In the Icelandic sagas, draugr are malevolent beings. It was said that you could tell who was likely to become a draugr in death because they died sitting up — in other words, alone as a miser rather than in bed and surrounded by loved ones. Sea-draugr are something else again. Though they share many characteristics of their land-based ‘cousins’, the tales seem to reflect the loss and guilt felt by those left behind when their loved ones were lost at sea and unable to be laid to rest with their ancestors.
In these stories, the sea-draugr often seek to return home and take up their old lives, only to be refused and shunned by their living families. The living are left with feelings of guilt and shame from these encounters, while the dead must return to their frigid, watery graves.
The sea-draugr play an important role the Bridge of the Damned adventure, so here’s a first look. What do you think?
These spirits of the drowned long for the warmth and comfort of hearth and home, but it is forever denied them. They lack the sheer malevolence of other draugr, but their terrible loneliness draws people wounded in heart and spirit like a lodestone, where they, too, succumb to the embrace of the waters. Sea-draugr are revenants: rotting, bloated, blue- or black-skinned corpses with flesh picked over by fish and crustaceans.
Since we’ve been talking about adding a shrine to the Dragonslayer to our Robber’s Bridge adventure, I thought we might take a deeper look at the cult this week and explore its most closely held secret. Note that the rules for the Mysteries of Lith have not yet been playtested. If you use them in your games, I’d love to hear about it.
A few weeks back we explored using the Ættir1See Of Trolls and Men, Middarmark, page 91 in Torchbearer games set in the Middarmark. In particular, we took a look at Ran Deepmind, ættir of the Ageiring clan led by Jarl Stigand.
Ran, though much diminished by the near obliteration of the Ageirings in the Battle of Sølvfjord nine years ago2See Sudstrond, Middarmark, page 22, seeks to guide her descendents back to greatness. But the Ageirings have many enemies standing in the way of the young jarl’s path back to power. Perhaps the most immediately dangerous are the Tualings, a clan of Græling3See Grælings, Middarmark, page 14 outlaws with a score to settle.
It was probably ambitious on my part to try to do an interactive project over the holidays. Since I haven’t heard from anyone regarding the Robber’s Bridge submissions I posted last week, I’m going to hold off one more week before moving forward with work on the adventure.
If you’re interested in the project, click on the link above and tell me which options you like and which you don’t! Feel free to riff on the ones you like! If you want to see more interactive projects like this in the future, please contribute. Otherwise I’ll assume the interest isn’t there.
A few weeks ago, I started a new Torchbearer campaign. I made a map, placed some settlements, wild places and dungeons, and off we went.
The players had rumors of several adventures to choose from at the start. One of the rumors concerned The Dread Crypt of Skogenby (get it free here!):
Some folk in Skogenby recently uncovered a strange barrow while clearing a field. They think some evil spirit has come out of it, and they’ve asked their lord help, but she’s away. Supposedly there’s a lot of treasure in the tomb.
But the players chose to pursue another rumor instead. Now they’ve come back to town after their latest adventure and heard some shocking news: The walking dead have overrun Skogenby!
Just in time for Halloween!
So here I am prepping a survival horror addition to Skogenby, and it occurs to me that Torchbearer is lacking some classic horror monsters. This is intended to remedy that dreadful oversight. Without further ado, here’s my take on the zombie and the werewolf. And Jared Sorensen, of Memento Mori Theatricks, has been kind enough to allow me to include his Vampire Lord, excerpted from his Halloween-inspired Torchbearer Sagas supplement, Denizens of the Dark (you’ll find lots of other holiday-appropriate goodies in Denizens, including the vampire lord’s vampire minions!).
It turns out that when Mouse Guard’sDavid Petersen got started drawing the amazing Torchbearer monsters he provided for The Petersen Bestiary, he couldn’t stop! David has provided us with five more monsters to delight GMs and terrify players.
Here in the U.S. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we’ve been ruminating about how thankful we are for your support of Torchbearer. We also believe that showing is better than telling, so we’ve put together a surprise to express our thanks: The Petersen Bestiary!
Our good friend David Petersen, of Mouse Guard fame, gave us five mind-blowing monster drawings and we’ve added full Torchbearer stats. Your players will weep in terror when these monsters hit the table!