Setting Idea: Ashes After Ragnarok

Wrapped up the latest God of War about a week ago. Initially I thought that there wasn't nearly enough god-killing, but then it's kind of like a new trilogy and in the original God of War you only killed Ares (spoilers?). Maybe next time. I've been busy closing up the last few realm tears (cleaned everything else out of Niflheim) and beating the shit out of valkyries (only the one in Helheim and the queen left, I think).

But the whole game got me thinking on how I'd do a Norse-ish setting for Dungeons & Delvers and maybe Dungeon World, that for now I'm calling Ashes After Ragnarok (I don't think anyone's used that name already).

Here's some ideas I'm kicking around, that I'll actually get to running when there's an available gap in one of our current games, or we start up a new game. Let me know what you think, if you have any suggestions, and even want to play in a session or two (prefer Black Book, but could be convinced to run using Dungeon World).

The high concept is that Ragnarok came and went, and the survivors have to try and keep on surviving. Lot of ash and dust clouds blocking out the sun much of the time, causing a kind of nuclear winter. Some battlefields would still be burning, so in addition to lots of snow you have blackened fields covered in ash and smoldering earth. Surtr's massive sword, still burning, will be visible for miles around (dwarves probably want pieces of it to make fire weapons and armor).

Skoll (wolf that chased and tried to eat the sun) managed to eat the sun (which I'm thinking is some kind of fantastic flying machine piloted by Sol), but it burnt him up from the inside and he came crashing out of the sky. The remains of the sun are surrounded by Skoll's blackened bones. Fiery wolves born from Skoll's corpse prowl about, but like Surtr's sword dwarves really want bits of sunsteel to make neat shit. The skyship (if I keep it as a flying ship instead of a chariot) would be a dungeon in its own right, plus firewolf hide is good for making fire resistant armor.

Hati only got one good bite out of the moon before choking to death on it. His corpse can also be found in Midgard, but the clearly-damaged moon is still erratically spinning across the sky. Not sure if there's something on the moon and/or moon-fragment, but could be a way to inject werewolves or some Lovecraftian elements into the setting (as I am wont to do). Maybe moonsilver is a thing?

Most of the gods are dead. At first I was thinking their corpses could be massive, on par with small mountain ranges, but now I'm thinking they're more or less human-sized, but hard to find what with the huge battle, world bathed in fire and shrouded in ash, etc. You'd want to find them because they're probably still wearing magic loot, plus their remains could possess magical properties. I guess I could always go both ways: some gods were really fucking big, others not so much.

Jormungandr's corpse will have formed into chaotically winding mountain ranges (and easily big enough to tunnel into, and it's probably crushed a few dungeon locales). Part of it will also be in the sea, poisoning the nearby waters. A lake of deadly poison has formed around wherever its mouth happens to be, killing everything for miles around and possibly giving birth to lindworms, maybe tatzelwurms (since they typically breathe poison), and toxic undead.

Considering whether Yggdrasil will remain intact. I like it as a way for planar travel, but even if the trunk was obliterated I could see using the roots to get around. I think that was possible in Planescape.

Human, at the least, with a jotun bloodline talent option (especially since giants were commonly depicted as being human-sized).

Not sure if I want to allow elves and dwarves (I found an article on half-elves so I guess that's another way to mix things up), which would make them more mysterious and fantastic, but if I wanted non-human races there ya go. I think that'd be it. Maybe this would be an ideal setting to do race-as-class.

At the least: barbarian (with some skin-changer talents, namely for changing into bears, boars, and wolves), bard (for the whole skald thing), cleric, fighter, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, and wizard. Most classes would operate normally, but here's how I'd tweak some of them:

Clerics would worship what few gods still remain, though I could see them doing the whole "draw faith from within" thing. Maybe even godly remains (either the whole corpse or just parts of them) interred in heavily guarded churches. I have an idea for a city build around Thor's massive hammer, Mjolnir: it's constantly beset by storms (which frighten away trolls, so that's good), and Thor's priests draw power from the hammer itself. Clerics that prove themselves are given hammers made from Mjolnir's fragments. They're good at curing poisons and hunt down Jormungandr's spawn.

Not sure if I want to include druids, even by another name: I think the overall concept would work. As mentioned above, I'm definitely going to give the barbarian the ability to transform into animals because that sounds cool. Maybe merge some aspects of it with the wizard and give it random drain? Or split it up between the cleric and wizard. Could also just say fuck it and make a witch class.

For wizards, talents could be explained as invoking one or more runes. Would want to create new talents, rename others, probably rework the overall structure. Otherwise I think it works out just fine. Could also have runes work like spell scrolls do in Appendix D, where anyone can use them, but wizards do so with fewer risks (they have Mana to burn) and much more quickly.

Another option is to make another system more inline with my true-Vancian system (which I'm refining for our upcoming White Book), where you prep spells during a short rest (making them more like encounter-powers), you have a universal pool of spell slots, each spell takes up x slots (no levels though), your wizard level determines much of what it can do, but you can also let it use up more slots to further boost it.

A third option is to go with the system I designed for the kobold racial class (also coming up in White book): most kobolds talents require a recharge roll, and you can't use any recharge talents until you make the roll. So if you're a mine kobold with Earthquake and Noxious Breath (both of which require a recharge), when you use one you can't use either of them again until you make your recharge roll.

As you level up the number you need to roll on a d6 decreases: starts at 6, but is reduced to 5 at 5th-level and 4 at 10th-level, but some talents let you increase this number to boost them.

For example, Burning Hands deals 1d6+Charisma fire damage to a 15-foot cone, but if you bump up the recharge difficulty by 1 the damage gets increased to 3d6+Charisma fire damage (note that you can't increase the recharge difficulty above 6, so until you're 5th-level you cannot boost any recharge talents this way).

Draugr are different from the run-of-the-mill undead warrior in that they have a variety of supernatural abilities. Pretty rare, especially wandering the world, but waaay more powerful.

Gullinbursti is a unique boar made as a gift. It's mane and bristles are golden, and it could run on air and water. Would make for an interesting one-time encounter, but maybe its offspring possess similar traits and so its prized for making various alchemical potions and light sources. Could also be a mount option: flying/water-walking glowing boar, anyone?

Fire, frost, and mountain giants, survivors of Ragnarok. Some will be human sized, others really big like you'd expect. Big ones would be really rare.

Lindworms were technically in God of War, because you can find and free Fafnir and he was a dwarf-turned-lindworm, though they looked like standard dragons as opposed to dragon-like serpents with two arms and maybe wings. But, for this setting, I'd go with the classic look. Lot of new ones spawned from Jormungandr's blood, and there would also be a water variant.

Tatzelwurms of varying shapes, of course. Smaller than lindworms, and since they often have poisonous breath it handles the small-dragon-like critter niche.

Therianthrope, specifically bears, boars, and wolves. Maybe also ravens and snakes. Oh, that reminds me: gotta whip up a therianthrope monstrous class!

Trolls come in a good variety: some are human-sized and human-looking (need to add a troll bloodline talent for humans, and maybe even a troll sorcerer bloodline?), some are big and monstrous, and some can use magic. Mostly they stay in the forests and mountains, though with the sun mostly obscured that's not too big a concern, so I could see this being a possible race.

Undead would be a pretty big problem, what with the fairly recent apocalyptic battle. Lot of wandering undead warriors looking to keep on fighting. Most of them are going to be like normal-human-speed zombies, but also burning zombies near Surtr, and toxic undead near Jormungandr's mouth. Also Hel horses.

Valravns sound pretty awesome: they eat the dead and can turn into knights, or half-wolf/raven hybrids. I like both, so both are going in.

Wolves. Normal wolves, wolves on fire (thanks Skoll), and maybe werewolves due to the whole Hati-trying-to-eat-the-moon fiasco (moonwolf pelts could be ideal for making skin-changer talismans). Also giant wolves: not just dire wolf size, but Huge wolves and maybe even Gargantuan. There's a wolf wielding a sword in one of the Dark Souls games I think, and I really want to throw that at my players.

You can now get a physical copy of Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book in whatever format you want! We've also released the first big supplement for it, Appendix D, so pick that up if you want more of everything.

After months of doing other things, we turned our attention to and released The Warden. It's based on the 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons class of the same name, but judging by the responses we did an excellent job converting it over.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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