Your game room, kid-friendly again
“They gave up Heaven to conquer Hel.”
Hush child. The pain will soon pass. Tears are not for your kind. You are not weak, you are not fragile, and though you may wish otherwise, you are not mortal.
I know, it’s confusing. You have a mother and a father and memories of a normal childhood. You were born to us, it’s true, and we are quite human, but the blood coursing through your veins is nothing short of divine. You are a child of the stars. You are Starborn. Let me explain...
Long ago, many moons before your birth, gods walked among us. They brought us gifts of magic and opened our eyes to great wonder. They told us of the creation of the world, and the war in heaven that came before. They explained how they formed our realm from the body of their greatest enemy, a titanic skywalker they called Ymir, and how everything that came from him was perfect. He was the source of all magic, and a part of him remains in heaven for every spark of mystery here. “That is why there are stars,” they said. “There is a star in the sky for every bit of magic in creation.”
Your palm, look at it. The bleeding welts are the constellation of Odin, the All-Father. One star in that constellation is yours and it will burn bright and strong for as long as you live. It will grant you amazing abilities. You might become strong enough to move mountains, or fast enough to reach distant Folkvang in minutes. Your voice might sway thousands, or perhaps you’ll revive the dead with a single touch. There are darker talents as well, more brutal and bizarre — it’s different for each of you. Your blood influences your path, but each of the gods’ sons and daughters is unique. You have your own fortunes and make your own destinies.
You can do anything, but still you must be careful, for there are those who would control or destroy you. Listen closely, for this part is vital! You are immortal, but not eternal. You can be killed, and though it would take an army of my kind to do it some will still try, for it is the very same power that makes you so special that we covet so dearly. Magic is the currency of the vicious. It’s everything to us. It fuels our weapons and machines. It turns the tide of battle and comforts the victors. It even lights our homes and keeps us warm through the long, dark winters.
The gifts of the gods changed us forever. We’re loathe to give them up and now, with the gods dead and no new magic to come, even the slightest spark is cause for war. So many enchanted relics and places and creatures are gone now, ripped apart and torn down to exploit their magic, and with every one gone another star dies. Look out the window! Watch the sky long enough and you’ll see another one wink out, leaving behind nothing but empty black. Someday the last stars will vanish and what will happen then? No one knows. This used to be a world of glory, where answers walked among us waiting to be asked. Now...
They say this is Ragnarok, the twilight of all, the final days — and yet it’s been years. Years since Balder’s death and Loki’s binding at the Cavern of Woe. Years since Jormungandr and Fenrir should have risen from their slumber to lay waste to the world. Years since the Sovereign, Starborn like you, defied prophecy and “saved” Midgard from destruction. They prevented apocalypse, but some think they also plunged the world into eternal chaos.
You inherit this world at war. Armies march from southern Myrkvidr to the northern Wolf Dales, lay siege at Thunder’s Gate and clash at the Shelf of the Slain. Our harmony died with the gods — it vanished the day Asgard fell from the heavens and flattened a quarter of our lands. It ended as the arms of the poisoned World Tree cracked, plunging the Branch Lands into the void. Nothing is left of those first legends.
Nothing except you.
When poorly executed, epic fantasy presents little more than a mild case of super heroics disguised with a sword and loincloth. Heroes amble around the countryside with the arrogant swagger of the undefeatable, unafraid to take on even the most ludicrous challenges because behind the scenes they know nothing can truly challenge them. Living at the very apex of the food chain, wielding unmatched abilities to vanquish what are by contrast trivial foes, and generally having their way without question, characters in mishandled epic campaigns stagnate. There’s no risk and the whole affair collapses as a hollow, pointless exercise.
This assumption that epic heroes must triumph at every turn is why so many attempts at epic fantasy flounder. Who wants to play a game you can’t lose? No, truly epic fantasy isn’t just about power, or shouldn’t be. It’s about scale, and scope, and weight. It’s about catastrophic failures as much as legendary achievements. Epic characters must be more than roaming packages of maximum statistics. They need to be heroes at the outer edge of the envelope, experiencing the kinds of adventure that would shatter lesser beings and making the kinds of decisions that change and save worlds. The fact that they might fail is what makes the struggle important, and therefore fun.
Godspawn presents a unique opportunity for epic fantasy play. As a Starborn, you enter a world careening off the rails. Ragnarok has begun but doesn’t seem likely to end anytime soon. Some of your brethren have taken it upon themselves to dismantle fate and seize control of the world. They’ve polarized the whole of creation, sending the last five kingdoms into an ever-escalating war. Magic is dying and sadly, the greatest remaining sources of it are you and your godly cousins.
You face mortal choices with global consequences. You can side with hope, seeking to drag the world kicking and screaming out of the apocalypse, or you can bring down the final curtain with the might and glory of the heavens themselves. You can seek the final mysteries of the gods, venturing past the harrowing borders of fallen Asgard, or delve down into the bowels of Hel, deep in rotting Yggdrasil, to confront the Sovereign and their fanatic followers, the Fane.
No matter your choices and whether you win or lose, the world will be different for your passing. All your words and actions are history in the making. That’s what epic fantasy is about, and that’s what Godspawn brings to your table.