Hervor Dying After the Battle of the Goths
and Huns,
by Peter Nicolai Arbo is in the
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
This is another entry in a series I've been doing since last year, creating "subclasses" for the seven standard Basic Dungeons & Dragons classes, using the 1981 Moldvay Basic classes. I like to always remind people that the idea of creating subclasses was inspired by a series Dyson Logos did. Please check out the originals for really great, creative, and easy-to-implement ideas.

For links to my other D12 Subclasses Tables so far: 

As I began working on the Slavic Folklore subclasses, I immediately began thinking about a few other cultures that would be fun to explore. Norse mythology has been a part of the D&D game dating back to at least the 1976 release of Gods, Demigods & Heroes for the original version of the game. I first encountered the Norse myths for D&D in the Advanced D&D Deities & Demigods book around 1982 or 1983, but I'd learned many of the myths long before that, having studied them independently at the library after learning about Greek mythology in my 4th grade class. Learning Greek myths made me interested in wanting to learn about myths from other cultures, so I began studying on my own, and both my school library and the local public library were huge helps in this regard. 

Additionally, shortly after I was introduced to D&D in 1981, those same friends began letting borrow their comic books, most of which were Marvel and many that included Thor and the Avengers. In school, we began learning about the history of Erik the Red and the rest of the Vikings during the Dark Ages and early Medieval period. It was a perfect storm of history, mythology, comic books and D&D supplements all inspiring me to learn more about Viking culture. 

As with the Slavic folklore subclasses I created, these are Norse-inspired subclasses, with certain elements exaggerated, expanded, or pulled from fantasy fiction, movies, TV shows, and comic books in order to create some interesting and fun concepts for tabletop role-playing games. They are not intended to accurately reflect true Viking culture. 

As always, I appreciate and welcome your comments and suggestions, whether it's with regard to the mechanical changes made, the substance of the subclasses, or if you have ideas for new subclasses to add. 

ON LANGUAGE: I should also point out that many of these classes have gender-based names to them; for example, a female seiðkona is called a seiðmenn, and the völva were always female. However, I decided to just use the version of the name that I encountered most often, and also dispensed with any ideas that any of these characters had to be male or female. If you wish to use the gender-specific terms, you can easily search them up online. A shield maiden could just as easily be a shield warrior, as an example. Also, not speaking the languages from where these names come, I am using standard English pluralization by just adding an "s" to the end of each word when describing more than one. I'm also not capitalizing any of the words unless they are at the beginning of a sentence.

RESOURCES: I used a variety of resources for these subclasses, including the 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Vikings Campaign Sourcebook by David "Zeb" Cook, the Frost & Fur third-party campaign book for 3rd Edition, and various books on mythology and historical books on the history of the Vikings. I also pulled in some ideas from the Vikings TV series, Thor comic books, and other fictional sources. 

Offering by Lund, by Johann
Ludwid Lund
is in the Public 
Domain via Wikimedia Commons
There's quite a bit written about magic-using characters in Norse epic sagas, Eddic poetry, and Skaldic poetry, but the terms get muddied quite a bit so that what may appear to at first be two different types of sorcery users are in fact just different terms for the same thing. Combine this with historical priests who were also claimed to have magical powers, and it's quite a chore to determine whether a magic-using Norse character should be classified as a cleric or a magic-user, a sorcerer or a witch or a priest. No doubt some will take issue with how I divided them up, but I tried to create differentiation between them by exaggerating certain elements, when in fact their descriptions weren't all that different. 

DWARVES: The dverge of Norse mythology tend to be the classic form of fantasy dwarf as popularized by Tolkien and found in the D&D game. However, again, names can be tricky. The dverge are said to come from Svartálfaheimr, and in fact other scholars have noted that the Svartálfar ("Black Elves") are one and the same as the dverge and that they are simply different names for the same creatures. In order to keep things separate, my subclasses consider the dverge to be classic D&D style "dwarves."

ELVES: I first heard the term álfar from the old TSR mini-game Saga: Age of Heroes, where you play a Viking "hero", attempting to perform deeds to gain glory and ensure that your memory will live on in the glorious songs and stories ("the sagas") of the age. Again, there is some confusion if you try to map these old myths to the standard definitions of D&D dwarves and elves. The Norse had svartálfar, dökkálfar and ljósálfar ("black elves", "dark elves", and "light elves") which many scholars now believe actually reflect our modern traditions of dwarves, demons, and angels. I chose to just stick with álfar and include a fun idea I read in one book or website that in some Norse myths they were thought to be the reincarnations of humans. As a quick aside regarding elves, while many people think the idea of half-elves originated with Tolkien, the concept has much more ancient origins and appeared in Norse sagas dating back as far as 13th and 14th centuries. 

FIGHTERS: As probably expected, these were the easiest concepts to turn into subclasses, although I did need to work a bit to separate the Berserker from the Viking (and the latter from the raider subclasse for Thieves), and also I had to exaggerate the Shield Maidens, whom I based on the idea of Valkyrie form Marvel Comics but who in reality were just female warriors and not all that different from their male counterparts. 

HALFLINGS: Perhaps not all that surprisingly, but in researching the Nisse, they're really not all that different from the Domovoi that I used for the Slavic folklore halfling subclass. I tried to pick specific things that were different and exaggerate some other things to differentiate them. In description, Norse mythological scholars often associate them with gnomes or goblins.

THIEVES: The Skald was the first thing to come to mind and it's not that much of a stretch, although if you're using the Advanced Fantasy Genre Rules from Old School Essentials, or playing another version of the game that has bards, then it would more likely fall under that class. Classic B/X D&D doesn't have bards, so I made it a non-magical thief subclass more focused on inspiring others with tales of epic sagas than casting magic. As I finished my list, I was one subclass short to get to 12 and after doing some more research, I ended up including the Raider subclass, which really isn't all that different from a Viking in terms of social status and role in society, but rather in terms of the personality of the person. The Viking is more of a straight warrior, whereas the Raider is more concerned with increasing status due to having been dealt a poor hand in life. 

Here's the chart of the subclasses. As with my other subclasses, the idea is to eventually include all of these in a single publication, along with design notes and supplemental material for each "genre" of subclass. Let me know what you think of the idea.



Class Modifications





A leader responsible for religious structure and communal feasts, and one who does not engage in sorcery. Turn undead ability only works on arcane magic-users (not undead). Must cast runestones when using cleric spells. Must shave their heads and paint their lips, eyes, and upper ears black.


A seeress with the ability to foretell future occurrences. Can use magic wands as if a magic-user. Once per week, can make a Wisdom ability score check (roll 1d20 under Wisdom score, rolled in secret by the referee) to divine the answer to one yes or no question. The ceremony involved to ask the question takes 24 hours of uninterrupted meditation. The referee may impose penalties on the roll based on the nature of the question. Cannot wear plate mail, chainmail, or use a shield. Usually female, and possibly addicted to henbane.





Wise smiths born of the blood and bones of primordial giants. Can use magical research to create magic armor, shields, swords, and weapons (see Classic Fantasy: Treasures). Does not have the dwarf ability to detect construction tricks. It is possible they know, or even guard, the location of doorways between worlds. 





Luminous beings, related to the race of gods known as the Vanir. Can cast either cure disease or cause disease as a cleric once per week, but the spell only works against humans. The offer of a gift and a roll of 12+ on the Monster Reaction Roll table (see Encounters in Core Rules) against an NPC álfar can counter the disease. Does not have the elf ability to detect secret doors. Expects others to celebrate them at an annual ceremony every autumn. May or may not be reincarnated humans.





Warriors who fight in a trance-like fury, and part of an animal cult dedicated to bears (Berserker), boars (Jöfurr), or wolves (Úlfhéðnar). Immune to non-magical fire. Reduces all damage from iron weapons by 1 hp. Cannot wear armor. Gains +2 to AC if not wearing armor. Must wear the skin of its cult animal.


Shield Maiden

Powerful, battle-scarred warriors who charge at the forefront of battle, inspiring others and noting the bravest fighters for recognition in the afterlife. Must use a shield. Any companion fighting within 10’ of a shield maiden gains +1 to saving throws versus fear effects. Anyone who dies fighting alongside a shield maiden is considered worthy to enter the realm of the gods.  



Seafaring raiders, warriors, explorers, and traders who farm, fish, or craft when not at sea. Not affected by fighting on unstable surfaces (see Unstable Surfaces under Other Combat Issues in Core Rules). As an expert navigator, has only a 2-in-6 chance of becoming lost while at sea. Cannot wear plate mail.





A household spirit and guardian who protects a family and its animals from evil and misfortune. May choose to go adventuring to keep its charges safe. Must pick another family to watch over and protect. Once per day, can try to scare a target within 10’. The target must be someone who has threatened the family protected by the nisse. If the target fails to save versus spells, it believes the Nisse to be a powerful monster and will attempt to flee. The target may make a save attempt each round to break the effect. Undead and non-intelligent creatures are not affected. Short tempered and will play tricks on those who offend it. Probably has a white beard and a red hat. Loves to celebrate the winter solstice.





The vitkar are sorcerers and magicians who seek knowledge through learning new runes and have a special connection with animals. 2-in-6 chance to know a rune concerning history, animals, or magic. Increases to 3-in-6 at 3rd level, 4-in-6 at 7th level and 5-in-6 at 11th level. Can have one animal companion with a total number of Hit Dice not exceeding the Vitki’s level. The referee makes a monster reaction roll with a result of 9 or higher indicating the animal becomes the Vitki’s companion. Only wild animals may become companions and once attached to a Vitki, they never check morale. Animal companions that die may be replaced at the following level.  



A practitioner of magic relating to both the telling and shaping of the future, including the ability to commune with the dead. Adds remove curse and curse to the list possible spells known and must learn both spells at 5th level. Victims of a seiðkona’s curse save at -2. Once per week, can attempt to speak with the dead with a 1-in-6 chance, limited to three yes or no questions. The dead speak with the same language they had in life. If the body has been dead longer than a week, only two questions may be asked, and longer than a year, only one question may be asked. Answers are brief and often ambiguous. Speak with dead increases to 2-in-6 at 4th level, 3-in 6 at 7th level, 4-in-6 at 10th, and 5-in-6 at 13th level. Usually wears a blue cloak with a headpiece of black lamb’s wool trimmed with white ermine and carries a distaff to represent the spinning threads of fate.





Younger people who do not stand to inherit much from their parents; ambitious but dissatisfied with their lot in life, and who want to better themselves. As an expert navigator, has only a 2-in-6 chance of becoming lost while at sea. +1 to attack rolls with swords or spears. At 2nd level, gains 1d4+1 raiders (see Pirates in Classic Fantasy Monsters) with +1 morale. Does not gain the thief abilities to Read Languages or Use Scrolls.



A composer and reciter of poems that honor heroes and their deeds. Companions within 10’ of the skald gain a +2 bonus on saving throws versus fear effects, and NPCs in the skald’s party within 10’ gain a +2 bonus to loyalty and/or morale. The skald must recite epic poems or stories during battle using fanciful wordplay known as kennings. Companions who cannot hear the skald do not gain the above bonuses. 2-in-6 chance to know lore related to history, folk tales, and legends. Increases to 3-in-6 at 3rd level, 4-in-6 at 7th level and 5-in-6 at 11th level. Does not have the thief skills of Climb Sheer Surfaces, Find/Remove Treasure Traps, Open Locks, or Pick Pockets.


Hanging: At home (laptop)
Drinking: Just returned from the pub, drinking a Martini with Amass Gin and Dolin Dry Vermouth, with a Twist
Listening: "The Sidewinder" by Bobbi Humphrey, from the album "Flute-In"


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