Fossegrim
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Basic Information

A fossegrim (also called a grim or strömkarlen) is a musically-gifted water spirit from Scandinavian folklore. They play stringed instruments exceptionally well, including the fiddle, violin, hardanger fiddle, and harp. They can be persuaded to teach their musical arts to humans, if you make a proper sacrifice of goat or mutton near a waterfall on a Thursday. (Bonus points if the meat is stolen.) To teach you the skill, the fossegrim will rub your hand across the stringed instrument until you bleed, after which your playing will be so amazing that even trees who hear it will start to dance.

Myllarguten and Ole Bull, two of the greatest Scandinavian musicians of the 19th Century were said to have learned their craft by the hand of the fossegrim.

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Game and Story Use

  • There's so much to riff on here. All that classic "the Devil went down to Georgia (G√§vleborg?)", and Robert Johnson/deal with the devil stuff, brought to you by detour at the edges of Norse mythology.
  • It loves the stolen meat, and demands your blood in payment. The blood sacrifice suggests it may be some sort of vampire, but it also lives in running water, which is a very un-vampiric habitat. Not that I'm saying it is a vampire, or undead of any sort, just that your players may jump to such a conclusion when they're first finding out the facts about a particular fossegrim, and that might be a useful red herring. Regardless, it's a delightfully creepy set of contradictions that should make for a memorable character.
  • The whole stolen sheep-meat at a waterfall on Thor's day is an interesting bit of ritual magic, if you needed to animate a tree for some reason.
    • Seems sufficiently weird to be right at home in an Unknown Armies campaign.
  • I wonder if it might even steal other people's musical talent and infuse their skill or experience into the wounds it makes in your hands? That could have a neat twilight zone twist to it.
    • It might also have unique implications about the Fossegrim's powers - what skills or talents might you develop (or have inflicted upon you) if they cut you on some other part of your body, or cut you with something other than the strings of a musical instrument?
  • The band's bassist is amazing, even though he never practices. In fact, he spends nearly all his time in the shower, even when we're on tour.
    • Could just be an interesting bit of backstory for how the party's bard learned their skills before the campaign started.
  • Of course, if trolls are anything like southern European fae, it would suck to get the Fossegrim's creative sterility alongside it's talent: all that skill and you can only play covers (either that or team up with someone who can't play for crap but writes really well…).
  • A "Pied Piper" situation, where someone plays music that lures the local forest (or worse, all the farm crops) away from the community. To save the village, the PCs have to find a friendly fossegrim who can teach them the same trick.
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