Meet the Iconics: Hakon

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

Past the Ironbound Archipelago, across the Steaming Sea, lies the Broken Bay, haven of scoundrels, raiders, cutthroats, and killers in the bloodiest viking traditions of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. As a youth, Hakon waited impatiently to come of age and join the seasonal southern raids of his countrymen, eagerly absorbing the tales of distant lands they brought back with the plunder. The proud raiders boasted of desperate battles at sea, of ceaseless storms and sea monsters and foreign towns cloaked in sheets of cascading flames. Hakon committed these stories to memory, adding his own embellishments to create an oral history for his people—vowing to one day make a place for himself within it.

Key to Hakon's youthful mythology was Hrolf Harfargr, one of the few honorable huscarls of Broken Bay's despicable King Ingimundr the Unruly. Hakon's account of Harfargr's victory over the ice troll Rimeclaw became something of a phenomenon in the Bay's capital settlement of Bildt. Other skalds tried to outdo Hakon's telling, adding ever more fantastic feats to the story, increasing Harfargr's reputation and influence. Nevertheless, even the embellishments acknowledged the original tale as Hakon's as much as that of Hrolf Harfargr, and the young storyteller became a minor celebrity in Broken Bay. When he turned 15 later that year, Harfargr claimed him for his crew and appointed Hakon as his personal lorekeeper and legend-spinner.

Hakon composed epic poems of Hrolf Harfargr's encounter with the brine dragon Kelizar, his crushing victory at sea over Styrbjorn Threefingers, and his romance with his greatest rival, the viking hero White Estrid. Hakon stood beside the two lovers as Harfargr and his men joined forces with Estrid on her legendary run through a Chelish blockade at the Arch of Aroden to find harbor in the distant city of Absalom, at the heart of the Inner Sea. On that months-long journey, Hakon recorded the tales of heroes like White Estrid, Runewulf the Unbeliever, Molgard Swordhand, and the twins Bolgi and Bjarni, slayers of the frost wolf Kuldnir.

To keep the memories fresh in his mind, Hakon embroidered representations of the stories into cloth badges sewn along the hem of his long coat. As he moved from badge to badge, Hakon added to the legend of his shipmates, who looked on in excitement with each of his tellings. The smiles and encouragement of heroes stung Hakon in his heart, however, and what should have been pride was instead replaced with regret and shame. For Hrolf Harfargr intended that his personal skald would survive to tell his legend, and thus kept Hakon as far from danger as possible. Over the years of his time in service to White Estrid, Hakon observed the great deeds of heroes triumphing over enemies again and again, but always as a witness, and never as the participant he so wanted to be.

Upon their return to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings from the extended Absalom expedition, White Estrid and Hrolf Harfargr had a falling out that separated Hakon from the band of heroes that had so inspired his imagination. As Estrid and her crew went on to defeat a linnorm dragon and claim the kingdom of Halgrim, Hakon followed Hrolf Harfargr back to the Broken Bay. Over the next several years, Hakon watched as Harfargr's legend faded. King Ingimundr openly undermined him and tempted the fading lord to strike against him. The final humiliation sentenced Harfargr to serve upon the crew of a longship captained by a spiteful viking named Girt Bearwearer, a hated enemy. Worse, the king ordered Harfargr to sea without his official lorekeeper and the recorder of his legendry deeds. Instead, Ingimundr assigned Hakon's younger brother, Ostog, to his place at the oars.

Hrolf Harfargr, Ostog, and Hakon's old companions Bolgi and Bjarni set out on Girt Bearwearer's ship among a great armada of raiders with hungry eyes on the rich lands of the distant south. They never returned to the Broken Bay, but soon stories made their way to Hakon of a mutiny at sea in which Hrolf Harfargr and his allies attempted to take the longship from its wicked captain. Their heroism was rewarded with sword thrusts and blood eagles. A victorious Bearwearer had his slain enemies thrown overboard, food for sea birds and the ravenous beasts of the deep.

But other stories made their way back to Bildt, too. Tales of a brash young warrior named Ostog the Unslain, a survivor of treachery at sea who somehow washed ashore in the Varisian town of Sandpoint and who immediately set about creating a legend of his own. Hakon had to know if the tales of Ostog's distant deeds were true, so he set off on a ship of his own to Sandpoint in an attempt to reunite with his brother. He arrived only to find Ostog had already departed, leaving behind him the mangled corpses of twisted monsters and wicked men. Hakon began work on a new series of badges for his coat in Sandpoint—the Saga of Ostog the Unslain.

Hakon and a band of companions followed Ostog all the way down Avistan's western coast, tracing his brother's footsteps in the drying blood of the young barbarian's dismembered enemies. His travels took him into the deepest deserts of Osirion, back to Absalom, and to a dozen ports in between. Though Hakon has not yet caught up with Ostog, the skald's journeys have brought him his own measure of renown. In Nisroch he slew the dark druid Roverud. His twin axes—Hagrum's Keel and Limbrender—struck down the marsh giant Fogulnur, gaining Hakon the legendary Horn of Valenhall, a mystical artifact he only partially understands. Tales of these victories fill his companions with unparalleled battle spirit and combat prowess, further cementing Hakon's growing legend. Now the badges of Hakon's own exploits stand beside those of the true heroes of the Broken Bay, but the skald knows that his journeys must continue until his deeds shine like those of Hrolf Harfargr, White Estrid, and Ostog the Unslain. Only then will the Saga of Hakon be complete, daring those who come after him to even greater feats of bravery and legend.

Erik Mona
Publisher

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Tags: Iconics Meet the Iconics Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Skald Wayne Reynolds
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Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Nëëds mȫrë ǚmläüts.


6 people marked this as a favorite.

I see what you did there Mr. Mona. Sneak your badass barbarian into the backstory of an iconic. Nice.

Anyway, Hakon sounds like a pretty cool dude. I especially love the picture. I'd love to have a pawn or mini of him so I could use him for a skald character I've had sitting in the back of my head for awhile.


26 people marked this as a favorite.

Yessssss

MY LOVE FOR YOU IS LIKE A TRUCK
BERRRRRSERRRRRRKERRRRRR


15 people marked this as a favorite.

I come from the land of the ice and snow...

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The only thing I take issue with here is that he is supposed to have a legendary horn, so will he have said horn in his 1st-level pregen form? Or will there be no PFS pregen of him? That would be sad indeed.

Paizo Employee Designer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
cartmanbeck wrote:
The only thing I take issue with here is that he is supposed to have a legendary horn, so will he have said horn in his 1st-level pregen form? Or will there be no PFS pregen of him? That would be sad indeed.

Something tells me the PFS version will not have slain a CR 8 marsh giant by himself before level 1. I'd say insert your own ending where he joins the Pathfinder Society to chronicle the greatness of Ostog to all the world, rather than just the Linnorm Kingdoms


...which he doesn't fully understand...say, at level 1. But he may understand it a WHOLE lot better at higher levels.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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All I see here is Erik saying he wants to write a Ostog and Hakon novel for Pathfinder Tales.


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Couldn't yet wrap me head around what a skald is really all about but that uber smashing Hakon illustration speaks profound volumes that seem to fire my imagination! That horn! Those axes! And that mean-looking viking look! This Hakon skald is one mean Drizzt sort of guy! Love it!

Mr. Reynolds, sir. You've delivered another excellent art here! If I were a kender,I'd be giving you my topknot right now.

So far Quinn and this skald's my favorite :)

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wonderful srt, as always! And a great backstory.I love the shoutouts to White Estrid's crew, and especially to his brother Ostog. And he's got an artifact -- awesome!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

Trinite wrote:
And he's got an artifact -- awesome!

This could be "artifact" in a more colloquial meaning. I suspect that it would be something like a specialized horn of valhalla.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If my coworkers weren't already so used to my laughing at the internet by myself I would have gotten some weird looks when I got to Ostog ;-)

Good job Mr. Mona

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Ross Byers wrote:
Trinite wrote:
And he's got an artifact -- awesome!
This could be "artifact" in a more colloquial meaning. I suspect that it would be something like a specialized horn of valhalla.

Well, even then, we're dealing with a very powerful magic item. I just hope they commission a non-horn-y (<- haha!) version of his art to grace the PFS pregen printouts that they HOPEFULLY will have of him. I'm definitely loving on all the iconics so far, but he's the first one that makes me want to play AS him right now!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Modules, Tales Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Nëëds mȫrë ǚmläüts.

Or an "å" at least. Unless lack of umlauts is the main difference between Skald and the Scandinavian languages.

Liberty's Edge

Mr Mona you're a genius!


How the hell is he wearing that horn?

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

There is a strap going around his left shoulder and right hip. I'd guess it is attached to that somehow.

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.

Now for the art piece with Hakon, Valeros and Amiri trying to out drink each other

Paizo Employee Creative Director

43 people marked this as a favorite.

I see what you did there, Mona... politely asked me to up the challenges facing Ostog so that his saga becomes worthy of being on the Paizo messageboards.

Very well. Challenge accepted.

...dusts off moon gun and sneaks it into a certain Necropolis in Osirion...


meresiel would be in on that action too. She seems to like drinking contests.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I'd thought they said we were going to get the Brawler Iconic today, and when I first saw the picture I thought "Huh, I'd pretty much pegged that as the Skald. Weird."

Fun story, add this to the ever-growing list of iconics who've received my personal stamp of approval.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Shout out to Ostag the Unslain. He needs to be in a PF Tales novel or web fiction.


Both art and story - that's good stuff. Very well done; I'm down with playing a skald now for sure.

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

7 people marked this as a favorite.

...because one character class always hails from the frigid Northlands.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Kajehase wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
Nëëds mȫrë ǚmläüts.
Or an "å" at least. Unless lack of umlauts is the main difference between Skald and the Scandinavian languages.

What would the Norwegian royal house say, I wonder...

Ruyan.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Hero worship turning into actual heroics, I like it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

He has such adorable tiny little feet!

Also loved the story, I'm glad you did the skald justice. I really want to play one.


Awesome! Amazing art and cool story. I love me some vikings, and I look forward to trying out this class.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rock on! This is awesome.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Lilith wrote:
I come from the land of the ice and snow...

He does look a bit like Robert Plant, doesn't he?

Which I find inexplicably awesome.

Contributor

What's this? An iconic background story from Erik Mona that DIDN'T take two years to write? Before you know it we'll have that Nex Player Companion everyone's been clamouring for too!

And it certainly seems like being Publisher has its perks, eh Erik? ;-)

Nice job with the short story; it was a fun read to be sure.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.

That sir... now that is a Viking. Ragnar would be proud to raid with Hakon, and Ostog.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hakon? Probably not a Gargoyles reference, but awesome anyway.


I suspect that people will demand I make a Skald at some point. I do have the beard that demands it.


Nice backstory! hopefully the Horn of Valenhall gets spelled out more in a future product.

Great art too!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

He looks like a younger blonde combination of Ezren and Harsk.


Love the art and the backstory. Can't wait for this book!


I love this character's backstory! Absolutely love it!

Liberty's Edge

4 people marked this as a favorite.
ulgulanoth wrote:
Now for the art piece with Hakon, Valeros and Amiri trying to out drink each other

25 gold on Amiri...


Hey, whats the over under on Lem?


Yes, well done! Methinks I like it!

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

12 people marked this as a favorite.
David Neilson wrote:
Hey, whats the over under on Lem?

He loses automatically, as he's "under the table" before the first round of drinks.

Liberty's Edge

Threeshades wrote:

He has such adorable tiny little feet!

Also loved the story, I'm glad you did the skald justice. I really want to play one.

You know what they say about guys with small feet...


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Nice. Still not the biggest fan of the class itself, but this is hands down my favorite Iconic right now.


Nice, nice.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I like to see Hakon and some other Ulfen beat the s&&% of some Ironborn and show them what real Viking knock-offs are like.


I can dig it.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Haven't seen someone blood-eagle'd since reading Slaine. There is never enough ritual torture involving separating the ribs from the spine in this blog.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
the Queen's Raven wrote:
That sir... now that is a Viking. Ragnar would be proud to raid with Hakon, and Ostog.

"His vanity will kill him. No. I WILL KILL HIM!"

Silver Crusade

Excellent back story. And it looks it it will be woven into another iconic's story.

I approve.

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