The renown mechanic is easy to remember (Horn/banner token on the right). Every character starts at a settlement location in which a quest can be taken. The character draws 2 quest cards and chooses one card and discards the other. Players with a renown token can draw extra quest cards for every renown token. There is a clear advantage when a character has more options to pick a quest which fits their need.
The renown of a character is derived from the level of fame and status within Viking society. Characters can earn renown tokens as rewards in quests, events or other accomplishments. Renown tokens are also connected to status. The higher the status the more renown tokens a character has. A status level of 0 to 4 does not provide any tokens. At level 5 and up characters get one renown token per extra level. So a status of 5 gives one token, a status of 6 two, a status of 7 three etc. The maximum status level is 9 which gives five extra renown tokens.
Infamy is the opposite side of renown (Blood drops token on the left). Characters can gain infamy tokens during the game. These tokens are negative rewards to some quests and events. Most of the time the player has a choice in the matter. He or she does not have to pursue dark quests and can continue as normal ignoring them completely.
However in some cases unexpected rewards and events can give an infamy token to a player. Usually infamy tokens are gained when a player has done something bad, unethical or evil through the eyes of most Viking people. To get rid of those a player has to earn renown. An infamy token can be canceled out with a renown token. If a player does not have any renown tokens the infamy will cancel the extra card draw for getting quests to a minimum of 1 card.
When a player has 3 or more infamy tokens, and no renown to compensate, he or she is declared an outlaw in his homeland. This means that the player will be attacked in his home region by any military force.
In solo and competitive play renown tokens are very useful and allow a more direct path to victory. Although it does not seem much of an advantage, getting the right quests and rewards does speed up your goals. In cooperative play renown tokens can be used to help other players or get the right stuff more quickly. Players that have many renown tokens have more options but do not tend to become overpowered in relation to others.
Perhaps the most profound effect on a player will be the amount of infamy tokens. Being an outlaw or infamous can hinder a player from entering a region or he or she can be killed while traveling. Having infamy tokens has a negative effect in certain events so it can be risky to keep them for a long time. Many quests with infamy tokens do have better rewards so it can be a strategy to get stronger faster. Players that take more risks for rewards or follow an evil path are more prone of getting infamy which will affect their play.