Bolverk, nicknamed Bloodaxe, is the Varl Berserker leader of the Ravens, a mercenary group of fearsome reputation. He is briefly encountered as an NPC in Chapter 7 of the first game, becomes a central (POV) playable character in the second game and is an antagonist in the third game.
In the first part of The Banner Saga, the Ravens are in charge of the defense of Boersgard until Rook's caravan reaches the besieged city, in Chapter 7. They are employed by the Governor of Boersgard (Rugga) who knows his people will soon revolt and has gone into hiding, charging the Ravens with guarding the city and protecting him. When the Dredge tighten the siege, the Ravens begin to tear down buildings to build boats to carry themselves, the Governor and Rook's caravan away from Boersgard. However, when the townsfolk realize they won't be able to come along, they begin to riot. The Ravens try to keep them under control while also holding back the Dredge besiegers.
Bolverk is one of the two major POV Hero characters of the game. In Chapter 15 however, he becomes an antagonist.
|Base – Max||Stat|
|12 / 14|
|11 / 13|
|8 / 10|
|2 / 3|
|2 / 4|
|Start rank||Free points|
Practical and prone to violence, Bolverk leads the mercenaries - known as the Ravens - with absolute authority. His rage is a weapon; his oath is unbreakable.
Active Ability: Cull The Weak
- Bolverk starts with Cull The Weak at Rank 3 (since his Hero Rank is 5).
Bolverk becomes a wild animal on the battlefield, hunting down the weakest of his opponents and driving himself to greater Renown with an additional Turn for every Kill. As long as he has Willpower and continues to kill targets, Bolverk can continue to use this ability each Turn, cutting a swath through the battlefield.
Rank 1: Attacks one target; his Strength suffers a -2 penalty for Damage calculation only.
Rank 2: Attacks one target; his Strength suffers a -1 penalty for Damage calculation only.
Rank 3: Attacks one target for regular Strength Damage.
Active Ability: Bear Rage
- Bolverk gains the Bear Rage ability when he is promoted to Rank 6.
The Berserker whips himself into a fury, terrifying nearby enemies and sending them fleeing in disarray. Affected enemies are so shaken they suffer a penalty to their Armor for one Round. Additionally, the Berserker counter-attacks any melee blows from enemies brave enough to strike at him.
Rank 1: All adjacent enemies suffer a temporary -1 Armor penalty and move 3 tiles away from the Berserker; Frenzied counter-attack.
Rank 2: All adjacent enemies suffer a temporary -2 Armor penalty and move 3 tiles away from the Berserker; Frenzied counter-attack.
Rank 3: All adjacent enemies suffer a temporary -3 Armor penalty and move 3 tiles away from the Berserker; Frenzied counter-attack.
Passive Ability: Frenzy
The Berserker first attacks the enemy target's Armor or Strength, as directed, then does a Strength attack against a random adjacent target, friend or foe.
Because the second attack strikes a random target, care must be taken around allies, but if only a single target is in range, that target will always receive both attacks, guaranteeing a double strike...
Bolverk is slowly corrupted throughout the game by Bellower's Dream and adapts his personality. In Chapter 15, it regenerates his armor and strength for 4 points each round. This buff however disappears when he is struck by Eyvind's lightning.
Joining the Party
Bolverk is a lead (POV) character in the second part of The Banner Saga, playable in Chapters 9, 11 and 13.
Possible Death or Departure
There is no event leading to Bolverk's death in the second part of The Banner Saga, however he does suffer a certain... condition.
- Bolverk's passive, Frenzy, is arguably the strongest ability in the game. Combined with his 4BRK and a +STR and/or +CRIT buff (from Items or Talents), he can deliver huge damage to a single enemy, or kill/maim two weak enemies.
- The Ravens lieutenant, Folka is excluded from Frenzy second-attack (randomly selected) targets. This means that she will never be hit by Bolverk when adjacent to him.
- Cull The Weak should be used with care, as it can give the enemy team Turn Advantage.
- An interesting use for Cull The Weak is when you want Bolverk to attack a single enemy while having a lot of adjacent low-ARM allies. Using his active will cause less damage to the target (and also spend 1WIL), but you will not risk hitting an ally as is the case with Bolverk's regular attacks (subject to Frenzy).
- Bear Rage can be used to uncover invisible Skulkers that are hiding near Bolverk.
Bolverk becomes a major antagonist in the third game, after being revived by the Serpent. He leads the Warped hunting Iver and the Ravens. At Ridgehorn, he will confront the party, but Folka will try to reason with him. If you don't push her away, she will die.
His attacks will be highly damaging when you face him in the final fight at the White Tower. He will also be accompanied by Warped Dredge.
When he confronts you, you have the option to let him talk or headbutt him. The former will result in a wave battle, with Bolverk coming in the final wave. In the latter case, you will have to fight just one group including Bolverk himself.
The floating crystals in the area can be shattered to wound both him and the Warped , as the crystal shards will fly in the direction opposite to which they are hit.
You do not have to defeat him however. If you lose, he will slaughter all the Ravens but Iver, Juno and Eyvind will manage to flee.
The only difference losing to Bolverk makes is locking out the ending with Alfrun being able to perform the ritual in place of Eyvind, in order to stop the Darkness from destroying the world.
- The name "Bolverk" literally means "Evil-doer" in Old Norse. In the Norse mythology, the name was adopted by a disguised Odin who went to Jotunheimr in order to steal the mead of poetry.
- Bolverk believes that unlike his Varl brethren, who are the product of a divine merger between Yox and Man, he is part man, part bear. To further assume the role, he wears a thick bear skin on his back at all times, and broke off his horns in defiance of his yoxen heritage.
- His two axes, whose hafts are made from his broken horns, are called Claw and Fang.
- Bolverk is the only unit belonging to the Berserker class. So, it is unclear if his class (and its three abilities) is intended as a base or a promoted one. He is cited as the last living Berserker, but nothing else is revealed about them.
- Bolverk has a cameo in the game Kingdom Rush: Origins by Ironhide Game Studio. The cameo came about as a result of gaming website Gamezebo's 10 Best iPad Games of 2014, which saw both Kingdom Rush: Origins come up alongside The Banner Saga. After exchanging compliments and admiration on twitter, a subtle hint from Gamezebo "what's it going to take to get Varls in Kingom Rush 4?" resulted in Bolverk making an appearance.
- Early concept art depicts him with ginger hair, one broken horn and blue body painting.