Lately we have been reviewing and writing about new and emerging roleplaying games from Sweden, e.g. Trudvang Chronicles and Tales from the Loop. But there are other roleplaying games, in English or some of the Nordic languages, that are noteworthy and here are just a few Nordic roleplaying games.
For years I only looked to the US for roleplaying games. I played various D&D settings, the many variations on World of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun and other American roleplaying games. To be frank, I had tunnel vision of the genre.
Ever since I realised that there was more to be discovered in other parts of the world I’ve been learning about new and interesting games very frequently. Games like the German RPG’s Degenesis: The Rebirth and The Dark Eye, the French RPG Shadows of Esteren and, of course, Swedish games like Trudvang Chronicles and Tales from the Loop. All are games that are just as interesting and fun to play as D&D and other American roleplaying games.
The Nordic countries have for years published roleplaying games, though Sweden has probably the most active RPG publishers. What’s more interesting is the fact that most of these games have been published in their native language before being translated into English – if at all. Here are some of the interesting Nordic role playing games.
Kult: Divinty Lost by Helmgast (who also have produced Eon and Neotech) is a reboot of the highly acclaimed and infamous contemporary horror role-playing game “Kult”, originally released a quarter of a century ago, in 1991. The game was reprinted following a highly successful Kickstarter Campaign. The game uses a skill-system, players roll 2d10 + X, where X is a skill modifier. To get success the player must score over 15, a number between 10-14 is a success with a complication and numbers below 10 are a failure.
In Kult players assume the roles of Kultist who discover that the world around us is a lie, that we are sleep-walking through life and that mankind is trapped in illusion. By slowly discovering the truth about our prison, our captors, and our hidden pasts, we can finally awaken from our induced sleep and take control of our destiny.
Symbaroum is a dark fantasy setting from the Swedish publisher Järnringen. In Symbaroum you take on the roles of explorers and adventurers who need to take part in scenarios and adventures in the Davokar Forest, searching for treasures in dark ruins, lost wisdom and fame amongst the Ambrian people.
Symbaroum is a skill-based system, where the players roll a d20 and need to score under the set difficulty number, which is determined by your character’s attribute and any complications added by the game master. What makes this system even more interesting is the fact that the game master never rolls any dice.
I’ve just started reading this game and to be honest, it looks really nice. I really like the idea of the game master not rolling any dice but I haven’t played the game yet. Hopefully that will change very soon.
Draug is a Norwegian role playing game, published by Spartacus. It uses the FUDGE game system, though modified to fit the setting. The setting is Norway in the 19th century and is a cross between the historical Norway and the folk tales of the era. In Draug players take on the roles of normal people who experience and need to find ways to fight some of the many Norwegian fairy tale monsters, such as trolls and nisser (fairies and gnomes). However, in Draug the focus is on co-operation and problem solving rather than combat.
Itras By is also a Norwegian role playing game, published by Vagrant Workshop. Itras by is a surreal roleplaying game set in a city reminiscent of Europe in the 1920’s. The system is card based and focuses on freeform and improvisation. The setting, Itras By, is European but with a twist. Only in the city centre is reality relatively stable, but the further afield you get, the more it deteriorates, mutates and becomes dream-like.
The rule system in a narrow sense is simple and takes up only a few pages. Itras By pioneered the use of Matthiijs Holter’s resolution cards (also featured in amongst others Archipelago III), and additionally features a Chance Card system. The resolution cards have texts like “Yes, but…”, “No, and…”, “Yes, and…” etc. The results are interpreted by players, making the game quite co-operative in nature.
Mythic Iceland was not published by a Nordic publisher, but by Chaosium. Mythic Iceland was however written by Iceland-based Brazilian Pedro Ziviani (crazy combination, I know). Mythic Iceland is set in Iceland during the Viking Era and it digs deeply into the Icelandic Sagas and Icelandic folk tales. This game uses Chaosium’s BRP system.
If you like Viking RPG make sure you check this game out. It’s really good and fun to play. You can also get some great modules for this game on Chaosium’s homepage.
Fusion is a Danish role playing game, written by Malik Hyltoft and Palle Schimdt, published by Høst og Søn. Fusion takes place in Denmark, approx. 2012, in a big city characterized by privatization, open borders, occultism, social distress and crime. Players must fill the role as a group of private detectives that clear mysteries and throw threads into this maelstrom of conflicting interests. Will they choose to be the weak guardians in a world where independence and capitalism are keywords? Will they earn the big capital with all the wealth and prestige that comes with? In a Europe full of hardened criminals, murderous junkies, shady streamers, rival detective agencies, capitalist companies, unscrupulous terrorists, street gangs, insane people and ordinary people, it can be a struggle in itself just to survive.
Fusion is a d6 system and reminds me of the Storytelling system, used for instance in World of Darkness. You gather your dice pool based on Abilities, Skills and Specialities and you need to roll 6’s for succeses.
Mutant: Year Zero
Mutant: Year Zero is a Swedish roleplaying game, developed by Fria Ligan (who also publish Tales from the Loop and Coriolis: The Third Horizon). Mutant: Year Zero is a post-apocalyptic RPG, that has been around for 30 years. In Mutant: Year Zero, you play as one of The People – heavily mutated humans living in The Ark, a small and isolated settlement in a sea of chaos. The outside world is unknown to you, and so is your origin. So, basically this is a gritty survivalist game.
Mutant: Year Zero uses a dice pool system, like Fusion. Players build their dice pool from attributes and skills, where 6’s counts a successes. Characters can also have diverse mutilations and talents. If you know either Tales from the Loop or Coriolis: The Third Horizon you know what kind of game to expect from Fria Ligan. Mutant: Year Zero fits perfectly into the publisher’s portfolio of great games.
Western is a Swedish roleplaying game set in the Wild West, published by Askfageln, and is consistently the biggest roleplaying game on the Swedish convention scene, at according to their Kickstarter page, since the game has been around for years. You take on the role of a gunslinger, bounty hunter, entrepreneur, prospector or other familiar Western type.
Western is a dice-based roleplaying game. Success or failure is based either on one of your Attributes (like Strength or Intelligence) or a Skill you have learned (Riding for example). You combine your values with the result of a twenty-sided die — which you re-roll each time you roll a 20 — and add up the results (this is called an unlimited dice roll).
Western will be available in English in December 2018, after a successful Kickstarter in 2017.
M-Space is a Swedish science fiction role-playing game, published by Frostbyte books. The rules are based on Mythras Imperative, a D100 game system mainly based on percentage values in situations that require dice roll. M-Space doesn’t have a setting per se, but instead the game includes everything needed to play games in a sci-fi setting and create characters from various cultures and careers.
This is not a comprehensive list of Nordic role playing games, but does display a few interesting ones. If you feel that I missed a game or a two, feel free to add to the list in comments.