This larp is set in a genre that some call high mythology. It is based in a real world mythology but it is “high” in the same way that high fantasy is high. Gods exist and magic work. There are supernatural beings out there in the dark forest and the deep seas. In the lakes and in the wind. The worlds spread out through the branches of the world tree Yggdrasil.
At this larp there are two cultures, the one we refer to as “Viking” which is the main culture, and the culture of the Völic village of Astfanginn which is a counter culture. They both exist in what will one day be Sweden and in the real called Midgård
Both these cultures will be simplified and reimagined through my eyes, but you are welcome to read up on historic sources if you wish.
A village somewhere on the west side of what what will one day be Sweden. It is unlike any other village because because it attracts those who are knowledgeable in seidr and they teach those they find worthy. The rest of the Viking world is much more invested in keeping the gender binary divide alive, while in Astfanginn it has more to do with your ability to do seiðr or not. A völva is a person, most often a woman who knows the magic Seidr. It happens that men learns seiðr but then they are ergi to the world outside and called seidmenn. There are those who have ben called boys as children who still have lived their truth as völvas in Astfanginn.
The village is run by a council of 7 Völvas. These are Völvas who have stopped being traveling völvas, unless something truly astonishing happens, such as a hövding being willing to pay enormously to get someone from the Council to travel outside of Astfanginn. They rule over Astfanginn, and recieve those that come to Astfanginn instead of sending for a Völva and her followers.
Currently 5 traveling Völvas have their base in Astfanginn and accept followers. Most followers are women, although the village accept men as well, so called Seidmenn. After they have paid their dues they will also become völvas and start having their own followers.
The Followers of Järngerd are mostly physical and work as a honor guard to the Council of the 7 the most but also as a the fighters of the village if needed. If the village is attacked the Followers of Järngerd can use their enhanced strenght to fight until seidr can be spun by the other völvas to ward of the attackers.
The Followers of Ljot work with the past, the present and water. They play at the edge of death without going over (most of the time). It is a hard seidrr to learn and one that is not often welcome even if the one who pays for it says they want it.
The followers of Freybiorn work with fertility, sex and with influencing the fate of battles. The fertility part also goes for crops and growing food. Freybiorn is male.
The Followers of Gyrid work with healing wounds, illness and keeping death at bay. They also intersect with the followers of Freybiorn when it comes to the blessing of crops but focus more on the food that comes from the crops. They intersect with Järngerd when it comes to healing the wounded.
The followers of Skade work with death, revenge and anger. They could intersect with any, but are a group of ill repute.
Working as völva
When sent for, the Völvas most often travel to the household who has promised to pay them for their seidr. The Völva is given the seats usually reserved for the Master of the household, and her followers flock around her. They are given all the best food, and a stew made our of the hearts of as many animals as were available. No one raises the reason for the visit before that first meal. Halfway into the meal, after some mead has also been passed around, the heads of the household can discuss the problem, and the Völva will listen.
The next day they once more meet up in the biggest hall, a small platform is brought forth for the völva, and herbs are burnt for her to inhale (hensbane, hemp) and then she starts to dance. Her followers play on different rythm instruments and after a while they to fall in to the dance and rythm as well.
The household is welcome to watch, and participate, but they need be warned. The völva who inhales the smoke directly will hallucinate and become prophetic, anyone who inhales smaller amounts of smoke will instead more likely become aroused. It is very common the ritual, and the magic circle becomes an orgy.
After the dancing ceremony, as the völva comes to, she know what has to be done and the more practical part of the völic magic are done. Who needs to be drowned within in an inch of his life? What drink should be ingested from what blessed vessel? What songs be sung over the wound. What two youths are secret lover and must now fight? The Völva will know. And after this, the household better pay. Furs, gold, glass beads, herbs, food, animals and thralls are all accepted and brought back to Astfanginn.
Working as thrall
Both the vikings and Astfanginn uses Thralls. A thrall is a person who is owned and can be used mostly for manual labor. A thrall can be worth a lot of money and if they are good and especially if they are shown to be loyal they can gain their freedom in time. Some are born as thralls, others are deep in debt and yet others are stolen abroad. Many free men and women have sexual relations with thralls. In the world of Vedergällningen thralls are often referred to as “They” and given an short decriptive name and are not allowed to use another name, even if they have one.
There are also voluntary thralls in Astfanginn, these have given up their freedome for one year and one day, to pay for a favor bestowed upon them. These roles will be played by the volunteers.
sexuality and gender
Sexual norms include but are not limited to what is discussed in this text. Sexual lust is something that is seen as strengthening magic or being magic in itself. Sexual lust makes you whole and strong. Sexual rituals strengthens the group, and yourself. The longer and more intense, the more fire in your veins. The sexual norm is being non-monogamous, love is normally reserved for other women or alternative genders. Men is of occasional use for sexual pleasure, and for breeding. It is important to a free member of Astfanginn to not “be taken” by anyone, but have a free sexual spirit.
Volvas are encouraged to find their own sexual paths (their wood to their inner fire), but not all practises are seen as positive by The Seven, especially when the Völva has not become full völvas and are under training. The Council and those that have their own followers have more room to go against the norms.
Völvas have normally three pieces of “wood to their fire”: One that comes from their groups sexual practice, one that is individual and personal, and one that they are constantly learning and practising to learn from lovers.
For the Thralls
Sexual norm (the same goes for the thralls on the Viking ships):
As long as sex is shared between a loving, preferably married and heterosexual couple, a lot of different erotically practises are seen as positive (but private and secretive).
Same-sex experimenting and learning by kissing and petting is normally tolerated for young people, but this is some things adults don’t do. Explicit fetishes and kinks are not common, more likely that someone likes some body parts more, some sexual positions or being more passive or active. Sexual encounters outside marriage is goes against your honor, but are not uncommon. It’s better if the extramartial partner is part of an agreement to be a frilla or a frillokarl.
The sexual rituals and promiscuous practice at the Völvic village is seen as disgraceful and sometimes dangerous. To the former christian thrall it is seen as sinful.
The sexual practices among the arriving Vikings are seen as disgraceful and immature. The males show too little respect to the females when it comes to erotic interactions and both the men and the women might be dangerous.
Sexuality in Astfanginn is relational mostly, or interpreted as actions. This means they step away from seeing sexuality as identity. Sexuality might or might not be a part of the ritualistic practice and it is sometimes even frowned upon by The Council – but every Völva can chose her own path.
The Arriving Vikings
Vikings don’t call themselves vikings, going viking is something you do. To sail out on a ship to trade or pillage is called to go viking. The ones who do this are mostly men, but so called Shield Maidens are not uncommon. The maiden part is a reference to their unmarried status, that they are married to the shield of the warrior and says nothing of their sexual experience. Here homosexual between men are seen as ergi, and the penetrated partner is seen as less than a man, and that he is committing to female acts. This has more to do with crossing gendered lines more than free women being less worth. The vikings follow the hövding of their ship, he is their leader and captain. But another important relationship is the one to your shieldpartner, who you trust to protect your life in battle. You go viking mostly to gain wealth for the family back home but some also go to prove themselves in the eyes of others, to gain more respect or because you have become used to it. Sometimes a voyage took only that summer, sometimes you were gone for years.
Sailed out with Hövding Æinridi Arnulfrsson and his Frilla, the Shieldmaiden Sif. This ship is the one who was a moral as a Viking ship goes. Hövding Æinridi preferred the trade where it was possible and tried to enforce rules of no rapes of the locals or using torture. The Hövding had taken one of the shieldmaidens as frilla, Sif Hreindottir. As long as he was alive, she was his second in command. She is one of the surviving shieldmaidens but after he died she has no power any more, least of all to enforce his rules. Instead Alrik Gærrarsson was voted Hövding and is supported by his second i command. Alrik has since mostly followed the path of action as suggested by Hövding Hrapp of the Modgudr.
This is the remains of the crew of the ship that sunk in the storm (death by water). These men and women had a blood thirsty and cold leader in Hövding Leif when it came to the enemy and outsiders, but he was a man with a lot of love for his crew. They took many thralls, but they treated their fellow shieldmaidens with respect. After the first ship burned, they took most of the men from the Managarm onboard. Hövding Leif went down with Eyrgjafa.
Members of Eyrgjafa lost a father figure when their Hövding Leif drowned, many come from down right starving families and were given the possibility of a lifetime when he accepted them to sail to the isles with him.
A shieldmaiden of Eyrgjafa is a much a part of the group as the men. Their Hövding Leif would include all his warriors in his plans and when they drank and took drugs together to almost entered a state of Bärsärk they did so together. Captured thralls from
The Móðguðr – the ship that came back
Móðguðr means Furious Battler and is the remaining crew of the still sailing ship. The members of this ship have their Hövding Hrapp alive. Hrapp is very invested in being seen as a man of honor and that his crew is the same. Members of Modgud look down on those who have sex with thralls, and several come from priviliged Karl homes and could have choosen to do anything with their lives and choose to follow Hrapp Skidisson. Móðguðr has not taken heavy losses, but was a smaller, more well built ship from the beginning.
These vikings and shieldmaidens all sailed out from the same port on the west side of what will one day be known as Sweden. They might be vaguely aware of the village of Astfanginn but it is unlikely they have ever been there. Seidrr is womans work and both men and women of the three viking ships hold a male identity in very high regards. No Viking or Shieldmaiden should need seidr. There were three long boats who set out from the same place and sailed for the islands, what is known later as the Dannelagen. These ships were Managarm, Eyrgrafa and Módgudr. All three ships could with some difficulty carry 30 souls, but could also make do with a crew of 8 able bodied persons.
On the Isles they raped, burned and pillaged both nunneries and monasteries. They came away with silver, gold and thralls. Some of the vikings had been here before, made pacts and friendships and lovers. Now they returned, following the words of their Hövdingar and the promises to their honor.
The warriors of Eyrgjafa grabbed and carried whomever they saw and fancied as thralls. These men and women were entertainment for now, someone to sell later. On the Eyrgjafa most of the thralls are personal property. The women were gifted to the Hövding of Eyrgjafa.
Not all crewmen survived the raids, but when the crews returned to the beach they had a great feast. Some fell asleep in a-framed tents on the beach, some slept on the ships. The Managarm was out off the water, pulled onto land when it started burning. The fire killed the Hövding in his sleep and many more perspired the same way. The ship Managarm got burned because of treachery from a Christian thrall who managed to sneak away during the festivities and go get help. It was vengeance for ill deeds members of the second ship (Eyrgjafa) had done at monasteries and nunneries, but the locals who burned it didn’t care about what viking ship they burned. The Managarm was basically a moral ship, as far as those go.
A joint memory for these people is the Managarm burning on the beach, they themselves covered in soot and smoke, the thralls huddled to their owners and where they stood on the beach when Sif came out from the flames and announced that she had been unable to wake Æinridi and that their Hövding was dead.
Managarm had a lot of the loot taken from the sacked villages and religious building on board, but most of that was saved by the surviving crew after the ship was clearly lost to the flames.
After this happened Hövding Erik of the Eyrgjafa asked Hövding Hrapp to swear that he would see to it that even the three worst offenders of Eyrgjafa would be brought home to their mothers if something would happen to Erik or the rest of the Eyrgjafa.
The remainders sailed home using only two ships. These vikings first took some of the members of Managarm on board before they left the isles. At this first choosing the Managarm choose the men and shieldmaidens they respected the most.
But a ferocious storm caught up to them and sank the overloaded Eyrgjafa. They wailed and sang to the gods that would heard them, and were fished out from the waves by the Móðguðr, the last ship that was afloat. But the Hövding of the Eyrgjafa was nowhere among the black sea. Both members of Eyrgjafa and the remains of Managarm say they experienced horrible nightmares before Eyrgjafa sank in the storm, saying they failed to wake some of those who were asleep when the ship took in water. This is the same scenario described by Sif of the Managarm the night that ship burned.
Some from Móðguðr even choose to risk it all and jumped into the sea to save the lives of anyone they could make their way to and swim them back to Móðguðr. These people pride themselves on doing the right thing, showing their bravery and being lawful.
Afraid for what was following them, the last Hövding, Hrapp decided to sail towards the Völvas instead of their home port to go home. A broken crew of male vikings and Shieldmaidens and their freshly aquired thralls, who understand naught of what is happening.