Thursday, May 3, 2012

A to Z Catchup: Y is for Yggdrasil

Yggdrasil is the world tree in Nordic Mythology whose roots extend to different worlds and whose branches extend far into the heavens.  Yggdrasil and many bit and pieces of Norse Mythology have been co-opted by and recycled by numerous games, books and assorted fiction over the years.  An interesting take on this is the World Tree in the science fiction book Hyperion.  Where the world tree produces saplings which templars traveling on living tree ships take across the star system hoping to plant them on planets which will bloom their own world tree.  My personal favorite incarnation is in the Etrian Oddysey series.

Etrian Odyssey if you're not familiar is a game published (and created) by Atlus on the DS.  It's a first person dungeon crawler, like Eye of the Beholder, but is turn based and has incorporated a number of modern design influences from typical CRPGs (skill trees, non-linear advancement, streamlined yet incredibly dangerous/useful status effects, party diversity and interdependence).  The plot revolves around a world destroyed and the survivors aiming to reclaim what was lost.  To do so they venture into the one thing that survived it all.  The world tree.  An entire dungeon of 25 or more floors lies in its depths, starting with the roots you move down each strata entering gorgeous new vistas each and every time.  A waterfall grotto, a forest in autumn, a volcanic sea floor and if you are brave and lucky enough you may reach the ancient ruins at its depths that give clues to the civilization that existed before then.  Etrian Odyssey takes the sword and sorcery staple of lost and forgotten civilizations and works it into something as fantastical as a Tree teeming with life stretching across the heavens and reaching deep into the abyss.  You could set an entire campaign here, and if you're looking for inspiration pick up any of the Etrian Odssey games and prepare for a tough trip into the labyrinth.

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