Tabletop RPG Podcast and Roleplaying Resources

Category: Dwellers

As the Norn(GM), I like to have some amount of character background to work into the story.  So, I give my players an extra level if they type up a character background.  Here’s where those backgrounds will be posted.  New ones will be added as dwellers die and get replaced with new adventurous souls.  We all really enjoy doing these and hope you enjoy reading them.
 
First, an important note of what a saga is, which one of my players sent to me as a prelude to his story…
TERM SAGA
The term saga originates from the Norse saga (pl. sögur), and refers to (1) “what is said, statement” or (2) “story, tale, history”. It is cognate with the English word saw (as in old saw), and the German Sage. Icelandic sagas are based on oral traditions and much research has focused on what is real and what is fiction within each tale. Scholars once believed that these sagas were transmitted orally from generation to generation until scribes wrote them down in the 1200s. However, most scholars now believe the sagas were conscious artistic creations, based on both oral and written tradition.

Ragnar

RAGNAR

This is the truth of what lead to Ragnar’s trial and banishment from Iceland…

The Death of the Godi Bjorn

 Godi Rashemon of Surt:
“Do you understand your mission?” asked Rashemon
“Yes,”my hired assassin answered,”but I don’t understand why.”
Because Ragnar must not be in Iceland when Ragnarok comes. The
prophecy must not come true. Framing Ragnar for the murder of a godi
would lead to him either being killed or banished from the island. True,
if he were banished, his sentence would be over before Ragnarok, but he
could be killed, and maybe he would decide not to come back even if he
wasn’t. Of course, the assassin could know nothing of this.
“That is not for you to ask or know. All that matters is that you
kill the godi and leave only Ragnar as a witness. Any other witnesses
must be killed.”
With no one to testify but Ragnar, my position of power would make
it easy for me to get him convicted.

 Ragnar:
Godi Bjorn of Odin had requested a meeting with me, and he was not
to be turned down. We were to meet at the local inn, the “Halls of
Valhalla Inn & Buffet.” I walked into the inn, and saw him at the bar. I
walked over to him.
“Greetings Godi Bjorn. What did you wish to speak about?”
“I fear for my life. I was hoping I could hire you as a bodyguard.”
“No.”
“What do you mean, no? Why not?”
“I will not live my life following an old man around to be his
enforcer. I live to help the people of Iceland. I am needed to soothe
the blacksmith’s burn or fix the woodsman’s broken leg. I work miracles
of healing, not of pain or death. I will not do it.”I turned to leave.
“Wait!”I turned back.”Let me show you something, I think it will
change your mind.”
I followed the old man to his room. He told me to wait, and went
into a side room. A minute later I heard him scream. It was loud,
surprised, and scared. Abruptly it was mangled and muffled, then ended,
punctuated by a thud. I ran into the room to see him on the ground,
stabbed in the throat. Then I noticed the blood flowing from his back
and ear, he had been stabbed there as well. In his hand was a letter.
It read: Bjorn,
I have foreseen that your life will be threatened
soon. I have seen that the only man that can save you is
Ragnar, but he might also kill you for asking for his help, so be
careful. Still I think it is better to ask and face
possible death as opposed to keeping silent and facing
certain doom.
Your friend, Rashemon

Karm the Assassin:
I followed Ragnar into the inn. He walked over to the godi, and
they began to talk. The conversation had barely begun when they started
to argue. Perfect, that would make it easier to frame him. Then Ragnar
started to leave.
“Wait,” the godi yelled.
Ragnar turned back to the godi who told him something to make him
stay. They got up and left to one of the rooms, and I followed at an
inconspicuous distance.
There are many tales of people who can turn into a wolf or a bear.
You hear them all the time, and they are often true. However, I would
bet that you don’t hear about people turning into poisonous snakes. That
is because I am very careful about not leaving witnesses.
As I turned into a snake, my clothes and possessions turned to
scales. My arms and legs became one with my body, and I fell to the
ground. I grew longer and thinner, and there were soft crackles and pops
as my spine elongated and other bones disappeared.
It was over in a blink of the eye, and I slid under the door to
their room. The godi finished saying something to Ragnar and went into a
side room. I followed to him rummaging through a desk. He pulled out a
letter and shut the drawer.
Now was the time. I came out of snake form and stabbed him in the
base of the back, near the spine. A miss. He screamed, and I stabbed him
again, this time in the throat. I stabbed him once more, this time in
the ear, a fatal blow. Then I dropped the dagger, turned into a snake,
and slipped away out the window. In no time at all there would be plenty
of people in the room. No doubt they would find Ragnar over the body,
and the murder weapon nearby.

Grimnir “The Varangian”

GRIMNIR “THE VARANGIAN” 

What remains of Grímnirs saga Þórbrandssonar is fragmentary at best.  Most of the saga takes place before the dark days of Fimbulwinter.  These years saw him grow from a young man into a seasoned warrior.  Unfortunately, most of these chapters are lost to us. 

  We know he adventured far afield.  From Norway to Sweden, from Sweden to Russia and finally he found himself in the Emperor’s service in Constantinople.  It is from this time that he became known as “the Varangian.” 

   Most of what we have left detail his travels home and his attempt to reunite with his family in Iceland once Fimbulwinter descended.  Who does not recall the famed names of his colorful companions on that fabled odyssey? Sigurd Spirit-Speaker, Thorvald the Undertaker, Ragnar the Wanderer, and Ǽstrid the Many-Faced are some of literature’s greatest figures.

  But theirs is the end of the tale.  Our saga opens on Grímnir’s coming of age in Iceland…

Chapter 1: Of Þórbrand and his sons.

In the fallow years after Harald Fairhair’s reign, Norway fell upon dark days.  Harald united Norway, and his sons tore it asunder.  It was during the days of Hákon Aðalsteinsfóstri, whom some hight Haakon the Good, that a young jarl who refused to worship Haakon’s crucified god fled Norway for the freedom of Iceland.

He was hight Þórbrand Grímsson.  Iceland he found fairly settled.  There he took to him a wife whose father worshiped in the Old Ways.  This man was hight Kettil Asbjornsson, and had been a neighboring jarl in Norway, whom Erik Bloodaxe had earlier expelled from the land.

Þórbrand Grímsson and Svanhild Kettilsdóttir had three sons and two daughters who survived childhood.  The eldest son was hight Hrafn, the second son Grímnir, and the baby brother was hight Bjorn.  Their sisters were hight Refdis and Álfdis.

Þórbrand and Svanhild settled along the Þjorsa, under the angry eye of Hekla.  Kettil kept his farm along the Laxa, not far away.  It is in the sixteenth summer of the second son that our story truly starts.  Kettil was aged and his claim as goði contested by a man hight Þorkell.

   Now, Bera Þorkellsdóttir was a beauty and Hrafn was be-smitten.  Hrafn’s wooing won her heart, and secretly the lovers stole away along the Laxa.  Bera’s brother Bard followed them in their flight as far afield as Flói.  Within sight of the sea, Bard slew Hrafn and dragged Bera, beating her until she was barely breathing, back to their homestead.

   Þorkell henceforth forbade Bera from leaving the homestead.  But Bera had a handmaid, a thrall hight Ljota.  This slave she sent to Þórbrand that he might know what became of Hrafn.  On her arrival at Þórbrandsstaðir, Ljota first found Grímnir without.  He recognized her at once and ushered her in that she might tell her tale to Þórbrand.

     When Þórbrand heard how his eldest had died his big heart broke and beat no more.  Thus it fell to Grímnir to avenge his dead and to defend his family’s honor.   From above the door he took his father’s war-axes: one bright hightStjarna, the other black-hafted hight Sveðja.

    Hot-headed from youth and heartbreak, Grímnir gathered to him only those thralls that were near and set off for Þorkellsvatn where Þorkell made his home.  As the sun set, Grímnir’s band spied Bard alone on the road alongside the river Hvita, headed home.  Quickly they caught up to him and Grímnir called Bard out.

   Grímnir challenged Bard to hólmgang three days hence where the road to Þingvellir met the road from Mosfell.  Bard boasted that he could beat Grímnir and his band of thralls on the spot, so why wait?  But Grímnir would not be baited and bade Bard goodbye.

  Thrice Sköll chased Sól across the sky and thrice Hati sought Máni.  On the third day, at the appointed time and place, Grímnir stood awaiting Bard.  His little brother Bjorn was there to hand him his shields.  In all twenty men, friends, cousins and thralls, stood witness.

   The greater part of the day passed and Bard did not show.  Just as the party was coming to believe that Bard must be declared niðingr, an outlaw and a coward, Bard band was seen cresting a hill to the east.  Bard had brought some forty of his father’s men to bear witness of the hólmgang.

   According to custom, Grímnir recited the rules of the hólmgang.  The two laid their cloaks down and the lines were drawn around them.  The hazels were posted and each man stood upon his cloak.  Grímnir held Stjarna in his right hand and Sveðja dangled from his left wrist, as that hand held his shield.

   Swart Bard had brought a mighty brand, a sword sharp and keen.  He too held a hólmgang shield, and bade Grímnir begin.  Fair Grímnir reminded Bard that as Grímnir had issued the challenge, the first blow belonged to Bard.

   Bard swung his sword across and down and sheared half of Grímnir’s soft shield away.  Bard smiled and taunted the youth, but Bjorn was there with Grímnir’s new shield and it was Bard’s turn to nurse a numb hand.  Stjarna stopped the braggart cold, almost knocking him from off his cloak.

    Bard’s next blow shattered Grímnir’s shield, but Grímnir kept his footing.  Grímnir waited not for Bjorn, but brought his axe up and under catching the crotch and splitting asunder his foeman’s stomach.  Bard’s kinsmen gathered him up and bore him home, his corpse to bury.

   Grímnir thought justice served and to Þórbrandsstaðir he returned.  Mighty Hekla grumbled, and Grímnir knew Hel had new company.  Now Kettil Asbjornsson, Grímnir’s grandfather was an ancient man and he died before that summer’s Alþing, leaving young Grímnir head of his family.

   Grímnir was no goði, and Þorkell had an axe to grind.  On the road to the Alþing, Þorkell waylayed Grímnir’s men, killing many of his freemen and scattering those who remained.  When Grímnir arrived, he had but the boy Bjorn and a batch of thralls.  None of whom could stand for him in court and counter the complaint that Þorkell brought against him.

   Grímnir was accused of ambushing Bard and murdering him maliciously.  Þorkell was a powerful man, and no one dared put lie to his outrageous tale.  But try as he might, Þorkell could not have Grímnir declared full outlaw.  Instead Grímnir was made fjörbaugsgarður (a lesser outlaw) and forced to flee from Iceland for three years.

   Grímnir put Þórbrandsstaðir, his mother Svanhild, brother Bjorn, and sisters Refdis and Álfdis in the care of his young cousin Kari Kettilsson and left upon a longship for Norway.

   A number of subsequent pages of the Heimsvallabók (our only source of the chapters that preceed Fimbulwinter) were torn from the book in ancient days for reasons that do not come down to us.

Sigurd the Rune Master

SIGURD THE RUNE MASTER

The Saga of SigurSigurd picd son of Sigil, Rune master, Defender of the Weak, Bearer of “Gunthar” the spear made from the fragment of “Odin’s Spear – Gungnir”Born in Jamtaland (p33) before Fimbulwinter when Jamtaland was a wild frontier and habitable.  His birth father ÅSBJÖRN (Meaning Divine Bear) was a rune priest, he had long brown hair with a long beard.  Some said his soul had come back from Vahalla and he had mastered the power of rune magic and the ability to transform into a bear.  His birth mother was  Göndul (Meaning wand wielder) was a woman of incredible beauty with flowing blonde hair and strong lines.  She was Seithkona and quite a free spirit, who was known as a wise woman.  She was also an expert in magic of death and the dead, balancing this, she also worshipped Freya (the chief of the Valkyries) and respected the dead once they have fallen..When Sigurd was only 2 years of age, giants believed to come from Norrland came to raid and destroy the frontier of Jamtaland.  Both ÅSBJÖRN and Göndul were charged by the Jarl with the defense of the northern boarder.   During a two month set of battles they were slain but bought the Jarl time to levy some more troops to defend Jamtaland.  Sadly only ÅSBJÖRN was believed to have a warriors funeral as he died early in the campaign.  Many who survived said they saw his soul leave the funeral pyre at the hands of a Valkyrie.  Göndul however perished some days latter when she single handedly faced a horde of 10 giants, she gave her life so that the garrison could retreat back to Jamtaland.  He body was never found.  Sigurd secretly hopes to see his mother in Valhalla some day and aspires to ascend to see his family.All that returned from the battle of the Giants was the “Spear of his father “Gunthar”.  A spear which Sigurd carries even today in memory of family and in worship of Odin…The Jarl “Toberian” took the young Sigurd into his family to be raised.  At the age of 7 a wandering Skald Sigil (Meaning Seal or Sun) a warrior priest of Odin came to see Toberian and claimed he has seen an Omen that if Sigurd is raised in Jamtaland he will die and he also secretly told the Jarl that many of his other people were at risk.  Toberian respects the Skald and his prophesy and allows Sigurd to go with Frode as his assistant.  (Privately (only between Sigil and the Jarl)- The Sun of Odin came to tell the Jarl to leave with his people, but the Jarl did NOT believe fully, when the Fimbulwinter finally comes most all of the inhabitants of Jamtaland perish, so the Omen was NOT just for Sigurd but for many of the people, Jarl Toberian did not want to believe so he ONLY allowed the boy Sigurd to go at Sigil’s insistence).Sigil was a good adopted father for Sigurd.  At first he started to teach him the ways of a Skald, but this was not natural for the boy, then he realized his natural talents were in Rune magic and everywhere Sigil travelled he got the boy training from the local Rune Masters until at the age of 16, the boy had travelled much of the lands and was a Rune Master in his own right…

Sigil and Sigurd, when he reached age 16 parted ways as Sigil said the boy is a man and should make his own way.  Sigurd carried “Gunthar” the spear of his birth father and worships the all father Odin.  He had hoped in his youth to be able to speak with his dead father, and studied diligently.  But has realized he must get into Valhalla to see his parents. So he is continually seeking acts of Heroism to get the attention of the Valkyries, he does NOT fear death and only seeks to aid the week.  After 15 years, Sigurd heard that Sigil had passed in a glorious battle in Iceland.  Sigurd hopes that Sigil also was selected by the Valkyries.

Sigurd has been travelling for over 29 year (now at the age of 45 years old).  His life is filled with deeds of good and kindness, of helping the living, commune with their lost love ones and spreading the word of the All Father…  Now that Fimbulwinter has come, he knows he had little time to die as a hero to see his fathers and hopefully his mother in Vahalla and fight by Odin’s side to slay the Giants to free Midguard from the icy grip..

Look forward to the Heroic Deeds of Sigurd and his Glorious Death!!!

BACKGROUND ON FREYA
Freya is quite independent, being chief of the Valkyries, the demi-goddesses who select the noble and heroic dead and carry them to the Realm of the Gods. Some of the legends say that a quarter or even a half of the dead go to Freya. She is patroness of women who attain wisdom, status, and power, since the Valkyries had been ordinary women, then priestesses, and after being Valkyr became Norns, the Great Goddesses who weave the fates and histories of people and of nations.

Freya is the Daughter of Time, as well as the patron and protectress of the human race. On her breast she wears “the jewel whose power cannot be resisted,”

 

Thorvald, Son of Snaggi

THORVALD, SON OF SNAGGI

Thorvald, son of Snaggi, son of Thorbrecht, son of Thorgeld, son of Johan, has a heavy heart and a tale of woe.I met my bride to be on a sunny June day, just after a beautiful snow, with skies as clear and blue as could be asked for. But no matter how blue and beautiful and wide the skies, they were no match for the blue of my bride’s eyes, nor the beauty of her face, or the grandeur of her life.Our’s was a love like new fallen snow before man nor creature sets a print upon it.  Pristine, unmolested, pure and sparkling.I was the son of a merchant, son of a good hard working man in Gotland. We had coin.  We lived life with a certain measure of ease and comfort.  But we owned no one, and no one owned us. We spoke our minds, read books, practiced fighting in the Town militia, and lived.As my bride and my’s wedding day approached, she came up with the idea of visiting a fortune teller to see about our future together.  Confident in a good outcome, we walked hand in hand to the old crone’s hut, laid down two denarius, and asked the old women how many children we would have.She said none.We asked her how many years together as man and wife we would have.She said none.

We asked her how many months, days, even hours we would have together as man and wife.

She said none.

My bride wept.  I became angry, turned over the old crone’s table and stormed out of her yurt. As we left, the old witch pointed a finger at me, and laughing, said that my bride and I would never part, and never be as one.

I dismissed this as the ravings of an old women, and prepared for our wedding day.  But my bride held on to the prophesy as one holds onto a cold.  It began to eat at her.  It cast a cloud.  But forward we went.

On our wedding day, the skies were blue, snow had just fallen, and everyone in the Town who was anyone came to watch us be joined.  My bride was happy, and the cloud seemed to have lifted.

Our cleric of Odin began the ritual, and I said my vows.  As you, the reader, would predict, clouds began to form off in the horizon.  I admonished the cleric to speak faster, but his cadence remained constant.  As it came to my bride’s vows, she began.  She smiled, and the world was new and fresh and nothing could be wrong.  Except for me.  I was wrong. The world is a terrible place.

The winds picked up, lightning from Thor’s hammer crashed amongst us, and my bride’s voice faltered. Suddenly, three spirits whirled out of the maelstrom, and the town began to fight them.  Sword on sword, screams of terror, it was an epic battle.  A battle for the tables of Valhalla.  Not a man of the Town paused, and soon, the three spirits were but one.  My father advanced on the last spirit, who revealed itself in the visage of my mother, Helga Springton.  My father had not seen her living for a score, having died in my birth.  He hesitated, and that was all the spirit needed to end my father Snaggi.  Then the spirit turned to me.

I charged.  I was vengeful.  All of my score years with my father came pouring out in my sword.  I wailed on the spirit, and had it down to its last. I was not to be denied.  As a last desperate act, the spirit caused a cloud burst of swirling smoke and darkness to envelop us.  But I would not be denied.  I spied the spirit’s shape in the cloud, and drove my sword into its midsection.  The cloud dissipated in an instant, and the spirit held in front of it, in long beastly talons, my bride.  The spirit had used my bride as a shield, and I had slain my bride.  With her last breath, my bride had a look of sadness, or despair, as if asking why I had harmed her.  Then the light of the world went out.

Still grasping my brides now still corpse was the old fortune teller, with mirth in her eyes and laughter in her throat. She pointed to my bride, my light of the world, my Ingrid, and said the spirits could not permit such a pure love to exist in the world, as it would encourage mankind to hope and strive.  That could not be allowed.  She then reminded my that my Ingrid and I would never part, and then the spirit vanished, with a trail of laughter.

My Ingrid and I have not parted these last three years, nor will we ever.

Thus is the first verse of the Song of Thorvald, son of Snaggi.

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