- Mar 2001 -
225 Posts

A Frost Barbarian Village

In the "reverse-earth" which we know as Oerth, World of the City of Greyhawk, the Frost Barbarians take inspiration from the Vikings of our world. So, in designing a home base - that is, a home village - for the players, I look to Viking culture for an idea of what should be there.

Of course, the needs of the party and game system also must be taken into account. From a very basic level, we need

* A leader of the village, possibly a mayor, but certainly a representative of the local (feudal?) lord

* A local priest - very likely of the Frost Barbarian pantheon, rather than of one particular deity. As I get older, I get more in favour of panthestic worship for the general population. Perhaps the priest is more in favour of the nature/weather deities (as this will be a farming village), but he represents them all.

* A village wizard, of 5th(!) level or thereabouts, who can act as the wise man/sage of the village, as well as being the mentor of any magic-user characters; within Viking tradition he'd also act as the runecarver.

* A village militia, to guard the village and go on raiding parties

In such a small village, the idea of a thief (per D&D) doesn't work so well. (Heh - maybe I should go with oD&D), but a thief could come with travelling performers or the like, or have apprenticed with such.

* A general store

* A blacksmith

An interesting part of Viking culture is that they kept slaves; such also goes with my conception of the Great Kingdom to the south, so having the Frost Barbarians keeping slaves will certainly make the campaign different to those that have taken place before.

* Also, we can add a Skald to the list of interesting characters of the village. 

* And, as this will be a coastal village, a ship-builder

Talking about ships, it occurs to me that whatever trouble the group get into, one must ask why they don't just get on the nearest ship and raid the lands of the folk to the south? Attempting to find an explanation for this, I hit on the idea that a disaster has hit their home village: the ship (or ships) that it sent on the last raid were lost, along with the men who crewed them. This would therefore put the village in a very difficult place, with many of its menfolk lost to it. The PCs, being of an age where they've just achieved adulthood (after the ships left) would now be the chief fighters of the village... with all the responsibility that implies, and the adventure opportunities it creates.

Viking culture was made up of the Danes, the Norse and the Swedes. Which correspond to the Frost Barbarians? Either Sweden or Denmark would correspond to the position of the Frost Barbarians: southwards, with likely better agricultural land than those of their northern neighbours. 

One particular contradiction to keep in mind is that of the popular view of Vikings (and their Greyhawk equivalents), and the actual reality of the Vikings as traders - yes, raids would occur, but trading voyages as well.

So, at some point in the future we have the possibility of the PCs being involved in a raiding party, or as guards on a merchant voyage. For the time being, we'll look at them in a (somewhat) impoverished town... and, nearby, a dungeon that possesses gold and silver that can get them out of their situation. And, furthermore, rumours of a large white dragon... the game is Dungeons & Dragons, after all!

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