The only class currently included in the playtest that I have any issue with is the monk. I just don’t have any sense of how they would fit in this world. But I’m open to discussion on the matter.
Midgard is a rough world with hungry predators, invading jotun, and warring tribes. Most folks have seen some violence in their lives. But there’s a difference between having been in a few fights and making martial exploits your life’s work. A true fighter studies and practices to master tactics, maneuvers, the care and use of weapons and armor. This usually requires some sort of teacher and Midgard presents several options.
A first level fighter could trained with the halfling or dwarven militias (the only standing military forces in Midgard) or with the guards of one of the largest human villages. Smaller human villages often contract with small groups of mercenaries when under threat and such groups are always looking for new members (as are the bandits the mercenaries often oppose). Even outside of an organized force, the people of Midgard respect strength and skill and such skills are likely to come in handy.
Even those of less imposing stature need to find a way to survive, and the cleverest may turn to magic. Gnomes have the most developed and codified magical tradition, with almost all of their young receiving at least some formal training in magical principles. The elves, dwarves, and halfings appreciate the arcane arts and generally pass them down through apprenticeships. Among humans and skraelings, the choice to rely on magic rather than physical strength is somewhat suspect; most young wizards begin their study out of desperation of opportunism and have to work pretty hard to find teachers or books. Magic falls under the domain of Odin, chief of the gods, so it’s not considered evil, but it still marks one as an outsider in human and skraeling society. Most who develop some arcane proficiency pull away from society for a life as a reclusive researcher or itinerant tinker and a small income providing services to those who’s need outweighs their distrust.
Wizards may have a rough time among humans, but no one likes a thief. On the other hand, nearly everyone has had occasion to want the of someone subtle and discrete and a lack of centralized law enforcement can be good for business. Midgard isn’t urban or populous enough to support something as established as a thieves’ guild, but some folks always end up fighting dirty and looking for easy money. The halfling navy easily has as many rogues as fighters, as do all the bands of bandits and pirates. The rivalries of the gnomish universities and dwarven houses lead to their share of intrigue and backalley deals. Aboveground, merchants, traders, and entertainers traveling from village to village provide good cover for someone who might indulge in the sort of behavior that makes it hard to stick around one village for long.
In some ways, the religious classes might be the easiest to stumble into in Midgard. Religious practice hasn’t been made institutional or hierarchical and the gods don’t hold themselves aloof from humanity. Devotion and need can get a divine response from most anyone and it’s a short step from there to a more ardent service, traveling the countryside doing your chosen god’s bidding, no ordination or ritual needed. A reformed criminal might seek to reform others in Tyr’s name to atone for his misdeed. A retired craftsman might travel the countryside in the name of Frigg, asking her blessing for important projects. With very few exceptions, worship of one Aesir does not require that one forsake the rest and religious practice in Midgard is not about proselytizing. Instead, a cleric looks for those who need his or her deity’s aid and intercedes on their behalf.
Most druids are either elves from the Great Forest or members of the Keepers. Either way, they are part of a tradition both very old and respected but somewhat apart from most people’s experience. The people of Midgard appreciate the power of nature and the magic of the Vanir gods, but are sometimes made uncomforable by a druids closeness to the beasts that still pose a very real and present threat to Midgard’s inhabitants. This schism only grows as humans continue to move toward agrarian and urban lives, leaving behind their not-too-distant past as hunters and gatherers.
While the Keepers and the Elven Circle represent the druidic establishment, I’ll certainly allow the possibility of solitary practitioners elsewhere in the world — a secluded woodsman or dwavrven spelunker who’s become attuned to the natural energies around him or her, for example. Druidic magics tend more toward the intuitve than the studied, so they do not always require a teacher or formal structure.
How much do I really need to say about barbarians in a Norse-themed setting? They’re respected warriors, but held at a distance as unpredictable an dangerous. Loose brotherhoods and warbands of berserkers rise and fall — strong enough to gain some power and notoriety, but not organized enough to maintain it. The Red Cloud is currently the best known of such groups, but it is not the only one.
Bards are welcomed across the continent as sources of both entertainment and news. Some wealthy individuals may keep a bard on retainer, but most bards travel the land finding work, inspiration, and secrets. By tradition, they are given free rein to wander where they will (though it’s certain a bard or two has met an untimely end by happening upon a larger secret than they expected).
Midgard has no bardic college or other establishment. Most bards apprentice for a time, following a master in her travels.