The Barbarians are Coming! (Saxony 500 AD)

Game Master Brian Minhinnick

Shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire, there is room in Europe for great heroes to lead their people to glory. As Saxon Thegns you will have your chance.


North Germanic (Proto Norse)

West Germanic (Primitive Upper German, Old Frankish, Primitive Saxon, Primitive Frisian, Primitive Anglic)

East Germanic (Gothic, Vandalic, Burgundian)

Latin (Classical, Vulgar)



Lexicon: Due to the lack of reliable English dictionaries for primitive Saxon, I'm going to be using Old English terminology where appropriate. I will draw my terms from this website.

Dryht: Warband, bound together by oaths. Anywhere from 20-several hundred men

Dryhten: King. Leader of 2-600 men.

Friþ/Frith: Peace, security, refuge

Mægð: Immediate and extended family.

Sibb: Clan, confederation of related families

þegn/Thegn: Warrior companion of the king, low ranking noble (your title, you will be sworn to follow Aldhun)

þing/Thing/Geþing: Voting assembly of all the free men of the sibb/dryhten.

Wyrd: Fate/Destiny

Definition of Saxon:A confederation of Germanic peoples who came together in the 4th-7th centuries in NW Germany under the pressures of climate change and invasions/warfare. They shared a common language and religion, but other than that it is unknown how homogenous they really were. It is likely they incorporated hundreds of smaller polities tied together by complex bonds of intermarriage and oath taking. They are most well known for combining with the neighboring Angles to conquer England in the 5th-6th centuries. They were seen as vicious pirates and warriors and terrorized much of the NW European coastline.

Historical Saxons: 436 AD, the Romans withdraw their soldiers from Britain. The Picts (Scottish) and Irish invade Britannia, slaughtering everyone. Meanwhile on the continent climate change and war is making the Angle's, Frisian's and Saxon's land uninhabitable. Vortigern is king in London. He hires the Saxons as mercenaries to fight the invaders. In 449, three ships of Saxons come to their aid. In 452 the Saxons meet the Picts in northern Britain, they are led by brothers Hengis and Horsa. They win and are honored by king Vortigern. Rowena, Hengis' daughter marries Vortigern in exchange for the territory of Kent.

At harvest time in 453 there is not enough food for the Saxons, and Vortigern fails to pay his foreign troops. In revenge, they pillage and destroy all the major towns. Vortigern's own nobles hold him responsible for the disaster and murder him. This starts a war where Horsa is struck down. Finally Hengist calls for peace talks at Stonehenge. The Britons come unarmed to the meeting, and the Saxons slaughter them there, the original Night of the Long Knives. Hengist goes on to rule in Kent for thirty years before dying in 488.

By 491 the Saxons had conquered most of SE England and pushed the Bretons back to Wales. Elle is the boldest of the new crop of Saxon warlords, he goes after the Bretons in their own walled towns. Their pivotal battle would be fought at Badon Hill in ca. AD 500, and spawn the legend of King Arthur. In the real world the Saxons suffered a terrible defeat there, halting their expansion into England for some years.

The mainland Saxons held onto their pagan beliefs and slowly shrinking lands in NW Germany until Charlemagne's Saxon wars from AD 772-804 crushed them and converted them forcefully to Christianity.

Culture Tidbits:
The Saxon Dryhten was less absolute monarch and more first amongst equals. The Dryhten maintained his warrior's loyalty by gifting them lavishly with treasure and holding the band's luck and honor for them. The king was priest as well, participating in the sacred feasts and claiming descent from a god (Seaxnēat in Aldhun's case). It was said that they had ræd or advice from the gods. If the tribe's luck turned then it was a sign that the gods had forsaken the King and a new one must be chosen.

The Saxons lived in wattle and daub or timber huts, with thatched roofs. They never built in stone. They had larger single room buildings, or halls where the warriors would feast and drink during the cold northern winters, telling tales of their exploits. Each year if there weren't enough slaves to keep the farming going, half the men would stay home and work the farms and forges while the rest of the men went raiding. They either burned their dead or buried them in boats.

Approximate Map

Campaign Map