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Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2nd and the letter B

B is for Beginning the new campaign, which we did yesterday. Almost all the usual suspects were there, and they accepted the pre-generated Characters without any problems. I had each of them roll on a table I had designed the night before for a "Secret" character trait, that wasn't part of the brief descriptions that (almost) all of the characters had written on their sheets. Mostly they were things that gave them something to roleplay out without actively trying to roleplay them out, they were secret motivators, I told them not to reveal them to the others. Some had a mechanical effect on play, some were just a hidden, perhaps even shameful (particularly to a Viking) trait. I wouldn't really call any of them good or bad, just say that they made the character a little different than they were perceived as when they picked them, although serendipity made some of the random traits fit perfectly with the character descriptions of the characters that they ended up with, more of an enhancement than anything else. Interestingly, the characters that were chosen were all four of the Clerics- Ivar Freysman, Greilad Heimdallsman, Rannveig Freyskona, and Yngvild Thorskona, the Thief Jorunn (who probably shouldn't return to town anytime soon), and the Fighter Snofrid. I find this interesting because in B/X D&D Clerics are really just 2nd rate Fighters until they hit 2nd level (except for their Turn Undead Ability), but they were wildly popular here. Not that the Fighters are really all that much tougher, but still.

I had a bit of fun with the party getting them together in town during the island's Thing, which is part governmental assembly, part religious festival, and part state fair and party. The new rule is- What happens at Thing, stays at Thing; although, like I said before, Jorunn probably should stay away from town for a while. Ivar might want to too, but for a different reason. After one excellent, fun night in town, they took off for the odd ruined, squatty tower called the Dvergrborg to the north of town. While exploring it's ruins they located a central shaft, 10'x10', descending roughly 100' straight down into the earth with rungs carved into one wall.

It was then that they realized that they had no real dungeoneering provisions, so they sent a small group back to town to get torches, rope and other gear for subterranean adventuring. They had thought to buy extra food, grab some extra small weapons, but no light sources or rope. They aren't even newbies, so I was kind of amused by this, although it did take some of our adventure time away, and, of course, we started late, because we always do. Sadly, we also had to end early, so we only got to go a couple of rooms into the actual dungeon, and they only fought one combat, which they easily won, against a couple of guard humanoids, which the Norsemen had no frame of reference for, so I played up their alien-ness.

During this, we feasted on a smörgåsbord of Scandinavian cuisine, because I like to theme the food to my game, at least sometimes. We had various preparations of herring, several Scandinavian cheeses, and Icelandic Style Yogurt (Skyr) with honey, a Barley and Onion bread and a Rye bread. Mead and Ale were available, but nobody partook. We also had traditional gamer foods present, various flavors of potato chips, pork rinds and cheesy poofs; and a wide variety of sodas. Ordinarily, we'd have had a bunch of different cheeses and cold meats, perhaps some vegetables and crackers. Oh, and various mustards, dressings and sauces.

Anyway, that was the beginning session of the campaign, I think it went well, and everyone tells me they had a good time.

So, B is also for Balder, a God of the Aesir, son of Odin and, according to Snorri Sturlusson, his death, engineered by Loki, will set in motion the sequence of events leading, in a very circuitous route, to Ragnarok.

B is also for Berserker, scholars debate whether the meaning of the word comes from Bare-Shirt, meaning Shirtless, or Bear-Shirt, meaning wearing a Bear Skin; they also debate whether the rage was drug induced or simply an ecstatic state, either way they are the totally bad-ass warriors of the north that were renowned for their fearlessness and toughness. It was said that in the rage a Berserker could withstand remarkable damage, essentially you had to hit them hard enough to kill them with a single blow for them to not just shake it off and keep coming. Traditionally the Berserks are associated with the cult of Odin and sought after by kings as elite units.

B is also for Blot, a religious ceremony among the Heathen Norse, normally consisting of an animal sacrificed for a communal feast.

B is for Bondi, which is Old Norse for "Farmer", considered an honorable profession for a free man, most Vikings are Bondi rather than professional, full time warriors; they go raiding between planting and harvest.

B is for Bragi, known as the best of poets and the first of Skalds. Maybe the only legitimate demigod in the Norse pantheon.

B is for Borg, which is Old Norse for both "Town" and "Fort" and similar to the word for "Hill" or "Mountain". I think it says something about a culture when the words for fortress and town are the same, the fact that they coincide with high ground just also makes sense.

B is for Brisingamen the Necklace (or belt) of the Brisings, an artifact that belongs to the Goddess Freyja. One story says it was forged by four Dwarves and she traded herself for four nights with them to obtain it. Some people consider this story to be scurrilous gossip designed to malign the Goddess' reputation after the rise of Christianity, who knows?

B is for Bifrost the "Rainbow Bridge to Asgard", it featured prominently in the Thor movie last year, so probably a lot of people have heard of it now.

B is for Budir, Old Norse for "Booths" which were semi-permanent buildings, usually built with a foundation and some or partial walls and no roof. They were used for part of the year as temporary housing, shops, or storage; but they'd be used by the same people year after year. The Sagas mention people having their own family Booths at the Althing in Iceland, Leif Eirikson set up Booths in Vinland.

B is for Birka, which was a major trading center in Sweden during the Viking age. It attracted traders from as far away as Arabia, which makes it worth mentioning. I also mention it because the SCA's East Kingdom holds a large trading event every year called "A Trading Day at Birka", or something to that effect. I keep meaning to go and check it out, because I always hear good things about it, but it is a little far afield for me to travel to an event where I am not going to be fighting, but rather just spending money.  


  1. It was then that they realized that they had no real dungeoneering provisions, so they sent a small group back to town to get torches, rope and other gear for subterranean adventuring. They had thought to buy extra food, grab some extra small weapons, but no light sources or rope. They aren't even newbies, so I was kind of amused by this (...)

    You know, it's really funny how often this can happen. In the game in which I'm currently playing, our group (yes, myself included, I'm ashamed to admit) has on more than one occasion forgotten to pick up adequate gear/supplies in town (torches, rations, silver weapons, you name it). And none of us are newbies either. You'd think we'd know better....

    1. I figure it was partially my fault because I purchased their weapons and armor for them off my "adjusted for the Viking age" price list, so they may have just assumed they had everything they needed, but I did remind them they didn't have any rations or other supplies, so they bought rations (stole them in one case), they just didn't think to get any light sources or rope before they left town. It was just amusing was all. The real downer was that we had waited for one player who was running late before we started playing, then we had a power outage in mid-game, and then we had to break unexpectedly early on top of that, so the first game was really quite short.