The Fjarrstrand Sagas: Pt. 3 (Heroic Careers)

It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I’d continue with rules for my Barbarians of Lemuria campaign setting: The Fjarrstrand Sagas.  I had left off with human cultural groups for the setting.  Below are new and altered heroic careers for BoL characters in the setting.

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HEROIC CAREERS

Careers are the key to playing The Fjarrstrand Sagas. The career path of a Hero represents all of his upbringing, training, and experience, and therefore can be used to help determine everything he knows – his skills, his knowledge, his expertise, and his influence.

Initial Careers:  Choose four careers for your Hero, and four ranks to allocate between them, with a minimum rank of 0 and a maximum starting rank of 3. These points cannot be used elsewhere. Advancement Points (see Chapter 6) let you add and enhance careers.

Choosing your Careers:  Choosing the four careers gives you an immediate handle on your character. A high rank in a career could mean that you spent a long period following that career path. A rank of 0 could mean only a short spell in – or just an affinity for – the career.

The careers give a general knowledge of anything to do with the career, such as who would hold high positions within the profession, where to find the guilds and who heads them, skills and abilities that members of the profession should have, as well as helping the Hero obtain employment in the career. Some careers improve your chance to gain followers, and others help on the battlefield.

Note that there are no individual skills as such in this game. The skills and abilities set out for each career aren’t exhaustive and are intended only as a guide to how that career should help you. The careers provide some crossover of abilities.

If a player has two careers that could be used in a situation, it is up to the GM whether to allow both career ranks to be added to the task at hand, or whether to simply take the higher of the two ranks.

If you can convince the GM that your career could be helpful in other areas, explain why or how, and the GM may agree and give you a bonus.

Career Path:  The main characters in many sword-and-sorcery stories follow many different paths during their lives of adventure – Conan started as a berserker, and at one time or another became a thief, pirate, champion, warrior, and even, at the end, a noble.

Many of their traveling companions have several aspects to their character. Fafhrd, boon companion to The Gray Mouser, was trained as a skald but went on to become a warrior, thief, and acolyte of Issek of the Jug.

When you choose your four careers, create a story that follows your character’s career path. It doesn’t have to be long – or even great literature – but it can hint at places your character may have been and things he or she might have done.

Example:  Dwalin was born into a family of traders from Kaupenborg, and this naturally led him into a life of buying and selling (trader 2).  This lifestyle led him to sea trade and introductions to several sea captains in Stórrhafn.   Before long, he was learning the essential skills of a seaman (sailor 0). On one particular voyage, several years ago, pirates attacked Dwalin’s ship – the crew was captured and sold into thralldom (thrall 1).  Dwalin’s new mistress was a witch, Gullveig, and during his enslavement (and until his escape), he used every opportunity to learn the secrets of that völva until he could perform basic enchantments himself (magician 1).

 

ARTIFICER

Alternative career names: craft-weaver, spell-smith, hedge wizard.

Artificers are the creators of both enchanted and cunningly-crafted items; from blades forged of elven steel, to raven-feathered cloaks that grant their wearer the ability to take flight, to healing draughts that restore the vitality of even the most gravely wounded warrior.

Artificers are often mistaken for seers, witches, and sorcerers by those who do not understand that an artificers’ training is used solely to weave magic into items.

They are master brewers and herbalists; mixing and blending various ingredients together to create potions and tinctures.  Their work with herbs, fungi, venoms, and oils enables artificers to produce perfumes, potions, powders, poisons, poultices, and other amazing creations.

When making weapons and armor, artificers work closely with blacksmiths of the highest renown.  For more information on Artifice, see Chapter 4.

Attributes: Mind is normally the most important attribute for artificers, as they need to be able to make and read descriptive notes, understand ancient texts and diagrams, and recall unwritten secrets that have been passed down through the ages.

Adventuring: Artificers are nearly always dwarfs, for their kind is blessed with innate cunning with regard to the weaving of item-bound magic.  It is extremely rare for a dwarven artificer to take on a non-dwarven apprentice, but not unheard of.

This is not a terribly common career for Heroes, as it requires much patience and little excitement. However, some of the more daring artificers like to visit ancient sites to see the remains themselves, in case there are relics they’d recognize for their true worth that others would pass over.

Fighting: There are very few circumstances where having ranks as an artificer would help a character in combat.

Lore of the Ancients: For each rank above 1 in this career, the character must take (or have) one of the following Boons or Flaws:  Blood of the Immortals, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Gift of Artifice, Literate, Obsession (Magical Lore), Unhinged.

Suggested Boons: Deft Hands, Excellent Workshop, Excellent Library, Literate, Keen Scent, Learned, Poison Resistance, Savant

Suggested Flaws: Absent-Minded, City Dweller, Combat Paralysis, Delicate, Greed, Non-Combatant, Obsession (knowledge or artifacts), Tools of the Trade

 

ASSASSIN

Alternative career names: agent, spy.

Blades-for-hire, perhaps agents in the service of a jarl, spies and assassins make killing and stealing in a discreet manner a way of life. They are adept at sneak attacks, killing, information gathering, disguises, city lore, persuasion, poisons, and lock picking. Their methods involve gathering intelligence on their subject from various (sometimes seedy) sources, circumventing security measures of all types, adopting disguises that allow them to get close to the target, and building up a broad selection of contacts. They are also patient, sometimes hiding out in a single spot for days to await the perfect opportunity to strike.

Attributes: All attributes are important for assassin characters.

Adventuring: Assassins and spies tend to be loners, so this isn’t a career that lends itself to an adventuring group. However, ex-assassins do have skills that might be welcome in an adventuring party.

Fighting: In combat, an assassin might gain a brief advantage in a surprise attack, such as when he strikes out of the shadows, or when he attacks by surprise using a concealed blade.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Keen Hearing, Keen Eyesight, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Literate, Master of Disguise, Poison Resistance, Silver Tongue, Sneaky, Trademark Weapon

Suggested Flaws: Arrogant, City Dweller, Hunted, Infamous, Obsession (finish the mission)

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BEASTMASTER

Alternative career names: animal handler, beast trainer.

Beastmasters are in demand all over Fjarrstrand for their special empathy and skill with animals.  They train animals for riding, for pulling wagons, for combat, and even for the pit-fighting.

Beastmasters can calm maddened creatures, are expert riders and wagoneers, can recognize whether creatures are dangerous and about to attack or not, and often have some skill in healing them if injured or sick. Some beastmasters rule their animals by fear and deprivation.

Attributes: Beastmasters have to have a strong personality, tempered with a good heart (in most cases) and steely determination. So, Appeal is the most important, but Mind is a close runner up.

Adventuring: Beastmasters are sought after by: traders with caravans – nobles and commanders of armies, to train and look after their mounts – owners of fighting-pits – and adventurers who expect to come across strange beasts on their missions.

Fighting: Beastmasters know how to deal with beasts and where their weak spots are, so they will gain the occasional advantage if they ever have to fight them.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Bare-Shirt, Beast-Friend, Born-in-the- Saddle, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Keen Scent, Night Sight, Poison Resistance,

Suggested Flaws: Can’t Lie, Country Bumpkin, Hot-Headed

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BEGGAR

Alternative career names: mendicant, vagabond.

Beggars are vagrants or tramps, aimlessly wandering from place to place. They may do casual work here and there, they may sell a few small trinkets that they carry about in their backpacks, or they may have to beg for a few coins when times are really hard. Some even turn their hands to dishonest pursuits.

Attributes: There are no particular attributes that vagabonds are noted for. It helps, if begging, to have a deformity, missing body part, or an unsocial disease (or at least to appear to have one of these disabilities).

Adventuring: A life on the road means you will meet all sorts of people, which can lead to adventure even if you are not actively seeking it.

Fighting: A vagabond is not normally a combatant and, therefore, the only times having this career would be helpful in a fight is when the character is doing his best not to be noticed.

Suggested Boons: Deft Hands, Friends in Low Places, Low-Born, Sneaky

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Cravings, Cursed, Delicate, Distinctive Appearance, Drunkard, Missing Eye or Ear, Missing Limb, Non-Combatant, Poor Recovery, Unhinged, Untrustworthy

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BERSERKER

Alternative career names: barbarian, savage.

Berserkers are warriors who fight in a trance-like fury.  These fearsome warriors would often enter battle without mail-coats; instead wearing only wolf pelts or other animal skins.

Berserkers are wild and untamed, like the lands they live in. They have natural skills in wilderness lore, survival, beast riding, intimidation, natural instincts, berserk rages, and so on.

Attributes: Living rough requires a certain degree of hardiness, and so berserkers are generally noted for their Strength. A good Agility is also useful.

Adventuring: Berserker characters are natural adventurers and have the skills and abilities to survive where others wouldn’t.

Fighting: In combat, berserkers are generally brutal and unrefined. This might shock city folks not used to dealing with such savagery, so a berserker could gain a brief advantage where the fight is hard and dirty.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Bare-Shirt, Fearsome Looks, Hard-to-Kill, Forest-Born, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Keen Scent, Lightning Reflexes, Mountain-Born, Quick Recovery, Strength Feat, Thick Skin, Tundra-Born, Trademark Weapon, War Cry

Suggested Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Distinctive Appearance, Distrust of Magic, Gullible, Hot- Headed, Landlubber, Lustful, Taciturn, Unhinged

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BLACKSMITH

Alternative career names: armorer, smith.

Often found helping artificers to craft magical arms and armor, these craftspeople work hard at their forges – melting, bending, shaping, and fixing metal objects.

They are skilled at weapon and armor smithing and repair. They craft tools and implements, and manufacture many other metallic items and objects, from shackles and cages to the metal parts of galleys and wagons. Their skills lie in metallurgy, and the knowledge of weapons, armor, and metal goods. This helps them when bartering and haggling the price of smith-forged items.

Attributes: Blacksmiths are noted for their Strength and their toughness – being able to work hard at their forge tends to develop their muscles and hardiness.

Adventuring: Blacksmiths aren’t really adventurers, although some do join mercenary companies to craft and maintain their weapons and armor.

Fighting: Although not a combatant, a blacksmith might receive a Melee bonus if his opponent is wearing metallic armor and if he knows its design and weak points.

Suggested Boons: Brawler, Strength Feat, Thick Skin, Tools of the Trade, Trademark Weapon

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Feels the Cold, Gullible, Hot- Headed, Taciturn, Unprepared

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CHAMPION

Alternative career names: gladiator, pit-fighter, hero.

Champions are specialists at single combat and are adept with a variety of weapons. Their knowledge of fighting styles and ability to read foes’ body language makes them fearsome, and unpredictable opponents.

While most lords have household warriors, only those with coin to spare employ a champion to further their renown and protect their honor through trials by combat.

Champions without a noble or wealthy patronage are often found in the fighting pits and arenas of Fjarrstrand’s larger cities, fighting as duelists.  Some duelists may have ended up in the arena as a slave or to pay off a debt – whatever the reason, they have survived to hear the howls of the crowd and their adversary at their feet.

The best champions are often famous throughout Fjarrstrand, which can be to their advantage or to their detriment.

Attributes: Champions should be strong and agile, but the most popular ones also have plenty of Appeal.

Adventuring: A life in service to a noble household, or fighting in the arena, does not lend itself to a life of adventure. However, many heroes have set out into the wider world after a stint as a champion or duelist… either by choice or out of necessity.

Fighting: They are especially good at fighting in a style that is designed for spectacular bloodletting rather than a simple quick kill.

They might get a combat bonus on certain flashy moves made in single combat, at the GM’s discretion.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Bare-Shirt, Born Athlete, Brawler, Fearsome Looks, Hard-to-Kill, Alert, Marked by Fate, Quick Recovery, Bare-Shirt, Trademark Weapon, War Cry

Suggested Flaws: Braggart, Distinctive Appearance, Hot-Headed, Missing Eye or Ear, Missing Limb

 

EXECUTIONER

Alternative career names: slaver, torturer.

Executioners are expected to carry out public slayings as required by local nobles and judges, and carry out ritual executions.

Torturers are skilled in interrogation and intimidation, and are tasked with gathering information from hardened criminals and spies on behalf of their lord or reeve.  They ply their unpleasant trade in squalid conditions, deep underground in dank cells, extracting information from reticent prisoners and the enemies of their people.

Slavers capture or buy able-bodied men and women to bring back to their lands to sell as thralls, house servants, and concubines.

Executioner, slavers, and torturers all have a basic awareness of anatomy and first aid.  Slavers and torturers have got to make sure their prisoners, or slaves, are healthy before they are broken, or sold.  Executioners, on the other hand, need to know how to kill efficiently or draw out an execution in order to cause prolonged suffering.

Attributes: They are not often blessed with a great deal of Appeal, but Strength is handy for beheadings and for maintaining a hold on your captives.

Adventuring: Although torturers rarely leave their dank prisons, and don’t have much interest in adventure, the odd executioner may find himself exiled and forced to choose riches and wealth over pain and suffering. Slavers travel far and wide.

Fighting: In combat, executioners prefer two-handed axes and great swords, and some slavers will be handy with a whip. Executioners are not subtle, so skilled fighters will rarely fall to their combat style, unless already prone and helpless.

Suggested Boons: Strength Feat, Fearsome Looks, Hard-to-Kill, Quick Recovery, Friends in Low Places, Trademark Weapon

Suggested Flaws: Braggart, Cowardly, City Dweller, Drunkard, Fear of …, Greed, Lumbering, Missing Eye or Ear, Missing Limb, Poor Eyesight, Poor Hearing, Ugly & Brutish, Unsettling, Unprepared, Zealot

 

FARMER

Alternative career names: freemen, peasant, karl.

Farmers live outside of large settlements, but often within half a day’s travel, so that they are able to get their produce to market. They are hardy and hardworking, and are skilled in basic plant- and animal lore, animal handling, cooking, baking and brewing, trading for basic goods, and the like.

Attributes: Farmers do not rely on any one attribute over any other, although Appeal is probably the least important.

Adventuring: Farmers are not particularly adventurous, so something unusual or dreadful would have to happen to make a farmer leave his farm and take up a life of adventure.

Fighting: Farmers are not generally skilled combatants and so rarely receive any advantage from this career, except maybe when defending their own lands against raiders, or when turning an agricultural implement into a serviceable weapon.

Suggested Boons: Beast-Friend, Brawler, Carouser, Marked by Fate

Suggested Flaws: Country Bumpkin, Drunkard, Gullible, Landlubber, Lumbering, Taciturn, Ugly & Brutish, Unprepared

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HUNTER

Alternative career names: scout, tracker, woodsman.

The hunter is a master of tracking prey through the wilderness and the wastelands. Once hunters locate their target, they’ll use stealth, traps and/or expert bowmanship to bring it down. They are at home in the wild and can survive there for long periods, returning to more civilized areas only when they have furs and hides to sell, or when they require the company of their fellow men (or women).

Attributes: Agility is important to a hunter, as are Strength and Mind to a slightly lesser degree.

Adventuring: Hunting dangerous beasts is adventure enough. However, hunters are also very familiar with the areas they hunt in and sometimes stumble across old trails, ancient ruins, and strange places during their travels. For this reason, they can be highly sought after as guides.

Fighting: In combat, a hunter may receive a career bonus if fighting a creature of a type he is familiar with, but the career is rarely useful against human opponents.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Beast-Friend, Desert-Born, Keen Eyesight, Keen Hearing, Keen Scent, Mountain-

Born, Night Sight, Plains-Born, Sneaky, Swamp-Born,

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Suggested Flaws: Landlubber, Missing Eye or Ear, Missing Limb, Taciturn

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MAGICIAN

Alternative career names: sorcerer, witch.

Magicians are both respected and feared. There are few who will deal with them willingly without great need, as a great many magicians are amoral at best, exceedingly evil at worst, and all of them are at least slightly unhinged. Magicians often live alone, with only a few servants or the occasional apprentice to attend them.

Attributes: Magicians need a powerful Mind both for their studies and for the will to create and cast mighty spells.

Adventuring: Magicians aren’t usually great adventurers, preferring to leave that to hirelings and minions. Sometimes they will venture out of their lairs to personally supervise or join an expedition, when they may gain something of great mystical significance at the end of it.

Fighting: There are not many circumstances where being a magician helps in a fight using ordinary weapons. But then, the best magicians don’t need to use mundane weapons to kill someone.

Lore of the Ancients: The use of magic brings with it great power, but it also comes at a price.  For each rank above 1 in this career, the character must take (or have) one of the following Boons or Flaws:  Blood of the Immortals, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Gift of Artifice, Literate, Obsession, Unhinged.

Suggested Boons: Blood of the Immortals, Detect Deception, Excellent Library, Fostered by the Hidden Folk, Gift of Artifice, Learned, Literate, Magic of The Sorcerer-Kings, Power of the Void, Resistance to Sorcery, Savant

Suggested Flaws: Absent-Minded, Arrogant, Cravings, Delicate, Distinctive Appearance, Fear of …, Infamous, Non-Combatant, Obsession (Magical Lore), Poor Recovery, Unhinged, Unsettling, Untrustworthy

 

MERCENARY

Alternative career names: bandit, hireling, sellsword, guard.

These warriors work for anyone who will pay for their services. Some form themselves into companies under a strong leader and others travel individually or in small bands to seek employment.

Often these mercenary groups turn to banditry when not gainfully employed. Just about all the jarls of Fjarrstrand have used mercenaries in past conflicts and will continue to do so. They tend to have skill in living rough, riding, intimidation, carousing, and in basic upkeep and repair of weapons and armor.

Attributes: Mercenaries should be strong and agile to be able to ply their trade of war.

Adventuring: Mercenaries, by nature, tend to be drifters – travelling across Fjarrstrand to seek employment. Even when warring has ceased, there will be jobs guarding trader caravans, treasure-hunting expeditions, guarding frontier holdings, and working for the nobility as bodyguards.

Fighting: Mercenaries are notorious for their ability to fight well when well paid, but to fight badly – or not at all – when conned or badly paid. In combat, they might receive a career bonus if the money is particularly good.

Suggested Boons: Blind Combat, Brawler, Born-in-the-Saddle, Carouser, Hard-to-Kill, Alert, Quick Recovery, Inspire, Bare-Shirt, Trademark Weapon, War Cry

Suggested Flaws: Braggart, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lustful

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NOBLE

Alternative career names: jarl, lord, high-born, chieftain.

Often holding homes in cities and towns, and estates or hunting lodges in the countryside, these characters are usually titled (though not necessarily deserving) and have some authority over the common people, peasants, and thralls. Nobles are often able to obtain credit, have high-ranking contacts, and are skilled in such things as bribery, browbeating, dress sense, and etiquette.

Attributes: Nobles need plenty of Appeal as well as clever minds, although at the end of the day, money always talks whatever the circumstances.

Adventuring: Nobles are not notable adventurers, although they will often finance expeditions to remote areas to obtain artifacts or to carry out trade. Some more adventurous nobles will join expeditions to oversee them.

Fighting: In combat, having a career of noble will rarely be of any benefit whatsoever. However, some  peasants or lower classes will have qualms about attacking their superiors. Also, nobles often lead armies (whether capable or not).  In Fjarrstrand, most nobles are expected to have some martial prowess and, as such, have ranks in careers such as warrior or berserker.

Suggested Boons: Attractive, Born-in-the-Saddle, Friends in High Places, Great Wealth, High-Born, Inspire, Literate

Suggested Flaws: Arrogant, Braggart, City Dweller, Cravings, Greed, Hot-Headed, Lustful

 

PHYSICIAN

Alternative career names: healer, leech, herbalist.

Free men or women who have their own place in the clan, healers maintain the medical traditions of their ancestors, the knowledge passed down through the generations. This is not magic, but rather a good working knowledge of the body and its functions: a healer knows how to set a broken bone, stitch a wound, and defeat an infection. He knows how the organs work, and of remedies that relieve pain.

Physicians are dispensers of potions and medicines and are knowledgeable of plant lore. Many physicians have their own herb gardens, where they grow the exotic plants that are used in their medications. Some physicians practice a little basic artifice.

Attributes: Mind is the most important attribute for a physician character.

Adventuring: Being a physician does not lend itself to a life of adventure, although physicians will be required wherever battle is joined.

Fighting: In combat, this career is not really of particular benefit to a character, although after the fight, they are often most welcome.

Suggested Boons: Deft Hands, Disease Immunity, Excellent Library, Healing Touch, Learned, Literate, Poison Resistance

Suggested Flaws: Can’t Lie, City Dweller, Combat Paralysis, Drunkard, Non-Combatant

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PRIEST

Alternative career names: godi, thulr, shaman, druid.

Priests are the earthly agents of ancestral and natural spirits, and of the hero-deities worshipped throughout Fjarrstrand. They conduct sacrifices and rituals that honor their patrons and, in return, may call upon these spirits to grant them blessings in the form of spells.

Respected within his clan, the priest is a practitioner of ancient sacred rites,  knowledgeable in the secret ways of nature. His community is usually uneasy about his eerie and often unsettling presence, so he often lives in isolation, close to the village, but in the wild places he loves.

Priests and druids need to worship their gods in places sacred to their people. This involves visits to the sacred groves, monoliths, or rings of sacred stones (menhirs or runestones) where they pray, meditate, fast, carry out priestly duties, and even perform sacrifices. When priests carry out their devotions, they receive benefits in the form of spells.

The priest can heal wounded men and sick animals with the spells and natural remedies he has mastered. He also presides over funeral rites, and is said to converse with the dead. He can cast the evil eye on anyone in the community who displeases him.

Attributes: Priests need to have clever Minds, and the best ones have sufficient Appeal to be able to sway or command followers.

Adventuring: Some priests are highly adventurous – seeking out ancient knowledge and artifacts of their gods. Others prefer the easy life and rarely leave the safety of their shrine, sacred grove, or temple.

Fighting: Having the priest career will rarely, if ever, give you any advantage in combat. The only plus might be that gods-fearing fighters will be loath to attack a priest.

Devotion:  Priests and druids pay homage to all of their people’s gods but, at rank 1 or higher, must choose one above all the rest. At rank 0, priests and druids are still in training and do not devote themselves to any one god or spirit in particular.

For each rank above 1 in this career, the character must take (or have) one of the suggested Boons or Flaws listed below.

Suggested Boons: Detect Deception, Friends in High Places, Inspire, Learned, Marked by Fate, Nose for Magic, Resistance to Sorcery, Savant, Silver Tongue

Suggested Flaws: Arrogant, Can’t Lie, Combat Paralysis, Cravings, Non-Combatant, Obsession, Unhinged, Zealot

 

SAILOR

Alternative career names: pirate, sea-wolf, reaver.

Sailors are sea warriors and adventurers, are skilled in sea lore, navigation by stars, and boat handling, and have a good knowledge of local ports and nearby coastlines and islands.

Skilled mariners are always in demand and will rarely be refused working passage on board a galley.

Attributes: Sailors need Strength, and some Agility is useful too.

Adventuring: A life at sea is full of adventure – sea monsters, exotic places, strange people, sea-battles, and treasure maps are all food and drink to a sailor.

Fighting: Sailors may receive a combat bonus in actions at sea and possibly even against sea creatures that they might have some familiarity with or heard about.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Brawler, Born Athlete, Born- at-Sea, Carouser, Deft Hands, Friends in Low Places,

Keen Eyesight, Bare-Shirt, Sneaky, War Cry

Suggested Flaws: Braggart, Distinctive Appearance, Distrust of Magic, Drunkard, Fear of …, Greed, Hot Headed, Lustful, Missing Eye or Ear, Missing Limb

 

SCRIBE

Alternative career names: loremaster, chronicler, scholar.

Scribes are chroniclers and teachers, well-educated and knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects – they are cartographers, astronomers, linguists, historians, and philosophers. Scribes are also skilled at debate as they discuss at length a variety of topics with other enlightened individuals.

Scribes need to be clear of thought to do their laborious work of cataloging volumes and copying texts. It goes without saying that they need to be literate.

Attributes: Mind is of primary importance to a scribe.

Adventuring: Scribes make poor adventurers, although to have some of the knowledge of a scribe would make such a character a useful addition to a party.

Fighting: Whilst scribes might have it that “the pen is mightier than the sword”, there are not actually many circumstances where having a career in scribe will have any discernible use in combat.

Suggested Boons: Excellent Library, Learned, Savant

Suggested Flaws: Delicate, Can’t Lie, Combat Paralysis, Non-Combatant, City Dweller, Obsession

Required Boon:  Scribes need to have the Literate boon if they wish to choose this career.

 

SEDUCER

Alternative career names: advisor, manipulator, schemer.

There are some who have honed seduction and manipulation down to an art form. The seducer may be a nobleman’s mistress, an ambitious courtier, or a power-hungry advisor, who tries to gain power over others through flattery and various forms of enticement.  A seducer is skilled in etiquette, intuition, conversation, manipulation, and seduction.

Attributes: Appeal is the most important attribute for a seducer. Agility and Mind can be useful too.

Adventuring: Seducers are usually not very adventurous, so you’d need other careers to help explain your life of peril.

Fighting: This career is seldom helpful in combat, though a seducer may be able to add her career ranks to checks made to bluff or distract guards.

Suggested Boons: Attractive, Beguiling, Carouser, Deft Fingers, Friends in High Places, Friends in Low Places, Inspire, Literate, Sneaky, Silver Tongue

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Delicate, Hot-Headed, Lustful, Non-Combatant, Unprepared

 

SEER

Alternative career names: prophet, spækona, diviner, oracle.

Seers are gifted, some would say cursed, with the ability to gaze into the future and divine others’ fortunes.   Their ability to unravel the strands of fate to see what lies ahead makes seers the object of both reverence and dread.

Seers are valued for their wise and insightful counsel, prophetic predictions, and precognition of the future. Many ventures are not undertaken by nobles and wealthy patrons unless a seer is present to divine whether it will be met with good fortune or ill-omens.

Attributes: Seers need to have quick Minds and strong intuitive powers.  Appeal is also of use when persuading others to accept prophecies (or to deflect others wrath when prophecies are unclear or inaccurate).

Adventuring:  Seers are not usually adventurers, preferring the patronage of others and the comforts of civilization.

Fighting:  Though seers are able to peer into the future, this does not impart any benefit in the fast-paced chaos of combat.

Suggested Boons: Detect Deception, Friends in High Places, Inspire, Learned, Literate, Marked by Fate, Nose for Magic, Resistance to Sorcery, Savant, Silver Tongue

Suggested Flaws: Arrogant, Can’t Lie, Combat Paralysis, Cravings, Delicate, Non-Combatant, Obsession, Unhinged

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SKALD

Alternative career names: bard, poet, fili.

Wandering or employed by a lord, the skald is an accomplished artist and scholar who knows legends of past heroes, and who may even be ready to join an adventure himself so he can get a good story out of it.  Some skalds extend their art to a bit of juggling and, possibly, sleight-of-hand trickery.

Because they travel and are great gossips, they learn ancient legends, are good orators, and have some knowledge of city and world lore.

Some skalds, particularly those of the Brjotaband, are renowned for their mastery of satire, as well as for their ability to lampoon others in order to enrage or dishearten them.

Attributes: Skalds require a sharp Mind and an abundance of Appeal.

Adventuring: Skalds are often wanderers, so by their very nature they can get caught up in some dangerous escapades on the road. Some might also follow warriors and adventurers, simply to be able to create heroic tales from first-hand experience.

Fighting: Skald is not generally a combat career and there are very few circumstances where this career will provide a combat bonus. Possibly a trick or distraction might give the opportunity to get a surprise stab or, more likely, a chance to escape.

Suggested Boons: Artistic, Attractive, Carouser, Detect Deception, Keen Hearing, Learned, Master of Disguise, Inspire, Literate, Silver Tongue, Tools of The Trade (instrument)

Suggested Flaws: Arrogant, Delicate, Drunkard, Lustful, Non-Combatant

 

THIEF

Alternative career names: rogue, scoundrel.

Perhaps you fell into a life of crime or began as a young street urchin. In either case, you have a certain unique set of skills that most find unsavory.

Thieves, scoundrels, and other ne’er-do-wells will have skill in such things as city lore, picking pockets, climbing, burglary, sneaking, gambling, and skullduggery, and may be part of some “guild” or order.

You will almost certainly be robbed at some time or another if you stay in the city for any length of time.

Attributes: Thieves require Agility for their trade, but a quick Mind also helps.

Adventuring: Good thieves are sought after by adventurers looking to break into temples and tombs where there are locks and traps guarding the treasures.

Fighting: Thieves usually need to avoid combat where possible, and will only gain a career bonus in combat when trying to get away – and not always then if up against well-trained guards.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Carouser, Deft Hands, Escape Artist, Friends in Low Places, Keen Hearing, Low-Born, Night Sight, Sneaky, Tools-of-the-Trade (lock-picks)

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Cowardly, Greed, Hunted, Infamous, Poor Recovery, Untrustworthy

 

THRALL

Alternative career names: serf, slave.

Slavery or indentured servitude is not exactly a career of choice for a heroic adventurer. Nevertheless, it can be useful in rounding out a character concept, and does provide the opportunity to pick up a few skills and techniques that other careers do not give.

The career provides skill in things like humility, going unnoticed, listening and sneaking, as well as cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, and manual labor. Some thralls (the strong ones or the troublemakers) are sold to mercenary companies or jarls desperately in need of warriors, or made to fight for their owner’s amusement.

Attributes: Thralls that are used for labor need good Strength.  Thralls used to run errands often need high Agility. Clever thralls are normally considered to be troublemakers.

Adventuring: Adventurous thralls do not remain thralls for very long. A life on the run from slavery leads to adventure, whether wanted or not.

Fighting: This career is not really of any practical use in a fight. Still, thralls will mostly be ignored by warriors, maybe to their cost.

Suggested Boons: Escape Artist, Keen Hearing, Sneaky, Strength Feat

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Combat Paralysis, Cursed, Fear of …, Feels the Cold, Land-lubber, Mute, Non-Combatant, Poor Recovery, Taciturn

 

TRADER

Alternative career names: peddler, merchant.

Traders are not shopkeepers – they are wide-traveled adventurers, who seek new and exotic goods to sell from faraway places. As such, trader characters pick up a range of useful skills like trading, appraisal, obtaining rare or unusual goods, persuasion, city lore, knowledge of distant places, and guild membership.

If you want a strange or unusual item, speak to a trader first.

Attributes: Traders need a quick Mind and a degree of Appeal to haggle and barter for their living.

Adventuring: A life on the road is a life of adventure, whether the trader tries to avoid it or not. Many traders actively seek out new lands and new markets, leading to many adventures.

Fighting: Trader is not a combat career, so this will almost never be helpful to a character in a fight.

Suggested Boons: Detect Deception, Great Wealth, Literate, Savant, Silver Tongue

Suggested Flaws: Greed, Non-Combatant, Obsession, Unprepared

 

TUMBLER

Alternative career names: acrobat, jester.

Juggling and tumbling are important parts of entertainment in Fjarrstrand. Ceremonies and feasts will have tumblers or acrobats. Tumblers are athletic, showing feats of skill, agility, and coordination. Some tumblers extend their skills to a few sleight-of-hand and juggling tricks, and others to feats of contortion.

Attributes: Tumblers rely mostly on their Agility and their Appeal. Acrobats and tumblers tend to be stronger than they look.

Adventuring: These entertainers often travel around in troupes from settlement to settlement. This can lead to some dangerous situations on the road, from fierce monsters to brigands and thieves.

Fighting: In combat, a tumbler might gain an advantage if her opponent is caught off-guard by her acrobatic leaps, or she might gain an edge performing a roll or diving tumble. However, tumbling is not really a combat career and will rarely be of use against a skilled fighting man. Acrobats can make very good use of branches, rafters, ropes, and wall hangings in daring swashbuckling-style moves, though.

Suggested Boons: Alert, Attractive, Born Athlete, Deft Hands, Escape Artist, Quick Recovery, Sneaky

Suggested Flaws: City Dweller, Delicate, Non-Combatant

 

WARRIOR

Alternative career names: huskarl, militiaman, soldier.

Warriors are the guards in a town or in the standing armies of rich nobles. They are often stoic but of limited imagination. They will have some city lore, perhaps skills in intimidation and riding, as well as a limited amount of authority – especially the officers.

Attributes: Strength is normally most important for warriors, although archers and cavalrymen could do with a bit of Agility. Officers need to have plenty of Appeal to lead their men, and quick Minds to make sound battle plans.

Adventuring: Most warriors are dull and uninspired. However, characters will use their time in the city guard to hone their weapon skills ready for their next adventure.

Fighting: Warriors are not specialists of any sort but will sometimes gain a career bonus in combat, especially if fighting tactically as a part of a well-led unit.

Suggested Boons: Born Athlete, Born-in-the-Saddle, Brawler, Carouser, Hard-to-Kill, Inspire, Quick Recovery, Trademark Weapon

Suggested Flaws: Braggart, Drunkard, Gullible, Lustful, Poor Hearing, Taciturn

 

WORKER

Alternative career names: porter, laborer.

Workers are unskilled laborers – men who erect palisades, dig ditches, build homes, city walls, and temples, or load and unload wagons and riverboats.

Workers often move around doing a range of odd jobs here and there, many of which are seasonal or temporary. Workers will be skilled in heavy lifting, intimidation, carousing, and hard labor. Some of the tasks carried out by workers are also the work of thralls.

Attributes: Workers tend to find a high Strength very useful in their physical endeavors.

Adventuring:  Labor is dull and doesn’t really lead to a life of adventure. Therefore, a character with Worker as one of his careers is unlikely to have stuck it out for very long.

Fighting: Workers are not really fighters, although they do tend to settle their disputes with their fists. They might be given a bonus during a brawl, especially when grappling or choking someone.

Suggested Boons: Carouser, Brawler, Giant Strength, Hard-to- Kill, Strength Feat, Fearsome Looks, Poison Resistance, Tools-of-the-Trade

Suggested Flaws: Can’t Lie, Drunkard, Fear of …, Hot-Headed, Lumbering, Lustful, Poor Hearing, Taciturn, Unsettling

 

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The Fjarrstrand Sagas: Pt. 2 (Cultures)

CULTURES OF FJARRSTRAND

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.