In the spirit of "Dharmic" world and "Old Testament Cosmology", a world where the writers of the Nordic Sagas had their facts right.
The world is, of course, flat.
The Scandinavian Peninsula is familiar-looking, if a bit larger than in our world, as are the British Isles, northern Germany and Russia. There are more large isles in the northern seas. The Mediterranean is somewhat shrunken and foreshortened, while Africa is a thin strip of populated northern coast, a wide strip of desert, and a somewhat narrower strip of hot jungle, with steaming-hot, island-spotted sea southwards. Arabia exists in a distorted form, while Siberia and the Russian steppe curve south-east to mountains, to the south of which is the blunt peninsula of India. There is no China or East Asia or Australia, and no America, although west of a shrunken and actually somewhat green Greenland lie a group of large islands, with a combined area as large as all of western Europe.
The world is encircled by sea: the icy Ocean of the north, the stormy Ocean of the west, the muggy Ocean of the South and the placid green Ocean of the East. Above, unreachably far, is the impenetrable Vault of Heaven, below which circle the Sun, Moon, and stars. These are the bounds of Midgard, home of men and the center-point of the nine worlds.
For those who would travel beyond the world, four worlds may be reached by everyday human means. If a ship travels south through the treacherous currents, reef-girdled isles and suffocating heat of the Southern Ocean, after many days one may sight a line of darkness on the horizon: this resolves itself into the smoke of many volcanoes, lying beyond a shoreline of great cliffs that shine like brass. Beyond are rivers of liquid flame, forests of hot many-colored metal, jewels which grow as living things, and cities which shine with every color of flame: wonders not for mortals, for in Muspelheim, besides the dangers of being burned to death in a rain of hot ash, the Giants of Fire are not kindly to creatures of damp, cool flesh and blood.
To the north, if one follows the frozen isles and peninsulas northward from Scandinavia (bundle up!) one may encounter a frozen land of blue pines taller than redwoods, mountains Himalaya-high that glitter so fiercely that they can blind, and rivers so cold that a 10-second dip will kill you. The skies glow with a brilliant, eternal Aurora Borealis, and the cities are made of shining ice. Jotunheimer is also the land of the Jotuns, the giants of frost and ice, and many of them will stamp you flat rather than say hi (if the elephant-sized white wolves don’t get you first!)
Crossing the calm green waters of the East one begins to encounter curious misty green isles, dense with forest and wild flowers, full of both light and shadow. These are the outliers of the great land of the Alfar, the Light elves. They are beautiful but unpredictable: some are kind and generous, but others are treacherous and often cruel- those who visit their misty, wooded lands and their shimmering, insubstantial cities had best have their wits about them (and a gift for flattery is often useful). Travels to the east are not as reliably lethal as travels to the north or south, but it is not recommended for the unwary or the socially inept.
Westward beyond the great isles of Vinland one comes to a place where the sky is always overcast, and the light always dim: while the lands of the Giants are bright with flame or brilliant as ice, and that of the Light Elves is misty but luminous, here it is simply murky. There is a rugged and rocky land, covered with somber dark woods in dark green and red and purple: the earth is wrinkled with underground burrowings and pitted with caves and holes. Great dark mounds reach to the sky as if the Earth were about to give birth to something of abnormal size. This is the land of the Dark Elves (a shadowy, Goblin-like folk given to curious magics and grim jests) and the master craftsmen of all nine worlds, the Dwarves. Both live underground and shun bright light. If one travels to certain designated mountains jutting into the sea, moor at one of the great stone docks and make certain signs, the dwarves will emerge from their tunnels and trade, for they are a commerce-minded folk, if shy about visitors. But one should avoid accidentally landing at a shore where the Dark Elves frolic, for they may decide to include you in their games – which are most dangerous for mortals.
In fact, none of these worlds exactly lie next to Midgard in a larger space: they are actually bubble universes, space-time pockets which simply happen to intersect Midgard at certain points: travel in the wrong direction in Alfheimer, and you may have to traverse the entirely width of Elf-land to return to the shores of the Eastern Sea. Time, too, sometimes travels at different speeds in the other Worlds than in Midgard. The realms of the Vanir and the Aesir in some way lie “above” the world of men, but one cannot reach them simply by going upwards, even if one could pierce the vault of heaven: similarly, the land of the Dead lies below, but cannot be reached by digging (unless you are very unlucky).
To reach the more distant realms, divine or supernatural aid is needed. There are certain secret caves which reach between worlds: the land of the dead is sometimes accessible through ancient tombs: there are magical paths, such as the Elf-road or the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost. There are paths in the sky dragons and Valkyrie can follow. And then there is the tree.
Yggdrasil’s seed was planted when the world was first formed by the grandparents of the current generation of Gods, and has grown as the worlds have grown and multiplied, linking them together and preventing them from chaotically intermingling. It exists in multiple dimensions, and only Odin and Heimdallr can perceive it fully: on earth it is found at various locations, resembling an enormous ash, redwood-tall and far bulkier, which axes cannot cut and fire cannot burn. If one is brave enough, one may climb up, up until the branches begin to grow thicker rather than narrower, and you have climbed right out of the world. But be warned: in the endless dimension-spanning tangle of the trees innumerable branches and trunks, magical guidance is probably needed to find your way, and even if you don’t slip and fall endlessly, starve to death on some woody overpass, or stumble into Jotunheim or Niflheim (the land of the dead) the tree has inhabitants, and although some are relatively friendly and will at worst just kick you back to Midgard, others are quite dangerous, particularly the great serpents that gnaw at the tree like caterpillars on a normal-sized growth. (Nidhogg the Gnawer At The Root is a whole other, multi-godzilla sized issue).
Asgard is, of course, Da Bomb.
Want to see thousand-foot defensive stone walls? They stand guard here. Want incredibly beautiful mountains, forests and plain, lakes, rivers and small inland seas, scenery that National Geographic editors would sell their first-born sons to get photos of? They have them. Want to see all sorts of fantastic mythical beasts? The woods are full of them, and the hunts would impress Kublai Khan. Gilded wooden palaces bigger than the pentagon, the wood carved in more detail than an 18th century German cuckoo clock? They defy gravity. Awesome sunsets and sunrises? Asgard has its own small sun, brighter and cheerier than the one of Midgard. A gold-roofed mead hall which, like Dr. Who’s Tardis, is "Dimensionally Transcendental”, so millions of warriors can feast there but also all have a good view of Odin’s seat and not take forever to find a good spot? Of course they have it.
Vanaheim is similar, although the wall is smaller (they didn’t go in for Giant labor) and the place is generally wilder and greener and less, well, organized than Asgard, which sometimes has a bit of a Theme Park feel (the Vanir tend to be Gods and Goddesses of nature and fertility, and although the Aesir grudgingly respect their combat prowess, their feelings towards them could be described not inaccurately as “those damn dirty hippies.”)
Lying “below” Midgard, Nifelheim is grey and cold and dim, darker even than the land of the Dwarves and Dark Elves, a land of broken rock and ice, where the vegetation is white and spindly and leafless, the sky a clot of shadows and the rivers black and sluggish. It is said to have come into existence with the death of the first living thing, and has grown steadily since. Impassible walls of ice surround it on all sides save where the vast fortress/palace of Hela blocks the solitary entrance. Hela, pale and beautiful on one side, black and rotten as a well-aged Romero Zombie on the other, is perhaps the most powerful of Loki’s children: while she is confined to her realm till the world ends, she is free within it, unlike her brothers: and not even the Gods can force their way in without her say-so. Nor can any resident leave: the powers of the Gods are weakened in this grey, empty place, and Balder could not be rescued by force. It is said that she seized rule of Nifelheim from a former ruler, some foul spawning of Ymir older than any of the Gods, but this is only rumor.
Beyond the realms of the Jotuns and the giants of fire are the last two realms: the realm of eternal cold and night and the realm of consuming flame. If one were to travel far enough to the fiery south, one would reach a region of pure flame, all-consuming, never-fading, where even great Sutur, the king of the fire giants, would be consumed. Similarly, if one were to travel far enough to the ultimate north, beyond the Jotun-lands are endless fields of ice beyond the reach of light, so cold that even the frost giants themselves freeze (it doesn’t kill them, but it does render them so stiff that they cannot move faster than a glacier flows). The Nine Worlds all float in the Primal Void, where there is no up, no down, no yesterday, and no tomorrow.
There are a number of minor spirits and a great many minor Godlings of no real account in the High Realms of Asgard and Vanaheim, some of which act as patrons of individual mortals in return for sacrifice: ironically, they may be at times more useful than the Great Gods, who after all have to divide their attention between many thousands of demanding mortals and may just have you waaay down their to-do list.
The Midgard serpent is bound to the sea outside the circle of the world. He is neither continent-thick nor a thin hair encircling the world: the Serpent actually exists at all points of the great circle simultaneously while not being exactly there at any one point: like Schrodinger’s cat, one must take a look to determine if he is there, and pray that it is not his hundred-yards-long head one finds.
The Fenris Wolf is kept in Asgard: four Gods keep watch day and night to make sure none disturb his bonds.
All things die, and most age. The Gods are currently the third and fourth generation of deities, of the second generation only Odin remaining: and his beard is growing white. The world itself ages, and Fimbulwinter approaches. The magic which binds Loki and his children weakens, and the sun dims, presaging the days of unending cold. And those things which do not age, still can die: the Elf-folk can live even longer than Gods, and do not perish as mortals do, but if slain with iron or divine magic die forever, leaving only a grey, empty shadow behind. Only the three Elder  Norns are eternal, and even they will come to a stop when the world ends and all stories are told.
The giants and dwarves are elemental beings, returning to ice and fire and earth when they die. Gods and men (who received a touch of the divine when the Gods first blew breath into them) have spirits, but the spirit without flesh is a reduced thing, and requires assistance after death if it is to retain the vigor of life: and helping out everyone who dies is beyond the resources of the Gods, and in any event they do not feel that they have any such responsibility.
Although actually dying in battle isn’t a guarantee and isn’t really necessary, it always helps. Warriors are after all needed for Ragnarok, and warriors are the most numerous group in Valhallah (the human district of Asgard). One must be brave, skilled and honorable to make the cut (even the Aesir do have standards: child-murders, temple-desecrators, oath-breakers, etc. don’t usually make it), and dying fighting definitely peps up the resume. On the other hand, the Aesir, and particularly the more wild and playful Vanir don’t just recruit warriors: great bards and storytellers and marvelously skilled craftsmen also often get the nod, to brighten the halls of Asgard and Vaneheim: so do men of great wisdom and wise counsel, for such are needed as well as men who can swing an axe, and even some otherwise unremarkable men of exceptional honor and generosity who were never professional warriors make it – however, they must be brave men, whatever their background.
There are no cowards in Asgard.
Given the high likelihood of Viking Wedgies, the less combat-skilled Men of Wisdom and Honor get their own place away from the great banquet-hall where the warriors carouse eternally. For the pastoral-minded, those who like a romp among the cowslips, or just those warriors who _don’t_ want to spend the time until Ragarnok getting axed in the head, the goddess Freyja provides Folkvangr, the Field of Flowers. (Apparently there are cottages or something. And free mead, of course).
Also in a separate place are the halls of Honorable Women: under considerable pressure from the female Gods and even some men among the more metrosexual Vanir, a place was set aside (in Vanaheim) for women saved from Niflheim. Here dwell women of exceptional courage, honor, uprightness, etc. (And occasionally beauty: even the Gods, although not as randy as that Greek bunch , stoop ever now and then). It has a bit of an air of a seminary, or a nunnery: a lot of embroidering is done. (Only the Crème De La Crème is accepted as Valkyrie recruits: it is, alas, a Man’s Life in the Asgardian army). Occasionally there are visits from those husbands which also made it into Valhalla, when they can tear themselves away from the fighting, mead and magical wenches. (Or the deep study, intellectual debate, mead, and magical wenches. Complaints from single women about the lack of magical boy-toys have so far been disregarded). At least there is TV nowadays.
(It can get worse. Warriors who 1. Loved their wives and 2. Did not have wives worthy of Valhalla often have their memories erased magically to prevent them from embarking on doomed rescue missions to Nifelheim).
The spirits of the dead who don’t make the cut for Valhalla, rather than ending up in Hela’s realm, may be carried away by the Elves. Some become slaves to the Dark Elves, others pets and playthings or, if talented, household ornaments, by the Light Elves: over centuries, most lose their humanity. There are many lower-class Elves who were once human (of course, some may not like the whole “becoming nonhuman” thing). Some unwanted spirits manage to stay on earth, usually because of poorly carried out burial rituals: things do not go well for them either.
Still, this is preferable to the alternative, and the end of the majority of humanity: Nifelheim, where the grey, pale shades of the dead wander disconsolately, chewing hopelessly on the pallid weeds, occasionally huddling together for what little comfort contact between their heatless, sexless bodies can provide, and in thin, bat-like voices, argue endlessly with those *Christian and *Muslim dead who refuse to admit they are in Hel rather than the Inferno or Jahannam. They are a thin, skeletal, feeble bunch: a human spirit stripped from its flesh is a feeble thing without the nourishment of sorcery, enchanted food of the Gods or Elves, or, alas, human blood (which is why spirits which manage somehow to stay on Earth tend to become hungry liches or worse.) Housing is generally of stone and bone, wood not being to be found, and life consists of endless rounds of trying to find a way out while dodging the enormous guard dogs (the dead cannot be killed, but they can be hurt plenty, and reduced to an existence even more feeble and ghostly than the norm) and the “trustees”, those dead – human if those who run into them are lucky, the sere shadows of Elves if not - empowered by Hela to ride herd over their fellows.
The border between God and Frost Giant is a permeable one: while Gods are normally only about half again as large as humans, and Giants vary from telephone pole size to Godzillaesque, both can shrink as small as normal humans, and Gods can grow substantially to grapple with their outsized opponents. While some Giants are hideous in appearance, they are often fair enough spite their pallid or blue-ish skin and frosty hair, and in any event can change shape: Gods have generally superior magic, but giants are even more skilled in the arts of illusion and transformation. There has been much intermarriage between Gods and Giants, and Loki is not the only half-breed: the Gods of the sea are as much Jotun as Vanir or Aesir. The Giants of Fire, on the other hand, are scorched black as coal, and are as wildly fluid in their forms as the flames they dwell in and among: there has been much less intermingling between them and the Gods.
The rivalry between the Frost Giants and the Gods is an old one, rooted ultimately in the First Gods’ overthrow and murder of their progenitor/God, Ymir the Immeasurable. (The Giants of Fire, on the other hand, have no real grudge against the Gods: they just want to see the world burn. )
The world was not literally made from Ymir’s body: for one thing, most Giants don’t have skulls larger than their entire bodies. But it was the energy of his death, a living sacrifice made by the First God and his sons to themselves, that enabled them to bring Midgard forth out of the potential-filled chaos of Ginnungagap between the ice and the fire.
Elves, dark and light, mingle and interact with the Gods in various ways, at times hostile, and times friendly. They are lesser Gods of sorts, and humans give them a little something extra after they have sacrificed to the Gods.
Not all of the non-humans dwell outside Midgard: there are woods and meadows beautiful enough to attract Elves, and under some mineral-rich mountains dwell dwarves (it’s a long trip, but there are tunnels which lead across the ocean, under the sea floor). Sharing Midgard with humans are the seal-folk of the oceans, servants of the sea-Gods: and trolls, who are a small and usually rather ghastly-looking sub-race of Giants, some of which also dwell in the lands of the Dwarves and Dark Elves, and on the fringes of the land of the Frost Giants, who tend to look down upon their shrunken, misshapen, light-shunning kin.
Dwarves do not like the Gods, to whom they are but servants: short and ugly, dwellers in the earth from which they sprang, the Gods reward them for their unparalleled skill in magical craftsmanship, the creation of magical tools, but have never treated them as equals. Of late, Dwarves have grown closer to humanity – not just because they consider themselves to some extent the Godfathers of humanity (Dwarves helped shape the sacred Ash into which the Gods blew life), but because working together with humans has allowed for some serious upgrades of technique…
The main division in the World of Men is that between the lands which worship the Gods, Aesir and Vanir, and those which don’t. The *Viking nations include not just the isles of Vinland and Scandinavia, but most of what in our world would be Russia, the Baltic, and the Great European Plain from northern France to Poland, encompassing most of Germany, and they also hold the Straits of the Black Sea. The largest nations encompass roughly what in our world would be Russia (worshipping Odin, but speaking a largely Slavic lingo) and the more solidly Scandinavian Republic of Vinland, uniting the Seven Isles. The British Isles are German-speaking save for an Irish remnant.
North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, southern Italy, and the Arabian and Persian lands are inhabited by followers of a curious superstition (perhaps inspired by Loki) which claims that there is only one God: the most important nations are those of Al-Andalus, Egypt, and Persia. The lands of what in our world would be south France, northern Italy, the mountainous south of Germany and Switzerland, and the rocky Balkans are inhabited by followers of an even more bizarre religious heresy, unable to give a straight answer whether their God was singular or plural. These people had been slowly losing ground to “Islam” from the south and Vikings from the north, in spite of the savagery with which they fought from their mountain and hillside strongholds: the curious new era of “limited warfare” has given them a breathing space. The Vikings also have recently warred with *Islam in what would be central Asia (here, Greater Scythia) and by sea for control of the southern Islands and the uncomfortable but mineral-rich jungles of southern Africa, and struggle for influence in the peninsula of India, an odd place: the inhabitants know the Gods only vaguely, and worship them in strange and bizarre forms, neither the Aesir nor the Vanir making personal appearances often in that unpleasantly hot land, where strange demons seen nowhere else in the world often plague men.
The priests of Odin and the other Gods often inquire as to why they do not personally intervene to disabuse these various strange peoples of their odd beliefs: in fact the Gods prefer the situation as it is, since the continuing warfare has kept their worshippers in better shape for Ragnarok. If there were no followers of false Gods, their people would have to fight each other to maintain their fighting trim. (Indeed, the Gods have sometimes secretly intervened to keep their followers from winning too much).
It’s not like being unbelievers means they will go to hell: Odin really doesn’t give a rats ass whether people worship him or not (this does not hold for all Gods: Thor, for one, enjoys flattery), and the Valkyrie take the brave and honorable dead of battle from lands sandy and tropical and olive-growing as well as pine and oak-forested northern lands. (Admittedly, *Islamic and *Christian dead often take a little while to adjust, and in a few cases end up being sent to Niflheim for persistent pig-headedness and refusal to accept the situation).
The world is a bit different ecologically speaking as well as geographically. Magical trees are magical, and the world is generally greener than ours. There are bigger fish in the sea than in our world, including the Kraken (which fortunately rarely pays much attention to human shipping) and on land dragons and other such curious monsters are to be found (where they haven't been hunted to extinction, anyway.) At the command of the Gods, a few reservations have been set aside for surviving dragons, and others survive in the outlying parts of the world: on one island in the far north they actually coexist peacefully with humans, an unusual state of affairs the locals attribute to their joining forces long ago to vanquish one of the sons of Nidhogg the Gnawer. Most outsiders think said locals are full of it.
Of late things have been getting a bit…off.
There seems to be an increasing shortage of warriors: on the one hand, few reveled in the bloody slaughter of machine guns, gas, trenches and barbed wire that accompanied the last serious advances into Christian and Muslim territory, and there is increasing interest in a general accord between Viking and Muslim kingdoms to preserve the strip of Christian territory running from the Pyrenees to the mouth of the Danube as a buffer region, and to reach some sort of settlement on colonial territories and spheres of influence. On the other, the Viking peoples – always a folk at least as interested in trade as in brigandage – increasingly are working as engineers, scientists, shop-owners, businessmen, traders, and even (gulp) …accountants. (Well, the more sophisticated parts of the business. The duller stuff –say, taking inventory – is still mostly left to Christian Thralls). Sure, brave men still duel over matters of honor, but are satisfied with a scar or two, or a missing ear or nose at the most. High-lethality sports hardly make up for the reduction in warfare.
And then there are those machine guns.
Wars between nations Viking, *Christian, and *Islamic drove a technological arms race. Practical-minded and literate inhabitants of the Viking lands kept good records of any useful innovation. Although wars and raids were common enough between the Viking and *Islamic nations, they were far enough apart that there was also a considerable amount of peaceful trade and intellectual exchange: Islamic theoretical science passed north, Viking practical technological developments moved south. Although the world did not soon have a full scientific-industrial revolution, things proceeded incrementally for quite a while…
The Gods were a bit surprised when they first spotted men floating at great heights using hot-air balloons, but found it just an amusing trick. They were a bit annoyed by the smoke and stink made by new manufacturies, but their priests told them it was necessary to build things to fight the unbelievers (some of which, in the *Islamic lands, were developing technological tricks of their own), and humans got off with a warning (the first environmental movements in Midgard were divinely inspired). Steam locomotives were where it really began to get weird, and it didn’t help when the crafty Dwarves started travelling to Midgard to duplicate human techniques. (The Dwarves have built the longest train tunnel in the world. Over 5000 miles long).
In the end, the Gods had to contract out to the Dwarves and some human armory companies to get a large enough supply of artillery and magical bullets made to replace the magical swords most of the new influx of warriors simply didn’t know how to use anymore.
Television – the Gods knew how to do magic far-seeing mirrors or crystals and such, but the idea of passive mass entertainment somewhat baffles them. But it’s now in Asgard and Vanaheim to stay. Not just human TV, but also dwarf TV (rather dull and educational) and also Dark Elf TV (very disturbing stuff, especially the game shows). And not only are the Honored Dead spending too much time watching and not enough sparring, but they are getting weird ideas: Valhallah has seen the development of its first *football teams, and some of the Wise Men are trying to set up Valhallah’s own broadcast system. Odin tried banning TV in Asgard, but caused such a storm of protest that he was forced to rescind his judgment.
Mortals are now crossing the skies of Midgard faster than Thor’s chariot (no matter how powerful, goats aren’t very aerodynamic) and travelling beneath the seas in submersibles: cities are lit at night with electricity better than they are lit in Asgard with magic: common folk can now speak directly to people across the ocean without the use of dread magic (well, except the sacrifices made to the sea-Gods to keep the seafloor cables safe. Satellites aren’t practical in a flat world with a dome over it). Human engineers are working together with Dwarf craftsmen to combine electrical equipment and magic to create the first thinking machine. Chemists brew up poisons as deadly as the Midgard Serpent’s breath, while in the field of Blowing Things Up the latest fuel-air explosives can make bangs big enough to seriously chew up a God or a large Giant (a different set of laws of physics means nobody has come up with an atom bomb, but sages and scientists speculate on ways and means for reducing matter to the Primordial Ylem.)
Humans, many Gods feel, are getting above themselves. They descend to the sea-floor to take pictures and scrape samples off of the Midgard Serpent’s scales for study. They send rocket-carried cameras shooting across the lands of Fire and Ice so they can be mapped. Some Muslims actually tried to methodically map and explore the inter-dimensional branching of the world-tree, using gas on the Serpents, until the Gods put a halt to it (Ratatoskr the Red Squirrel is still inconsolable about his nuts, which were hit by a stray missile).
At least humans aren’t progressing very far with old-fashioned rune and spell-song magic or seid: the new techno-magic is too fascinating, and the God’s millennial propaganda effort to make wizards seem sort of gay has been pretty successful.
Educated priests, instead of asking whether the harvest will be a good one, ask about the spatial relationship between Midgard and Asgard, and whether the Gods have ever explored the Primal Void. Odin had to give up on the old “walking the world in the form of an ancient one-eyed man” shtick: he kept getting mobbed by the press. Nowadays, he generally goes around as a fat bald guy with dark glasses and a loud shirt. Attitudes have grown at times positively hostile: there is a multi-national lobby to have Hel shut down, and a great many people are suggesting humans might do a better job of running the world than the Gods can: meanwhile, bad attitudes are spreading to Valhalla as a new generation of dead comes in. Dead warriors and wise men and artists are now talking contracts and unions. Dead women are now picketing en masse outside Niflheim against unfairness to their insufficiently wise/brave/macho children and relatives.
Making examples of a few particularly rude blasphemers seems to have only hardened attitudes, and one radical group in Gardarika/*Russia nearly succeeded in killing a minor God with a faked summoning and several tons of high explosives. The group in question was hunted down and wiped out, but it has made a number of the Gods more nervous about making personal appearances on Earth. (Thor is a bit worried about the influence of modern technology on his sons, who take trips to the more desolate parts of Asgard or Vanaheim to set off large amounts of high explosives for fun).
The *Muslims are in some ways even worse: while the Vikings retain a certain reverence for their Gods, the southerners have reacted to increasing scientific proof that they inhabit a world in the form of Viking myth not by conversion en masse (although there have been some) but by turning to a harsh secularism (always easier in a world where there actually is an afterlife, however crappy) which holds the Gods are simply a variety of Giant and therefore a menace rather than something to be worshipped.
It’s not just Gods which have to worry: the Svearikan kingdom (Sweden-Finland, roughly) managed to repel a Jotun raid from the north sans divine aid, using heavy artillery and napalm.
(Trolls grow few in the human lands, blown to small bits by artillery, fried with incendiaries, etc. Some use magic to hide among humans, eating people only rarely and on the sly, keeping one step ahead of suspicious human wizards: others have sworn allegiance to human rulers as “special forces” of various kinds).
And now humans and dwarves are together developing new magic-tech weapons supposedly aimed at fighting giants and monsters – but they might well be applied to Gods, as well. Some of the Gods are now calling for a serious slap-down of mankind: devastate the world with flood and fire and lighting and plague and earthquake and dragons and giant zombie wolves and such, show mankind who is boss and stop all this poking around where they are not supposed to go and asking rude questions and building dangerous and unmanly gadgetry. Break up the world into many teeny warring kingdoms that will make men into old-fashioned warriors again.
Odin so far has refrained from a decision: there are other Gods who are opposed to such action, and not just Thor mans-friend. Aside from the worrying possibility that it might not work, as annoying and even alarming as the changes of the last few centuries in Midgard have been, for some of the Gods (and Goddesses) these transformations have the feel of something else…the feel of hope.
Of late, visitors to the three Elder Norns note that the younger two seem troubled: their weaving seems disturbed, and they often pause upon their labors as if uncertain and at times are even seen to argue. Only the oldest, Urdr, seems unperturbed as she spins the threads of men’s lives with a curious smile. The enchanted head of the giant Mimir has refused to answer any questions about the future of late. And of late Gods have peered, wondering, into the TV as a mortal announcer cheerfully noted that all the gas from coal burned by northerners and petroleum burned by southerners over the last couple centuries is retaining heat that would otherwise escape through the vault of heaven, and more than counteracting the slight dimming of late noted in the sun…
 There are many lesser Norns, of various races and kinds. It’s sort of a franchise dealie.
 With the notorious exception of that try-sexual (he’ll try anything) shape-shifter, Loki.