I decided it would be easiest to go with the 2nd edition AD&D Vikings Campaign Sourcebook as written and add to it than it would be to convert from 2nd edition back to something earlier, mostly because I am a little pressed for time now, but also because I remember it being one of the better of the HR series. So it looks like I'll be DMing 2nd edition AD&D for the first time this decade tomorrow, good thing I saved my stuff. I am going to opt out of non-weapon proficiencies though, since they are an optional rule.
Now, on with the campaign premise: There is an island in the north Atlantic between the Faroes and Iceland. The year is 860 AD, Iceland has been discovered, but not settled. This island, called Dvergrholm, is the home of a band of actual, honest to goodness Dwarves who are fighting to regain control of their homeland from some evil Jotun-kind, Dokkalfar and their minions. Brave heroes are attracted to this island because of it's mystical nature, magic is strong here, and because of the opportunity for wealth and renown to be won in these battles. The island itself is roughly 15 miles north to south by about 10 at it's widest point east to west, it is dominated by hills and mountainous terrain in the center with new human settlements in the good, flat lands at the north and south ends. There is a second island called Sudrey to the south of the main island, it has no good places to land a ship and no human settlement.
There are Dwarven ruins on both islands in their interiors and those ruins often lead to mines, which often lead to a mega-dungeon complex beneath the island, think D-series, it's huge. The human settlements are like wild west mining boom towns, only with Viking adventurers. They are filled with traders looking to trade with the Dwarves for their exotic goods and with the adventurers for whatever they can haul out of the numerous caves and mines; Adventurers looking to score big and make themselves a name; people that realized they might not have what it takes to be top dog, but they can ride coat-tails and be lackeys and hirelings, shifty grifter types looking to fleece the foolish; and other sundry bits of the very best and worst that Norse society has to offer.
Now, I also plan on running this Pendragon style, so we run a few sessions and then everyone goes home for the rest of the year and comes back in the Spring, maybe have a few random events that crop up in the interim. I don't see a lot of PCs wintering here on Dvergrholm, presumably they'll have some responsibilities to their families and stuff to take care of and then there is always the need to build on your family line, so marriages will have to be arranged and all that goes with that too.
Given the "No Clerics" restriction, magical healing is going to be at a minimum, so I plan on having each player make three characters, a primary, a secondary and a tertiary PC. The primary PC and the secondary PC will travel together, the primary as the "Hero", the secondary as the "Sidekick", the tertiary being left behind in camp or in town as a member of the crew until the primary or secondary PC dies or is incapacitated for a lengthy period, he's "on deck", ready to go. In the event of an actual PC death, the tertiary gets promoted to secondary and another character gets rolled up to be the tertiary, sound good? Now, the death and dying rule I am putting into effect is going to alleviate some PC death, but will add a bunch of PCs with lengthy recovery times, so I thought this was better than retiring them because they were going to be out of action for 8-10 weeks at a clip sometimes.
I have come up with a simple table to help the players determine where their characters are from - if they need help, since none of us are actually from Scandinavia. I suppose they could also just look at it and pick a homeland, I just like randomness.
9-10: Ireland, Scotland or the Hebrides (roll a d6 or pick)
12: Orkney or Faroes (roll a die for even/odd or pick)
The table favors places that are either close by Dvergrholm or heavily populated. I considered adding a possibility of being a foreigner to the list, but foreigners don't have any rights in Norse lands unless they have a Norseman as a protector/sponsor, so I didn't want to encourage anyone to start down that road.