This dev diary got a bit late due to vacations and me coming back to work thinking this dd was going up next monday and not two days ago. Currently slightly less than half the team is out getting some of that precious sun we get so little of during the rest of the year and the rest of us are working hard on getting the builds we're taking to Gamescom in Cologne as ready as can be.
In contrast with the warm summer weather that we're enjoying on the northern hemisphere right now, this dev diary will take you to ice cold Jotunheim. Bon voyage!
The Races of Jotunheim
Jotun is another word for Giant, so Jotunheim simply means “home of the Giants”. The Giants share Jotunheim with Dwarfs, whose settlements can be found below ground. The two races engage in trading from time to time, but they mostly leave each other alone. Dwarfs are a technical race, with a great focus on blacksmithing, weapons and armor, and the Giants appreciate the Dwarfs’ talent for forging weapons and tools.
Giants are solitary with a life that never ends. They consider themselves the oldest and wisest of all the races. They have little regard for clothes, as they are naturally very resistant to the elements. Their skin is very tough, and has been known to repel some arrows. Giants usually build their homes out of stone to shelter against the harsh winds of Jotunheim.
Dwarfs often choose to live underneath a mountain, in solid rock carved into beautiful chambers and corridors. Their lives are strenuous and hazardous, which means that the average dwarven lifespan can be very short. But if they survive the hardships of mining and smithing, a Dwarf can live for a very long time. They are the most skilled blacksmiths, and mine their mountains for precious metals and stones to use for their tools, weapons and armor.
The Creation of the Worlds
The first beings Ymir created were a male and a female Jotun, born from the sweat under his left arm. Ymir kept conceiving new Jotuns, and it troubled Odin who saw that the Jotuns started to outnumber the Aesir gods. Odin realised that the only solution was to kill Ymir and stop him from creating more Jotuns. Ymir was killed by Odin and his brothers, Vili and Ve, and they used his body to create the worlds. The blood that poured from Ymir killed all the giants but two - Bergelmir and his wife. The two of them were then banished by the gods to a world with more winter than summer and named it Jotunheim, home of the Jotuns.
The Dwarfs still argue about their origin. Most believe that they emerged from the mixture of Brimir’s blood and Blainn’s bones, which could mean the blood and bones of Ymir. Others believe that they were little more than maggots, festering in the flesh of Ymir, before the Aesir gave them reason and spirit. No matter where they came from, they take great pride in the fact that it was four Dwarfs that were tasked with holding up the sky. Norđri, Suđri, Austri and Vestri (or North, South, East, and West) hold aloft the skull of Ymir, which the gods had fashioned into the sky.
The Aesir and Jotuns are similar in many ways - nearly immortal, very strong, and very ancient, but there is a lot of distrust between them rooted in the early efforts of Odin to eliminate them altogether. Despite this, Giants and Aesir are known to have married, and some of these alliances have brought children of mixed race into the nine worlds. For example, the Giantess Jarnsaxa and the god Thor came together to make their son Magni. However, many Giants disapprove of their kin associating with the Aesir, and Jotunheim isn’t a safe place for those who break this taboo.
The Climate and Creatures of Jotunheim
This world of Jotunheim is a cold and barren landscape, with mountains, plains of snow and large forests of pine and spruce trees. The Giants are not the only large beings in this world, but they are among the greatest. Summers in Jotunheim are usually brief, but spring and autumn tend to linger a bit longer. Winter is often grim, with blizzards keeping the inhabitants from leaving their homes. When your Runemaster hero explores Jotunheim, winter has just put its cold, icy hands around the world and painted it with white frost and blue ice. The mountain tops are covered with snow, which may cause avalanches, hurling snow down the sides of the mountain. Even in summer, the snow never leaves the mountain peaks of Jotunheim, and some of the deeper valleys are never touched by the warmth of sunlight.
Jotunheim shares a lot of fauna and flora with Midgard; boars, wolves, stags and goats are plentiful, while the plants that thrive in Jotunheim are larger and sturdier than the ones in Midgard. Creatures of legends, like dragons and beings made of ice and snow, might be seen in Jotunheim, although they are more elusive than the common critters.
We hope you will join us again on Monday in two weeks, to learn more about the Giants of Jotunheim.