Norden World: Alignment Becomes Nature

I mentioned in the initial Norden World notes that I was going to ditch alignment, because it didn’t fit. There were no small number of you who didn’t like that, so I mused on what alignment should mean in the harsh world where community is gone and you’ve just escaped utter doom (or, depending on your perspective, been thrust into worse).

(Huge thanks to Adam Koebel, co-creator of Dungeon World, for riffing on me and helping me tease out thoughts I left unstated.)

So I’m changing the moral/ethical nature of alignment to something broader and without that moral/ethical baggage, because in the campaign framework there are very, very few mortals left who haven’t been frozen alive by Thor’s wrath. Thus, I need an alignment dynamic that won’t inherently lead to PvP[1]. More importantly, the moral nature of alignments doesn’t befit a harsh world where everything is your enemy; in a sense, your default alignment is “survive.”

So, changing these to be about nature, the sort of person you want to be, the sort of person you are, in the same way that alignment is. More to the point, it’s the core of you that keeps you warm in the bitter cold of Mythic Norden, and why you fight to survive rather than just die in the snow.

As a reminder, the questions that lead to that sort of character are included below, and includes revisions for the druid and skald.


These represent initial natures that characters who just had their way of life sundered could have, either to persevere in the face of eradication or to get revenge on Norden for this transgression. These aren’t the whole of possible natures, and when changing alignment/nature at the end of a session, any are possible (including a new one).


Which of you were stolen away as an infant, and had your blood mixed with that of some foul monster before your family rescued you? You grew up to be a barbarian.

  • Beast Slayer: Rid the world of a terrible menace.
  • Dominator: Go far beyond what’s needed to defeat a foe, to show the world it should fear you.
  • Rager: Dive into the fray without thought or concern.


Which of you was marked at birth by a passing witch or nature spirit, and since then felt wrong inside the town, even though you loved your family and friends. You grew up to be a druid.

  • Caretaker: Help something or someone grow.
  • Restorer: Restore a part of the world from foul influence.
  • Tamer: Bend a spirit of nature to your will.


Which of you watched as you lost your older sibling to a clan-war, and swore that you would never be so weak as to let another loved one die? You grew up to be a fighter.

  • Defender: Defend someone or something weaker than you.
  • Glory Hunter: Defeat a foe worthy of story and song.
  • Tactician: Use your guile to vanquish a threat.


Which of you were lost in the woods, and were nearly eaten by the wildebeasts save for the hunter that rescued you? You grew up to be a ranger.

  • Avenger: Slaughter an unnatural being that isn’t threatening you.
  • Naturalist: Aid a natural animal or friendly spirit at cost or risk to you.
  • Savior: Protect another from the harsh Mythic World.

Skald (Bard)

Which of you grew up under the harsh and relentless tutelage of the Wise Women, and are the only keepers of their lore left? You grew up to be a skald.

  • Builder: Make the world a better place for mortalkind (for once they’re freed).
  • Lorekeeper: Discover new lore that would make the Wise Women proud.
  • Supporter: Use your talents to aid someone else.


Which of you lost your parents in the great fire, and had to raise yourself and your younger sibling on the streets? You grew up to be a thief.

  • Impulsive: Leap into danger without a plan.
  • Schemer: Deceive or manipulate a Mythic being or force.
  • Shadow: Avoid detection or infiltrate a location.


What do you think?

– Ryan

[1] I’ll also need that for bonds, but that’s a later post.


3 Responses to Norden World: Alignment Becomes Nature

  1. I really dig these. They remind me a lot of Keys in Lady Blackbird / A/N/N.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      Keys trace back to The Shadow of Yesterday/The Solar System, which if you’re looking for more key-like stuff is food for thought.

      The way these aren’t keys is that, among other things, there’s no buyoff. That’s no change from DW, though, so while I had an impulse to try to make them more key-like, I decided not to.

      – Ryan

  2. Absolutely. Buyoff would seem a bit odd in this context.

    Although now I’m envisioning some interesting things involving the intersection of Keys with Hearts and or Fates in Mythender.

    I’ll have to check out Shadow and Solar System. I’ve never heard of them before.