Nordsaga is set in an alternate history Middle Ages which asks: “What if legendary Viking warrior Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye had been given the aid of the Aesir (Norse gods) to push back Christianity’s spread?” The answer provides a pagan Norse Empire spread across central and northern Europe, with Emperor Sigurd still somehow ruling over the Imperial Kingdoms more than four hundred years later.
Strange beings from across the Nine Worlds now inhabit our world (Midgard), many of them gifted with land by Emperor Sigurd.
The vulpine Aelfar (elves) settled in the forests of Ireland and Bohemia, and once Sigurd’s war was won, they largely withdrew from any dealings with humanity. Only traders are now welcome in Aelfar realms, and then only in the outskirts.
The subterranean Dvergar (dwarfs) settled in the Alps and the Pyrenees, digging deep into the mountains and creating wondrous fortresses and underground cities. However, like the Aelfar, once the Sigurd’s war ended, they cut many of their ties with humanity and now only tolerate traders into their cavernous halls.
The hulking Jotnar (frost giants) originally settled in Scandinavia, but within only a few generations began migrating south into more temperate lands. While they are now integrated with humanity in Sigurd’s Empire, hostilities and prejudice still linger.
Rumours of the diminutive Nissar (goblins/gnomes) had been myth long before they appeared when Sigurd began his war. When it ended, they were given no lands of their own, and so are now spread across the breadth of the Empire, fully integrated with humanity.
The events which brought these creatures to our world also brought ethereal manifestations from Muspellheim (the World of Fire) and Niflheim (the World of Ice) – manifestations intent on corrupting our world in order to usher in Ragnarok, the prophesied destruction of our world.
Ever so slowly, these corrupting influences have taken root in the wild places of our world…
Winters have gradually grown longer and colder. Weird things now inhabit Scandinavia, Russia and Scotland, seemingly immune to the extreme cold. Strange, twisted creatures have started emerging from the cold ocean’s depths, sinking unwary ships and attacking coastal villages.
From the world’s centre, angry lava bubbles forth to the surface, rupturing out of long dead volcanoes, mountain crevasses and new fissures in the ground. For leagues around these sites, the ash settles to the ground and transforms the vegetation and wildlife into horrific parodies of their previous forms. In addition, the arid places of the world seem to be gradually spreading, creating uninhabitable desert wastelands.
Perhaps worst of all, cults worshipping these forces have become increasingly active; each one seeking to be the catalyst which brings about Ragnarok (from which they believe they will be spared).
With this otherworldly threat ever growing, Emperor Sigurd maintains an uneasy truce with his neighbours. Nevertheless, tensions remain high.
To the southwest, the Caliphates seek to spread from their foothold on the Iberian peninsula.
To the southeast, the Holy Roman Empire desires its ancient lands and maintains a network of Christian spies in the heart of Sigurd’s Empire.
To the northeast, the Kingdom of Rus has turned its eyes to the temperate lands of their ancient cousins.
Far to the east, the vast Mongol Empire slowly approaches, hungry for the spoils of central Europe.
It is now the year of Sigurd 420 (~1270 AD), and unlikely heroes are creating their own Sagas.