Rather than build a world from ground and up I have used and build upon an existing area in Northern Norway (Lofoten, Vesterålen og Lofoten) as the geographical location of Þulê (“the land of the sages”). Naturally I have exaggerated some of the features, added new features (like proper forests) and also changed the scale, but other than that the land of Þulê is pretty much identical to this real world area in Northern Norway. I have also kept the real world roads as either cart tracks or pathways (and the real paths could well be animal trails), the settlements of Þulê are to be found where there is real settlement today and names have been translated into English (like «Tjukkeskogen» is in MYFAROG named «Densewood». This will make the world very logical and realistic, and thus believable, and I think that is very important for an RPG focusing on atmosphere.
This area in Northern Norway is historically an old Viking Kingdom with age old roots, but the main reason why I have used this area is that even during the Ice Ages this area was believed to be ice-free and actually inhabitable, because of the Gulf Stream and the warm winds from the south along the coast of Norway. So in theory anyone could have survived there for tens of thousands of years, while the rest of Northern Europe was submerged under thick glaciers. In MYFAROG what we would identify as mainland Norway is submerged under glaciers (and populated by ettins), but the Ice Age has long been ending so the climate is very much temperate (although located in the Arctic). This area, Northern Norway, is in real life known as Hålogaland (translated as «the holy land»), so I took this information and combined it with our myths about a lost continent, and I created this sacred «continent» up there in the North, where the deities in secret created the Þulêan race of men (i. e. the Europeans). However, Þulê has been discovered by other races of men, and even worse, by the ettins, and naturally they all have arrived in Þulê, and in their wake comes all sorts of troubles, challenges – and great opportunities for adventure!
There are all sorts of creatures in Þulê, all of them based on real world creatures or mythological creatures, and I have also included some now extinct animals that used to live in Europe alongside man, like the cave hyena, the cave lion, the giant hyena, etc. Animals in Þulê are assumed to behave like real animals would though (i. e. usually run as fast as they can by the mere scent of humans [unless they are e. g. polar bears, of course…]), but there are other types of creatures to fear too, like trolls, spirits and not least ettins – and the possibly most dangerous of all creatures; human beings…
Now, as I might have expressed a few times already, my perception of mythology and the ancient world is not like the common one. I don’t base anything on Christian misinterpretations of old European «ideas», «creatures» or «spirits», so there are no goblins, hobgoblins, orcs or other creatures based on the perverse Christian demonisation of the Pagan ancestral cult. There are no ogres or trolls either, for the same reason. Well, there are trolls, but just not trolls like we usually think of when we hear the word troll. A troll was originally a name for malevolent spirits; the word itself means «song» (as seen in no. tralle), originally «spell» or «sorcerous song», as these spirits were assumed to have been summoned by a (failed?) spell. So in MYFAROG a troll is a malevolent spirit, and they take many forms, some corporeal and some incorporeal. Most of you will identify the MYFAROG trolls as simply different types of undead creatures; sea wraiths, wraiths, wights, ghosts, náir (sg. nár), spectres, shadows et cetera.
The modern troll is really just a stone ettin, and naturally there are stone ettins in Þulê, and a wide variety of other ettins too, in different shapes and sizes. None of them particularly pleasant; different types of water ettins, stone ettins, fire ettins and of course worms (≈wingless dragons). All these terrible creatures have an ettin stone heart, that can be used by craftsmen for sorcerous purposes.
The Land of Þulê chapter provides the GM with random encounter tables, random events tables, weather and wind tables (if he cares to use such things), a brief description of the 9 different native realms of Þulê (each one with a cultural expression most similar to the one of a real ancient European people), all the native tribes are named and their seats are listed, units of measurement, trade and rules regarding travel, dehydration, justice (i. e. laws, outlawing, duels and such), hunger and so forth, naturally all available for the GM to use as he sees fit, if at all. The creatures themselves, both those mentioned here and others too, will be described in The Creatures & Phenomena of Þulê chapter, as will the ettin phenomena.
The ettin phenomena are strange phenomena that occur in Etunakaimas (“the world of the ettins”), and are inspired both by science fiction, not least the Cthulu Mythos, and European mythology. Etunakaimas is made up of the parts of the world dominated by the ettin powers; the deepest forests, largest bogs, the not inhabitable places of the Earth and the tallest mountains, where man has very little influence. Everything is different in Etunakaimas, the trees are twisted and grotesque, some animals grow larger and both animals and men more aggressive, the temperature is lower, the wind stronger, the clouds darker, the sky blacker and then you have these phenomena to deal with as well. It is a highly dangerous place, and naturally this place is said to be growing and consuming the rest of the world, threatening the human settlements. What or even who is responsible for this? I let the GM decide.
The land of Þulê is of course heavily influenced by the natives’ sense of honour, and the natives are very religious or traditional as well, so much care is given by them to the high festivals and temples, customs and traditions. But – alas! (or for gamers: rejoice!) – it is also torn by conflict, as new human races arrive from distant lands, as refugees fleeing the growing ettin power, as invaders or as merchants.
When I manage to produce a map of MYFAROG’s Þulê I will publish it here on this blog, naturally as a free and downloadable PDF.