A term for "Mythic Scandinavia"

edited December 2007 in Story Games
So, in the game I'm starting to write up, Mythender, where adventurers journey into a mythic land and kill mythic beasts. I have this thing in my head called "Mythic Scandinavia," which I describe (in rather rough draft form) as:
From my introductory draft:There is an ancient land to the north of the known world, a land of hearty people and their beautiful, eternal, white winter. This land is full of contradicting tales of monsters and heroes, of kingdoms vast and small alike, of unspoiled wonders in the midst of treacherous regions.

Mythic Scandinavia is not a land that can be found in history books, but it is one that can be found in inspiring heroic tales and active imaginations. Its landscape cannot be mapped or drawn, but it can be wondrously painted and sung about. Distance is not measured in kilometers or even how far a horse can travel, but in how far a song can travel and where the next legend lies.

Time itself almost ceases to flow as we know it and instead flows with a will its own. To some, Christian monasteries arrived in this land so long ago, they know not a time without one. To others, these foreign outsiders have just begun to encroach upon their lands. And to others still, speak with them on the subject and they will know not of what you speak. This land has always had Christian outsiders. This land has never had Christian outsiders. Mythenders traveling in the frozen north will encounter lands both modern to them and untouched by time alike.

If you have heard tales of heroes and myth, then you have seen this land with your mind’s eye. If you have only read about such strange, far-off places called “Denmark,” “Norway,” “Sweden” or places by other names, then you know not of Mythic Scandinavia.
So, here are my questions:
  • Is there a better term for this?
  • To the Scandinavian SGers: Is the way I'm presenting the "mythicness" I'm doing here totally offensive or trashing on the culture?
Thank you!

Comments

  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinSo, in the game I'm starting to write up,Mythender, where adventurers journey into a mythic land and kill mythic beasts. I have this thing in my head called "Mythic Scandinavia," which I describe (in rather rough draft form) as:


    Is there a bitter term for this?To the Scandinavian SGers: Is the way I'm presenting the "mythicness" I'm doing here totally offensive or trashing on the culture?
    Thank you!
    I don't have a problem with this. Sounds cool
    Do you mean ''better'' term?
  • Posted By: northerainDo you mean ''better'' term?
    Yep! What a difference a letter makes. Thanks! :)
  • edited December 2007
    I would venture the term Midgardr, but I come from a desert people.

    Edit: Or you could go with something more generic like, the Northlands.
  • I want to avoid general terms like "Northlands," and keep it more culturally-centered. "Midgard" might work -- my gut reaction is "but that's the whole world, not just Scandinavia," however I'm going to chew on that, and on some of the other Nordic myth names.
  • Posted By: Ryan Macklin"Midgard" might work -- my gut reaction is "but that's the whole world, not just Scandinavia,"
    In myth I think that's a difference that makes no difference.
  • Scandza maybe?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandza
  • Well, you could go with Norden, the swedish name.

    Or Nordenland, or Nordland.

    Or Thule.
  • Posted By: johnstoneWell, you could go with Norden, the swedish name.

    Or Nordenland, or Nordland.

    Or Thule.
    I second Norden.
  • Scandia

    Hyperborea

    Those are my two suggestions.
  • One of the issues you face Ryan is that Scandinavia of yore was divided among a whole grip of tribal chieftains. There are lots of names for various territories (Geatland, Shielding Land from Beowulf come to mind) but not a lot of names that tie all those various peoples together into a single entity until much later.
  • The introduction sounded quite a lot like an introduction to Kalevala (and, I presume, it fits as well with the myths of other Nordic countries), until this part:
    Posted By: Ryan MacklinThis land has always had Christian outsiders. This land has never had Christian outsiders. Mythenders traveling in the frozen north will encounter lands both modern to them and untouched by time alike.
    But then, that fits to the picture as well, since Christianity landed to southern parts of Nordic countries first, but it took a long time before it crawled up to the north. The introduction is good, especially since it avoids the common viking-like stuff.

    I'll second Johnstone's suggestion on using a native word. Norden is good, Pohjola would be the Finnish version of it. Norden is actually better, since native English speakers can probably grasp the meaning of the word.
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: noclueOne of the issues you face Ryan is that Scandinavia of yore was divided among a whole grip of tribal chieftains. There are lots of names for various territories (Geatland, Shielding Land from Beowulf come to mind) but not a lot of names that tie all those various peoples together into a single entity until much later.
    *nod* That's precisely the reason for my posting -- "Scandinavia" conveyed something far too modern and interconnected for tastes.

    I definitely plan to touch on this without spelling it out -- legends will be tied to specific places and their peoples, but there are no maps or index of cultures. Culture isn't what Mythenders seek, it's what they have to deal with; yet, culture is what drives and fuels the legends they chase. These sorts of contradictions and inconsistencies that fuel myths are something I want to work into the game by being subtle when needed, but without giving too little information to actually play the game.
    Posted By: MertenBut then, that fits to the picture as well, since Christianity landed to southern parts of Nordic countries first, but it took a long time before it crawled up to the north. The introduction is good, especially since it avoids the common viking-like stuff.
    That was initially an unconscious goal of a Nordic legend-inspired game. Wanting the PCs to be invading foreigners comes from wanting to tap into contradictions -- in the case, by making the mythic culture both unified (in that you're a foreigner to everyone) and disparate (as individual cultures as they really were), and letting a group season to taste from there. I want a game where, if you want, you can kick monster ass (emphasis on Myth-), or if you want, you can explore what it means to be an invader making war against a culture, for good or ill (emphasis on -ender).

    The more I roll around "Norden" in my tongue, the more I like it -- especially, as you say Jukka, my primary audience is comprised of native English speakers. "Mythic Norden" it is. (I still like putting the word "Mythic" there. I'm totally okay with hammering that nail home.) Though, I think I'll include some other names as well, to give that sense that they aren't all one people. The campaign world is "Mythic Norden," but it is known to many different people by name different names.

    Thank you all so much!
  • Posted By: Ryan Macklin
    Is there a better term for this?To the Scandinavian SGers: Is the way I'm presenting the "mythicness" I'm doing here totally offensive or trashing on the culture?
    I'd prefer Ultima Thule or something, myself, but Norden probably sounds better to English speakers?

    Anyway, there's nothing offensive in there at all, as far as I can see.
  • I have nothing to add except,

    a) I love Matthijs' suggestion of Ultima Thule, and,

    b) I'm very intrigued by the sound of the game. Have you talked about it anywhere else, in a thread or blog, where I can read a bit more about it?
  • Posted By: MatthijsI'd prefer Ultima Thule or something, myself, but Norden probably sounds better to English speakers?
    Isn't Ultima Thule something that points towards the Roman or Greek era, and towards a larger geographical area? I might be getting bad vibes just because we have (had) a game named like that back in the days, though.
  • edited December 2007
    Hey,

    Jumping in on the discussion from the Norden here. Hmm. You didn't want to go with geographic designations, but I would actually urge you to consider using simply the North. That's basically what Norden means, anyway. Norden also signifies that we - as northerners - think of ourselves as, you know, northerners. Being from the North is part of our identity in many ways. So, it is rather geographic. "We live in the northern snows, in the cold lands, where the stark wind blows and where no others choose to live."

    Maybe it's also because the idea of folks mispronouncing Norden in odd and strange ways feels a bit weird, when you could just say "the North". Ultima Thule is great, has great flavor, but it doesn't seem like something the mythic northerners would use to refer to themselves as. It's the final frontier. For the mythic setting, it would be very appropriate for outsiders to use in reference, though.
  • Also, Ultima Thule is a ''white power'' band, if that matters to you.
  • Posted By: northerainAlso, Ultima Thule is a ''white power'' band, if that matters to you.
    Oops. Forget I said it.
  • Posted By: Chris Gardinerb) I'm very intrigued by the sound of the game. Have you talked about it anywhere else, in a thread or blog, where I can read a bit more about it?
    I'm openly developing it, albeit not as quickly as I'd like, on the design group blog Master Mines: http://mastermines.wordpress.com/category/games-in-development/mythender/
    Also, I just ran a proof-of-concept playtest last night, which I mentioned on my blog: http://macklinr.livejournal.com/tag/mythender
  • Thule now has Nazi connections of course, and Norden is a fading British TV presenter (as well as being an unimpressive word).

    The Ninth World? Bit close to Nine Worlds... The North Beyond the North/North of North?
  • Hyperborea is good, and it's very mythic, though it's Greco-Romano-centric. Is there any way to Scandanavianize the word? Hyperborek? Hiperborska? I dunno.
  • edited December 2007
    Posted By: MatthijsPosted By: northerainAlso, Ultima Thule is a ''white power'' band, if that matters to you.
    Oops. Forget I said it.

    Hey! We can't let cockweasels steal all the world's cool! Reclaim the cool! Reclaim it!
  • Posted By: Tim GrayThule now has Nazi connections of course
    Which is why I'm ambivalent about it -- I could either use it and say "hey, no, it's cool to use it in its original project!" and "ugh, I don't want to touch that."
    and Norden is a fading British TV presenter (as well as being an unimpressive word).
    That's one opinion. My Germanic background likes it, especially as I say "Mythic Norden!" is a deep, gutteral, heavy-metal tone -- I basically get my Nathan Explosion voice on when I talk excited about the game. "Nordland" is also something I like.
    Posted By: Robert BohlHyperborea is good, and it's very mythic, though it's Greco-Romano-centric. Is there any way to Scandanavianize the word? Hyperborek? Hiperborska? I dunno.
    "Hyberborea" also gives me a Conan vibe.
  • Also, as I'm tinkering with the draft, I've found that "Nordic" comes off as a natural adjective form of "Norden." So, I definitely like it.
  • Ultima Thule for the win. Seriously, that's just a studly world name. Norden just doesn't invoke the Beowulf curbstompery like Ultima Thule.
  • Posted By: Ryan Macklin
    Posted By: Robert BohlHyperborea is good, and it's very mythic, though it's Greco-Romano-centric. Is there any way to Scandanavianize the word? Hyperborek? Hiperborska? I dunno.
    "Hyberborea" also gives me a Conan vibe.

    How do you Awesom-o-fy Conan? Instead of Hyborea... HYPERborea!
  • I think Norden would be fine. But just to clearify: In modern Swedish Norden designates the area comprised by Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and some Islands. It also means something close to 'The North', although i would say that this is a secondary connotation.
    Posted By: Ryan MacklinMythenders traveling in the frozen north will encounter lands both modern to them and untouched by time alike.
    This sounds a bit like the northerners in 7th Sea, where they let two quite different live side by side to (I think, I'm not exactly sure what they are trying to do) be able incorporate the Viking mythos as well as the idea of Hanseatic traders (who in reality came from this part only to a very small degree, it was mainly a continental thing as far as I can understand. Threy didn't really have cities in the continental fashion up here until fairly late.)
    Posted By: MertenI'll second Johnstone's suggestion on using a native word.Nordenis good,Pohjolawould be the Finnish version of it. Norden is actually better, since native English speakers can probably grasp the meaning of the word.
    I didn't know this. For me Pohjola is only a famous rpg-wright.
  • Nordland also has Nazi connotations, at least to me ... the ultimate "backed the wrong horse" story.
  • Posted By: northerainAlso, Ultima Thule is a ''white power'' band, if that matters to you.
    If you are talking about the Swedish (who were really popular and mainstream back in the days) I wouldn't call them a White Power band, but definitely nationalist and the guys in the band had some nazi background for sure. (But so had Ace of Base and no one are calling them a White Power band. (Just assholes.))
  • edited December 2007
    And, as is the case with Ultima Thule, I believe there is a white power band using the name.

    (EDIT: Nordland, that is.)
  • Ok, so I am getting anal now. This will be my last post of this kind. Promise.
    Posted By: tharkAnd, as is the case with Ultima Thule, I believe there is a white power band using the name.

    (EDIT: Nordland, that is.)
    Well, actually it was the biggest (so I believe) record company for White Power music in Sweden. They used to have their head quarters in my university city, Linköping. I passed by them each time when traveling from the train station to my dormitory. (It also a record by (viking) black metal band Bathory).

    But you know, all words having to do with our history or geographic location have been used at one time or another by these people. The Germans have a similar, but much worse I believe, problem. As someone said above: we can't let them hinder us. Really.

    (BTW, I have Turkish friend who is into Ukranian Nazi metal. 'The music is good', he claims. I didn't give it a try, to be honest.)
  • Posted By: svenI think Norden would be fine. But just to clearify: In modern Swedish Norden designates the area comprised by Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and some Islands. It also means something close to 'The North', although i would say that this is a secondary connotation.
    I like that. I like that a lot. That fits with what I want. "Mythic Norden" is what the world thinks of this land, but that's the everyday land to the people there. *They*, though, have their own version of Mythic Norden in their minds further in, and that's where "Ultima Thule" or other even-more-fantastic realms like that could come in.

    And while I'm chewing on things, I think I have to abandon any consideration of Nazi/white power-touched elements in this game. I hate to sound callous, but they, like all peoples, grabbed onto the more interesting elements of an ancient culture and ran with them. I'm going to have to be unapologetic here -- I'm talking about things that happened a millenium ago, not 70 years ago or are happening today. I'll trust that my friends will tell me if I need to say something, so they get a weird vibe from any of the terms used in the draft.
  • Interestingly, I've been reading Gods and Myths of the Viking Age and Seamus Heaney's Beowulf trying to see if I could figure out a game there that was better than a simple Agon hack.

    Oh, and as for the Mythic Norden title, what about something like Nordensaga.
  • Don't fall in the trap of focusing on vikings. Focus on the clan society, the Things, Honor. If you set it after the 12th century, bear in mind that Scandinavia is Christian. Take a look at Snorri Sturlusson's Kringla Heimsins: The History of the Norwegian Kings or Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Daneae. Snorri gives you a great feel for the society.
  • edited December 2007
    Thanks, folks. I think I've got what I needed out of this thread, and it's starting to move in directions that, while interesting, don't have to do with my game's setting (and that's what I want to focus my creative energies on).
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