The live-action roleplaying community includes many games with many different approaches and expectations. While nothing is a complete substitute for directly experiencing the game, we want players to have a general idea of what to expect going into Gothic: Runeheim. We believe that setting expectations with characters is a key contributor to both player and staff enjoyment.
Gothic: Runeheim will explore controversial themes; religious oppression, colonialism, sexism, racism, war, desperation in survival and slavery, among others. We highly suggest that you view our sections on the unreliable narrator and understand that the views of NPCS are dark and should be viewed as such.
This is an Out Of Character page intended to introduce players to the key expectations and some story points of Gothic: Runeheim.
You are the author of your character’s choices, however, Gothic imposes limits on your character’s mental and emotional state once the character has been created. Certain kinds of beliefs and emotions have systematic representations within the game, just as your character’s body is represented in the combat system. Changing your own character’s core beliefs is not trivial, and certain external influences can change your character’s emotions and even beliefs.
We encourage players to view this in part as a separation between their own choices and their character’s choices; their own mental state and the character’s mental state. Just as your character may be “wounded” by an “arrow” that does not physically harm the player, so too may your character be convinced and persuaded to take actions that the player may otherwise not. The purpose of this is to encourage a more dramatic and cinematic overall experience, both for individual characters and for the overall story.
A Hopeful Darkness
The basic tone of the game is set in a dark world, but not a hopelessly dark world. Many injustices, cruelties, and horrors exist in the world. Characters are the heroes of the story within Runeheim and it is our hope that players explore the themes of our game in a serious manner while exploring the hard moral and emotional choices their characters will be faced with. Characters may fail and even die during the course of their stories.
The systems, particularly the combat system, are focused on a cinematic approach intended to create dramatic tension and give characters an opportunity to show their abilities. Combat is still primarily physical, with real-world skill playing an important role – but full realism is not intended. This cinematic approach will also be found in encounter design, as we prefer dramatic encounters when possible.
Setting Expectations in Play
Below are listed Spheres of Play, organized into Social Class and Gameplay spheres. Social Class is chosen at start as part of making your character. You primarily interact with your own sphere, and changing social classes is possible but difficult in play. Gameplay spheres are more open and varied, and a character can be involved in as many or as few as they’d like.
Gothic: Runeheim will include themes that some people may find disturbing; sins, slavery, systemic racism, violence, etc. While any Sphere of Play has the potential to encounter these themes, certain ones will definitely encounter some more often, and those will be listed at the end of their entry.
It is recommended that players choose to play as a Njord or Gothic in order to fully experience the story being told. The story and struggles being told in Runeheim will be directly related to the Cold Throne and although other cultures are allowed, we will not be focusing on stories outside of the theater.
Social Class Spheres
As a Peasant, players will represent the various “Firsts among Equals” of their communities, and as such, are often the ones that their fellows go to when things need fixing. They’re considered notable within their communities, particularly once they’ve gained Folkwisdom. Most Malefic and monster plots affect peasants first as they go about their lives and harvest from the wilds around the forum, making playing a Peasant an easy way to encounter them. If you’re interested in playing a Peasant, you can expect your game to revolve around gathering important resources for the community, being the first to encounter the phenomena of the Night Malefic, helping your peers with their problems, and participating in the various folk celebrations and holidays.
Peasant is a good choice for both new and returning players. Whether your concept is a hardy survivalist, a prodigious gatherer, or a cultural leader, peasants are a malleable and versatile sphere that can be shaped to fit just about any roleplay you’d like.
The life of someone called Scum is not an easy one. As Scum, much of your game will have to do with either struggling and railing against the life you’ve been dealt, learning to wheel and deal with the various gangs that occupy the underground of Runeheim, or potentially creating your own gang to secure your place (and safety) in the shadows. You will also have the opportunity to engage in political roleplay should you wish it, as learning to push your own choice of lord in the shadows, or eliminate enemy lords, can be just as effective at manipulating the local theatre as any Nobles words. Scum will often have less access to in-game resources and amenities, and are generally looked down upon by the people of the city, especially those in power. In addition to this, Scum must compete with both other have-nots like themselves, and the members of local gangs for resources and survival. Much of Scum plot will come from the underground organizations in the area, but it’s possible their hard-won skillset will be called upon by others.
Scum is a good choice if you’re looking to play a character whose business is in shadowy or less than legal areas, or if the story you want to tell is one of struggle and adversity. PLEASE NOTE: Scum is not an easy concept to play, and certain resources available to other characters may be more difficult to obtain. Themes include; systemic oppression, violence
Merchants are the driving force behind any good economy. As a Merchant, you’ll be playing a character who’s primarily focused on resource management, and much of your time at game will be spent making and fulfilling deals with both your fellow players and the larger trade guilds- perhaps even creating one yourself! Because of their upbringing, merchants are also ideal for concepts that revolve around academia, and most scholars and mages come from the Merchant class. Finally, Merchants are the ones most likely to encounter and be sought by newcomers to town, whether they be from Njord bands passing through or foreign trade envoys.
Merchant is a good choice if you enjoy resource management, academia and lore-seeking, and meeting new people.
To play a Gentry is to play someone who’s spent the majority of their life in or around a castle. Representing the retainers, guards and people-in-waiting to the Nobility, Gentry learn the ins and outs of social and political society, and even the least of them usually have the ear of those they serve. At game, Gentry tend to play close with Nobles, usually as their attendants or employees, and often enjoy a certain extent of luxury not afforded to others. For Gentry, most plot comes from the Nobility that they serve.
Gentry is a good choice for you if you enjoy playing games of political espionage, personal scenes with members of the nobility, and acting as hands to the lords and ladies of the world. Vindicta Dragomir is the Markgrafin of Castle Strafanstalt and the surrounding area, and as such, being in her service is particularly appropriate for Gentry characters.
Njordr is a place of hardship and violence. Those who take up arms to defend themselves, their families, and their communities are common. These range from Njordic karl, to local and foreign mercenaries, all the way to a warrior knight. To play a combat character is to be the person who others turn to when bandits attack or when the things that live in the forest come out to feed. If you enjoy the more physical sides of LARPing, the roleplay of being siblings-in-arms with your fellow warriors, or just the good old danger of adventure, you’ll enjoy this sphere. NOTE: Combat can be lethal to your character, even when done correctly. Gothic is a horror game, and so not every threat can be killed or prevailed over by strength of arms alone. Themes include: Violence
Njordr is a place of hardship and violence and its people really like to drink. To play the Tavern game is to engage in the more lighthearted and social aspects of roleplay. The tavern serves as a cultural center for much of the game, and is often the place where people meet up before an adventure or come to unwind in their off time. Tavern concepts are wide and varied, and can range anywhere from a kindly priest healing wounds of local adventurers, to a young upstart warrior working off a debt as a busboy, to a band of rowdy bards. If you enjoy the social aspects of LARPing, homemaker roleplay, storytelling, or rumormongering, the Tavern game is for you.
To be a Mage is to explore the idea of power at a cost. Even young mages are capable of great and inhuman feats, from slinging bolts of flame to bending the minds of others, but this comes with social ostracization as others fear them for their unnatural power. Mages also compete between Guilds and even internally for power. The elemental Guilds compete for arcane dominance, which is required both for their Mages to gain potency and for large scale projects. With that dominance asserted, how the Guild uses it is also internally disputed. Finally, being a part of a Mages Guild necessarily places you under the mentorship of another Mage who has their own plans and goals. But for those with ambition and talent, the study of the arcane is an unrivalled path to power.
Mages in Runeheim can expect their power to be both valued and feared and Mage players should have a desire or tolerance for adversarial roleplay. You can expect plot that delves into metaphysics and lore which you struggle to balance with the necessities of life. The Earth Guild has long had a strong presence in Njordr and the Fire Guild has arrived with the Gothic armies to prosecute the war- these two guilds are the most common and supported in Runeheim.
Note: Mages are restricted to entering play as first circle at this time.
The Church of Mankind in Njordr holds less social capital than it does in many other places within the Throne, but it is nonetheless present and working to help the people around it. The Priests of Mankind are most often people who in their heart care for others, even if they are sometimes misguided. Supporting them are groups of laypeople who keep the more day-to-day matters of the church in order, from keeping orphanages, managing roads and social projects, and assisting with rituals or prayers. Characters who aren’t officially affiliated with the Church but are nonetheless religious or spiritual may find themselves engaging in this sphere as well as the priests.
Members of the church in Runeheim will enjoy an active support network of NPCs, their fellow priests and laypeople, that they can call on when in need of assistance or counsel. Most Church plot comes either from the higher ranking NPC members, from the players around them in need of assistance, or from weighing morality against expediency. If you enjoy religious or philosophical roleplay, the struggle of what is right versus what is easy, or just being a helpful hand for others when needed, the Church is a good place to start.
Themes include: sins and religious iconography
Cold Throne Clans
To be a member of the Clans of the Cold Throne is to be a Njord who still honors the oaths that Konrad Bearking, first King of the Northmen, made to the Throne before his death. Your clan believes either that the Throne is the way forward for your people, or otherwise that Bearking, having taken control of all the clans before his death by honorable combat, was right in his decisions and should be honored.
That isn’t to say that adjusting to your new life isn’t difficult, or that you don’t still bristle under the occupation of the Throne, they are still occupying forces and you are still a proud native of Njordr. There are many fitting concepts for the Cold Throne Clans, since the game is set in a city in Cold Throne territory, but some options include a newly appointed Njord knight to a noble house, a young karl looking for honor and glory, or a traditional clansman advocating against the erasure of your culture.
Themes include: systemic racism and colonial occupation
The Gothic people sit at the heart of the Empire, and are the poster children for a proper Imperial citizen. The Gothic people have spent generations living under the Empire and often have a hard time understanding why someone would want to avoid it. Under the Empire the average Gothic peasant has everything they need provided for them, to the point that most have never needed to handle coin, so why would they want to leave? As a Gothic, much of your game will revolve around how you represent and/or support the Empire, perhaps even acting as its unwitting face when needed. Gothic people also represent the other side of the colonization efforts, and even the lowest among them tend to sit in a place of privilege over their peers as far as the local nobility is concerned.
Of course despite how they may present themselves, the Gothic people are not a monolith. Not all Gothics support the methods that Empire has used during the annexation of the Cold Throne, and not all Gothics support the Empire so staunchly. Concepts include the simple Gothic peasant making a living in the Cold Throne, the Gothic noble sent to help ease the transition in the north, or the Gothic scum left behind by the system.
As the Empire spreads northward, it brings with it all that it is and has taken before. New opportunities abound in the “untamed” north, and you’re one of the many who’ve come to further your own goals. As a foreigner, your gameplay and story will mostly be about your life in Njordr and your interactions with the locals and their customs. Example concepts include a Hestrali merchant looking for new trade opportunities, a Cappacian adventurer looking for new opportunities in the untamed north, or Dunnick peasant fleeing oppression and seeking a new life at the very borders of the Throne.
NOTE: Gothic: Runeheim is a game primarily about Njordr and her people, and while we do allow foreign concepts in play, it should be noted that your concept will be “A [blank] in Njordr” and that much of your game will be about how you are a foreigner, and how you interact with the Njord people.
Nobles are the landowners of Gothic, the people who legally control the resources of the world. As a Noble, you’re elevated above the other classes into a more global sphere, where your actions can bring prosperity to a region… or cause disaster.
Your power comes largely from your House and its resources, however, and so a penchant for paperwork, numbers, and politics (or the presence of assistants with such proclivities) is a necessity. Noble game can encompass a breadth of experiences. Coalition building for the war effort, eliminating rival factions, dealing with generations-old Njord feuds, and maintaining ties with the rest of the Throne. For the player willing to push their own agenda, Noble game is an immediate and effective ingress towards political plot capable of effecting the world at large. While not necessarily heroic adventurers themselves, a Noble functions as the centerpiece around which their group rallies. If you enjoy number games, exploring the setting from a more top-down perspective, or leadership/management roleplay, Nobility is an excellent place to start.
Being a Noble is very tempting for many players, especially those new to Gothic. They seem to occupy a position of wealth and privilege, but there are some pitfalls that we want to warn prospective nobles about: As Noble PC, you are not playing the head of your House (at least to start) and your House will not be established in Runeheim. This means your access to resources is almost entirely based on how you leverage your title, abilities and support. Playing as part of a group with that support is recommended. In addition, feudalism is inherently exploitative and, while your moral choices are your own, you may find that getting the resources you need means taking them from others.
Knights and Warlords are the main movers and shakers of the Warfare game. While Vindicta and other Nobles may be calling the shots, it’s these people who command and maintain the armies that make up the bulk of the fighting force. A major part of Warfare game will be making plans with your fellow generals and then executing those plans during the warfare minigame- usually run in-person on Sunday mornings.
Warfare game is a good choice for you if you enjoy strategy, military roleplay, or leading your army in grander scale conflicts. As commanders on the front line of a war, however, losses should be expected and the terrible consequences of large scale battle leave no one unscarred.
Themes include: war, violence, desperation
As a knight, you’ve sworn your loyalty and your blade to a cause- a noble House, the Church or one of a few Imperial orders. Knight gameplay touches on politics and warfare, and revolves around you pushing your organization’s agenda via strength of arms or sharpness of wit. If you are knighted by a noble House or imperial order, you are immediately given a minor noble title, making it a path to higher social status for those willing to devote themselves and meaning that less combat inclined players can also find a rewarding experience in Knighthood. Conversely, there are some Knights who choose to serve not a noble house, but the Church. These Knights, known as Templars, do not gain the power of minor nobility, but instead become honorary priests with the ability to perform certain low level rituals. Templars are a good choice for people interested in both Knight and Church roleplay.
As a Knight in Runeheim, much of your plot will come from the organization that you serve. Your organization has a vested interest in the area, otherwise they would not have sent you. Not all knights are warriors, but they are all leaders- entrusted by their order to push their cause. Each order has a focus and while many orders are warrior traditions, some are more social or intellectual in focus.
Themes include: war, violence, feudalism
As a Warlord, you interact with the Warfare system without the rigid hierarchy or politicking that Knights deal with. A Warlord is someone who grows their personal legend and reputation, boasting often and accomplishing great feats wherever possible. The dark side of this coin, however, is that the warriors under a warlord’s banner are less disciplined and prone to pillage and press-ganging.
Most Warlords in Runeheim should be Branded Njords, though mercenary captains and Dunnick freedom fighters can also be warlords. A Branded warlord can expect the respect and fear of most other Njords, but can also expect fierce competition from others trying to make their name.
Themes include: war, violence, slavery,
Njordr is a harsh land with a long history, and it’s the Archaeologists who’ve taken up the mission of unearthing it. Archaeologists use the majority of their downtimes digging into the ruins and delving into caves to learn the hidden history of Njordr, and serve as a great source of Trials for players to engage in. Small, skilled teams tend to find most success here, as too many in a ruin or cave can make spotting and avoiding dangers harder. Even with such focused teams though, delving into the forgotten past of Njordr is a dangerous business.
If you enjoy learning the history of a setting and piecing together the mysteries of a long gone age, then Archaeology is the game for you.
Paladins are an advanced character concept that can only be purchased at character creation. They’re an Order of Holy Knights, similar to Templars, but a Paladin is born, not made. Paladins are considered chosen by God from birth to do good, and are a wonderful way to jump straight in to a heroic character role. The various abilities that Paladins have access to make for equally skilled scholars, healers, or warriors, which allows for a variety of gameplay options. As a Paladin, the morality of the setting will have an increased impact on your character. Sin weighs heavily on the heart of any Paladin, and accruing too much can cause your Paladin to Fall, becoming an NPC antagonist.
As a Paladin, your gameplay will revolve very heavily around morality roleplay, and players wishing to engage in such play will find a rewarding experience here. Playing a Paladin is signing up to play an inherently Benalian concept, Paladins cannot be any of any other faith.
NOTE: Players are encouraged to read and memorize the Benalian faith and sins, as they will have a much more drastic effect on Paladin characters.
Themes include: sins and religious iconography