Saga of the Northlands
The branches and roots of Yggdrasil constantly wave and flutter in the cosmic equivalent of an ever-shifting breeze. On occasion, one of said limbs might press against the boundaries of one of the Nine Worlds, and even more rarely a single limb might end up pressed against two worlds at once. In such a case, the boundaries separating the worlds from the beyond are weakened and the limb of Yggdrasil acts as a conduit for travel between the two worlds.
Such a connection between the worlds is called a conjunction, after the heavenly phenomenon of the moon, the sun, or the stars appearing to meet, because, as with many aspects of the Nine Worlds, conjunctions tend to move in cycles, connecting the worlds at predetermined times or under certain conditions.
Conjunctions are not generally visible, at least not directly—a conjunction doesn’t look like a massive tree branch poking a hole in the sky, or anything of the sort. Instead, continuing the cyclical theme, each conjunction is marked by a circle of nine on both sides: nine things in a roughly circular arrangement, like a ring of nine river stones, a circle of nine stalagmites, a group of nine small pools, and so forth, that indicate where the boundaries between worlds are thin. These circles might not be immediately obvious; the circle could be large enough that it isn’t immediately recognized as such (like nine identically-shaped hills a half-mile apart), hidden in some way (like nine oaks of similar age surrounded by a smattering of other trees), or similarly difficult to identify, but it will always be present in some form. It is a matter of debate for the goðar whether the presence of a conjunction tends to cause things to rearrange in circles of nine or whether the symbolic power of circles of nine makes the world boundaries weak enough for a limb of Yggdrasil to poke through, and the question shows no sign of being resolved any time soon.
Types of Conjunctions
Conjunctions are classified into minor and major categories based on how strong the connection is between the conjoined worlds, and into continuous, intermittent, and momentary categories based on how long and under what circumstances they remain connected.
Major and Minor Conjunctions
The most common sort of conjunction is the minor conjunction, in which there is just enough of a connection between two worlds for the influence of each to leak into the other. A conjunction between Midgard and Muspelheim might make the weather unseasonably warm and sunny on the Midgard side, while it appears to be a cool and damp region in Muspelheim; a conjunction between Midgard and Alfheim might cause any Midgard plants in the area to grow larger, more vibrant, and more healthy than plants outside of it, while the Alfheim side experiences more chaotic and sudden weather changes.
Major conjunctions, on the other hand, are much closer connections that allow actual physical travel between the two worlds. This travel can be in-place and instantaneous in the case of momentary conjunctions (see below), but in most cases it appears to take place gradually over a short distance, such as entering a grove of trees in Midgard, walking through it for a few minutes, and exiting a grove of trees on Vanaheim; in the latter case, it is impossible to leave the conjunction “sideways” or “stop halfway” and end up outside of a world or the like, which is fortunate as only the gods could withstand those conditions for more than a few moments. It is major conjunctions like these that are responsible for most creatures not native to Midgard reaching that world, with creatures usually either having been suddenly snatched up by a conjunction they had no way of detecting or being descended from creatures sent through a conjunction in the past.
Every conjunction is slightly different, but the effects are similar enough that a character with proficiency in appropriate Knowledge proficiencies who encounters a conjunction can identify the world conjoining the one he currently occupies and learn some additional information; see Identifying Conjunctions, below.
Continuous, Intermittent, and Momentary Conjunctions
Conjunctions are classified based on how predictable they are. Continuous conjunctions are those that are permanent and always connected. These usually occur between places of great power or symbolic significance in both of the worlds they join, are always the sort of conjunction requiring physical travel between the two ends, and usually have a visible manifestation of some sort in both worlds at least part of the time. The great bridge Bifrost, for instance, is a permanent conjunction between Asgard and Midgard anchored on the Asgard side by Urðarbrunnr, the Well of Fate where the Æsir hold court, and on the Midgard side by the strong concentration of spiritual energies of the Northern Lights, and it occasionally appears in the sky as a burning rainbow of a thousand colors.
Intermittent conjunctions are those that are permanently connected but only “open” to let a world’s influence or creatures through under certain circumstances. Most intermittent conjunctions open on significant days of the year, such as the equinoxes and solstices, the gods’ feast days (which tend to be placed on those days because of such conjunctions, in fact), and similar. They can also open based on local conditions on one side, such as low tide, a light from a full moon, or the like, but these are definitely the minority. Intermittent conjunctions can stay open for as short as a minute or as long as a week, and can even open for different periods of time based on the triggering conditions.
Momentary conjunctions are exactly what they sound like: they open for a moment and then close. These conjunctions tend to be triggered by events or random conditions rather than regularly-reoccurring times or conditions—an ancient battlefield where hundreds of warriors died might have a particular spot in the center consecrated by the blood of nine warriors where any creature whose blood is spilled in the middle of them finds itself sent to Helheim, or a ship sailing into heavy mist on a particular patch of sea might sail out of the mist to find itself in Nilfheim—but a minority of them do have cyclical conditions, such as making a sacrifice on a certain day of each month. Momentary conjunctions also differ in that they are only “anchored” on one side by a symbolic circle of nine, and so they are one-way: a ring of nine mushrooms that sends creatures that sleep within it to Alfheim will tend to leave the unfortunate travels stranded with no corresponding circle of nine on the other side to use to return home.
A character can detect a conjunction by having Master proficiency in the Knowledge proficiency associated with the world on the other end of the conjunction from the character’s current location (Geography for Midgard, or one of Upper Worlds, Lower Worlds, Near Worlds, or Far Worlds for the other worlds as appropriate). He then can detect it automatically by having the indicated proficiencies, or attempt to detect it by making the indicated skill check. (“Perception” in this case is either Spot or Listen, or a skill check appropriate to another sense such as Tumble if the character has tremorsense active.)
|To Find A…||You Need To Have…||Or You Need To Roll…|
|Minor, Momentary Conjunction||Master Sagas, Master Traditions||Perception DC 35 or Survival DC 40|
|Major, Momentary Conjunction||Master Sagas and Expert Traditions OR Expert Sagas and Master Traditions||Perception DC 40 or Survival DC 35|
|Minor, Intermittent Conjunction||Expert Sagas, Expert Traditions||Perception DC 30 or Survival DC 35|
|Major, Intermittent Conjunction||Expert Sagas OR Expert Traditions||Perception DC 35 or Survival DC 30|
|Minor, Continuous Conjunction||Expert Sagas OR Expert Traditions||Perception DC 25 or Survival DC 30|
|Major, Continuous Conjunction||Expert Sagas OR Expert Traditions||Perception DC 30 or Survival DC 25|
Once a character knows a conjunction exists, he can attempt to learn more about it: for a momentary or intermittent conjunction beating the check DC by 5 (if he rolled) or making a DC 15 Perception or Survival check (if he had the Knowledge proficiencies) will allow him to identify its triggering conditions, and for an intermittent or continuous conjunction beating the check DC by 10 (if he rolled) or making a DC 20 Perception or Survival check (if he had the Knowledge proficiencies) will allow him to identify its anchor point in the other world.
The vast majority of conjunctions arise naturally through random chance, but it is possible for characters of great learning and personal power to set up the circumstances to almost guarantee that a conjunction will be formed. The Anglo-Saxons, for instance, originally constructed Stonehenge in an attempt to form a minor conjunction to Muspelheim to help warm their frigid home, but they were forced to break the circle of nine (and thus the conjunction) by filling in the circle with more stones after the conjunction strengthened to a major conjunction and let a score of demons through to wreak havoc.
Creating conjunctions is a difficult process, and has several stringent requirements:
- The character must possess appropriate Knowledge proficiencies (see the table below); if a conjunction requires multiple creators, each creator must meet these requirements.
- The character must create a circle of nine appropriate to the world he wishes to conjoin in the location where the conjunction is to be formed.
- The objects forming the circle of nine must be fairly strongly symbolically connected and have a shared origin, while still remaining separate—nine acorns collected from nine oak trees of identical age grown from seeds of the same parent tree at the same time would suffice, but not nine acorns collected from random trees, or nine acorns gathered separately at non-symbolically-important times, or nine acorns collected from the same tree. This circle can be a temporary one for a momentary or intermittent conjunction, such as sacrificing nine young goats from the same mother in a circle for a momentary conjunction with Vanaheim or forming an intermittent conjunction that will open whenever nine priests of the Jotnar are gathered in a circle around a particular elder oak.
- Constructing a circle of nine with materials at hand can be quite difficult, and the larger a circle is to be, the more exacting the symbolic requirements. Most artificial conjunctions take great amounts of time and careful effort to create, and may not be possible to create in some cases or on some worlds; it would probably take longer than a mortal lifetime to herd the fires of Muspelheim into an appropriate configuration or breed the spirits of Vanaheim into the correct lineage to form a suitable circle. For a circle that is found rather than constructed, Priest proficiency may be required to determine whether a given collection of objects is sufficiently symbolically linked to form a circle of nine.
- The location to be conjoined must have an existing metaphysical link to the other world.
- To form a continuous conjunction, there must be a circle of nine present at both the origin and destination, so the character must either know of an existing circle of nine on the other world (in which case it must be in a location similar enough to the location in his current world to metaphysically connect the two), or must find some way of constructing a circle of nine on the other world (in which case the two circles may be in any location, and the mere fact that both circles were constructed for the same purposes is enough to connect them.
- To form an momentary conjunction, the character must have personally visited his destination in the other world; if he has not visited his desired destination, the conjunction will take him to the closest possible point that he has visited and that is similar to his origin point, which might cause unexpected trouble for him.
- To form an intermittent conjunction, both of the above requirements must be met.
- The conjunction must be formed at the correct time of the year.
- Each tiding is associated with a certain world, and conjoining the character’s current world with a given destination world must occur during a tiding corresponding to the destination world; when conjoining another world with Midgard, replace that world’s slot in the chart with Midgard. Once formed, a continuous conjunction remains open all year and an intermittent conjunction may open at other times of the year, but only during the right tiding do the worlds come close enough together to make the initial connection.
- Certain powerful creatures or items may be able to overcome this restriction to some degree, but all such magics will have their own ideosyncratic limitations.
- Each character must spend one or more wyrd tokens appropriate to the conjunction to be formed.
- Conjoining Asgard to Hel might require a Valor token, representing all of the valiant dead in each world, while conjoining Asgard to Vanaheim might require an Honor token to recall the bonds of kinship between the Æsir and the Vanir. Certain pairs of worlds may allow multiple different kinds of Wyrd to be spent to conjoin them, but if multiple tokens must be spent, all the tokens must be of the same type, the character cannot mix and match them as he can for some uses of Wyrd.
|Conjunction Type||Knowledge Proficiencies Required||Number of Creators (Tokens per Creator)|
|Minor, Momentary||Expert [Origin], Expert [Destination], Expert Sagas OR Expert Traditions||1 (1)|
|Major, Momentary||Expert [Origin], Master [Destination], Expert Sagas OR Expert Traditions||1 (2) or 3 (1)|
|Minor, Intermittent||Master [Origin], Expert [Destination], Master Sagas and Expert Traditions OR Expert Sagas and Master Traditions||3 (2) or 9 (1)|
|Major, Intermittent||Master [Origin], Master [Destination], Master Sagas and Expert Traditions OR Expert Sagas and Master Traditions||3 (3) or 9 (2)|
|Minor, Continuous||Master [Origin], Master [Destination], Master Sagas, Master Traditions||9 (3) or 27 (2)|
|Major, Continuous||Master [Origin], Master [Destination], Master Sagas, Master Traditions||9 (4) or 27 (3)|
In the table, “[origin]” refers to the Knowledge proficiency corresponding to the world where the conjunction is created (the same proficiency indicated by the “[world”] marker in the section above), while “[destination]” refers to the proficiency corresponding to the world that the conjunction will connect to the origin world.
It is possible that a single location may be able to be linked to multiple other worlds, or multiple locations on one other world, using the same circle of nine, though finding a location able to sustain even two such conjunctions would be difficult. However, having two conjunctions open in the same location, while possible, is highly dangerous and unpredictable.
Possible outcomes for anything entering the area of such a concurrent conjunction are as follows: