Northern Avistan has seen a lot of activity over the last couple of years. The Jade Regent Adventure Path took us through the Lands of the Linorm Kings and over the Crown of the World. And, the current Reign of Winter Adventure Path features Irrisen and the White Witches that rule there. Additionally, Paizo has published a variety of supplements supporting those APs.
Before all of these Kobold Press published a supplement with a different take on many of the same icy themes. Set in Midgard, Northlands covers Vikings, ice magic, monsters of Northern mythologies and the perils of adventuring in the cold. The book uses the Pathfinder rules, so its crunch is readily adoptable to Golarion. Additionally, I found the fluff inspirational as well. This is first of a series of blog posts detailing how I ported and extended the material in Northlands for my own campaign. The Wyrm Rhyme Saga, is a Viking dragon hunt set in the kingless Icemark region of Golarion.
The Northern Lights
Even with our modern understanding the Aurora Borealis is magical. If you are lucky enough to see the twisting, dancing colors of the northern lights in person, you cannot help but contemplate the mystical. The Aurora plays a role as the Bifrost bridge in Northlands, but we need a explanation rooted in Golarion cosmology. The explanation below ties in to the fey themes prevalent in Irrissen and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. It also taps into the darker mysteries of the mythos, and sets up a possible conflict between the two.
Most, who understand such things, know that the Aurora occurs when the boundaries between our world and the first world are particularly thin. This is true enough, but it doesn’t explain why the lights are not seen in other parts of Golarion where our world touches the First World.
The few who have truly studied this question, came to realize there is a connection to the Dark Tapestry. They believe energies from the Dark Tapestry are being attracted to the Northern and Southern ends of the world by the same force that attracts wayfinder needles. These energies are being channeled into the First World. However, a few of the White Witches in Whitethrone think even these sages are wrong. They believe energy from the First World that is being channeled into the Dark Tapestry. They can only guess what purpose the gods of the Dark Tapestry might have for this energy.
The Hyperborean race is described on page 37 of Northlands. They are humans who are born under the influence of the Aurora Borealis. Those born in daylight are very different from those born at night. The dayborn are described as being more direct (fighters or other marshall classes), while the nightborn are more subtle (preferring rogues or bards). Both do well as sorcerers, particularly with the Hyperborean bloodline described on page 43. Because of the Aurora’s connection to other planes, I added racial traits and preferred class options to make Hyperboreans in Golarion excel as summoners.
There are several ethnicities where exposure to the Aurora makes birth as a Hyperborean possible. The two most likely are the Varki of the Icemark (Land of the Linnorm Kings, p. 18) and the Erutaki (People of the North, p. 12). These nomadic people lead a harsh existence and welcome those chosen by the ancestors as Hyperborean.
Hyperborean births are less common among the Kellid and Ulfen (People of the North p. 6 & p.10) peoples. Furthermore, those people distrust of magic in general and witches in particular can lead to a hard life of persecution. I decided any Jadwiga (People of the North, p. 13) born as Hyperborean is slain by the White Witches of Irrisen as an impure, outside influence. However, you could argue that the rarity of the magic they posses would lead them to be nurtured. A Hyperborean Winter Witch could be terrible indeed.
When making a Hyperborean character a player should select a base Human ethnicity for the character. Racial traits available to that ethnicity are available to the Hyperborean character. In addition, the following Hyperborean racial traits are available for selection.
Shunned by Fools: While your tribe may have come to accept you, many peoples of the North fear magic. Because of your strange appearance and connection to the Aurora, they fear you as well. You have learned to mask your heritage as you interact with other peoples. Disguise is always a class skill for you and you get a +1 trait bonus to disguise to hide your heritage.
Planar Empathy: Because of your connection to the Arura, you relate well to beings from other planes. You gain a +1 bonus to diplomacy and bluff checks against these beings. This bonus increases to +2 if the being’s alignment is within one step of yours.
Options for Dayborn Hyperboreans
The following new alternate racial traits and favored class options can be applied to dayborn characters as described in the Advanced Players Guide.
Alternate Racial Traits
Snow Walker (Ex): For the purpose of overland movement, dayborn treat all tundra, and snow covered mountains and hills as “highway.” This ability replaces the +2 racial bonus to Knowledge (Planes).
Earth Resistance: Some dayborn feel a strong affinity to the rocky, wind-shaped landscape that surrounds them. They receive a +1 racial bonus to saves earth based magic and effects, including acid attacks. This bonus increases by +1 for every 4 class levels they have. This ability replaces fire resistance.
Planar Halation(Ex): Dayborn summoners treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all summoner class abilities. This racial trait replaces Prismatic Affinity.
Favored Class Options
Druid: The druid’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to fire.
Fighter: The fighter gets +1 to their CMD when resisting a disarm or trip maneuver.
Ranger: The ranger’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to fire.
Sorcerer: +1/2 point of damage to light or prismatic spells.
Summoner: Add 10% to the ranges in the summoner’s Life Link ability. If this option is taken multiple times, add another 10% of the original value. In other words, the ranges if this ability is taken 3 times the range bands are 130 feet, 1,300 feet, and 13,000 feet.
Options for Nightborn Hyperboreans
Alternate Racial Traits
Aurora Bringer (Sp): Nightborn can use Faerie Fire and Color Spray once per day with a caster level equal to their class level. This trait replaces the Dark Demeanor trait.
Cold Resistance (Ex): The nightborn character gain a +1 to saves against cold-based magic and effects. The bonus increases by +1 for every 4 character levels they have. This trait replaces Air Resistance.
Planar Halation(Ex): Nightborn summoners treat their Charisma score as 2 points higher for all summoner class abilities. This racial trait replaces Prismatic Affinity.
Favored Class Options
Druid: The Druid’s animal companion gains +1/2 damage resistance to cold.
Rogue: +1/2 bonus on stealth and perception checks made in dim light or darkness.
Sorcerer: +1/3 to the Saving Throw DC for light or prismatic spells.
Summoner: Add 10% to the ranges in the Summoner’s Life Link ability. If this option is taken multiple times, add another 10% of the original value. In other words, the ranges if this ability is taken 3 times the range bands are 130 feet, 1,300 feet, and 13,000 feet.