Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Barbarians of Midgaard (my Midgaard, that is)

 Okay, so there are at least two games out there right now with the name Midgard/Midgaard--and this post isn't about either of them.  About eight years ago I started throwing together a new campaign world which would mix Norse mythology and alternate Earth history (up to circa 1250).  Since it was based on Norse mythology I was using Midgaard as the working title for the concept.

Part of the new campaign background was that after the gods fashioned Midgaard they populated it with four barbarian humanoid "races" and four corresponding dwarf races.  Essentially, the humans would fight for honor, glory, and gold to entertain the gods and the dwarves would mine, build, and craft to create things for the humans (and dwarves) to fight with/over.  Actually, I conceived of the barbarians and humans as actually being different races--albeit ones fully capable of breeding.  (The humans were created later by a different deity on Atlantis.)  Thus "barbarian" would be a race rather than a class in D&D terms.  But, since I assumed at the time that I'd be using D&D 3.5, I planned to use modified half-orc stats for the barbarian race and decreed that all Barbarian characters would start with two levels, one of which must be the barbarian class.  I was also thinking that they should only be allowed to take levels only in barbarian, fighter, bard, cleric, ranger, or druid.

Then I detailed out the four subraces of barbarians (and corresponding dwarves).  This is where the alternate history bit kicked in.  I wanted Vikings in the north, Celts in the west, Zulus in the south, and Goths in the east.  Each race would have a classic racial look, traditional weapons, and tiered fantasy mounts for battle.

Racial Look: big, caucasian, blond hair, blue eyes
Weapons: spear, shield, sword, axe, and bow
Mounts: horse, polar bear, panserbjorn
Lands: Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Normandy, a few settlements in Ireland

Racial Look: big, caucasian, red hair, green eyes; woad body painting and/or tattoos
Weapons: spear, shield, sword, javelin, and sling
Mounts: horse, wild boar, horse chariot, wild boar chariot, dire boar
Lands: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, some areas in northwest Hispania, and Brittany

Racial Look: big, african, black hair, brown eyes; many tribes use ritual scarring
Weapons: spear, shield, club/mace
Mounts: zebra/camel, rhino, war elephant with howdah
Lands: Africa, southern Hispania, Balearic Islands, Sardinia, parts of Sicilia

Racial Look: big, caucasian/asian, black hair, gray eyes; tattoos and piercings
Weapons: spear, sword, shield, bow
Mounts: horse, warg, war mammoth with platform
Lands: Finland, northern Sweden, Poland, the Balkans, Romania, Ukraine

 I was also considering giving each race a flying mount, but only the vikings had a creature that jumped out as an obvious one: a huge raven for the Vikings.

Midgaard Barbarian Traits

Standard Racial Traits
  • Ability Score Racial Traits: Barbarian characters gain a +2 bonus to Strength and Constitution, but a +2 to Intelligence.
  • Type: Barbarians are Humanoid creatures.
  • Size: Barbarians are Medium creatures and thus have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Base Speed: Barbarians have a base speed of 30 feet.
  • Languages: Barbarians begin play speaking Common (Latin) and the language of their Barbarian subrace (Norse, Gothic, isiZulu, or Gaelic). Barbarians with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, and the languages of other subraces of Barbarian. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.
Feat and Skill Racial Traits
  • Intimidating: Barbarians receive a +2 racial bonus on Intimidate checks due to their fearsome nature.
Offense Racial Traits
  • Barbarian Ferocity: Once per day, when a Barbarian is brought below 0 hit points but not killed, he can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled. At the end of his next turn, unless brought to above 0 hit points, he immediately falls unconscious and begins dying.
  • Weapon Familiarity: As warrior peoples, all Barbarians are proficient with all the traditional weapons of their subrace.

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