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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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

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

This is a continuation of my last blog post.

ORDINARY TRAITS

Traits between 8 and 13 represent the average range of traits.  When faced with tests tied to these, the player may forego the trait check and use free will to determine a course of action.

Characters who consistently act a certain way will eventually have the appropriate trait raised due to the rules below.

FAMOUS TRAITS AND PASSIONS

Only famous traits (i.e., those with a value of 14 or higher, or of 7 or lower) are noteworthy, and such traits must be checked with a die roll whenever character behavior is challenged in a crisis.  This does not mean that trait rolls must be used whenever the character makes any decision in the game. And even characters with famous characteristics are allowed free choice of behavior except when the plot demands otherwise. The DM should request trait rolls only when a trait is tested in an important situation. In general, trait rolls simulate situations in which a crisis forces the character to act unconsciously.

TRAITS CHECKS

When characters face moral dilemmas and/or are tempted to act in a particular manner, the DM may call for a trait check.

Since traits define character personality, they must be consulted whenever the DM feels them necessary. In crises, it is assumed, individuals act according to their character, not spontaneous and ambiguous choices. Custom and training triumph over instinct. Players may not want their characters to do something dictated by a die roll, but free choice is not always possible.

Trait checks are handled much like ability checks (PHB 172).  When a test of a particular trait is called for, the DM determines the difficulty of that check.  The player then rolls a d20, adding the modifier for the relevant trait score and their proficiency modifier…  as experience tempers judgement.

Typical Difficulty Classes
Task Difficulty                          DC
Very easy                                 5
Easy                                          10
Medium                                   15
Hard                                         20
Very hard                                 25
Nearly impossible                  30

If the total equals or exceeds the DC, the trait check is a success – the character overcomes the challenge at hand and acts in accordance with that trait. Otherwise, it’s a failure, which means the character may give into their vices.  A natural “20” indicates a critical success while a natural “1” indicates a fumble. See the table below for the effects of success and failure at a trait check.

Roll Result and Effect

Critical Success: The trait increases by one, and the character must act strongly in accordance with the trait unless he succeeds at a Wisdom saving throw with the same DC.  If this save succeeds, the character may act freely but reduces the trait by 1 point if he fails to act in accordance with it.

Success:  The character may act in accordance with the trait but is not required to. The player may decide precisely what action ensues within that limitation.

Failure:  Failure indicates the player fails to act in accordance with the checked trait unless he succeeds at a Wisdom saving throw with the same DC.  If this save succeeds, the character may act freely.

Fumble:  The trait is immediately reduced by one 1 point and the character immediately acts against that trait unless he succeeds at a Wisdom saving throw with the same DC.  If this save succeeds, the character may act freely and doesn’t suffer a loss to the checked trait.

Example:  Hromund Hammerhand, a level  3 dwarven paladin renowned for his purity has a Chastity score of 16 and  encounters a succubus in the form of a beautiful dwarven maiden. The DM asks the  player to make a Chasity roll with a DC of 15.   His bonus to this roll is +5 but he rolls a “4” on his trait check.  Unless he rolls a successful Wisdom save Hromund will give in to the succubus’ charms.

The following chart shows the effects of passed and failed trait rolls.  The character acts accordingly:

Trait Checked Failed Check (Vice Exhibited) Successful Check (Virtue Exhibited)
Chastity Lustful Chaste
Constancy Arbitrary Just
Diligence Slothful Energetic
Generosity Selfish Generous
Honesty Deceitful Honest
Magnanimity Vengeful Forgiving
Mercy Cruel Merciful
Modesty Proud Modest
Piety Worldly Pious
Prudence Reckless Prudent
Temperance Indulgent Temperate
Trust Suspicious Trusting
Valor Cowardly Valorous

berserker sword

Family Background by Homeland & Culture (Pendragon 5th Edition)

FATHER’S CLASS

13

14

INHERITED GLORY, SKILLS, TRAITS, PASSIONS & OUTFIT

Legionarius          

Glory:  3d6+50

18 skills points, Awareness +1, Spear +1, Sword +1, Grapple +2, Dagger +3

Proud +1, Prudent +1d3, Selfish +1d3+2, Cruel +1d6, Valorous +1, Honor +1d3, Loyalty (Lord) +1

Legionarius Outfit

 

Squire

Glory:  6d6

20 skill points, Alertness +2, Heraldry +2 (substitute Recognize in the Uther – Anarchy periods), Horsemanship +2

Energetic +1d3, Modest +1d3, Prudent +1d3, Valorous +1d6, Loyalty (Lord) +3

Outfit 1 (Footsoldier’s Outfit for Irish and Pictish characters)

 

Mercenary Knight

Glory:  6d6+100

20 skill points, Sword +3, any other weapon +3

Cruel +1d6, Valorous +1d3

Outfit 2 (Outfit 3 for Roman characters)

 

Warrior

Glory:  6d6+50

24 skill points, Awareness +2, Spear +2, Cultural Weapon +3

Proud +1, Reckless +1d3, Valorous +1d3+2, Honor +1d6, Loyalty (Lord) +3

Cultural Warrior Outfit

 

Family Chieftain

Glory:  2d6+100

28 skill points, Cultural Weapon +2

Love (family) +1d3, Valorous +1d3, Honor +1d3, Loyalty (Lord) +1d3+3

Cultural Warrior Outfit

 

Tribal or Clan Chieftain

Glory:  6d6+250

30 skill points, Cultural Weapon +3

Valorous +1d3, Loyalty (Clan) 2d6+6, Honor +1d6

Cultural Warrior Outfit

 

Bachelor Knight

Glory:  6d6+250

26 skill points

Valorous +1, Loyalty (Lord) +3, Honor +1

Outfit 3 (Outfit 2 for Frankish, Irish, Pictish & Saxon characters)

 

Vassal Knight

Glory:  6d6+250

30 skill points

Valorous +2, Loyalty (Lord) +4, Honor +1

Outfit 3 (Outfit 2 for Frankish, Irish, Pictish & Saxon characters)

 

Banneret Knight

Glory:  6d6+250

32 skill points

Valorous +3, Loyalty (Lord) +5, Honor +1d3

Two rolls on the Luck table

Outfit 3 (Outfit 2 for Frankish, Pictish & Saxon characters)

 

Officer

Glory:  6d6+300

26 skill points plus see below

Valorous +1, Loyalty (Lord) +4, Honor +1d3

  • Seneschal: Stewardship +4, Intrigue +2, Hospitality +1d3
  • Marshal: Battle +3, Valorous +1d3
  • Butler: Courtesy +3, Intrigue +1, Generous +3
  • Chamberlain: Read (Latin) +4, Heraldry +2 (substitute Recognize in the Uther – Anarchy periods)
  • Constable: Tourney +3 (substitute Battle in the Uther – Anarchy periods), Horsemanship +2
  • Forester: Awareness +2, Falconry +2, Hunting +4
  • Castellan: Battle +2, Courtesy +2, Stewardship +2

Outfit 4 (Outfit 3 for Frankish & Saxon characters)

 

Lord

Glory:  6d6+300

26 skill points, Courtesy +2, Heraldry +2 (substitute Recognize in the Uther – Anarchy periods), Intrigue +2, Battle +2, Sword +2, Spear +2

Proud +1d3, Loyalty (Lord) +6, Honor +3, Valorous +1d3

Three rolls on the Luck table

Outfit 4 (Outfit 3 for Saxon characters)

 

Free Holding Knight

Glory:  6d6+250

26 skill points, Stewardship +2, Courtesy +2, Intrigue +2, Battle +2, Sword +2

Proud +1d3, Loyalty (Lord) +1d3, Honor +1d3, Valorous +1d3

Two rolls on the Luck table

Outfit 4

 

INHERITED OUTFITS

 

UTHER-BOY KING PERIOD

Legionarius Outfit

Leather and open helm (4 pt), spear, legionary shield (9 pt), sword, dagger, clothing worth 60d.

Cymric Warrior’s Outfit

Leather armor (4 pt), spear, shield, sword, clothing worth 90d.

Pictish Warrior’s Outfit

No armor, 2 great spears, 5 javelins, great axe, dagger, clothing worth 10d.

Irish Warrior’s Outfit

Leather armor (4 points), 2 spears, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 60d.

Saxon Warrior’s Outfit

Cuirbouilli (6 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, great axe, 3 javelins, dagger, clothing worth 60d.

Outfit 1

Rouncy, leather armor (4 pt), spear, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 90d.

Outfit 2

Charger, cuirbouilli (6 pt), spear, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 120d.

Oufit 3

Charger, rouncy, Norman chainmail (10 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 1L.

Oufit 4

Charger, palfrey, 2 rouncies, Norma chainmail (10 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, any one other available weapon, dagger, clothing worth 2L, 120d in money.

Outfit 5

2 chargers, palfrey, 2 rouncies, Norman chainmail (10 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, any one other available weapon, dagger, clothing worth 4L, 1L in money.

Oufit 6

2 chargers, palfrey, 2 rouncies, Norman chainmail (10 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, any one other available weapon, dagger, clothing worth 2L, 120d in money.

 

CONQUEST-TWILIGHT PERIOD

Foorsoldier’s Outfit

Leather armor (4 pt), great spear, sword or other cultural weapon, dagger, clothing worth 80d.

Cymric Warrior’s Outfit

Leather armor (4 pt), spear, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 120d.

Pictish Warrior’s Outfit

No armor, 2 great spears, 5 javelins, great axe, dagger, clothing worth 10d.

Irish Warrior’s Outfit

Leather armor (4 points), 2 spears, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 60d.

Saxon Warrior’s Outfit

Cuirbouilli (6 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, great axe, 3 javelins, dagger, clothing worth 60d.

Outfit 1

2 rouncies, cuirbouilli (6 pt), spear, shield, sword, dagger, clothing worth 120d.

Outfit 2

Charger, 2 rouncies, Norman chainmail (10 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, 5 jousting lances, dagger, clothing worth 1L.

Oufit 3

Charger, palfrey, rouncy, reinforced chainmail armor (12 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, any one other weapon, 5 jousting lances, dagger, clothing worth 2L., 1L in money, 1 squire.

Oufit 4

1 Andalusian charger, palfrey, courser, 2 rouncies, reinforced chainmail armor (12 pt), 2 spears, shield, sword, any one other weapon, 5 jousting lances, dagger, clothing worth 4L., 2L in money, 2 squires.

Outfit 5

1 destrier, 1 Barb charger, 1 Camargue palfrey, 1 rouncy, 1 sumpter, partial plate armor (14 pt), leather hunting armor (2 pts), 6 spears, 2 shields, 2 swords, any two other weapons, 10 jousting lances, dagger, clothing worth 8L., 2L in money, 3 squires.

Oufit 6

1 Frisian destrier, 1 Andalusian chargers, 1 Camargue palfrey, 2 rouncies, 1 sumpter, partial plate armor (14 pt), engraved hunting leather armor (2 pt), 6 spears, 2 shields, 2 swords, any four other weapons, 10 jousting lances, dagger, clothing worth 10L., 3L in money, 4 squires.

 

LUCK BENEFITS

 

d20 roll CYMRIC d20 roll AQUITANIAN d20 roll FRANKISH
01 3d20 denarii. 01 3d20 +60 denarii. 01 3d20 +60 denarii.
02-03 3d20+120 denarii. 02 1 Librum (240 denarii). 02-03 1 Librum (240 denarii).
04-06 1 Librum (240 denarii). 03-04 1d3 Librum. 04 1d3 Librum.
07 1d3 Librum. 05 1d6 Librum. 05 1d6 Librum.
08 1d6 Librum. 06-07 Your forebear died heroically: +100 Glory. 06 Your forebear died heroically: +100 Glory.
09 Family heirloom:  Christian* sacred relic, roll a d6 (1=finger, 2=tears, 3-4=hair, 5=bone fragment, 6=blood) 08-10 Your ancestor was a Visigoth king (1d6+2 generations back):  +100 Glory and a jeweled sword worth 1d3 Librum. 07-10 Family heirloom:  a brooch.  Roll 1d6 for value (1-3 = silver worth 1 L., 4-5 = gold worth 3 L., 6 = silver with diamond worth 5 L.).
10 Family heirloom:  Ancient bronze sword (+1 to Sword skill when used).  Breaks as a non-sword in combat due to its weak blade.  Worth 2L. 11-12 A sumpter 11-13 A magical healing potion that heals 1d6 damage once.  Priceless.
11 Family heirloom:  Blessed spear (+1 modifier to Spear skill when used, until broken).  Worth 120 denarii. Note: Replace with a lance after the Anarchy period 13-15 A rouncy 14-15 A sumpter
12 Family heirloom:  Decorated saddle.  Worth 1 Librum. 16 A charger 16 A rouncy
13 Family heirloom:  Engraved finger ring.  Roll 1d6 for value (1-4 = silver ring worth 120 denarii, 5-6 = gold ring worth 2 L.). 17 A Barb courser 17 A charger
14 Family heirloom:  Armband.  Roll 1d6 for value (1-5 = silver band worth 1 L., 5-6 = gold band worth 8 L.). 18 An Andalusian charger 18 An Andalusian charger
15 Family heirloom:  Valuable cloak worth 1 Librum.  Roll 1d6 for origin (1-2 = Byzantine, 3=German, 4-5=Spanish, 6=Roman). 19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1 19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1
16 A magical healing potion that heals 1d6 damage once.  Priceless. 20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”. 20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”.
17-18 A charger
19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1
20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”.
* Pagan Cymri gain 1d6 L. in place of this relic.

 

d20 roll IRISH & MANX d20 roll PICT d20 roll ROMANS
01 3d20 +60 denarii. 01-03 3d20 denarii. 01 3d20 +60 denarii.
02 1 Librum (240 denarii). 04 Your forebear died heroically: +100 Glory. 02-03 1 Librum (240 denarii).
03-04 Your forebear died heroically: +100 Glory. 05 A rouncy 04 1d3 Librum.
05 A Connacht rouncy. 06-10 You bear a magical tattoo that provides 2 points of armor 05-06 1d6 Librum.
06-10 A charger 11 You have a magical charger, +1 movement rate and +1d3 armor 07-10 Your ancestors came to Britain from Rome(1d6+2 generations back): +100 Glory.
11 An Irish courser 12 1d3 magical healing potions that heal 1d6 damage.  Priceless. 11-12 A charger
12-16 Your are a descendant of a king (1d6+2 generations back):  +150 Glory 13 The faeries have gifted you with a magical great spear of impressive power, +2 to Spear skill until broken.  +100 Glory.  Priceless. 13 An Andalusian charger
17 1d3 magical healing potions that heal 1d6 damage.  Priceless. 14-15 1d6 magical healing potions that heal 1d6 damage.  Priceless. 14 A Barb courser
18 A love potion.  Priceless. 16 1d3 love potions.  Priceless. 15-16 A magical healing potion that heals 1d6 damage once.  Priceless.
19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1 17-19 1d3 strong healing potions (each heals 6 damage).  Priceless. 17-18 A strong healing potion that heals 6 points of damage once.  Priceless.
20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”. 20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”. 19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1
20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”.

 

d20 roll SAXON d20 roll SAXON (continued)
01-03  3d20 denarii. 14 You have a part-share in a ship.  Check with the gamemaster for details.
04 1d3 Librum. 15 You have a blessed axe.  +1 to Great Axe skill when used.  Breaks normally.  Worth 2 Librum.
05-07 Wotan is your ancestor: +200 Glory 16-18 A magical healing potion that heals 1d6 damage once.  Priceless.
08-10 A sumpter 19 Upgrade your Outfit by 1
11 A rouncy 20 Roll twice more, re-rolling further rolls of “20”.
12-13 A charger