The Huldrafolk are the Norse Kiths, known to Kithain scholars as the Hyperborean lineages. They have a sense of their own difference and retain their own traditions and allegiances. In particular, the Sidhe never had the same degree of suzerainty over the Norse fae. Instead, the Dvergar (knockers) and Risar (trolls) have their own noble houses.
The Tomte or Kobolds are Nordic Boggans, similar to their European cousins.
The Skraelingjar are the Nordic Eshu. They almost always appear “foreign”, frequently Finnish or Sami or Slavic rather than familiar Norwegian; some few are Jewish or Turkish in background or even Inuit/Amerindian. Their Fae forms often suggest the vagabond minstrel or itinerant bard of these cultures: strange tattoos, jewellery and feathers, exotic robes and peculiar hairstyles. Whatever their appearance, their eyes shift with the radiant patterns of the Northern Lights.
The Dvergar are the Nordic Nockers. They are a more august and self-important folk than their proletarian cousins and have noble ranks and Houses similar to the Trolls. Despite this, they are less attached to their own dignity than Trolls and few insist on formal titles. Rather than mechanics, many Dvergar are goldsmiths and jewellers or stonemasons and architects; some are shipwrights specialising in building boats.
The Vargar are the Nordic Pooka, a rather more antisocial branch of their kith. They are renowned shapeshifters and seducers. They are known as the “hidden folk” and are linked with hunting. Although the name “varg” is associated with wolves, the Vargar are not necessarily wolf-skins. The word has its roots in the verb “strangle”, linked to the cries of wild animals. Many Vargar prefer to nickname “Howlers” to reflect this.
The Thursar are the Nordic Redcaps who are much more likely to be female than their southern cousins: a Thoor is often a ‘cannibal-hag’ (Unseelie) or a ‘valkyrie’ (Seelie) who claims the right to dispose of victims taken in battle. In the more aggressive world of Norse mythology, Thursar are less stigmatised than common redcaps and more of them are Seelie warriors.
SATYR/SKOGVÆTTR (“Woodwight, Woodwose”)
The Skogvættir are the Nordic Satyrs who are more feral and violent than their goat-legged cousins. Skogvættr means "forest wight" but in Slavic lands they are called Leshy and in the English-speaking world they are Woodwoses. Two woodwoses appear on the Danish flag. The Skogvættir are the wildfolk of the woods: green skinned and uncivilised. The males are exceptionally hair; the womenfolk voluptuous and seductive. They enjoy primal desires: drinking and dancing, sex and violence. They particularly enjoy wrestling contests.
The Alfar are the Nordic Sidhe who form two houses, the Light Elves (Ljos Alfar) and the Swart (Svart Alfar). They do not suffer the fits of depression that afflict the Sidhe, but retain the seasonal exchanges of Summer/Seelie and Winter/Unseelie Courts.
The Draugar are the Nordic Sluagh. Traditionally, they are barrow-dwellers in league with the wraiths and vampires. They appear corpselike, like typical Sluagh, but do not suffer the Curse of Silence. Instead, they are mystically tied to a particular site that is steeped in romance, mythology and melancholy Glamour.
The Risar or Nordic trolls claim to be the originators of this kith. They are proud and have no history of subservience to the Alfar (Sidhe) nobility. Many claim noble titles of their own. There are Troll noble houses, similar to the Sidhe Houses.
The Hyperborean Houses were originally split between the "High" Houses of the Aesir and the "Low" Houses of the trolls and dwarfs. Since Ragnarok (the Shattering) the Aesir are no more and the Low Houses now rule the huldrafolk. Most of these houses were typically ruled by Risar Trolls, but with Dvergar as courtiers and advisors. This arrangement is no longer so common, however House Ymir remains a troll supremacist faction and House Muspell only offers high place to Unseelie Trolls; House Nyflung admits only dwarfs to its inner circles.
HOUSE BIFROST (Trolls or Dwarfs)
Rune: BERKANEN (Bridge); Court: Seelie; Jarl: Vigrid (Troll)
House Bifrost was the most loyal to the Aesir and loudly trumpets that nobility of purpose still. Valour is particularly prized, making this a House esteemed by Seelie Trolls. Bifrost has not forgotten the old ways and alliances and continues to explore the Dreaming for the wisdom of the past and the trods back to Alfheim. Jarl Vigrid claims to be the regent of the Aesir, their representative in absentia. This claim is broadly accepted by most Nordic Kithain, but aggravates this House's chief rivals (Fafnir, Muspell) and even some of its allies (Mimr, Nyflung).
Boon: Heroic warriors, the Guardians of Bifrost gain double the normal number of Ire Dice when 'invoking the dragon's ire'
Flaw: Otherworldly, the Guardians of Bifrost suffer from Banality in a similar way to the Sidhe and gain two points of Banality for every one the Storyteller awards
HOUSE FAFNIR (Trolls or Dwarfs)
Rune: NAUDIZ (Dragon); Court: Unseelie; Jarl: Otar (Dwarf)
The opposite to Bifrost, House Fafnir regards the past as done and finished, Alfheim forever closed and Ragnarok as a lost battle. For them, the destiny of the Fae is in this world, and to be its rulers, albeit covertly if necessary. Not all the Fae of Fafnir are Unseelie, although their attitude to power, expediency and the domination of humans makes Unseelie legacies common. Traditionally a dwarfish House, this Fafnir are particularly willing to confer titles on other kiths who share their aims. In fact, many Unseelie Trolls share these aims too, but are too proud to engage in Fafnir's underhand and subtle methods.
Boon: Skilled illusionists, the nobles of House Fafnir can alter their chimerical form to another creature of object, such as a a different Kith, or a dragon or a tree. NB this only affects the character's real form if she calls on the Wyrd. The change costs 1 Glamour and lasts for a scene.
Flaw: Living an illusion is dangerous to the mind, and these Fae slip into Bedlam more easily; they enter the First Threshold if they stay changed for more than a scene or make their change real by calling on the Wyrd
HOUSE MIMIR (Trolls, Ljos Alfar or Dwarfs)
Rune: ANSUZ (Eye); Court: Seelie; Jarl: Nidhad (Dwarf)
Close allies of Bifrost, the Fae of House Mimir are scholars and mystics, obsessed with prophecies and omens. Many believe that ancient secrets are still to be revealed and a great resurgence of Glamour is waiting to happen. Seelie and Unseelie legacies are welcome, but the conservatism of the House makes Seelie more dominant. Traditionally, this House welcomes the Alfar as bearers of much magical wisdom and preserves links with the Houses of the Vanir.
Boon: Skilled as rune-masters, House Mimir create runes and use them as powerful Bunks. Composing a rune-spell requires a roll on Intelligence+Gremayre (specialisation in "Runes" may apply) and the number of successes indicates the level of the Bunk the runes will provide. The cantrip "goes off" the following round.
Flaw: Mimir's followers start with a Nightmare Pool of 1 and must gain Nightmare Dice instead of gaining temporary Banality.
HOUSE MUSPELL (Trolls, Svart Alfar or Dwarfs)
Rune: KENAZ (Fire); Court: Unseelie; Jarl: Hrym (Troll)
Not all Fae revere the Aesir. For House Muspell, it's obvious the Fae backed the wrong side during Ragnarok. The Fae urge their cousins to throw in their lot with the Jotnar (Giants, Fomorians), embrace Fimbulwinter and make Banality their ally and servant. Needless to say, they are very Unseelie, although all Trolls feel a sympathy towards this House, which argues for the greatness of Giant-kind. When the Svart-Alfar engage with Fae politics, this is the House they are drawn to.
Boon: Children of Muspell rejoice in fire and can ignite flames by spending a point of Glamour; a thrown fireball does 2 levels of damage, difficulty 5 to resist, but usually these Fae immolate themselves or their weapons, doing 2 extra dice of fire damage to anyone in contact
Flaw: The Children of Muspell are immune to normal fire and gain 2 extra soak dice against magical fires
HOUSE NYFLUNG (Dwarfs, Trolls)
Rune: OTHILA (Jewel); Court: Seelie; Jarl: Alberich (Dwarf)
Strongly opposed to the defeatism of Muspell and the misanthropy of Fafnir are the optimists of House Nyflung. For these Fae there is still much of beauty, wonder and creativity in the world - it's just taken new forms. Many of these Fae are intrigued by new human art forms and technology and argue the Fae should find a new role in a modern world. Many Unseelie are drawn to this House's willingness to break with tradition, but Seelie dominate due to its fundamental respect for mortals and their dreams. Dvergar (dwarfs) particularly identify with this House, because of its twin policies of embracing technology and getting rich.
Boon: The Folk of Nyflung are wealthy and know of many hidden treasure troves, real or chimerical; once per story they can roll Glamour and gain temporary points of Resources, Treasure or Dross. This wealth must be used up or re-hidden at the end of a story (or else the Fae gains Banality)
Flaw: The Folk of Nyflung are a greedy lot; they must roll Willpower to avoid feeling compelled to buy, steal or acquire any precious object they see (difficulty 6) or hear described (difficulty 5); ignoring this compulsion costs temporary Willpower and might gain Banality
HOUSE YMIR (Trolls only)
Rune: THURISAZ (Giant); Court: Seelie; Jarl: Bergelmir (Troll)
The Risar (Trolls) of the north claim to be the originals of their kith, the heirs to the primordial giants and titans, the first rules of the world unfairly dispossessed by later gods and elves. For most, this sense of grievance is no more than a chip of the shoulder but for House Ymir it is an all-consuming cause, to restore the ancient rights and privileges of Giant-kind. Only Risar rule in this House, and Alfar are especially distrusted. The House is predominantly Seelie due to its focus on traditional values of trollish honour and courage, but it has close links to House Muspell which also celebrates the myths of the primordial Giants.
Boon: These Fae are BIG - the Brood of Ymir gain an extra Chimerical Bruised Health Level (yes, on top of a troll's existing bonus)
Flaw: All giants are brothers and the Brood of Ymir gain Banality if they ignore another troll's appeal for aid or kill another troll in battle (in addition to the normal Banality from killing another Fae). Yes, this includes killing Ogres and Jotuns.
RELATIONS WITH THE SIDHE HOUSES
Before the Resurgence, the only Sidhe House on earth in any numbers is House Scathach. These changeling-Sidhe, traditionally based in Scotland, have much in common with the Norse Fae and cordial relations with Bifrost, Mimr and even Ymir (so long as they respect Trolls!); Unseelie Scathach sometimes find their way into House Fafnir as mercenaries and assassins.
After the Resurgence, the Sidhe Houses pose a problem for the Nordic Fae, since the Sidhe for the most part don't recognise "commoners sporting titles". This is to be a bitter blow for House Bifrost and a recruiting sergeant for House Ymir, Fafnir and Muspell. A particular conflict looms with the return to the North of House Aesin, whose ultra-traditionalist views spark violent conflict with no-longer-compliant Trolls and Dwarfs. The return of House Beaumayn means a group of Sidhe are prepared to seek out Muspell and put an end to their Fomorian sympathies by force.
Nevertheless, not all Sidhe will prove to be antipathetic to the Hyperborean Houses. House Liam is willing to make common cause with the nobles of Bifrost and Nyflung in protecting mortal dreamers, while there is much common philosophy between Mimr and House Eiluned (mystical secrets) and Nyflung and House Dougal (technology). House Balor and Muspell were made for one another, while House Ailil will at least pretend to honour Fafnir as an ally in the Shadow Court.
The Vanir were perhaps the aboriginal Fae of the North. They can be thought of as the Viking Nunnehi and long ago they fought, and lost, a great war with the Aesir (or Tuatha De Danaan). The Vanir are the original Hyperboreans, the gods of the north. They claim rulership over many Inanimae spirits forgotten by the Kithain.
The cost of their defeat was that the Vanir were the first to take the “
A Fane is always local. If a body of water, it might be the Krossfjorden straits opposite Bergen; an animal might be the reindeer herds of the Hardangervidda plateau (rather than “all reindeer”); a weather condition might be the lightning storms that play around the peak of Hårteigen (rather than “all lightning storms”). A Vanr can roll Intelligence or Perception + Kenning to locate his Fane or predict when it will occur again (never normally more than 1-10 hours away).
Vanir harvest Glamour from their natural force in a similar way to the Nunnehi and Inanimae. This requires being in the presence of their Fane for about an hour of meditation and peaceful interaction. The Vanr rolls Perception+Kenning with a difficulty of the character’s Banality. Harvesting can be done away from the Fane at +1 difficulty for a very similar location (eg other Norwegian reindeer; lightning around a different peak) or +3 for a broadly similar one (eg any reindeer, any lightning) or +4 for a dissimilar one (eg other wild animals, an electric battery). Each success harvests a point of Glamour.
The Vanr can also reap Glamour from the Fane, though this is instantaneous and is done rolling Banality (difficulty 6, modified as above); one point of Glamour is gained for each success but a botch earns a permanent point of Banality.
Glamour can also flow when a Fane is reverenced by a mortal. In ages past, this meant a mortal worshipping the Fane (which was quite common) but today it can also mean artists, naturalists and conservationists drawing inspiration from it. This uses the same rules as Reverie (CtD p213-4) but the Vanr must roll Charisma+Empathy to attract a worshipper and spend a Glamour point; the mortal can resist with his own Banality; successes in the Vanr’s favour tell how long it will take for the mortal to start reverencing the Fane. These mortals become Dreamers who can be mused for Glamour every time they visit the Fane; alternatively they can be ravaged by bringing them to the Fane against their will, though this will end the mystical connection forever more.
When faced with too much Banality, chimerical death or a threat to their Fane, Vanir slumber, merging with their Fane. The “Mists Chart” (CtD p208) can be used to calculate how long Slumber lasts. The character can awaken again thereafter if his mortal self is brought back into contact with the Fane. Mortal death leads to a deeper, longer slumber that can last for years, even centuries.
The Fane an also be the Vanr’s weakness, since assaults upon it inflict Banality on the changeling. These assaults need to come from dull, insensitive mortals who are unaware of the Fane’s spiritual value or else from Kithain, Dauntain and other creatures maliciously seeking to undermine the Fane (gaining themselves Banality in the process):
Appearance: In a word, "god-like". Vanes are usually perfect physical specimens, radiating good-health and beauty (but in an earthly way, not the alien beauty of the Sidhe). The skin quite literally glows, hair is preternaturally long, beards fulsome, breasts ample. Physically, they often bear links to their Fane, such as deep blue eyes and shining skin for the Vanr of a river, curving antlers for the Vanr of a reindeer herd, electrical sparks from the eyes of the Vanr of a lightning storm.
Lifestyles: Vanes are strongly tied to their Fane and seldom travel far from them; they adapt their lifestyle around protecting the Fane, often as a fisherman, park ranger or mountaineer.
The Vanir don't have "Houses" in the sense of structured organisations with ranks and codes of conduct. Vanaheimr might better be thought of as a collection of assemblies, coalitions or clubs; the Vanir themselves use the word "hörgr", which connotes a pagan grove or cult. But, for outsiders, the word "House" has stuck.
The Vanir of Nyord reverence rivers and lakes, the coast and the sea, and the creatures living in them and off them. These Vanir have held close associations with mortal fisher-folk and sailors and used to enjoy powerful cults and frequent sacrifices. This had led to them meeting frequently and functioning more like a noble house than a tribal assembly. Aegir is the Vanr who represents this house to outsiders as the Jarl of the Seas.
Boon: By spending a point of Glamour, Vanes of Njord can communicate with any water- or sea-dwelling creature, from crabs and fish up to whales and sharks.
Flaw: Humans who live out of contact with rivers, lakes or the sea are treated as having Banality one higher when dealing with these Vanir.
House Skadi comprises the Vanir who reverence the mountains and wild places of the northlands: this includes mountain peaks, caves, glaciers and valleys and many of the creatures hidden in them. The female Vana Ran often represents this House as "Lady of the Glaciers", although its members rarely meet and have few concerns beyond their own locale.
Boon: By spending a point of Glamour, Vanes of Skadi can communicate with stones, rocks and the earth itself, getting information about creatures that have passed or what is hidden within it.
Flaw: Humans who live out of contact with natural wilderness (city folk) or the land (sailors) are treated as having Banality one higher when dealing with these Vanir.
The Vanir of Freya reverence the weather and the crops and animals that depend closely on it, such as domesticated animals and birds. Many of these Fanes occur episodically or seasonally, giving these Vanir more time to indulge in politics and adventure. Freyja's House enjoyed the closest associations with the Aesir and still continue to attend the councils of the other Kithain. They all, to some extent, respect the authority of Vanadis, Lady of the norðrljós (Northern Lights).
These Vanir have the respect of many Paroseme of the winds and Kubera of the fields; some Solimond fire spirits who haunt the lightning storms honour Freyja too. The Corax wereravens know of Freyja's people and bring them messages, as does at least one circle of Verbena mages.
Boon: By spending a point of Glamour, Vanes of Freyja can communicate with any bird, from sparrows up to mighty eagles or cormorants.
Flaw: Humans who live out of contact with agriculture and the weather (most city folk) are treated as having Banality one higher when dealing with these Vanir.
House Ullr is the hörgr of hunters and their prey. These Vanir reverence the wild herds of reindeer and moose, the wolf pack and the bear (although most birds of prey are claimed by Freyja) but also the trained horse and hound. These Vanir have suffered greatly from the depletion of many species. Those with surviving Fanes tend to be suspicious of humanity, if not downright angry. House Ullr also reverences war and warriors and guards some Fanes that commemorate heroes or battles: barrows, cairns and howes. This brings some Vanir into close contact with the Draugar, who also haunt ancient tombs, and the Vargar, who often run with wild animals. Because Ullr's Fanes might be deep in the wilderness or out at sea or even in the midst of a modern town, they tend to be involved with the affairs of the other Houses as much as their own. Vuldor is the most respected hunter in this House.
Ullr makes common cause with many of the changing breeds, especially the Get of Fenris werewolves and the Gurahl werebears, even the occasional Gangrel vampire or Viking wraith. Relations with these Prodigals are never close, but the Vanr might be able to call on a favour, in exchange for one owed.
Boon: By spending a point of Glamour, Vanes of Ullr can communicate with any predatory animal, from otters and badgers up to wolves and bears; this includes domesticated animals only so long as they have been trained to hunt, compete or guard.
Flaw: Humans who live out of contact with wild or dangerous animals (such as most pet owners and city folk) are treated as having Banality one higher when dealing with these Vanir.
VANAHEIMR & THE SIDHE HOUSES
The Sidhe and Alfar have always regarded the Vanir as defeated enemies, subjugated inferiors and insurgents. Before the Resurgence, the Scottish Sidhe of House Scathach encountered the Vanir from time to time: Seelie Scathach treat the Vanes as a conquered people, occasionally commandeering their support in military ventures; Unseelie Scathach have hunted Vanes down like wild beasts.
After the Resurgence, the Sidhe Houses pose greater problems for the Vanir, particularly the returning House Aesin, who claim to remember taking part in the Aesir-Vanir War. The return of House Varich to Russia poses a challenge to the Vanir as "lords of the Inanimae".
The Vanir will find a few allies among the Sidhe. House Beaumayn will make whatever alliances they can to oppose the Fomorians and Jotuns. House Liam will frequently stand up for the Vanir, while House Ailil will approach the Vanes on behalf of the Shadow Court, offering protection but at a cost.
The Vanir response will be to get organised, drawing their motley hörgar together as increasingly formalised Houses after the Sidhe pattern. House Njord and House Freyja will lead the way in this.