Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Devil in the Details: Alfar Berserkers

The Devil is in the Details has grown on me since I first saw it in Fight On!

I generally don't like character background tables or mechanics.  Mostly because I want chargen to be very fast. And with minimal steps/choices so newbs aren't overwhelmed.  I wouldn't make these tables a required or even suggested part of character creation.

To me the true value in these lists lie in how they concisely convey a bunch of background and flavor to the reader.  Whether that reader is a player trying to get a grasp on the campaign world or me at a later date wondering what the hell I was thinking...

Here is my entry for Alfar Berserker.  These are Basic D&D/LL style race and class are combined.  "Alfar Berserker" is the class, there are no Dwarf Berserkers or Human Berserkers.  All Alfar share the Many Alfar table.

Many Alfar (roll 1d20 three times)
  1. Adventure due to a death wish and desire to die "young and happy".
  2. Would rather die then let a slight or insult stand.
  3. Have been outlawed by their city-states.
  4. Will not wear the color red (blood color tempts weapons to strike).
  5. Have synesthesia.
  6. Are exiled and seek to return honor to their name/clan.
  7. Believe today is a good day to die.
  8. View humans and halfmen as out of control animals in need of frequent culling.
  9. Believe if you can't keep me from taking your stuff, then it's not really your stuff, is it?
  10. Suffer from narcissism.
  11. Claim other worlds exist.
  12. Believe "Loosing" is dishonorable. Cheating, dirty fighting, using unfair odds, etc in order to win is not.
  13. Appear androgynous to humans and halfmen.
  14. Proudly display their clan via distinctive dress/facial tattoos/hair styles.
  15. Find the concepts of aging and death endlessly fascinating.
  16. Treat short lived races as the naive, ignorant children that they are.
  17. Have not learned to hide their arrogant aloofness around others. -2 reaction.
  18. Sense latent emotions left in items, areas. 2 in 6.
  19. Secretly worship the Vanir and Jotuns.
  20. Are hundreds (3d6) years old.

Some Berserkers (roll d16 once)
  1. Consume narcotics and hallucinogens to enter berserkergang.
  2. Sing beautiful, melodic, haunting songs while slaughtering.
  3. Berserkergang with eyes closed.  Their blows guided by hate and anger.
  4. While berserkergang remain absolutely silent, flowing gracefully from one slaughter to the next.
  5. Consul against violence and war.
  6. Have lost faith/interest and tire of the endless slaughter.
  7. Really have it in for Jotuns(giants).  Must attack them first, -4 reaction, +2 hit.
  8. Really have it in for big snakes and ophidians.  Must attack them first, -4 reaction, +2 hit.
  9. Are actually just psychotic murderers and give a rat's ass about Thor and his cult.
  10. Have interests other than fighting, battle, and Thor.
  11. Know the time of their death, know they can not avoid it and that it will not come early.
  12. Follow war/violence/death god other than Thor.
  13. Name and talk with their weapons.
  14. Violent, murdering ways have attracted dark beings keen to complete the Berserker's corruption.
  15. Have unintentionally killed friends while berserkergang. 
  16. Have tasted human flesh.

Common Traveling Gear (d16 1d3 times)
  1. Wolf pelt worn as cape.
  2. Plants and mushrooms eaten to achieve berserkergang.
  3. A wide leather strap embossed with the runes of Thor's Blessing worn across chest bandoleer style.
  4. Roman style weighted Cesti, for sparing amongst friends.
  5. Armband with one feather/tassel/ornament for each viking they have participated on.
  6. Token of Thor's admiration.
  7. Scroll detailing the major arteries and vital organs of several races.
  8. Soap and scents to clean off the blood and gore of the dead.
  9. Shaving knife to keep their head nicely bald.  
  10. The ring with crest of powerful Human noble house, acquired while viking.
  11. Warpaint.
  12. A halfman child's doll, slightly stained with blood.
  13. Knee spikes.
  14. Pouch with the finger bones (index, middle) of defeated enemies.
  15. Rune scribed belt indicating their rank within Thor's cult.
  16. Helmet with horns!


  1. Even if you don't use these tables for chargen, I think they are great for NPCs.


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