[Let’s Study: Yggdrasill] Part 5: Magic of Scandia

Posted: August 7, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games, Yggdrasill

Now that we’re done talking about most of the mundane world of Yggdrasill, let’s take a dip in the supernatural side of things with a look at the magic system.

Yggdrasill starts off with a quick rundown of the threefold soul as the Scandians understand it, composed of the Hugr, or world-soul, the Hamr or the individual soul, and the Fylgja which is equivalent to a spirit guide.

There are three basic spellcasting forms in Yggdrasill: Seidr (sorcery), Galdr (incantations) and Runes. All spells are considered to operate on line of sight range, and may take multiple actions to cast.

Spellcasting considerations are given full attention here, including  hurrying or extending a spell, taking damage while spellcasting, and resisting spells.


Sorcery is the magic practiced by Freya, and the one that she taught to Odin. This form of magic uses complex rituals and sacred ecstatic rites, where the practicioner falls into a sacred trance and frees his Hamr soul to communicate with the spirits.

Examples of Seidr spells include: divination, protection, healing, mastery of the elements (weather magic) and  curses.


Incantation magic is tied to the power of the voice, and is often used by skalds. This is Odin’s magic, as he is also a master of poetry.

Unlike Seidr’s set spell lists, Galdr has three paths: Curses, Illusions and Charms, each of which is subdivided into five domains each. Spellcasters learn these domains and try to learn as many as they can to expand their power.

Mechanically Galdr serves as a partial freeform magic where the player sets the parameters of the spell being cast and draws the Success Threshold from there.


Rune magic involved engraving it on a given material, and stained with the blood of the caster. The sort of material matters as it determines the duration of the spell.

As with reading runes, the runes may be written right way up, or upside down, which will determine if the effect happens normally , or if it has an opposite effect.

Runes also have their own separate listing of spells, each keyed to a particular rune. Runes aren’t a spontaneous sort of magic like Galdr or Seidr are, but one that is more deliberate and rewards people who are used to planning ahead.

Yggdrasill might seem like a game that’s well grounded in low fantasy, but the presence of three magic systems fixes that handily. The Seidr, Galdr and Rune magics are all very flavorful and reward magic users in a genre more known for Axes, Mead and frothing in the mouth.

Yggrasill is rapidly becoming a benchmark title for making a solid setting in my experience.

  1. Sorry if you’re getting sick of me posting under here every day, but the more I read, the more I love this setting. Sadly money is going to stop me owning it any time soon, but I’ve been bigging it up to Mike the HUGS viking GM, so I might get to play it soon.

    I like the sound of the magic stuff, and would love to give it a try. In norse culture and myth, it was often the women who could weave spells and curses, with runic magic being the domain of men and smiths. The magic of the skalds is a nice touch as it could be seen as both the most limited, and the most powerful.

    • Hey shortymonster!

      No need to apologize, I’m just glad that you’re enjoying the series. Yggdrasill has a bunch of stuff to it and I’m very impressed with what I’ve read so far. Here’s hoping that you get your chance to play it!

      • Is there more to come for this Let’s Study?

        • Yep! There will be about two more installments. Tomorrow we’ll look at the other miscellaneous details such as equipment, adventuring, experience points and maybe take a peek at the sample adventure at the end of the book (no spoilers though, I promise)

          After that will be a recap and conclusion where we wrap up this Let’s Study and take a few days worth of rest before tackling Qin: the Warring States.

  2. Tarus says:

    Finally Holocubierta Ediciones has published a more useful map of the setting:

    Enjoy! 😉

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