Faiths of the Dawn Lands and the Worlds of Renessa
In the beginning there was nothing.
Chaos swirled above the void and it became the Ginnungap, the rift where chaos fell into void. One side of the rift was a world of eternal fire, and it was known as Muspelheim. On the other side was a world of eternal ice, known as Niflheim. Where the frost and fire touched, it created steam and water. From this, the first and largest living thing was formed, Ymir, the primeval giant.
After Ymir, the next living thing formed was Auðumbla, the great cosmic cow.
Auðumbla licked the rime-stones on the edge of the Ginnungap. Eventually she licked them into the shape of a man: the first god, Buri. Since he did not have Idun’s golden apples to renew his youth, he eventually died of old age, but not before he had a son named Bor.
Ymir spent his time drinking milk from Auðumbla and sleeping. While he slept, one half of his body would mate with the other and his dreams would give his offspring shapes. First, from his armpits, came the Jotunar, the giants, and then his left foot mated with his right and produced dragons called linnorms. The vargr, the intelligent evil wolves, came from the spittle of his mouth, and his daydreams produced the fylgjur, the fey creatures. Every time he slept, stranger creatures were formed.
Bor married a frost giantess named Bestla. They had three sons, Odin (Woden), Hoenir (Vili), and Lodar (Ve).
The brothers saw Ymir kept producing more Jotunar and evil monsters and soon every place would be filled with them. They went to Ymir and told him to stop producing monsters. Ymir instead attacked the brothers and they killed him after a great battle. The deluge of blood from Ymir drowned all the Jotunar but two. Those two eventually washed atop a mountain in Jotunheim and repopulated the Jotunar race and fashioned servants for themselves called trolls, goblins, orcs, and other races.
The brothers dragged Ymir to Ginnungap and used his body to create the universe.
His bones became mountains.
His teeth became rocks.
His blood became oceans.
His skin became the land.
His brains became clouds.
His hair became trees.
The worms that ate Ymir’s dead flesh were transformed into the dvergar who began the dwarves. They found homes in the cracks under the ground and eventually in Nidavellir. The brothers had four of the dwarves hoist up Ymir’s skull on ropes to create the sky.
The brothers caught the sparks from Muspelheim and set them in the sky to be stars.
Odin found two young beautiful giants, Sol and Mani, who were friendly. The three brothers made them two great chariots, one gold and one silver. They instructed them to fly in the sky and became the sun and the moon. Unfortunately, two of the vargr, Soll and Hati, saw them and became jealous. They forever chase them in the sky, one after the other in an endless cycle.
Into the world came the rain, the sun, the wind, and the soil. It caused the ice to crack and melt, and great chunks flew off to become other worlds. In the end, there were nine worlds.
Odin took his staff and planted it. It quickly grew into a mighty oak that became so large, its roots touched all the worlds. This is Yggdrasil, the great tree of creation.
On the world of Vanaheim, the first of the Vanir were shaped by nature. They in turn made likenesses to be as beautiful as the night and day and bade them to watch over nature. These became the light elves and the dark elves and then went to live on Alfheim and Svartalvheim.
Those fylgjur who walked out of the mists, were called svirfneblin, “mistwalker,” and were ancestors of the gnomes.
When the brothers walked through what they had created, they came to an ash tree beside an elm tree. Ve gave them shapes like the Aesir. Vili granted them emotions and wills of their own. Odin went to the trees and breathed life into them. They were given the names Ask and Embla, the first humans.
The humans that sought to join with the spirits of fylgjur became smaller but luckier. They were the hamingja, also called the lucky ones, and became the ancestors of all halflings.
The brothers left Midgard and ascended to Asgard via Bifrost, the rainbow bridge.
Thus, the universe was made.
Cosmology as seen by the Norheimers
Gods & Demigods
Norse gods are split into different races. The Aesir and Vanir once fought a bloody war before finally signing a peace treaty that included the exchanging of hostages for inter-marrying (a common Norse practice to keep the peace after a war). The Aesir-Vanir are practically on the same side now.
The Jotunar (plural of Jotun) are their primary adversaries. A prophecy from Frigg foretells the final battle between Jotuns and the Aesir-Vanir called Ragnarök, after which the world will be destroyed but reborn into a new form. Strangely, for enemies, they can be cordial, even helpful to each other. Thor has been known to visit Aegir to drink a flagon of mead from time to time. Loki became Odin's blood brother and occasionally helped them against other Jotunar (even though he still betrays them before Ragnarök).
Dragons are also typically villains in Norse mythology, but not always. They are also used in heraldry to symbolize positive ideals. So, taking those ideals and the names of some dragons mentioned but not described, I made some dragon deities good.
Dwarves appear quite frequently in Norse myths as both antagonists and allies. Strictly speaking, in mythology, they were indistinguishable from dark elves, but for game terms, I kept them as a separate race.
Wolves are also featured as villains and occasional allies. Everything from Fenris, the enormous wolf destined to devour the world, to normal size wolves with malevolent intelligence. Use the Awaken spell template on an ordinary wolf and add class levels for some interesting bad guys. You can also add class levels to worgs and winter wolves.
Unlike other RPG pantheons, a character's race is a poor indicator of which god he worships. For example, an elf is just as likely to follow Odin as he is to follow Freyr and many dwarves revere Tyr.
Also, characters can choose to worship the pantheon as a whole. Clerics who do so lose the favored weapon but can choose any two domains.
The Aesir deities have human appearance and traits. After the Aesir-Vanir War, they inter-married with the Vanir and mostly cooperate with each other.
The Vanir deities have elven appearance and traits. After the Aesir-Vanir War, they intermarried with the Aesir and mostly cooperate with each other.
The Jotun deities have giant appearance and traits. Jotunar can change between Medium size and their normal giant size at will as a swift action.
Loki, in Norse mythology, a cunning trickster who had the ability to change his shape and sex. Although his father was the giant Fárbauti, he was included among the Aesir (a tribe of gods). Loki was represented as the companion of the great gods Odin and Thor, helping them with his clever plans but sometimes causing embarrassment and difficulty for them and himself. He also appeared as the enemy of the gods, entering their banquet uninvited and demanding their drink. He was the principal cause of the death of the god Balder. Loki was bound to a rock (by the entrails of one or more of his sons, according to some sources) as punishment, thus in many ways resembling the Greek figures Prometheus and Tantalus. Also like Prometheus, Loki is considered a god of fire.
Ran stands as a goddess interwoven with the elemental forces of the sea and water. She is primarily recognized for her status as a giantess and the consort of Aegir, the sea god. Even though Ran's appearances in the surviving myths and sagas are comparatively sparse, her profound association with the ocean and her position as an influential entity in maritime affairs carry a substantial degree of significance. Ran is often portrayed as an imposing and enigmatic figure, equipped with a net wherein she ensnares mariners doomed to drown, pulling them into the sea's unfathomable depths. She is characterized as having an insatiable hunger for human lives and material wealth, and her sovereignty encompasses the wreckage of ships and the riches they bear. Sailors would frequently invoke her name and present offerings in an attempt to placate her and seek secure voyages across the perilous waters. Despite the predominantly dark and threatening character attributed to her, Ran is not wholly malevolent. Some accounts portray her as a guardian of the souls lost to the sea, granting them a serene afterlife beneath the ocean's waves. She is also considered a defender of marine creatures and the wealth hidden under the sea's surface.
Aegir is tied to the marine realm, typically illustrated as a potent and fearsome entity. He's regarded as the sovereign of the sea and its deep abysses, renowned for his colossal might and dominance over the turbulent waves. Aegir frequently emerges as a character that incites both reverence and trepidation. Although he can be welcoming and magnanimous, staging grand banquets in his subaqueous palace, he also embodies an unpredictable temperament, with the capacity to conjure ferocious tempests and submerge vessels in his fury. He's characterized by his lengthy beard and stern visage, epitomizing his imposing stature. Aegir shares his life with the goddess Ran, and their union has begotten numerous daughters, known as the wave maidens or Aegir's nine offspring. These daughters embody varying facets of the sea, like the waves, froth, and breakers. Aegir is regularly depicted joining the gods in feasts and convocations, providing them with the choicest mead produced in his submerged palace. These assemblies serve as platforms for the gods to forge alliances, share wisdom, and reconcile disagreements.
Skadi emerges as a goddess whose dominion encompasses winter, the act of skiing, and the pursuit of hunting. Often illustrated as a fierce and self-reliant deity, she personifies the untamed and wild forces of nature. Skadi is a member of the jötunn race, a term used to describe the titanic entities of the Nordic pantheon, yet she also holds an association with the Aesir gods through her marriage to the divine entity, Njord. The most renowned narrative involving Skadi centers around her unyielding quest for vengeance against the Aesir gods due to the demise of her father, Thiazi. Determined to attain justice, she demands compensation from the gods and the entitlement to select a husband from their ranks. The gods acquiesce to her conditions, though with the caveat that her choice must be made based solely on the sight of their feet. Misled into believing she has selected the handsome god Baldur, Skadi is taken aback when she discovers her chosen spouse to be Njord, a deity associated with the shoreline and nautical travel. Skadi and Njord endeavor to reconcile their disparate lifestyles by alternating between Skadi's frost-enshrouded mountain residence and Njord's coastal dwelling. However, their contrasting domains and inherent differences ultimately lead to their separation. Skadi retreats back to the sanctuary of her beloved mountains, finding fulfillment in her solitary life and engaging in hunting and skiing.
Rindr (pronounced: "RIN-dr") also known as Rind or Rinda, is a goddess in Norse mythology who is associated with revenge and the avenging of Baldr's death. She is described alternatively as a giantess or a mortal princess of the East. The most detailed account of Rindr can be found in Book III of the Gesta Danorum, written by Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century.
Surt, also known as Surtr, is a creature of epic proportions and immense power. This formidable entity belongs to the race of fire giants, whose very existence is said to usher in devastation and havoc. Surt's abode is situated in the scorching realm of Muspelheim, a world dedicated to fire and flames, located beyond the southern boundaries of the human and divine domains. Painted vividly in the ancient stories, Surt's appearance is marked by an enormous stature, wielding a sword ablaze with fire, creating an aura of dread so profound that even his giant kin are known to tremble in his presence. The name that he bears, "Surt" or "Surtr," is most likely derived from the Old Norse word "surtur," synonymous with "black" or "swarthy." This appellation is seen to be a nod towards Surt's close association with fire and conflagration, which, in the context of Norse mythology, are often illustrated as black or dark. An alternative theory proposed by some scholars suggests that the name "Surt" might have roots in an Old Norse term meaning "to blacken" or "to char," fitting his fiery character aptly. In the modern era, particularly in Iceland, Surt's name and legacy can be traced in the naming conventions of geographical features, with the island of Surtsey, located off Iceland's southern coast, being a prime example.
Tyr, who is also known by the monikers Týr or Tiwaz, is a revered figure in Norse mythology, with his spheres of influence encompassing war, judicial law, equity, and the glory that comes with acts of heroism. He is iconically represented as a one-handed deity due to the selfless act of offering his right hand as a collateral in the formidable act of restraining the monstrous wolf, Fenrir. Tyr's courage is unassailable and his acts of selflessness are legendary, given his willingness to confront significant peril for the communal good. Often, he is depicted as an honorable warrior, an embodiment of valor, and an epitome of ethical uprightness. Tyr’s most distinguished role within Norse mythology is inextricably tied to his brave encounter with Fenrir. His instrumental role in the successful subjugation of the fearsome wolf, though it came at the cost of his own hand, underscores his dedication to preserving order and shielding the realms from potential pandemonium and annihilation. As a divine figure presiding over law and justice, Tyr is the guardian of legal processes and oaths. He staunchly upholds principles of fairness and veracity, safeguarding the enforcement of agreements and contracts. In legal conflicts, his intervention is often invoked and he serves as a beacon of guidance for those on a quest for justice.
In Norse mythology, Sol stands as the embodied representation of the sun. As a deity, she holds strong associations with warmth, illumination, and the sun's daily pilgrimage across the expanse of the sky. Sol's solar chariot, ushered through the heavens by the celestial equines Arvak and Alsvid, instigates the terrestrial phenomena of day and night. Her role within Norse cosmology is paramount as she is the source of light and heat for the world. Sol's radiant manifestation lights up the domains of both deities and humans, delivering life and fostering growth across the earth. She is deeply honored for her indispensable role in sustaining life and aiding the rhythm of nature's cycles. Even though Sol may not be as centrally featured in mythological tales as some other divinities, her significance becomes palpable through her symbolic implications. She exemplifies the sun's power and its essential life-giving attributes, serving as a reminder of the critical interplay between the celestial sphere and the terrestrial world. In certain narratives, Sol is discussed in relation to her brother, Mani, the personification of the moon. Together, Sol and Mani voyage across the sky, marking the progression of time and providing light during both the day and the night.
In Norse mythology, Mani is recognized as the embodiment of the moon. Mani is closely associated with Sol, his sister, who is the physical representation of the sun. Together, they traverse the celestial expanse, delivering illumination and darkness to the mortal world. Imagery of Mani often presents him as an ethereal being, characterized by a pallid complexion, with his demeanor embodying tranquility and calmness. Norse mythology posits that Mani's journey across the sky is persistently haunted by the wolf Hati, who pursues him relentlessly with the intention to consume him. It is prophesized that during the climactic event of Ragnarok, the ultimate confrontation of the gods, Hati will finally close in on Mani, leading to the moon's destruction and casting the world into an all-encompassing darkness. The presence of Mani, and his celestial influence, are linked to the changing phases of the moon, its recurring pattern of waxing and waning, and its deep correlation with the passage of time. Mani, as a deity, is often associated with an air of mystery and introspection, and the soothing light of the moon under his control offers a moment of respite and contemplation for those who find themselves beneath the moonlit night. The term "Mani" traces its roots back to the Old Norse language and is interpreted to mean "moon" or "moonlight". This term shares similarities with the Old English "mona" and Old High German "mano", both also denoting the moon. This nomenclature echoes Mani's primary function in Norse mythology - embodying the essence of the moon.
In Norse mythology, Angrboda (also known as Angrboða) is a prominent figure among the giants. She is often depicted as a powerful and mysterious giantess, associated with darkness, chaos, and primal forces. Her name, which translates to "she who brings grief" or "she who announces sorrow," reflects her connection to anguish and suffering. Angrboda's most well-known role is as a mother figure and consort to the trickster god Loki. Together, they bore three monstrous children, each representing a formidable force in Norse mythology. The first is Fenrir, a gigantic and ferocious wolf destined to bring destruction during Ragnarok, the cataclysmic battle that signifies the end of the world. Fenrir's immense strength and uncontrollable nature make him a fearsome adversary to the gods. The second offspring is Jormungandr, a massive serpent that coils around the world, known as the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. Jormungandr's size and power are unmatched, and according to prophecy, it will eventually engage in a climactic battle with the thunder god Thor during Ragnarok.
Hel is a profoundly significant entity associated with the dominion of the deceased, referred to as Helheim. Helheim is envisioned as a special realm designated for individuals who succumb to natural causes or sickness. The environment of Helheim is somber and frigid, frequently described as being enshrouded by a mist and immersed in darkness. It is believed that souls who do not experience death on the battlefield or achieve a stature of heroism during their lifetime are fated to spend their afterlife in Helheim. Hel is recognized as the offspring of the wily god Loki and the giantess Angrboða. She is frequently represented as a half-dead and half-living being, with one side of her body appearing normal and the other side exhibiting the features of a decomposing corpse. Hel is often portrayed as a somber and melancholic deity, a depiction that mirrors the nature of her realm. She is defined as stern and ruthless, though not intentionally malevolent. Her primary role is to receive the souls of the departed and ensure they find their rightful place in the afterlife. One of the most widely recognized narratives involving Hel is the saga of Baldur's demise. In this tale, Baldur, a much-adored god, is murdered and sent to the realm of Hel, which prompts an epic quest and negotiation by the gods to retrieve him from Helheim.
Fenrir, also known by various other monikers such as Fenrisúlfr, Hróðvitnir, or Vánagandr, is envisioned as a gargantuan wolf, an entity that was regarded with trepidation by the gods. They believed Fenrir was preordained to wreak immense havoc and destruction. Born of the trickster deity Loki and the giantess Angrboða, Fenrir was sibling to Hel, the goddess ruling the netherworld, and Jörmungandr, the mammoth sea serpent. The folklore recounts attempts by the gods to restrain Fenrir to thwart his ominous destiny. However, Fenrir's formidable strength and power proved insurmountable for any chain or rope to confine him. Ultimately, the gods sought the assistance of the dwarves, who conjured a magical ribbon named Gleipnir that was potent enough to subjugate the wolf. Suspicious of the gods' motives, Fenrir demanded that one of them place their hand in his mouth as a symbol of trust. Only the god Tyr displayed the courage to agree to this, leading to Fenrir's successful binding and imprisonment until the world's end.
* Loki begins as equally likely to do good as to do evil. As Raganarok approaches, he slips more into Chaotic Evil.
Description: Odin is King of the gods of both the Aesir and Vanir.
With his brothers Ve and Vili, he created the universe from the
body of the primeval giant, Ymir. His hall is Valhalla and is
located inside Asgard.
Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn (Thought & Memory), act as his familiars
and spies. His wolves are Geri and Freki (Ravenous and Greedy).
He rides Sleipner, the eight-legged horse who can walk upon wind and land.
He is married to Frigga, who is also married to his brothers Ve and Vili. Odin has also been known to take mistresses and father children by them. Neither he nor Frigga seems to mind extramarital affairs.
Odin constantly seeks magical power and knowledge. He is missing an eye, having sacrificed it to at the Well of Knowledge to gain wisdom. He also raised his intelligence by drinking the Mead of Poetry after tricking some dwarves out of it. Despite it being regarded as feminine, Odin learned witchcraft, or seidr, from Freya.
Odin, before the coming of Ragnarok, was one one of the most personable of of the gods. On Yuletide, Odin rides a sleigh attached to Sleipnir and distributes toys and treats to all the good children who leave oats out for his steed. He likes to travel disguised as an old man with a grey cloak and pointy wide-brimmed hat, helping people and seeking knowledge.
Odin’s darker nature surfaces as Ragnarok approaches. He becomes desperate as he searches for anything that will prevent it or give the gods an edge to survive it. He learned of a prophecy that a child between him and Rind, The Goddess of Ice, would be god capable of exacting revenge on whoever would cause Ragnarok. However, Rindr flatly rejected him. He used seidr magic (witchcraft) learned from Freya to disguise himself and trick Rindr into thinking he was her lover. Rindr’s child Vali grew to adulthood within a day and became destined to kill Hod, blind Loki, and set Fenris free to devour Odin himself. For the rape of Rindr, Odin was tried by the other gods and sentenced to hang himself from a tree for 100 years. During that time, Uller took the throne in Asgard. Before Ragnarok, Odin was allowed to return and concentrate all his efforts on the coming battle with the jotnar (the giants).
Description: Frigga is Odin’s wife and Queen of Asgard. She
is the patron goddess of mothers, wives, prophecy and weaving.
Her prophecies are displayed as majestic tapestries in her
hall of Fensalir. One of them shows the events that will
happen up to and during Ragnarok. Frigg possess a magical
cloak that allows her to change into falcon as at will and the
falcon forms her symbol.
Description: Thor is Odin’s son by Frigga. He is the God of Thunder
and the sworn enemy of the Jotunar. His hammer, Mjollnir, is
enchanted to return to his hand when thrown. It is so heavy
that only he and his sons can lift it. Like his father, Thor travels
the worlds looking for mortals to help. He especially delights in
defeating evil monsters who prey on people.
Description: Baldur is the God of Beauty and Light. His smile is said to enthrall even the gods.