“With a world divided who do you turn to?”

The fine folks at Stranger Comics have launched an opportunity to get a Pathfinder 1E module set in Niobe’s world of Asunda, with epic new races, feats, items, and more. Asunda is in development at HBO with creator Sebastian A. Jones co-writing and Executive Producing. Also available on the campaign are beautiful hardcovers for their comics, miniatures, LARP weapons and more! So you can read the books and play the game before it goes to the screen! Creators include: Peter Bergting (Lord of the Rings), Jae Lee (Dark Tower), and Hyoung Taek Nam (The Last of Us)!

I was pointed towards the Niobe and the Untamed project by Sebastian, who contacted me to say nice things about the Nordlond Sagas. Well, right back at ’em: the quality of the visuals and production values of the products offered in their Kickstarter really look top-notch – and they’re not kidding about an HBO series being in development! I can only imagine how awesome it would be to see Nordlond brought to life in either graphic novel format; even more so in live action!

In any case, as we are moving toward the Norðlond Sagas stretch goals, take a moment to look at what they have to offer. I think it’s worth your time, especially if you’re a player of other systems!

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Notionally, the Dungeon Fantasy RPG is about, well, dungeon delving. That’s the core function it’s built to support. That said, Hall of Judgment was mostly an overland trek, with the main encounters being a ruined village and of course the Hall itself. The norðalfar lairs were legit underground dungeon-type stuff.

The Citadel at Norðvörn was a setting, completely without labyrinthine delving of any sort. I have played great games with it, and more than once. The Dungeon Fantasy RPG supports it just fine.

One of the fun things that made it into Citadel at Norðvörn was a village generator. Euan Hastie, a gamer and farmer from New Zealand, had a huge pile of research into modern and ancient farming methods and yields, and he and I worked really hard together to simplify all the data, make it sensible-enough and interesting, and present it in a way where “you wander into town” became something different for each town.

Presented below is one of several village he’s made. There will be more, posted, as this one was, to the Norðlond Sagas crowdfunding campaign as an update.

 Steingarður (The Stoneyard)

Assumptions

  • Very Fertile, but with infertile hills
  • Cool not cold
  • Norman/viking

The center of Norðlond west of Konungsborg (the capitol) boasts some of the most fertile soils known to the realm. The costs of two centuries of war with the Neveri clansmen to the south have prevented the Norðlonders from fully exploiting this boon, but it is still a land of plenty.

Away from the rivers and cities, venturing into southern Norðlond, the village of Steingarður sits where the hills meet the plains. The community is well established but has become something of a backwater in recent decades. This is the type of place a wandering knight might call home. It is a community of some 750 people, with a lackluster inn and sundry support services; one can assume a strong cooperage and enough of a smithy to keep the instruments for harvesting and transporting grain in good order.

Life centers around a walled longhouse, built on the end of ridge offering a strongly defensible location and a view over the plains. A man-made channel hugs the side of the grape-covered ridge, supplying the stronghold with water. While not a towering structure the wall is well made from mortared stone. Unlike the north of Norðlond, there are few mature stands of trees; small areas of tamed and managed woods are present amongst the hedgerows and in the higher valleys. A more considered eye notes the young age of the managed woodlands, the consequences of a feud that flared up a decade back.

Goats, wine, and linen are Steingarður’s main source of money as most other goods aren’t worth the cost to transport to the river. Even so it produces the food required to keep forty of it’s soldiers – the armed levy provided by the riddar to King Krail and the Marshal – fed and supplied while they are in the field against the Neveri.

While on average the people here – many of whom are thralls – are not well armed, those who are are usually older veterans. The town boasts more than a few heirloom weapons that are kept in fully functional condition.

Products

Aside from supporting village life, the industry of Steingarður has two purposes: feeding it’s soldiers and providing the riddar with the liquid assets required to maintain his position. The riddar is young, and has only recently assumed the role. In this case, liquid assets are rather on the nose: the two primary exports are 11,000 gallons (roughly 200 barrels, perhaps 60 tons including both barrel and wine)

Notes

  • Poor in wood
  • One of the northern-most wine producers
  • Valuable wine, a desirable product realising 40-50 per gallon.
  • 1 in 3 wine crops fail due to frost unless a druid is present
  • The gardens near the longhouse struggle due to the poorer soil
  • 2000 goats are kept on the rocky hilly area.
  • Wheat crop fails 1 year in 8

Numbers

  • 11000 gallons of wine in a good year, a lot of which is fine quality.

Each acre planted produces:

  • 213 pounds of oats
  • 499 pounds of Rye
  • 495 pounds of Barley
  • 180 pounds of Flax fiber
  • 20 pounds of surplus flax seed
  • 900 pounds of grapes
  • 610 pounds of wheat

Notable surpluses for trade

  • 11,000 gallons of wine
  • 50,000 pounds of grain
  • 240 goats
  • 800 lbs of goat hide
  • 3000 pounds of cloth and clothes

So that’s Stoneyard! A winery that depends on grain and wine for sustenance, with a newbie ruler. The riddar could be a threatened ally, or a ripe plum ready for picking. The village could be something the adventurers just pass through, or perhaps they must take refuge at the village inn, which used to be a thriving place of business but has fallen on hard times.

Look for more villages in coming days. Want more information on Stoneyard? Ask away!

This and more can be had at the Nordlond Sagas crowdfunding campaign, active until October 12.

Intro: May the FNORD Be With Us

Over Apr 6-7, I went down to FNORDCon, Steve Jackson Games’ first gaming convention that they planned and ran themselves. Originally, there wasn’t going to be any GURPS/DFRPG content at all – maybe not even any roleplaying – but I and one of my authors, also a MiB, volunteered to fix that right up. He was going to run two sessions of his upcoming The Dragons of Rosgarth, while I’d do one session each of Hall of Judgment and one of the almost-ready Citadel at Nordvorn.

Both sessions of mine were really, really full. I have a bit of a policy that if you come to one of my games, you play in one of my games. Especially with so few opportunities for RPGing while there. So both games had 12-13 folks in them.

I’ll be reaching out to my other players tonight, and we’ll see if anyone else has thoughts.

If you like what you read below . . . preorders for Citadel at Nordvorn are open!

Session Report by Carl Patten

My background going in: Backed Dungeon Fantasy Monsters II and backed the Citadel of Nordvorn based on recommendation from there. I am very familiar, if rusty, with GURPS, and own Dungeon Fantasy but hadn’t played it in a group yet. My wife has played several D&D campaigns but has only played GURPS once.

First of all, congratulations on running a session with 12 people that actually got stuff done! It’s really easy to get bogged down in details in DF and GURPS, and my wife appreciated the “GURPS super light” approach you took. You also were able to consistently answer our basic rule questions off the top of your head, which kept the pacing fast. Similarly, starting with “you’re all together on a boat, which is being attacked by another boat” successfully got us into the action right away without needing to reach a consensus first. The discussion afterward about what to do with our brand-new boat was hilarious!

Next, the setting rocked! We were the two Minnesotan expats in the room, and even though we may not have actually encountered the Minnesota/Iron Range references during this session, knowing they were in there got us pumped! The time you spent storytelling, describing the setting and why people acted as they did, was just as entertaining as the time we spent as characters in-game. This also paid off in the story hooks; hearing the story of the lady whose father shamed her suitor in public legitimately pissed us off! I’m going to have to run this setting just to find out what the hell is happening there!

We very much enjoyed the pre-made characters, my wife the “mace to the face” cat folk and me the halfling scout. I was worried that as two odd-ball characters we might miss out on some of the Norseness, but no, we were fully included! The descriptions and design notes were fun to read and helped us both jump into these characters immediately.

Minor character highlight was the great big lady wrestler who showed off what the Fantastic Dungeon Grappling can do. Sold me on checking it out, that’s for sure.

The Warding Temple quest to defend the village against 12 hobbs and 3 trolls was a mixed success. It succeeded in reuniting the party after we went a few different ways in Nordvorn, and ending on a big fight was a satisfying wrap-up so I’m glad we went there, but I got confused on where our party started in relation to the fey (ironic since I was the scout!), and that made it tough to sort out what to do other than just “shoot” or “run up and hit/bodyslam them”. Maybe a simple “who’s charging in and who’s staying back” table on the giant notepad would have helped? Fortunately the spellcaster next to me concussed the snot out of half the bad guys (and a few of us too) which helped us win the fight and end on time.

One last highlight: we arrived at the dock of Nordvorn with that brand new ship and the official asked us where we got it. We were standing around hum-hawing because, although per custom we’d claimed it fair and square, we weren’t sure exactly how to explain it. Suddenly you as our NPC boat captain whom we’d saved jumped in with “LET ME TELL YOU THE STORY!” It was an awesome moment of GMing and got us through that awkward pause while making us feel like righteous Norse heroes.

In conclusion, this was a tremendously exciting setting and session. Thanks for running it!

I got back into D&D after a long, long time with GURPS (though I did not, and will not, stop creating for that system) by joining Erik Tenkar, Peter Dell’Orto, Tim Shorts, Joe the Lawyer (I never actually got his whole name), and several others in Erik’s “B-Team.”

We played once a month, and compressed a whole lot of gaming into 2-3 hours. We used the Swords & Wizardry system, a retro-clone that showed me how much fun rules-light gaming can be, and helped me appreciate Fifth Edition a bit more when it came out.

S&W taught me to think simple, think fast, and think light. It helped me shape my grappling rules into something anyone would want to pick up, and could either “play easy” or add as much modular awesome as they could.

I got to know Matt Finch through Erik, and I believe other than the Wednesday night Tavern Chats, we started to get to know each other when he started “ambush interviewing” me for his D&D Neighborhood YouTube shows. While the first interview was me chatting with him about Dragon Heresy and related stuff, he tapped me for a few other shows like “How to write a player’s guide.” He’s a good guy, drives a good interview (maybe the legal training), and runs a good game, which I got to experience at GameHole Con in November of 2018 (this past year).

When it came time to introduce this second edition of Lost Hall, I asked him if he would be willing to contribute a Foreword, and he agreed.

Here’s the laid-out Foreword for your image perusal, followed by the text and a link to a PDF as well.

Foreword to Lost Hall of Tyr (2nd Edition)

by Matt Finch

Some longish time ago, I was talking with Doug Cole via Google Hangout. As the conversation went on, it started to dawn on me that he was sitting in the middle of what looked like a small armory of blades, axes, and shields—all of them made of wood. So after a while, of course, I had to ask about this clutter of weaponry piled up all around him. Now, anyone who knows Doug already knows that “enthusiastic” only vaguely succeeds in capturing the essence of Doug. Seconds later, I was looking through my computer screen at a sword-wielding, shieldbearing warrior in fighting stance, delivering an energetic lecture on the proper way to use a Viking-type shield. As the lecture evolved into methods of using the sword in concert with the shield, I started to realize why there’s no furniture anywhere near his computer. Or, at least, what happened to it if there once was. As I’ve said, “enthusiastic” doesn’t quite capture it.

Doug manages to infuse his writing with the same effervescent energy, making for a wild ride through his game world and the adventures to be found in it. Since I’m no expert on Vikings or Norse mythology I can’t speak to how much of Doug’s exploration into the wyrd, wild world of Viking adventure is based on history and how much of it is just a sheer, fantastic Norseplosion of adventure. It doesn’t really matter, of course —this book is a mix of pure mystery and adrenaline for RPG gaming, and that’s what counts in the long run.

One is always tempted to write a long foreword to a good book, sprinkling spoilers here and there in an effort to tell the reader how to enjoy what they’re about to encounter in it. But I don’t think that’s the purpose of a foreword. A foreword is for setting the mood: giving the reader that last deep breath before the plunge into strange worlds and vivid imagery. I can assure you, even though the world of Norse adventuring might seem familiar on the surface, what lies beneath that surface is strange and mythic indeed. And so, consider that last, deep breath to have now been drawn—it’s time to turn the page and let yourself go a-Viking in the rich sea of ideas you’ll find beyond!

 LINK TO PDF FILE

When putting together some of the cities and towns in Dragon Heresy, I used an article by S. John Ross called Medieval Demographics Made Easy.

It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a tightly-presented metasystem and consolidated research finding on the population of medieval towns, villages, and cities. It provides die rolls, tables, and other necessities to quickly understand how many of what profession are going to be in a given place, as well as talking about castles, agriculture, and more.

When S. John restructured his website, The Blue Room, it became convenient for him to offer this file to host on other blogs, and I asked if Gaming Ballistic could be one of them.

I intend to keep using this for Dragon Heresy, and I recommend it strongly, if for nothing else to avoid the trope of medieval villages that feel like 21st century suburbs and strip malls.

Enjoy!

Full File Here:

Medieval Demographics Made Easy (by S. John Ross)

Introduction to Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross
Introduction to Medieval Demographics Made Easy, by S. John Ross

Foreword (Douglas)

This continues the actual play report by Simone De Bellis, the first session of which was transcribed here in a prior post (mildly edited by me), and here in the GURPS North America Facebook group, which thankfully is used by folks well beyond North America.

As before, he takes what I gave him in Hall of Judgment and makes it his own. Some of the changes – such as making the thurs (a kind of fae troll-kin) into minor jotuns are pretty inspired. The other is using the natural freedom of the setting to plunk down needed resources, such as a village he needs for reasons to be revealed later, I suppose!

It’s great to see someone so obviously having fun with the material.

Read on for details! And pick up a copy today – either from Warehouse 23, or my own webstore. Continue reading “Actual Play Report: Hall of Judgment 2 (Simone De Bellis)”

Foreword (Douglas)

Hall of Judgment was a successful Kickstarter that produced a – even if I do say so myself – fine, playable, good-looking product. Even so, it’s nice when a creator gets feedback, and my ego appreciates stroking as much as the next man. Even better than compliments on the book itself is that most Fremen of compliments: “Your plan worked, Muad’Dib.” In short, as Peter Dell’Orto would say: “Did it work in Actual Play?” So what follows is a bit of an instigated post. Simone De Bellis posted that he was playing Hall of Judgment with his group, and had gone through several sessions worth. I nudged him to write up a play report, and he willingly obliged. So here’s a Hall of Judgment actual play report!

He posted the results on the GURPS North America Facebook Group, and I’m reproducing that here. He’s not a native English speaker; I believe he’s from Italy, and I’ve done some editing, with his permission, for clarity.

What follows is an example of how to play Hall of Judgment while dropping it into a very unique and self-sculpted campaign world. He didn’t feel the need to conform to my assumptions of the world of Norðlond, and did things his own way.

This is as it should be.

Read on for details! And pick up a copy today – either from Warehouse 23, or my own webstore. Continue reading “Hall of Judgment: Actual Play report (guest post)”

Nordlond is my renamed Torengar for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG project I’m working on. Naturally, I have a playtest crew. Kalzazz is on it. For fun, and because one of the Festivals that are a key part of “town” in the adventure features a story about a bull . . . he wrote up a Nordlonder bull as a creature.

Bulls are unaltered mature male cattle, often clocking in at a ton or more of muscle and bad attitude, complete with horns. Nordlondic cattle are known for coming in a variety of colors* and have upswept curved horns. This represents a bull in his prime that is a survivor in the harsh Nordlonds. Bulls will fight to defend the herd, to drive off rivals, and because they plain do not like people.

ST 33
DX 9
IQ 4
HT 13

Per 12
Wil 12
Speed 5.5
Move 5/10 (Enhanced move 1)

HP 40
DR 2 (Tough Skin) / 6 (Skull) / 5 (Feet)
Dodge 9
Parry (Horns) 11
SM +2

Attacks
Kick C, 1 14 – 3d+5 cr
Gore C, 1 14 – 3d+8 imp. Can also be used as a slam. Counts as a weapon.

Bad Temper (12)
Lecherousness (12)
Domestic Animal
Herbivore
Peripheral Vision
Combat Reflexes (included in defenses above)
Quadruped
Weak Bite
Peripheral Vision

Skills – Brawling 14

Notes – based off the Ox from Campaigns, but upgraded because its not an altered ox, its a bull!

*per wikipedia, Icelandic cattle do come in many bright colors! They also are on the small side, but Nordlond is the land of mighty barbarians, so presumably Nordlondic cattle are NOT on the small side!

CER
OR 4 skill + 37 damage + 4 move + 3 FP = 48
PR 6 AD + 3 DR + 3 HT + 30 HP + 3 Wil = 45
CER 93

Moe Tousignant has a rep for thorough and detailed reviews. We’ve been in each others’ gaming orbits for a while, as he discussed below. When his dance card came up empty after reviewing James Spahn’s White Start, I teased him about reviewing Dragon Heresy.

He accepted.

He’s working through the preliminary-but-playable PDF file I’ve been working with, screen-shotting, and from which the edited manuscript will emerge, eventually. He notes the fix I made to moving Alignment where it’s supposed to be under Character Background somehow didn’t “take.” A few other things need fixing as well. This is why you need an editor.

Even so, he’s posted two long examinations so far, and will continue through the book. It’s readable, it’s thorough and fair. And he’s given me permission to re-host it.

So here we go, from Moe Tousignant’s RPGaMonth Group in Google+:

My history with Dragon Heresy and first look.

I’m finally caught up. It’s the fourth month of the year and I’m starting on my fourth RPG book for #RPGaMonth. If I can finish this one by the end of April then I will actually be on schedule!

For those just joining in, I’m reading this book as part of #RPGaMonth, where the goal is to read one RPG a month for the entire year. The main drive is to get those books that have been sitting on your shelf/hard drive unread and unused for far too long off that shelf/drive and get them read or, even better get them read and run.

My history with Dragon Heresy and it’s designer, Doug Cole

That goal of getting stuff off my shelf/drive? Well, that doesn’t apply here. Dragon Heresy is new to me, as of yesterday. Actually right now it’s kind of new to everyone. Well, really, it’s not new to anyone yet as it’s not actually out, or finished.

Dragon Heresy is a new fantasy RPG written by +Douglas Cole aka Gaming Ballistic. It’s up on Kickstarter right now (there will be a link at the end of this if you want to check it out).

So why am I writing about a game that’s not even finished yet? Well, it seems I must be doing something right with these reviews as Doug really liked my White Star Review and contacted me and asked if I would consider reading a pre-production copy of his new game next.

Now I’ve known Doug for as long as I’ve been on social media. From what I remember we first “met” in the Old School Gamers group on Facebook. Over time I’ve also grown to know him as That Thursday GURPSday guy, and now he’s becoming that Dragon Heresy guy (and with that, the Viking shield making guy).

I’ve always enjoyed my interactions with Doug so agreed to give Dragon Heresy a read. So take this as my full disclosure. While I don’t know Doug personally, as in, in real life (we’ve never met), I do know and respect him through our online interactions. Also, he did send me a pre-production copy of this game. Will that affect my thoughts on the game itself, I don’t think so, but it is something to consider when reading my thoughts on Dragon Heresy.

What I know going in

Due to the fact Doug was on pretty much every RPG podcast ever created in the last few weeks, I’ve heard quite a bit about Dragon Heresy. I know it uses Dungeons & Dragons 5e as it’s base. I know it’s more crunchy than D&D 5e. I know it’s about Vikings but still keeps all the magic and fantasy and I know that you don’t need to own D&D 5e to use it. It’s a standalone game. That’s pretty much it.

What is going to make this review interesting is that I have not read Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Yes, you read that right. I don’t play nor have I read the worlds most popular roleplaying game. For shame. Now I did do the whole D&D Next playtest, back when it was just the Caves of Chaos and Fighters still did damage on a miss. I’ve also got a ton of XP with D&D 4th Edition, 3.5 edition, and AD&D 2nd Edition. So it’s not like Fantasy D20 games are new to me. But I thought it worth noting that I haven’t played/read 5e so in some cases I’m not going to know if a rule in Dragon Heresy is new or something straight from the D&D 5e core rules.

First Look

Obviously, Dragon Heresy isn’t done yet and that needs to be taken into consideration for the entirety of this review. I’m dealing with PDF files here and not physical books.

That said, I was very impressed by how far along the game is. There’s art. It’s laid out. It’s full color. It looks like a complete RPG. Which I have to admit is awesome to see for a Kickstarter. When I received files from Monte Cook for playtesting they were just word documents. I really wasn’t expecting to see something this polished.

The book (you still call it a book when dealing with PDF’s right?) looks beautiful. It’s two-column justified text that looks to flow well. Most charts are in line as is most of the art (with a few bigger images squeezing one column or the other). I’m not sure if more art is coming but there are some sections where it’s a bit sparse, I found one section where it’s 12 pages between pieces of art. The art that is there is solid and appears to feature multiple artists (one of the pages I don’t have are the credits).

As expected from a book based on D&D, it looks like a large portion of the book is dedicated to spells and monsters. It’s also worth noting this is a one book system. No separate campaign book or monster manual. It does look like there’s still art coming for the Monsters as I didn’t notice any during my flip through the book.

First Impressions

My first thought as I scrolled quickly through the Dragon Heresy PDF was: man this looks like a complete game. As I got near the end I noticed there was still some layout to be done and art missing but overall it looks done, at least as far as the rules are concerned.

I haven’t actually read any rules or anything more than some random headings so I can’t speak about any of that yet, but I can say this is going to be a great looking game once it releases.

Now we just need to see how the rules look… next time.

Part 2 Covering: Introduction, Core Mechanics, Creature Characteristics, Ability Scores, Generating Characters, Character Races, Character Classes, Character Background, Beyond 1st Level and Equipment Continue reading “Moe Tousignant Reviews Dragon Heresy (preview edition)”

This post initially appeared on Michael’s Google+ feed, but I liked it so much I asked him if I could repost it on my blog. He agreed.

Since disadvantages are unofficial topic of the week I’ve been thinking about our storied history of disadvantages and I was writing a HUGE response to Douglas Cole and realized it wasn’t really even on topic. So I decided to post separately.

For the longest time we had religiously made characters with 40D 5Q. We fell into some very predictable patterns because at that range we all had favorites. We may try a different disadvantage that fit the character but Chris always had Bad Temper, Nate Always had Sadist, Alex always had Sense of Duty, and as much as I like to pretend I’m the Alpha roleplayer, a lot of my characters had Impulsive. We just found things that worked better for our play style and personality as roleplayers but that turned into a rut. Players anticipated that we’d make these characters and they built characters on that assumption. We didnt’ try new things or grow very much.

We had also done those insane games with 100points in disadvantages, but we weren’t used to that scope so we didn’t have that balance of disadvantages that Douglas Cole talks about. We’d go all in on big-point disadvantages or have just a huge laundry list of disadvantages that we couldn’t manage to roleplay well. And we’d invariably choose those favorite Disadvantages again too. Continue reading “Disadvantages: An argument for template (guest post by Michael Wolf)”