GM Rednal's Northlands Saga Complete

Game Master Rednal


Online Access to Spheres of Power Rules

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Player Expectations:

The Northlands Saga takes place in a heavily Norse-themed region in the Lost Lands campaign setting. Player characters will almost certainly be from this area, and either way, are expected to be the sort of characters who would make sense in a Norse epic tale (think Beowulf). The better your character's flavor, the more likely they are to be chosen.

Among other things, consider your character's role in society (almost certainly a farmer - even people who do other things tend to only do it as a side job, because they NEED to help grow food in this wintery region), and their personality. Honor and hospitality are important - so is courage. If you try to Intimidate a guy, he's probably going to hit you. If you steal, you'll be lucky to lose a hand (more probably, you'll lose your head). If you insult someone, you could start a blood feud between your families.

You can totally ask me about your actions beforehand if you want to know what the social result would be. XD You don't have to be a goody-two-shoes at all times, but this entire society has expectations about conduct that should come naturally to your characters. (If you think people are "imposing" behaviors on you, you're already in the wrong mindset. Your characters generally ought to AGREE with all of this. Think like a North(wo)man when making your character!)

There are quite a few restrictions on your selections for this game - while I usually permit a lot of stuff, many of those things simply do not exist here. I cannot over-emphasize how much of the flavor I'm planning to encourage here, so bear with me. XD There's a lot of stuff to know.

Finally, I prefer to post at least once a day. If you cannot genuinely commit to regular posting for the foreseeable future, please do not apply. (I will be checking accounts to see how many posts you have - people who have been consistent members on this board are slightly favored)


-Sourcebooks: Paizo broadly okay, but many specific options denied (especially for locals, mostly for reasons of flavor). Spheres of Power is in use and mandatory for casters. No psionics. Other material available on request.

-Starting Level: 1 (Gestalt rules). If male, at least one side must be a martial class.

-No multiclassing. You level in what you start with. Prestige classes are a maybe, and will be judged case-by-case (mainly by flavor).

-Available Classes: See the Classes for Northlander Humans section. Note that this is for NORTHLANDERS. Thralls can come from further away and may have stranger powers. (Basically, it's easier to be a caster - especially if both of your classes are at all magical - if you're a slave owned by someone else and casting at their command. Yes, I'm totally challenging your roleplaying ability here. Casters are not gods who rule over everything they see. XD)

-Starting Wealth: Average for your class (take the higher of your two). What you can purchase is limited - see the Social Classes section for weapons and armor. (Basic tools are fine. Rarer tools, not so much.) Note that heavy armor is generally not a thing in the Northlands. Chainmail is about as complex as it gets, at least at the start, and that's for rich people. While you may spend your starting wealth on stuff, it's assumed that most stuff was probably handed down in your family. Basically, your gear is heirloom stuff, and ought to be treated with respect (not ditched and forgotten the second you find something else). For this reason, I suggest giving a name to one or more of your things, probably your weapon. XD Named stuff is far harder to ditch.

-Race: Human preferred. Elf possible (with certain racial rules). Everything else, gimme a fantastic backstory, and you're an Outlander who traveled to the region from afar. (Easiest: Be a Thrall, owned by another PC. Being an obedient servant is by far the most likely reason for an odd race to be around, and the best way to be accepted by society.)

-Alignment: Good preferred. Evil banned.

-Hit Points: Max per hit-dice

-Abilities: 20 point buy

-Skill Points: As normal, but Background Skills are in use. You should probably have a rank in Profession (Farmer) if you're not a Huscarl.

-Traits: 2. One must be a Campaign Trait.

-Automatic Bonus Progression rules are in use, and due to the scarcity of magic items, you are two levels on the table higher than your character level. Martial characters should not flavor things like weapon attunements as "magic" - instead, think of it more as heroic power. You can cut hard-to-cut things BECAUSE you're a hero. You're hard to hurt BECAUSE you're a hero and have lots of experience facing nasty stuff. Casters can still flavor it magically, or go the heroic route.

-No normal magic. We're using Spheres of Power instead. Casters are expected to have a casting tradition that matches their theme. If you do not have access to this book, I can help you with that. (Though you totally should get it - seriously, A+ stuff there) Among other things, Spheres is mostly all-day casting, which I think is more appropriate for this sort of story than Vancian casting. (Note that you can still CRAFT normal magical items.)

-If you have bonus magic (spells from bloodlines, etc.), those still function as Vancian spells. However, your CHARACTERS would probably not treat them as such. They would not think "I can cast Fireball", they would think "Once a day, I can call fire and make things go boom, and I'm not going to do that in public because it's really freaky and I don't want to be run out of town".

-We're using the local pantheon. Tell me what sort of deity you're interested in, and I'll tell you who's closest (it's basically the Norse pantheon, though. Some have different spellings than you may be used to.). Note that religion is generally not organized, and people worship how and when they see fit.

-Reflavoring of existing things is generally permitted.

-Your characters have limited knowledge of the outside world. You will have the opportunity to learn more about this world over time.

Starting Languages:

Norsk (Main language of the Northlanders)
Nuklander (Language of the Elves)
Runic (Written form of Norsk. Literacy is far from universal, so this must be learned separately.)

[No other languages can be chosen as starting languages, regardless of your Int score. There is no Common.]

Other Languages (by points in Linguistics only):

Andovan (Language of a dead group of humans)
Seagestrelander (Language of another local group of humans)
Ulnat (Language of the seal hunters of the far north)

Other Notes:

Mounts are basically non-existent. (Riding horses, yes. Combat horses, no.)

The Northlanders strongly believe in independence and personal freedom. There are essentially no true governments, only people who can convince others to listen to them. Tradition is EXTREMELY important within their society - characters who are unwilling to respect tradition will be shunned at best, outright attacked at worst. (Note that Chaotic characters can still respect tradition - just emphasize the Northlands' views.)

For most matters, the Northlanders have the Thing - a local gathering where people vote on stuff. All its members are equal, and entitled to speak and vote. Decisions are not binding or absolute, but are generally respected because of tradition.

Family and Clan are more important than Things or Jarls (wealthy locals - Jarls are not Kings, and though often persuasive, are considered no more important than others). Family protects their own. Jarls take personal pledges, and must constantly give worthy gifts to followers to be seen as legitimate. Those who use force are seen as tyrants and enemies of the people.

The greatest value is courage - people who do not show fear (whether it's from battle, embarrassment, sickness, injury, or anything else) are praised. Those who show fear tend to be shunned. This is why people will punch you if you try Intimidating them.

The local money is hacksilver - literally pieces of silver, chopped up as needed to pay in various amounts. For simplicity's sake, normal currency measures will be used, but you are not actually using coins. Rewards are generally given by a Jarl you're in service to, and can take the form of various goods and such. The economy is largely barter/gifting-based, so don't expect many shopping trips.

Magical items are generally not for sale in the Northlands. People who own magical items want to keep them, especially because they tend to be heirlooms. Arcane and Divine casters are quite rare, and attempts to simply hire the services of a caster are scorned (especially among women). What few casters exist tend to serve their communities. Strangers are generally not welcome - if you're in dire need, you may get services, but would be expected to repay the help through aid (preferable) or barter. Basically, you'd have a debt, and might spend days, weeks, or even a season repaying it. Because Pathfinder does assume the existence of certain basic items, we are using Automatic Bonus Progression rules.

Do not expect things like planar travel or summoning Outsiders.

Northlander Appearance and Dress:

The most populous cultural and racial group in the Northlands are, unsurprisingly, the Northlanders themselves. Famed for their size, cleanliness, independence, and ferocity, the Northlanders stand out among the smaller, darker people of the Southlands. Most Northlanders are of above-average height and weight for a human, though they do not exceed human norms for size. In skin, eye, and hair color they tend toward the lighter shades, though dark brown hair and eyes, as well as black, are not uncommon. Northlanders are also well known for being clean and for regularly bathing. These hardy folk see no problem with diving into a winter-chilled stream, providing they can quickly exit and get back into the warmth of a hall.

Men and women wear their hair long and in braids, though women’s hair tends to be longer. Men, and women engaged in more-active pursuits, wear trousers, a long tunic, and shoes of wood or leather. Women’s clothing tends toward dresses, aprons, and smocks, and both genders wear several layers, especially in winter, as well as cloaks and hats. Although women occasionally wear men’s clothing, men rarely are seen in women’s clothing.

Social Classes:
The Northlanders have two social classes, thralls and freemen, though the latter has some gradations from simple freemen to the jarls. Thralls are in effect slaves and are owned property of a freeman. They are generally captives taken in raids of Seagestreland, the Southlands, or places beyond, though they are occasionally purchased from Caliphate traders. A thrall may own property and may purchase its freedom, or it may gain its freedom though heroic deeds, the decision of its owner, or rarely by vote of a Thing (though like other decisions passed by these bodies, the Thing does not enforce the freeing of a thrall). Thralls may also bring suit before a Thing, though they may not vote and have no right to speak unless so granted by the assembly. The child of a thrall is also a thrall, but traditionally owners free their thralls upon death. A rare few thralls are Northlanders who have been captured in a raid or who have fallen on hard times and have sold themselves into slavery to pay debts or simply to find food and shelter. [Note: PC Thralls have slightly different rules - see Campaign Traits.]

All other Northlanders are freemen, and by tradition considered equal in rights and responsibilities. Freemen can own property, make oaths, and vote or speak in the Thing. Most freemen are simple farmers known as bondi; even craftsmen usually pursue their professions as a side job when not farming. The common farmer barely makes enough to put something away for the next year, and can arm himself only with a light wooden shield, a spear, a long knife or axe, and maybe a chain shirt if he is lucky, but more often leather. Wealthier farmers are known as hirdman and make up roughly a third of Northlander society. A hirdman has a large enough excess income to afford to arm and armor himself at a higher level, namely with a suit of chainmail, a heavy wooden shield, several spears, an axe, a sword, and possibly a riding horse as well. These are not to be confused with hirthmenn who make up the citizen militias of the Northlands nations and derive their name from the hirdmen who originally almost solely comprised there.

First among equals, jarls have enough wealth to support themselves and their families, but also a large household of specialist craftsmen, thralls, and skilled warriors. The most valued members of a jarl’s household are his huscarls — men and women sworn into his service whose support is entirely dependent on the jarl. In effect, to be a jarl a person needs not just wealth, but the ability to convince others to pledge their lives in your service and also be able to provide for their feeding, shelter, clothes, weapons, armor, and all other things they may need. A jarl rides to war (though he fights on foot), and bears the best weapons and armor such as a heavy wooden shield, a sword or axe, and a suit of finely linked chain. Many jarls also own a longship or two — sometimes more — and regularly outfit expeditions for trading or raiding.

Classes for Northlander Humans:
By far, Northlander heroes are of the martial-oriented classes, and even then, fighters are the most numerous. After fighters, rangers are the most popular, though these are usually of the non-magic-using archetypes. One would think that their fame as savage warriors would mean a fair number of barbarians would be found in the Northlands, but this is not the case. Those capable of flying into a battle rage are often looked on with fear by their fellows, even if that person is part of the Bearsarker or Ulfhander cults. Cavaliers are unheard of except among the Hrolf who have adopted Southlander ways; the way of war for the Northlanders does not generally include the horse. Firearms are entirely unknown in the Northlands, and thus the gunslinger class is not native and would be seen as a strange, possibly magical, profession. Likewise, the amazing abilities of those Outlanders who have perfected their bodies and minds in such a manner to become members of the monk class are seen as somehow supernatural, and possibly not to be trusted.

Rogues and their ilk are almost unheard of in the Northlands. Theft is a major crime and often results in a person being declared an outlaw. Also, locks and mechanical traps, aside from those traps used for hunting, are unheard of. True, some Andovan ruins or tombs are locked and trapped, but these are scattered widely across the land. No thieves’ guilds or other organized crime syndicates are in the Northlands; the lack of authority and harshness of punishment, not to mention the tightknit nature of Northlander communities, makes these impossible. What rogues that can be found are often combat or wilderness scout orientated, and not the more traditional thief or thug of the Southlands.

Arcane spellcasters are extremely rare in the Northlands, to the point of being largely unheard of save in story and myth. Those who exhibit mastery of arcane magic are often shunned, if not brought to suit at a local Thing for being dangerous witches (no matter the actual class of the character). Wizards are at times given some respect for the amount of training required to gain their powers, but even then all consider it best to keep wizards far away from good, normal folk. Sorcerers and witches are greatly feared, and are often declared outlaws and hunted down. Alchemy, being a science of more civilized lands, is unheard of in the Northlands. The magus class is also unknown and appears only among outlanders. Of all the arcane classes, the summoner is the most hated and feared, for members of this class can bring strange beasts — most likely corrupted creatures of the Ginnungagap, demon-gods or giants of the ancient world (at least in the eyes of the Northlanders) — into the Northlander’s reality.

The only exceptions to this general distrust of arcane spellcasters are the cunning woman lineages who are treated as honored and valuable members of the community.

Bards, called skalds in the Northlands, are a different matter. Bards are respected for their ability to inspire men in battle, as well as the skill needed to learn the many tales and legends of the North. Although they can cast arcane spells, most Northlander bards have learned to mask this spellcasting by mixing it into their song, oratory, or through the use of folk cures and curses.

The divinely inspired classes are rare and poorly represented in the Northlands. Few godi actually have any sort of spellcasting ability, and those that do are clerics or druids who have dedicated themselves to a specific deity instead of the Northlander pantheons as a whole. Paladins are even rarer, as only one deity of the Northlanders has the requisite temperament to attract and empower these paragons of virtue. Adding to their troubles, paladins in the Northlands must constantly contend with the scourge of slavery in the form of thralldom. Lacking a formal church structure, as well as the temperament, inquisitors are unknown among the Northlanders themselves. Oracles are well known, and many of those who dedicate themselves to a single deity do so without the normal guidance and training afforded a member of one of the godi lineages.

Important Setting Information:
The Northlands Saga Adventure Path calls for characters that are in service to Olaf Henrikson, the Jarl of Halfstead. These members of the jarl’s household are lesser servants, would-be huscarls, and other attached persons (like Thralls or family members). If any PC is not a member of the household, then he should be associated to it in some way, possibly as a seasonal hanger-on (especially appropriate to wanderers from outside the Northlands). The Northlands are not like other fantasy settings. Rulers and others in positions of authority simply do not hire adventurers to solve their problems; they either take care of things themselves or send members of their household to see to the situation.

You begin play at Silvermeade Hall, a NG Small Town. Population: 420 (367 humans [Northlanders]; 38 human thralls [Seagestrelanders]; 12 dwarves; 2 giant-blooded; 1 Nûklander)

Campaign Traits (Pick 1):

Bondi: You are a small landholder, entitled to vote in the local Thing and bring cases before it. Although the vast majority of Northlanders are freemen, you are in a class above the others. You have a small farm that yields 40 gp a year in profit, though this assumes you or someone else spends a great deal of time working on it. You have a +1 trait bonus on Profession (farmer).

Child of Heroes: One or both of your parents are widely recognized heroes, paragons of the warrior virtues, maybe even figures who have appeared in epic sagas themselves. Due to your heroic heritage, you gain one of the following: a +1 bonus to one ability score, +2 skill points per level, or +1 hit point per level. You are expected to live up to your parent or parents’ reputation.

Dwarf Blood: It is rare that the Dvergar have any relations outside their own kind, but one of your ancestors managed just that. As a result, you have unnatural blood in your veins, something that others would find disturbing if they knew. You are shorter and uglier than average, and likely have an unusual hair or eye color. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Craft, and after reaching 5th level you may take the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat, though if you are not a spellcaster you may only craft or repair weapons and armor that do not have special abilities.

Famous Family: You are from one of the famous families of the Northlands, such as the Gats or Hrolfs. Your family connections can help you get into higher circles of power, gives you a bonus of +3 votes when appearing before a Thing, and gives you an extra 100 gp to begin your adventuring career. Unfortunately, you are expected to uphold your family’s honor and ambitions and participate in its feuds. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (nobility) and it becomes a class skill for you.

Focused Devotee: Although not a priest, you have dedicated a part of your life to the study of the gods. As a devotee of a single deity, you place his or her worship above all others (while not ignoring the other gods lest you offend). Your alignment must be within one step of your favored deity’s. Also, you must uphold that deity’s ambitions and virtues. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (religion) and it becomes a class skill for you. Additionally, you gain a +1 trait bonus to damage rolls with that deity’s favored weapon.

Giant Blood: Somewhere in your family’s history, someone lay with a giant. The taint of the evil, demonic Jötnar is in your blood, which poses several disadvantages. You are driven to commit crimes against the natural order of the Northlands. Those who know of your taint will likely shun you, and even the gods may turn their backs on you if you prove unworthy. As compensation, you are unusually tall and hardy, gaining a +1 trait bonus on Fortitude saves. Due to your unnatural ancestry, you also gain a +1 to either Knowledge (arcana) or Spellcraft.

Halfsteader: Halfstead is the largest city in the Northlands, and acts as a central point for the entire region. Peoples, goods, and ideas from throughout the North, as well as from farther abroad, flow through, generating wealth. You gain a +1 bonus to Knowledge (geography) and Linguistics, and choose one as a class skill.
Heir: You are the child of a jarl, and thus stand to inherit some degree of wealth. As a result you are expected to live up to the expectations of your position, and have a bonus of +10 votes when appearing before a Thing. You begin your adventuring career with an extra 300 gp, a chain shirt, a heavy wooden shield, a hand weapon, and clothing befitting your station.

Hirdman: You are an independent landowner of some wealth and status, above the bondi yet below the Jarls. You possess a fair bit of land and have a bonus of +5 votes when speaking at the local Thing due to your position. Your land yields enough to feed you and your family, plus produce 100 gp a year in profit, though this assumes you or someone else spends a good deal of time at work planting, reaping, etc. Also, you begin play with an extra 150 gp, a riding horse, a suit of light armor, heavy wooden shield, and a simple or martial melee weapon.

Hnefatafl Player: You have wiled away many long winters playing hnefatafl board games. Furthermore, you have developed some skill with them. This earns you some respect among your peers, for the Northlanders appreciate a quick mind and good game play. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Initiative due to your experience outwitting opponents.

Hordalander: Your kingdom is in turmoil, which means that you must be well aware of which jarls are aligned with which factions. Being constantly on your toes has given you a +1 trait bonus to Sense Motive.

Huscarl: You are a household warrior in service to a jarl or higher-ranked personage. As such, you do not need to worry about your daily needs and upkeep as long as you are in the service of your jarl and in his domain. You begin your adventuring career with a riding horse, a heavy wooden shield, a chain shirt, and a simple or martial weapon of your choice. In return, you must perform services to your jarl as determined by the GM.

Merchant: While the screaming vikings are by far the most well known of the Northlanders who take to the sea, the vast majority of seamen are merchants. You have spent a part of your life plying the trade lanes from port to port, perhaps even journeying as far as the Southlands in search of profit. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Knowledge (geography) and Linguistics, and one of these becomes a class skill.

Rune Reader: You know how to read the runes and write them, including carving them into stone. You thus gain the Runic language and a +1 trait bonus to Craft (scultpure).

Spearman: Warfare is not just a part of Northlands life, it is a central part of the culture and heritage. You were raised to fight in the shieldwall, leap off a longship into the fray, or defend your village against raiders. You gain a +1 trait bonus to combat maneuvers made with a spear.

Tale Spinner: While you may not be a skald, you are skilled at telling stories and have a broad repertoire to choose from. You are considered an educated person in a society that places great stock in oral communication. Your skills at public speaking also gain you an advantage when speaking before a Thing. You gain a +1 trait bonus to two of the following skills, and one becomes a class skill for you: Diplomacy, Perform (oratory), or Knowledge (history).

Thrall: You are a thrall, one of the few non-freeman in the Northlands. Your life is one of a slave, and you likely were not born into that condition. You may not own property, and may only carry arms if your master allows it. Most likely you are from another land, possibly the Southlands or another even more distant place. You gain a +1 trait bonus to Craft (any) and Profession (servant) and choose one to become a class skill.

Troll Blood: Somewhere in your ancestry is a troll, likely a well-kept secret, though if open knowledge, good luck finding a family that will let you marry into it. You have one or more features of the Jötnar, such as coarse hair or skin, reddish eyes at night, long ears or nose, or even a feral cast to your features that can be dismissed away but is also a telltale sign to those familiar with troll heritage. As a result of this taint in our bloodline, you may make a DC 15 Fortitude save to gain fast healing 1 for a number of rounds per day equal to your Constitution modifier.

How To Apply:

Making your character sheet now is optional (though do tell me your intended classes). What I want to see is the flavor of your character, primarily through their background. I want you to demonstrate that you can make a character suitable for a Norse-themed game - that you will think about their powers and abilities, and how they interact with the world. Think about your character's place in society, how their lifestyle (and probable time spent farming or being a thrall) has affected them, and so on. Write the background, and make me believe they belong in the Northlands.

I will not specifically be making this a high-challenge game. You do not need to optimize for power in order to be successful, and in fact should not do so. If I think you're min-maxing and stacking stuff that shouldn't be stacked, you will not be chosen. Challenges will still happen... but this isn't a super-crazy game. XD Flavor is SIGNIFICANTLY more important than optimizing. Being decent is more than enough.

I only plan to pick one character who has levels in a High Caster class (Spheres of Power's equivalent of a ninth-level caster). Basically, this is a pretty low-magic game. It's okay to be martial, and that may even help your chances of being chosen. (If you do want to be the magical one, remember the setting and themes!)

I will be picking 3 characters for this game.

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm in too many games... I'm in too many games... I'm in too many games...

Ah, to hell with it. I'd love to play a shapeshifter from Paranormal Adventures by Everyman Gaming - happy to start as a thrall due to freaky powers. Possibly gestalting with Hedgewitch. If you don't have access to the Shapeshifter class, I'm happy to help out.

How to you feel about PBP newbies? I'm in one other campaign at the moment, with another maybe starting up. I'd love to have the chance to apply, I'm a huge fan of Norse mythology (if my message board name didn't give that away already:) )

Hello Rednal, my favorite GM. So I was thinking about doing a Floki type from the vikings show. A boat maker/farmer. Ranger/Inquisitor. Floki is pretty religious in the belief of the gods. How do you feel about Inquisitor. I would be taking self buffing spells mostly as his blessing from the gods. What do you think?

@Grani: PbP newbies can still submit ideas, of course. ^^ I'm planning to choose characters based mainly on how good your character idea is (so, a combination of literacy, thoughtfulness, creativity, and accuracy to the setting, based on the information detailed above).

@El Ronza: I don't think I have access to Shapeshifter - though that book is pretty new, I think? Might show up on d20pfsrd eventually. You'd also want to have your backstory emphasize why they didn't kill you on general principles for being monstrous (and therefore probably too dangerous to expose their families to by bringing home).

I'm actively rewarding creativity in this game, by the way. Something like a permanent Geas to obey your owner (and maybe limits on when you can transform), complete with a big, obvious mark on your forehead to show others, is possible. Think about how something could have happened in this land. Basically, the better and more appropriate your explanations are, the more acceptable your character will be. XD

@Ashe: Read the "Classes for Northlander Humans" section, particularly the last paragraph.

I find I can't resist Norse themed games. I have an idea for a Thrall who is serving time due to a drunken violent episode in which he accidentally killed a member of his master's family (Apparently. He was too drunk to remember). He serves as both a protector, and heavy laborer. He's not the sharpest tool in the shed but immensely tough, and strong. He took a great head wound in the battle, and his face is horribly scarred by the incident. The head wound obviously did something to his brain as well, as he tends to fall into prophetic trances from time to time. Probably a Barbarian / Oracle type character, or Barbarian / Fighter if the Oracle doesn't work out. I'll have to research how Spheres of Power works, and look up the oracle more. I'll be home tonight with the comfort of my books.

scranford wrote:
how Spheres of Power works


(Heh. Seriously, though, it's basically a talent-based casting system. You get a few talents at each level - Low and Medium casters get fewer options than High Casters, because talents known is the main difference, as basically all Sphere powers scale by caster level - and can spend them to learn new Spheres or gain new powers from existing Spheres. Weaker powers are basically all-day things, stronger ones require expending a point from your daily pool. You can take drawbacks to get bonus options, and create individualized casting traditions - add components or other requirements, etc. - to suit your character's theme. Spheres of Power is highly supportive when it comes to individual flavor, and in general allows you to make the kind of caster you WANT to make.)

Ah, I missed the unknown part. I was just thinking inquisitor as their powers can be disguised as boons of the gods. I didn't really see him as someone that could channel energy. More of someone that would see those of non belief as enemies. So I assume there is no flexibility here?

Well, let me put it this way... religion in the Northlands is largely individual. They basically do not have churches or organized faith - people worship as they please, and may give offerings to many different deities at different times (including evil ones like Hel, if only to try and convince them to stay away).

Saying "those who don't share my faith are enemies" is functionally synonymous with "I am declaring all of the Northlands my enemy". If you tried to tell anyone how to worship, they would take personal offense at that.

Inquisitors don't make sense in the Northlands. XD They'd have to be an Outlander, and also have a good reason for traveling up north instead of staying where their faith's believers actually are.

That makes sense. Yeah I was going to play it as someone that gives respect to all the northern gods. It would be the non northern ones we encountered. Let me think on it some more. Thanks.

Warpriests might be workable (especially if you play it up as "I'm a chosen of X, and act like it"), if divine powers are what you're after. ^^

The Northlands game is upon us, I love northern characters, have three of them in games. I'm in enough games that I've started to only apply to them if I come up with a character idea I really like.

So the first question that comes to mind is the "Elven Characters." Would you consider an "Artic Elf"? Someone from a deep north tribe. A hunter and trapper who the Jarl has hired to take them deep in the woods to hunt exotic creatures. So a familiar outsider, similar to the existence of the Laplander people north of the 'norse men' lands. Of course we would need to collaborate a little on what his home society was originally, and why he came south.

The second idea is a young man, just come of age; tired of the farm, who wants to become a great warrior. He would be the fourth or fifth son of a poor freeman bondi, spends most of his time chopping wood and hunting wild boars that's the only way to get away from the farm work, which he particularly hates. Maybe he killed a bear and got the Jarl's attention. Owns a couple of javelins, a hand axe, a seax and maybe leather armor. May need to turn that bear hide into a cloak or Hide armor. He is quietly confident and has a lot of grit.

I don't do well with gestalt because most of my characters are simple enough to fit in one class. Let me know which character idea you like, and I will start working on secondary class ideas.

dot. will finish reading up but I am already thinking a bastard/unknown son of hero slave/servant turned housecarl after showing martial skill, and eventually turned freeman

"Phenomenal cosmic powers!"
"Itty bitty living space."

So, initially I balked at the idea of my beloved caster types having to serve in the position of a thrall, but then I was hit with a sudden burst of inspiration and I'm actually loving some of the ideas I'm coming up with.

Defiantly looking to submit a full caster with Incanter as one class, and I'm a touch up in the air about the other. I'm considering the Shifter class, or possibly the Mageknight or Thaumaturge. Or Hedgewitch. Or... Okay so the second class is very up in the air...

Before I start investing myself in writing up a backstory, I'm curious about the relationships with the people from the south. Is there any open trade, or is it mainly just raiding? Since being a thrall would be a fairly defining point in her background, I figure I ought to have a solid foundation for how she got there in the first place, and trade relations (or lack thereof) would possibly have some influence on all that.

As a side note, the Thrall campaign trait could maybe use a bit of reconsideration. I believe every class actually gets both Craft and Profession as class skills naturally!

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The shapeshifter basically works as an all-day every-day shifter class. They get few other class features (a sort of wild empathy thing), scaling bonuses to attack and damage rolls with natural weapons, and the rest is all shifting. They get two specific animal shapes at 1st level, and one more at each level after that. (I'd probably choose raven and wolf, meaning I could change only into those two animals.) Each shape belongs to a kingdom, which gains specific abilities at higher levels. For example, canines have scent, skill focus in perception and survival, and a bite attack. At higher levels, they gain trip, grab, and can reposition or drag when they maintain a grapple.

I can't afford to just buy you the pdf so you can check it out for yourself (especially with the exchange rate the way it is) - which is a shame, because it's top-notch stuff - but I'm happy to send you more details if you need them. I'd also try to keep my animal shapes restricted to ones that make sense - a polar bear or dire wolf would fit the setting well enough, but a triceratops probably wouldn't!

And I'll definitely think about why my character wasn't just killed. A geas works, or maybe a mark of justice thing. Needs more thought. Perhaps he was born a thrall, unaware of his powers until an accident or something of the sort brought them out, but he was too useful to simply be killed... I'll definitely need to ponder it!

@Mimesyne: I don't think Barbarians get Profession. *Shrugs* So... not TOTALLY universal?

And note that casters don't HAVE to be servants, it's just a good way to explain them. Otherwise, you're more likely to be a woman (certain female casters are respected), a druid, or someone who goes significantly out of their way to not advertise that they're magical. XD The Northlands are... not terribly friendly to casters. Not unless you've a number of heroic deeds under your belt, anyway.

As for the areas, there are some places - especially the Duchy of Monvoria, which has lots of walls to discourage raiding - where trade happens. Going a-viking isn't universal, just pretty common.

heres a rough summary of what I was thinking, I shied away from the ex-thrall thing for now, but I may return to it.

Destin never really knew his father. The only thing he had of his father was a shield, a sword and the tales his mother told him. They were tales of grandeur and courage, of battle and blood, and how he lost his life fighting for the local jarls father. Destin was the only surviving son of 3 children. He had a sister named Anna 5 years his junior and his brother had died before the age of 2. Destin was only 4 when his father passed away by saving the lives of most of the other townsfolk with his sacrfice. The Jarl would take care of the family for several years before succumbing to sickness. Destin would be trained by friends of his father within the huscarls and soon proved to be a natural with his father’s blade and shield. Destin showed his great competence with the blade while defending a raid on his home town at the age of 16, his calm and collected movements and deft strikes felling the raiders while keeping unharmed. At the age of 20 he requested to leave the service of the Jarl as a huscarl so that he could follow his own path. One that would surpass his fathers, he sought fame that would long be sung of across his land. The Jarl accepted the request grudgingly. Destin used what money he had to purchase supplies for the road determined to make a name for himself that would go down in legend.

one other question, I was looking into the "viking" archetype for fighters, this ability -
Shield Defense (Ex)

Starting at 3rd level, a viking learns the art of fighting with a shield. Whenever she is wearing medium, light, or no armor and wielding a shield, the viking’s shield bonus to AC increases by 1. Every 4 levels thereafter (7th, 11th, and 15th), this bonus increases by 1.

This ability replaces armor training.

would you rule that viking gain armor training II, III, and IV? I ask because I have noticed all other archtypes make a point to state if it replaces all, or certain levels of armor training.

Hmmm, I really wanted to get an application into your Swords and Planets rerecruitment, especially since it was SoP friendly, and was bummed when life wouldn't let me get the time together (it takes me a long time to come up with characters).

So, I think I'll have to get a submission into this game. First thought is a (retired) Skald | something, just wants to farm and raise his children, not that fate will allow that to happen.

I also really love the hedge witch class, and would love the chance to play it, so I may go in that direction.

How stratified is society into gendered roles? Is there room for a young woman on the cusp of adulthood, raised to be a hedge-witch who'd rather be a hunter or raider, for example? Or a female Bearserker? Or a male hunter/farmer raised by a woman who was a caster, a respected member of the community, who picked up some of his mother's lore? Would a man in such case be a respected, or at least tolerated member of the community?

I'm probably going to drop out. Love the concept, but as I started putting the character together, I realized that I hate Gestalt, because it's not supported in Hero Lab. Best of luck to all.

Yes! I was waiting for this. I have a few ideas but none of them fully fleshed out yet. Some questions before I do so:

Is there a setting book for the Northlands?

If you took the heir traight would you have to be the heir to Olaf Henrikson? If not what kind of arrangements or situations may lead to another Jarl's heir staying within Olaf's household?

I like the thought of the challenge of playing an arcane character who has to be careful where and when they use their abilities. I can especially see fun to be had with a male who is the son of heroes having to keep secret the fact that he has an arcane talent.

Does Spheres of Power overwrite the casting classes normally available in Pathfinder? Or just supplement them?

Women in the Northlands:
Women enjoy far more rights in the North than in other lands, and are generally considered the equal of men. Female jarls are not uncommon, as well as with godi, warriors, and nearly every other profession. However, there is not total equality, for it is assumed that shortly after marriage a woman will focus much of her attention on the household and any children produced from the marriage. Still, Northlander women are allowed to hold land, vote in most Things and Althings, hold the title of jarl, and if they are so inclined, fight in the shieldwall. In fact, when it comes to women warriors, the North produces more than its fair share. It is considered quite normal in many regions for young unmarried women to participate in raids and other martial endeavors, and all women receive at least a minimum of training to be able to defend their homes while the menfolk are off a-viking or trading during the summer.

In other words, it'd be a bit stranger if a young woman WASN'T allowed to go hunting and raiding, presuming they were at least minimally competent at doing so. XD The women of the North are many things, but "weak" is not one of them.

Ah, but Player Characters will not have gone raiding quite yet. (This is a Norse campaign, so you will totally get the chance to actively do it in the future - look forward to that!)

Bearsarkers (there's an archetype in this book for Barbarians who want to go that route, by the way) would be moderately unnerving to others, so a lot would depend on how wild they went. (The more wild they are, the more likely it is they already gave offense to someone and are paying off some crime, maybe having become a thrall to pay a blood debt or something.)

Men raised by respected caster women would certainly be tolerated. Learning basic lore (herbology, etc.) would likely be fine, but a mother probably wouldn't teach a son any magic. Overall, Norse (and thus North) mythology sees most magic as somewhat feminine. Heck, Odin himself was considered slightly womanly because of his knowledge of magic, and he was the CHIEF god of a bunch of ultra-manly men. XD

@TPK: The Setting Book is, in part, the Northlands Saga Complete itself. XD The first fifty or so pages cover a lot of that information, and I'm trying to pluck out the relevant bits for you. I'll share more with the actual players.

You'd be the heir of some other (lesser) Jarl, either in the same town or a nearby one. Jarls are not necessarily one-per-settlement things. If you were in the main household here, you would basically be serving there as a show of goodwill between your families, and would be expected to obey Jarl Henrikson and do your utmost to support him.

Spheres of Power has an option to overwrite normal casting (replacing your class spells - but not bonus spells, such as those from bloodlines- with Spheres), and that's in use. There is no non-bonus Vancian casting for PCs.

GM Rednal, are any of the Hybrid classes in play?

general ideas:
I'm am definitely leaning toward the farmboy who wants to get away from the farm. His primary class will be ranger because he does most of the hunting and trapping for his large family. His trait will be spearman, he wants to go a Viking or become a houscarl or a mercenary; whatever he needs to do to get away from the plow.

Not sure about the secondary class, bloodrager would be my first choice if the hybrid classes are available, but it would seem with the change in appearance it would make it really rough. If his bloodline was celestial he could be related to a Valkyrie, would that be too over the top? How "fantastical" can the back stories be? If he were a bloodrager I would make his mom a spear-mistress (bloodrager/celestial) who watched his dad risk his own life to save a drowning child. She would fall in love with him and the would go back to his small farm and never leave (so to speak). They would keep themselves busy working the small farm and having lots of children. When mom saw the "celestial gift" in her fifth son she would train him with the spear knowing that the wander lust would take him.

Not a bad idea, a little "fantastical" not really a northern story yet, except for the valkrie part. But once we work in the farm, the winters, the hunting and trapping, his dad making his spear, bearded axe and saex from peat iron and the story about how he killed the "white winter bear" with his spear, it could be a Viking tale.

Hybrid classes are fine as long as they still make sense for what's going on. ^^ As far as fantastical stuff goes, the less like a fundamentally normal human (or elf) you are, the better your explanation needs to be in order to fit into the Northlands.

did you miss my question?


For Shield Defense, Fighters don't actually have abilities called "Armor Training II" and upwards. It's simply Armor Training, which improves at various levels. So, yes, Shield Defense would completely replace that.

okie dokie

Let me know what you think, GM and applicants alike:


Olaf Henrikson. The name echoed in his head as Haskell gazed towards the outskirts of Halfstead. His Nuklandic ears afforded the farmer keen hearing, but at this distance, a northerly wind was all that was heard. Will you break bread from my wheat? Will its bounty earn your favor?

Though the wind was biting, the teeth found no purchase in the man's pale skin. Held at an arm's distance by both the town and holding the temperatures at arm's distance, the setting sun indicated time for working the land that day had come to an end. With a final thought to his crops' boon, the commoner walked back to the small structure he called him. Before opening the door, he paused for a moment, laying his eyes upon the memorial he'd created. Crude in creation, it evoked his emotions just the same. Fear. Rage. Sadness.


Years ago, Ingrid had come to Halfstead under questionable circumstances. Never fully revealing them, she was ostracized as one of weirding ways secrets. While it was true there was mystic talent in her mind, she held no ill will towards the town. They were her refuge form a stormy life left behind. To thaw the relations with the townspeople, she bedded a local man, Brynjar. It came to be he thawed her heart though, the shorter-lived human appealing past her centuries of wisdom to the core of her emotions. The fruit of their love, Haskell came to be in the confines of their den near the winter solstice.

He grew healthy, learned quickly, and struck true with axe, spear, and bow. Yet for all the accolades a normal child should have, the cloud of his mother's race and motive for settlement kept him from common association among commoners. This town's rejection of his son angered Brynjar, who ensued many a fistfight on behalf of the youth.

One son in the town did not reject Haskell though; the skald's boy, Ulf, kept close with him, the two going on hunts together in their adolescence. Blood separated them after a few seasons though, the burly Ulf aging quicker, becoming stronger and faster than Haskell. He could not keep up with the more developed teen's athleticism.

This deficiency went from being a disappointment to a point of depression on the night of his father's death.

As many in the town, his parents served Jarl Henrikson in the unwritten contract of tradition. A feud broke-out between families in the then-young jarl's domain. At this time, were he counting in human years, as Ulf was, Haskell would have wielded arms with enough skill to provide meaningful aide in close combat. Instead, he could only lend his bow. In close fights among the commonly-dressed, shooting into the masses was as likely to injure and ally as an enemy. The young halfbreed took the few open shots he could, but he was unable to be in the midst of conflict near his father. Ulf, on the other hand, formed a back-to-back dance of death with his father, the two holding their own against dozens - or so the skalds would sing.

As the battle dragged-on, Henrikson's forces found themselves pushing the mass back. Satisfied, the jarl allowed himself a cheer, perhaps in pride, perhaps in a boost to morale. In doing so, he failed to notice the dark-cloaked assailants sneaking from behind. Shouting a warning the jarl did not hear, Haskell let an arrow fly to the shoulder of one. The remaining two pressed forward without hesitation though, their shortswords at the man's back.

It was then Ingrid's mysticism, for which she had been alienated, brought her and her family into the closest of bonds with the jarl. She, with her Nuklandic hearing, had responded to Haskell's call. Nearing the men from the flank, she had woven a web with her hands in the air, the gestures materializing as flame. With a word from beyond, a searing squall ripped into the assailants. Though the blast steamed the jarl's face as he turned about, he made quick work of the twin burned bodies behind him. As Ingrid rushed to his side to check his status though, the man who'd fallen from Tancred's arrow threw his sword at Ingrid, piercing her rib. Olaf was every ounce able-bodied though, and his vengeance quickly ended the transgressor.

This didn't unwound Haskell's mother, nor did it revive his father, who was later found among the dead. The town and jarl at first honored Ingrid for her service, but she was quickly shunned again as whispers surfaced of what other powers she might unleash upon them.

As the weeks passed, she fell ill, the injury from the assailant festering with something beyond disease. Looking old and defeated, the last Haskell saw of her, he had left her at home with a fresh poultice as he headed to hunt.

Upon his return, she was missing. After searching about and asking the townsfolk, he discovered Ingrid had gone to town with a final wish from the jarl. She requested Haskell be formally denoted to the social class of free commoners, something that had technically never been done for her. It was prudent she did, Haskell realized, for the town's suspicions of her had begun to morph into rumors about her child. She also supplied the jarl with an account of the warning he never heard. Olaf himself personally recounted this revelation to Haskell, somewhat in uncharacteristic deference. It was on this day he asked for the young man's pledge of service, which Haskell accepted.

Though the jarl saw Ingrid leave, she did not mention her destination, instead vanishing from observation. Shortly thereafter, Haskell created his shrine to her.

Mystery wasn't all that she left him though. The jarl mentioned a package awaited the new pledge. His mother had left him a very concrete set of runes which he had to get help from Ulf's father to decipher. It turned-out these were a set of "blasphemies", but the curious man honored his wish to learn about his late mother.

So that's how she mastered the heat. Not blasphemy, mother. You saves him...

More later when I return.

That's the kind of thing I'm looking to see. ^^

Oh, you caught me by surprise there. Still, dotting for now. Need to alter quite a bit....been waiting with backstory to see the setting.

but still, want to get listed now, so putting up what I have.

Eirik Koshchey, the son of an associate of Baba Yaga(Koshchey the Immortal)...original plan was to have him as caster, with Boreal bloodline and a Skald-Side(having inherited his fathers fondness for beautiful woman, focusing on charming and lying to them to get them to bed him), and the Arcanist-Side focusing on Cold-based Magic/Ice/Snow/etc...

Originally, he was supposed to be a travelling freeman, moving from village to village, doing odd services, seducing local girls, and moving on before getting in trouble(also for his spellcasting).

I guess I'll read it more in-depth when I find time, and adapt to the setting specifics. Either way, I'd try to stay as true to that concept as possible.

Background (continued):
The days passed as the child forced into early adulthood read rare information about his mother's history, experiments, successes, and failures.

She was smart. But so much time into this ... until she met my father.

The writings started abruptly, completely business-oriented, working on describing the underpinnings of words, gestures, and substances used in controlling ... temperature? The language was hard to understand as a novice, but with a few passes of the seasons and much help from Ulf's increasingly resistant father, Haskell's aptitude with the script became masterful. After many failures, the lone son produced a flame to light a candle. Elated, he continued the reading, feeling content to continue what his mother started. Yet as he continued, it seemed she focused her practice for purposes beyond common practicality. No longer was she interested in keeping warm only, but defending herself from groups. Was she hunted in her past?

Ingrid had never spoken much about the time before she met Brynjar, calling it "long ago". Shrouded in mist, Haskell began to wonder himself. It looks like the townspeople were partly right; mother was capable of great power. Yet in his heart he knew she was a good person. Who would drive her to hone such harsh forces? He made a point to look into her past.

After practicing a few of the various basic techniques she mentioned, he reached the end of her writings. They seemed unfinished, and the text was notated in such a way to indicate forthcoming writings. Without more space, it would make sense for Ingrid to have started another manuscript ... but that writing was not left for him. And surely this does not contain instructions powerful enough for the flame she summoned that day...

Ulf stopped by after a hunt for dinner one night. He'd become a fetching man, strong and skilled. The two had dinner as they sometimes did. It is time. I have to show him.

"Ulf, remember my mother?"

The hunter returned his question with hesitation. "She was a honorable woman, Haskell. She died in combat protecting the town."

Haskell nodded. "Do you think I should be like her?"

He looked shocked. "And got slashed?! No -"

"That's not what I mean." With a bit of concentration, a flick of his hand and a word, the candle doubled its pyre.

Ulf pushed back his chair in shock, coming to his feet. "My father warned you not to give into that witchcraft!" Haskell's magic also caused fire in Ulf's deep eyes.

Ingrid's orphan protege sighed. "Ulf, I had to know. She was my mother. If your dad died, you would want to know about him, wouldn't you? She never told me much..." The outcast's confidence wavered.

"She had the sense to keep that damnation from you!"

"It saved the jarl's life! You forget who was burned."

The huntsman grimaced. "That doesn't make borrowing power from the dark spirits any better! You must stop this."

He is turning as stone as his father. Feeling defeated, Haskell felt tears welling up in his eyes. There was truly nobody to turn to now, his parents gone and his one friend pushing him away like the others. The only triumph he'd felt recently was connecting to the memory of Ingrid through her work. Sharing in her ... art, destructive as it might be. "Fine ... go. Go!"

His head in his hands, the half-Nukaldic man wept quietly. His hearing didn't aid him, and his eyes were closed but for the tears in their corners.

Neither of those senses were necessary for him to feel Ulf's embrace though.

The hunter's hug came unexpected, but the feeling was beyond welcome.

"You are clever, Haskell, but sometimes dumb. Your sky eyes miss what is in front of you. Do you not remember you shot the arrow and gave the warning? Olaf would be dead if not for you."

Ulf was direct in his words, and the brutal honesty didn't hide itself in his speech that night. But ... then if I hadn't said anything, she would be with me today. This kernel of thought would be the beginning of a great legacy of self-doubt Haskell had for himself. But the jarl would have surely died. His ever-working mind was his own enemy now. I did what was honorable, but was it right?

If only my shot had been truer...

After what seemed like hours but was closer in actuality to a minute, Ulf's familiar musk snapped Haskell back to reality. The bearded man pulled Haskell from his shoulder and looked him in the eyes.

"I cannot lose you to that dark magic."

And I cannot lose you, Ulf. But I can't lose her. "Ulf ... she was practicing her fire-art for defense. Her writings ... she had been hunted in the past..."

His companion's eyes narrowed. "Ingrid? I never saw anything like it."

Haskell nodded, sniffing his way back to composure. "Neither did I. It was from the time before she met my father. He did have a watchful eye around her in town though, now I think of it."

"Does the writing say who the people were?"

"No. But it looks as if there were more writings. I never received them though."

Ulf shook his head. "It is for the best..."

Having been brought back from the brink of self-ruin, Haskell felt a sprout of new confidence. "I, I have to seek out the truth."

"You can't - "

"Ulf, I don't plan on following the same path as my mother. She let the hunters drive her into living around their threat. That is why she became skilled with fire - to drive them out if she was attacked. I will continue her legacy in a different way."

The skepticism on the rugged man was obvious. "How?"

Haskell closed his eyes, focusing as best he could. His mother began with a focus on heat, but she left it at intensity, severe spikes of hot. With a much gentler ictus and gesture, a warm breeze swirled about the room, taking away the hostility of the arctic air. Ulf looked around with wonder as his hair was rustled and his face was warmed.


Haskell nodded. "She could have done such things were she not worried about her stalkers."

Ulf looked worried. "You know the town won't accept this..."

Reversing the current, the new man smiled. "They don't have to. Just you. The weather changes so much, they would not suspect me. And what harm would a warm breeze do?"

Sorry for the double post. The long background without an alias needed a more solidified split here, I felt.

With that day of decision behind him, Haskell began writings of his own. He deviated from his mother's studies to focus on manipulations of the weather in lieu of manifestations of flame.

Though he had been fully honest with Ulf in spirit, there was a potential duplicity in the end of their conversation; weather could also be destructive. Miniature squalls, cold snaps, and stifling heat could be sustained by Haskell, though it took more effort, was more obvious, and wasn't what he had in mind. In a pinch though...

The talent was very useful in tending to his agriculture though. Compensating for problematic weather led him to have better crop yields. The town said he'd been blessed with a bountiful yield for having endured such loss.

Perhaps in a roundabout way, they were right.

Olaf Henrikson kept a wary aloofness about the young man though. Though the town had mixed feeling about Haskell due respect for his plentiful yields yet trepidation for the sorcery that begat him, the jarl simply distanced himself. There was no explanation for his behavior.

Unless he knew what was said in those runes... and perhaps the others...

So it was the talented orphan sought to curry favor with Olaf. I will give him a harvest of such surplus, he can't make me a figment to blink away anymore. Though perhaps an additional favor would help solidify trust for the man to reveal what else he knew about Haskell's heritage...

Mechanically, I'm thinking Ranger and Incanter (from spheres of power). I know you said you weren't keen on high-casting, though I feel Haskell's manifestations would be very thematic (storms & the like). More importantly, let me know if you think the flavor and level of depth of the character would work and if you have other questions.

This goes for the GM as well as possible companions in the campaign!

I'm not keen on TOO MUCH High Casting. XD My plan is to only have one High Caster in the party. This is meant, in part, to emphasize that magical talent is rare in the Northlands, and that many heroes accomplish things through force of arms instead of reshaping the world to their whim.

This isn't as painful as it might sound. Spheres of Power is, broadly, a scaling system - it doesn't have Vancian "levels" of power, just Basic and Advanced (Level 10+) options, with some (not all) effects getting stronger when you have a higher caster level. Rather than being inherently weaker, it's more like you just wouldn't have as many powers as a full caster.

My gosh, that is the most unbalanced set of campaign traits I've ever seen.

Anyway, will be back with more later.

I apologize for misreading the specificity with regards to desired frequency of high casting level.

Is there anything else you'd like to see of my submission, GM?

Not right now - I see the classes you're going for and your background, and that's most of what I care about.

(Anyone can make a character sheet. XD I don't care about your ability to create a basic first-level character, I care about how you're going to play the character in this extraordinarily thematic setting. I'm looking for people who can dive in and really help make it come to life.)

Alright. When you would like the remainder, just let me know. I'm a teacher, so I'll be out until tomorrow afternoon (and at the appropriate worktimes).

Alright, so. Let's see.

1. Since many of us don't have spheres of power, do you want people to pick spheres before proposing a character, or worry about it later?

2. Also, deities. Is there a brief pantheon list for the setting? Is it Lost Lands deities, or new ones? (And which viking god would be the most paladin-esque, an what's their favored weapon?)

3. When you say "mostly good alignments," are we talking D&D good, or should we assume that Northlander good/neutral might be a little more rough than their southern versions? (since at least our earth's historical vikings were pretty into professional terrorism)

4. As I'm thinking about porting my old different-Northlands character, how acceptable would something like a cavalier be if flavored differently? (honorable sworn warrior who befriends animals, though possibly not doing mounted combat, or maybe a non-mount version). Are there any generally holy animals?

5. Do Jotuns come from the even-farther north?

This is really, really interesting. Do I want to play a campaign that is essentially Skyrim? Hell yeah. I was considering submitting a Unchained Monk/Cleric but I'm not sure how easy it would be to get picked with that. Monk/Somethingelse might be cool. I'm actually really into the Monk idea for this.

What about a Gunslinger with the Bolt Ace arcetype? (Never done an archer before and this seems like a good opportunity as well).

Also, you mentioned Elves and Humans are good picks. What about half elves?

I tossed some words on a page that amount to a bit of a look into a character I would be interested in playing. Names of people and places are basically just placeholders, and there is a lot of filling in to be done.


They say I was born under a sky blanketed by blazing aurora more profound than any had ever seen. As though the gods blessed my parents -the great heroes that they were- and their newborn son. It is a portent that has followed me through my life and has set my saga in stone before I could lift an arm to being writing it. Sigvald is the name I was given, son of Thorfinn the Farthrower and Magnhild of Blades. Son of the heroes who slew the great troll of Hvergelmir, the heroes who single handedly won the battle of Vinterheim, and the heroes whose actions wrote a story of love so strong that even the hardiest and coldest of men find their hearts thaw of winter’s chill.

These were the people I was born to live up to and expected to eclipse. I will not hide the truth in an attempt to be humble, I was a talented child, more than talented. I learned quickly and worked hard, and never did I fail to impress my parents and their fellows. I yearned for nothing more than to have my own epic bellowed by a famous skald throughout every mead hall of the north. And then my mother grew ill. It was a slow descent for her and she would not die gracefully. Knowing this my mother set out on her final journey, she would rather die facing the most terrible beasts of the world -a blade in her hand- than fall to a wasting sickness. My father argued with her for many nights, he wanted nothing more than to accompany her, but she was adamant he stay with me, with his son. Eventually my father gave in and my mother left us behind.

Time passed and we hoped we may hear from her again, but we did not and we could only assume the worst. My father broke. He began to drink more mead than water, he became grim and violent. The once great hero was looked down upon by those he once called battle brother. He was cold and bitter toward me and I knew he blamed me for my mother leaving the world without him. As he left me more and more to my own devices I discovered something about myself. A new talent, though one I knew I should never reveal. A power most arcane that I found myself gaining some control over. Looking back, I remember glimpses of my mother doing miraculous things. I believe my mother may have had a similar ability, and so I feel this is my last connection to her. Something that is to be secretly treasured.

One night my father returned home drunken and battered, a brawl that may once have been friendly was now as grim as his demeanor. I couldn’t help myself, I used my power to heal his wounds. He flew into an aghast rage and beat me, worse than had been done to him. While I had grown strong I could not find it in myself to fight back against my shattered father. The next morning my father had a rare moment of clarity seeing what he had done to me. I have been sent to the hold of Jarl Olaf Henrikson, where my father’s younger brother serves as huscarl. His last words to me echo through my mind, "Son of heroes or not, never reveal what you truly are to anyone."


1) Worry about choosing Spheres later. All you really need, if you want to try and go for casting, is a general idea of what you'd like to be able to do. (Do you want offense? Buffs? Utility? Some of everything? Spheres supports all of that. Rough idea now. Details later.)

2) It's basically the Norse pantheon. XD Tiwaz (Tyr) is the ONLY deity that has Paladins, and he likes Light and Heavy Maces. The options are:

Baldr (Balder), God of Bravery and Beauty (NG)
Bragr (Bragi), God of Poetry and Song (CG)
Donar (Thor), God of Thunder (CG)
Frigg (Frigga), Goddess of the Home and Hearth (NG)
Tiwaz (Tyr), God of Law and Justice (LG)
Wotan (Odin), All-Father, Father of the Gods (NG)

Freyja (Freya), Goddess of Love and Fertility (NG)
Freyr (Frey), God of the Sun and the Hunt (NG)
Njördr (Njor), God of Seafarers and Winds (N)
Norns, Weavers of Fate (N)
Rán, Goddess of the Pitiless Waves (CN)

3) Definitely a rougher sort of good - but keep in mind their culture and traditions. What a lot of it comes down to is "don't be a jerk". Be decent to others and they will be decent to you - insult them, abuse the laws of hospitality, or otherwise act poorly, and those protections go right out the window.

4) Depends on the flavor. XD Good flavor covereth a multitude of problems, as it were.

5) Giants are all over, but yeah, figure that the farther north you go, the wilder things get. XD

@CommandoDude: The starting location does not have the technology to make crossbows, so you would need to have an explanation for how such an unusual weapon got into your hands, and also for how you're able to make new ammunition for it. ^^ Half-elves are rarer than either parent race, but certainly possible - Northlanders and Nuklanders do mingle enough for this. Ah, and don't forget that Monks are generally Outlanders.

Any thoughts on what I have so far Rednal? If there is anything you don't like or you think would be good to expand upon let me know.

How does the location not have crossbows? Crossbows are ancient.

Hmm. Going to have to convince my inner min-maxer not to go with "blood of heroes." It's also interesting to see maces show up, because they're such a non-Norse weapon (Tyr being associated with the dueling sword in the last game). I guess good-aligned Odin takes out the RP difficulty of priests having to regularly perform human sacrifices, so that's not bad.

@Commando: Crossbows are "ancient" only in China and the Mediterranean (two regions with excellent monastic traditions, too, so that's not bad). They saw some use in France, but didn't hit any of Germanic/Northern Europe until the late middle ages, at which point composite longbows and early firearms made them mostly obsolete.

A crossbow could actually be associated with a foreign monastic tradition, maybe passed down from an ancestor or a parent who traded in distant lands. If you're okay slinging regular bows, Unchained Monk/Warpriest (maybe Forgepriest) with a bow deity (possibly Freya?) can get you Crusader's Flurry at high levels, and also an interesting sort of divinely-inspired hunter.

I have one question regarding Sphere's of Power: Does it differ between prepared and spontaneous casting?
I would have picked Bloodbound Arcanist over regular Boreal Sorcerer for the added flexibility...but if there's no difference, I'd instead go for Sorcerer.

Also, the idea was that the "Skald" Part is used to "hide" the fact he's actually an arcane caster. Not unlike what you wrote about bards. But is Skald enough of a martial class to make that combo acceptable?
Or should he be re-written with a pure martial class? In that case, how would you feel about Spell-Less Ranger and it's variant Skinchanger?(linked on same page).
(I know Skinchangers should not use that ability openly...but that was also the idea with magic. In terms of "the source is kinship with an infamous embodiment of winter, wind and storm", making it smarter to hide the abilities, rather than flaunt them.)

With gestalt rules in place, everyone will get both Craft and Profession, unless a Barb takes Bloodrager or something as his second. But oh well; I'll suck it up in the name of flavor! Fluff for the Fluff Gods! Skulls for the Skull Throne!

Alrighty, excellent to know about the trade.

Another line of questioning for you: How are caster thralls kept? In the same place as everyone else? In a little hut just outside of town? With how they seem to view them, I wasn't sure if keeping it in the house was a likely scenario!

Also, what sort of things do they use casters for? Why would they want a caster for a thrall? Do they use any methods for controlling casters, or is it a bit of an honor system where they just hope the caster does't... fly away?

Sorry for all the questions, just want to nail the character concept by making it fit within your setting!


“Come, sit, and listen. You, old man, be quiet. I will tell you of the humble beginnings of the great Einar Gunnarson. Now you all know of Einar and that he has been prophesized to unite the land. You may also have heard of his noble friend and ally, Tyr Olafson. Well, that’s me.” He smiles. “Let me tell you of Einar’s past. To know Einar, you have to understand and know his family. His line has had great warriors, shaman, and healers over the years. You see, Einar is truly blessed by the gods. Not only does he have celestial blood in his veins, he is bound to a celestial spirit that protects and strengthens him. This is his family’s secret magic and the source of his power.”
“The binding ritual is done within the first few years of life. Sometimes it takes; sometimes it does not. It was Gunnar that decided that the ritual be done on Einar on the day of his birth. This had not been done before, but Gunnar had a powerful vision from his dreams: his son would become a Linorm King and unite the lands. Gunnar knew their family magic would be needed for Einar to fulfill the legacy foretold in the vision. This would also protect Einar from any who would seek to harm the boy, should his destiny be discovered. The ritual took, as Gunnar knew it would. Gunnarthen presented Einar to Sveinn Blood Eagle. Sveinn saw the boy and listened to Gunnar talk of his vision. Sveinn believed there would be one to rise and unite the lands one day. Many came before him with this claim, but all had failed. But something happened when the great king looked into the baby’s eyes. He saw hope in Einar. Sveinn gave his blessing this day and looked forward to the days ahead, and what would become of Einar.

Even as a boy Einar possessed great power. I became friends with him then, and have been by his side for all his trials and tribulations since. Now his first was not unlike what many of you may go through in a few years. Einar proved to be of warrior spirit and as is tradition with our tribe, he was sent on a hunt. Many beasts dwell in the Stormspear Mountains, so young warriors were not sent deeper than the foothills on their first hunt. But Einar was special and was tasked with a special hunt. The Stormspear Mountains are known to be home to the much feared Yeti. Some call them Abominable Snowmen, because they prey on those that explore the highest mountains. Einar’s first hunt was for yeti. He accepted his task and journeyed into the mountain pass.
Gunnar was proud and gave the boy his sword. Though the blade had no magical properties it was a reprsentation of Einars family line. He took the blade and told his father he would do him proud.

Einar spent days camping, hunting and living off the land in solitude. The mountains themselves, though full of terrifying creatures, were not abundant of food. Because of this Einar would have to venture back down to the hills to hunt day to day. On the fourth day, Einar killed a young boar, which would provide enough food for the next few days if he still had not succeeded in his ultimate task. As he hiked back up the mountain with his kill, he noticed he was being stalked. He kept an eye out but carried on with the cleaning and preparation of his meal as normal. As the smell of charred meat perfumed the mountainside, his stalker attacked. Einar was prepared. He stood and drew his spear readying for the creature. He had trained and now would be the test not only for him, but also for the spirit empowering him. The Ogre charged in and impaled itself on Einar's spear and swung wildly over his head. Einar took advantage drawing his sword and cutting a deep gash into the muscular chest of the ogre. The beast roared out in pain and slumped to the ground calling out for mercy. Einar knew he had bested the creature and learned that it was only attacking because it was hungry.

Einar understood this. He treated the wounds of the beast and asked it to join him in his meal. Einar was curious about this beast. The two rested and feasted together, learning of one another. Einar, always looking to the future, asked the beast to take him to meet its tribe. After resting a day, the two unlikely companions set out to venture deeper into the mountains. A few hours later, they arrived at a cave. The ogre had Einar wait outside as he went in to gather his tribe. All together their tribe numbered ten. There were only two other males; the rest were females and young. It seemed the males did the hunting. The ogre introduced Einar around and told his people of the mercy and hospitality he was given. The tribe, though joyed to have one of their hunters return, were worried of their home now being known to man. Einar, thinking as a leader at even such a young age, seized the situation and forged an alliance with the ogres.

Many days had passed now, and Gunnar started to fear the worst for his son. The morning of the sixth day had come. Gunnar determined to set out and find his son, dead or alive. Just as he was packing, he heard a commotion from outside. It started with screams. Gunnar took up his arms and ran out to see the cause of all this. He came upon Einar, standing with the still wounded ogre, in the middle of the village. Einar embraced his father and told him to lower his sword. He went on to explain that not only did he best the beast in battle but he also forged a relationship between their tribes. The ogres would act as watchers of the mountains and pass and provide protection to the north. They could also be called on for aid if needed. In return, the village needed only to safeguard the location of the cave and provide the ogres protection form would-be hunters if needed. Gunnar could not believe this, but he respected his son’s compact with the ogres. He spent the next few years training in the mountains with the dwarves. He learned to combat their ancient foes. He knew slaying the Linorm would not be enough. There would be resistance from many barbaric tribes of giants and orc so this training too would aid him. It was this day that Einar’s legend began."

I don't have the book, but I will get Spheres of Power if selected. Einar will be a Ranger/Mageknight I believe. Warpriest may still be an option if mageknight doesn't fit. Will need to read through it.

@TPK: Don't forget to note which classes you're actually going for.

@Commandodude: Because on the table of technology levels in the book, Crossbows are "Medieval". Your starting location is one level lower, "High Middle Ages".

@Thunderbeard: I was just copying and pasting the traits. XD That Child of Heroes one is definitely too strong for a trait, though... I might have to make it a feat instead.

@Mordred: Prepared casting exists as an optional drawback. Rather than changing the Spheres you know, though, you pre-allocate the points from your pool of power into different spheres. You can't spend more points in the pool than you assigned to it.

@Mimesyne: Probably in the same hall as everyone else. If you own someone, you are basically obligated to provide shelter for them and whatnot - if you were too dangerous to be allowed into the house, they probably wouldn't want to own you in the first place.

As for how they keep them, there are many different possibilities. First, remember that you're 1st Level characters, so you won't have manifested anything huge in the past. It could be an honor system, with or without obvious threats. It could be a Geas of obedience, maybe one laid upon them by a dying warrior who cursed their use of power and demanded they obey his/her family (death curses are totally a thing in this setting, by the way). Maybe they're an Outlander captured far in the south, where a mysterious collar they can't remove inhibits casting.

There are definitely options. XD Note that for all the superstition around magic, though, even casting Thralls are generally not mistreated. If you behave and accept your position - and many do - then you can actually go pretty far. This is a setting that works better for "Rose from a Slave to become a Hero" stories, rather than "Woe is me for all this unfair mistreatment - I want to start a revolution because Slavery is Bad". And unless you're the thrall of another PC and explicitly stay that way, you probably won't remain a Thrall forever.

As for actual use, Thrall casters would, for the most part, probably not be using their powers. Meat cooked on a fire started with magic would be suspicious, for example, unless it came from someone of good social status (a friendly druid the town knows, etc). The best candidate for semi-regular use is probably healing magic. XD

Hey GM Rednal, I've been working on my backstory for this character, and I just want to know how you feel about us taking liberties with your setting. I'd like Bardur to be an orphan who was adopted by a member of the Jarl's house, I'm just curious as to how you feel about that... In terms of crunch, he'd be a fighter / rogue gestalt (scout archetype) with the tale spinner trait.

It depends on what those liberties are. XD There's ALWAYS a certain amount of... flexibility... needed when creating characters, and it's bad form for a GM to deny ideas out-of-hand.

They key detail is that you should be a member of the Jarl's household. This is IMPORTANT - the Northlands do not hire adventurers, they send members of their own household to resolve things, and the adventures are written with this in mind.

It's easiest to do if you're a servant or supporter (one who has yet to fully prove themselves). If you were adopted by a member of the house (not a member of the family - these are explicitly different things), that should be just fine. ^^

Perfect! Thanks for the swift feedback, thats exactly what I was looking for :)

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