Northern Minstrel

While the tribal warriors residing in other parts of the wintry north consider you to be soft and cowardly, you know the truth: life in northern cities and mead halls is not for the faint of heart. Whether you are a larger-than-life performer hailing from one of the skaldic schools, a contemplative scholar attempting to puzzle out the mysteries of the north, or a doughty warrior hoping to stave off the bleakness of the north, you have successfully navigated alleys and stages as treacherous as any ice-slicked ruin. You adventure for the thrill of adding new songs to your repertoire, adding new lore to your catalog, and proving false the claims of those so-called true northerners.

Skill Proficiencies: Perception plus one of your choice from among History or Performance

Tool Proficiencies: One type of musical instrument

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: A book collecting all the songs, poems, or stories you know, a pair of snowshoes, one musical instrument of your choice, a heavy fur-lined cloak, and a belt pouch containing 10 gp

Skaldic Specialty

Every minstrel excels at certain types of performance. Choose one specialty or roll a d8 and consult the table below to determine your preferred type of performance.

d8 Specialty
1 Recitation of epic poetry
2 Singing
3 Tale-telling
4 Flyting (insult flinging)
5 Yodeling
6 Axe throwing
7 Playing an instrument
8 Fire eating or sword swallowing

Feature: Northern Historian

Your education and experience have taught you how to determine the provenance of ruins, monuments, and other structures within the north. When you spend at least 1 hour examining a structure or non-natural feature of the terrain, you can determine if it was built by humans, dwarves, elves, goblins, giants, trolls, or fey. You can also determine the approximate age (within 500 years) of the construction based on its features and embellishments.

Suggested Characteristics

Northern minstrels tend to either be boisterous and loud or pensive and watchful with few falling between these extremes. Many exude both qualities at different times, and they have learned how and when to turn their skald persona on and off. Like other northerners, they place a lot of stock in appearing brave and tough, which can lead them unwittingly into conflict.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I will accept any dare and expect accolades when I complete it.
2 Revelry and boisterousness are for foolish children. I prefer to quietly wait and watch.
3 I am more than a match for any northern reaver. If they believe that is not so, let them show me what stuff they are made of.
4 I yearn for the raiding season and the tales of blood and butchery I can use to draw the crowds.
5 Ragnarok is nigh. I will bear witness to the end of all things and leave a record should there be any who survive it.
6 There is nothing better than mutton, honeyed mead, and a crowd in thrall to my words.
7 The gods weave our fates. There is nothing to do but accept this and live as we will.
8 All life is artifice. I lie better than most and I am not ashamed to reap the rewards.
d6 Ideal
1 Valor. Stories and songs should inspire others—and me—to perform great deeds that benefit us all. (Good)
2 Greed. There is little point in taking action if it leads to living in squalor. I will take what I want and dare any who disagree to oppose me. (Evil)
3 Perfection. I will not let the threat of failure deter me. Every deed I attempt, even those I do not succeed at, serve to improve me and prepare me for future endeavors. (Lawful)
4 Anarchy. If Ragnarok is coming to end all that is, I must do what I want and damn the consequences. (Chaotic)
5 Knowledge. The north is full of ancient ruins and monuments. If I can glean their meaning, I may understand fate as well as the gods. (Any)
6 Pleasure. I will eat the richest food, sleep in the softest bed, enjoy the finest company, and allow no one to stand in the way of my delight and contentment. (Any)
d6 Bond
1 I have the support of my peers from the skaldic school I attended, and they have mine.
2 I will find and answer the Unanswerable Riddle and gain infamy.
3 I will craft an epic of such renown it will be recited the world over.
4 All my companions were slain in an ambush laid by cowardly trolls.
5 The cold waves call to me even across great distances. I must never stray too far from the ocean’s embrace.
6 It is inevitable that people fail me. Mead, on the other hand, never fails to slake my thirst.
d6 Flaw
1 Only a coward retreats. The valiant press forward to victory or death.
2 All the tales I tell of my experiences are lies.
3 Critics and hecklers will suffer my wrath once the performance is over.
4 Companions and friends cease to be valuable if their accomplishments outshine my own.
5 I once burned down a tavern where I was poorly received. I would do it again.
6 I cannot bear to be contradicted and pout when I am.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

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