Monday, February 24, 2014

Hero of the Viking Age - Sven Forkbeard

Another man of Myth and Legend.... Son of King 'Harald Bluetooth' (the first Scandanavian King to be baptised a Christian) and father of Cnut the Great. Who is this Hero apparently baptised Otto but preferring not to use that name?  Whether his name was Sweyn or Sveinn or Sven, legend follows him as a notable King of the Dark Ages. Now learn a little more about his life and Saga abilities...

Sven Forkbeard - King of Denmark and England

Life and Death.

"Legend says that he grew up amongst the Jomsvikings in their Jomsborg stronghold". I don't put much faith in Legend, but it seems clear that Sven was no stranger to warfare and strategy....

Sven rebelled against his Father in the mid 980's and took the throne of Denmark. He set his sights on England following the St Brice’s Day Massacre. On this day in November 1002 a number of English Danes were slaughtered under the orders of Æthelred, possibly including Sven's sister, Gunhilde.

In revenge (and probably political machinations with the throne of England as a goal) Sven led raids into England from 1003. In 1013 he planned an invasion of England. He quickly took the East and North East and then headed South. Londoners held out for a while, but after the West capitulated, London surrendered and the deposed King Æthelred fled abroad.

Sven was crowned King on Christmas Day 1013. Despite his adoption of Christianity, many doubted that he was sincere in his new found beliefs. Again this seems to be a sign of Sven's political shrewdness, being seen to be popular to make political capital.

Sven's rule in England was very short lived though. He died on 2nd/3rd of February 1014 after just five weeks as King of England. His son Harald as eldest son should have been King, but his younger son was favoured by the Danish Navy so Cnut succeeded him to the throne of England. Cnut was later forced to flee and then returned in 1016 to take his throne by force. Cnut and his own sons ruled England for 26 years.

Another 'bloody' piece of English history!

Hero of the Viking Age.

Here are the special rules for Sven in the Saga wargame....

Sven Forkbeard is a Hero of the Viking Age (see Saga rules page 45.)

He always fights with a Dane axe, which counts as a heavy weapon (see Saga rules page 43.)

He generates 2 Saga Dice like standard Warlords.

Christian or Pagan: Some doubts exist about the possible conversion of Sven to Christianity.
If you decide that Sven is Christian, he will lead an Anglo-Danish warband (consider your Huscarls to be Christianised Hirdmen).
If you decide that Sven is pagan, he will lead a Viking warband that may not include Berserkers.
Terrifying: If a unit of Levies or Warriors engage in melee with Sven or is engaged in melee by him, it takes a FATIGUE during step 1) of the melee.

Vengeful: Sven is haunted by the St Brice’s Day Massacre. During Step 3) of any melee in which he is engaged, he gains an additional Attack Die for every enemy model within VS of him.

Conqueror of England: Though determined and hateful of his enemies, Sven knew that he could not afford to lose too many troops during the conquest of England. Any friendly unit within S of Sven (including Sven himself) may, during Step 3) of the melee, discard 3 Attack Dice to increase its Armour by +1. A unit may only increase his Armour once in this way in each melee.

Looking at the special rules for Sven, he is a powerful leader for both the Anglo-Danes and Vikings. His combat bonuses (played at the right time) could turn the tide of battle and he should be strongly considered as an alternative Warlord for Danes and Vikings and as a man who takes the fight to the enemy very personally!

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