Some things I’m drawing from as I put this together:
- Norse mythology, obviously, particularly D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths
- the video game Skyrim (it’s got a generally northern European flavor, harsh environment, generally small cities/villages and loose politics rooted in tradition and honor)
- The Snow Women by Fritz Leiber, collected in Swords and Deviltry
Jacob mentioned dark fairy tales as a possible reference point for the sort of mythological feel I’m looking for. I think that’s right on, but I’m struggling to come up with an example to point to. The original versions of some of the less absurd Grimm stories aren’t far off. Here’s a website with a bunch of Norse fairy tales to look at, so that’s something. A lot of these seem similar to Grimm.
Generally, I intend for Midgard to have a more classical mythological feel than one finds in 4E. In part, this means constricting the options available to players, pruning back the available races and classes, making some flavor tweaks to the classes that remain. Speaking more broadly, it’s an attempt to move away from the superheroic tone of fourth edition. I’m not yet entirely sure what that means or how I’ll try to accomplish it. More than anything, it may just be a matter of what sorts of adventures we go on and what stories we tell.
One important distinction is that the races of Midgard are much less inter-mixed than one finds in the Nentir Vale. Generally, they do not live together, do not trust each other, and only meet to trade once or twice a year. There are no large cosmopolitan cities. This is a young and harsh world. Everyone’s too busy getting by to worry about cultural diversity.
(This is actually an illustration for a Russian folk tale, but it’s a favorite and pretty evocative.)