What is it about the frozen north that has always been so enticing to explorers? The danger? The sense of the unknown? The fact that you will die unless you keep your wits about you and prepare for the worst? Or could it be myths and legends of the Norsemen who not only survived, but thrived in that unforgiving environment?
Personally, I think it’s the challenge of going where humankind obviously isn’t made to survive easily. And in roleplaying terms, there’s a lot to be said for the allure of places we’re not supposed to go. In a fantasy or pulp setting, there’s that need to be the first to discover some new place, beast, or item, or rediscover something ancient mankind has forgotten about.
Northlands by author Dan Voyce captures that sense of frozen mystery beautifully, weaving in myths and legends of the Norse traditions and adding plenty of magic. But what’s always kept me curious is the dagger dangling above the heads of gods and monsters alike… Ragnarok. It’s an apocalyptic event where many major gods will die and a new world with new and reborn gods will be left in its wake. I was very interested to see how this book took that into consideration.
The Northlands is not a kind place. You either fight for everything you need and want or die trying. Even good and evil are mostly set aside for the “might is right” philosophy, and yet the boundaries between order and chaos must still be maintained. The gods know this and are watching. As a result, there is a place for heroes and villains both grand and terrible. I can’t imagine a world that contains the wisdom of Odin, the strength of Thor, and the trickery of Loki without PCs and PCs fighting for the very same things.
The amount of research that went into the writing of Northlands is impressive...
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[5 of 5 Stars!]