Wyrd

Wyrd is the Norse term for one’s personal destiny, deriving from the name of the Norn who weaves the future, Urðr. The Norse do not view wyrd as the Orientals do Karma, where one’s destiny is entirely dependent on one’s own actions, nor do they view it as the Hellenes do Fate, where one’s destiny is entirely predestined. Rather, the Norns weave a wyrd for each person, but with time and effort one’s wyrd can be changed: the more you accept your lot in life the more you tend to follow the path laid out for you, while constantly pushing your boundaries, exploring new places, and trying new things can allow you to put off your destiny or even rewrite it.

This concept is represented in this campaign by a system of four attributes on two axes, similar to alignment but not mapping to it and based on the Affiliation rules. These four attributes are those exemplified by the greatest Norse heroes; exemplifying them oneself can allow one to emulate their legendary deeds and allow one to shape one’s own destiny to a greater degree.

Legendary Attributes

The first axis of wyrd is Virðing, or Honor, representing a character’s personal rectitude in accordance with Norse values. Your honor is divided into two attributes:

  • Drengskapr, or Nobility: persistence through hardship, forthrightness in speech, serving as a good moral influence on the youth of the clan, etc.
  • Lomskhet, or Guile: finding alternative solutions, underhandedness in battle, tricking and humilitating one’s enemies, etc.

The Norse view of honor is that it applies first to one’s family, then to one’s clan, then to the Norse, and then to non-Norse allies. A guileful character will gain renown for outwitting a Saxon raider to give his allies an advantage, but will be punished for playing a trick on another clanmate that embarrasses or weakens him; a noble character will be shunned for breaking his word to his jarl, but breaking an oath to a Frankish duke would only be punished if it would likely result in future problems for his clan.

The second axis of wyrd is Dyrkaði, or Glory, representing how much a character stands out from his fellows. Your glory is divided into two attributes:

  • Frækinn, or Valor: singlehandedly winning a conflict, taking on all challenges, leading from the front, etc.
  • Sviksemi, or Subtlety: staying in the background, choosing one’s battles, advising from the rear, etc.

The Norse view of glory is that one must not have too much or too little courage. A valorous character must be able to back up his bluster and boasts, or he will bring ruin to his clan; a character who avoids accomplishing great deeds is not subtle, he is a coward.

Tracking Wyrd

A character gains or loses points in each attribute based on his actions and inherent traits, and can have positive or negative totals in each trait. Every character starts at 0 in each attribute at the start of the game, adjusted by certain factors which are described in the next section. One-time modifiers apply constantly as long as the triggering conditions are in effect; multiple-use bonuses or penalties apply each time the character does whatever triggers that modifier, though a character cannot gain the same modifier more than three times.

When wyrd values reach a certain threshold, they increase or decrease the character’s score in that attribute, according to the following table:

Points Score
-15 or below -2
-14 to -5 -1
-4 to 5 0
6 to 15 1
16 to 25 2
26 to 35 3
36 to 45 4
46 to 55 5

One’s wyrd score has two effects. First, one’s score applies as a bonus or penalty to certain rolls and has certain social repercussions; see Reputation for details. Second, one gains wyrd tokens depending on one’s score in each attribute and can spend them to produce certain effects; see Legendary Deeds for details.

Gaining and Losing Wyrd

Each time a character gains a level, he adds +4 to the higher attribute in each pair (Nobility/Guile and Valor/Subtlety) and adds +2 to his choice of one of the other two attributes. At the end of each tiding, he subtracts -1 point from each attribute. A character with the huskarl background begins play with a 3 in each attribute instead of a 0.

The below are the factors that impact one’s wyrd score; the one-time modifiers are a complete list, but the miltiple-use modifiers are merely examples and by no means comprehensive.

Nobility

One-Time Modifier
Is of the Jarl background +2
Has access to the Discipline or Empathy skill groups +1/group
Has 5 or more ranks in one of the above groups +1/group
Has expert proficiency with 2 Occupation proficiencies +1
Has expert proficiency with 1 rare Occupation proficiency +1
Has an animal companion, familiar, cohort, or similar +2
Has access to the rune pair of Hearth or Stability +1/pair
Is a priest of Forseti, Freyr, or Ægir +2
Possesses any sort of ability relating to defending or moving an ally +2
Is a male able to use magic of any sort -2
Has a Wisdom of 11 or lower -3
Is of the Utlendr background -6
Multiple-Use Modifier
Brings word of the gods to those who do not know them +1
Renders aid to a neutral party with no expectation of reward +1
Builds a shrine to one or more gods in an area without any +2
Brings order to a wilderness region +2
Brings an oathbreaker or outcast to justice +3
Attends an Alþing +3
Refuses aid to a creatue when doing so is feasible -2
Defaces any symbols of the gods or attacks their servants -3
Associates with a known oathbreaker or outcast -4
Disobeys a direct order from a jarl -6
Place one’s word to an outsider over one’s duties to one’s clan -8
Slays a clanmate outside of an honor duel -15

Guile

One-Time Modifier
Is of the Stigandr background +2
Has access to the Acrobatics or Deception skill groups +1/group
Has 5 or more ranks in one of the above groups +1/group
Has expert proficiency with 2 Knowledge proficiencies +1
Has expert proficiency with 1 rare Knowledge proficiency +1
Has a caster level (or equivalent) of 6 or higher +2
Has access to the rune pair of Fortune or Prosperity +1/pair
Is a priest of Odin, Bragi, or Angrboda +2
Possesses any sort of luck- or reroll-related ability +2
Has a Dexterity of 11 or lower -3
Is of the Karl background -6
Multiple-Use Modifier
Avoids a battle entirely via trickery +1
Humiliates a rival or enemy +1
Uncovers a hidden or previous unknown piece of knowledge +2
Identifies a major weakness of a clan enemy or rival +2
Singlehandedly defeats an enemy through superior preparation +3
Comes up with a clever plan to bypass a major obstacle +3
Gets caught lying or obviously fails to deceive someone -2
Advocate or carry out a brute-force solution to a problem -3
Deliberately conceals knowledge or a discovery from the clan -4
Humiliates a clanmate or harms them through trickery -6
Gets caught breaking a rule or law of the clan -8
Directly cause a jarl or the clan to lose power or influence -15

Valor

One-Time Modifier
Is of the Karl background +2
Has access to the Athletics or Empathy skill groups +1/group
Has 5 or more ranks in one of the above groups +1/group
Has expert proficiency with at least 2 Weapon proficiencies +1
Has expert proficiency with at least 1 rare Weapon proficiency +1
Has a base attack bonus of +6 or higher +2
Has access to the rune pair of Power or Excellence +1/pair
Is a priest of Tyr, Heimdall, or Thrym +2
Possesses any sort of enhancing aura or similar sustained ability +2
Slays a creature of at least Large size without any help +3
Is a female warrior of any sort -2
Has a Strength of 11 or lower -3
Is of the Þulr background -6
Multiple-Use Modifier
Protects an innocent from harm +1
Frees a clanmate from captivity or thrallhood +1
Holds a position in battle against odds of two to one or worse +2
Kills 10 or more creatures from another world in one combat +2
Slays a creature of at least Large size alone +3
Saves a clanmate from certain death +3
Is captured or imprisoned -2
Allows an attack on one’s clan or allies to go unavenged -3
Charges recklessly into battle and leaves a clanmate vulnerable -4
Leaves an ally behind when retreating from battle -6
Surrenders in battle -8
Causes the deaths of a warband or a large number of clanmates -15

Subtlety

One-Time Modifier
Is of the Þulr background +2
Has access to the Interaction or Perception skill groups +1/group
Has 5 or more ranks in one of the above groups +1/group
Has expert proficiency with 2 Region proficiencies +1
Has expert proficiency with 1 rare Region proficiency +1
Has 10 ranks in at least 7 skills +2
Has access to the rune pair of Cycles or Vitality +1/pair
Is a priest of Viðar, Ullr, or Hel +2
Possesses Hide in Plain Sight, Darkstalker, or any similar ability +2
Gains a master proficiency during downtime +3
Has an Intelligence of 11 or lower -3
Is of the Jarl background -6
Multiple-Use Modifier
Allows an ally to kill an enemy by disabling it +1
Uses Aid Another to make it possible for an ally to succeed +1
Slays a lone creature during a surprise round +2
Serves as an instructor during downtime +2
Helps win a battle without harming a single enemy +3
Carries out a long-term plan successfully +3
Interferes with an ally’s intended actions -2
Is ganged up on and rendered unconscious in battle -3
Rushes into battle without making appropriate preparations -4
Refuses to heal, enhance, or otherwise aid an ally -6
Allows an ally to die when he could have been saved -8
Allows one’s allies to die or fail due to one’s refusal to act -15

Wyrd

Saga of the Northlands PsychicTheurge