The theme of Ysgard is the glory of heroic, individual struggle. According to myth, the twilight of the gods will begin on this plane. Ysgard is also a plane of inspiration and creativity. The Infinite Staircase has its beginning here, and true poetry is said to be found in giants' wells and the mead of the gods. The World Ash, Yggdrasil, has the most connections on this plane.
Ysgard is a place of raw elements, where rivers of earth, ice, and fire crash together in the howling sky, where waves crash in wild oceans. It's the homeland of the heroic bariaurs, the giants and their gods, and the mystical fensir.
Ysgard has the following traits.
Infinite Size: Ysgard goes on forever, but its wellknown realms have boundaries within the plane as a whole.
Divinely Morphic: Specific powerful beings (such as the deities Kord and Olidammara) can alter Ysgard with a thought. Ordinary creatures find Ysgard as easy to alter as the Material Plane is—they can be affected by spells and physical effort normally. But deities can change vast areas, creating great realms for themselves.
No Elemental Traits: No one element dominates on Ysgard; all are in balance as on the Material Plane. However, pans of the second layer, Muspelheim, are treated as if they possessed the fire-dominant trait.
Minor Positive-Dominant: Ysgard possesses a riotous explosion of life in all its forms. All individuals on a positive-dominant plane gain fast healing 2 and may even regrow lost limbs in rime. Additionally, those slain in the never-ending conflicts on Ysgard's fields of battle rise each morning as if true resurrection were cast on them, fully healed and ready to fight anew. Even petitioners, who as outsiders cannot be raised, awaken fully healed. Only those who suffer mortal wounds on Ysgard's battlefields get the true resurrection effect; dead characters brought to Ysgard don't spontaneously revive.
Mildly Chaos-Aligned: Lawful creatures on Ysgard suffer a –2 penalty on all Charisma-based checks.
The goat or sheep-bodied, centauroid bariaurs roam Ysgard's layers and adjacent planes freely, battling giants and embracing their liberty and love of life. The lillends are serpentine celestials whose duty it is to guard the Gates of the Moon and the Infinite Staircase that extends from it. The squirrel-like, chattering ratatosks scamper up and down the World Ash Yggdrasil.
Fearsome giants dwell in Ysgard, mighty enough to challenge the gods themselves. Their lesser cousins the fensir are a wise but ravenous race found on the first layer of the plane.
Servants of the gods include angels, einheriar, and valkyries.
As an outer plane, Ysgard is spatially infinite, further consisting of three infinite layers (or sub-planes). Ysgard’s first layer shares borders with the neighboring planes of Arborea, Limbo, and the Outlands; travel is possible between Ysgard and these planes at certain locations. Portals in Ysgard are wells in the earth. They are often marked, but tend to be unreliable.
Ysgard is well-known for its heavy connections to the plane-spanning tree Yggdrasil, the World Ash. Yggdrasil touches the Beastlands, Niflheim, the three layers of Ysgard, Limbo, and Elysium, as well as many other locations. Its roots can be found drinking from the Well of Urd in the Realm of the Norns and from the Well of Mimir, and one emerges near the gate-town of Glorium. It also joins various half-worlds that touch nowhere else in the multiverse. High in the branches roosts the eagle Egder, and at its Niflheim root squirms the dragon Nidhogg and her brood of linnorms. The World Ash also hosts a major sentient race, the ratatosks.
The wandering realm of the Seelie Court often appears on the plane of Ysgard, always in a different location.
The first layer of Ysgard, also known as Ysgard or Gladsheim, takes the form of rivers of earth (or "earthbergs") stretching across the sky. On the larger earthbergs are oceans and continents. The underside of the earthbergs burns with fire and molten rock.
The layer of Ysgard is the location of a number of godly realms, including Olidammara's realm of Winesong, Frey's realm of Alfheim, Selûne and Soma's shared realm of Gates of the Moon, Surtr and Thrym's realm of Jotunheim, Bast's realm of Merratet, Anhur's realm of Netaph, Branchala's realm of Soul of Music, realm of the Vanir (Frey, Freya, Noatun, and Ullr) Vanaheim, Hachiman and O-Kuni-Nushi's realm of Kenyama, and Shou Hsing's realm the Orchard of Immortality.
The realm of Asgard on the first layer of Ysgard is the home of the Norse gods Odin, Frigga, Frey, Freya, Idun, and secondary realms of Loki and Tyr.
- Kord's Realm: The deity of the strong and courageous, Kord the Brawler lives in the Hall of the Valiant on this plane. His grand hall is built of stout beams of wood hewn from a single massive ash tree. Within, Kord presides over a never-ending banquet where honored guests come and go, but the revelry never ends. The feast tables surround a great open space where valiant heroes wrestle for sport. Sometimes, Kord himself sets aside his intelligent dragonslaying greatsword, Kelmar, and his dragon-hide accoutrements, and enters the square to the great delight of all assembled.
- Plain of Ida: This great field is located near the Hall of the Valiant and the great free city of Himinborg, the largest population center on the layer. The Plain of Ida hosts daily festivals where warriors can flaunt their mettle. Here, bravery and skill in battle is valued over all else.
- Alfheim: Elven petitioners populate this brilliant, sunlit region, as does a contingent of mortal elves. Alfheim is suffused with light and joy, and visitors cannot help but be buoyed by the happiness in the air. The lands are wild and beautiful, untouched by civilization. Wildlife is plentiful, and natural features such as streams, forests, and sunny hills are likewise bountiful. The elven natives are friendly, but they care little for anything but games and meditative appreciation of their natural surroundings. While many elves live in harmony with nature among the trees and fields of the surface, some elves abide in glittering caves below the surface of Alfheim. Alfheim has seasons. Summers are long and kind, and its winters are dark and unforgiving. During winter, the elves retreat into the glittering caves, the entrances to which are sealed off and buried during the season of snows.
- Den of Olidammara: The god of rogues, Olidammara the Laughing Rogue is an intermediate deity who concerns himself with music, revels, wine, humor, and similar ideals. Wood, stone, and stranger substances create a grand but haphazard structure, as if several mansions of various cultures were mashed together. On the inside, mazes, locked doors, blind hallways, and secret treasuries surround a grand hall where music and dancing are mandatory. Usually, the guests of this inmost den include rogues, bards, performers, and entertainers of all stripes and all places. Wine, romance, and song rule here, where Olidammara lounges at his ease on a grand divan—unless he is disguised as one of his many guests using his magic laughing mask. Because some terrible prank often draws him far away from his den, other deities treat Olidammara with deserved caution no matter where they are.
Muspelheim, the second layer of Ysgard, is similar to the first layer of that plane in that it is made up of shifting rivers of earth that form vast arches through the sky. Unlike the first layer (Ysgard), the earth here is covered in lava and flames as hot as the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Surtr, god of fire giants, dwells on this layer; within it is a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water known as the Silver Eye. The Mystaran Immortal Rathanos has a realm here as well. There is a fortress built by celestials called the Tower of War Triumphant; it guards a portal to the Abyss known as the Black Maw. Somewhere on the layer there is said to be a portal to the Paraelemental Plane of Ice.
Nidavellir is the third layer of Ysgard, a subterranean realm of caves and underground passages. The terrain on this chaotic plane shifts unpredictably, so caverns and byways may open and close.
A realm of magic-savvy dwarves, also called Nidavellir, is located on this layer of the plane; the dwarven god Muamman Duathal lives there when he's not wandering, and the dwarven goddess Sharindlar has a ring of standing stones nearby. It's rumored that the Norse god Hoder dwells here as well. The city of Ashbringer, also known as the Great Bellows and the Chorus of Ringing Anvils, is located in the dwarven realm of Nidavellir. Svartalfheim is a realm of chaotic neutral dark elves; the goddess Eilistraee dwells there. These dark elves are foes of the Ysgardian dwarves.
Magic alterations in Ysgard
Alterations that would help a warrior work fine. Those that warp space must be keyed. Those that deceive can fail at the worst time unless keyed. Those that enhance memory or other magics work only for those with Odin's approval. Protective alterations only work if there is a rainbow visible, or perhaps a special key is used. No weather-spell works, and they cannot be keyed. Conjuration-summoning always bring the spirits of warriors. Divination spells are at double range and duration, but can only target one creature at a time. Necromantic spells must be brought at one level higher (i.e., "Spectral Hand" is third- level). Wild magic requires two rolls, as on Limbo; in choosing a surge, take the one most like the spirit of the terrain. Weather magic fails even with keys. Other elemental spells require keys, except that fire spells work normally in Muspelheim, and light-based spells work well in Vanaheim.
Wizardly spell keys are runes, carved on the material components (if any), or spoken (if no material components). A kenning may also be required.
- The suggested color for pools from the astral is indigo. Ethereal curtains might be purple.
- The dead are immune to fire and acid, and as an additional ability rapid healing and automatic resurrection if killed in battle, like other visitors to the plane.
- The plane is "mildly chaos-aligned". Lawful creatures have -2 on charisma checks.
Ysgard is regarded as good-tending and thoroughly chaotic. These effects are additive
- -1 on all charisma checks for all evil creatures
- -1 on all intelligence, wisdom, and charisma checks for all non-lawful, non-chaotic creatures
- -2 on all intelligence, wisdom, and charisma checks for all lawful creatures.
- Good-based spells (non-lawful) work as if caster were 2 levels higher.
- Evil-based spells (non-lawful) require a Spellcraft check (DC 15) for success.
- Law-based spells simply fail.
- Chaos-based spells work as if caster were 4 levels higher.
- Eternal Rebirth: If a petitioner of Ysgard is killed on the plane it is reborn the next morning.
- Seize the Moment: When an Action Point is spent to take another action, the character gains +1 to any one roll used during the action.
- Earthberg Collision: Earthberg’s occasionally drift into each other, though the impact is usually mild.
- Spirit of Heroes: Once per day, a creature gets rest.