in some of the criminal elements and powerful clans warring with each other for the control of the city's streets.
A triumvirate of gangs soon formed, consisting of the Mársmidr, the Vak'auga and the Aetla Hilmir, as they tried to take over Strand. In order to achieve this purpose, they attempted to assassinate the Governor's son Ragnar in Karlshus about a year before the Third Great War. When that failed, they started raiding, leading to a chaotic situation in the city it never fully recovered from before the re-emergence of the Dredge and the Darkness that destroyed it.
The Banner Saga
- It has been several long months on the road. The first signs of snowfall accost us on our approach to Strand, largest of the trade cities on the varl-human borders, and our last collection before returning to the capital. Several days ago, the sun simply came to a stop in the sky, though during these long winter days, none of us can be certain how long it has been this way. Some of the men in the caravan have taken it as a dire omen. I am not quick to superstition, but I myself will be glad to be done with this year's rounds. We have been warned by stranded travelers about brigands on the path through Ridgehorn, our road home. Our captain seems unconcerned. Perhaps he is as eager as I to be done here. We will rest here this day and inquire further when we speak to the governor. — Ubin, The Banner Saga, Part 1 Prologue.
Strand makes its first appearance at the beginning of The Banner Saga, acting as the tutorial area for the player. Ubin and Gunnulf stop in Strand on a tax-collecting mission, and are tasked with dealing with a group of rebels in exchange for double the usual tithe. Eirik and Valgard assist the varl in defeating the rebels, the former of whom may later join the party to oversee the tithe's escort to Grofheim.
Once the rebels have been dealt with, a diplomatic envoy lead by Vognir and Hakon arrives, on its way to take the human Prince Ludin to the varl capital, Grofheim. Ubin decides to join them, leaving Strand behind.
The Banner Saga 3
"The old city on the human-varl border looms ahead, twisted into a claw, but still Strand. Now, I have to imagine the longboats bringing fish into the harbor, and the bustling of merchants hawking goods." -Iver, The Banner Saga 3
Strand is revisited in The Banner Saga 3, during the Ravens' journey to the White Tower. Having been consumed by the Darkness, Strand has been reduced to nothing but corrupted ruins -- save for its town hall, which is protected by Alfrun's weaving.
The group arrives just in time to rescue Alfrun, Valgard and Eirik (if he stayed behind in the first game) from a group of Warped attackers. After being rescued, the duo (or trio) will join the party. Eirik and/or Valgard reveal that they stayed behind to help evacuate the city, but were caught by the Darkness that warped most of its remaining citizens and warriors. The Governor of Strand, though protected by the two of them, died of a heart attack when the Warped began invading.
In The Banner Saga: Factions free/online/pvp game, the player starts out in the city of Strand. The buildings within Strand provide different services:
The Great Hall is where players find matches against other online opponents. From there, they can play:
- Versus (Quick or Ranked),
- Tournament or
matches, with varying timers.
In the Mead House, players can recruit new units. Experienced (5 kills) and veteran (30 kills) units can also be recruited here for an increased Renown cost, forgoing the kill-tally requirement for promotion.
Experience Kills Renown Apprentice 0 10 Experienced 5 25 Veteran 30 100
The Marketplace is where players can purchase:
- Rally Boost (+5 Renown per battle, win or lose),
- Additional character skins (cloth colors),
- Starter pack of four Rank-1 units (Provoker, Warhawk, Bowmaster, Backbiter).
Hall of Valor
Within the Hall of Valor reside the annals of war. Only true champions will leave their mark here.
The Hall of Valor tracks the following stats:
- All-time (and Tournament) ranking: Elo rating and rank number
- Number of Ranked (and Tournament) matches played
- Number of Ranked (and Tournament) matches won
- Ratio of Victories-over-Defeats
- Best Win-Streak in Ranked (and Tournament) matches
- Current Win-Streak in Ranked (and Tournament) matches
The triumvirate of gangs trying to overthrow the Governor had started recruiting able-bodied axeman with profits from their raids. The city had also become home to smuggling and illegal slavery by groups like the Vak'auga. Eirik and Valgard, helped in weakening the Glotta-Ox and Oerr-Brandr, two rival gangs involved in smuggling and protection rackets in Hundgaman, by feigning a fistfight and starting a violent armed brawl among the drunken members of both gangs.
When Ubin's party first arrives in Strand, the Skalfings are trying to seize the position of the governor by force. Strand is overrun by the Warped but the last holdouts are rescued by Iver and the Ravens in Chapter 17.
Grágrof (meaning "grey pits") is a slum district of Strand, where houses are tightly packed to keep warm. The residents of the area are predominantly lumberers, who are tough and armed with weapons. As such, gangs avoid the neighborhood and the biggest concerns are petty thieves. The area also contains a ruined temple that was once dedicated to an unknown god.
The Great Hall is the residence of the Governor of Strand and is located atop a hill. It also contains the living quarters of the Governor's Guard and the Steward. The building consists of two floors. Near the large entrance, a foyer is located, which further leads to rooms on the inside and stairs to the second floor, which contains living quarters.
The main dining hall is located further inside the first floor, and is where the governor holds court. It contains the Long Banner of Strand, which is modeled after the Great Banner of Arberrang and records history of both Strand and the world in general.
Hundgaman (meaning "dog's delight") is a slum area of Strand and located on its outskirts. The neighborhood mostly consists of poor people and illegal refugees. The gangs who vie for the control of this area are the Glotta-Ox and Oerr-Brandr, who are often involved in violent struggles or otherwise offering protection to the businesses in the slum area and smuggling refugees beneath the city walls.