The Heroes of Norumbega (Rough Notes)

When we as a culture say that we have begun a “settlement”, we rarely mean that we are settled. Settling new land is violent, trudging, and painful. The people... most people are not built for such work. We have brought them with us to be useful in small ways– to build houses and raise livestock and raise young ones– but they cannot flatten the mountains that stand in our way, or blaze the trail that we seek. Many of them don’t hear the call of the land that we seek, they cannot see the green fields of Vinland when they sleep. They need Icons, Others... they need Heroes to lead them.

Heroes are not like the others, they do not belong with the People. They are outcast, set apart, forced by destiny and expectation to go out and forge a new trail for the People to follow. They do not know this new land any more than we do, but they are not afraid of it, and will not be deterred.

Below are those that we need to lead us. Each comes around only once per generation, if we’re lucky.


Every hero has within them what we will refer to as the five basic Attributes. These are the elements of a heroic soul, the building blocks of the spirit, and are what are channeled into each action of consequence in a hero’s life.


While it burns, the Flame represents many things. While, yes, it is often associated with destruction and pain inflicted, it can also be cleansing. A hero’s flame represents the physical effect they have on the outside world-- clearing paths, piercing obstacles, and creating a new beginning.


The Stream represents a swiftness towards a point on the horizon. Though it may encounter many things in its path, it does not slow. A stream is also a continuum, and cannot be defined to any one of its individual parts. Is a raindrop a stream before it has joined the flow? A hero’s Stream represents their own swiftness in the world, and their ability to flow around objects, attuning with nature as a raindrop to the stream.


Imagine an apple tree that has produce more apples than you’ve ever seen in your life. This magical tree that has sprung up suddenly to feed all of the villages for miles around, and still has apples left over to bake and to save. Imagine, however, that this tree does not have roots. When the autumn winds blow, the weight of the tree’s bounty topple quickly, as there is nothing in the ground to hold it aloft. A hero’s root acts the same way, it keeps them planted, and ensures their safety as the cold winds blow.


While a hero’s calling may be to the wilds, there is no replacement for the hearth in their lives. This is where their family is, where their hearts find strength, where their minds find rest. Hearth for a hero is about reviving spirits, and making connections with the spirits of others.


In the hills, there is a silence that falls in the mist; an isolating, impenetrable silence. In the low-lying clouds, even the slightest sound rings out like a bell. This mist resides in the heart of each hero-- it is the force that sets them apart from normal folk. In the mist await mysterious things, just waiting to be discovered.

The Heroes

The Wolf

It is said that the Ulfhednar, the wolf-coats, of certain clans can forsake all notion of pain or hesitation in battle. Forsaking shields and all but the necessary clothing, they carry their spears into battle with a deafening howl. In my youth, I saw an Ulfhednar recruit perform the sacred trials in a village nearby. The young hopeful, eager to join the ranks of their forefathers, faced a feral bear in unarmed combat. Before the combat ended, I had to leave the village, on the first day after Summer Solstice. When I returned just past Yule, that same combat was still underway.

Treat your Flame and Root runes as 6 for ten minutes, or the remainder of a conflict. After the conflict ends, treat them as 1 until a period of rest.

When taking damage, reduce the amount of damage taken by one level of severity.

When using force to clear a path, increase the damage dealt by one level of severity.

Like the Barbarian, all moves revolve around improving the Berserk move, or lessening the after-effects of it.

The Fox

I have had enough of foxes. Each night, I check that my chickens are put away in their hutch, that the door is locked tight. Each year I’ve made a new lock for the door– more complex, more expensive. This year, I’ve hired young Stenos to guard the door. I gave him my bow, a few arrows. Each night, without fail, I hear the whistle of an arrow in the air, as Stenos chases the Fox away. Each morning, I have one fewer chicken.

Uses Root and Stream to evade detection, slip in and out unnoticed, and disappear in nature.

Like the Killer in The Sprawl, focused on getting into and out of dangerous situations, and reading situations.

More combat-focused than the Rabbit.

Move that lets you survey ahead, and hold for +1 bonuses when acting on the information. Maybe spend one hold to instantly escape back to a selected point within a range (like Sombre’s teleport ability in Overwatch).


The Rabbit

When Loki was a child, he built a trap to catch rabbits at the edge of the woods, using vegetables and breadcrumbs as bait. He checked the trap each day, and found it had sprung, but was empty. Not only had no rabbit been caught, but the bait had gone as well. After nine days, the god-child decided to make camp and watch the trap for a full day. At dusk, the rabbit came. From his hiding place, Loki witnessed the hare step willingly into the trap, which instantly trapped and slew the animal. Then, in a blink, the hare was eating the food beside the sprung trap, as if nothing had happened. That was the day that Loki learned what Magic really was.

Uses Hearth to escape impossible situations, regain health, trick death.

Like a non-lethal Rogue. Moves are all geared towards rewarding getting yourself into a bad situation, then bonuses for getting out of those situations.

More magic focused than the Fox.

Move that moves health from one creature to another.


The Raven

As the messengers of Odin, the Raven comes before the east wind, after which nothing good can follow. Against the star-lit skies, their black wings swallow whole all that man holds dear. Even in the warm Summer nights, the wind beneath them chills to the bone. When they land, it is only to speak ill, to give warning, or to lure the innocent to their doom. Few amongst the People can say with honesty that they have witnessed the Raven– and those who have knew that it was already too late.

Uses Mist to shape elements, create shadow, see signs and portents.

Similar to Dungeon World's Druid.

Don’t want long list of spells, maybe a way to create one or two general use spells like the Spellslinger in Monster of the Week.

Spell casting could involve selecting a couple element-focused bases, and a couple action-focused effects. Then when you cast a spell, you select one of each.


The Serpent

Uses Mist and Hearth to see the unseen, speak many languages, convince others of the rightness of their ways.

Similar to Dungeon World Paladin in that they use their other-worldly nature to affect others in a non-physical way.

Move that lets one other player’s Rune match the Serpent’s corresponding Rune while they are within earshot of each other.


The Sparrow

Uses Stream and Flame to hunt from a distance.

Like the traditional RPG ranger classes, should come with an animal companion.

Best at distances, learning about one target at a time, and utilizing ranged force where necessary.

Bonuses to scouting ahead when moving the settlement.