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Dark Eras - The Fall of Fenris

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  • Dark Eras - The Fall of Fenris

    The Wolf and the Raven is a great Dark Era. There’s a bit of the setting that I want to play around with a bit more – something that doesn’t necessarily quite fit into the official Dark Era, but is the sort of thing I’m a real sucker for. I’m talking about bringing Fenris front and centre.

    TW&TR touches on the link between Fenris-Ur and the Fenris of Norse myth. It’s one of those things that’s always fascinated me. We have the Firstborn, all archetypes of concepts but not directly linked to real-world mythological figures – and then we have Fenris, standing separate. What I’d love to do in a Forsaken Viking-era chronicle is play that up to the max. So, here it is – a summary of how I’d do that, along with some antagonist stats because hey, why not.

    The Fall of Fenris
    It’s not down to chance that Fenris-Ur appears in the religious stories of the Scandinavians. Destroyer Wolf’s large role in the myth cycle of the giants, gods and Ragnarok isn’t a result of a breach of the Oath of the Moon, of some unruly Uratha spilling secrets to humans – it’s because it is based on real events, real and recent. Right now, in this era of reavers and the clash of religions, Fenris is in trouble. Fenris is in chains.

    Something dark dwelt in the northern reaches, where the numbers of humanity dwindle to a bare few before the cruel grasp of the cold seasons. Something dark took its prey from amongst those hardy folks, in the days when Rome was still a shining jewel and the heart of a powerful empire. It made more like itself. By the current day, with Rome a fallen polity and raiders on the seas, it is the bloated heart of a court of shuddering, groaning horrors. The people of the north rarely see these abominations, but those sightings are the root of the stories of jotnar that they tell amongst themselves.

    The Uratha of the north fought the jotnar, where they could. The jotnar captured Uratha, where they could. What they did to the children of Wolf and Moon was horrific, almost unthinkable. The People petitioned their greatest patrons for aid against the terrors, and Fenris’ wrath stirred. The Destroyer came forth from the deep, distant Shadow and, with eyes of flame and jaws of vengeance, set about the brood. Yet the jotnar had planned for this, hoped for this, because their sire had long nursed a grudge of its own against the Destroyer. They trapped Fenris in impossible chains and, now, the roaring and thrashing wolf tears great gouges in a Shadow-prison. Too strong to be slain easily, the Destroyer nonetheless weakens as the jotnar work dark rites to sap Fenris’ fury.

    The Uratha and Fenris
    Fenris may be bound, but he is not dead. His Blood Talons, incensed and maddened, would free him if they knew how; yet the Shadow-strongholds of the jotnar are said to be impregnable, and many of the People have died – or worse – at the hands of the giants. The other Tribes watch, fearful of what will happen next. Their own great totems hold back from vengeance, for they have not known such power as might entrap a Firstborn since the times before the Sundering broke the world.

    All is not lost. The Blood Talons gather allies, where they can. They pile high treasure-hoards of fetishes and talens in preparation for a battle that will shake the world – a battle that the humans have caught some vague notion of, and mistakenly woven myths of Ragnarok around. The priests of the Suthar Anzuth have divined a further tool to exploit – the very nature of their totem. Fenris is the Destroyer. Chained, he cannot act in accordance with his essence, but he shares a bond with his Tribal followers. Thus do the Cahalith of the Talons sing songs and tell tales stirring their kindred to action, to hunt and reave and destroy not just amongst the Scandinavians but further afield. Thus do the Blood Talons take to the seas and raid and kill and plunder – not for profit or glory but to feed Fenris. Each Talon who sails to far shores and slaughters with axe or claw gives Fenris strength. Each warrior of the wolf who kills an Uratha on a raid renews Fenris’ power and weakens the hold of the eldritch manacles that bind him.

    The Uratha of the north join with the humans on their raids and fight their kindred in other lands not out of pride or greed but because these acts are a sacrament, a holy offering. If enough blood flows, enough fires rage, then Fenris will be unbound and the jotnar will be destroyed.

    The Jotnar
    At first, the Uratha thought the tales of giants in the north to be mere fancies, or perhaps errant spirits briefly crossing into the realm of Flesh. They soon enough discovered the true nature of the horrors of the mountains. The jotnar are Hive-Claimed; they are shuddering hulks infested with gibbering parliaments of spirits, their flesh twisted and reworked into colossal form. The giants can walk between worlds with ease, have mastery of dark rites and are possessed of immense strength. They can devour wild beasts, but prefer to steal away humans to grind their bones into flour and eat their viscera. Their ravenous hunger extends to spirits; the northern Shadow has stretches of wasteland, scoured of Essence to feed the maw of the jotnar brood. The jotnar die only to violence, not age nor disease nor infirmity.

    The eldest of the giants, Ymir, made this abominable clan. How Ymir came to be is lost to memory, even amongst the surviving spirits of the north – and certainly Ymir himself. He is a cacophony of spirits of stone and mountain, ice and fire, all poured into one unstable vessel of incredible age. Craving children, of a kind, he made more Hive-Claimed through diabolical rites. In time, his children themselves sought children, and the brood grew as fat and bloated in numbers as their bodies were. It was inevitable they would clash with other powers. Their hunger cannot be contained nor limited.

    Ymir seems to bear deep and ancient loathing for Fenris, though even the Blood Talons do not know the reasons why. Regardless, Ymir prepared well to bring down his nemesis. He welcomed spirits of the void into his frozen waste, gathering errant intruders that had slipped past the Warden Moon’s stride; he enslaved things of thorn and madness that foolishly blundered into his path; he used up entire villages in bloody sorcery to imprison nightmare beasts. From this mad, capering court that he assembled, the jotnar worked with their allies and captives to weave the only chains that could ever catch and hold Fenris.

    Hrimthursar
    Attributes Intelligence 3 Wits 4 Resolve 3 Strength 12 Dexterity 3 Stamina 17 Presence 7 Manipulation 1 Composure 3
    Notable Skills Occult 4 Athletics 3 Brawl 4 Weaponry 4 Intimidation 5
    Merits Iron Stamina 3
    Willpower 6
    Essence 40
    Size 9
    Health 26
    Initiative 6
    Defence 6
    Speed 24
    Influences Ice 3, Wind 3
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 3, Earth Elemental, Juggernaut, Monstrous Resilience, Regenerate 3
    Ban: Some hrimthursar cannot willingly leave the mountains, or can only walk across snowy ground, or must fall into hibernation if exposed to temperatures above freezing.
    Bane: Charred wood from a fire which saved a human from freezing to death.
    Frost Breath: By spending 1 Essence, a hrimthursar can subject its immediate surroundings to the Extreme Cold Environmental Tilt
    Frozen Blood: When a hrimthursar touches a mortal or mundane beast, it may spend 1 Essence to immediately kill them and freeze them solid; the victim may resist with a success on a Stamina check with a -5 penalty.
    Frozen Colossus: By shattering a victim of frozen blood with an instant action, a hrimthursar may add their flesh and blood to the ice that clings to its hulking body. Each victim added in this way adds 1 point of armour, up to a maximum of 5 points added in this way. Every hit that inflicts damage on the hrimthursar causes this additional armour to be reduced by 1 point, and immediately spawns a rank 2 spirit of blood or ice from the frozen gore that cascades off the giant; this spirit exists for no more than a few minutes, and is subserviant to the giant.


    Eldjotnar
    Attributes Intelligence 4 Wits 7 Resolve 5 Strength 9 Dexterity 9 Stamina 13 Presence 7 Manipulation 3 Composure 1
    Notable Skills Occult 4 Athletics 5 Brawl 4 Weaponry 4 Intimidation 5
    Merits Iron Stamina 3
    Willpower 6
    Essence 40
    Size 9
    Health 22
    Initiative 10
    Defence 12
    Speed 27
    Influences Fire 3, Smoke 3
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 1, Fire Elemental, Juggernaut, Monstrous Resilience, Regenerate 3, Swift
    Ban: Some eldjotnar are weakened if they travel too far from a natural source of heat, or must build shrines from the charred bones of their victims, or can be sung to sleep by human lullabies.
    Bane: Water collected from rain that fell upon a burning building or forest.
    Ashen Breath: Perception rolls and ranged attacks made in the immediate vicinity of the eldjotnar suffer a -3 penalty; eldjotnar are unaffected by the swirling cloud of smoke.
    Immolate: When an eldjotnar inflicts damage with a melee attack, it may spend 1 Essence to inflict the Arm Wrack or Leg Wrack Tilts to the victim.
    Bonefire Stride: An eldjotnar may use the Reality Stutter Dread Power, but only to the location of a mortal it can see. If the mortal does not suceed at a Stamina check with a -5 penalty, they perish in a brief moment of agony as they incinerate from within, the giant emerging from the ash and embers of their carcass.

    The Wolves of Hel
    Something more disturbing than Hive-Claimed cavorts amidst the mad court of the jotnar. The fate of Uratha captured by Ymir’s children is horrific, for they are subjected to rites that turn them into utter monstrosities.

    The Uratha do not understand how these wolf-monsters are made, but the truth is that Ymir and his sorcerer-giants alone are not capable of working this blasphemy. One of Ymir’s greatest allies is an elder Uratha, seen as a traitor to her own kind – an old predator called Hel, outcast of the Tribes and loathed for her crimes. Hel worships darker and greater powers than even Ymir, the Maeljin themselves, and it is their corrupting, flesh-twisting secrets that she uses to make her own blighted wolf-servants.

    A wolf of Hel is an immense monster, a hound worthy of its giant masters. Its flesh is caught in various states of transformation, and occasionally shifts and changes regardless of the wolf’s will – human, screaming faces sprout from furred flanks, or twitching arms push out of its meat, or bones burst out at strange angles, or mouths of fangs ripple open and gnash and drool and snarl with anger regardless of their placement on its body. Charred, blackened runes in some twisted version of the First Tongue are seared into it, a binding mantra of command and dominance. Globules of liquid fire sometimes drip from the wolf’s eyes, circling around its head in a dimming halo that cools into droplets of black and tarry spiritual poison.

    All that was the Uratha that made a wolf of Hel, all that was thought and glory and prowess – that is all gone. Yet Hel’s creations are not just agonised beasts. They are hateful things, capable of stealing the skins of mortals to briefly walk amongst them as mad-eyed lunatics - scouting out human settlements while hunting for Uratha. They can't hold up the semblance for long, falling into violence and depravity at the slightest provocations and revealing their true natures. Such a possibility horrifies and terrifies the Uratha. They see what they may become, if they fall into the grasp of the jotnar.

    Wolf of Hel
    Attributes Intelligence 1 Wits 5 Resolve 4 Strength 10 Dexterity 7 Stamina 12 Presence 6 Manipulation 1 Composure 1
    Notable Skills Athletics 5 Brawl 5
    Willpower 5
    Essence 20
    Size 8
    Health 20
    Initiative 8
    Defence 10
    Speed 55
    Dread Powers Armoured Hide 2, Hunter's Senses (Uratha), Monstrous Resilience, Natural Weapons 3, Regenerate 5, Skin-Taker, Toxic Bite 2
    Warped Flesh: A Wolf of Hel possesses five points of physical attributes that it can reassign between Strength, Dexterity and Stamina each round. It can also manifest the Quicksilver Flesh Facet for free.
    Vice Cauldron: Characters with a Vice gain twice the usual Willpower rewards whenever they indulge it while within 5 miles of a Wolf of Hel.

    The Chains of Fenris
    There is one other way that Fenris might be freed, a way other than bloody war with the jotnar or feeding the Destroyer with a century of carnage and destruction. The chains that bind Fenris are too strong for him to break – but Fenris is not Uratha. Fenris does not have the fusion of Wolf and Moon that roils together in the flesh and soul of a werewolf. Fenris is a god, yet the People can reach farther than he.

    Were a bold, cunning, clever pack to make their way to the court of the jotnar, they might convince or trick the sorcerer-giants into adding them to the bindings that hold Fenris, or briefly offering the god a reprieve if the champions take their place, or perhaps simply challenge and mock the craftsmanship of the giants and their allies and demand the Uratha be allowed to test the manacles’ strength.

    The chains are unbreakable, impossible, strong enough to tether a god.

    The Unchained Facet of the Gift of Strength will immediately shatter them.


    - Chris Allen
    Freelance Writer, The Pack / Dark Eras / Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition / Idigam Anthology / Fallen World Chronicle / Trinity Aeon

  • #2
    that looks awesome! I really like how you weaved Fenris with his mythological counterpart into something interesting. I think it has just made me a lot more interested in the Viking Dark Era.


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    • #3
      Wow that's pretty wild.

      I admit I didn't like the Fenris-to-Fenris connection but this, at least, has it somewhat disassociated from the other parts of myth. I do like how Ymir is a dark mystery, it does fit.

      I was just thinking about the giants the other day, specifically the Lodge of Muspell. I'd always connected the giants more to the Pure and Pangaea, as my little research seemed to indicate it was a reference to the 'older ways' from outside of and before civilization, and that in many cases, the Norse pantheon would respect aspects of it, at least enough to mix with it.

      Curious, though! Do you like the Blood Talons a lot? It's just a sample size of two, but Basra and this both have them and their tribal totem really active. Have you come up with any similarly momentous events for the Iron Masters?

      The game I'm currently running is going to be having time travel, unfortunately it's not werewolf but this is definitely going to make me put in an excursion to the freezing north.

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      • #4
        Pause, stop, and bookmark.

        Great work xD


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        • #5
          Originally posted by LostLight View Post
          that looks awesome! I really like how you weaved Fenris with his mythological counterpart into something interesting. I think it has just made me a lot more interested in the Viking Dark Era.
          You know, this could be a perfect basis for a sidebar on the Nibiru in that Dark Era. Didn't you mention them as one of the notable groups active in your Vigilant Times doc?


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Deionscribe View Post

            You know, this could be a perfect basis for a sidebar on the Nibiru in that Dark Era. Didn't you mention them as one of the notable groups active in your Vigilant Times doc?
            yeah, I did had a rough concept for them in that Era. If you want to discuss it, I think it would be better to do so at PMs or at the Vigilant Times thread, so we won't derail this one.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by nofather View Post

              Curious, though! Do you like the Blood Talons a lot? It's just a sample size of two, but Basra and this both have them and their tribal totem really active. Have you come up with any similarly momentous events for the Iron Masters?
              ​Basra isn't mine, and it would seem remiss to not​ do something with Fenris in a Norse setting

              ​In my personal campaigns, there's been a couple of major historical/plot points I've attached to the Iron Masters.

              One was during the Industrial Revolution in Europe, where the spirit gods of industry started to escalate so fast in power that it threatened to wreak serious catastrophe on humanity; the Iron Masters metaphysically and literally chained and leashed industry to stop this, and still have various colossally powerful spirits stuck in binding rites that they've had to tend to and keep guard on ever since. This was actually tied into the origin of the Thousand Steel Teeth, but I didn't have the word count to really go into that.

              The second has been the Shattering of Red Wolf. In my games, Red Wolf decided to do a Host-style break on herself and split into various Shards, scattering them around the world. Some are lodged in powerful Iron Master elders, others in different supernatural beings, others yet in weirder phenomena or states of existence. There's no-where near as many as a true Host - Red Wolf is in probably two dozen pieces or so - and there's a lot of debate amongst the Iron Masters as to why she's done this. Some think it's a survival technique, that she fears something powerful that's gunning for the Firstborn. Others think that she's turning herself willingly into a spiritual information network spanning the globe precisely to gather as much intel as she can, possibly in search for something. Others still think she's done it just because she figured out how too - she's a god of change, and they figure she'll probably spend another few decades like this at most before she gets bored or has gleaned all she can of the experience, and turns herself back to a single cohesive being again. I haven't yet figured out what historical event to grab and hook this onto as a triggering event for the Shattering, but I think I might end up linking it to the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 and say that Something Went Down that got caught up in the volcanic activity and Red Wolf harnessed the outcome to blow herself to pieces intentionally.


              - Chris Allen
              Freelance Writer, The Pack / Dark Eras / Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition / Idigam Anthology / Fallen World Chronicle / Trinity Aeon

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Acrozatarim View Post
                ​Basra isn't mine, and it would seem remiss to not​ do something with Fenris in a Norse setting
                Gotcha, that thought came up after I posted but I don't know of anyone else making a claim to it. It's a good one, whoever did. I know people get upset about God Machine in their mixes but I thought it was perfectly vague for Chronicles.

                One was during the Industrial Revolution in Europe, where the spirit gods of industry started to escalate so fast in power that it threatened to wreak serious catastrophe on humanity; the Iron Masters metaphysically and literally chained and leashed industry to stop this, and still have various colossally powerful spirits stuck in binding rites that they've had to tend to and keep guard on ever since. This was actually tied into the origin of the Thousand Steel Teeth, but I didn't have the word count to really go into that.
                Oh I see, I like that, and we've seen things like that before.

                The second has been the Shattering of Red Wolf. In my games, Red Wolf decided to do a Host-style break on herself and split into various Shards, scattering them around the world. Some are lodged in powerful Iron Master elders, others in different supernatural beings, others yet in weirder phenomena or states of existence. There's no-where near as many as a true Host - Red Wolf is in probably two dozen pieces or so - and there's a lot of debate amongst the Iron Masters as to why she's done this. Some think it's a survival technique, that she fears something powerful that's gunning for the Firstborn. Others think that she's turning herself willingly into a spiritual information network spanning the globe precisely to gather as much intel as she can, possibly in search for something. Others still think she's done it just because she figured out how too - she's a god of change, and they figure she'll probably spend another few decades like this at most before she gets bored or has gleaned all she can of the experience, and turns herself back to a single cohesive being again. I haven't yet figured out what historical event to grab and hook this onto as a triggering event for the Shattering, but I think I might end up linking it to the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883 and say that Something Went Down that got caught up in the volcanic activity and Red Wolf harnessed the outcome to blow herself to pieces intentionally.
                Well Red Wolf is supposed to be close to her followers, that's very close. Are they, like, subsumed by Red Wolf's instincts or are they more or less independent with Red Wolf's paw on their shoulder guiding them?

                Interesting to think of that, and what other Firstborn may have done similarly. These writer posts adding to Werewolf are always so cool, official or not.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by nofather View Post
                  Gotcha, that thought came up after I posted but I don't know of anyone else making a claim to it. It's a good one, whoever did. I know people get upset about God Machine in their mixes but I thought it was perfectly vague for Chronicles.
                  Basra was me, and thanks.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bunyip View Post
                    Basra was me, and thanks.
                    Cool!

                    I have to ask, though, are the Blood Talons your favorite?

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                    • #11
                      No, they just made sense to be dominant for that setting.

                      It's safe to say I don't have a clear favourite.


                      Aims to write stuff you like.
                      WoD | Changing Breeds, Umbra, Book of the Wyrm, Shattered Dreams
                      CofD | Werewolf the Forsaken 2nd ed, Idigam Anthology, The Pack, Demon Storyteller's Guide, Hurt Locker, Dark Eras Companion, Beast Player's Guide
                      The Trinity Continuum | Æon

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nofather View Post


                        Well Red Wolf is supposed to be close to her followers, that's very close. Are they, like, subsumed by Red Wolf's instincts or are they more or less independent with Red Wolf's paw on their shoulder guiding them?
                        It varies. Red Wolf being Red Wolf, each one is different. The one Iron Master elder with a Shard that my players' characters have met so far seemed to be very much her own self, just empowered, but the nature of her fusion meant that she's less independent than she seems.


                        - Chris Allen
                        Freelance Writer, The Pack / Dark Eras / Werewolf: the Forsaken 2nd Edition / Idigam Anthology / Fallen World Chronicle / Trinity Aeon

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                        • #13
                          Wow! This is awesome on so many levels! I was just asking on the main CofD forum if people would be interested in Night Horrors books for individual eras. This looks like exactly the type of thing I would hope out of one of those books!

                          I'm actually trying to finish up my timeline for The Wolf and the Raven right now, so my mind immediately asks when Fenris was likely chained. The earliest reference to him I can find with a quick google is Thorwald's Cross, which some have dated to 940. So maybe late 800s early 900s?


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                          • #14
                            That is awesome extra content and a brutal tie-in of myth to TW&TR.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                              I'm actually trying to finish up my timeline for The Wolf and the Raven right now, so my mind immediately asks when Fenris was likely chained. The earliest reference to him I can find with a quick google is Thorwald's Cross, which some have dated to 940. So maybe late 800s early 900s?
                              Well not Ragnarok myths of Fenris destroying the World being there popular in Northern cultures around early 800s?


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