9 Worlds (5e Campaign Setting)
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Gods. Giants. The World Tree. The Runes. The Aesir and Vanir. Dwarves and Elves, Humans, Dragons, Serpents, and even Squirrels. The 9 Worlds are populated with all sorts of creatures and magic, and this re-imagining of the multiverse is sure to take you on several adventures not fit for a true Midgardian.
No one is sure where the nine worlds came from. maybe it was always there, maybe the gods created it, but theories from the mortal races prove inconclusive. The truth is, that there were only two extremes at the start: Fire and Ice, or as they appear in this interpretation, Muspelheim and Niflheim. To separate these worlds, a tree was planted that grew on for infinity. More worlds popped up on the branches, like Asgard and Vanaheim, home to the Aesir and Vanir tribes of gods respectively, with Aesir gods representing war, and Vanir gods being about nature. Jotunheim formed from somewhere, and with it came the treacherous and mischievous Jotuns, or Giants. The most famous Giant, Loki, had a child named Hel, who formed a world called Helheim to house the dishonored dead. The Vanir mad Alfheim, a world home to the Alfs (sometimes translated as Elves), creatures of wind and light. The Aesir gods killed Ymir, the strongest giant, and laid out his flesh to create Midgard, sometimes known as the material plane. This plane was inhabited by Humans. Eventually, Maggots tunneled under it, and with a little help from the gods, were evolved into Dwarves in the underbelly of Midgard, which came to be known as Nidavellir.
The one constant in all of this: Yggdrasil, or the World Tree. Every world is connected to Yggdrasil in one way or another, and those who can manipulate Yggdrasil's branches into moving can traverse the tree from world to world.
In this campaign setting, there are 9 worlds, each meant to replace a plane of existence in the normal game. The plane it is meant to replace is listed at the end of it's description. This means that some worlds will not exist, but the basics are there. Feel free to add your own, or make pocket dimensions on the tree (which will be explained later).
The 9 Worlds will be explained in Alphabetical order.
Alfheim is the home of the Alfs, or Elves, creatures of Wind and Light. The sun never sets in Alfheim, just dips to the horizon and comes back up for another day. Elves are favored by the Vanir, the gods of nature. Elves are perfectionists, and this seeps into their culture heavily. Every garden, house, and even Elven child will not be tolerated if they are not perfect. Elves have the Vanir gift of Alf Sedir, a form of innate spellcasting that does not require Runestones. Alf Sedir can't be learned, you are either born with it or you aren't. Some Human Demigods who are children of Vanir gods also have this gift. Because of this, Elves have different subraces in this campaign setting. However, most of their world building, names, and the like stay the same, plus the stuff mentioned above.
Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.
Alf Sedir. You know the gust cantrip. At level 3, you know the jump spell, and must make a long rest before you can cast it again. At level 5, you know the blur spell, and must make a long rest before you can cast it again.
Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.
Alf Sedir. You know the light cantrip. At level 3, you know the color spray spell, and must make a long rest before you can cast it again. At level 5, you know the moonbeam spell, and must make a long rest before you can cast it again.
Wind Elves share the same physical traits as Wood Elves, and Light Elves share the same physical traits as High Elves'
Alfhiem is meant to replace Feywild in a normal campaign.
the king of the Aesir gods, Odin, as well as his wife Frigga, sits upon his throne in his golden palace at the center of the world tree. On Asgard. Few mortals ever dream to venture there, and fewer giants would try to invade it. Only connected to the outside world with a magic rainbow bridge known as the Bifrost, Asgard is truly a realm of mystery. Asgard is the home of the Aesir tribe, the gods of war and order. It is also home to the honored dead, called Einherjer, who reside in Valhalla, a warrior paradise for those who died in combat. If a mortal dies in combat in a selfless and unplanned act of bravery, then someone from the sisterhood of Valkyries might deem them worthy of Valhalla, where they will train for eternity until Ragnarok. The Valkyrie are handpicked by Odin himself, and if a PC wanted to be one they might be a Female Paladin that worships Odin.
Asgard is meant to replace Mt. Celestia in normal campaigns.
For every heroic death, a thousand forgotten ones. Those forgotten deaths, mortals who weren't lucky enough to die with a sword in their hands, end up in Helhiem. Ruled by Hel, daughter of Loki, Hel is a land of undead and pain. Even though it isn't nessecarily a place you would want to end up in the afterlife, it's not the worst. Some souls who are disobedient in Hel's chambers are dissolved into the Ginnungagap, the primordial mist that surrounds the World Tree. All souls sent their are under Hel's commander, meaning she controls the biggest army in the Nine Worlds. Luckiy for everyone, Hel prefers to bide her time, building up her army on the magical toenail ship in Nilfhiem.
Helhiem is meant to replace the 9 hells in a normal campaign, and Ginnungagap is meant to replace Elemental Chaos.
Described as Vermont, but with less places to buy maple syrup. Jotunheim is the home of the Jotuns, or giants, that terrify the Nine Worlds. Giants are still split into different groups, with fire giants, stone giants, Et cetera,but they tend to matter a lot less than they would in normal campaign. There is no real government or order in Jotunheim, and all giants are chaotic. Giants tend to be illusionists, and can appear as small as a human or in their true form, which can be several times larger than a sky scrapper. Jotuns are innate tricksters, and are obsessed with alcohol and partying. This doesn't mean Jotuns are fun, however. The leaders of each plan have been plotting to invade Midgard for years. The only reason the human kingdom hasnt been destroyed is because it is under the protection of Thor himself. Jotunheim is ruled by Loki, the god of tricksters and the king of the giants. Even though he is half-Jotun half-Aesir, the giants still trust them with their forces.
Jotunheim does not have a normal campaign equivalent.
Midgard is a huge continent surrounded by endless ocean. Not much to say about it, except that it is constantly under threat by Jotuns who wish to destroy it. However, the Humans that inhabit it are favored by the Aesir, and Thor has come countless times to defend their land from what they cannot defend themselves. To the gods, humans are nothing important, never recognizing their brilliance or creativity. Even though humans are the main race in Midgard, it is not uncommon to see Elves or Dwarves in a tavern, and Halflings also inhabit this world, growing their race under the shadows of the humans.
Human culture is mainly based of Norse culture from the real world. Human men will mostly be warriors, sailors, guards, adventurers, politicians, smiths, merchants, farmers, or vikings. Women take more domestic jobs, like sewing, cooking, leather and cloth work, cleaning, shopping, and garden work. It is uncommon to find female adventurers, so if you do play one, consider how you broke the norm to become one. Human politics boils down to two things: the Emperor and the Jarls (Yar-els). The Emperor owns all of explored Midgard (at least to humans), and split his land into city-states, each ruled by a Jarl. Jarls are like barons, setting laws and running things in their own city while reporting and obeying the Emperor. The Emperor is male, but Jarls can be male or female.
To humans, dragons are rare creatures that haven't been in a few generations. Because of this, the sight of a dragonborn is scary for some people, and many will question the legitimacy of it, and might try to prove that the dragonborn is just a human using illusion magic. In the confrontation of a real dragonborn, many people will respond in fear, and sometimes outright violence. Dragonborn should remain cautious among humans, and if you do play a dragonborn, comsider how this affects your character.
Midgard is meant to replace the Material Plane in a normal campaign
Muspellheim is the land of fire in the 9 Worlds, one of the fist two primordial worlds that helped forge the multiverse. Muspellheim represents the positive extreme that the other worlds formed between. Fire elementals and fire giants live in Muspellheim. The land is primarily known for it's cruel ruler, the fire lord Surt (sometimes Surtur). He is known as, 'The Black One', and is known throughout the World Tree as a cruel dictator that demands power. He attempts to invade Midgard every other Tuesday, and the world would be destroyed if i wasn't under Thor's protection. As it stands, Surt wants nothing more than to ignite the world tree in flame. His minions have access to almost the entire World Tree through a network of various shortcuts and portals. One of these portals on Midgrad was discovered by bandits, and they started to sell the location of the portal to interplanar travelers.
Muspellheim is meant to replace the Elemental Plane of Fire in a normal campaign.
"Hold up, Nidavellir is real? Seriously? I mean, that place is a legend. They make the most powerful, horrific weapons to ever torment the Universe. I would very much like to go there, please." -The Raccoon
Nidavelir is the home to the Svartalfs, or dark dwarves. There is some confusion on what Svartalfs are. Svartalfs are specifically dark elves that are taller than normal dwarves. Does this make them Drow? No. Drow are still evil dark elves, but Svartalfs have dwarven and usually Vanir blood and live in Nidavelir. However, normal dwarves, such as hill dwarves and mountain dwarves are much shorter than they are in a normal campaign (see races below for changed racial traits). Svartalfs are equivalent to Deurgar in a normal campaign.
Nidavelir itself is a rather unique place. Midgard was created when the gods killed the largest Jotun, Ymir. They streched out his skin for a place for humans to live. However, maggots started to burrow under Midgard and tunneled out a giant cavern. With the help of the gods, the Maggots evolved into all the kinds of dwarves in the 9 worlds. Nidavelir doesn't have a sun, so "daylight" hours are determined by mossglow, or when the moss on the rocks start to provide light. It's buildings are very much influenced by Midgardian designs, and both of the species share similar layouts and cities and towns, almost mirroring each other.
Dwarven culture isn't the same in as it might be in a normal campaign. They still retain their role as master craftsmen, but with a different role. Dwarves believe that everything crafted be important, and everything important be named. It is impossible to find two chairs, swords, or even beer mugs that are the same, and mass production is non existent. Everything that a Dwarf creates is special to them, and thus, their communities and businesses mostly involve crafting, usually masonry, iron working, or weapons forging.
Nidavelir doesn't have a normal campaign equivalent, but should more or less be treated as a darker Material Plane.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 1.
Superior Darkvision. Your darvision has a range of 120 feet.
Sunlight Weakness. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight. After an hour of being in direct sunlight, you must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be petrified in stone. You must make another saving throw each hour you remain in sunlight with the DC increased by 2 for each hour. Running water on your petrified form turns you back.
Stone Molding. You can shape any type of mundane stone as if it were putty. This can be used to make crude handholds or indents, but to craft something detailed requires a Intelligence (Sleight of Hand) check with a DC determined by the DM based on the difficulty (you can use your stonecunning bonus for this).
Niflheim is the polar opposite of Muspellheim (pun intended). It is a realm of ice, frozen lakes, and polar winds. The average mortal adventurer cannot survive in the freezing environment for more than a few hours without freezing to death, although dwarves can survive a bit longer thanks to their hardiness. Only a few adventurers have ever made it out alive, and fewer who had mouths to tell the tale. Because of it's desolation, rarely anyone visits, and even the gods just use it as a place to punish enemies.
But abandoning the negative chaotic extreme proved to be a mistake. Loki, lord of thieves and leader of the giants is building a ship their. Made of what? Nails. No, not metal nails. Toenails. Every Midgardian makes sure to burn any nails they clip, otherwise the nail finds its way into niflheim and joins the construction. It is said in prophecy that when Ragnarok starts, the chain holding the ship to Niflheim will break, and the ship will set sail to Asgard in an attempt to destroy the gods.
Vanaheim is the Vanir god's version of Asgard. It is ruled by the god Frey and his sister, Freya. The most notable feature of Vanaheim is that it houses the honorable dead of the Vanir. Where the Aesir who died bravely are sent to Valhalla is Asgard, the Vanir who died bravely are sent to Vanaheim (mortals not Vanir or Aesir are split between the two). The honorable dead sent there end up in Folkvangr, which roughly translates into "the people's battlefield". The wait there until they are sent to battle on Ragnarok. The sunlight in Vanaheim is not dangerous to dwarves.
This Campaign setting uses the Norse Mythology deities (PHB 299).
This campaign setting is not a particularly hard one to play. Starting out, the average player can assume that this is a normal campaign setting. But as the campaign progresses on, it can be difficult to feel like you are in an actual viking world when you are doing the same stuff as in a normal campaign. Follow these tips to ensure that your campaign is unique and interesting.
- Midgard is just one world. Don't spend all your time on the material plane. Have the players jump from world to world frequently, even if it is just for a moment. If you've played Super Mario Odyssey, think of it as when you are in the desert world at the start and go through a painting that brings you briefly to New Donk City. The interaction excites a player for what is to come without giving away to much of what the world has to offer.
- Stick to a theme. Have the main villain of the campaign be trying to raise zombies from Helheim, and because of that make the players primarily fight undead. This makes the players feel like they are progressing by fighting harder and harder undead, while connecting back to the whole 9 worlds thing by incorporating another world from the get-go.
- Consider how the players actions effect other worlds. For example, if they shut down a multi-dimensional black market scheme, consider how the lack of illegal trade effects the worlds involved. For example, if Midgard stops importing enchanted weapons from Vanaheim, then the wizards in Midgard might start to lose power. If the players kill the king of Vanaheim, consider how it affects the gods that favor Vanaheim and their views towards Midgard.
Setting Specific Rules
Runes: The Language of the Universe
Besides Innate Alf Sedir, Rune magic is the only other form of manipulating the world on a magical scale mortals can comprehend. Each rune represents something, like a god or an element, and together make up the alphabet of the universe. Rune Magic takes the form of normal magic with a few key differences.
- Instead of memorization, prepared spells, sorcery and the like, all magic users have Runestones. Whenever a magic user takes a long rest, s/he may choose a number of runes equal to how many spell slots they have of that level, with each rune coordinating to a particular spell. For example, when a 1st level wizard takes a long rest, he might choose a magic missile rune and a sleep rune. Instead of spell slots, a magic user can cast this rune exactly how the spell is cast. When a Runestone is cast, it disappears in a flash of light. You can never have more runes of a spell slot level than you would normally have spell slots of that level, meaning that once that wizard casts a rune, s/he must wait until the next long rest to get more runes, or to switch out the ones s/he didn't use if s/he is inclined.
- Casting runes is extremely difficult. Whenever a non-deity casts a rune, s/he must make a Constitution saving throw equal to 10 + the level of the rune cast. on a success, nothing happens. On a failure, the caster suffers one level of exhaustion.
- Clerics do not abide by the previous two rules, as they derive their power from the gods. However, Druids and others that use divine magic still use Runestones.
- Spells like Domain spells, Oath spells, and the like, act differently. Instead of being able to choose them as extras, you get a free Runestone of all of the spells of your subclass. For, a level 3 Paladin following the Oath of Vengeance can pick three spells for Runestones, and automatically gets a Runestone for bane and hunter's mark.
Effects on game play: Spells become much harder to use, and full level spellcasters are even more vulnerable in lower levels.
Traveling the World Tree: A guide to extra planetary travel throughout Yggdrasil
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