Draugr Adventure Seed and Viking Weddings
So, today’s Adventure seed features Draugr. Lots of them. Obviously, these would fit into Norðlond, because draugr. But did you know that (at least according to the Viking Answer Lady), it was expected for the groom to retrieve an ancestral sword from a barrow.
Let me quote the passage in full:Originally by Viking Answer Lady
Since men did not wear a visible token of their bachelor status, the symbolic removal of their old identity followed a much different ritual from that being followed by the bride. The groom was required to obtain an ancestral sword belonging to a deceased forebear for use later in the wedding ceremony. There is a string tradition in the sagas of breaking grave-mounds in order to retrieve a sword belonging to a deceased forebear, to be given to a son of the family, and Hilda Ellis-Davidson finds evidence for the importance of such a sword at the wedding (Hilda R. Ellis-Davidson. “The Sword at the Wedding,” in Patterns of Folklore. Ipswich UK: D.S. Brewer, 1978. p. 123). This would indeed be a powerful ritual of separation and destruction of the man’s identity as a bachelor, with the descent into the grave-mound to recover the sword serving as a symbolic death and rebirth for the groom. If an appropriate barrow was not available, the ancestral sword may have been concealed by the groom’s relatives in a mock-tumulus (Ibid., p. 109). This would provide an opportunity for the groom to be confronted by a man costumed as a ghost or aptrgangr of his ancestor, who might elaborate on the young man’s instruction by reminding him of his family history and lineage, the importance of tradition, and the need to continue the ancestral bloodline. On the other hand, the sword which the groom had to obtain might instead be gotten from a living relative, complete with the lecture on family history: the sagas are not clear on this point and nowhere actually describe grave-breaking as a part of the wedding ceremony.
So, in order to get married . . . a vital part of the society . . . our young viking had to go on a dungeon delve. Sure, it’s likely one a one or two room dungeon, but in Fantasy Norse Thegn Land, you have a very, very real expectation of finding a dead guy (or gal!) at the end of it, and that corpse was really possessive about their stuff.
If it is a true ancestor, perhaps you could get by with a test of mettle, or suffering through a lecture on marriage and the undead’s expectations of his living ancestors. Or perhaps that was her favorite sword and she feels she needs it in Valholl, so get yer grubby mitts off of it.
Things like this, plus the deep mythology of the culture, some of which we’re all familiar with (it’s likely that the words wraith and wight came from raiðr and vaettr, pronounced, you guessed it, wraith-urr and vight-urr; not to mention Tiw’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day, and Freya’s Day/Frigga’s Day), were one of the reason that, after a quick playtest session using the Norse myths, I quickly settled on that culture as the basis for my future world.
It’s DEEP. And between marriage customs, the expected behavior of its inhabitants, and that the Viking culture got its name from the practice of venturing out, killing people, and taking their stuff, and the deep pervasiveness of magic and rune lore . . . it made it simply a natural for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.