Ruin Masters by the Swedish publisher Riotminds is due to be released in print later this year, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. This is a game of exploration and danger.
Ever since I backed a Nordic roleplaying game for the first time, I’ve tried and back or buy every such game I find. Of course, it has much to do with me being Icelandic and as such, as part of the Nordic or Scandinavian community. Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Faroese Island have a close knit and common history and similar culture in many ways. Perhaps that’s why I resonate with these games.
Still, many of these games are great, even if you have absolutely no ties or relation to any of these countries. Trudvang Chronicles, Tales from the Loop, Black Void and even the only Icelandic roleplaying game ever published, Askur Yggdrasils, all have their merits and can be so much fun playing.
Ruin Masters by Riotminds is one of these games. Riotminds have been an active publisher of roleplaying games in Sweden for years, their brand Drakar och Demoner is one of the oldest and most-established roleplaying game in Sweden. Recently Riotminds started focusing more on the English-speaking market. Their games, Trudvang Chronicles and Lexoccultum, have been well received, but both were funded through successful Kickstarter campaigns.
This is a beautiful game. The art by Johan Egerkrans and Alvaro Tapia is breathtaking and very inspiring. If you have either read Egerkrans’ books, The Undead or Norse Mythology, or browsed through other rpg books by Riotminds, you will feel familiar with the art. It has so much flavor and depth.
The game is set in Caldarox, a large continent that is full of ruins and dangerous places to explore. Those who are brave and clever enough might get rich by exploring the many ruins dotting the country side.
Ruin Masters uses 2 ten-sided dice, this is mostly a percentile system (as BRP or Call of Cthulhu) but in some cases you might need to roll a d5. It offers two different type of gaming, i.e. one where you follow a narrative set out by the game master, which is called Ruin Master, or where you explore Caldarox through hex-crawl, where dice, luck and skill determine what happens in each hex.
All skills and attributes have a percentile number or value and to make a successful roll, you must roll equal or under the given value.
We will take a closer look at the setting, system and these two different styles in next articles.
Character creation in Ruin Masters
The character creation in Ruin Masters is simple and intuitive. There are no classes or archetypes, you have a full control of what kind of character you create and it is easy to create what ever type you like.
First you choose race. There are three playable races in Caldarox; humans, elves and dwarves. Your choice affects your attributes. Elves are wise, dwarves are stubborn and strong, while humans are adaptable.
You roll 2d10+10 for each of your four attributes; Physique, Psyche, Intelligence and Charisma. This means you have a range of 12-30 as your starting attributes. Of course, you roll four times and distribute the numbers as you see fit. If you wish to play a warrior, you’d assign your highest roll to Physique and so on.
These values affect secondary attributes, such as hit points, natural healing and damage bonus. Be advised, that many secondary attributes rely on Physique (since adventurers need to be fit and in good shape to survive the dangers of Caldarox), making that a dump stat is perhaps not the smartest thing to do.
Once you’ve figured out your secondary attributes, you assign your skill points. You get 40 points to assign to your two primary skills, which you decide who are, and 30 points to assign to secondary skills. There are only 6 skills; Burgling, Knowledge, Magic, Melee, Outdoor and Survival. You must assign at least 10 points to either primary skills and 5 points to each secondary skill.
Each skill has a base value and the skill points you add are an addition to that. The base skill values are derived from the Attributes, e.g. Magic is (Psyche+Intelligence)/2.
Personality, equipment and background
When you have figured out all the numbers, it is time to write down more information about your character. Where did they come from? What is their social standing? What kind of equipment do they have?
When you have written down on your character sheet all these things, you are ready to start exploring Caldarox.
More to come
Next we will take a look at the system and the two different playing styles this game offers.
Disclaimer: This is not a review, since I took part in developing this game.