The story so far:
This campaign takes place after the “Ragnorok” battle, the Norse version of the apocalypse. The Aesir have all been killed, and the World Tree has been disrupted by the battle, and gates between the Nine Worlds are common. The remnants of humanity band together with the other races of the world and pick through the remnants of once mighty Norse empires, as well as the empires of the wider world.
The year is 1800; Ragnorok took place in the year 1212. So centuries have passed since that battle. The Norsemen have learned the secrets of shipbuilding again, however, and are now recreating their former glory.
Alternate History-type stuff:
Before Ragnorok, The Norse have established colonies along much of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States and Canada, from Nova Scotia to the Potomic. They have intermarried with the local Amerindian groups, and many have sired children with the native peoples.
Most of Scandinavia and the North Sea colonies have converted to Christianity. However, this Christianity is a syncratic faith, based on old Norse myths. Jesus is associated with Baldur, the god of the Son who was killed by Loki, Loki himself is associated with Lucifer, and Thor is associated with Saint Michael. Among other things.
The other races of the world have entered Midgard and now live alongside Humans. (Before Ragnorok, the other races were confined to their own Realms on the World Tree; The Light Elves in Alfheim, the Trolls in Jotenheim, ect).
Humans still exist, but they have been interbreeding with these other races for centuries. Some notable (and playable) hybrids are as follows:
Half-Elves: The offspring of men and the Elves of Alfheim.
Elves and Eladrin: Descendents of the original inhabitants of Alfheim, they have lost their wings and now wander the world.
Dwarves: Dwarves (or Dark Elves) have been forced up from their earthen homes and now spend a great deal of time on the surface, although they still are most comfortable in the earth.
Half-orcs: Offspring of men and giants.
Shifter (Both varieties): Offspring of men and Jotunkind.
Tieflings: Offspring of men and the fire-people to the south, Múspellsheimr.
Deva: Descendents of the Aesir and the Vanir. They are man-sized, and do not have the immortality of their forefathers.
Halflings, gnomes, dragonborn do not exist in this campaign setting. Halflings and dragonborn have absolutely no counterpart in Norse mythology. Gnomes actually are mentioned in some Norse texts, but they are so similar to dwarves that they can hardly be called a separate “species.”
Classes allowed: All classes except Sorcerers and Swordmages. These two classes have absolutely no counterparts in Norse mythology.
Class concepts allowed: Most. Obvious anachronistic concepts will be rejected outright (no Samurai on the North Sea, I'm afraid).
Magic: I think it behooves me to explain how the Norse viewed “magic.” Magic was NOT explained in D & D terms. Most magic was pretty evenly divided into three camps:
Divination. Most of the “good” gods and heroes used this type of magic frequently. For instance, Odin hung himself from the World Tree and threw runes on the ground so that he could see into the future.
Harnessing the powers of nature: Most of the “evil” gods and monsters used this type of magic. For instance, storm giants used their power to buffet their enemies and enemy ships with gale-force winds.
Creating Wondrous Items: Most of the “good” gods and heroes used this type of magic also. In fact, most of the “supernatural” type stuff the gods did in the sagas were actually performed by magic items (Thor’s hammer being a good example).
I say this because I think it has a direct bearing on this game. I banned sorcerers because there is no sorcerer-type hero or villain anywhere in Norse mythology.
I should also mention how people “got” magic. Gods and heroes learned magic from their elders, or from personifications of nature (i.e. the Norn sisters). Bad monsters and gods simply had magical powers, and they always used them for evil.
So, in game terms, your PC simply “has” magic powers by virtue of their non-human ancestry (i.e. Warlocks). Or your PC learned magic powers using rune-works. Wizards carry a bag full of runes with them in place of a spellbook; to regain the use of spells, the wizards spend a few hours a night throwing runes on the floor and reading the configuration that results from them. THERE ARE NO MAGIC UNIVERSITIES IN THIS WORLD.
The other worlds: Viking cosmology centered around the World Tree. Nine worlds were contained within the World Tree, but humans could never enter any of the other eight worlds. In this campaign setting, the other eight worlds are literally connected to this world. That is, Muspellheim, (the world of the primordial element of fire), is literally located somewhere to the south. Demons live in this world, and tieflings are descended from that world. Niflheim, (the world of the primordial element of ice), is literally located directly to the north, around the region of the north pole. Jötunheimr, world of the giants and trolls, is literally located to the east of Scandinavia, in place of present-day Russia. Most “monsters” live in this world, and half-orcs, shifters and goliaths descended from that region.
More to come later.
Religion: The Norse have mostly Christianized by this point in time.
This does have game effects for the Divine Characters. Divine PCs can worship the Holy Trinity, as medieval clerics did, or they can worship any of the Norse panthenon. For instance, a battle-cleric may worship Thor, but a Preserving Invoker may worship Sol, the goddess of the Sun.
And, yes, there are undead in this world, and they suffer the same effects from Radiant damage and most Divine Characters abilities that mess with undead in some way.
Tech Level: The technology level is that of the late Middle Ages. Iron weapons are still the norm, as is iron armor.
In game terms, all equipment is available for you to use. Weapons of obvious anarchonism (kukris, katanas, nunchuks) are banned for campaign setting reasons.