It’s been a while since my last post, but things have slowly been progressing behind the scenes. Most notably, the first 3 English chapters of the Forbidden Lands Alpha have arrived, and I’ve been making some changes to my rules to better align.

My previous post about character generation is now a little outdated, as the steps and techniques associated with “Chargen” are now a little more streamlined, bringing them a little bit closer to how things are done in Forbidden Lands, whilst still feeling quite different.

In this post, I’d mainly like to focus on Attributes and Skills.  These have gone through such a large number of changes since I started that I can’t say with certainty that what I am proposing below is final, but at this stage I’m pretty happy with things.


The four Main Attributes are being kept the same as Forbidden Lands (and all other Year Zero games): Strength, Agility, Wits, Empathy.

However, this is where I diverge from the source material.  I have added a number of “Secondary Attributes” – Toughness, Willpower, Size and Luck. 

Toughness and Wiillpower are both derived Attributes, with Toughness being the sum of Strength and Agility (plus any racial modifiers) and Willpower being the sum of Wits and Empathy (plus any racial modifiers).  Unlike the Main Attributes, these two Secondary Attributes are not rolled with a skill.

With a game which includes giants and gnomes, a Size mechanic is needed to scale damage accordingly.  Size is determined by race, and the PC races are divided like this: Nissar (0), Human (1), Aelfar (1), Dvergar (1), Jotnar (2).

Luck is similar to Fate Points in many other games, and is not replenished except in very rare circumstances.  Primarily, they are used to avoid death, instead causing the PC to be rendered unconscious (and likely horribly injured).  The value of Luck for starting characters is race-dependent and generated by a dice roll.


Unlike Forbidden Lands, which reduces the Attributes as they take damage, I am going with an approach similar to Coriolis (another Year Zero game).

There are two types of trauma that can be suffered in Nordsaga: Wounds and Stress.  A PC has a Threshold value for each of these.  Once a PC has taken a number of Wounds / Stress which exceed their Threshold value, they suffer a Critical Hit / Mental Affliction.  They can still stay in the game, but each consecutive attack will cause additional Critical Hits / Mental Afflictions until the PC is rendered incapacitated or dead.

Wound Threshold = Toughness rating; Stress Threshold = Willpower rating.


There will be 20 skills in Nordsaga, with values between 0 and 5, as follows:

0. Untrained or Inexperienced
1. Novice Training or Basic Aptitude
2. Apprentice Training or Middling Aptitude
3. Journeyman Training or Natural Aptitude
4. Expert Training or Considerable Talent
5. Master Training or Incomparable Talent

At Character Creation, only one Skill may be trained to level 2 (Humans may train a second Skill to level 2).

Skills have recommended, paired Attributes, but are not actually tied to any Attributes. Instead, they can be used with any Attribute which fits with the situation, subject to GM approval.  Recommended Attribute pairings will be suggested for each Skill.

Skills are separated into Basic Skills (which can be attempted without penalty, even if there are no points allocated to them) and Advanced Skills (which either cannot be attempted or suffer a -2D modifier when untrained, at the GM’s discretion).

Basic Skills

  1. Charm (befriend, consort, socialise)
  2. Command (inspire, intimidate, lead)
  3. Coordination (acrobatics, dodge, sleight-of-hand)
  4. Force (brawl, break, lift)
  5. Intimidation (enrage, interrogate, scare)
  6. Investigation (analyse, examine, study)
  7. Lore (folklore, geography, gossip)
  8. Manipulation (deceive, persuade, sway)
  9. Move (run, climb, swim)
  10. Scouting (awareness, perception, tracking)
  11. Stealth (eavesdrop, hide, sneak)

Advanced Skills

  1. Channeling (hex, prophecy, sorcery)
  2. Education (culture, etiquette, knowledge)
  3. Healing (provide medical care)
  4. Husbandry (calm, train, ride animals)
  5. Marksmanship (bows, firearms, thrown weapons)
  6. Melee (hand-to-hand fighting, weaponry)
  7. Survival (navigation, nature, wilderness lore)
  8. Thievery (lockpick, pickpocket, traps)
  9. Tradecraft (build, create, design)

I’m actually on the fence about the Channeling skill, as the Magic system is still in its infancy.  As such, I may remove it entirely in future, and handle Magic similarly to Forbidden Lands – completely talent-based and not requiring a skill roll.  Alternatively, I may keep it in as an optional step in the casting process, similar to how WFRP2 handles it.

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