Archive for August, 2017

Vanagard: The Vanir

Posted in Fate of the Norns, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, RPG, Vanagard, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on August 29, 2017 by Chall

Stanza 23 – Voluspo – Poetic Edda

On the host his spear | did Othin hurl,
Then in the world | did war first come;
The wall that girdled | the gods was broken,
And the field by the warlike | Wanes was trodden.

This above snippet recalls a time when walls of Asgard fell and the Aesir faced an elemental, unrelenting force… ages before Ragnarok. The Giants had nothing to do with this. These mighty ones, these warriors strong enough to face the Aesir, were the Wanes, also known as the Vanir, also known as the old gods. I can picture it: Ancient Njord striding forward, an entire ocean roaring behind him. Golden haired Frey throwing his sword and it spinning like a buzzsaw seeking blood. Beautiful and terrifying Freya, charging in her chariot, drawn by giant cats, with an army of specters riding close behind. Standing on the wall Odin, young and full of strength; he will survive the crumbling walls to wreak havoc on the foe. At his side his blood brother Loki, a cruel smile on his face, ready to assume a thousand forms each more deadly than the last and teach these invading old ones new tricks.

War

I invite thee to bring it!

With all our shining stars, cinematic wizardry, and legions of writers, I fear we may never see such a scene played out on our screens. This is because we’ve forgotten the Vanir.

I hope to counter this with Vanagard.

Not much is known about the Vanir. By the time Snorri Sturluson wrote the Eddas, Christianity was firmly entrenched and before that worship of the Aesir (we’re talking about Odin, Thor, Frigg, and the like) was prominent. The Vanir came before the Aesir and with two whole theologies between us and them, most of their myths have been lost.

In Vanagard do my best to feature elements we have. The Vanir keep their dominion over nature, how they act in my stories is based off how they act in the Eddas, their look and feel are pulled from authentic sources. However, there are still gaps which need to be filled to make a cohesive game world.

I’d be lying if I claimed this isn’t a golden opportunity, I relish making connections and adapting old ideas to new themes.  The Van-Folk, Phantom Wood, and even some of the set up of the young cosmos are my own creations. Also, enjoying Vanagard does not require a doctorate in Norse mythology, I don’t hold players to strict interpretations of the Eddas. In Vanagard, folks should feel free to draw up their own myths. This is a narrative game aimed at kids, kids WILL make up their own stories, nothing can stop it and that’s a good thing.

However, as mentioned above, there will be many kernels of the actual mythology in the game. My hope is to draw attention to the Vanir and so encourage folks to research on their own. Furthermore, my own stories will veer closer to the myth as they progress, I’d tell more but…spoilers.

Bill.jpg

Besides, others take greater liberties with Norse source material.

 

No matter my mixture of fantasy and myth, my end goal with Vanagard is to promote the Vanir. They play a significant part of the Norse mythology. Back in the day, even with the Aesir in prominence, Nord, Frey, and Freya were well-loved Deities. Vikings prayed to Nord for safe voyages across the sea. The Sweedish Ynglin dynasty is said to have been descended from Frey. Couples prayed to Freya for children and half of the glorious dead went to her. By all rights, they should be more prominent in modern interpretations of Norse myth and it’s a crying shame they are not.

Why? My guess is our need to simplify. We think in terms of gods and demons, two sides, no more. In this regard,  the Vanir are rolled into the background of the Aesir, a mere footnote in the larger struggle against the Jotun. Odin is portrayed as a just sky god. Surtr is set to remind us of an arch villain who lives in a lake of fire. It’s narrative shorthand that’s easy to grasp. I don’t think this does us any good. It’s worthwhile to push out of this limiting paradigm and see the myths as something more.

Not Odin

Not Odin

 

Not Surt

Not Surt

 

The Vanir story is incredibly important for our time. Remeber the war mentioned above? How the Vanir and the Aesir clashed with the full intent on killing each other? Want to know how this Viking story ends?

They make peace.

Both sides, foreseeing mutual annihilation, called a halt to the war and forged alliance. They exchange hostages but the Vanir hostages sent to Asgard were inducted and became high ranking members of Aesir society. The big three back in the day wasn’t Odin, Thor, and Heimdall; it was Odin, Thor and Frey. Odin learned how to gather the honored dead from Freyaand she got the first pick. Both sides found peace, united and became stronger for it.

In our modern climate of fearing the foreign this story, about uniting people of vastly different races and backgrounds, is exactly what we need.

While Vanagard doesn’t cover the Aesir-Vanir war, not yet at least, it is all about this theme. The Van-Folk aren’t conquerors, they are explorers and diplomats. Many Stories I’ve run involve finding and returning stolen things, smoothing over conflicts, and learning about different peoples. If you check out the stories I’ve written, available on both YouTube and Google Play, you’ll see what I mean.

We’re about halfway through the Kickstarter, if you’re interested why not check it out? I’m certain you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

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Coming Soon – Vanagard!

Posted in Fantasy, Publishing, Roleplaying Games, Uncategorized, Vanagard with tags , , , , , , on August 13, 2017 by Chall

 

Vanagard Kickstarter

This bear, this rabbit, they share a story or two.

This is a story about beginnings. Yggdrasil, the World Tree, is young, vibrant and grows between eight worlds. The ninth, our world of Midgard, doesn’t exist yet. There is no Thor or Jormungand. Odin is a young man who just befriended the mischievous Loki. The future is bright and stretches forth with endless possibility.

 
This game is about the Van-Folk, the familiars of the goddess Freya. She is a powerful witch who holds sway over beginnings and endings. The Van-Folk are her people, born out of her dreams and will. They live like normal folk; in halls, working hard and then feasting with fun, family, and music. Freya mostly leaves them to their own lives but, when needed, she calls upon her children to be her eyes, ears, and voice.

Vanagard is a story game suitable for both family and friends. The players tell a story, drawing upon runes and cards for inspiration. Each story takes an hour or so to tell, a single session can have up to five stories. At the end of the game, the characters are tucked away, waiting for the next session of Vanagard to go on more adventures. 

 

A long time I worked as a camp counselor in Jungle Cat World in Orono. Back then, I was very much into storytelling as an art and I relished the chance to perform it for young campers. As such, I wove a little mythology involving wizards by the name of Lady Night, Lord Morning, Lady Rain, and Lord Wind. Dealing with their machinations was a society of animal people, the focus was on a rat named Renn. Over the course my first summer at Jungle Cat World, I crafted a 12 story cycle of this mythology, weaving tales of this little trickster for my camper audience. I shared with them Renn’s life; as a young rat freeing his people from the tyranny of lions, to a sneaky thief who had a wonderful time winning infamy, to an old rat full of both wisdom and regret.  They cycle ended well, with peace amongst the wizards, though not without sacrifice.

The campers loved listening to these stories and I loved telling them.

In Vanagard I’m trying to capture this magic again.

If I’ve done my job right Vanagard will help families and friends can craft their own mythologies within a Norse framework. Vanagard will allow them, with little to no prep, to hold an evening of storytelling that weaves consecutive tales of a close group of Van-Folk heroes. These stories can be as dark and meaningful as what you’d find in the Eddas, or as light and heartwarming as you’d find in a Miyazaki film. The rules are simple but also allow for character growth. At the end of a Vanagard cycle, you’ll have a number of heroes, on whose cards are chronicled a great adventure.

If you want a taste of what kind of story I’m going for, feel free to check out my Vanagard Playlist.

The Kickstarter will be up very soon, in the next day or two at the latest. I hope I’ll have your support.