Redux! Worlds of the Ginnungagap

How soon is too soon for a retcon? NEVER! I was unhappy with the cosmology I’d created, so I’ve tweaked it a little bit, and it should be a better fit for how I want the game to be set up. I actually started writing this a couple of days after my last post, but I’ve been busy with various bits and pieces, so now going to try and get back into the blogging.

Nine star systems make up the Ósr Combine, a pact of various governing bodies under one dominion. The Combine came into being following the long war between the two tribes of gods, the Aesir and Vanir, and an even longer peace process.

The two formed a united front, and absorbed several nearby star systems into their dominion, eventually populating them with races they had created.

Systems of the Ósr Combine:

Midgard –

The original home system of humans, Midgard boasts impressive resources, and is generally regarded as a garden world. An Yggdrasill space elevator stands on the world of Midgard itself, whilst high above orbits a vast ring bio-construction, genehacked together from various ocean megafauna. The resulting living spaceport is called Jormungandr.

Asgard –

The Asgard system is the home of the two factions of gods, along with several other planets and stations. Asaheim and Vanaheim are both labelled garden worlds, home to countless mortals and the gods themselves. Elsewhere in the system is the great gas giant Ymir, its many moons, and several stations extracting resources from all of them.

Aelfheim –

Birthplace of the light elves, Aelfheim orbits too close to its star to be classed as perfect for life, and most inhabitants homestead in the deeper craters. Much of the surface is a wild desert, though some scrubland and large salty lakes also make up the surface.

Niddavalir –

The Dvergar make their living mining out the rocky dwarf worlds of this dark star system. With barely a pinpoint of light visible at event he nearest orbit, the Svirfneblin and Niflungr are also at home here.

Extensive complexes fill some of the oldest claims, with some rocks better described as floating cities, more artificial space station than quarried rock.

Hel –

The quiet, cold system of Hel is a vast dumping ground for scrapped technologies, including old cybernetic implants, biogenic experiments and failed weapons of war. With only a couple of rocky worlds orbiting far from the core of the system, only the hardiest nomadic scavengers make their homes here.

Niflheim –

This system has several high security prison facilities and constant patrols by Combine forces. The heightened security protects the other worlds of the Combine from several incredibly dangerous criminals and genehacked aberrations imprisoned here.

Svartaelfheim –

There is very little light in the Svartaelfheim system excepting what is artificially created. A cold brown dwarf is orbited by various constructed habitats, the largest of which is the central hub of Night City. Once the capital of the Svartaelfr and a hub of trade activity, in recent decades Night City has become the capital for crime in the Ósr Combine.

The gangs of Night City, and their agents in other systems, are still presided over by whomever claims the silvered throne at the center of the complex, though some say the Aelfr plot to take it back.

Jotunheim –

Over the three ancient enemies of the Aesir, only two remain outside the Combine itself. Following alliance and assimilation of the Vanir, the Jotun and their cousins became one of the most hated enemies of the Combine.

The Jotun are huge creatures, able to survive in the comet clouds of all the systems of the Combine, as well as the colder worlds of the inner systems. Their home is one of mostly cold, rocky worlds around a dim star, dwarfed by the gas giant Mimir. The Combine presence here is minimal, save for watching Jotun movements.

Muspelheim –

Similar in many ways to the Jotun, the gigantic creatures of Muspelheim are the other great enemy of the Ósr Combine.

Whilst the Jotun prefer the cold of the outer system, their counterparts in Muspelheim thrive among the hot worlds held in close orbit around a binary star.

Ancient legends say that their leader, Surtr, long ago vanquished by the Aesir, will one day rise again from Muspelheim and threaten all of the Combine. For this reason, as well as a long-standing alliance with the Jotun, a steady vigilance is held on all of the Muspelheim system.

Worlds of the Ginnungagap

Sköll –

The star at the center of the system. Having knocked out system-wide communication on more than one occasion due to large solar flares, the word became a synonym for ‘treachery’, due to being both a life-giver and life-stealer.

Midgard –

Now home to all races, this world was once the sole domain of men, excepting the avatars of the gods themselves. One of the largest worlds of the Aesir dominion, the World Tree Yggdrasill is rooted here.

Various Jarls contest the landmass and sail the seas, and a handful manage to be elected as High Kings of some domains.

Encircling the world, far from the reaches of Yggdrasill, lies Jormugandr. A bio-station crafted from genestock of various native sea megafauna, the station was once home to a thriving society.

Orbiting Midgard is the moon Hati.

Asgard  and Vanaheim –

When the Aesir first arrived in the star system, they found the great gas giant Ymir, and its many moons.

One of the moons, that would come to be known as Vanaheim, supported life. The Vanir were an advanced race, but had never expanded further than other local moons. Whilst at first there was war, as the two powers fought over resources, eventually a peace held the two together, and allowed them both to expand to the rest of the system.

Niddavalir –

The many small riocky worlds of the dvergar span a belt across the middle of the system. The dvergar are masters of small space vehicles, mining colonies and precious minerals. Their home Niddavalir is a small planet now covered in sprawling industry, even extending out into the Ginnungagap.

Aelfheim and Svartaelfheim –

One world of the system is tidally locked to the central star, one side in permanent light and the other in darkness. It was on this world that the Aelfr first lived.

From a great crater city on the side of light, the Aelfr carved out an empire stretching halfway across the world. Their great city surrounded a root of Yggdrasill, and the great Bifrost could carry them out into the rest of the system.

The Svartaelfr dwelt in the cold and the dark on the opposite side of the world. Their capital was the Night City, where their Queen sat on a sparkling silver throne. The city and throne still stand, though now they are the crime capital of the system, and the most feared criminal sits upon the silver frame.

Hel and Niflheim –

The cold worlds of Hel and Niflheim are far from the center of the system, their surfaces barely receiving any light from the central star. They orbit each other as a binary.

The so-called land of the dead, Hel is a dumping ground for scrapped tech, including old cybernetic implants, biogenic experiments and failed weapons of war. A desolate and frozen wasteland, only the hardiest of scavenger tribes make their home here.

Niflheim is a virtual prison of the most dangerous criminals and monstrous genehacked aberrations. A constant vigil is held on the world by the Aesir.

Jotunheim –

The ice giants of Jotunheim were expelled from their inner system colonies by the Aesir and Vanir after their conquest of the system. They were forced to flee out to the asteroids of the system’s comet cloud. Sometimes they will ride one of the comets as it flies into the inner system, seeking to attack their ancient enemies.

Muspelheim –

The hottest world of the system, barely outside the corona of the Sköll, Muspelheim is the home of fire giants and demons, genehacked for survival in the extreme temperatures and radiation.

Issues of mortality aside, legend claims the ancient giant king Surtr still sits upon Muspelheim plotting revenge, reuniting with his ice giant brethren and attacking the gods themselves.

More Space Viking Nonsense

Well, I’ve bought myself a cheap USB keyboard and I can actually write these posts easily again!, so I’ve started pulling the various strands together, and tried to collate something that could actually play.

The biggest issue that I currently have is that I’m really enjoying the setting and how it’s forming, and whilst I have some level of overarching story (but not really yet), I have very little idea of how to insert players into the action at the start.

But I’m working on that!!

So, here’s what I’ve pulled together so far.

“The gods have grown quiet, and Midgard begins to grow cold. Fimbulwinter has come.”

The many atmosphere processing plants have mysteriously shut down, and without them the air of Midgard is quickly becoming colder. When this has happened before, representatives of the gods have arrived to fix the ancient mechanisms in short order.

None have arrived this time.

The air of winter dragged into spring, with little sign of any warming. Many crops perished in short order. The various jarls made war upon each other, but with no outcome. Now the people of Sigurdsheim have elected some of their number to investigate the nearest of the atmosphere prcessor and report their findings back to the jarl.

The game pulls in a lot of extra rules and tweaks that I wanted to have a play with, as well as some things to make the setting feel more like the scifi/Norse mashup that I’m going for.

This post on Wizards introduced a few rules for an imagined d20 modern game using the 5E rules. I played a fair amount of d20 Modern when it came out, and ran a few campaigns of the Agents of PSI presented in the core book for some different groups. I’ve stolen a couple of the charts shamelessly and edited them a bit further below, mostly for flavour.

The Unearthed Arcana series of articles also run by Wizards have introduced a few other things I’d like to throw into the mix:

The Variant Rules article has a couple of optional tweaks on stuff, but I think I’d like to throw the Vitality rules into the mix, at least to play them for a bit and see how they fit. The idea of large chunks of damage causing more permanent effects that the players really feel is cool, and I also thought about the optional healing rules in the core DMG, but I’d like to try the vitality points idea before I start making healing harder!

The two class options presented in the Waterborne Adventures article appealed also. The idea of a Sorcerer with a background linked to Storms fits pretty well with a Norse setting, and the swashbuckling Rogue is always something I like seeing, since I tend to play them in previous incarnations of D&D.

The Eberron article introduces Action Points to 5E, though they work in basically the same way that they always have. I’m still debating these as an addition, but I might throw in the Artificer as a Wizard choice, since the setting is a tech mashup.

Finally, the article on Modifying Classes (not part of Unearthed Arcana) included the Favoured Soul options, again another origin for the Sorcerer. I can see it as a draw for possible player characters, and I want to leave the options open for now.

If I add this stuff in, I might also take some stuff out. I’m not sure yet whether I want to keep the Wild Magic origin for Sorcerers. It’s fun, but whether it fits the setting for how magic works I haven’t decided yet.

Armour table:

Modern Armor
Armor Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Properties Weight
Light Armor
Heavy longcoat 11 + Dex modifier Disadvantage 6 lb.
Leather jacket 11 + Dex modifier 4 lb.
Steelsilk shirt 11 + Dex modifier DR 2 vs. ballistic 2 lb.
Kevlar-lined jacket 12 + Dex modifier DR 2 vs. ballistic 8 lb.
Steelsilk Jacket 13 + Dex modifier DR 2 vs. ballistic 3 lb.
Medium Armor
Steelsilk longcoat 13 + Dex modifier (max 2) DR 3 vs. ballistic 4 lb.
Light-duty armor 14 + Dex modifier (max 3) DR 3 vs. ballistic 8 lb.
Tactical armor 15 + Dex modifier (max 2) Str 11 Disadvantage Resistance: ballistic 10 lb.
Heavy Armor
Special response armor 15 Str 12 Disadvantage Resistance: ballistic 15 lb.
Heavy-duty armor “Einherjar” 17 Str 13 Disadvantage Resistance: ballistic/slashing 10 lb.
 Automated tactical armor “Valkyrie” 18 Str 14 Disadvantage Resistance: ballistic/slashing/piercing 20 lb.
Shields Armor Class (AC) Strength Stealth Properties Weight
                    Riot Shield +1 3 lb.
Hardlight shield +2 Disadvantage DR 2 1 lb.

Also stolen borrowed and modified, class proficiencies in firearms:

Firearm Proficiencies by Class
Class Firearm Proficiency
Berserkr (Barbarian) Long arms
Fantr (Rogue) Long arms or sidearms (chosen at character creation)
Galdramthr (Sorcerer) None
Hamaskr (Druid) None
Hermathr (Fighter) Long arms and sidearms
Norn (Warlock) None (possibly gained via pact)
Prestr (Cleric) None (possibly granted via domain)
Skald (Bard) Sidearms
Skógarvörthr (Ranger) Long arms and sidearms
Strithdansmaer(Monk) Sidearms
Töframathr (Wizard) None (though sidearm proficiency might be granted through the School of Technomancy)
Vaeringjar (Paladin) Long arms and sidearms

As for what counts as a long arm or side arm?

Rifles and automatic rifles, shotguns count as long arms. Pistols and automatic pistols, revolvers, sawn-off shotguns (IF I ALLOW THEM!) count as sidearms.

Laser weaponry, heavy weaponry, grenades etc I wouldn’t count as proficient apart from MAYBE the Fighter class. I’v eyet to make a decision on that one. I’m debating leaving heavy weapons out entirely for now, since using them might be a dishonourable act.

And speaking of Honour, I’m going to throw the Honour ability score in as well, because I like the mechanics associated with it and I think it might just fit pretty snug there.

As you can see from the above, character sheets are going to be a pain. I might have to scratch around and build my own, or maybe just persuade players to use a notepad or Excel or something.

And that’s where I am at the moment. Any thoughts or comments, direct them to the usual place.

Vikings! An Update

My great habits of updating often have suddenly fallen by the wayside. I’m claiming it’s because of only having a semi-functional keyboard, but I could still use the phone or my tablet (as I am now)  if I really wanted to.

I’ve been very slowly thinking about the space viking game. I’ve had a rethink about a few things, worked out how Bifrost works (a cross between movies Thor and Stargate), turn Yggdrasill into a kind of space elevator, and had more of a think about guns.

Since they’d be replacing bows for the most part, the general idea would mean most ranged combat is actually using modern rifles. I might dig through the old d20 rules and see how easy it would be to port them across.
I don’t want to be as bogged down in choice as the d20 games, I just want more of an idea of options.

Guns so far in the game:
Common modern pistol
Advanced modern pistol (burst fire option)
Common modern rifle
Advanced modern rifle (burst fire)
Laser pistol (double base damage of modern pistol)
Laser rifle (double Base damage of modern rifle)

So thinking d8 for the pistol, and d10 for the rifle, but I might change that still. Maybe change the lasers to 2d6 and 3d6 or something. They’re dangerous, but hopefully survivable.

Enemies – still not sure. The undead maybe, via a cybernetic virus? Some kind of nanite plague making monsters? Certainly gods warring somehow. All of the above probably.

The trick will be balancing magic and tech, because there’s going to be some mad anachronisms all over this setting. People sitting by the fireplace in a long hall drinking mead, listening to the scalds tell tales, and reading the latest news on their data slates.
Monsters attacking in the night, fought off with rifles, axeblades and “smart steel”, by soldiers with genetic and cybernetic enhancements.
Wizards conjuring physical forms from the Datasphere into the real world, either as familiars or fireballs, again probably from cybernetic enhancements (like the technomages in Babylon 5 maybe).

Anyway, that’s where I’m at so far. I’m debating adding some animal uplifts as player races, but I might stick with what I have for now before I tinker too much.
I might need to tweak some classes yet, which would be more important than the races for now.

More of the same soon, hopefully this week!


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a Viking-styled d&d game, and I’ve come up with a few ideas.
However, since I’ve also been playing a lot of Mass Effect, been reading some of Marvel’s Battle world stuff and thinking about the Thor Corps, AND partly inspired by the article over on the D&D website, I’m making the setting a bit more scifi than just plain Vikings.

So, how’s this working exactly? I’m. Mixing together a bunch of notes as I write this post, so hopefully it won’t be too disjointed.

The World Tree, Yggdrasil, can be travelled. The interaction of the different realms has long been a fact, and so many races exist across the many realms, not just their own homes.
In scifi terms, they’re all originally human stock, but for some reason or other had been ‘locked’ into their own world so long that they evolved into separate races. Then the barriers came down.

Many of these worlds were more like pocket dimensions, but Midgard, the ancestral home, is huge, and filled with baseline humans.
Other races that now live in Midgard:
The Aelfr and Svartaelfr – elves and dark elves, though I might make them more grey elves than drow.
Dvergar – dwarves
Svirfneblin – gnomes
Niflungr – goblins
Trolls – orcs (maybe? Traditional d&d trolls would become Jotun – giants!)

In theory, I could also throw in:
Dreki – dragonkin
Djöfullinn – Tieflings
And then Aelfblood and Trollblood for half elves and half orcs, respectively.
I’ve taken out half lings for now, and replaced with Goblins. Because I like goblins!

Next up, classes. At this stages, I’ve only reskinned the names,but I’ll be fiddling a little bit too. All translations taken from Google Translate.
Bard –  Skald
Barbarian – Berserkr
Cleric – Prestr
Druid – Hamaskr
Fighter – Hermathr
Paladin – Vaeringjar
Ranger – Skógarvörthr
Rogue – Fantr
Sorcerer – Galdramathr
Warlock – Norn
Wizard – Töframathr

Now, this being scifi influenced as well, I’m flying to add in the firearms rules.
That means anyone who gets full weapon proficiency is also likely to pick up guns as a proficiency (fighters, some clerics etc).
The guns available will be the modern pistol and rifle, though access to laser rifle and pistol is a possibility, and I’m debating making these more like Stargate’s Jaffa staff weapons and Zzzats. Either way, they’d be rare or the equivalent of magic items (maybe the gods run around with them?)
Armour would likely gain a damage reduction against ballistics, but again that’s something I need to work on. I don’t want to make the weapons too lethal, as they’d break the game, and ammunition needs to be important.
In the case of laser weapons, I’m tempted to make them recharge over time, so they have a very limited number of shots that only recharges on a rest, and possibly only partially for short rests. Again, something I’m still working on.
At the moment:
Modern pistol: 1d8 damage
Modern rifle: 1d10 damage
Laser pistol: 2d6 damage, option to stun
Laser rifle: 2d8 damage, option to stun
Light armour: 2 DR versus ballistics, not against lasers
Medium armour: 4 DR versus ballistics, 2 DR against lasers
Heavy armour: 6 DR versus ballistics, 4 DR against lasers
(I’d probably get a bit more detailed and make it certain armours, not the entire rating)

On to important aspects of the setting!
I want to add in the Honour ability score. It’s cool and I think it fits. Oaths are important. Oath breakers, called Nith, are very important.
The pantheon is the standard Aesir/Vanir of Norse mythology.
Dragons are a thing. They are called Hoggr.

I’m ripping social classes and such out of a combination of Saxon and Norse stuff, should be familiar to Skyrim players.
The castes are broken down into
The King/Rix. Probably one for each realm.
The Etheling. Nobles, both Jarls and Thanes.
Freemen. Karls/churls.
Thralls. Slaves tied to a person and serfs tied to the land.

Felags are communities to which a character belongs. They might be obliged to serve in some way, as the felags are usually centred around a trade or military venture.
A big army barracks is surrounded by support people, so is a large vineyard or weapon manufacturing centre. Even a town known for art will have charcoal burners, quarries and paper makers all around it, plus farmers etc.

The sib is the basic family unit. Hence the term sibling.
Fostering of the children of blood sworn kin is also common, though these are the links between the various sibs.
Injury between sibs can be collected upon through fines, called weregild (the worth of a man). Weregild is claimed at annual Things (the meetings of a populace) and decided upon by Gamuts, a court of popular vote. Sometimes an ordeal might be issued.
Gamut can also declare outlaws, who are banished on pain of death, their rights revoked and their marriages dissolved.

So where does this leave my current idea?
The characters are all. Members of the same Felag, which involves trade with other settlements and sometimes other realms. Travel through Yggdrasil will be happening, but has become more difficult of late.
The group is attached to a caravan to carry wares to another settlement, then on to another realm. I’m imagining that the ‘branches’ of Yggdrasil are gateways to travel through, perhaps an astral or shadow realm.

Ultimately I want to involve Ragnarok, or the fear of Ragnarok, and perhaps a villain being sponsored by the Jotun or the Dragon Nithoggr, or both, to bring Ragnarok about.

Z is for: Zomg it’s finished!

I’m cheating a little bit with this last one. I have a couple of ideas for how to do Z but everything I’ve had a go with so far hasn’t worked or made me want to write more than two lines.

That’s it, a full month of updates looking at elements of the Old Crown. I’m feeling pretty happy about it, especially with all the little things that made it harder – I didn’t always get a post done ahead of time, and then my laptop keyboard shorted and I’ve still not fixed it, so I’ve been using my phone or my tablet to write the various posts.

I’ve had a great time with it, and it’s really given me the chance to think more about the different parts of the setting and trying to pull it all together in one place.

So I shall be attempting to write something else this weekend, and I have the bank holiday on Monday if I want to get a bit of stuff done too.
I’m going to try and keep up with the good habits, but might drop down to updates a few times a week, at least until I try the challenge again with a different setting.

Hope everyone enjoyed it!

Y is for: Yaninda

The known world, the realm of mortals, is not the only part of existence.
The spirits live on an adjacent place, a place that some few are able to pierce through to with magikal power.
These world’s beside the realm of mortals are known as Yaninda.

Ancient legends speak of such places, such as the place the ancient Oon came from. Generally these are referred to as origins in ancient texts, though the birthplace of the Oon themselves is referred to as Origin, believed to be translated from their own language by the ancient Lizardfolk Empire.

Several realms in the Yaninda are known to exist, and are documented in ancient legends and modern texts of scholars and Arcanists:

The Deadrealms are the easiest to visit, as all mortals that die pass through the place to wherever it is souls go after death. Rituals of witches and Arcanists have long allowed brief travel to the place, if only as a shade of the mortal body. The Deadrealms is home to the Shores of the Dead, and the unceasing siege of the Fiend against the Black Lady’s forces.

The Spiritrealms, sometimes called the Greenrealms, are the home to various spirits of nature and the elements. Which travel to the Spiritrealms is impossible for mortals, if it possible through long ritual to at least blur the boundaries of the mortal world and see into and barely interact with the place. Such rituals are used by Witches seeking a soulbond with a spirit.

Whilst the Dreamrealms might seem like the easiest to reach for mortals, in reality it is the dreams that bleed over to the mortal world, and sleeping mortals are the best able to perceive these bleeds.
Some legends tell of spirits making their home in the Dreamrealms, but whether these stories are true or not is much disputed.

The Darkrealms are the only known Yaninda tied to an elemental power, that of elemental Dark.
Spirits of Darkness are most easily able to slip between here and the Spiritrealms, though their methods are entirely unknown.

Several theoretical Yaninda exists, based on knowledge of the above. Elemental aligned realms, fore fire and water and so forth, are believed to exist, though many spirits of these elements claim no knowledge of them.
The Lightrealms, believed to be a mirror to the Dark, have long thought to be lost somehow, as no spirit of Light has ever been encountered. That hasn’t stopped sages and mystics throughout history from hunting it.

Lastly, the Godsrealms are thought to be on the edges of the mortal world, perhaps bordering the other realms. It’s believed the Green Lady inhabits an area close to the Greenrealms, whilst the Watcher in the Night is said to be able to travel to the origin of Dreams.