Fate of the Gods
A Designer Diary for Wrath of the Gods
Now Garm howls loud before Gnipahellir
The fetters will burst, and the wolf run free;
Much do I know, and more can see
Of the fate of the gods, the mighty in fight.
–The Poetic Edda, Voluspo, Stanza 58
Cthulhu rises from his watery grave. The Four Horsemen trample the world. The Earth itself rejects humanity, sending both flora and fauna against mankind. It’s The End of the World, and it’s an experience like none other.
In Wrath of the Gods, you play as yourself in the midst of a supernatural apocalypse. The gods have returned to Earth and the world is ending. Your job is to survive. Perhaps you’ll live to see a new world order in the post-apocalypse, but whether you stay alive for years or die horribly in the first days of the apocalypse, Wrath of the Gods is your invitation to roleplay at the end of the world.
Five distinct scenarios are included in Wrath of the Gods, and each one offers a unique way that the world could end by divine intervention. Today, writer Tim Cox explores the end of the Norse pantheon in the Ragnarök scenario!
Tim Cox on the Ragnarök Scenario
All five scenarios in Wrath of the Gods were a lot of fun to write, and there’s no way I can choose a favorite (not just for fear of being struck down by a wrathful deity). That said, the Ragnarök scenario stands out because, in some ways, it turns the defining characteristics of The End of the World roleplaying game line upside-down. Ragnarök brings some elements of traditional fantasy gaming into the real world and gives the Player Characters the chance to not just survive, but become heroes.
It’s no secret that many elements common to the genre of fantasy gaming and literature herald from Norse mythology. So it shouldn’t be surprising that as more elements of Norse mythology enter a scenario, it comes to resemble a fantasy world more and more. Don’t get me wrong, this is still The End of the World, and it’s never your typical fantasy RPG. The events of Ragnarök still happen in the real world, in places familiar to the players. But there’s something very cool and exciting about bringing these familiar tropes into the real world. It allows players to experience elements of fantasy RPG in an entirely new light.
Fighting the Cosmic Battle
In this scenario, the “twilight of the gods” unfolds much as it was foretold in the Norse epics. The sun and moon disappear from the sky as gods and monsters not seen in modern times reappear to engage in epic battles. Humanity is caught in the middle, and we have to struggle with the knowledge that we truly knew nothing about the cosmos, while simultaneously fighting to survive the destruction wrought by giants and the unleashed denizens of Hel.
Like all scenarios in The End of the World, players play as themselves, not mighty warriors or mystical wizards. Because of this, winning a fight against the monsters of Norse mythology is not a given. Draugr, trolls, giants – these are frightening creatures. The first inclination of most people would be to run, not fight. Even if you have a gun, do you trust this mundane weapon to do anything more than make a fire giant mad and draw its attention? Still, for PCs brave or foolish enough, there are ways to fight back and make a difference in the worldwide battle. Have you ever wondered how you’d fare against a troll? Here’s your chance to find out (though it might not be pretty). But as in classic roleplaying games, you may need some magical weapons and armor before you face tougher monsters...
Of course, when writing this scenario, I had to adapt classic Norse mythology to fit the modern world and account for the centuries of history that have passed since these stories were written. The modern world is not the world the gods are accustomed to, and they hardly fit in. Then again, as the worlds collide, the advances of modern science and technology seem less and less important in comparison with the martial prowess and traditional weapons of the gods and warriors of Valhalla. I definitely enjoyed touching on some ways the heroes of America’s past might play a part after returning from Valhalla.
Unlike other scenarios in The End of the World, the PCs aren’t just bystanders desperately trying to survive the apocalypse here. In fact, you and your fellow PCs have destinies to fulfill. Ragnarök is defined by a series of events, including some epic battles between gods and giants. Though it might seem like chance, the PCs may be present at some of these cataclysmic events, and they may even have a part to play. How these events unfold, however, depends on the choices the PCs make and the chances they take.
Like all The End of the World scenarios, the Ragnarök scenario includes a post-apocalypse for players to experience if they can survive the events of the apocalypse. And like all scenarios, the world is forever changed in the aftermath of the apocalypse. With this scenario, though, the changes might not all be for the worst. PCs who displayed courage and fought as heroes might be recognized by their fellow humans and rewarded by the remaining gods!
Ragnarök allows players to experience the familiar people and places of their lives brought together with familiar elements of fantasy in a way that’s both frightening and exciting. The laws and society of the old Norse are back in style, and that means only the brave can flourish. Will the PCs make a name for themselves in this world of myth and magic, fall courageously in glorious battle, or live and die as ordinary cowards? Whatever happens, I hope players and GMs enjoy this unique scenario, and I look forward to hearing the sagas you forge for yourselves!
Through the Gates of Valhalla
The Norse gods have awoken and terrifying monsters walk the Earth. As one of countless humans fighting to survive, you decide if you will run and hide or strive for something greater – to fulfill a heroic destiny. Whether you revive Norse epics with the Ragnarök scenario or experience a different scenario, you can partake in supernatural apocalypses with Wrath of the Gods.
Pre-order your copy of Wrath of the Gods at your local retailer today!
in our forums!