Viking World

Hey all,

I recently finished my first complete Apocalypse World (AW) hack, about Vikings and other Norsemen in a semi-mythical, semi-historical version of Dark Ages Northern Europe!

Filled with bits and pieces both ruthlessly stolen and recombined from AW and DW (Dungeon World), plus elements of my own design, there are now rules for 6 Playbooks (=character classes), their Families and Loved Ones, their Destinies, Rune-Carving, gangs of followers, other NPCs, beasts, monsters and otherwordly enemies, and much more…

Play the mighty Warrior, slaying all in their path, ever looking for worthy opponents to increase their glory… or be a reckless Explorer, experienced both in travelling the uncharted wilderness and navigating across the open seas to unknown shores… choose the Craftyhead to be the one to build and create the things most direly needed in these dark times of scarcity and need, inquisitive and clever, able to figure out most anything they set their mind to… lead a raiding party of savage and proud viking warriors as the indomitable Raidleader… play the descendant of a god, or a god themselves walking the earth in human guise with the Godskin playbook… or be the the Rune-Carver, intimately familiar with the powers bestowed by the spirits and the gods…

and venture forth to -
go deal with enemy tribes, forge alliances with friendly clans, explore new lands, slay rival champions, brave the wilderness, deal with inner-tribe drama and dilemmas, dabble with spirits, defend your people, haggle with dwarves, get caught up with elves, negotiate with neighboring kingdoms, declare war, make peace, kill trolls, hunt dragons, uncover betrayals, raid faraway shores, amass riches, make and break kings, fight battles, burn cities, build new kingdoms, defy the gods, fulfill your fate, and ultimately become immortally renowned, or fall to epic tragedy…

I’m proud to announce that the game has now been featured on, a pretty nice online resource for checking out storygames. You can find it here:

Of course, I wouldn’t have wanted to withhold this from you, ye fellow RPGVers - especially in the light that there may be a one-shot or two coming up where I’ll be running this on a thursday sometime (maybe) soon :wink: so feel free to peruse it in advance, at your leisure :slight_smile:

(A word of caveat: an at least basic familiarity with AW may be required for the document to make a lot of sense, although anyone who has played AW or DW or any of their hacks will basically get the gist of it easily enough I think. Most of the rules are stated out explicitly, but I don’t repeat all of the basic assumptions of the *World games…)

Also, while the full game is admittedly more suited for longer-term campaign play (some rules, such as Destiny, will not come fully into their own in shorter scenarios or one-shots), I think it can be fun for a oneshot as well, with the right scenario!

Yay, so I got some feedback via PM, and received permission to make sort of an FAQ from it!
Here goes:

[quote]Some thoughts:
-First off, I’d just like to point out that I personally find the Apocalypse World stats a bit off-putting. They just don’t convey the setting to me quite well - they are a bit too modern-sounding for my taste. Mostly Cool, Hot and Weird stick out badly. They just need a bit more flavor, really. [/quote]
I’m normally a big fan of re-doing the AW stats for hacks. In my Jedi hack, I went with Agile Alert Calm Tough and Wise, for example, while my Mage (the Ascension) hack has yet other stats…

But for this one, I actually felt that the AW ones pretty much hit home for the feel of the genre/setting. Maybe I’m influenced in this by the Vikings TV series… which sort of seems to “modernize” the feel of the culture quite a bit. (A bit like Game of Thrones or Rome did for their respective “source cultures”)
I felt it was believable / acceptable to speak of Ragnar Lothbrok as “cool”, of Floki as “weird” and of both as “hot”…

Also, I tried a bit but had a hard time coming up with fitting synonyms for them.
It would be easier for more classical medieval/fantasy genres, but with the gruff Dark Ages vibe of the vikings, I couldn’t really settle on any.
Here’s roughly what I had:
Cool - “calm” / “smooth” / “slick”
Hard - “tough” / “strong”
Hot - “persuasive” / “smooth” / “nice”
Sharp - “clever” / “wise” /
Weird - “touched” / “mystical” / “wise”

In the end, not least because I wanted this hack to remain pretty close to AW in general (mostly the same basic moves, e.g.), I felt maybe it would have been pretentious almost, to throw new words for the stats around, when they really are principally the same stats…

Also, yeah, Hot is the most problematic of the bunch. It’s kinda the pinnacle stat for me, when it comes to renaming - “can I come up with something good as an alternative to Hot? No? Then the rest of them can stay the same just as well…”
(in Jedi World, that worked for me, since the stuff that Hot does (seduce was removed, so only manipulate remained) I attributed to Wise, and re-ordered some of the other moves as well (for example, Read Situations went under “Alert”, while Read Person was also “Wise”). But as I said, for Viking World, I wanted to stay closer to the original game. Sure, the Savvyhead equivalent works on Sharp instead of Weird, and so do the “Read XY” moves, but yeah…)

Oh, I guess you mean near the beginning of the document, where I only describe the distribution of the stats very roughly?
They are more specifically mentioned at the very beginning of every playbook, if that is what you mean.
Every PC gets +2, +1, +1, 0 and -1. And a starting Destiny of +1.
Except for the Godskin, for whom things work a bit differently.

[quote]-On the other end of the spectrum, “Throw the Bones, Interpret Omens” is an absolutely perfect name.
-The Look system is pretty fun though. [/quote]
thanks on both accounts! Good to know what works

You are absolutely right that family and bonds could be more interwoven. Especially for when PCs are related to each other (which is explicitly recommended in the Family & Loved Ones section, but gets completely ignored when I list the Bonds. I gotta think some more on it and update that.

Maybe something along the lines of “________ is my ________ by blood / law / choice.” (insert a name and a relationship type) could be a universal Bond that anyone could take with anyone else, as long as that player agrees and takes an equivalent one themselves.

That would in practice mean that you are better able to help (and interfere with) each other, if you’re family. Because more Bonds. Heh, I actually quite like that.

Point well taken - I kept having the vague feeling that something wasn’t quite alright with that move… I probably didn’t think that through enough.

It may be an ideal opportunity to encourage some Move Snowballing though. How about making the “miss” text of the “Travel” move something like: “now you can choose between going back home, giving up and staying wherever you are, or Putting Your Fate in the Hands of the Gods” ?

That would give players an chance for “opting out” instead of hitting the wall.
Looking at it again, the PYFHG move is itself similarly prone to stonewalling however… but I will look at this and see if a few slight modifications can’t fix that somehow…

Yep, just like in AW.

When you take 1 or 2 harm, lose 1 or 2 of your Leaves. They will grow back with time, no problem.
When you take 3 harm, all your Leaves are gone, and won’t grow back on their own, but you remain stable (with Roots, Trunk, and Branches still there).
When your Branches are gone, you start to wither, and soon your Trunk will die, which then quickly causes your Roots to perish of course.

(and no, those time spans are intentionally defined in no more detail than “soon” and “quickly” :wink: )

Thanks, good to hear! :slight_smile:

On that note; could you think of any “viking archetypes” that you might wanna play, but that there is no playbook for, as of yet?
I’m open to ideas for additional playbooks basically.
I think I just wanna keep Hardholders and Seers and Prophets and those guys restricted to NPCs (for now, at least). That’s why I went more with playbooks that would fit in a more or less typical “adventuring party” (potentially mobile, suitable for action scenes type-of-guys)

Huh. I’ll look at that.
Would wanna clarify it at least, true.

And the Advances, yeah – I was considering breaking them up into layers, e.g. “beginning”, “advanced”, “epic” or something like that.
Because true, right now they are these huge lists of stuff you could take… and we wanna avoid “decision paralysis” in the players as much as possible, right? :slight_smile:

The Godskin is an intrinsically dubious playbook, so that reaction is to be expected I guess… :smiley:

Glad to hear that Destiny twist on it sounds intriguing, though!

(The Godskin pretty much shaped up to be the Battlebabe of this hack, and as such got all the weird, slightly-different-from-everyone-else rules…)

oooh, just you watch me MC the shit out of that “advantage”…!!! :smiley:

Seriously though, maybe it should be clarified or reworded. But I envision “savage” to always at least be a threat to the PC('s goals, wishes, plans, alliances etc.)

Note that those guys are already “violent” and “glory-hounds” to begin with. :wink: Adding “savage” does not give them extra damage, doesn’t make them more intimidating, etc.
But maybe I should more explicitly hint at what it does do: namely, make them unreliable, and given to disgusting behavior that is not socially acceptable even amongst fucking Vikings… ^^

Or maybe just changing it to “Vulnerable: savagery” would bring it across better, instead of “+savage”? That would also put them more in line with the other options listed there…

I was pretty proud of the NPC blocks, even though I still want to add combat stats to the monsters! But as a self-imposed exercise in game-design humility, I won’t. (For now)

My main goal was to express the setting through the NPCs. They should, more than anything else, show a prospective MC what kinds of people there might be to be encountered, and give them roleplaying hints for how to play them basically…
This section also says a lot (I hope!) about what kinds of adventures and challenges I’d envision for a campaign in this game.