Hyperborean Race in Golarion

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.


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.


The following new alternate racial traits and favored class options can be applied to dayborn characters as described in the Advanced Players Guide.


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.


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.



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.


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.

iCrit: Make Critical Hits Even More Fun

Platform: iPhone/iPad
Price: $1.00 
Rating: 4-Stars Systems: Pathfinder, OGL 3.5

I have been a fan of Paizo’s Game Mastery cards for a while now. Their treasure cards are great, especially when playing with new and younger players. For new players a sheet of cards in a binder makes it easy for them to keep track of what they have and what it does. For the video game set, the tactile reward of getting a card is engaging in the same way that achievements are.

The fun my group had with the treasure cards opened my mind to the possibilities offered by Paizo’s Critical Hit Deck. This a deck of 52 cards. Each card contains 4 critical hit results, one for each of slashing, piercing, bludgeoning and magic damage. When you confirm a critical hit, you simple draw a card and apply the appropriate bonus. This is a fun way to make every critical hit different and more exciting.

Given the simple fun provided by the physical Critical Hit Deck, I expected iCrit to be pretty good. I wasn’t disappointed.


You don’t expect much from an app that simulates drawing from a deck of cards, but still I was pleasantly surprised by simple UI for iCrit. When you start the app, you see a screen that is very easy to understand. There are 4 blank areas labeled: bludgeoning, piercing, slashing, and magic. When you confirm a critical hit, just touch the appropriate symbol on the left and the special result of your critical hit is displayed next to it. You then apply the result and move on with your combat. Couldn’t be easier.


I had expected that I would touch the screen or swipe and get a whole new card, but the apps interface is even better. When I draw a card, I see results for 4 damage types, 3 of which I don’t need. Part of the fun on these effects is the surprise of getting something new. So, I like that this UI only shows me one result at a time. I also like that it will keep old results up for review, at least until I use that damage type again.

There are sounds effects that play when you touch the damage type symbols. Each is different, and fun. Critical hits don’t happen often enough that they get annoying.

The help screen is straightforward, containing the same basic information as the instruction cards in the deck.

Sample Critical Hit Card
Screen After 2 Critical Hits
Starting Screen


Critical hits are one of the most fun parts of Pathfinder. Nothing gets people out of their chairs in excitement like a critical hit at the right time. Two bucks to make that even more fun and interesting? Yes, please!

If you are using other apps, on the same device, I could see it getting tedious switching to iCrit to get the special effect. I think the best usage would be for 1 or 2 players to keep it up on their phones, ready for use. However, I suspect with a little practice, the 4 clicks to get a critical result can be done efficiently so as not to interfere with the moment.


iCrit is an excellent app. It does a simple thing, really well. It is probably even better than the deck of cards that inspired it, if for no other reason than it is cheaper and just as easy to use. I’m having fun with it, and I think you will too.