The main page explaining my homebrew world of Jardskírn. A low-magic isolated world based on Iceland and Japan.
Existing worlds are great and all, but they share one common element, a rich history. While this might be a positive for some of the players, I feel that it adds an element of separation between player and character because the latter is supposed to know stuff that the former doesn’t. Jardskírn being isolated doesn’t have an history, or at least not one as we all intend it. Players are left to be discoverers of such world and they learn with along their characters every nuance of Jardskírn.
Other than that there’s also the “low-magic” bit. I think that a rich magic presence in a world prevents the players for thinking rationally and evaluating each action in an optimal way. There will be always some “magical outcome” they didn’t consider because, well, they don’t really know the magical rules of the world instead of, let’s say, the physical ones. In the real world if you drop a big stone fall you can almost be certain that it will fall, this doesn’t happen in most of the existing fantasy worlds.
It’s a “low-magic” setting and not a “magic-less” one because in my opinion magic is a great source of wonder (if used properly). The rare but powerful Mask of the Skull or the elusive Orb of Storms are (can be) present in this world, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to find such an item.
Jardskírn is an expansion of Forgotten Realms (or any other fantasy settings of your choice) where mortals messed with things they shouldnt’ve touched. A magical catastrophe happened and the whole previous world was destroyed except for a handful of survivors that got teleported in this alternate dimension after getting their memory wiped (convenient, huh?).
The island’s area is approximatively 200 000 km², with big mountains in the middle and in the east part, and planes and hills on the rest of the area. There are two big lakes and five main rivers. The northern part, and some of the eastern montain sides are covered in thick forests that almost reach the sea. The south-west is one big plane with a lake and a river. Geysers and small vulcanoes are present almost everywhere on the island. The island is composed primarily of basalt, a low-silica lava associated with effusive volcanism.
The climate of Jardskírn is cold in the north, and on the mountains(where snow and ice dominate in winter) and temperate in the south-west regions. The rains are abundant almost everywhere, and between summer and autumn the country is hit by torrential rains and typhoons. Two common features of the climate of Jardskírn are the absence of a real dry season and the high summer rainfall. The sea is able to temper the climate and at the same time to increase air humidity. However, the influence of mountain ranges (which cover almost half of the country) and ocean currents (the north-eastern sea is cooled by the cold current called Laki, while in the southern seas the warm Teplaìa current flows) tends to increase the difference between the seasons and between different areas.
The island’s climate and the vulcanic activity created a huge biodiversity. Many creatures are present in the world, ranging from common mammals like foxes and bears (even pandas in the south), to more exotics beasts like the Jakuli or the Basilisk. Almost none of them has been influenced by magic though, and they’re all the genesi of a complex evolutive process.
The magic in this world is originating from the Oldungar. They’re the first inhabitants of the world and their origin is unknown. They’re not kind, nor forgiving, they know no emotions nor mercy. The Oldungar discovered how to draw power from the moon and used that power to transform themselves into ethereal beings that roam the forests of Jardskírn. They’re not kind to the colons and the only time there was a contact between the two parties, all the colons ended up dead. The beings feel that the people that came to the island are usurpers of their land.
The Oldungar all have antlers, that are a manifestation of their magical being. Antlers are not limited to the Oldungar alone and they’re the signature of every magic user, one notable example being the xelizels and the stags. Those animals have an innate “sixth sense” whose origin can be tracked to the power of the moon. This feature alone has been enough to grant them this physical feature.
Very few humanoids are present in the island and even less have a hierarchical system developed enough to have clans and tribes. The only insediaments and towns were born after the colonization of the island. Mostly on the west coast but some of the races decided to reach the mountains, and they started building inside the mountain caves.
(Image Credits: Xelizel - NukeRooster)