Thursday, December 29, 2011
Winter, the Yuletide and Vikings?
When a young, or in my case, middle-aged*, DM's thought's turn to Vikings**. The snow on the ground and the cold in the air make going outside suck. I live in Oswego county in upstate New York, at the east end of Lake Ontario, where we usually measure our snowfall in feet rather than inches, so I am pretty accustomed to a Nordic, if not exactly Norse lifestyle. I wrote a bit on my other blog about my old Norselands campaign I ran back at the dawn of (my group's) 3e experience; and I have written here before about how I basically wrote a Viking Campaign Sourcebook so I could run a Viking campaign back at the dawn of the 2nd edition AD&D era too.
I like Vikings. I like their adventurous spirit. I like their no nonsense attitude. I like their religion. I like the way they treat their women. I like the kind of democratic institutions they had. I like their distinctive artistic style***. Viking style shields were made to be splintered and runes are pretty awesome too, am I right? I like to drink mead too, and have several friends that like to make it. I have made mead too, but not often. I like Vikings so much I have played one in the SCA****.
Plus, it's pretty easy to come up with plot hooks for a Viking campaign, these guys were all about getting rich and famous and their end game was to become a King, Jarl or die a heroic death. That's pretty old school D&D right there. Sure their mythology and sagas don't give a huge number of monsters to fight, but it's quality there rather than quantity. I was looking through my Saga mini-game the other day when my buddy Lance dropped by for some gaming and that map and game rules cry out to be adapted into a D&D game setting. You are essentially playing a middle to high level character when you start that game, and you fight some legendary monsters, pick up some henchmen, conquer some territories and fight against other heroes to see who will die as the most glorious hero of the age. There is some magic and some divine intervention and a few pretty sweet artifact type magic items and a few magic swords that are mostly not all that powerful, all in all, it makes for a pretty sweet little dark ages campaign setting with a fairly low magic level.
*Seriously, when did middle-aged start meaning 50+? Are people so deluded that they really believe their average life expectancy is 100+ years? I am 42 1/2 years old now, I think I can reasonably expect to live to be 85 given today's medical technology and my family history. Human mortality exists, deal with it.
**Weird, right? It's been almost exactly a year since I wrote that. I never ran that proposed campaign, I am now in contact with both Lance and Darryl though.
***OK, styles, but they are related, evolving over time and from place to place.
****And I may do it again, the clothes are comfortable and easy to make (or so I am told, Mona makes them), and they wear well, since they are similar to our own in most respects. My wife and daughters like viking women's clothes too.