The Land of the Giants was parceled out to Jotunkind when the first Aesir divided up the worlds. It is a land that is both forbidding and exhilarating, beautiful and dangerous. As is appropriate for Giant-Home, everything grows larger there. Trees are enormous, forests thick and towering, animals immense and fierce. Journeyers travel there for a variety of reasons, some useful and some foolish. Jotunheim was created to be a new homeland for the Jotnar, a place where fire-giants and frost-giants could come together. Both the Aesir and the Jotnar take credit for creating it, but it is clear that the early Jotnar designed and colonized it themselves. After some time, the Jotnar colonists seem to have evolved and acclimated themselves to the terrain, and the varying genetic strands of Jotunheim giants are different from either frost-thurse or fire-etin. As the Jotnar are shapechangers, it is not surprising that they could adapt so easily and produce adapted offspring.
Time and Seasons:
The day in Jotunheim is a little shorter than the day in Midgard, and sunset and sunrise happen more quickly. First the sky is light, and then the sun sinks abruptly beyond the horizon. The time of year when Jotunheim spins closest to our world is the fall equinox. Storms rage over Jotunheim on a regular basis; there is a great deal of rainfall, especially in the spring. While they are not usually as severe as the terrible storms of Niflheim, the place is infamous for its dramatic lightning, which nearly always sets some part of the forests afire. Between storms, the sky lightens and is fairly bright, but the thick forests block out a good deal of the light. The high mountains also block the horizon, so unless you are flying, Jotunheim can seem like one of the darkest worlds of all. This is one reason why mountaintop fortresses are prized; they get more light than anywhere else.
Imagine mountains the size of the Himalayas covered up to the treeline with trees the size of sequoias, and you get a good idea of what much of Jotunheim is like. There are warmer sections that could almost be called rain forest or jungle, and colder sections where snow falls for half the year. There are cities carved out of the greenery, and roads that run in a complicated network under the giant branches, and the occasional upland meadow, but most of Jotunheim is under thick primeval forest.
There are three major mountain chains in Jotunheim; one lies along the western coast, one (the famous Nidfjoll Mountains where Sindri, the dwarf-built Ragnarok-shelter, lies deep beneath) grows on the eastern side and turns northward through snow and ice nearly as cold as Niflheim, and one splits the world down the middle and stabs south like an arrow. The famous Iron Wood lies in the southernmost area of Jotunheim; there the trees are shorter and more twisted, with larger gaps between them. The clearings in the Iron Wood are the only parts of Jotunheim that could be termed lowland meadows, but no farming is done there due to the Iron Wood's overwhelming emanations of strange energy. The southeastern area of Jotunheim is hot and steamy, with rain forests and multiple small rivers.
The largest river in Jotunheim is the Elivagar, which is really a narrow stretch of salt-water ocean. It is the water/world barrier between the southernmost border of Jotunheim and the northern border of Midgard. The Big Snake lies offshore here, just out of sight. The north border of Jotunheim is the great Thund Thvitr, the second-largest river and the line between Jotunheim and Asgard. It is riddled with small fortresses and guard settlements, watching the Cold War line between the two worlds. Another famous river is the Slith, which has iron-grey waters that float with razor-sharp knives. It is the southern border of the Iron Wood, and the knives are a protection enchantment by the local inhabitants.
In the northwest corner, near to the Thund Thvitr, is the forest of Galgvid. The inhabitants in this area generally consist of Eggther the harper and his permanent guard encampment, set to watch the Asgard border for signs of invasion and/or weakness. Eggther is a cheery sort for an etin, and will gladly take in folk to his table, so long as they are not directly allied with the Aesir and they can sing new songs for him to learn. Eggther is the keeper of Volund's sword of revenge, but like the keepers of the other magic swords in the Nine Worlds, asking to see it is not only rude but fatally ill-advised. His assistant is Fjalar (not to be confused with the famous duergar of the same name), a giant whose favorite form is that of an enormous rooster. If there is an invasion, Fjalar's crow will be the battle cry.
Off the coast of the western sea, the coastline dissolves into a myriad of small islands, each of which is owned by a particular etin. These giants tend to have close relations with Aegir, and do a good deal of fishing (which is a harder act in Jotunheim than in other places, as the fishes tend to be huge and toothed). Furthest out lies the island of Allgron, a midway-trading-point between Vanaheim and Jotunheim. It is owned by the rich giant Fjolvar, who is famous for his enormous brothel of females from all parts of the Nine Worlds - etin-women, duergar-women, Vanir-women, mortal women from Midgard, and the occasional hapless Alfar-maiden. So far he has no Aesir employees, but he is always looking for talent.
The city of Utgard (which means, literally, the outland fortress) is the single biggest Jotun settlement in the Nine Worlds. If the halls of Asgard function as the Paris or Rome of the Nine Worlds, Utgard is the New York or Los Angeles - huge, sprawling, not always clean, a constant babble of interracial trade in the streets and fighting in the back alleys. It is the most "civilized" place in all the Jotun-controlled worlds, but that doesn't make it particularly safe.
The main area of Utgard is surrounded by a great stone wall, although there is a good deal of sprawling suburb outside of the wall. Once through the gates, the narrow, crowded, noisy roads slope upwards to the highest central point, where Utgard-Loki keeps his hall. To get in the gates, you will need coin or some kind of worthy trade good, of which you will be tithed a certain percent in order to enter. The gate fees are fickle and variable and almost certainly higher for strangers. If you come with nothing in your pockets, it will be assumed that you are a beggar and you will be turned away. Make sure that you have some kind of coin or other goods that you might sell. This is a change from the usual hospitality of the Nine Worlds, but if the warders of Utgard did not set limits, all the flotsam of the other worlds, not to mention the greedy of Jotunheim, would be preying on the streets of the city.
Inside, Utgard is crowded with markets where you can buy almost anything produced in the Nine Worlds. Vendors come in all sizes, shapes, and species. Taverns, inns, and brothels abound. There are yards where people can play competitive games with each other while the onlookers bet on them. (Don't get involved; there is usually a catch, such as the loser forfeiting everything they own.) Haggling is the rule, unlike our modern marketplaces, and the first named price of any item is likely to be ridiculously high, with the assumption that it will be argued down. There is no one coin of Utgard; any barter or coin is accepted at the discretion of the seller. You may want to do an anti-glamour spell on any item that looks too good to be true; it just might be.
The lord of Utgard is Utgard-Loki, a name he took to distinguish himself from Laufey's son. He is both warrior and sorcerer, and is a brilliant, canny leader who invokes deep respect from his people. He is known to be generous to visitors if he wants to impress them, or if they have something he wants from them; he is a faultless and courteous host, although he has been known to bait guests who seem too full of themselves. It is said that among all the great ones of Jotunkind, Utgard-Loki has never been seen to lose his temper. The kind of iron control behind that mask of flawless, regal politeness is awe-inspiring. He has mastered the ability to quell the most violent of drunken giants with his piercing gaze, and on the off chance that it doesn't work, he has a supremely competent, loyal, and well-organized cadre of city guards who can handle it for him.
The Guard of Utgard is an elite corps with a reputation similar to the Landsknechts of Renaissance Germany. Unlike most other Jotun warriors, they are actually drilled and trained with a great deal of precision. They patrol the roads outside of the city, rounding up troublemakers (which includes strange outlanders who might be up to no good) and keeping the trade routes safe for merchants. They also patrol the city itself, breaking up brawls and keeping the peace. Like all Jotun warrior bands, the Guard has both male and female soldiers, including some warrior-couples who are shieldmates. Care should be taken not to underestimate female Guardswomen as weaker, less skilled, less ruthless, or more likely to accept a sad story than their male compatriots.
While Utgard-Loki is nominally liegesworn to Thrym, the King of Jotunheim, he technically commands more power and respect than the King himself. Their relationship is reminiscent of that between the medieval Japanese emperor and the Shogun; one was the ceremonial wearer of the crown, and the other was the actual war leader who made most of the decisions. Thrym The Old, as he is called (or sometimes Thrym The Loud) is the tribal head of the Jotunheim frost-thurses, and has been the elected monarch of the realm since Jotunheim was first boundaried. He is a blustering, white-bearded frost-thurse who mostly amuses himself in his royal hall in the northernmost mountains, coming south only for ceremonial occasions. He dislikes noisy, crowded Utgard and is content to let Utgard-Loki handle most of the state decisions, as well as the defense of Jotunheim.
Probably one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Jotunheim is Mimir's well, which is found next to the second extruded root of the World Tree. The Tree's root extrudes from the ground like a vast earthwork, curling around to the southeast, and in the small valley made by its knotted bulk is the mouth of a cave. The well is just inside, and floating in it are a number of skulls and severed heads. Some are offerings that folk give to Mimir; some are trophies that he takes when folk fail to answer a bargain-question properly. The heads are a ward-off; many folk become frightened at the sight and leave, which is fine with Mimir.
Sometimes one of the heads will turn and speak, which means that Mimir has decided to make the first move. His head is old and wrinkled, with long white hair floating in the water like a cloak all around. More often, though, he will be underwater and you will have to call him up. Pouring good booze in the water is one way to start. Good offerings for him, before and afterwards, are alcohol and food with strong, sweet flavors that dissolves easily in water. While he gets no nourishment from it, he enjoys tasting it.
Mimir is one of the proto-etins, from the oldest generation of etins, and he is Odin's maternal uncle. At one time, he was the consort of the former Hel, the old Death Goddess who held the title before Loki's daughter claimed it. He is the god of underground waters, and like them his wisdom runs deep and hidden. He has a fairly direct line into the Library of the Akashic Records as well as a good relationship with the Norns, which is why people bother him with questions. He is also old, tired, capricious, embittered, and spiteful. Cranky doesn't even begin to cover it. Being a floating oracular head down a well is a lousy job, and several journeyers have noted with compassion that the kindest thing that could happen to Mimir is to be released into death. He might like you, in which case he might actually be cooperative, although possibly sarcastic and insulting. If he doesn't like you - and whether he takes to you or not seems to be less about you and your offerings and more about whether he's just in a bad mood that day - you might think about coming back another time.
If Mimir says that the only exchange for your question is for you to answer one of his, do not take him up on the challenge. First of all, there is no way that you can beat him at this game. He will always come up with something you don't know. He's especially good at finding things that you ought to know but don't, so that you are groaning and slapping your forehead and feeling stupid in the moments before you die. That's right...the price for losing is beheading. Don't think that because he is a severed head down a well that he can't kill you. Floating blades will fall from the ceiling or fly from the walls before you can even turn around. Take those rotting, bloated skulls seriously. If he is in a bloodthirsty mood, apologize for disturbing him, leave your offering to perhaps sweeten his disposition towards you at a later time, and come back another time. (Remember that even Odin had to extract one of his own eyes to get some of Mimir's wisdom. This is not a god to be taken lightly.)
Even if he does answer your question, keep in mind that he may make it deliberately cryptic, or leave out important information that may trip you up if you act on it. He will not, however, lie. Mimir never lies. The truth is his weapon, to manipulate and strike with. If he offers to tell you the most likely date of your own death, I strongly suggest that you decline. While it may be tempting to know, the next temptation will be to attempt to stave it off, and that gets into messing with the strands of Wyrd and into the work of the Norns, and can often just dig you deeper into the hole. Besides, it wastes your question, and he may not be inclined to answer any others.
Another often-sought place in Jotunheim is Gastropnir. This is the castle of Mengloth, the famed Healer of Jotunheim. It lies in the westernmost part of Jotunheim, near the shore of the Vanaheim Ocean, and is perched on the peak of Lyfjaberg Mountain. Lyfjaberg is easily visible from both the shore and from the mountain chain surrounding Utgard; it is the tallest mountain in the western chain. There is a twisting road that circles the mountain, but it filled with hazards. The castle itself is said to have been carved from the bones of the giant Leirbrimir; the local story, however, is the Leirbrimir was a mountain Jotun who turned himself into part of the mountainside and stayed that way, and the jutting cliff that had been his body formed the foundation for the castle.
The front gate is enormous, of wrought iron shaped like twining vines, nicknamed Clanging Thrymgjol. It was supposedly forged by the three sons of the dwarf Solblindi. Two hounds, Gif and Geri, are constantly on watch outside and will not let anyone through. Attempting to bribe them with food will not work, as they are trained to deal with that: one will eat the food while the other watches. (It is quite likely that they are not ordinary hounds at all, but shapeshifted Jotnar.)
The gatekeeper, and general majordomo, of the place is Fjolsvid. He is a fairly large and intimidating-looking giant, but in actuality he is rather loquacious and enjoys chatting with passersby. His willingness to gossip, however, does not mean that he will be willing to let just anyone through. It is best to send a message to Mengloth first, asking to visit. She is the best-known healer among all Jotunkind, especially for women's complaints. Folk of all races come to her to study, including Eir the healer of Asgard who is her colleague. While she is most sought after for healing, she values her privacy and does not consider herself a public utility. If you seek her out for healing or for study, be prepared to pay for it, and you had better be serious on either count. Her fortress is not called "Guest-crusher" for nothing.
Mengloth is married to a mortal man named Svipdag (not to be confused with the Svipdag who is a long-dead husband of Freya) who may be from Midgard, or even long ago from this world. He is often out hunting among the Jotun, who consider him one of them. Mengloth's six handmaidens are named Hlifthrasa (Help-breather); Thjodvara (Folk-Guardian); Bjort (Shining); Bleik (White); the twin sisters Blid (Mild) and Frid (Pretty) who are actually Vanir and younger sisters or cousins of Freya; Aurboda (Gold-Giver) who is the mother of Gerda, Frey's wife. A handmaiden named Eir is also listed; there is some argument as to whether this is the same Eir, goddess of healing, who serves Frigga. While I have not met Mengloth's Eir, being as the name is loosely translated as "healing", it could simply be another Eir. It could also be that Frigga's Eir herself comes to visit and trade learning; from my dealings with both of them, it is clear to me that they are colleagues at the least, and likely friends.
If you should get inside Gastropnir, you will see many halls around a courtyard that is open to the sky. One of them seems to be made of flame, or moving lava; the walls flicker as you look at it. This is Lyr, the Hall of Heat, a hall built specially for Sinmora the Lady of Muspellheim, who enjoys visiting Mengloth, by her godson Loki and a team of hired duergar-craftsmen. Avoid going inside, as it is extremely hot in there; the floor is of burnished gold that is almost molten in places. Lyr is sometimes used for heating patients with chills, or water is poured on the floor and it becomes a purifying sauna. It is also the keeping-place for Surt and Sinmora's flaming sword/wand Laevatein, which is the source of all the heat. Laevatein was forged by Loki as a gift for his godparents, and it is kept in a bowl-shaped iron box sealed with nine locks. Don't get any ideas about stealing it, as no one without serious amounts of fire-giant blood could even touch it, and anyway the warders of Gastropnir keep an eagle's eye on it while outsiders are about.
Many folk who don't journey, and whose only view into the Nine Worlds is through the clouded lens of lore, have claimed that Mengloth isn't really a person unto herself but is actually a "heiti" or ritual name of either Frigga or Freya. Since I have had some dealings with all three of those ladies, I can assure you that Mengloth is indeed her own person, a tall Jotun-woman who loves jewelry and is usually draped in strings of beads, many of which seem to be healing amulets. She is noted to be exceptionally good with women's physical complaints, although she will take on any sort of healing problem if she decides that you are worth it.
For offerings, remember that Mengloth loves jewelry, especially jewelry that she can't get herself from her own area. She has access to the mines of Jotunheim, so she naturally gets a good deal of crystals and polished stone, but items like shell beads, unusual stones, or cut gems would be much more difficult for her to come by. Linen for bandages is also prized by her; all linen in the Nine Worlds is farmed in Vanaheim and must be imported.
On top of a mountain in the northeastern chain is Thrymheim, the royal court of Jotunheim. Thrym is a frost-thurse, born in Niflheim, who was elected High King and Chieftain of all Giantkind. His duties are largely ceremonial, although he is called upon to mediate disputes between tribal leaders, and make decisions on problems that they might find too large or impactful to handle themselves. (What decisions Utgard-Loki or Surt wouldn't choose to handle themselves, I can't imagine, although I suppose there might be some.) Getting to Thrymheim takes some doing, as the passes are often frozen with many feet of snow. Native guides are good here; it's not too hard to find a giant who is willing to visit Thrym's table and drink his beer.
Thrym the Old is a jovial, white-bearded giant with a generous table who throws fine parties. The best offering to give at his table is that of entertainment - songs, stories, juggling, etc. In fact, if you announce at the door that you have entertainment to share, you will likely be let in immediately. Remember that the best songs and stories are ones that they likely wouldn't have heard, but that would be understandable to them and their culture, and choose your repertoire carefully. Laugh at Thrym's jokes, smile and nod when he tells war stories, don't talk politics, and don't get drunk and say things you'll regret. If Thrym or any other Jotun there challenges you to a drinking contest, turn them down with good humor, perhaps saying modestly that you are a lightweight and could never win against their obvious prowess. Which, frankly, is likely to be completely true.
Keep in mind, however, that under his jovial manner Thrym is much colder and more hard-hearted than you might think. He hates the Aesir with a passion, and if you are sworn to them, you'd better not talk about it. Avoid the subject, and don't challenge him on it. Even if he knows that you wear a Thor's hammer about your neck, he'll let you in if you are entertaining, but leave your politics at the door and talk about neutral subjects. This is another reason not to get drunk while visiting.
The beer brewed at Thrymheim, by the way, is some of the best around, and is extremely strong for beer. Its recipe was started by Olvalde, a giant whose name means "Ale-Emperor", and was continued by his sons Thjatsi (the infamous giant who kidnapped Iduna, was killed by Thor, and whose daughter is Skadi), Gang, and Ide. The latter two brothers are still alive and brewing. Be careful when you drink it; it tends to give mortals a terrible hangover.
Another giant-figure who often lives at Thrym's court (although she has a modest hall slightly to the north of it) is Thorgerdr. While she passes as a frost-giantess in Jotunheim - she can throw wind and rain and hail with the best of them, and often does - she is actually Finnish in origin and spends part of the year in Lapland with the Saami. Somewhere along the line she started spending time in Scandinavia, and got inducted into this pantheon as a patron deity of Halogaland in north Norway. Unlike a giantess, her age waxes and wanes from sturdy maiden to iron-grey-haired matron throughout the year.
Jarnvidur (The Iron Wood)
The strangest place in all Jotunheim is the Iron Wood. While it looks physically like any thick forest, it is a swirling sinkhole of magical energy, almost radioactive in its behavior. Anyone born in the Iron Wood is likely to have both strong magical/spiritual power or great deformities, or both. Most of the major Jotun deities were born there - Hela, Fenris, Jormundgand.
Their mother is Angrboda, the Hag of the Iron Wood. The term Hag should be read as similar to Hagia - wise woman. She is the chieftess of the Wolf Clan, the seer of the Nine Clans of the Iron Wood, the Chief of Chiefs, and the single most respected person who lives there. While each of the Nine Clans has its own chieftain, all defer to her in matters of outside policy. A tall, tough, skin-clad, red-haired giantess with a temper, she must be approached with respect. She has great although erratic powers of foresight, and is not easy to fool. She will prophesy for people, but she demands a high and often uncomfortable price.
Angrboda's hall has a stang a little ways in front of it, although it's not a place to come through unless you are sure you have an appointment. Her hall is hung with bones and skulls, and the door is guarded by two great wolves. Other members of Angrboda's household include her younger sister Glut ("Glow") and Glut's two daughters, Eisa ("Ember") and Einmyria ("Ashes"). Angrboda sent Loki to her sister's bed as a birthday gift, and both daughters are his, and thus her nieces, goddaughters, and stepdaughters at once.
One of the chiefs of the Iron Wood clans is Farbauti the Cruel-Striker, a very tall giant whose skill is with wielding the lightning. He is Loki's father, although for personal reasons Loki chose not to take his name and is referred to only as Laufey's Son. (See the tale of Laufey's Son in the section on Jotun Legends.) Farbauti leads the Lightning Clan, who are mostly fire-giant descendants. The other seven clans are discussed in the separate chapter on the Nine Clans.
Jotnar of the Iron Wood are a strange-looking lot. Although all Jotunkind are skilled shapeshifters, the Iron Wood clans often spend so much time in animal or half-animal form that it is sometimes known as the Wood of Werewolves. Iron Wood Jotnar are shorter than other varieties, not much more than large-human size and sometimes shorter (with exceptions, like the nine-foot Farbauti). Many are deformed, or hairy and pelted, or hermaphroditic in some way, or horned and hooved, or just strange-looking in some odd way. Keep in mind that in the Iron Wood, to be strange-looking physically is not a bad thing. The effects of the magical radioactivity is such that the Jarnvidur folk have had to develop a culture where there is no concept of the "right" or "wrong" way for bodies to be, so long as one's malformities are not life- threatening or prevent one from functioning or enjoying life. Iron Wood Jotnar are raised to compensate for each others' physical differences and difficulties - a dwarfed troll will be put on the shoulders of a tall giant to see properly at a moot; someone with long legs will automatically look to carry someone with short legs if running is necessary; the weak of body are defended (especially since those who are weaker of body are very often stronger of magical powers) and the standard of beauty tends to be more about personal charisma than physical shape.
The Iron Wood folk are also well aware that those outside their wood do not share this cultural blindness to a physical ideal. Part of their tribal pride manifests itself in a form of hazing, wherein bizarrely-shaped trolls and weres may get close to you, and see how you react. If you are clearly made visibly uncomfortable by their shape, they will lose respect for you. To accept them without comment, flinch, or other negative reaction will gain points, and they may accept you as a friend. Once you've made positive contact, the Iron Wood can be a good space for people who don't carry socially acceptable shapes themselves to hang out. Once they accept you, they do so without any judgment as to your body; you are simply shaped the way that you are shaped, and that's just you. There are many healers in the Iron Wood who specialize in helping the kind of deformities associated with Iron Wood bloodlines, including those in humans.
Meat is an acceptable offering for anyone you meet in the Iron Wood. They are also very fond of sweets, as they don't get much of that. If you bring them drink, don't bother with mead or beer; like the folk of Utgard, when they want to drink, they want the hard stuff. Strongly flavored liqueurs are your best bet. Small toys, strangely enough, are highly valued, especially if they are figures of bizarrely-shaped creatures.
Cannibalism is strong in the Iron Wood - not that it is missing anywhere else among Jotunkind - and that goes especially for funerary cannibalism. It is not unusual for a troll who has fallen in battle to expect that he will be cooked and eaten by his kin, who by doing so return his body to his clan, where it belongs. Older etins are stewed up in giant cauldrons to soften the meat, and cooked with savory herbs. If an Iron Wood etin is burned or buried, it means that they died of illness. To be invited to a funeral feast is an honor. If you can't stomach it, find an extremely polite and very solid excuse.
In the mountains above the Iron Wood, you will find a turreted stone cottage that belongs to Laufey, the mother of Loki and the sometime wife of Farbauti, Chief of the Lightning Clan. She lives by herself due to various disagreements with her husband, although he visits her often. Her three sons are all wanderers - Helblindi the sea-giant who prefers the ocean islands, including the one from whence his mother came; Byleistr the storm-giant who attends intermittently on Thrym, and of course the infamous Loki. Any of them might be dropping in at any time, as they are all fond of their mother, and her cottage is really the only place that they might call home.
Laufey is slight, lovely, and very motherly. She is a tree-goddess, with a great affinity for the smaller understory trees. Visiting her home, if she is welcoming, will likely get you fed some soup and gently told some edifying tales. She is generally all right with visitors if they bring a gift and check first before coming. Planting trees in our world is always an appropriate offering for her.
High on a mountain in the western range is Gymir's fortress. He is Gerda's father, and the husband of Aurboda, handmaid of Mengloth. He does not see visitors unless he has invited them there himself, so don't bother.
The two Jotun sisters Fenja and Menja created a mill named "Grotte" that puts out gold dust when turned. The problem with this mill is that it requires living, screaming bodies to go in one end and be turned into gold. They live in a thatched hut on the western beaches covered in gold dust. Many a traveler has attempted to steal the mill, or the piles of gold dust that they export (the roof of Gladsheim is covered in their dust), and come to a bad end. Really, it's just a trap for greed. Don't go there.
Deep in the northern mountains of Jotunheim lies the cave of the giantess Hyndla. At one time she lived in Svartalfheim and guarded the mead of poetry for Ivaldi, king of the Duergar, but Odin seduced her and stole the mead, and Hyndla retired to a cave in the northern mountains. She spends most of her time sleeping, or what looks like sleeping to some folk; actually, she is "faring forth", sending her mind out where her body cannot go. Her cave is guarded by a band of loyal etins, who will not see her disturbed when she is unconscious, so seeing her is only possible during the short periods when she wakes up to eat and walk about a little.
Hyndla is small for a giantess - not more than human size - and wizened and old, with long silver-grey hair that drapes on the ground around her. She is pale from almost never leaving her cave, and walks with a stick. Her apparent frailty makes her guards all the more protective of her. She is a mistress of bloodlines; ancestry is her specialty, and it is rumored that she spends her astral-travel time walking up and down the bloodlines of many races. The Gods consult her when they want to know something about how someone is related to someone else, or for advice on their various human breeding experiments. Non-gods consult her about discovering unknown ancestors, tracing genetic disorders, or asking about future children. She is generally friendly, but can be cantankerous if she has just awoken. Flirting with her will usually soften her, but be prepared to go through with it if she decides to take you up on it; for all that she is old and wrinkled, she is also lusty.
Jotunheim is mostly forested, and the plant life is lush and rich and highly varied. In the lowlands, there are miles of wetlands and swamp, and some moors, giving way to rainforests and peat bogs. In the highlands (which is most of the world) the giant trees finally give way to scrub and snow at the mountaintops. Evergreens have been found that are so large that an entire fortress could be carved out inside them. In fact, the most common form of poorest-class peasant home is a space hacked into the base of a living tree, usually one so large that the hollow hardly bothers it. Most of the food-gathering is done in the forest understories, where the locals are experts on how to find fruit and nuts the size of a human head, as well as edible tree bark, blossoms, and roots.
Jotunheim is the richest world of the Nine for the sheer number and diversity of the animals present. Here, the Ice Age megafauna still live, although they have died out in our world. Cave bears, cave lions, sabertooth tigers, hyenadons, dire wolves, mammoths and mastodons, and enormous crocodilians are just some of the predators hunted by the etins, even as they hunt other prey themselves. (You will also find the megafauna as totems used by the Jotunheim tribes.) The one thing you won't find is any kind of primate; there are no monkeys swinging through the foliage. There are, however, many other sorts of small scurrying prey animal.
Insects can be fierce in the wetter, swampier areas, and many of them are poisonous. The Jotnar shift shape to keep them off, and it may not occur to a Jotun guide that you may be vulnerable to them. Make sure that you ask about it before setting out on a trip. There are also poisonous snakes to worry about. In the colder evergreen forests, your biggest problem will be tripping over tangled tree roots and crashing through thorny thickets while being chased by large predators. Either come ready to shapeshift into something fast, or bring Jotun guides and helpers. Make sure that you pay them well.
For more information on Jotunkind in general, see the chapter on the Jotnar as a species and their general habits. Jotunheim has the widest variety of Jotnar - actually, the widest variety of intelligent creatures - of any world of the Nine. The malleable, shapeshifting nature of the etins has created a wide array of characteristics, and representatives of each of them live in various places. Intermarriage is rife; there are no taboos against one sort of etin marrying another sort of etin, and in fact bringing new bloodlines to a tribe is considered a good thing, so etins often "go wandering" when the urge to settle down with a mate seizes them. Throwbacks are common, and wide variations can occur even among siblings. An example is the marriage of Farbauti and Laufey; he is mostly of fire-giant blood with the Iron Wood taint, and she is a mix of fire-giant, earth-giant, sea-giant, and frost-giant (and yes, a mix like this is not uncommon in Jotunheim). Their three children consist of Loki, who is clearly fiery and carries the Iron Wood blood; Helblindi who takes after his sea-giant relatives, and Byleistr who is a frost-giant throwback. As a race, the etins of Jotunheim are vigorous, hardy, and wonderfully diverse.
Most of Jotunheim still works on a gatherer rather than an agricultural economy, as the terrain is unsuited to plowing and planting. On the other hand, Jotnar are experts at arboriculture, and have bred and selected trees that will bear substitutes for almost anything that can be field- grown. Orcharding and tree-culture is one of the few food-producing areas where they shine, and even the Vanir admit to having learned this art from them. Over seventy varieties of nut trees produce nuts up to the size of a giant's hand, in many different flavors, which are ground for flour. Tree fruits and berries provide a large portion of the diet, and certain trees are grown simply for the young leaves and shoots from root-suckers, blanched and tender from growing in the understories. The inner barks of some trees provide spices, and there are even a number of specially-bred parasitic herbs that will attach themselves to tree-limbs, creating an aerial herb garden. The "white herbs" of the forest floor, blanched from lack of sunlight, are especially valued for medicinal purposes.
The ideal forest etin-bride's home is carved out of an enormous tree, hundreds of feet up in the canopy so that sunlight can come in through the eave windows, with fruit and nut trees trained up beside it so that their bounty is within reach, and aerial herb and flower gardens implanted on the huge branches. A spiral staircase may twine around the trunk to the forest floor, or a particularly paranoid etin-woman may forgo the staircase and simply have a rope ladder that can be let down or pulled up as she chooses.
Jotunfolk of the few open areas live in stone-hut villages with thatched twig roofs, usually centered around a central hill where the bones of the seasonal sacrifices are hung from poles. Mammoth-tusks and the huge bones of the megafauna are commonly seen pressed into use as beams, rafters, and furniture.
If you see a house built entirely of bones, it is likely to be the local hedge-witch or wise- woman. There are many such in Jotunheim, some more or less locally famous, but they do not exist to teach you whatever they know. This is something that many travellers need to understand before they get themselves in trouble. If a wise etin wishes to tutor you in something, they will approach you, or let you know that you have an appointment with them. While the idea of going on a quest to seek them out seems romantic, that's not the way they work. Some folk have managed to get themselves astrally killed and eaten by such naive and demanding behavior. This is not a peaceful and easy world, and its inhabitants are neither. Be careful and courteous, and be ready to take no for an answer.
If you offer food to the Jotnar of Jotunheim, make it hearty food with a high meat content and no niggling portions. They do appreciate herbs and flavorings, but light gourmet food is little more than an aperitif for them. Food that they won't usually get due to its rarity in their area may be especially appreciated; tropical fruits are popular. If you give them drink, make it strong drink - Jack Daniels goes over well in most places, as does schnapps. If you give them gold or silver, it should be in the form of jewelry rather than coin; save the coin for the Duergar. Fine cloth and pretty ornaments can work in Utgard, but everything should be sturdy as well as beautiful; save the fragile, delicate toys for the Alfar. Good hand tools are an excellent gift for the lord of a hall, but with the emphasis on "good", not cheaply made. The ideal gift is to actually slaughter a live food animal for them at the beginning of your visit, but most people will not have access to this, of course.