However, as the project progressed I at least inferred the question, and the answer was not to Beowulf. Early on I decided to have the characters be outlaws. The title Wolfshead is just so evocative, and the idea of the characters being outside the law fits the average D&D party, who if not exactly outlaws, are often a law unto themselves.
Recently, during playtest and in emails from people who have a copy of the playtest pdf, I’ve had head scratching questions along the lines of: 'Why isn’t there a human warrior with chain, sword, and shield as one of the character classes?'
The answer is simple enough. Redwald players aren’t heroes, they’re not Thegns, they’re not Ealdormen. They are not Beowulf. They aren’t even Churls in the Fryd. The players in Redwald are outlaw scum. How can that not be fun?
Now it's not that I went out of my way to be different, or contrary.I just figured there are plenty of settings and RPGs where you can play Saxon, Viking, Celtic, or Barbarian warrior including TSR D&D. I think that’s already covered.
Beyond that, Beowulf and his ilk are the archetypal Dark Age heroes. Beowulf, Kings, Ealdormen, Thegns, and the Fryd are the acceptable face of Redwald society. They’re the mainstream. The player characters are on the margins of that society. Which I think works well for D&D characters, especially OSR D&D.
So why isn’t Beowulf or the archetypal Dark Age warrior a character class in Redwald? Because Beowulf and his mates are Redwald's ‘Orcs’ and like all good Orcs they want your characters dead!