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  • The Vanir?

    Hi folks,

    I'm about to start running a Norse-only Scion campaign, and I'm wondering how people handle the Vanir. I personally want to have them on Vanaheim, but as far as I know there's not much information on who they were.

    What do you guys do? Assign gods from the Aesir patheon as Vanir? Make new gods up from scratch? Co-opt a different pantheon's mythology to fill the blanks?

    Or is there enough information to build a Vanir pantheon out there?


    Thanks for any input.

  • #2
    Well, there's always good old JSR to help you out: http://johnsscionresources.blogspot....ch/label/Vanir
    Last edited by Crying; 10-06-2016, 11:18 PM. Reason: My 'y' key is broken

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Diamondgreen View Post
      I'm about to start running a Norse-only Scion campaign, and I'm wondering how people handle the Vanir. I personally want to have them on Vanaheim, but as far as I know there's not much information on who they were.
      To be honest, there is not much known about the other Norse gods either. The majority of the stuff we see as cannon today was written by the Christians several hundred years after the "fall" of Norse religion. The non-Christian sources that are found hint at differences in the mythology over the Scandinavian countries. To some extent you can even see that in the Christian texts, where you have conflicting information.

      One common assumption is that the Aesir and the Vanir were at war with each other. At the end of the war the two groups exchanged people. Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja left the Vanir to join the Aesir, while Hœnir and Mímir went the other way.

      My point is that there is no correct way of doing this.

      Personally I would look at the two groups, based on the supposed exchanges.

      The Aesir tends to be more like the Roman deities. They do few things, but they are god at them. They are closer to humans in both appearance and behavior. I would also say, that they interact more with humans. The Vanir, on the other hand, are more like the gods the Romans incorporated. They are more self-sufficient, in the meaning that you could follow one of them without the need for another. Freyr is closer to Mithras than Mercury. Freyja is closer to Cybele than Venus.

      On the same account, some have compared the Aesir with the Greek gods with the Vanir as the Titans. The real reason for the supposed was probably a clash of cultures. The Aesir came with the Germanic tribes, while the Vanir was a part of an older nature spirit belief.

      Drawing inspiration from another sources, I’d say that in the world of Tolkien the Aesir would be the Isatari (Gandalf and Saruman, and so on) while the Vanir would the elves that received the three rings from Sauron.

      None of this analogies are perfect, but you get the idea. The Vanir are mystic and distant, almost to the border of being dangerous, while the Aesir are more familiar.

      I’d say that if you style your Vanir after the elves in Tolkien, you’d get close enough to how most modern [and interested] Scandinavians would describe them.
      Last edited by ifrippe; 10-07-2016, 03:26 AM.

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      • #4
        I'm also running a Norse-only game and spent several days researching the pantheon. Disclaimer, as ifrippe mentioned, there are a lot of holes and conflicting information regarding the Norse pantheon. Probably includes everyone, but when I tried to make a uniform universe to work, it didn't come easy, and I had to make up some stuff to make it all fit.

        If you just want the facts, the definite members of the Vanir are Njord, Sif, Ullr, Freya, Freyr, and Gullveig. Nerthus might be Vanir but can't remember if I confirmed that or not.

        Now, Scion: Ragnorak had Delling and Elli as the original leadership couple of the Vanir, but I found nothing to confirm that. Instead, Delling is more Aesir or proto-Aesir, while Elli is only mentioned once. As a compromise, I left Elli as the matron of the Vanir, but replaced Delling with Lytir.

        For the record, Telgar did make a fictional Vanir pantheon. That's in the Fan-Written Scion Material thread.

        In my game, Vanaheim was abandoned when the Giants launched a major assault against not long after the end of the Aesir-Vanir war, so it's mostly untamed wilderness.Only three deities remain there, and they are in hiding. Most of the Vanir migrated to Asgard and now live there as full members. There are some rumblings with Ragnorak approaching that it might be better to leave the doomed Aesir, but it's pretty quiet. I'm allowing the Band to be the decisive factor if there is a Vanir breakaway.

        Any questions for me?

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        • #5
          I wasn't aware Sif was considered Vanir. Where is that attested?

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          • #6
            *double checks sources*

            Dang it, it's not. It's assumed because the Vanir are typically fertility deities, which Sif fits into, and she's had a prior marriage.

            Sif's origins are unknown, as are Ullr's. The other four are definitely Vanir. Gullveig/Heidr is the one who starts the war. Odr is Freya's missing husband, and is assumed to be Vanir. But Odr's name is the same as Odin, so I have it that Odr was simply Odin in disguise, visiting the Vanir.

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            • #7
              A good thing to keep in mind is that mythology has the adherence to canon of a comic book constantly changing editors, because there were no centralized editors for the vast majority of the stories and ideas discussed in mythological stories! The only times we ever get a (false) sense of canonicity is when our one largest source for these things was written by one guy. It's how you get stuff like Ovid's writings being taken as a canon of greco-roman mythology, even if we have multiple different versions of stories that appeared in his work which clearly demonstrate how he re-wrote many of them to suit his particular context.

              Point being, just because we get most of our notions of the Vanir and the Aesir from, say, Snorri Sturluson, doesn't necessarily mean that what HE recorded was necessarily a "canon." In fact, the only way to tell whether he majorly re-wrote them or not is to compare them to other sources that predate it, and each of those pieces in turn is not an absolute representation either!

              So when we sit around and say "He cannot be this or he cannot be that or he is only this." These statements are not necessarily true, nor are they necessarily valuable as truth.

              If Sif's origin is unknown, then one can readily insert her into the Vanir that way. I'd bet an ancient magical rune that an ancient norseman has already done this in at least one place, even if we never caught a glimpse of it. Mythology is more flimsy (or, as I prefer, flexible) than people give it credit for!


              Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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              • #8
                I actually had the Finnish pantheon turn out to be the long-lost Vanir. It isn't even remotely "canon", but it worked for my story purposes. Mythology is, indeed, flexible.

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                • #9
                  If you're not hellbent on historic accuracy, you can try reading into Northern European reconstructionism, authors like Raven Kaldera and the like. Following something like that would make the Vanir a class of gods that were 'conquered' by the Aesir, with Freya being taken to Asgard as a kind of ward.

                  The rest of the Vanir would live in Vanaheim, except Frey who has a hall there, in Asgard, and one in Alfheim.

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                  • #10
                    I always liked the idea of the Vanir who didn't merge with the Aesir (like Freyr, Freyja, and Njord did) being another neighboring Pantheon. The Jumalat (Finnish) would work.


                    Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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                    • #11
                      That's what I was thinking if trying, Glamour. The Tuatha seemed a good fit for me.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by simison View Post
                        Now, Scion: Ragnorak had Delling and Elli as the original leadership couple of the Vanir, but I found nothing to confirm that. Instead, Delling is more Aesir or proto-Aesir, while Elli is only mentioned once. As a compromise, I left Elli as the matron of the Vanir, but replaced Delling with Lytir.
                        That always bugged me, since I was under the impression that Njord was the former king of the Vanir.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Crying View Post

                          That always bugged me, since I was under the impression that Njord was the former king of the Vanir.

                          Really? I had assumed Njord was picked as a hostage because he wasn't the Vanir ruler, but definitely of great importance.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by simison View Post


                            Really? I had assumed Njord was picked as a hostage because he wasn't the Vanir ruler, but definitely of great importance.
                            I always viewed it as the Aesir going "We're gonna take the best warriors amongst you, including your king, and you can have... I dunno, these guys. They're smart or something, you guys like that, right?"

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                            • #15
                              The hostage exchange was the result of a tie I think, right? Or done to forge a peace after both tribes were at the point of exhaustion maybe. In that context, Njord likely would not be king as then the exchange wouldn't make much sense. It wouldn't be a fair exchange, but also, taking the ruler hostage makes the entire thing sort of tricky. The rulers of both tribes would guarantee the safety of their hostages on some conditions, to kill them if their family violated the deal. Taking the ruler themselves hostage isn't a good plan as you can't guarantee the internal politics of the other group will keep the ruler's life valuable ("sure, kill him, I want to be chief instead!") and by taking the ruler hostage, you've just provoked a political problem within the group which may result in the deal being called off.

                              Normally, taking the children of the ruler, especially their sons, is good practice. Keeps people on a short leash.

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