Personas of Iceland

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Personas of Iceland
« on: August 20, 2010, 04:42:38 PM »
Initially, I intended SotI to be a game of its own. I was struggling with how to recreate these archetypes in game mechanics when the AW playtest dropped in my lap and I saw the light, kinda. Initially, I just tried to rewrite the original playbooks, but something was bugging me, I forget what exactly. I started from scratch. I believe it was Jason Morningstar (the expert on all things Sagas) that pointed out to me that it was probably impossible to have a thoroughly gender-agnostic archetype for this kind of game, so for the next iteration I decided to break them down according to the way roles were originally divided in viking society, sort of.

My sensibilities were sort of offended at this. I am no fan of gender divisions, but I was determined to stick close to history and the source materials (the list of my mediography is at the end of the working doc).

So, now we have, on the female side:
The Grandmother - envisioned as the kind of elderly, strong woman that takes up all the business as head of the family in a situation where the man is dead or absent. History has plenty of these, they kick ass.

The Seidkona - the witch, you can't go without one. Bit of a recluse, mysterious, maybe an old crone, maybe a bit of a femme fatale. People are afraid of her.

The Shieldmaiden - A woman with a sword, what else do you want me to say. There are quite a few of them in the sagas, actually. The vikings possibly had the most gender-equal army in the middle ages.

Young Woman - Mostly based on the female character in Hrafninn flygur, I wanted to cover the archetype of the celtic woman, of which there were plenty in Iceland. Vikings took lots of wives, willing or unwilling in Ireland, and they brought a largely suppressed but significant cultural element with them.

The woman's skill, in the source material, is mostly her ability to manipulate, they are excellent at prodding men into action where they are unable to. This would leave them as a sort of passive character who acts through others, so I opted for a more unorthodox approach and gave them all pretty serious abilities for laying down some smack. Which is not to say they aren't able to spin men around their fingers as well.

I'm pretty pleased with all of these character books, except with the shieldmaiden's, which I haven't written yet. I'll probably revise eventually. I'll have to take another hard look at how the Maestro'D, Skinner and Hardholder use their effects on people and their handle on resources to do stuff.

As for men...
The Freeman - just the ordinary everyman. I though it would be silly not to have a playbook for one, even if they are not all that interesting. What's cool about these guys is that in Iceland, people opted not to have nobility. So these people were a kind of anarchist, pioneering entrepreneurs. I'll probably redo this one, mostly taking a look at the Operator.

Chieftain - not having nobility doesn't mean there wasn't a need for rulers. But I wanted to go a more religious way with the chieftain, not unrelated to the fact that the title of Godi pretty much means both a chieftain and a priest. Since the pre-AW drafts of the game I wanted to have an interplay between the old religion and christianity and model mechanically why the later came to uproot the former (but leave the choice to the players). The Godi playbook is part of that.

The Viking - well duh. Not much to say here except that Buliwyf in The 13th Warrior (and Beowulf in general) was an inspiration here, even if anachronistic.

The Wanderer - probably my personal favourite, although I haven't yet figured how to make this character do all the stuff I want him to do. Heavily, heavily inspired by the myth of Odin, the Gestur ("Guest") chracter in Hrafninn flygur and the One-Eye character in Valhalla Rising, this nameles outsider is probably meant to be to SotI what the Battlebabe is to AW, a pin defining the third dimension.

« Last Edit: August 20, 2010, 04:44:38 PM by Gregor Vuga »

Re: Personas of Iceland
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 09:17:07 AM »
One of the things I like about this game is the complex and separate biologically mandated roles. I do think it would be good if there was a more succinct name for the 'young woman' option. In the source material, she's 'The ____' <--what goes here? 'Maiden' perhaps?