After slaying Ymir and the creating of the worlds from the body of the giant, Odin and their siblings, Villi and Ve set out to create their own little people, after the fashion of the elves of the Vanir on alfheim and the dwarves, born from the blood and bone of Ymir, given the gift of reason by the gods, and now residing on svartalfheim. The three siblings encountered two elm logs by the sea, and Villi set about carving one into a male shape and the other into a female shape, inspired by the appearance of the Aesir, and strong like the forest around them. Ve drew in spirit from the surrounds, wild like the seasons, and imbued the wooden carvings with it. Lastly, Odin breathed life into each. Their names were Ask and Embla, and they were the first humans.
Ask and Embla lived long, and had many children. In their old age, after many years of toil and hardship, their children still struggled to flourish. Nearing their death, Ask and Embla sought to help their children, and both parted with Odin’s breath of life, sending it to seek out their offspring to bring them luck. In his dying moment, Ask let his spirit back to his surroundings, and drew deep on the gifts of Villi so that this aspect could help all future humans flourish. Embla let go of her physical form, and embraced the gifts of Ve, so that all humans could be emboldened on the power of this aspect.
From then on, all men hold the body of Villi, and all women hold the spirit of Ve, as their personal power. Some, however, are born into a male body with the spirit of Ve, or a female body with the body of Villi, and, in these omnispirit humans, the life of Odin is said to find a way through to the humanity.
Because of this possibility, all Skylding children wait until their first coming of age ceremony before being given their gender, as this gives time to see within whom the life of Odin runs. Omnispirit Skyldings go by the gender title of the opposite sex: masculine females (born female, but identifying with the aspect of Villi) are called ‘son,’ and feminine males (born male, but identifying with the aspect of Ve) are called ‘daughter.’ As such, males can either be masculine or omnispirit (feminine male), and females can be either feminine or omnispirit (masculine female).
Omnispirit Skyldings are always considered ‘clean.’ In part, this is because the life of Odin runs in them. Furthermore, in the case of masculine females, they still bleed on the moon, thus ensuring unclean blood is removed from them. Usually masculine females still engage in sapping behaviour in any case, such as bleeding, crying, or sweating. Masculine females can and often do give birth. Feminine males do not bleed on the moon, but as it is the spirit of Ve within them, rather than the body of Villi, there is no ‘sap’ to cleanse.
Omnispirit humans are often offered food and shelter wherever they go, for their gift is the third key to humanity’s power. Omnispirit Skyldings have, throughout their life, a choice to hold a Disir bonding ceremony between themselves, the town, and Odin (though they do not necessarily take Odin as their spiritual path). When this is done it is to the exclusion of union or blood bonds with other Skyldings. While other Skyldings take union-bonds to increase their power, either by fortifying their genders aspect or combining both genders aspects, the whole of Skyldingheim offers those omnispirit who chose a Disir bond with this link, and through them receive the gifts of Odin in return. As such, Disir-bonded omnispirit Skyldings never take a union-bond. Likewise, while other Skyldings take blood-bonds to pass their power between them, Disir bonded omnispirit Skyldings hold that link with all Skyldingheim already. Only once in the history of the town has a Disir bonded omnispirit Skylding taken a blood-bond with a foreigner, and that act broke the bond she had with the town, and for this she was banished and her name intentionally forgotten. Omnispirit Skyldings can be mothers, if they are capable of giving birth, and can be guardians in Kinship bonds.
The Disir bond makes omnispirit Skyldings lucky and able to bestow the Breath of Odin onto others, which aids those on the brink of death.
Your real-world gender identity and real-world biological sex do not limit what you can play within the game.
All three genders are intended to be distinct from real-world genders, and have been constructed to provide a simple, playable, and (hopefully) interesting gender experience that differs from our real-world lives.
The use of a binary gender (feminine, masculine) is to strengthen the concepts, as a continuum of gender identity or several gender categories risks diluting the idea. This could make it easier for real-world gender dynamics to take a dominant position in the game, which undermines the whole point.
The use of a binary biological sex (female, male) is for simplicity, but if you would like to play an Intersex Skylding, you may do so either as masculine, feminine, or omnispirit, depending on how you would like your character to be Intersex and what story you would like to tell.
Our third gender, omnispirit, is constructed from the binaries of gender and sex, and is intended to be a different experience to our other two genders while still being a concept that is simple enough to be playable.
Some of our inspiration for these genders is drawn from real-world constructs of gender, usually from non-contemporary-western cultures, some of it is inspired by Norse mythology, and some is constructed entirely new.
We appreciate that contemporary western constructions of gender, including contemporary masculinity and femininity, contemporary beliefs about Norse masculinity and femininity, cis, trans, androgyny, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, and so forth offer interesting experiences and stories worth telling. However, this game is not intended to be a place for any of these gender constructs. As such, our uses of the terms ‘female,’ ‘male,’ ‘feminine,’ and ‘masculine,’ are similar to yet distinct from other uses of these terms.