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Trudvang Chronicles RPG: An Interview with Theodore Bergquist

Trudvang Chronicles RPG: Game Master Guide (Image: Riotminds)

Trudvang Chronicles RPG: Game Master Guide (Image: Riotminds)

Finally, the printed Trudvang Chronicles RPG is coming in English!

About one year ago, I backed on Kickstarter The Fabulous Art of Trudvang – a gorgeous and inspiring fantasy artbook with images by Paul Bonner, Alvaro Tapia, Justin Sweet, Jonas Vallentin and Niklas Brandt (among others).

I contacted Riotminds, the project creators, during the Kickstarter campaign for an interview. After some mails we decided to postpone it. The artbook contains beside fantastic illustrations some tidbits of information about the setting. I really like what I saw and read.

A few days ago, they launched their Kickstarter for the printed Trudvang Chronicles RPG and I backed it without any hesitation. Since the fine The Fabulous Art of Trudvang I want to know more about the Trudvang Chronicles RPG. After pledging on Kickstarter, I asked Theodore Bergquist, one the founders of Riotminds, for an interview again. I hope you enjoy his answers.

What are the major aspects of the Trudvang Chronicles RPG? Please give us an elevator pitch of the system and the setting.
It’s Nordic fantasy at it’s best. Norse and celtic myths in a dark mood is something different than what’s out there today. The artwork is ”some of the best artwork I’ve ever seen in a roleplaying game” to quote Angus Abranson writing for ENworld. How the art sync with the story and rules is something we’re very proud of. With inspirational sources like Beowulf, Kalevala, John Bauer and the old Norse sagas, it’s something that can’t go wrong!

You describe your game “as a skill-based BRP-clone” (BRP = Basic Role-Playing Game, Call of Cthulhu, Runequest, etc.). What makes the Trudvang Chronicles RPG system-wise unique?
Wow, that’s a broad question. I’d say how the rule system is linked to the setting is one thing. Combat is pretty unique with ”dynamic” capacity whereas the player decide from round to round how many attacks, parries, move etc, is drawn from a pool of Capacity Points. Damages can be “open-ended” (if you roll 10, roll again) which mean that even the smallest guy can defeat the biggest troll.

Drakar och Demoner Trudvang (Image: Riotminds)

Drakar och Demoner Trudvang (Image: Riotminds)

Also what’s quite unique is how we handle religion and faith. Each race and even humans have their own gods and powers, it’s not a generic system for all races. Magic is more down to earth, more shaman-like with different kind of styles to weave magic (singing, chanting, stave-magic, etc.).

The Fabulous Art of Trudvang (Image: Riotminds)

The Fabulous Art of Trudvang (Image: Riotminds)

How would you describe a typical Trudvang Chronicles “adventure group” and what makes them interesting? Which cool classes, races, powers, etc. can players expect?
A typical group would be pretty much the same as in all RPGs (a warrior, a mage, a bard, a thief), but what really differs is the context they play in. This game is far from dungeon-crawl and endless search for more treasures, it’s more about taking part of something bigger, a saga. The main villain might not be that big green dragon, it may as well be the evil forest, or the icy plains. Nature and spirits of nature play an important role in the setting. At the same time, not all sagas are big, some are just short and mysterious.

Races and classes are also pretty much same as in any other game, but what makes them different is the depth and the story behind. How a dwarf is born, why the dark elves are dark, why the Stormlanders shave their head, that kind of stuff. The stories behind are the cool stuff I’d say. It gives each character more meat on the bone than just “+5 on this, or that”, or “this cool power for this”.

The Fabulous Art of Trudvang: Giants (Image: Riotminds)

The Fabulous Art of Trudvang: Giants (Image: Riotminds)

Trudvang Chronicles RPG is based on Norse and Celtic myths and sagas. How does this affect the game? What are stories that players will tell? Which kind of threats will they likely have to oppose?
It affects the mood of the game. This is a grim and dark saga, just like the old Norse and Celtic sagas. The ”otherworld” is always present, it’s always there reaching out for the players, drag them into the mist – kind of feeling. Also, the Bestiary is pretty unique Scandinavian I’d say. We include monsters never seen before in fantasy games, and they got a story too.

It’s more than playing a game, it’s like taking part of a saga.

Götterdämmerung (Image: Riotminds)

Götterdämmerung (Image: Riotminds)

Who or what is Riot Minds?
We’re a bunch of people who started 16 years ago with the ambition to create good quality games for the Swedish market. We’ve produced numerous of games and books, both for Trudvang but also for Götterdämmerung (an 18th century, mystery game) and a local game called Drakar och Demoner. The founders are Magnus Malmberg and myself (Theodore Bergqvist). I’ve spend 12 years in the PC gaming business founding Paradox Interactive and Gamersgate, but that’s all history now.

After the Kickstarter, what kind of further development can fans expect? Any other projects you want to share?
Yes, aside from expanding Trudvang Chronicles with world setting books and campaigns, we plan to release a Kickstarter campaign for Götterdämmerung. It’s an 18th century dark mystery/horror game with secret societies, occultism, faith against science kind of game. It was hailed as “The game of the year” in Sweden when it was released. We’re so looking forward to this one. It’s build on the same rule system as Trudvang and thus the setting and rules are very much connected. Most likely to launch that campaign beginning of 2017, but may be earlier. News on our FB-page.

Why do you think fans should support the Kickstarter for Trudvang Chronicles RPG right now?
Well, if you like Nordic and Celtic fantasy, the artwork from Paul Bonner and Alvaro Tapia, 6 books, one map, one adventure and more for $ 70, it’s a pretty solid package. This is an award winning game and I think people will say ”hey, that’s truly something I have not seen before.” Quality and hand-craft is exceptional, if I may say.

Trudvang Chronicles RPG (Image: Riotminds)

Trudvang Chronicles RPG (Image: Riotminds)

Finally, how do you explain the international success of so many Swedish games (KULT, Mutant: Year Zero / Genlab, Coriolis, Mutant Chronicles, Symbaroum)? Please tell us more about Swedish roleplaying scene.
I guess the no 1 thing is that role playing games was really big in Sweden in the 80´, and I mean really big. It’s always been there since then. When we released the first version of Trudvang 16 years ago we set a new standard with high quality books and everyone could see it was doable. Kult is a story of itself I think. It was big outside Sweden even back then. If you haven’t checked out Symbaroum, it’s also pretty cool. Love the art-work! Or just wait for Götterdämmerung!

Götterdämmerung RPG (Image: Riotminds)

Götterdämmerung RPG (Image: Riotminds)

Thank you, anything else you want to add?
I want to thank all our backers. They are our gods! They made a dream come through! Thanks for your support!

You can support the Trudvang Chronicles RPG project until 2. Okt 2016 on Kickstarter. I did …

Disclaimer: This is – not – a paid advertisement. I have neither a personal relationship to Riotminds nor to the Trudvang Chronicles RPG team. When they launched their Kickstarter for the Trudvang Chronicles RPG, I backed it without hesitation.

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Night’s Black Agents Dracula Dossier: Play it again, Ken Hite

Night's Black Agents: Cover idea (Image: Pelgrane Press)

Night’s Black Agents: Cover idea (Image: Pelgrane Press)

Ken Hite, Autor von Night’s Black Agents und The Dracula Dossier, war wieder einmal Gast beim The One Shot Podcast. Gemeinsam setzten sie ihren Kampf gegen Dracula in drei weiteren Episoden fort.

  1. 155. Dracula Dossier 2 Part 1
  2. 156. Dracula Dossier 2 Part 2
  3. 157. Dracula Dossier 2 Part 3

Seit dem Erscheinen von Night’s Black Agents liebäugele ich mit einer Kampagne oder mit ein paar lose zusammenhängenden Abenteuern irgendwo zwischen Ronin, Heat, Jason Bourne, Ultraviolet (Serie!) und John Carpenters Vampires.

Mein Interview mit Ken Hite bestätige mein Interesse gegenüber The Dracula Dossier. Das Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook gewann letzthin – überraschenderweise – die Ennie Awards in der Kategorie Product of the Year und verwies selbst Curse of Strahd (aka Ravenloft Remastered, D&D 5E) auf die Plätze. Nicht schlecht für einen Kleinverlag wie Pelgrane Press, finde ich.

Night's Black Agents: The Dubai Reckoning (Image: Pelgrane Press)

Night’s Black Agents: The Dubai Reckoning (Image: Pelgrane Press)

Auch wenn meine Testrunde wirklich ganz großartig war – in my opinion: players matter (more than the system), werde ich nicht richtig warm mit Robin D. Laws GUMSHOE. Das Spielsystem von Night’s Black Agents (Trail of Cthulhu, etc.) ist mir aufgrund der ganzen Buchhalterei etwas zu fummelig. Sicher kann jeder sein Rollenspiel anders angehen als die Entwickler, aber auch die besagten drei Folgen des Podcasts veranschaulichen in meinen Augen ziemlich deutlich, wie sich das Spielsystem immer wieder in den Vordergrund schiebt. Hier ein Spent, dort ein Spent – bei den Legend of the 5 Rings-Abenteuern von den gleichen Podcastern tritt das Number Crunching angenehmerweise mehr in den Hintergrund.

Für Night’s Black Agents gibt es das Abenteuer The Dubai Reckoning (25 Seiten), das keinen direkten Bezug zum Obervampir aufweist und eher wie ein High-Tech-Thriller daherkommt. Meine aktuellen Überlegungen gehen in Richtung Delta Green. Die an Basic Roleplaying erinnernden Regeln wirken überschaubar und flüssig spielbar. Ein Versuch wäre es wohl wert …

Gut möglich, dass nach Symbaroum ein Mashup aus Delta Green und Night’s Black Agents auf unserem Spieltisch landet. Happy sinister gaming.

Quellen: The One Shot Podcast, Pelgrane Press, Delta Green

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Fantasy Age: Fluchthelfer & andere Begegnungen

Beinahe klammheimlich geht es mit dem deutschen Fantasy Age weiter – zumindest wusste ich bis gestern nichts über das Kurzabenteuer Fantasy Age – Begegnungen #01 – Fluchthelfer (6 Seiten, 2,99 €). Die PDF-Ausgabe gibt es seit Kurzem im Online-Shop von Ulisses.

Fantasy Age - Begegnungen #01 - Fluchthelfer (Image: Truant Spiele)

Fantasy Age – Begegnungen #01 – Fluchthelfer (Image: Truant Spiele)

„Fluchthelfer ist die erste Fantasy AGEBegegnung. Darin treffen unsere Helden auf Banditen, die eine Gruppe von Kindern entführen möchten. Aber die Banditen sind das Geringste ihrer Probleme und man weiß nie, ob alles so ist, wie es scheint.

 

Fluchthelfer ist ein Fantasy-AGEAbenteuer für Helden der Stufen 1-4.

 

Fantasy AGEBegegnungen sind Kurzabenteuer, die ohne große Vorbereitung auf Conventions oder mal zwischendurch gespielt werden können. Sie eignen sich auch als Erweiterungen für längere Abenteuer oder als Übergang zwischen den einzelnen Abenteuern einer Kampagne.“
Fantasy Age – Begegnungen #01 – Fluchthelfer (PDF) Klappentext (Stand: 12. August. 2016)

Von Mario Truant, dem Herausgeber, höre ich, dass bereits an weiteren Titeln gearbeitet wird.
Auch wenn es noch keine konkreten Termine gibt, sind zunächst Fantasy Age – Begegnungen #02 – Gefahr aus den Minen (Arbeitstitel) und Die Straße des Einsiedlers (Arbeitstitel) jeweils als PDF geplant. Letzteres soll ein kurzes Abenteuer im Stil der Begnungen für Titansgrave sein. Titansgrave wird als Buch und als PDF erscheinen. Vielleicht klappt es noch zur SPIEL ’16 oder zumindest dieses Jahr.

Dies bedeutet, es bleibt nicht beim Grundregelwerk, vielmehr wird das Rollenspiel weiter unterstützt. Grundsätzlich eine gute Sache, das Regelwerk eignet sich nach meinem Dafürhalten besser für Einsteiger als die meisten anderen marktbegleitenden Boliden. Mit dem ebenso einfachen Vorgänger – der Pen-&-Paper-Ausgabe von Green Ronins Dragon Age – hatten wir jedenfalls unseren Spaß. 

Um ehrlich zu sein, bin ich gespannt, wie der Markt „die Schwemme“ an deutschen Übersetzungen bekannter englischsprachiger Systeme aufnimmt. In meinem Bekanntenkreis spielen praktisch alle mit den Originalen. Aufmerksamkeit erregen allenfalls Rollenspielangebote wie Cultos Innombrables (Unaussprechliche Kulte). Spanischkenntnisse sind nicht so weit verbreitet.

Übersetzung sind quasi per se schwierig. Sie kommen (Jahre) später, sind mitunter wirklich mies übersetzt (z. B. Legends of the 5 Rings, Der Eine Ring) oder/und es finden sich ein paar Kompetenzbestien, die das Ganze sowohl in der Luft zerreisen als auch selbstredend viel besser gemacht hätten (Fantasy Age), aber in den seltensten Fällen tatsächlich etwas Besseres liefern.

Wie auch immer, Fantasy Age – Begegnungen #01 – Fluchthelfer steht zum Losspielen bereit. Viel Spaß damit (oder womit auch immer.)

Quelle: Mario Truant persönlich

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Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos

Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos (Image: DOM Publishing)

Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos (Image: DOM Publishing)

Die neue Spielhilfe Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos von RPGPundit und Dominique Crouzet erweitert das OSR-Kampagnen-Setting Dark Albion: The Rose War (beide DOM Publishing).

Dark Albion ist eine fantastische Auslegung der englischen Rosenkriege des 15. Jahrhunderts. Die Autoren verbinden Historie mit Fantasyelementen, Magie und Dämonen. Der Kampagnenband kommt größtenteils systemneutral daher. Der überschaubare spielmechanische Teil basiert auf dem D&D-Retroklon Fantastic Heroes & Witchery. Das Ganze sollte laut Herausgeber ohne große Probleme auch mit anderen OSR-Varianten (z. B. Osric, Swords & Wizardry) spielbar sein. DOM Publishing bieten auf ihrer Homepage eine Vorschau an.

Frank und frei: Der Verweis auf das Old School Revival (OSR) versetzt mich nicht gleich in Ekstase – eher im Gegenteil. Aber keine Regel ohne Ausnahme. Der systemneutrale Teil von Dark Albion gefiel mir beim Lesen ausgesprochen gut. Allerdings assoziierte ich die ganze Zeit eher Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay oder das ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG. Auch eine aufgebohrte Dungeons & Dragons-Hausregelinterpretation passt für mich – gemeinhin – nicht so recht zu historisch angehauchter Dark Fantasy. Welche Klassse hat etwa Richard Neville und welches Level steht ihm passenderweise zu? Nee, geht gar nicht. Aber wie gesagt, das Setting hat was.

Seit Kurzem gibt es nun Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos. Der Titel legt gleich eine Nähe zu Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay oder ZWEIHÄNDER nahe, auch wenn es ein paar wenige direkte Bezüge zu OSR/D&D gibt. Der seinerseits weitestgehend systemunabhängige Band bietet auf 92 Seiten ein schmuckes Baukastensystem für die Entwicklung von Chaoskulten in Albion (oder anderswo).

Welchem sozialen Stand gehören die Kultmitglieder an? Wie groß ist der Kult? Wie bekannt ist der Kult? Was für ein Typ Kult ist das? Wie sieht das geheime Lager des Kultes aus? Über welche Ressourcen verfügt der Kult? Welchen Herausforderungen steht der Kult gegenüber?
Für all diese Fragen gibt es Anregungen, also zumeist entsprechende Würfeltabellen.

Darüber hinaus beschäftigen sich die Autoren mit dem Kultleben, Mutationen (dürfen natürlich nicht fehlen), dem Aufbau von Kultabenteuern und drei passenden Beispiel-Dungeons. Die Anhänge liefern Regeln für die Elfen Albions, Magie sowie Informationen über größere Chaoskulte und ihre Riten.

Ich bin noch nicht ganz durch und die Ideensammlung geht nicht sonderlich tief, aber gerade für Beyond the Wall oder für Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay beziehunsgweise das Zweihänder RPG gibt es meines Erachtens ein paar gut verwertbare Tipps.

Bei Amazon kostet Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos gegenwärtig 14,45 €. Mir gefällt es bislang recht gut. Ich würde das kurzweilige Supplement wieder kaufen.

PS: Albions Elfen scheinen nicht von schlechten Eltern zu sein – ziemlich derbe Damen und Herren.

Quellen: DOM Publishing, Amazon

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ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: An Interview with Daniel Fox

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Daniel Fox, author of the ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG, was so kind to answer some questions about his interpretation of dark fantasy roleplaying and his current Kickstarter.

Back in the days we were young and we did’nt like the ‚counter intuitive‘ rules of (A)D&D. So we started roleplaying with Ken St. Andre’s Tunnels & Trolls – lots of monty haul adventuring in the early 80s! Countless monsters died and gave us their precious treasures. After a while we were looking for something different, more challenging and beyond good vs. evil (aka heroes vs. monsters).

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: This Ain`t Your Uncle Siggy`s Fantasy Roleplay (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: This Ain`t Your Uncle Siggy`s Fantasy Roleplay (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Fortunately, about 30 years ago came Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Games Workshop, 1986) and Shadows over Bögenhafen (Games Workshop, 1987). I will never forget our hunt for the a three-legged goblin and the first encounter with the demon-worshippers. The original(!) The Enemy wihin is still one of my favorite roleplaying campaigns of all time, although we never finish it. Those experiences changed my prefered play style. Since then, grim and gritty roleplaying games dominate my gaming table. The ’sugar-coated‘ WFR3 by Fantasy Flight Games was a step in the wrong direction for me, because the game felt too much like D&D. For some time now, no one offically supports Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay or the  perilous atmosphere of the primordial Old World.

A few years ago, I stumbled over some playtest material of the ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG. I was impressed. Now, my expectations are high, but I think the team has a good chance to successfully fill the gap, which the dead (again) Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has left behind. Let’s hope for the best!

Finally, ZWEIHÄNDER is coming …

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Culitist (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Culitist (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

In my opinion, it’s obvious that your ZWEIHÄNDER RPG is heavily inspired by Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st, 2nd edition) and the Old World. Some fans even call it unofficially Warhammer 2.5. For you, what are the key aspects of the ZWEIHÄNDER RPG? What makes it unique?
You are in fact correct! I have a very long history with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which began with 1e back in my younger years. It was one of the first RPGs to really stand out among what I felt was a glut of Dungeons & Dragons splat books. It drew my attention almost immediately: the grim adventures, the perilous outcomes and uncertain doom that awaited players. Although I never used the Warhammer world, I adopted its ruleset to fit into my own homebrew world of Mahalma. Over time, WFRP grew to be the primary source of inspiration for ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG.

For me, ZWEIHÄNDER was the result of a long period of playing with a ruleset that had a lot of shiny parts, but possessed clear gaps in its design. For instance, I really disliked that every Career had a different distribution of access to Skills. If you look back in WFRP 1e, the Alchemist’s Apprentice receives 3 Skills, with a 50% chance of a fourth. Yet right above it, the Agitator only gets 2 Skills. Move a few more pages in, and the Entertainer got 1 to 3 Skills, depending on what sort of Entertainer you were. To me, this was a major flaw in design. Maybe it was simply the way things were created in the „old school“. Chris Pramas tried to fix this, making it less of a failure in design and more of a „feature“ of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2e. While I could appreciate the approach – in particular the division of old Skills into Skills & Talents, the issues still remained. Add on top of that the strict limitations for moving between Careers, and you ended up some some very odd combinations of Skills and Talents that became a mess by fourth or fifth Career.

With all that being said, there was a few guiding principles I adopted as I began redesigning WFRP into ZWEIHÄNDER.

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

First, all Careers (now called Professions) got access to 10 sets of Skills, 3 Talents and 7 Bonus Advances. I didn’t assign weights to the Skills, Talents or Bonus Advances; I just wanted to make sure all Professions got access to the same number of each.

Two – all Professions got a single Professional Trait, unique from every other ability in the game. This means that a Barber Surgeon with the same Base Chance to succeed a Heal Test as a well-trained Interrogator has a leg up. Even if their chances to Heal were both 45%, agnostic of Difficulty Rating, the Barber Surgeon could heal you better; do something more than another Character.

Thirdly, Career Paths were entirely removed. I felt that the story should guide players in the direction they want to go. By removing this restriction, it addressed another critical flaw I saw in WFRP: backwards engineering into the Advanced Career you wanted to be at end game by selecting a Basic Career with a direct path into it. In order to keep things sane, I installed three „levels“ of play. This meant players could move into three total Professions over the course of their Character’s adventures. This freed up players to spend more time in their current Profession, and let the course of the campaign naturally guide them into their next one.

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Baillif (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Baillif (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

And finally, the math behind the mechanics. This has been a sore spot for me and other players in the community for a while. Between the „naked dwarf syndrome“ of earlier editions of WFRP up to the „whiff factor“, this had to be addressed. I spent countless months figuring out the right way to address the math to be a little bit more fair, while still embracing the grit of earlier editions. I am pleased to say that over three iterations, the math was reshaped into what ZWEIHÄNDER is today. Characters aren’t focused on growing their Characteristics (now called Primary Attributes). Instead, the focus was on Skills and Skill Ranks to „boost“ their capabilities, while putting emphasis on utilizing the Difficulty Rating charts to their advantage.

A representative ZWEIHÄNDER group consists what types of characters and what makes them interesting. Which “cool” classes, races, powers, etc. can players expect?
Unsurprisingly, players will find a level of comfort with the races and Professions ZWEIHÄNDER has to offer. There are over 72 regular Professions and 45 Elite Professions. Many of these are direct analogues to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, tied together with many of our own inspiration. In our playtests, we’ve had Prostitutes stand alongside Anarchists, Barber Surgeons, Rat Catchers, Slayers, Bonepickers, Grave Robbers, Burglars, Inquisitors, Executioners, Cultists, Warlocks, Hedgewise and more. Although ZWEIHÄNDER has a bevy of options for Character design, it doesn’t throw the kitchen sink at players. Instead, the Professions are all steeped into a pseudo-Renaissance era, with several specifically unique grim & perilous options thrown in. We have made sure to carefully cherrypick and design all Professions based around the five core thematic elements of ZWEIHÄNDER:

  • Grim Attitudes
  • Perilous Outcomes
  • Ignorance & Superstition
  • Fractured Fairytales
  • Low Magick, Low Fantasy
  • Chaos’s Influence
ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Guttersnipe (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Guttersnipe (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

For newcomers, what are typical stories that players will tell? Which kind of threats will they likely have to oppose?
Forgive me here, but I am going to quote direct from the Game Mastery section here: Unlike other tabletop role-playing games, ZWEIHÄNDER doesn’t have an implied setting. Instead, it focuses upon a number of thematic elements, underpinning the narrative and mechanics presented throughout the work. Characters live in a desperate world, where society stands upon both existential and literal collapse. A hellish misery permeates society as a whole, where uncertainty and superstition abound. A brighter tomorrow exists, but only for a select few. Might makes right, order is born from chaos and the entire collapse of civilization inches closer and closer as balance is temporarily sustained. Universal balance is often achieved by the sacrifice of the downtrodden and misfortunate, so that their betters may go on living. What is the death of ten people, when ten thousand will survive as a result? In fact, selfish agendas are oftentimes hidden behind the shield of righteousness. Dystopic order, above all else, prevails over outright chaos. Ironically, the shadow of corruption influences every decision that leads towards the greater good, enticing the most noble of hosts with the promise of lucre and political gain.

This is not a story of good versus evil, but about truth and consequences. It is a world cast in many shades of grey, but also with rare extremes of black and white. Short-term solutions may be more dreadfully harmful in the long run, but fits the ticket for what must be done now, unless everything is lost to indecision. Sacrifices must be made to realize a brighter outcome. The necessary means to achieve order and balance requires tough decision-making.

However, this isn’t a game of gratuitous violence for the sake of violence. In a grim & perilous world, death means something. But compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice means something greater. Pessimism, disillusionment and depravity are realized, but only when allowed to do so. Those who are willing to throw themselves into the jaws of hell – whether that hell may be kneeled before a despicable noble who must be appeased, among a jury of witch hunters intent on burning an innocent man, breaking bread with one’s enemies or inside a demon’s sanctuary who must be coerced to aid them. This is a world where cynicism and disintegration of society (chaos) is pitted against idealism of a better tomorrow (order). These two principles often blend together, feeding off one another in an eternal tug of war where there is no clear victor.

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Critical Hit (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Critical Hit (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Self-realization is as much of the story as is uncovering the brutal truths of the world. While adventurers will uncover deeper mysteries, reveal double-dealings of upstanding men and expose corruption at its very core, will they debase themselves in the process? Will they rise above the brutal truths of the world, or root around in its filth, becoming alike their enemies? This conflict is at the forefront of every worthy grim & perilous adventure.

The campaign world and the many adventures Characters will take part in are generally not about people who change the world. No; it is instead about a world that changes the people within it. And the world should present every terrible situation it can to lure adventurers towards utter chaos. The Characters’ struggle is unlike the archetypical hero of other tabletop role-playing games. They are not a near god-like warriors who must save the village from an evil dragon. Instead, they are everyday, normal people fighting for their convictions while trying to retain their humanity. They may be riddled with angst and verge towards delirious idealism, but should be urged back towards order and balance. While the Characters are not “heroes” in a traditional fashion, they should be willing to make short term sacrifices for the greater good, redemption for the evils they committed and a better life that awaits them in the beyond. Whether these sacrifices are made in the name of a liege lord, a thundering god, a set of moral convictions or even their own sense of self-preservation, players should act – which means taking action!

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Jester (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Jester (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Who or what is Grim & Perilous Studios?
Grim & Perilous Studios is my own little LLC I established here in the City of Fountains of Kansas City, Missouri. We all have virtual offices, which means we all work out of our homes. With Tanner Yea as co-author, Walter Fulbright as editor and contractors Dejan Mandic, Milena Lakicevic and Jussi Alarauhio, it’s quickly grown into a operational – if not slightly confederated – game company. We’re literally all over the world. Walter and I are in Missouri, Tanner is in Florida, Dejan and Milena are in Serbia and Jussi is in Finland. But don’t let the word „contractor“ fool you, these folks are all top brass and in it to see ZWEIHÄNDER to completion. We’re already talking with them about our next project, which is slated for later this year.

You’re working for quite a while on this project. What happened and how did you test your game? Did you use (or convert) any special adventure or setting material? Any suggestions beside the obvious references.
Oh man, where to begin? We’ve had a ton of collaboration with the community over at Strike To Stun for years, but it all really began in my basement in 2011 with several of my close friends. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention them all here, but these are all people I know, trust and worked alongside both professionally and personally. My core group – Adam, Jeremy J, Matt, Mike, Nick, Tim C and Walter – have been there since the very beginning. Ben, Caleb, Cole, Jeremiah, Jeremy S, Kay, Kent and Tim Y played the earlier editions, when it was still called Project Corehammer and did a bit of playtesting in GRIMDARK Public Beta. But in the beginning, it was a gigantic puzzle to be sorted and slowly put together. We play regularly every Thursday, and every week there was a rule to change, a mechanic to tweak, a new Character sheet to implement. It became a running joke that every time the players stepped into the door, they knew to throw their old Character sheets into the middle of the table to re-author them from scratch. And somehow, I’ve managed to run six long-running campaign stories in the background with our playtesting! My friends – and especially my wife – has been extraordinarily patient with me, and without their support, ZWEIHÄNDER would never have seen the light of the day.

When I estimated how long we playtested, its been easily over 240 individual game sessions. That doesn’t include the Friday evenings we’d meet once a month to go through new suggestions and a literally ton of emails from my playtesters about rule changes. Eventually, however, it coalesced into the ZWEIHÄNDER folks are seeing today. Once GRIMDARK Public Edition was finalized, I ran it over a period of a year and a few months using the well-regarded The Enemy Within. It was absolutely splendid!

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Informer (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Informer (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

After the Kickstarter, what kind of further development can fans expect? Any other projects you want to share?
Tanner and I have a lot of ideas – I mean, don’t we all? However, the two that really stand out – and have some concrete development already in the works – are Liber Abyssia (an expansion on Slaves To Chaos) and Liber Astra (an expansion to Dark Astral). These are tentative names for now, but I believe before we go to print later this year, we’ll have something material to present for Liber Abyssia. Fans of ZWEIHÄNDER will continue to see support from us with print-on-demand adventures, however we are planning to release at least one major expansion a year. Each expansion will always include a new setting, professions and adventure. Quality control is key – we don’t want to get caught in the trap that a lot of RPGs fall into: splat book after splat book after splat book. We have a very measured and strategic approach to it all. We do not intend to pile on additional rules. Coincidentally, we are talking about releasing under a Creative Commons License 3.0 – similar to Eclipse Phase – that will open the doors for ZWEIHÄNDER to adopt an OGL-like approach.

I am also working on a second dream project, unrelated to ZWEIHÄNDER, which I plan to begin speaking of after turn of year. In short, it’s an adult drinking game. With dungeons. And flagons! But I can’t speak much more on it for now. ZWEIHÄNDER is at the fore of all development until it goes to print in November 2016.

Why do you think fans should support the Kickstarter for the ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG right now?
That’s a hard question to answer! I do think our passion and slavishness towards the source material has really shown from the support we got out the gate. We were fully funded in 6 hours, and broke all our immediately stretch goals in 48 hours. We were ranked one of the top ten games by Kickstarter in the US, standing alongside the shoulders of giants such as the Evil Dead & Walking Dead board games! But, this is more – much, much more – than Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay with the serial numbers filed off. It’s a wholly unique RPG that can be used to play games set in the worlds of The Black Company, The Witcher, A Song Of Ice And Fire, Lies of Locke Lamora, popular PC games like Inquisitor, Darkest Dungeons, the real-world Renaissance and, naturally, the Old World of WFRP.

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Camp Follower (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG: Camp Follower (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Thank you, anything else you want to add?
I really appreciate you reaching back out to us and asking for the interview! Your continued support, along with the rest of the community, has helped inspire me to turn what started out as a set of simple house rules into a full-fledged RPG. I hope that our hard work shows in the finished product, and that we can be the go-to for all grim & perilous OSR rulesets out in the market.

You can support the ZWEIHÄNDER project until 25. Aug 2016 on Kickstarter. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: This is – not – a paid advertisement. I have neither a personal relationship to Grim & Perilous Studios nor to the ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG team. I am just observing the development of the game since the beginning of the project. When they launched their Kickstarter for the ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG, I backed it without hesitation. For further details about the ZWEIHÄNDER RPG please visit also their ‚grim and perilous‘ homepage.

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Monte Cook’s Invisible Sun RPG: You’re so smart

Invisible Sun RPG? Die diesjährige Gen Con neigt sich dem Ende zu. Die ENnies 2016 sind vorüber und das Dracula Dossier Director’s Handbook (Pelgrane Press) ist der Gold Winner für Product of the Year. Ja, noch vor dem silbernen Curse of Strahd (Wizards of the Coast). Yay, es geschehen noch Zeichen und Wunder. Gratulation.

Vorsicht Rant!
Invisible Sun RPG is deep and smart just like you. (Image: obskures.de)

Invisible Sun RPG is deep and smart just like you. (Image: obskures.de)

Mein spezieller Freund Monte Cook, Mr. Numenera, lässt sich selbstverständlich die wunderbare Gelegenheit nicht nehmen, und kündigt für den 15. August 2016 einen neuen Kickstarter zu seinem neuen Meister Machwerk(?) Invisible Sun RPG an. Its focus is in deep immersion storytelling. Aha – so wie Numenera weird ist? Magic is not mechanical, but truly magical. Pardon?  … Invisible Sun does something different. It embraces traditional tabletop play, but enhances it with away-from-the-table activities, rules to deal with absent players, solo play, online play, and more. Okay.

Überhaupt scheint deep das neue weird im Hause Cook zu sein. In der – kurzen – Ankündigung kommt das tiefgründige Wort sechsmal vor. Bei all diesen Beschwörungen muss das Invisible Sun RPG einfach tiefsinnig sein. Ganz bestimmt. Invisible Sun is adult. It’s imaginative. It’s intricate. It’s a challenging game … Kommt da noch was?

Show, don’t tell, Alter!

Nein. Belassen wir es dabei, denn viel präziser wird es in der Ankündigung von Monte Cook Games nimmer. Das Invisible Sun RPG wird halt so unglaublich sophisticated. Die Pfade der Sonnen (Path of Suns) sollen bis zum angekündigten Kickstarter täglich in-character audio quotes – aka sinnschwangere I see an angel with words for wings (Angels On Streetcorners) – Creative Writing-Exzesse bieten.

Unschön, aber verschmerzbar.

Am Ende der Promotion kommt es noch besser. Monte Cooks Damen und Herren greifen noch mal so richtig in die Werbeneusprechtrickkiste.

Invisible Sun is deep. It’s smart. Just like you.

BÄM – da geht was. Kauf Invisible Sun, dann bist Du tiefgründig und schlau! Nee, wirklich?

Sorry, aber was soll diese billige Manipulation? Sex ging irgendwie nicht, oder? Dazu fällt mir nicht deep, sondern lediglich disgusting ein.

Auf den ersten Blick wirkt Invisible Sun auf mich inhaltsarm, viel zu adult und bedeutungsvoll – mit Ansage. Spielhintergründlich und spielerisch gibt es so gut wie nichts zu vermerken, außer dass von dem Hype um Numenera nicht viel übrig blieb. Weit und breit hört und liest unsereiner wenig über die Ninth World.

Gerade sieht es jedenfalls nicht danach aus, dass Invisible Sun mich in Monte Cooks offene Arme zurückführt. Die Hoffnung stirbt zwar zuletzt, doch – so – tiefschürfend und gescheit möchte ich wohl nicht sein.

Bei dem voll weirden Numenera hat es auch geklappt. Also lieber Monte, ich weiß, Du meinst es gut – keine Sorge, es wird zweifelsohne genügend andere Schlaumeier/innen geben, die auf so geistangreifendes Geschwurbel wie Invisible Sun is deep. It’s smart. Just like you. stehen. (Consumer) Happiness is mandatory. Wird Zeit für Neurosis und Enemy of the (In…) Sun. Enjoy.

Quellen: Monte Cook Games, Path of Suns

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#RPGaDay: Best Game Session?

Day / Question 2 of #RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016 : Best game session since August 2015?

#RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016 (Image: RPGBrigade / Autocratik)

#RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016 (Image: RPGBrigade / Autocratik)

As a GM: Our 2nd session of the intro adventure Promised Land for Symbaroum (Järnringen). An encounter with a few bandits and an one-armed, undead robber chief turned unexpected into an epic life-and-death struggle. The whole thing was crazy and fun. They survived.
The game system of Symbaroum isn’t perfect, but the setting is in my opinon adorable.

Symbaroum RPG: "The ogres emerge fully grown from the depth of Davokar, without memories, without names and without a language to make themselves understood. It is up to the humans who take them in to name them and teach them the ways of the world." (Image: Järnringen)

Symbaroum RPG: „The ogres emerge fully grown from the depth of Davokar, without memories, without names and without a language to make themselves understood. It is up to the humans who take them in to name them and teach them the ways of the world.“ (Image: Järnringen)

As a player: An ad hoc tremulus (Reality Blurs) round at „the Burg“, our yearly private convention. In the end half the town was in flames and half of our group was dead or insane. My character was one of the few who survived unharmed, because I flew (tired to my bed before the showdown).
tremulus is still my favorite Mythos game (beside COC).

Quellen/Sources: Dave Chapman (aka autocratik) / RPGBrigade

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#RPGaDay 2016: Real Dice?

A new month, a new week, Gen Con is around the corner. Just like in recent years it’s also #RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016. Dave Chapman (aka autocratik), the originator, is taking a break. Anthony Boyd and the RPGBrigade stepped in to host #RPGaDAY this year. Enjoy!

#RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016 (Image: RPGBrigade / Autocratik)

#RPGaDay / #RPGaDay2016 (Image: RPGBrigade / Autocratik)

I think I’ll also taking a break. After finishing all questions of last years #RPGaDay I felt tired. In the end, the whole thing felt like tedious work. Your mileage may vary, but this time I take the liberty to answer questionnaire partially. (Subject to change – we’ll see.)

Anyway, here is the first question and my answer.

Real dice, dice app, diceless, how do you prefer to ‚roll‘?

Real dice, usual d6 (6-sided dice) and sometimes lots of them. Hey, ever fought a Tunnels & Trolls Troll?  No special tools or tricks required.

Any other resolution system with cards (e. g. Castle Falkenstein) or without any randomizer (e. g. Amber) are at best interesting. I like to roll classic d6. That’s it.

Quellen/Sources: Dave Chapman (aka autocratik) / RPGBrigade

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A New Wave of Science Fiction Roleplaying Games?

Pillar of Fire: Logo (Image: Atlas Games)

Pillar of Fire: Logo (Image: Atlas Games)

¡Hola! Steht eine (neue) Welle von Science Fiction Roleplaying Games vor der Tür?

Dass Modiphius nun auch noch einen auf live longer and prosper bzw. Star Trek Adventures macht, hat sich wohl mittlerweile rumgesprochen. Weder Captain Kirk und seine Redshirts noch das „crunchy“ 2D20-System (z. B. Mutant Chronicles RPG) konnten mich bislang sonderlich überzeugen. So weit, so unspannend.

Atlas Games kündigen zudem das neue Science-Fiction-Rollenspiel Pillar of Fire von Cam Banks (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game, Cortex Plus, etc.) an. In der Ankündigung heißt es lapidar: „Pillar of Fire is an upcoming epic science fiction tabletop game about genetically engineered demigods changing the fate of humanity in the far future. As Seraphs, players form a covenant with one another and confront challenges to society in a time of exile and sweeping social change. Explore the alien worlds of a new star system as competing forces and factions fight to achieve dominance.“ Hoffentlich verrät der Newsletter bald mehr.

Sasquatch Game Studio – also Richard Baker, David Noonan und Stephen Schubert (Primeval Thule) – kündigen für 2017 die Rückker von Alternity (vormals WotC) an. Ich erinnere einfach mal an das knorke SciFi-/Conspiracy-Setting DarkMatter. Bitte mehr davon … Danke vorab.

Die Kickstarter für das FAITH: A Garden in Hell – RPG Starter Set (Burning Games) und Fragged Empire RPG: Protagonist Archive and Miniatures (Wade Dyer) sind kaum ein paar Wochen alt. Das sehr erfolgreiche 1001 Nacht angehaute Coriolis – A Sci-Fi RPG (Free League Publishing / Fria Ligan) kann derweil noch bis zum 11. August schwarmfinanziert werden.

Keine Ahnung, ob die Angebote schlußendlich meinen Ansprüchen genügen, aber diese Entwicklung in Richtung Science Fiction Roleplaying Games begrüße ich grundsätzlich. Ich hoffe doch sehr, dass Mike Pondsmith alsbald etwas mehr über die Pen-&-Paper-Variante von Cyberpunk 2077 verrät. Das Cyberpunk-Genre gibt mir persönlich mehr als dieses Star-Gedöns. Egal, ob Trek oder Wars folgt – diese ganze ebenso omnipräsente wie auch dauerweichgespülte Chose langweilt und nervt mich kolossal. Science Fiction (Roleplaying Games) sollte(n) mich statt anzuöden provozieren.

Pillar of Fire, Alternity und Coriolis stehen längst auf meiner Liste.

PS: RIP Jerry Doyle aka Michael Garibaldi, Babylon 5’s Chief of Security. Babylon 5 bleibt bis auf Weiteres die beste Science Fiction-Fernsehserie der Welt. Punkt.
Quelle/n: io9

PPS / Update: Der Kickstarter für das POLARIS RPG (Black Book Editions) ebenfalls Scifi, liegt ebenfalls noch nicht so lange zurück.

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ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG on Kickstarter

Daniel Fox (aka Grim & Perilous Studios) ging zwar ein wenig später als angekündigt online, aber jetzt ist es soweit, das ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG – sein Warhammer-Rollenspiel-Retroklon – kann bis zum  25. August 2016 über Kickstarter unterstützt werden.

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG (Image: Grim & Perilous Studios)

Die bekannten Systemauszüge gehen recht eindeutig in Richtung „Warhammer 2.5“, also die Green Ronin/Chris Pramas-Interpretation. Obwohl keine spezifische Spielwelt vorgekaut wird, geht es stimmungsmäßig klar in Richtung gute alte Alte Welt. Das Promovideo spricht eine deutliche Sprache … This ain’t your papa Gary’s dungeon romp with dragons.

Agreed. Ich bin dabei.

Quelle: Kickstarter

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