Boasting in the Middarmark

[FONT=verdana]So I have to admit, I’ve been a little disappointed with how humans’ Boasting Nature has seen use at my table. Really, I think it’s a failure on my part to communicate what I intended, because boasting in the source material I drew from is very different from the way we modern people tend to think of boasting.

Our conception of boasting is that it is something you do if you are arrogant or overly prideful – often with the connotation that the braggart is boasting of something unearned. The braggart makes spurious claims that don’t need to be backed up.

Among the Norse and Anglo-Saxons (who called a boast a gylp or bēot, respectively) a boast was a ritualized vow, threat or promise made in the mead hall the night before battle. These boasts were considered a sign of one’s determination, bravery and character, because once you made the pledge, you were expected to carry it out and you would be greatly shamed if not. You might boast that you would strike the first blow in battle or claim the weapons of an enemy of renown. In Beowulf, the hero vows that he will slay Grendel without using weapons or armor.

Anyway, I’ve written this up as a way to get across how I imagine Boasting working. Making a boast requires an audience. It should be done in town or the hall of a king or lord, not in camp. A boast should also describe a feat that is considered extremely hard or even impossible by the audience. Boasting that you can climb to the summit of a mountain (which is a popular picnic spot for the locals) is not a real boast. Boasting that you can summit the peak of the impossibly tall mountain Stardock (see the eponymous Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser story) is a worthy boast, as is making the Witch-King grovel at your feet, winning a valkyrie or the untouchable Lord of the Dawn Star as your bride or groom, drinking an entire barrel of Ronwald’s famed beer in a single go, and so on.

Anyway, take a look and tell me what you think. If you’re truly awesome, you’ll use this in your games and tell me about how it played out (for good or ill).

Boasting in the Middarmark
Among many of the tribes of the Middarmark, particularly the Bjornings, Gotts and Scefings, a boast, or gylp, is considered a sacred vow to perform a deed of impossible heroics. Traditionally performed in the mead hall at banquet before a battle or adventure—though strong drink of any type and an audience is the only true requirement—boasting typically begins with a recitation of grand stories of one’s past glorious deeds leading up to a pledge to perform a deed of valor in the adventure to come. The pledge might be to take a renowned sword from an enemy warrior as spoils, to deliver the killing blow against a terrible beast, to climb an unconquered mountain, and so on.
Once acclaimed, the boaster stands to gain tremendous glory from accomplishing the feat, though ignominy and derision shall be heaped upon the names of those that fail.
Rules: To make such a vow, test Oratory (or Boasting Nature) using the following factors:
Location of Boast: Village tavern; hall of a jarl, sea king or petty king; hall of the high king
Pledge: Feat of Strength or Fortitude, Act of Bravery or Love, Prowess in Battle or Feat of Skill, Defeat of Powerful Enemy
If successful, write a new goal about accomplishing your boast. Until the boast is accomplished (and as long as you don’t change your goal), all tests made in pursuit of the goal are considered to be within your character’s Nature. If you accomplish your boast and live to tell the tale, gain +1D to Circles tests in the place where you made the boast.
Suggestions for failure:
Failure for boasting should be commensurate with the magnitude of the boast and location in which the boast was made. A far-fetched boast in the village tavern may get you laughed at. But a boast to kill the king—in the hall of that very king—will get you banished right quick. The gamemaster should choose a failure effect appropriate to the situation or invent one that fits better.

[li]You have made a new enemy who insults you until you leave. No further effects.[/li]
[li]You are laughed out of this location and may not return during this town phase. No further effects.[/li]
[li]You are laughed out of town. End town phase. No further effects.[/li]
[li]Suffer factor in all tests in town where you made the boast until you perform the deed you pledged to perform (pursuit of the goal is not considered to be within your character’s Nature).[/li][/ul]


That is awesome! I shoulda thought of Boasting in that manner, because I’ve read enough of those stories. How much drama is driven by a reckless boast!

I wanna play a Bjiorning soooooooooo baaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!

Stay cool :cool:

Hmm, why not use boasting in a similar manner as Avenging Grudges? If you make a boast and set it as your goal then you can use or tap your nature for any activity that directly moves you toward achieving that boast. This has a natural balance with regard to small or big boasts. If you boast small then you get to tap your nature to do something small, which is a waste, whereas if you boast big then you can use your boasting nature for more important things for a longer period, though you also have your goal fixed for a potentially longer period of time, meaning potentially less rewards. The consequences for a failed or achieved boast can just play out in the narrative.

Or, taking things in the other direction, after achieving a goal you can boast about it to garner favors, prestige, or loyalty. This doesn’t have the same flavor of preemptive boasting as the source material you are suggesting, but at least it takes things out of the realm of just being prideful or spurious, as you would only use boasting in this way for things you had done.

Just a few thoughts to add to the mix.

We’re also going to clarify Avenging Grudges!

This rekindles memories of the Saga of the Jomsvikings. Yayyyy!