The Fjarrstrand Sagas: Pt. 2 (Cultures)

CULTURES OF FJARRSTRAND

 blog pic 2

AUSTRMEN (MEN OF THE EAST)

Austrmen are the most prominent and influential cultural group among the men of Fjarrstrand.  Nearly all major settlements along Fjarrstrand’s northeastern coasts and Western marches are Austrmen holdings, and nearly all guilds, noble houses, and ruling bodies are of Austrmen origin.

Descended from the Teutonic people of Northern Europe, and tracing the lineage of their kings from Óðinn, they established the first settlements and noble houses of Fjarrstrand after their exodus from Midgard nearly 30 generations ago.

While they were once a brutal and warlike folk, who constantly thirsted for battle and plunder from sea-reaving, their rise to dominance has done much to curb those impulses. There are, however, a confederacy of island-dwelling clans, the Gamlegard, that keep to the old ways.

Appearance:  Most Austrmen have strong Nordic features: a thin face with prominent cheek-bones, blond or red hair, and blue eyes. Austrmen males are sometimes clean-shaven, although most prefer mustaches or full beards.

Austrmen are a tall, powerfully built people.  Both men and women often wear their hair braided.

They wear cloaks, broached upon the right shoulder, over woolen tunics and leggings. Leg bindings are often worn to protect their leggings from wear and to provide the wearer protection from mud and cold weather.

Culture:  Austrmen, unlike their ancestors, are reserved and not given to excesses. A hard-working and stoic people, the Austrmen are fatalistic.  At the same time, they value both good judgment and common sense.  Their word, once given, is kept; for honorable dealings are key to maintaining order and stability.

Austrmen are known for their codified and comprehensive legal systems, and for their use of scribes and chroniclers to record both historical and demographic data.  Austrmen speak the Gotrtung language.  Many Austrmen nobles are literate.

Politics: Austrmen holdings are made up of seven semi-independent jarldoms united under the rule of an elected king. The three most influential royal families are the Austrlings, the Hárvagri, and the Knýfelungs.

Most of the time, the jarls are locked in age-old rivalries that predate the arrival of the Austrmen upon these shores.  However, over the years, a few kings have managed to unite the tribes in order carve out an expansive realm.

 Political Bodies:  Løgting (The Jarls’ Assembly)

Resources:  Spruce, oak, ash, alder, yew, hazel, and rowan.  Deposits of iron, truesilver, silver, and gold. Mead, cheese, livestock, and ale. Wool, amber, livestock (cattle, sheep, and lamb), fish, whale oil, and both walrus and whale ivory. Artisan handiwork: ship builders, tapestries, manuscripts, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Grimstad, Hammerhall, Holmestrand, Kaupenborg, Sigestad, Stórrhafn, Sunneheim, and Torvik

Male Names: Aldhelm, Alfhere, Ashbere, Beastan, Becca, Beow, Beowulf, Breca, Eadgil, Eanmund, Edgelaf, Edgetheow, Eofor, Eomer, Eormenric, Finn, Folcwalda, Freotheric, Froda, Gewulf, Gislere, Garmund, Guthhere, Guthlaf, Halga, Hama, Hareth, Healfden, Heardred, Heathoric, Helm, Hemming, Heoden, Hengest, Heorogar, Herebeald, Herefaran, Heremod, Hildeburgh, Hlithe, Hnaef, Hrethel, Hringweald, Hrothgar, Hrothmund, Hrothulf, Hunlaf, Hygelac, Ingeld, Mearchealf, Mearca, Offa, Ohthere, Onela, Ongentheow, Oslaf, Oswine, Raedhere, Rendhere, Rumstan, Saeferth, Sceafa, Sceafthere, Scyld,  Secca, Sheaf, Sigehere, Sigemund, Swerting, Theodric, Unfenh, Unwen, Wada, Waels, Wald, Weoxstan, Widsith, Wiglaf, Withergyld, Witta, Wod, Wonred, Wudga, Wulf, Wulfgar, Wyrmhre, Yrmenlaf.

Female Names: Aesa, Aedha, Aethelred, Alfhild, Bodwyn, Brecca, Britta, Brynhilde, Caedwella, Caewlin, Eadhild, Ebba, Edda, Edrie, Elga, Ella, Elvina, Endrede, Eowyn, Essa, Freaja, Freawaru, Gerda, Gilda, Grimhilde, Groa, Grytha, Hedwig, Helga, Helma, Hilde, Hildeburgh, Ingerd, Kara, Lynde, Modthryth, Myna, Olga, Rae, Ragna, Sigrid, Swanhild, Thryth, Tylda, Thyra, Wealhtheow, Wertha, Wyn, Vaetild, and Yrsa.

Ruling Clans: Austrlings, Beornwalding, Froedelung, Hárvagri, Knýfelungs, Saeglafing, Unferthr

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, executioner, farmer, mercenary, noble, physician, sailor, scribe, seducer, seer, skald, thief, thrall, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Blood of the Immortals, Brawler, Born-at-Sea, Born-in-the-Saddle, Carouser, Excellent Library, Excellent Workshop, Fearless, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Giant Strength, Great Wealth, Hard-to-Kill, High-Born, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mimir’s Gift, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Tools of the Trade, Trademark Weapon

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, City Dweller, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

 

brjotaband BRJOTABAND (THE UNSHACKLED)

The Brjotaband or “Unshackled” are former thralls who revolted against their Austrmen masters, nearly two centuries ago, and laid claim to several settlements in what was Fjarrstrand’s southern frontier.

Most trace their lineage to a group of Midgardian tribes collectively called The Gaels.  These tribes were enslaved by the forebears of the Austrmen and brought into these lands to serve as their thralls.

Their clanholds now span the southern lands of Fjarrstrand, allowing them to trade as equals with, and defend themselves against, their Austrmen neighbors to the north.

Hostilities between Austrmen and Unshackled forces are infrequent but bloody… fueled by years of open, brutal warfare following the Unshackled’s uprisings.

Appearance:  The Brjotaband are slightly shorter than both Austrmen and Fraevolk.  They are of fair to ruddy complexion, with wavy hair of red, brown, or black and blue, green, or grey eyes.  Facial hair is uncommon on men, and both men and women tend to wear their hair at shoulder-length.

The Brjotaband favor brightly colored and embroidered tunics, along with woolen trousers, and cloaks fastened at the shoulder with a brooch. These cloaks are striped or checkered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colors.   Women wear floor-length skirts or dresses made of wool or linen along with shawls or cloaks.

Jewelry of bronze, gold, tin, silver, coral and enamel is common among the upper classes, with nobles and warriors wearing a circular twisted metal neckbands, called torcs.

Culture:  The Brjotaband, who call themselves The Unshackled or Braegalic tribes, revere their ancestors through sagas, ballads, and epic poem that pass down the deeds of Unshackled heroes from one generation to the next.  In spite of the fact that The Unshackled rely of oral tradition, their scribes are famous for their beautifully illuminated manuscripts.  Austrmen nobles pay handsomely for the fine work of Brjotaband scriveners.

Honesty, diligence, bravery, and generosity are valued by the Brjotaband. A passionate people, the Brjotaband hold family and friends dear but make vengeful and merciless enemies to those who cross them.  The Brjotaband are known for their wild revelries and love of the arts.

The Brjotaband speak the Braegalic tongue.  Its written form uses a unique set of runes.

Politics:  The Unshackled, unlike the Austrmen, are not united under the rule of a single leader.  Instead, their settlements are ruled by councils made up of the heads of prominent families.  Property within these settlements, and their outlying lands, are collectively owned by the extended families of these council members, with every person responsible for his or her share of the property and its obligations.

Political Bodies:  The lands of the Unshackled are divided into several clanholds that are comprised of allied settlements.  Clanholds, in turn, are ruled by an assembly made up the council leaders for each settlement.

Local druids act as both priests and judges within their precincts, and noble families (those holding lands) are held responsible for enforcing the law and carrying out the sentences imposed by druids.

Resources:  Ash, yew, oak, and elm.  Deposits of copper, tin, silver, and iron. Mead, grains, livestock, whiskey, ale, and dairy. Artisan handiwork: fine bows, jewelry, pottery, glasswork, tablewares, tapestries, manuscripts, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Abon, Baelsend, Blackwater, Corben, Graighan, Lochlann’s Fall, Muginshed, Newbridge, Shoreham, Tyne, Wall

Common Male Names:  Aeddan, Aonghus, Branwen, Brian, Cairbren, Cathal, Ceallach, Coeth, Conarn, Conall, Cormac, Dermaid, Guiare, Eoghan, Fearghus, Ian, Liam, Liogach, Loarn, Niall, Oenghus, Oisin, Raeghan, Raon, Seamus, Sean, Tuathal, Ultain

Common Female Names:  Aileen, Aillin, Anara, Bragwaine, Brighid, Caer, Cearnait, Caite, Daona, Eadaoin, Eanna, Fiachra, Maire, Nease, Niam, Oona, Rhiannon, Sadhbh, Sinn

Ruling Clans: Albannaich, Brythune, Drebhain, Éireannaigh, Meath, Ollaibh

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, noble, physician, priest, sailor, scribe, seducer, skald, thief, trader, tumbler, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Attractive, Alert, Blood of the Immortals, Born Athlete, Brawler, Carouser, Deft Hands, Detect Deception, Elven Grace, Fearless, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Hard-to-Kill, Healing Touch, High-Born, Inspire, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Low-Born, Marked by Fate, Quick Recovery, Silver Tongue, Sneaky, Trademark Weapon

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, City Dweller, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

archer fraevolk

FRAEVOLK (THE PEOPLE OF FREY)

Fraevolk are an independent, frontier-dwelling people with blood ties to the Austrmen, Brjotaband, and, some say, elven people.  They are an earnest, hard-working people that make their living through hunting, foraging, and farming within the expansive forests that lie west of the Vestrmark.

Fraevolk youths above the age of twelve are expected to defend their tribe and are trained in wilderness survival from early childhood. Tales are often told of painted, feral Fraevolk warrior bands that are made up of men, women and children.

The clans of the Fraevolk have held to their long-held customs and religious practices, engaging in animism and nature worship.  It is thought that some hold the elves in reverence, offering sacrifices and fealty to them.

Despite their isolation and the wilds they inhabit, Fraevolk are gifted jewelers and craftsmen in silver, gold, and copper… which they trade for weapons and armor of iron and steel.

While they engage in trade with Austrmen and Brjotaband merchants in frontier settlements, they are fierce in the defense of their lands, and will brook no intrusions into them.  Austrmen lords who have sought to expand their holdings into, or hunt within, the game-rich forests of the Fraevolk have paid heavily for their trespass.

Fraevolk warriors are usually hunters or oath-sworn retainers who serve their lord in return for lands. Household warriors of lords and chieftains are usually close kinsmen to their liege lord and called their “hand.” Thus, the elite warriors of a chieftain name Angus would be called Angus’s Hand.

Appearance:  Fraevolk are slightly shorter than their Austrmen cousins.  They are of fair to medium complexion, with straight to wavy hair of that ranges from palest blonde to black (with blond and light brown being most common).  Their eyes are blue, green, or grey.

Their clothes are similar to those of their Austrmen and Brjotaband neighbors, though of coarser materials and simpler fashion.  Their gifts for fine handiwork is evident in the knotwork that adorns their woolen cloaks and tunics, signifying their lineage, and in the fine jewelry that they possess.  Rings of are often worn in their braided hair and knotwork patterns are often tattooed onto the arms or torso.

Culture:  Fraevolk believe that life is a transient state, for even the gods were fated to die. Fraevolk live to the fullest, ready and willing to die at any moment.

Honesty, bravery, and generosity are held in high regard, as are celebrations and revelry.  The Fraevolk are known for their wild revelries and for their ferocity in battle.

Fraevolk speak Gotrtung mixed with some elements of Elfsong, particularly when speaking of concepts related to hunting and the wilderness.

Politics: Their tribes have formed a loose confederacy, with each being led by a chieftain and a council of judges comprised of godi, skalds, and respected warriors.

Resources:  Spruce, oak, beech, ash, alder, yew, and elm.  Deposits of copper, tin, silver, and gold. Mead, animal pelts and furs, wool, amber, trained birds of prey and hunting dogs. Artisan handiwork: fine bows, woodwork, and jewelry.

Major Settlements:  The Freavolk have several trade-posts along the eastern border of their holdings in Vestrmark frontier.  These outposts include Esdun, Stanburg, Sunderport, Valsburg, and Waldensburh.

Common Male Names: Adalbert, Aelfwald, Aelric, Aethan, Aethelred, Aethelwulf, Albert, Alfred, Angus, Arthur, Bard, Bede, Bedwin, Bertram, Brand, Caedmon, Carl, Cnute, Coel, Conner, Conrad, Dunstan, Edgar, Edwin, Egbert, Frederick, Geoffred, Gunther, Halbard, Harold, Hereward, Jon, Jude, Lothair, Luke, Luther, Mark, Morgaire, Osric, Oswald, Oswine, Oswulf, Rolf, Sigmund, Terence, Theodric, Uther, Walter, Willem

Common Female Names: Ada, Adelinde, Agnes, Anne, Berta, Brunhilde, Charlene, Eadda, Eaddith, Elspeth, Emma, Erin, Freida, Gerta, Gertrude, Gwenn, Helga, Hildegard, Ida, Idaine, Idelle, Judith, Lorelei, Loren, Margaret, Olga, Una, Ursula, Velda, Winnefred.

Ruling Clans: Angrim, Cuthbert, Henegar, Scylfing, Walden

Common Careers:  Assassin, berserker, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, priest, seer, skald, thief, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Alert, Beast-Friend, Blood of the Immortals, Born Athlete, Carouser, Elven Grace, Fearless, Forest-Born, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Hard-to-Kill, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mighty Shot, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Sneaky, Swamp-Born, War Cry

Common Flaws:  Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful, Taciturn.

viking warrior

GAMLEGARD (KEEPERS OF THE OLD WAYS)

The Gamlegard, or Keepers of the Old Ways, are Austrmen that broke with their kin and declared their independence over 300 years ago.

Unlike the Austrmen, who tamed their more warlike impulses as they tamed and settled the wild coastal lands of Fjarrstrand, the Gamlegard sought to preserve the beliefs and practices of their forebears.

Sailors without peer, Gamlegard longships prowl the eastern coast of Fjarrstrand and Gamlegard reavers conduct brutal raids into both Austrmen and Brjotaband lands.

The strength of their fleets, the ferocity of their warriors, and the isolation of their homes among the mist-shrouded Bleikrbjargg Islands and in the northernmost frontier settlements of Yggselund.

Appearance:  The Gamlegard share the strong Nordic features of the Austrmen: a thin face with prominent cheek-bones, blond or red hair, and blue eyes. Their men are rarely clean-shaven, with most preferring mustaches or full beards.  It is common for both men and women to partially shave the heads.

They are a tall, powerfully built people.  Both men and women often wear their hair braided.

They wear cloaks, broached upon the right shoulder, over woolen tunics and leggings. Leg bindings are often worn to protect their leggings from wear and to provide the wearer protection from mud and cold weather.

Culture:  The Gamlegard are a fatalistic people and do not fear death.  Instead they fear a life without purpose.  To these ends, Gamlegard warriors strive to make a name for themselves through acts of heroism and valor in combat.

They are given to excess, enjoying great feasts and drunken debauches; and make generous hosts to those who call upon their hospitality.

At the same time, they value both good judgment and common sense.  Their word, once given, is kept; for oaths are sacred to the island clans of the Gamlegard.

The Gamlegard speak Gotrtung.

Politics:  The Gamlegard islands are ruled by a king, Lofr Brakkison, liege lord of the five jarls representing the ruling clans of the Gamlegard.  Despite his advanced years, Lofr Shield-Splitter is said to be one of the fiercest warriors in the isles.  It is also said that all mercy died in him long ago… making him a cruel lord and dangerous enemy.

Political Bodies:  Væringjarmote: “Meeting of the sworn men.”

Resources:  Spruce, ash, birch, oak, and rowan.  Deposits of iron, copper, tin, and gold. Mead, cheese, and ale. Wool, livestock (goats, sheep, and lamb), fish, whale oil, and both walrus and whale ivory. Artisan handiwork: ship builders, tapestries, weapons, armor, and textiles.

Major Settlements: Austnaeyjar, Fljótborg, Gardabær, Gatastaðir, Niflfloi, Scyldhöfn, Valgard, Vestrvik

Male Names: Aldhelm, Alfhere, Ashbere, Beastan, Becca, Beow, Beowulf, Breca, Eadgil, Eanmund, Edgelaf, Edgetheow, Eofor, Eomer, Eormenric, Finn, Folcwalda, Freotheric, Froda, Gewulf, Gislere, Garmund, Guthhere, Guthlaf, Halga, Hama, Hareth, Hathkin, Healfden, Heardred, Heathoric, Helm, Hemming, Heoden, Hengest, Heorogar, Herebeald, Herefaran, Heremod, Hildeburgh, Hlithe, Hnaef, Hrethel, Hrethic, Hringweald, Hrothgar, Hrothmund, Hrothulf, Hunlaf, Hygelac, Ingeld, Mearchealf, Mearca, Offa, Ohthere, Onela, Ongentheow, Oslaf, Oswine, Raedhere, Rendhere, Rumstan, Saeferth, Sceafa, Sceafthere, Scyld, Secca, Sheaf, Sigehere, Sigemund, Swerting, Theodric, Unfenh, Unwen, Wada, Waels, Wald, Weoxstan, Widsith, Wiglaf, Withergyld, Witta, Wod, Wonred, Wudga, Wulf, Wulfgar, Wyrmhre, Yrmenlaf.

Female Names: Aesa, Aedha, Aethelred, Alfhild, Bodwyn, Brecca, Britta, Brynhilde, Caedwella, Caewlin, Eadhild, Ebba, Edda, Edrie, Elga, Ella, Elvina, Endrede, Eowyn, Essa, Freaja, Freawaru, Gerda, Gilda, Grimhilde, Groa, Grytha, Hedwig, Helga, Helma, Hilde, Hildeburgh, Ingerd, Kara, Lynde, Modthryth, Myna, Olga, Rae, Ragna, Sigrid, Swanhild, Thryth, Tylda, Thyra, Wealhtheow, Wertha, Wyn, Vaetild, and Yrsa.

Clans: Austrlings, Dragelungs, Eymund, Hárvagri, Valsungs, Wulfings

Common Careers:  Beggar, berserker, blacksmith, champion, executioner, farmer, mercenary, noble, physician, priest, sailor, seer, skald, thief, thrall, trader, warrior, worker

Common Boons: Brawler, Born Athlete, Born-at-Sea, Blood of the Immortals, Carouser, Fearless, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Giant Strength, Great Wealth, Hard-to-Kill, High-Born, Keen Eyesight, Marked by Fate, Mimir’s Gift, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Strength Feat, Trademark Weapon, War Cry

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Feels the Heat, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lumbering, Taciturn, Zealot.

viking_queen2

STÍGRANDI  (PEOPLE OF THE PATH or WAYFARERS)

The Stígrandi, or People of the Path, are a nomadic people who make their living as laborers, beggars, mercenaries, tinkers, and entertainers throughout Fjarrstrand.

Made up of people from every human culture, the Stígrandi have incorporated elements from their varied backgrounds in order to forge their own cultural identity.

Bound to no lord and no clan, they are often mistrusted by outsiders… thought of as thieves and worse.  At the same time, settlements are willing to accept them when short-term laborers are needed.  The Stígrandi typically travel the roads in caravans made up of extended family groups.

Their nomadic and neutral nature also makes them well-suited as couriers, spies, and diplomats.

Appearance:  The skin tones of the Stígrandi range from pale to ruddy; their hair is ranges from flaxen blond to deep brown or black, with grey, blue, hazel and sometimes green eyes. The Stígrandi people are of shorter stature than all other cultural groups, and tend to be athletic of build.

The clothing of the Stígrandi is well-made, with dark- colored wools being combined with brightly dyed velvet and linen. Intricate patterns are often woven into the jackets, vests, skirts and shirts of the Stígrandi. Shoes and boots of soft leather are commonly worn, and these typically have pointed toes and patches of bright color. Jewelry is worn by both men and women.

Culture:  They honor The Norns, whom they called The Three Queens, above all others but also revere ancestral heroes and nature itself. A superstitious people, they are known for their many folktales and folk remedies (as well as curses). Their history is passed through oral tradition.

They have social taboos that are perceived as virtually unbreakable that prohibit such things as marrying outside of their own culture, or teaching their language to non-Stígrandi. While they are permitted to deceive and swindle outsiders, they are harshly punished if bilking their own people.

They speak Gandrimál.

Resources:  The Stígrandi trade in furs, handicrafts, woven goods, and all manner of trinkets.  Their main resource, however, is the labor or entertainment that they offer.  As constant travelers, it is also common for the Stígrandi to turn a profit from the information they carry from one lord’s lands to another’s.

Common Male Names: Aethan, Anghus, Bard, Bertram, Brand, Branwen, Brecan, Brian, Caedmon, Coel, Conall, Conner, Cormac, Dermaid, Edgar, Edmund, Edwin, Finn, Gareth, Ian, Liam, Morgan, Niall, Oslaf, Oswine, Sean, Terence, Willem

Common Female Names: Adele, Agnes, Aileen, Anne, Berta, Bragwynn, Bridget, Brunhilde, Caite, Eadda, Eaddith, Elspeth, Emma, Erin, Freida, Gerta, Gertrude, Gwenn, Helga, Hildegard, Ida, Idaine, Idelle, Judith, Lorelei, Loren, Maire, Margaret, Olga, Rhiannon, Ursula, Velda, Winnefred.

Common Careers:  Assassin, beggar, blacksmith, champion, farmer, hunter, mercenary, physician, seducer, seer, skald, thief, trader, tumbler, worker

Common Boons: Artistic, Attractive, Alert, Born Athlete, Carouser, Deft Hands, Detect Deception, Escape Artist, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Low-Born, Marked by Fate, Quick Recovery, Resistant to Sorcery, Silver Tongue, Sneaky

Common Flaws:  Arrogant, Braggart, Country Bumpkin, Cravings, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear, Greed, Hot-Headed, Landlubber, Lumbering, Lustful.

Advertisements

The Fjarrstrand Sagas: Pt. 1 (Goals & Intro)

In creating a Norse/Celtic myth-inspired setting for Barbarians of Lemuria, my aim is to move away from some of the default assumptions of the pulpy world of Lemuria… that was based upon Lin Carter’s world of the distant-future.  Gone are are tropes of scantly clad damsels in distress, half-naked and muscle-bound barbarian heroes, lands populated with exotic and alien species, nefarious sorcerers  who call upon dark powers from beyond the pale, and mad inventors who create technological wonders (and horrors).

Instead, I want Fjarrstrand to be have a grittier, more medieval, and more grounded feeling… while keeping elements from both Norse and Celtic myth.  Magic is still rare, and feared, but is seen as a gift from the fallen gods.  In this world, both magicians and priests use magic, while seers are able to untangled the strands of Fate in order to see into the future, and artificers craft and enchant items.  Basically, my goal is to  create a world that borrows from Beowulf, the Norse Sagas, The Mabinogion, Arthurian legends, and Tolkien… but with the action and brutality of a Joe Abercrombie  novel.

With Ragnarok and the death of the gods, the world-tree, Yggdrasil, itself perished.  With its collapse, the nine worlds were wracked with cataclysmic earthquakes, volcanoes, and hellish storms as the realms became intertwined.  Midgard, as the primary battleground between the giants and gods, was rendered uninhabitable.  Driven by desperation, sailors tried to brave ocean voyages westward… seeking new lands beyond the storm-tossed and turbulent ocean.  Of those who set out, only a handful of Viking crews that set out from the British Isles and Iceland found the new land that came to be called The Distant Shore or Fjarrstrand.  Two of those crews returned to the ruins of Midgard in order to lead their people to the shelter of this new paradise.

Humans are relatively new to theses lands, having first sailed here from dying Midgard nearly 500 years ago.  As a new homeland to humanity, Fjarrstrand is a largely unexplored realm.  Humans live in small swaths of coastal and frontier lands that they have carved out for themselves, while always seeking to expand their holdings.

Fjarrstrand’s ocean is strewn with numerous islands and rocky outcropping, and is home to various horrors that prey on the ocean’s bounty and on those who ply its waters.  In the ocean’s northeastern expanses, particularly in the area surrounding The Mistgate, thick fog blankets the water’s surface.  To the north and northwest, great mountain ranges and frozen wastelands teem with jotuns and other horrors.  The primeval forests of western Fjarrstrand are home to its native people, the alfar (elves) and other creatures of faerie who view these newcomers as unwelcome guests.

maxresdefault

 

The Fjarrstrand Sagas: A Barbarians of Lemuria campaign setting

I’ve posted a few times about my love for the elegantly simple Barbarians of Lemuria RPG.  At this point, it is my go-to game for fantasy roleplaying (sorry D&D… I still a lot of  nostalgic love for you as well).

Over the past few months, I’ve starting porting the rules over to a Norse/Celtic post-Ragnarok setting that is more grounded in myth than the pulpy default setting of Lemuria.

I’ll be posting rules, setting details, and my thoughts of designing the setting here; so please send any advice or comments you have my way.

 

 

Barbarians of Lemuria… let the pulp adventures begin!

A few weeks ago my brother started up a Barbarians of Lemuria campaign focusing on the exploits of dwarven heroes and, from what little I’ve seen of the game and rules, I’m really digging it.

CHARACTER CREATION

Barbarians of Lemuria is elegantly simple.  Character creation involves dividing 4 points and assigning them to 4 attributes:  strength, agility, mind, and appeal.  Each has a starting values of 0-3, though one ability can start at -1 which grants an extra attribute point to be assigned elsewhere.  Your starting health, called Lifeblood, is equal to 10 + your character’s strength attribute.  You also start with your racial or cultural tongue, a common tongue (Lemurian is the default trade tongue in the game), and a number of additional languages equal to your mind attribute.  My dwarven explorer, Bragi Anvilsong, for example, started with the following attributes:

  • Strength: 2 (great)
  • Agility: 1 (superior)
  • Mind: 1 (superior)
  • Appeal: 0 (average)

The same method is used to assign 4 points to combat abilities:  initiative, melee, ranged, and defence (the author, Simon Washbourne, is British… so you get used to see British-English spellings).  Once again one of these abilities can be sub-par, with a rating of -1, granting an extra point that can be assigned to another combat ability.  Bragi started with the following combat abilities:

  • Initiative: 1 (superior)
  • Melee: 2 (great)
  • Ranged: 0 (average)
  • Defence: 1 (superior)

You then choose 4 career paths for your character.  Following the same method, your character divides and assigns 4 ranks to any 4 of the following career paths: alchemist, assassin, barbarian, beastmaster, beggar, blacksmith, dancer, executioner, farmer, gladiator, hunter, magician, merchant, mercenary, minstrel, noble, physician, priest, sailor, scribe, sky-pilot (a setting specific career path), slave, soldier, temptress, thief, and worker.

These careers can easily be altered to suit other backgrounds (town guard in place of soldier, explorer in place of hunter, and so on).  The ranks of starting careers would range from 0-3.  The beauty of this game is that each career represents your background and the skills that come with it.  You need not pick individual skills for your character… you pick the careers of your career path with a mind towards the types of skills that you’d like your character to have.  Bragi’s starting career paths are:

  • Blacksmith: 1
  • Guard (Soldier): 2
  • Healer (Physician): 0
  • Explorer (Hunter): 1

Next you choose Boons and Flaws for your character.  All characters start with 1 Boon.  They may choose additional Boons if they either take a Flaw to offset each Boon chosen OR reduce their starting Hero Points (5) by 1 point per Boon chosen.    Bragi’s starting Boons are:

  • Giant Strength:  +1 to his starting STR attribute and attribute cap (normally the cap is 5 but he can have up to a 6 STR)
  • Detect Deception:  He’s really good at knowing when he’s being lied to

Rather than reduce his starting Hero Points by 1, I chose to give Bragi the GM-created Flaw of Destitute.

Finally you choose you arms, armor, and equipment.  Wealth is abstract in this game, so you’re pretty much free to choose equipment that matches your character concept.  Armor absorbs damage rather than making you harder to hit, while shields make you slightly harder to hit.  Heavier armor types and large shields reduce your agility score, while helms reduce your initiative ability by 1.  Armor also makes spellcasting more difficult… and imposes penalties on social interaction checks in some circumstances.

Hero Points can be used to make minor changes to reality, avoid a wound or change a deadly wound into one that incapacitates your her, change a success into a critical success, shake off damage, re-roll dice, and so on.  These replenish after every adventure.  Most heroes have 5 Hero Points that can be used over the course of each adventure but, as noted above, buying additional Boons my reduce the character’s Hero Point pool.

144526

Lifestyle Costs & Skill Use

MARKETABLE SKILLS   

5th edition simplifies player expenses, so that games don’t become exercises in accounting.  Chapter 5 of the PHB gives the daily cost for the various lifestyles (wretched, squalid, poor, modest, comfortable, wealthy, and aristocratic) and explains each lifestyle on pages 157 & 158.  The following system would allow players to ply a trade in order to live at a given lifestyle at no cost… but with no chance of monetary gain either.  I’d use this in place of Running a Business (DMG 129) to keep things relatively simple.

Lifestyle Proficiency Check:  I’d allow players to use proficiencies to make a living over the course of one month in place of charging lifestyle expenses.  Characters would have to spend the majority of their day (8-12 hours) engaged in skill or tool use to make a living off of it.  The base DC to achieve the listed lifestyle at no cost would be:

  • Wretched:  N/A.  This is scraping the bottom of the barrel.  PCs would never fall to this level without some major setback (see Carousing below).
  • Squalid:  0
  • Poor: 5
  • Modest: 10
  • Comfortable:  20
  • Wealthy: 25
  • Aristocratic: 30

Limits based on the wealth of the local population should apply.  For example, a character performing at a grimy tavern in the seedy section of town should be limited to modest lifestyle… even if his weekly performance roll indicates that he has earned a better lifestyle.

Here’s a breakdown of how each skill or tool proficiency could be used to earn a living, including notes on the lifestyle proficiency check roll:

Strength

  • Athletics:  Performing feats of strength (i.e. acting as a porter, wrestling in a fighting pit).  Roll at disadvantage because this represents the lowest form of labor.

Dexterity

  • Acrobatics:  Performing as an acrobat or juggler.
  • Sleight of Hand:  Picking pockets, stealing small objects, and confidence games.
  • Stealth:  Spying and scouting for guilds, military units, or other patrons would also require successful perception, investigation, and/or insight rolls.

Intelligence

  • Arcana, History, Investigation, Nature, and Religion:  The character could hire out as a sage or act as a consultant/researcher for a patron or group (i.e a guild or church).  Investigation could also be used by constables, reeves, church inquisitors, etc to perform their duties. Roll at disadvantage as plenty of apprentices would perform such services for free.  Roll normally if the employment has inherent risks to health or well-being.

Wisdom

  • Animal Handling:  Farmhand, animal trainer, mounted courier, or mounted mercenary. Roll at disadvantage unless the employment involves risks that allow for greater compensation.
  • Insight:  Fortune teller, con artist, local magistrate, judge, or adviser.
  • Medicine:  Veterinarian, goodwife, barber, apothecary, or physician.
  • Perception:  This would usually be used in conjunction with stealth to spy on others.  It could also be used for town watchmen or those who need to be observant (i.e. sailor in the crow’s nest or scout). Roll at disadvantage unless the employment brings the character into harm’s way.
  • Survival:  Frontiersmen, surveyors, guides, trackers.  Roll at disadvantage due to the nature and location of the employment.

Charisma

  • Deception: Fortune teller, con artist, charlatan, or beggar.  Beggars would roll at disadvantage while con artists and charlatans would not due to the higher stakes and risks involved with those endeavors.
  • Intimidation:  Gang enforcer, crooked constable, threatening beggar, highwayman.
  • Performance: Poet, actor, lay minister, musician.
  • Persuasion: Town crier, politician, adviser, orator, or lawyer.

Tools & Kits
Most tool or kit proficiency checks require the tools, supplies, and a space in which to work.  Assuming that these are available, the check is made with no modifier.

Gaming set
All gaming set proficiency checks are made with no modifier unless cheating is involved.  With a successful Sleight of Hands roll the gaming set proficiency check may be made with advantage.   A character caught cheating  will find that his fortunes change rather quickly.

Musical instrument
All instrument proficiency checks may be combined with performance checks or could be made to tutor pupils in the use of those instruments.

CAROUSING 

Characters who wish to carouse (DMG 128) live at one lifestyle rank lower than that indicated by their lifestyle skill check to account for the added expenses incurred by their wanton ways.

dwarves

Caveat Emptor… Mike Nystul’s at it yet again!

Just to warn anyone who reads this blog:

Mike Nystul, who swindled Kickstarter backers out of 10s of thousands of dollars, is trying to raise money yet again:

https://www.patreon.com/nystul?ty=h

Those who backed his Kickstarters are out of luck… as he has no intention of of making good on his previous projects.  Here’s his own words on the subject:

(H)ere is the thing. The Kickstarter thing was a disaster on many levels. One of the problems is once it failed and my personal as well as professional finances were trashed I had no resources to do much of anything to move forward. I lost everything. Not asking for sympathy here because it was the result of my bad decisions and miscalculations but i had nothing left and at one point was literally homeless. I pulled down that Indiegogo campaign you mentioned not long after it went up (I collected nothing). It would have been going down that same road, a profoundly bad idea (and in some ways in bad taste). Patreon is a different beast entirely. First, it is meant to be used to support a creator not a specific project. If you like what I’m doing – awesome! Become a Patron and we are both happy! If you don’t – don’t. The other thing is I went with the “only collect anything when I post” model rather than straight monthly. That way, if i produce nothing – nothing gets collected. There is no way for me to “fleece” anyone. The Patrons have complete control over things like monthly limits and I encourage them to use them. Going back to your original issue, yes, the Kickstarter issues were huge and horrible and I am very very sorry about them. They do not represent my entire career though and my choices were never do this kind of work again or find a way to do it as above boards as i can. People will forgive me for the failed projects and accept the arrangements I was able to make to try to make good or they will not. At this point all I ca do is do better, yes?

Please avoid giving money to this scam artist and epic-level flake.

Traits & Passions System in D&D (Part III)

TRAITS (continued)

TRAITS & CLASSES

Rather than give in-depth trait requirements for each class,  I’d keep things general.  Martial classes should have Valor scores of 12 or higher while divine casters should have Piety score of 12 or higher.  Otherwise I’d leave trait choice to the player, keeping their class archetypes and background in mind.  For example, a paladin with the Oath of Vengeance should probably have a low Magnanimity score (12 or lower) to reflect their vengeful nature.

PASSIONS

INITIAL PASSIONS

Hate, Honor, Hospitality, Love, Loyalty

These 5 passions are generated by rolling 3d6 at the start of play, though not all characters will have cause to generate all 5 of these passions.

Hate (Group or Race):  Hate is a destructive passion that may be rolled during character generation.  If rolled, the character chooses a race or group (religious, cultural, or political) that their character has an ingrained and irrational hostility towards.  A low hate score still indicates a deep prejudice and lack of empathy  towards members of that race or group, while a high hate score indicates an all-consuming desire to attack or otherwise harm members of that race or group.

I’d give the following Greyhawk races the Hate passion at the start of play:

  • Dwarves:  Hate (Orcs), Hate (Goblinoids)
  • Elves: Hate (Orcs), Hate (Drow)
  • Gnomes: Hate (Kobolds)

Drow elf player characters, on the other hand, would not hate elves in general but would probably hate the Drow faction or family responsible for their exile.

Half-Orc characters would probably be greeted with some mistrust by elves and dwarves but, in the interest keeping the game running smoothly, would not have their Hate passion apply to half-orcs.

Honor: Honor is the passion that sets heroic character apart from ordinary people. It is a combination of personal dignity, integrity, and pride.

All characters would have a starting Honor score that would be modified as follows:

  • Lawful alignment: +2
  • Chaotic alignment: -2
  • Good alignment: +2
  • Evil alignment: -2
  • Background: +2 to -2 (a chivalrous knight would have a+2 bonus while a charlatan would have a -2 penalty)

Performing the actions listed below clearly and invariably diminishes honor:

  • Attacking a helpless foe -1
  • Cowardice –1
  • Desertion from a battle, quest, or mercenary contract  –1
  • Plundering a holy place of your faith or allied faith –1
  • Killing an helpless holy person of your religion –2
  • Kidnapping or raping –2
  • Breaking an oath –2
  • Treachery against a member of your family –3
  • Treason (against your lord) –4
  • Killing a kinsman –5

Characters with an Honor score of 14 or higher are noted for their honorable behavior while those with an Honor score of 7 or less are seen as dishonorable scoundrels.

Hospitality:  This passion measures how much your character respects the time-honored institution of hospitality. In cases of great passion (14 or higher), a proponent of this practice might feel bound to correct others’ inhospitable behavior, and perhaps even to seek out and destroy those who break the rules of hospitality. On the other hand, anyone with a disregard for hospitality (less than 7) is likely to steal without compunction.

Love (Person, Patron, or Group):  Love is an emotional bonding or attraction felt by one individual for another individual, group, or deity. A character may have many loves, but it is best if only 1 or 2 warrant this passion.

Loyalty (Lord or Order):  Characters who serve some lord or order should roll this trait at the start of play.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • feudal lord
  • an order of knights
  • a religious order
  • a supernatural patron
  • a guild
  • a god
  • a wealthy sponsor

A low loyalty score indicates that the character serves his own needs before those of his lord or order and, as such, draws little inspiration from service to that lord or order.

TRAIT & PASSION BENEFITS

Character who roleplay according to their character’s traits and passions should be rewarded with Inspiration (PHB 126) and, over time, will gain renown (or infamy) through their actions and ideals.  Players who consistently act in accordance with their notable traits and passions (those with score of 14 or higher, or of 7 or lower) should gain a small XP award at the end of each session.  I’d recommend 50 XP multiplied by the character’s proficiency bonus.

Invoking a Passion:  Furthermore, when a character’s passion is threatened (i.e. their honor is impugned,  their paramour is taken captive, or they combat a hated enemy) they may seek to invoke that passion by succeeding at  a DC 15 check, modified by their passion score modifier and proficiency modifier.

  • On a failed roll the character suffers disadvantage on all attack rolls, saves, and ability checks for the length of the encounter.  Their passion score is automatically lowered by 1 point.
  • On a successful roll the character gains advantage on all attack rolls, saves, and ability checks for the length of the encounter.
  • On a fumble (a roll of a natural “1”) the character’s passion score is automatically lowered by 2 points and the character gains long-term Madness as per page 258-259 of the DMG.
  • On a critical (a roll of a natural “20”) the character’s passion score is automatically raised by 1 point and the character gains advantage on all attack rolls, saves, and ability checks for the length of the encounter.

Because invoking a passion is arduous, it may only be attempted once per long rest.

roslofthekeepontheborderlands