Writing: Colin Le Sueur
Text © Colin Le Sueur 2022, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Runecairn is based on Cairn by Yochai Gal
Online Resources: runecairn.byodinsbeardrpg.com
Runecairn is a Norse fantasy tabletop roleplaying game intended for two players, the Warden (the facilitator or game master) and the Adventurer.
For solo play or two or more Adventurers, please see the Runecairn: Advanced Rules book.
Neutrality. The Warden’s role is to portray the rules, situations, NPCs, and narrative clearly, while acting as a neutral arbiter.
Classless. An Adventurer’s role or skills are not limited by a single class. Instead, the equipment they carry and their experiences defines their specialty.
Death. An Adventurer may be powerful, but they are also vulnerable to harm in its many forms. Death is always around the corner, but it is never random or without warning.
Fiction first. Dice do not always reflect an obstacle’s difficulty or its outcome. Instead, success and failure are arbitrated by the Warden in dialogue with the player, based on in-world elements.
Growth. An Adventurer is changed through in-world advancement, gaining new skills and abilities by surviving hazards and overcoming obstacles.
Player choice. A player should always understand the reasons behind the choices they’ve made, and information about potential risks should be provided freely and frequently.
Principles. The Warden and Adventurer each have guidelines that help foster a specific play experience defined by critical thinking, exploration, and an emergent narrative.
What type of adventures can a player character expect?
Though inspired by the historical Viking Age (roughly 8th-11th century BCE), the realms of Runecairn exist in a Norse fantasy world brimming with mythology and folklore, ever changing and evolving.
Choose or roll to find a name for your Adventurer from the Names table.
Next, roll for your Adventurer’s traits (appearance, speech, personality, etc.) on the Adventurer Traits tables.
Roll 3d6 for each ability in order, swap any two.
Strength (Str): Used for saves requiring physical power, like lifting gates, bending bars, resisting poison, etc.
Dexterity (Dex): Used for saves requiring agility, speed, and reflexes like dodging, climbing, sneaking, balancing, etc.
Wits (Wit): Used for saves to interrogate, investigate, provoke, manipulate spells, etc.
Spirit (Spi): Used for saves to charm, self-control, intimidate, persuade, belief, etc.
Roll d6 for your starting Vigour score.
Vigour determines your self-determination, drive, and focus and is what stands between you and the hollow void.
You lose one point of vigour at death. If your vigour drops to 0, you become a shade, a hollow being neither dead nor alive, and are lost to the darkness.
Roll d6 to determine your Vitality, how hale and hearty you are.
Resilience is your ability to avoid damage in combat. Resilience is made up of Vitality and Vigour. Add the two stats together to get your Resilience.
If your Resilience drops below 0, you start taking Str damage. If that happens, prepare to die.
Determines initial equipment and skills.
Each background has a key ability and key item. Your key item adds new skills. Change your class by picking up a new key item, if you meet the requirements.
You can only carry one key item at a time.
Your starting class does not determine what type of Adventurer you are.
What you were does not dictate who you can be.
In another life you might have been a soldier, a guardsman, a shieldmaiden, or a raider. Your shield was always strapped to your arm and your axe and spear always to hand.
You sang the songs of battle and drank to victory and defeat in smoke-filled halls.
In combat, you favoured the direct approach, relying on your sturdy armour to deflect any blows while giving you time to land your own.
In the time before you prayed to Oðinn for a glorious death but now your fate is your own to choose.
|Warrior (Str, 3 Def)|
|Linden wood shield||key, +1 Def|
|Chain mail||bulky, 2 Def|
|Ash wood spear||d6, 20’|
|Memento of defeat|
Block (reaction, key item): Raise shield; Str save to avoid all physical damage (Fatigue)
Parry (reaction, key item): Deflect attack and riposte; Str save to avoid all physical damage and retaliate with damage advantage - failure results in the attack against you gaining damage advantage
Disarm (axe): Hook your opponent’s weapon hand; target needs to make a Dex save or be disarmed (Fatigue)
Hack (axe): Attack your opponent in a frenzy for double damage (Fatigue)
Thrust (spear): Lunge forward to extend the range of your weapon and strike targets up to 10 feet away (Fatigue)
In another life you might have spoken for the dead, burned sweet sacrifices to the gods, wandered the land weaving tales of myth and legend.
Your voice spoke for all and none. You deciphered the will of the gods and shone their light on the people of the realms.
In combat, you wielded the fury of the gods, whether thunder or steel. Your toughened reindeer hide helped deflect all but the sharpest spears and your voice itself was said to shake mountains.
Although the time of the gods is done, you still work their will and wield their power. How you choose to use it is now in your hands alone.
|Skald (Spi, 2 Def)|
|Runic focus||key, small|
|Reindeer hide||1 Def|
|Leather hood||+1 Def|
|Saga||Heal or Lightning Spear|
Lightning knife (key item): Manifest and wield or throw a dagger made of lightning for d4 damage, 20ft range
Shout (reaction, key item): Your voice propels a shockwave that staggers a foe within melee range; Spi save to disrupt an attack and take no damage (Fatigue)
Heal (spell): Call upon the remaining power of the gods to heal your wounds; restore d8 Resilience (Fatigue)
Lightning Spear (spell): Summon a crackling bolt of lightning; strike your foe for d8 damage, 60ft range (Fatigue)
Sunder (sword): Tear through your opponent’s armour for d6 damage; first occurrence causes target to lose 1 Def (Fatigue)
In another life you might have been a hunter, an archer, a scoundrel, or an explorer. With a pair of sharp knives and a trusty shortbow, you easily made your way in the world, whether in untamed wilderness or cut-throat civilisation.
You found the paths and trails no-one else could, weaving your way through danger and adventure at every turn. Your fast reflexes helped save you in situations where your quick tongue could not.
In combat, you either slipped in close, unnoticed, or struck silently from afar with unerring accuracy.
Even in the time before you forged your own path. Now that your fate is truly unwritten, the Nine Realms are yours for the taking.
|Scout (Dex, 1 Def)|
|Hunting knives||key, d6|
|Quilted cloth||1 Def|
|Elm shortbow||bulky, d6, 60’|
|Fire oil||blast, d8|
Dash (reaction, key item): Deftly evade an attack; Dex save to avoid all damage – failing the save impairs the enemy’s attack, reducing it to d4 (Fatigue)
Backstab (key item): Dash behind your enemy and inflict a critical strike; Dex save to strike for double damage (2d6) - failure results in an attack from the target with damage advantage
Lacerate (knives): Slice a deep wound in your enemy for an initial d6 damage; roll d4 to determine bleed damage and duration (Fatigue)
Volley (shortbow): Fire two arrows without hesitation – roll damage die twice (Fatigue)
In another life you might have been a wise woman, an augur, a trickster, or a conjurer. The only things you needed were your wits and a hunger for knowledge. You sought to delve the mysteries of the realms and pluck forth the secrets within.
You stayed in the shadows, called on for your counsel and power. Mistrusted by some, feared by others, and respected by all.
You were never much for combat, preferring to work your cunning to rain destruction or mischief on your foes from a safe distance.
The gods are dead but their secrets are still waiting under ash and weald. You’ve seen your future and it’s filled with endless possibilities.
|Seer (Wit, 0 Def)|
|Yew staff||key, d4|
|Stout linen||0 Def|
|Runestone||Slow or seiðr spear|
Greystone (key item): Cast a magical stone as if from a sling for d4 damage, 30’ range
Barrier (reaction, key item): Cast a barrier spell; Wit save to raise a magical shield to negate all damage from the attack – failing the save imposes damage disadvantage on the target’s attack (Fatigue)
Slow (spell): Slows nearby enemies (Fatigue)
Seiðr spear (spell): Propel a spear of pure energy; strike your foe with the spear for d10 damage, 60’ range (Fatigue)
Clobber (staff): Smash the enemy’s head with damage advantage; target needs to make a Str save or be dazed, losing their next turn (Fatigue)
New tabletop role-playing gamer Amy wants to create an Adventurer in Runecairn.
Amy starts by rolling on the female names table and gets 54, Lind. Amy likes the sounds so decides to keep it.
Amy doesn’t know much about Lind at this point, so she rolls on the Adventurer traits tables and gets the following results:
She’s brawny, with dark skin, braided hair, and a sharp face. She’s eloquent, ambitious, and deceitful.
Lind is starting to take shape in Amy’s mind.
Amy rolls 3d6 four times and assigns the results to her abilities:
With a Spirit of 16 Lind would make a good skald, so Amy chooses that starting class.
She switches her Dex and Wit scores to give her Skald more dexterity and ends up with these final abilities:
Amy generates Lind’s Resilience (Res) score next. She rolls a d6 for Lind’s Vigour and gets 3.
Amy then rolls a d6 for Vitality and gets 4.
Adding the two rolls up, Lind the Skald has 7 Resilience.
The Skald class starts with the following equipment:
- Runic focus (key item) (small)
- Reindeer hide armour (1 Defence)
- Leather hood (+1 Defence)
- Steel sword (d6)
- Saga: heal or lightning spear (choose 1)
- Sacred waters
- Sacrificial bundle (small)
Her two pieces of armour (reindeer hide and leather hood) gives her a total defence of 2.
Her key item is a runic focus, which allows her to cast magic in the form of sagas. Amy has the choice of either a healing tale (Heal) or a tale of Thor the thunder god (Lightning Spear). She thinks that Lind would be a follower of Thor and takes lightning spear.
Lind wields a steel sword that does d6 damage and fills out the rest of her inventory with helpful items like sacred waters and a sacrificial bundle.
With her starting equipment stowed or worn, Lind has 5 free inventory slots that she can use to loot items, cast spells, or take reactions in combat. None of her items are bulky so they only take up one slot each. Small items don’t take up any space.
Sagas don’t take up physical slots but instead take up space in Lind’s mind as the tales are dense and elaborate.
Lind also has a flask filled with Iðunn’s mead, which heals her injuries and helps to clear fatigue. She starts with two sips of mead.
Amy’s now finished creating her new skald, Lind, who’s equipped and ready to set off into a strange new world.
Resilience (RES) is the ability to avoid damage in combat, representing your personal drive, toughness, instinct and survivability.
Resilience is calculated by adding two stats: Vigour (d6) and Vitality (d6). Damage reduces your Resilience and drinking mead or resting at a bonfire restores it.
If an attack takes your Resilience exactly to 0, roll on the Omens table (page 21).
Before calculating damage to Resilience, subtract the target’s Defence value from the result of physical damage rolls. Shields and similar armour provide a bonus (e.g. +1 Defence), but only while the item is held or worn.
Magic bypasses mundane armour - Defence doesn’t reduce magical damage.
Wearing heavy armour weighs you down. If you’re wearing bulky armour, make all DEX saves at disadvantage due to the cumbersome nature.
A save is a roll to avoid bad outcomes from risky choices and circumstances. Roll a d20 for an appropriate ability score. If you roll equal to or under that ability score, you pass. Otherwise, you fail. A 1 is always a success, and a 20 is always a failure.
In some situations, saves are made with a bonus (advantage) or penalty (disadvantage). Roll two d20s, take the lower result for advantage and the higher for disadvantage.
Filled with mead brewed by the gods and infused with the Iðunn’s everlasting apples, sipping this mead restores health and heals injuries.
One sip takes an action and restores 10 RES and clears 2 points of Fatigue. The flask is replenished when resting at a bonfire.
You start with 2 sips. The amount of mead in the flask can be increased under the right circumstances.
Your mead flask does not take up any inventory slots.
Your actions and items weigh heavily on you and fatigue can easily overwhelm.
Fatigue is caused by casting spells, using certain skills, and rare monster abilities.
Each Fatigue occupies 1 inventory slot and lasts until the Adventurer rests at a bonfire.
During a moment of calm, you can spend 1 soul to clear d4 points of Fatigue (see Souls).
You can also attempt to clear Fatigue through introspection, such as reflecting on your ancestors, meditating in nature, or singing a song to lift your spirits.
Roll a d6 and compare the result to your current Vigour score. If you roll under (success), clear that many points of Fatigue. If you roll over (failure), you lose 1 point of Vigour.
You can attempt to clear Fatigue in this manner once per day.
Bonfires link the Nine Realms and offer a beacon of hope to souls lost in the dark.
Resting at a bonfire restores all lost Resilience, clears all Fatigue from your inventory, and resets ability score loss.
Resting at a bonfire also causes most slain foes to return to life. Powerful or intelligent foes such as gods, jotunn, or dragons are not reborn in this manner and remain dead when defeated.
When resting at a bonfire, you can choose to spend Souls to grow your power.
Prepare to die often. Upon death, you wake at the last bonfire rested at with all your current items.
Lose one point of total Vigour for every death. If your total Vigour reaches 0, your Adventurer is forever lost to the darkness.
One point of Vigour can be restored by a full day communing with a skald or by burning a sacrificial bundle at a bonfire.
The might of the gods has been scattered across the Nine Realms. Fragments of this power exist as soul remnants, energy manifested and crystallised into physical form.
You may discover Soul remnants in hidden and secret places, in areas of great power, or under the watch of fearsome guardians. Soul remnants are small and take up no inventory space.
Powerful beings such as jotunn, dragons, or demons may also be imbued with the scattered essence of the gods. Overcoming these foes, through combat or other means, grants you ephemeral slivers of this power: souls.
Breaking a soul remnant will imbue you with the souls held within.
Souls are delicate and are discarded when you die. You have one chance to recover dropped souls after you wake up at the bonfire. Die again before retrieving them and they’re lost forever.
As souls represent the innate power of the gods, you can absorb this power to grow stronger.
When resting at a bonfire, you can focus on the imbued power and enhance your might.
While resting, spend 1 soul to permanently increase one of the following attributes: Strength, Dexterity, Wits, Spirit, or Vitality.
Rare merchants and travellers trade in souls and you can barter for goods and services with soul remnants. Certain spells or relics can also coalesce soul remnants from imbued souls.
Gold and most coins have little value and most trade is through barter.
Treasure takes the form of weapons, armour, spells, or relics. It can be a lure, taking Adventurers to exotic and even dangerous locations, and is often under the protection of intimidating foes.
Chain mail: Heavy mail shirt made up of riveted rings, worn over thick clothing
Iron helmet: Curved helmet made of riveted iron plates; uncomfortable but offers good protection
Laced iron plate: Small iron plates laced together over a leather shirt
Leather hood: Fine leather hood with wolfskin cloak
Quilted cloth: Padded wool defensive jacket helps deflect slashes
Reindeer hide: Cured and toughened leather hide; a symbol of wealth and status
Stout linen: Comfortable and well-made, allows free movement but offers no protection from attack
|Laced iron plate||3||rare, bulky, Str 14|
Buckler: Small leather-wrapped shield used to protect the weapon hand
Kite Shield: Large, almond-shaped shield made from wood and iron
Linden wood shield: Made from dense wood, round shield reinforced with iron
|Linden wood shield||+1||key, block, parry, STR 12|
|Kite shield||+2||key, bulky, block, parry|
Ash spear: Wood shaft fitted with sharp iron head, used for thrusting or throwing
Bearded axe: Wrought iron head with hooked steel cutting edge attached to an oak haft
Breaking maul: Heavy two-handed maul with dense iron head fixed to reinforced oak shaft
Broad axe: Longer version of the bearded axe, held with two hands and requiring great strength
Cudgel: Stout piece of wood used for clubbing
Elm longbow: Long curved bow made from elm wood, tied with strong flax
Elm shortbow: Curved bow made from elm wood, tied with strong flax
Hand axe: Balanced axe, light enough to be thrown or wield in both hands
Hewing spear: Long oak shaft with curved iron blade
Hunting knives: A pair of versatile knives, straight blade with sweeping edge sharpened to a fine point
Seax: Broad, single-edged blade fixed to a horn hilt and worn on a belt
Steel sword: Double-edged blade, held single-handed; ownership is a matter of high honour
Stone sling: Rope and leather cup used to propel stones with dangerous accuracy
Yew staff: Long, curved wooden staff, carved with intricate runes and figures
|Spear, ash||d6||ranged, 20’||thrust 10’|
|Axe, bearded||d8||Str 10||hack 2d8, disarm|
|Axe, broad||d10||key, bulky, Str 16||shove, cleave, disarm|
|Axe, hand||d6||dual, ranged, 30’||hack 2d6|
|Cudgel||d6||clobber d6 (adv)|
|Hunting knives||d6||key, dual||dash, backstab, lacerate|
|Longbow, elm||d8||bulky, ranged, 100’||volley 2d8|
|Maul, breaking||d10||key, rare, bulky, Str 17||shove, smash d10 (adv)|
|Shortbow, elm||d6||bulky, ranged, 60’||volley 2d6|
|Sling, stone||d4||ranged, 30’||pummel 2d4|
|Spear, hewing||d10||key, bulky, Str 14||shove, cleave, lacerate|
|Staff, yew||d4||key, Wit 12||greystone, barrier, clobber d4 (adv)|
Backstab: Dash behind your enemy and inflict a critical strike (Dex)
Success: Strike your target for double damage
Retaliatory attack from the target at double damage
Barrier (reaction): Raise a magical shield to negate all damage from the attack (Wit, Fatigue)
Block (reaction): Raise your shield to block an incoming attack (Str, Fatigue)
Cleave: Deliver a devastating sweeping attack (Str, Fatigue)
Success: Strike your target for double damage
Retaliatory attack from the target at double damage
Clobber: Smash the enemy’s head with damage advantage; target needs to make a Str save or be dazed, losing their next turn (Fatigue)
Dash (reaction): Deftly dodge to evade an attack (Dex, Fatigue)
Disarm: Hook your opponent’s weapon hand; target needs to make a Dex save or be disarmed (Fatigue)
Flurry: Sling two stones rapidly – roll damage twice (Fatigue)
Frenzy: The ferocity of your attack staggers your opponent; non-undead targets need to make a Spi save or falter momentarily, allowing you to make an extra attack (Fatigue)
Greystone: Cast a magical stone as if from a sling for d6 damage
Hack: Attack your opponent in a frenzy for double damage (Fatigue)
Lacerate: Slice a deep wound in your enemy for an initial d6 damage; roll d4 to determine bleed damage and duration (Fatigue)
Parry (reaction): Deflect an incoming attack and riposte (Str)
Rend: Inflict a vital wound for d6 damage; target needs to make a Dex save or be reduced to half speed for the duration of the fight (Fatigue)
Shout (reaction): Your voice propels a shockwave that staggers your foe; you deflect the attack and take no physical damage (Spi, Fatigue)
Shove (reaction): Take your weapon in both hands and push back against an enemy, halting their strike (Str, Fatigue)
Smash: Bludgeon your opponent with damage advantage; target needs to make Str save or be knocked down (Fatigue)
Sunder: Tear through your opponent’s armour for d4 damage; causes target to lose 1 Def (Fatigue)
Thrust: Lunge forward to extend the range of your weapon and strike targets up to 10 feet away (Fatigue)
Volley: Fire two arrows without hesitation – roll damage twice (Fatigue)
Apple, dried: A slice of one of Iðunn’s apples, dried in the sun. Eating one clears 1 point of Fatigue
Bleached jawbone: Cleaned human jawbone; low chance to commune with the spirits of your ancestors (1 on a d20) or summon a vengeful spirit (20 on a d20)
Fire oil: Faded glass bottle filled with viscous orange liquid; breaks when thrown and erupts into flame for d8 blast damage
Memento of defeat: Broken and rusted sword; by holding and focusing on past failures lose all your held souls and awaken at the last bonfire rested at
Runic focus: Hand-carved from ash wood, decorated with runes; can be any number of shapes associated with the gods and bestows different powers accordingly
Sacred waters: Water from the well of fate; drink to regain 8 Res or throw to cause d10 blast damage to undead
Sacrificial bundle: Crude figure of a person made from moss, twine, and ash; burn at a bonfire to restore 1 point of Vigour
Skeleton key: Ancient key crafted from the finger bones of a thief; low chance of opening any locked door (1-2 on a d20, breaks on a 20)
|Lantern & oil|
|Leather rucksack||rare, bulky, 4 slots|
|Memento of defeat||rare|
|Quill & ink||small|
|Runic focus||key, small, SPI 12|
|Skeleton key||rare, small|
All Adventurers have the following reactions:
The Warden telegraphs the actions taken by NPCs or monsters.
If surprised at the start of combat, the Adventurer makes a Dex save to act before their opponents.
Failing this save also means Adventurers can’t use a Reaction in their first turn.
Damage advantage. Attacks from a position of strength (against a helpless foe or through a daring manoeuvre). Roll for damage twice and take the higher result.
Damage disadvantage. Attacks from a position of weakness (through cover or with bound hands). Roll for damage twice and take the lower result.
Certain skills or items can also grant damage advantage or disadvantage.
Multiple attackers. If multiple attackers target the same foe, roll all damage dice and keep the single highest result (damage advantage).
Dual and 2-handed weapons. If attacking with two weapons at the same time or one weapon held in both hands, gain damage advantage.
Some weapons or enemies have special abilities that are triggered when rolling max damage, such as rolling 10 on a d10.
The Warden can also decide the effect of a dire strike.
Blast attacks affect all targets in the area, rolling separately for each affected target. Blast refers to anything from explosions to huge cleaving onslaughts to the impact of a meteorite.
If unsure how many targets can be affected, roll the damage die for a result.
If any of a Adventurer’s ability scores are reduced to 0, they die.
Ability loss is reset when resting at a bonfire or by certain magic or items.
On death, Adventurers wake up at the last bonfire rested at. They keep all inventory items but drop unspent souls at the location of their death.
Resurrected Adventurers can retrieve these dropped souls if they reach this location without dying again. Dropped souls are permanently lost at death if not retrieved.
Omens are messages from spirits, the gods, or the land and can represent fortune or favour.
When an attack reduces a Adventurer’s Resilience to exactly 0, this triggers an omen. Roll a d8 on the Omens table to determine the event and outcome.
|1||A spirit appears to you in the form of an animal. Make a SPI save. If you pass, the animal accompanies you until dawn of the next day.|
|2||Roiling storm clouds gather overhead and a you glimpse a winged shape within. Make an INT save. If you fail, you flee from the shape in terror.|
|3||The ground trembles and shakes as if a titan approaches. Make a DEX save. If you fail, you’re knocked to the ground.|
|4||A ghostly figure emerges from the wilderness and shrieks before fading away. Make a STR save. If you fail, you lose most of your hearing until the next day.|
|5||You hear the hushed murmur of a thousand voices whispering in unknown tongues. Make an INT save. If you pass, you gain insight into the future.|
|6||As if the dead of winter, you see your breath billow in a misty cloud as the heat drains from your body. Make a STR save. If you fail, gain 2 points of fatigue from the cold.|
|7||A lank hooded man in a wide-brimmed hat appears on the horizon, beckoning you forward. Make a SPI save. If you fail, you follow the hooded man into a trap.|
|8||You hear the howl of an enormous wolf rolling across the landscape, followed by echoing calls in response. Make a DEX save. If you pass, the wolves can’t find you.|
Lind the skald enters a darkened ruin, overgrown and ancient. The corridor leads north and figures are heard shuffling.
Amy: I walk further down the corridor, steel sword in one hand and runic focus in the other.
Warden: Further down the ruin you see an armoured form wandering aimlessly. Its skin is decayed and drawn and it’s holding a rusted spear. It’s a draugr and it hasn’t spotted you yet.
Amy: I’m going to run up and cut it down with my sword!
Warden: OK, you rush forward and slash at the undead warrior. Roll your damage.
Amy rolls a 5 on her d6.
Warden: The draugr has 1 defence from its armour so it takes 4 damage. The draugr turns and raises its spear to attack!
Amy: I gather my will and unleash the power of the gods through my voice! I shout NO!
Choosing to use Lind’s shout skill as a reaction to avoid the attack, Amy rolls a d20 and attempts to roll under her Spi of 16. She gets 5, a success!
Warden: You emit a shockwave and knock the draugr off balance, deflecting the attack! Tick one fatigue for the shout.
Amy does and she now has 4 slots left.
Amy: This thing’s not so tough. I strike out with my sword!
Amy rolls a 4 on her d6 for the attack.
Warden: The draugr takes 3 damage – it’s not looking very good! It snarls and thrusts its spear.
Amy: I’ll take the hit since I’ve got decent defence.
The Warden rolls a 5 on their d6 for damage. They subtract Lind’s defence rating of 2 from the damage.
Warden: Oof! You take 3 points of damage.
Amy: Grr, that’s it. I clutch the runic focus tightly and weave a tale of Thor the thunderer. Lightning spear!
Amy rolls a d8 for damage for her spell and gets a 5. She marks another point of fatigue for the spell.
Warden: Magic bypasses the draugr’s armour therefore it takes full damage. Because the attack reduces its Res below 0, it takes the remaining 4 damage to its Str. The draugr now needs to make a critical damage Str save or die!
The warden rolls 16 on a d20, failing to roll under the draugr’s new Str score of 7.
Warden: It crumples to the ground, a blackened husk from the lightning strike. You’ve defeated it!
Amy: Yes! Does the body have anything on it?
Warden: Before you can search, the spell you just cast draws the attention of another draugr. It shuffles out of the darkness, holding a rotted shortbow. Roll a Dex save to see if you can react quick enough to avoid it!
Amy rolls a 16 on her d20. Failure, since her Dex is 14!
Warden: You try to step back but aren’t quick enough and the arrow strikes you in the arm.
The warden rolls a d6 for damage and gets 4. They subtract Lind’s defence.
Warden: You take 2 damage. A second draugr shambles out next to the first, spear in hand. What do you do?
Amy: They’re undead right? I throw my bottle of sacred waters at them!
Amy rolls a d10 twice for damage, one for each draugr, and gets 9 and 4. Amy updates her character sheet to remove the sacred waters from her inventory, freeing up a slot.
Warden: The bottle breaks on the first draugr’s armour and splashes over them both for magic blast damage. The first takes 9 points, bringing it under 0 and reducing its Str by 1.
The warden rolls a 1 on the draugr’s critical damage save.
Warden: A critical success! The first draugr is still up but at -1 Res. The second sizzles as it takes 4 points of damage. Both lurch forward, spears raised! Unless you avoid it, they’ll hit with damage advantage since its two on one.
Amy: I grip the runic focus and scream a curse from the gods, using my shout to deflect the attacks.
Amy makes a Spirit save by rolling a d20. A failure at 18! She ticks another fatigue.
Warden: You struggle to remember the tale and the shout fails to deflect the attack.
The warden rolls a d6 twice for the spear attacks and gets 6 and 6.
Warden: Bad luck, a dire strike! One of the spears strikes your abdomen and the other pins you to the ground. You can’t move for one turn.
They subtract Lind’s defence.
Warden: You take 10 damage.
Amy: I’m at -8!
Warden: You lose 8 points of Strength. Make a critical damage save to see if you stay on your feet!
Amy rolls a d20, hoping to beat her newly reduced Str score of 1. Natural 20! A critical failure!
Warden: You died! The draugr watches your lifeless body collapse to the ground and it slowly lurches away. The world fades to black…
…You awaken at a roaring bonfire. Your wounds are healed but you lose 1 point of Vigour.
Amy marks her sheet, cursing her bad luck. She has 3 Vigour left. Her total Resilience is now reduced to 6.
Amy: This means the draugr I killed are back alive – er, on their feet again, doesn’t it?
Warden: That’s right. But at least now you have a better idea what to expect.
Amy furrows her brow and grips her pencil tighter.
Amy: Let’s do this!
Magic is a remnant of the gods and draws attention when used. Some see magic as proof the gods live on in the new world.
Runestones. Smooth and delicately polished stones with an inscribed spell hand-etched in runes. Used by seers to affect magical change in the world.
Sagas. Not a physical object, but a learned and memorised tale passed down from the gods. Skalds can recite sagas to channel the power of the gods through speech.
Runestones and sagas contain a single spell and take up one slot. They cannot be transcribed or created; instead they are recovered from places like tombs, dungeons, and ruins.
Scrolls are similar to runestones and sagas, however:
Seers cast spells by holding a runestone in one hand and a staff in the other. They read the spell from the runestone and focus the magic through the staff.
Skalds cast spells by holding a runic focus and speaking the saga aloud.
Casting all types of magic takes a toll. After every spell, add a Fatigue to inventory, occupying one slot.
Given time and safety, you can enhance a spell (e.g., affecting multiple targets, increasing its power, etc.) without any additional cost.
If deprived or in danger, the Warden may require you to make either a Wit or Spi save (depending on the spellcaster) to avoid any ill-effects from casting.
Consequences of failure are on par with the intended effect, and may result in added Fatigue, the destruction of the runestone, the saga slipping from memory, injury, or death.
Only spells that cause Fatigue are subject to ill effects.
Items imbued with a magical spell or power. They do not cause Fatigue. Relics usually have a limited use, as well as a recharge condition.
A few examples:
Eye of Oðinn, 1 charge. Crystalline orb with brilliant red flaw. Grants a glimpse into a chosen realm. Recharge: Bathe the Eye in the tears of a god.
Mischief Horn, 3 charges. Delicate curved bronze horn. Blow to cause two random people within the sound of the horn to swap bodies for a day.
Mistletoe Dart, 1 charge. Vibrant leaves conceal a wickedly sharp thistle. When thrown, flies to any named target but lands harmlessly before them. Recharge: Witness a kiss of true love.
Skull Beacon, 1 charge. Charred and crumbling skull with a dim glimmer in the sockets. Glows brightly when held. Recharge: burn on a roaring bonfire.
Staff of Walking Weald, 1 charge. Crooked staff speckled with soft moss. Temporarily animates a plant or tree. Recharge: bury underneath the oldest tree in the forest for one week.
Many magical rings may be found but none of them should be used lightly.
Adventurers can wear up to two rings at a time, one on each hand.
A few examples:
Iron Ring. Dense ring wrought from blackened iron. Gain 1 additional defence but lose 10 speed.
Red Berserkr Ring. Crudely shaped bone ring with a glinting rough cut ruby. Re-roll 1s on damage dice for melee attacks but lose all defence bonus from armour.
Ring of the Mists. Exquisite Dwarven-crafted silver ring carved with undecipherable runes. Allows the bearer to travel between the realms of the living and the dead but draws the attention of untold horrors.
Sylva’s Ring. Delicate wooden ring entwined by sharp thorns. Gain 2 extra inventory slots but lose 1 vigour.
|All-father’s Eye||You can see through a magical floating eyeball that flies at your command|
|Armoured||Gain 2 points of defence|
|Beast Form||You and your possessions transform into a mundane animal|
|Cloak of Knives||Dozens of knives rotate around you, slashing anything that approaches for d8 damage; on your word they fly at a chosen target for 3d6 damage|
|Decoy||Manifest a spectral sound at a location of your choice|
|Detect Magic||Detect beings or objects imbued with magic|
|Disappear||Fade from normal sight|
|Elemental Wall||A straight wall of ice or fire 50ft long and 10ft high rises from the ground|
|Fade||Blend into the landscape, making detection more difficult|
|Fireball||Throw a ball of fire that causes d12 blast damage in a 30ft area|
|Gravity Shift||You can change the direction of gravity, but only for yourself|
|Haste||Move at double your normal speed and gain an extra action each turn|
|Illuminate||A floating light moves as you command|
|Knock||A nearby mundane or magical lock unlocks loudly|
|Mirror||Conjure a duplicate of yourself who mirrors your actions and movement|
|Poison Cloud||Dense green fog spreads from a chosen point, causing d4 damage to any living creature entering it|
|Read Mind||You can hear the surface thoughts of nearby creatures|
|Reveal||See invisible creatures or objects|
|Scry||You can see through the eyes of a creature touched earlier that day|
|Seiðr Shield||Raise a magical shield to negate all physical damage from the next attack|
|Seiðr Spear||Propel a spear of pure energy that strikes for d10 damage|
|Seiðr Volley||Flurry of magical arrows, striking creatures within 10ft for d6 blast damage|
|Shield Wall||A magical 30 ft dome of shields appears at a point you can see|
|Sleep||A creature you can see falls into a light sleep|
|Slow||Slows nearby enemies|
|Slow Fall||Slow your rate of fall and reduce fall damage|
|Spectacle||A clearly false but impressive illusion of your choice appears, under your control, up to the size of a palace and has full motion and sound|
|Swarm||You become a swarm of ravens, rats, or fish and can only be harmed by blast attacks|
|Ward||A silver circle 50ft across appears on the ground; one species of your choice cannot cross|
|Web||Your wrists shoot thick webbing|
|Charm||A creature you can see treats you as a friend|
|Command||A target obeys a single three-word command that does not cause it harm|
|Control Weather||You may alter the type of weather at will, but you do not otherwise control it|
|Fortune||Make your next save with advantage|
|Guidance||Ask the gods for guidance; they may not answer truthfully or at all|
|Heal||Restore 10 Res and clear the deprived condition|
|Homeward||Return to the last bonfire rested at|
|Justice||The next creature to hit you with a physical attack takes d12 magic damage|
|Laughter||Your words cause a creature to double over in uncontrollable laughter|
|Lightning Spear||Summon a crackling bolt of lightning that strikes for d8 damage|
|Magic Protection||Ignore up to 8 points of magic damage and gain advantage on magical saves|
|Pacify||A creature near you has an aversion to violence|
|Purify||Purge poison, toxic, or petrify|
|Raise Spirit||The spirit of a nearby corpse manifests and answers d4 questions|
|Rebirth||The next time you fail a critical damage save, regain full Res and clear 2 points of fatigue|
|Remove Curse||Purge the curse condition from a person or object|
|Replenishment||Restore 1 Res every turn for 6 turns|
|Resist Magic||Magical attacks against you are now made at damage disadvantage|
|Respite||Restore 1 lost ability point|
|Sanctuary||You and an enemy you can see are unable to attack for one turn|
|Sense Evil||Detect the presence of evil|
|Shatter||Your voice echoes with the sound of an earthquake, causing d8 damage to creatures and shattering delicate objects|
|Silence||No spells may be cast, even your own, in a 30ft area|
|Swaying Spear||Thunderous magical spear that strikes a target for d10 damage; attacks against dragons or giants are made with damage advantage|
|Temper Weapon||Imbue weapon with magic and enhance damage to d12|
|Thunderbolt||A column of magic energy that deflects attacks and does d10 blast damage|
8 Res, 1 Def, 11 Str, 8 Dex, 9 Wit, 6 Spi, 20ft, spear/axe (d6)
10 Res, 2 Def, 13 Str, 10 Dex, 10 Wit, 12 Spi, 25ft, hammer (d8)
8 Res, 1 Def, 8 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Wit, 12 Spi, 40ft, dual swords (d6)
20 Res, 4 Def, 18 Str, 12 Dex, 13 Wit, 14 Spi, 25ft, flaming sword (d10)
Emotions dictate strength and colour of visible flame
18 Res, 3 Def, 16 Str, 12 Dex, 10 Wit, 14 Spi, 20ft, broad axe (d10)
20 Res, 2 Def, 16 Str, 16 Dex, 16 Wit, 14 Spi, 40ft, bite (d8)
Balances on one leg to slash with the other
4 Res, 2 Def, 12 Str, 6 Dex, 6 Wit, 10 Spi, 20ft, claw (d4)
Shunned by all for their brutish nature, even their green kin
3 Res, 10 Str, 8 Dex, 9 Wit, 4 Spi, 20ft, claw (d4)
8 Res, 10 Str, 8 Dex, 4 Wit, 4 Spi, 30ft, spear (d6)
6 Res, 8 Str, 12 Dex, 4 Wit, 4 Spi, 40ft, spikes (d6), roll
16 Res, 14 Str, 10 Dex, 4 Wit, 4 Spi, 20ft, greatsword (d10)
10 Res, 1 Def, 12 Str, 6 Dex, 5 Wit, 12 Spi, 15ft, slam (d6)
12 Res, 1 Def, 14 Str, 10 Dex, 10 Wit, 12 Spi, 20ft, club (d8)
18 Res, 14 Str, 12 Dex, 9 Wit, 8 Spi, 30ft, bite (d12)
One of the sons of Fenrir, filled with hunger and vengeance towards men
4 Res, 9 Str, 10 Dex, 4 Wit, 8 Spi, 40ft, bite (d4)
Attuned to the rhythm of nature and can sense those that disrupt the balance
|Á||is like “ou” in “house”, “about” and “shout”|
|Ð||is like “th” in “feather”, “father” and “that”, but as the last letter of a word it is like “th” in|
|É||same as English “yay”|
|Í||like an English “ee” and the “i” in “Maria” and the “y” in “diary”|
|Ó||is like “o” in “sole” and like “oa” in “goat” and “soap”|
|Ú||like English “oo” as in “zoo”|
|Ý||exactly like Icelandic “í”, it’s only a matter of spelling|
|Þ||like English “th” in “thunder”, “theatre” and “thong”|
|Æ||is like the name of the letter “i” in English or the sound of the letters “ai” in the words “Thai food”. Hi/hæ & bye/bæ are the same in English and Icelandic.|
|Ö||like German “ö” and English “u” in “urgent” or “fur”. Equivalent to English “e” as in “bed”, but with the lips rounded.|
Please note, modern Icelandic is close to Old Norse in structure but different in pronunciation. For simplicity, the Icelandic spelling and pronunciation is used for non-English words in this text.