Ginnungagap – The Nine Worlds

Midgard remained highly favoured by the gods, a capital of the Æsr Combine, even as they made their homes in Asgard.
Ringed by the great Jormungandr, a living spaceport, Midgard is a trade hub and for centuries past was a staging point for raids on more distant inhabited systems.
The Niddavalir asteroid ring, home to Dvergr and Nifflungr alike, brings raw materials to the other worlds in Midgard and beyond.
Far out from the central star orbits the great Night City of Svartaelfheim, the home of the Svartaelfr and their Matron, sat on her silver throne.

Whilst many of the Jötnar were pushed into exile deep in the ice cloud, the edge of the Midgard star system remains a part of Jotunheim, and some Jötnar both friendly and hostile can still be found there.

Access to the World Tree in Midgard is found at Mimisbrunnr, on the edge of Jotunheim.

The system of Asgard contains both Asaheim and Vanaheim, the abodes of the two tribes of the gods.
The world of Ljosaelfheim, once called Aelfheim – the original home of all the Aelfr and now only the Ljosaelfr, is also there. Inhospitable to most, tidally locked to the star, the only settlements exist in the deep craters and canyons.

Access to the World Tree in Asgard is found at Urtharbrunnr, near the Norns.

In Niflheim, the system remains thick with nebulous clouds of ice and gas, and primordial rocky worlds. Few travel to Niflheim, and fewer still return.
Helheim is the only settlement in the system, with little to do but keep watch on the aborted experiments and forgotten weapons of the gods.

Access to the World Tree in Niflheim is found at Hvergelmir, near the Nidoggr.

No one who has travelled to Muspelheim has ever returned to tell of it.


Ginnungagap – Come from Afar

For countless millennia, the void of the Ginnungagap was without form, unshaped by life. Slowly at first, then in a rush, the great races of the gods filled the void and created the worlds of mortals.

Travelling slowly from across the Ginnungagap, the gods Buri and Bor found the great sweeping ice cloud home of the Jötnar, and after eventually establishing communication Bor took the Jötunn Bestla for a companion.
Their three offspring, Vili, Ve and Odin, were less willing to engage with their Jötnar cousins, and relations between the races quickly fell into open warfare.

The three travelled deep into the ice cloud and to the far side, where the distant solar winds of the hot stars of Muspelheim laid open a swathe of more temperate systems, inhabited by both Jötnar and their allies the Vanir.
Around one star the brothers found the home of the great Jötunn Ymir, a leader of their race. He had cowed the local Vanir into subservience, and so the Aesir brothers overthrew and destroyed him in their quest for allies.
In a show of strength and power, the three used their combined knowledge and magic to begin changing the star system. They moved the orbits of the worlds and heated the star with their powerful magic.
Eventually breathing life and sentience into the world they most favoured, they created Midgard.

The Vanir were less than impressed, having their worlds moved and awakened by the newcomers, but envoys between the two brokered some peace. The Aesir established a permanent presence in the home system of the Vanir.
After a time, new hostility erupted between these two great tribes of gods. The Vanir took great losses, as they were unused to the tactics of the Aesir, but they were able nevertheless to cause great damage to the defences of the Aesir – after all, the Aesir were unused to the tactics of the Vanir.

A peace was eventually brokered, both recognising their mutual enemy in the Jötnar, and a great cultural exchange began.
It was in these times that much of the life of the Nine Worlds came into being, crafted by the new Æsr Combine.


State of the Ginnungagap

So, how’s this shaping up at the moment?


I started using Homebrewery to pull all the rules I wanted to use together and make them look pretty. I have races set out how I want them, and some work is done on them, but then I got carried away and copy/pasted a lot of stuff together from Unearthed Arcana articles and stuff, and then it became a chore to edit and it all sort of fell down.

So my challenge to myself now is to actually finish off the races, work on the classes properly and make sure I get the setting flavour sorted. I was too focussed on pulling all the disparate rules together that I kind of lost sight of the project, so I’m trying to claw my way back in.

It didn’t help that a bunch of sci-fi D&D settings all showed up in 2017 and made me envy them instead of compare and contrast.


So what have I got done and what makes me stand out a bit there?

I took out the D&D alignment system and replaced it with the freeform honour system from d20SRD. I liked the feeling of it a bit more for the system and for how I wanted the game to behave.

I took the Kenku rules as written in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and I’ve been playing with them a bit. Decided that the Hrafnr (as I’m calling them) should have as much choice as some of the other races, and tweaked around a bit accordingly. I now have two subraces – Huginnr and Muninnr – one focused on thought/Wisdom attribute and one focused on memory/Intelligence attribute.

I’ve looked back at the way elves are described in Norse myths and looked at how they are generally portrayed in D&D and decided to change attribute modifiers around a bit. I’m still deciding whether or not the Dvergr/dwarves should be a thing separate from the Svartaelfr/dark elves, since the Norse myths have the groups as interchangeable. But I think it wouldn’t be D&D without both.

I’ve looked at trying to create a Dvergblod/half-dwarf racial option similar to the Aelfblod/half-elf. I’m looking at Trollblod and deciding whether they’ll be half-orcs or not and if so what Trollr will be – Firbolg or Goliaths maybe.

I also have Niflingr as a page title currently, but what to make these small folk I haven’t decided. Not sure I want halflings running around, and might look to the rules for goblins or kobolds. I’m also debating making them at least semi-aquatic.

And then there’s the doozy – the Thrall option. A subrace available to every race that fills the role of serf/slave in the Norse social hierarchy. In the same way that Infrared citizens in Paranoia have little to no sentience and are used for whatever it is Infrared citizens are used for, the Thralls are vat-grown clone batches used as basic labour. I wasn’t sure about using them, but I have a couple of feasible arguments for their inclusion, and they aren’t a completely abusable resource as I have them written. Plus, having a background as a freed thrall works.


With classes, I have been mostly focussing on more magical elements so far – sorcerer bloodlines, wizard schools, warlock pacts – but so far not really written in a cohesive way. I need to look at spells and stuff too.

Most of the martial and sneak classes are done and I’m happy with them.


I had a major rethink of the cosmology recently. The Norse idea of the Nine Worlds was something I’d pulled together into Nine Systems, but now I’m thinking I should have made it three systems, with nine core worlds spread across them.

With one root of the World Tree in each system, I could easily plug stuff together and be quite happy. I had originally thought that the Asgard system might be impossible to find, but I think now it might be better if Asgard is entirely easy to find, but the seats of the gods in Asaheim and Vanaheim are either empty or missing entirely.


Lastly, I’m still lacking a good starting point for a campaign. I want the characters to be stuck in Fimbulwinter, the point before Ragnarok begins, and I know how I’d end that conflict in setting in a fun way. But that first step is still a bit of a pain, and I don’t want to start off in the middle of adventures without having worked out some of the kinks in the rules.

I’m sure I’ll get there.




Races of the Ginnungagap

So I’ve been having a little brainstorm today about the different races of the Ginnungagap that I would allow for players.

I know it’s a sci-fi setting, so why not Warforged/robots you ask? Well, they’re in the setting. But they’re the bad guys, agents of the Frost and Fire Giants (bigger robots).

I changed up the races a bit because I wanted them to be a bit more setting fitting. The Drow are fine for Forgotten Realms, but they don’t fit what I had in mind, so I tweaked them a bit as a variant to the High Elves.

Oh, and if you don’t have a copy of Volo’s Guide to Monsters, then the Krar character abilities named below make no sense, and you don’t know what the Firbolg, Goliath, Goblin or Kobold stats look like. So get a copy!

Mannethli (Humans)

Aelfr (Elves) – Ljos (High elf variant), Svartaelf – +1 Cha, trained in stealth, elven weapons training, darkvision

Aelfblod (Half-Elf)

Dvergr (Dwarves) – hill / mountain variants

Dvergblod (Half-Dwarf) – +2 con, +1 in two others, darkvision, dwarven resilience, skill training in one skill

Niflingr (Goblins/Kobolds) – Looking at the stat blocks in Volo’s Guide, it’s very easy to believe these are variants of the same race.

Firbolgr (Firbolg / Goliath) – wood variant (Firbolg stats) / stone variant (Goliath stats). Again, could be easily tweaked to skins of the same race I think.

Krar (Ravenfolk) – Dex +2. Kenku Training (but include investigation, perception), Mimicry. Huginr +1 Int, +1 skill training. Muninr +1 Wis, Expert forgery/craft.




More Ginnungagap

I completely forgot about the alternate factions I’d come up with so far!


So I’ve got the Iron Brotherhood, the Black Network, and the Combine Council.

The Iron Brotherhood are mercenaries and warriors, sort of fill the role of the Order of the Gauntlet. But depending on the locality, they might be the local constabulary or a nasty gang. The Brotherhood is one of might, so in some places they might be ‘might makes right’ or the will to protect, but in others they might use their power to lord over others.

The Black Network is the switch for the Zhentarim. They’re a shifty alliance of thieves guilds and outlaws, bounty hunters and scoundrels that broker in rumours and secrets, and backstab where necessary.

The Combine Council is a network of leaders trying to do the best they can in the face of a loss of order from the gods. They replace the Lords’ Alliance.


I’m debating something about Skalds and wizards to replace the Harpers, though I’ve no idea what they would be yet. Given that I stole the name of the Iron Brotherhood from a Visigoth song, I might just have to hunt around on Spotify for some ideas.

And I have no idea for the Emerald Enclave, or replacing them or whatever. It seems like it should be easy, and I might not even replace them but just use them as they are (if, of course, I were to use factions at all.)


Ginnungagap revisited

Since finishing my cyberpunk A-Z, I’ve been thinking back on other ideas that I’ve had rattling around for a few years, and went back to thinking about my sci-fi D&D setting with space vikings.


In the interim since me talking about it, it seems that a good few other people have been working on turning the D&D 5E rules into a science fiction idea, which is just as well because after a point I sort of hit a wall.

I knew what I wanted to do, I had a good few set pieces worked out, including the big finale to any series of games that I might run (a super-sweet space battle, of course!) but had a hard time linking it all together, and more importantly getting the thing started.

At the time, I had issues that my play group tended to prefer using Roll20 to run. It was useful because often our group was a little dispersed but we could still play, and it worked fine when we were running my Legend of the 5 Rings game and the introductory D&D adventure. But I had issues as soon as I wanted to run something myself, because I had issues with mapping software and how I wanted the thing to go, not to mention planning it all and putting it together in the software, which I felt needed more of a tutorial (or maybe I missed it).

Anyway, Roll20 and my issues with it sort of derailed my game once I’d had people put characters together. Probably just as well, as now I want to tweak more rules all over the place.


But here’s my setting as it stands, in case anyone wants a read or it sparks some inspiration.


The PCs all come from a northern city on Midgard, one of the worlds of the Ósr Combine. It’s been decades since anyone has been offworld in sizeable numbers, and the godtech machines are starting to get a little glitchy without anyone in the know coming to service them. Mostly this involves some of the cybernetic implants going wrong, but it looks like more and more Galdramthr (sorcerers) are being born, and the world is starting to get colder and ice is encroaching on the port of the PCs hometown.

As the representatives of the gods haven’t shown up to help, it seems the gods have gone quiet or forgotten about Midgard. So the PCs have to go and look for them / go aviking. But, to do that they need a ship.


I had a list of new names for classes over in this post about gun proficiencies, though the rules need something of an overhaul, and it’s quite likely the classes would change a bit based on new rules put out through Unearthed Arcana and the Fifth Age rules that I’ve had a read of recently (apologies for linking to a forum that links to a forum that contains the rules, but other people are discussing them so that’s good reading, right?).

I think I’d keep the Hermathr (Fighter/Soldier), the Galdramthr (Sorcerer) and Töframathr (Wizard), and probably the Vaeringjar (Paladin). But it might make sense to include the Technician and Operative from Fifth Age, or adapt the Outlaw class from Hyperlanes that previewed on DrivethruRPG, though again I’m not sure if it works how I want it to. I’ll have to have a look.


Races definitely included Humans, Aelfr (Elves), Dvergr (Dwarves), Tröllr (Orcs) and Niflungr (Goblins, though maybe halflings or gnomes, or maybe all three?). I’m thinking about robots but I’m not sure if I like the idea or not.

All races would be divided by social class anyway, with thralls (serfs and slaves) being vat-born clones at the bottom rung, going up through karls, thanes and jarls. Or maybe it’s just the humans. Again, I’m working on this.


I think the Honour core stat shown in the Dungeon Master’s Guide might have to be used too. It fits the setting well enough, and would be useful if I could make it work.


Along the course of the adventure, there’s ways to work in undead and giants and robots and space battles. I have the magic worked out as an extension of the ‘infosphere’ (the internet) and magic items as godcrafted kit.

I just need to work on that opening. Hopefully I’ll think of something soon.


If not, I might finally talk myself into running a Vampire: the Masquerade game, or Dresden Files.