Trudvang Chronicles is a Swedish roleplaying game, one that is highly anticipated. We have been digging through the rulebooks and now it’s time to dive into campaign play, environment, exploration and monsters.
One of the key elements to fantasy roleplaying, and perhaps the most overlooked one, is the journey. If you look to older fantasy novels like Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Dragonlance Chronicles etc. you see that a huge part of the narrative evolves around a journey or a quest that the main characters have to undertake. Even modern fantasies stay fairly true to this theme, e.g. Daenerys’ quest in Game of Thrones. Whether you play Earthdawn, D&D, Shadow of the Demon Lord or any other fantasy roleplay, this motive will come up over and over again.
Therefore, I’ve often found roleplaying games that don’t invest in or take this part of the fantasy into account a bit lacking. After all, it took Frodo quite some time to walk from the Shire to Mordor and the journey itself was the adventure, not fighting Gollum on (or rather, in) Mt. Doom. The same goes for fantasy roleplaying games. Making the environment and the exploration of it a part of the narrative can bring the setting to life and help the players and therefore the characters to invest themselves in the story. As someone said, pay heed to the details, for they make up the picture.
Trudvang is a vast continent, one ripe with sagas and legends, where nature is a powerful force and is to be reckoned with. Though humans, dwarves and elves have for a long time lived in cities, villages, hamlets and on small farmsteads, there’s a lot of ground that’s still the domains of trolls, wurms or tursir. Trudvang’s wilderness is a dangerous place.
Environment and Exploration
In Trudvang Chronicles environment and exploration play a huge role. The nature is a powerful force and the characters would be wise to pay heed to mother nature, for not only can they get lost, but the weather in many parts of Trudvang resembles the weather in the Nordic countries, with warm summers and merciless winters. Cold, frostbite and snow can have a terrible effect on the unwary adventurer. The game has a good set of rules that encompass the effect of the environment and weather, e.g. spending too much time in a snowy landscape can cause snow blindness or a landslide could hit you while travelling through mountains. The environment is almost alive and just as important as wandering monsters or brigands, for there can be a multitude of complications that can affect you on your trip.
This also means that you need skill to overcome many of the natural dangers of the world. Having the necessary skills can determine whether you survive a journey between two places and it can also mean that instead of living on raisins, nuts and dried bread for days, you’ll feast on hog, deer and other game. Trudvang includes a great set of rules for hunting, making foraging and going after game an integral part of the setting.
There’s one thing that I like to mention. Either I completely missed it, or Trudvang has no rules about light and darkness. There are monsters that have Night Sight and there are rules for Blind Fighting. You can have a torch in your adventuring kit, but I did not find any rules on the effects of light, low light or darkness. A blinded creature has a -15 penalty when fighting, but what about when fighting under a moonlit sky?
Equipment and Extracts
Weapons, armour and other equipment is something that almost all roleplayers take seriously, for this is often just as important as the characters stats and abilities themselves.
In Trudvang there are four weapon groups, one-handed light weapons, one-handed heavy weapons, two-handed weapons and ranged weapons. Each group has its own rules for damage, i.e. a dagger, handaxe or small spear all do the same damage, though each weapon has a different initiative modifier. The weapons themselves are heavily influenced by viking culture, which I really like, e.g. the swords and axes both have Nordic names and bear resemblance to weapons from the viking era.
Armour in Trudvang is something much more complicated than your regular D&D armour. In Trudvang your armour’s Protection Value is subtracted from any damage you receive, the higher the value, the better. But there’s a catch, the more hits your armor takes the likelier it is to brake. Every set of armour has a Breach Value, which is normally 10x the armour’s Protection value, but as the Breach value lowers, the same goes for the Protection Value, e.g. armour with 5 PV and 50 BV will have 4 PV once it has 40 BV. Armour also affects your initiative, movement, speed and the freedom of movement.
You can, along with your regular adventuring gear and services, buy extracts and elixirs. Each extract is described in detail, its effect and ingredients. There are three groups of extracts, healing, poison and altering. You can buy all sorts of extracts that have different effects, e.g. you can buy a foul smelling fat that you rub on yourself and it helps you overcome the extreme temperatures of the wilderness. This is something that I find a really nice touch.
Humans, elves and dwarves are not the only sentient races in Trudvang. They share the continent with wurms, trolls, tursirs and beings of the mist. Just as with the weapons, the monsters are heavily influenced by Nordic legends and myths, e.g. you have different sorts of jotuns, each bearing semi-Icelandic names (Hrimtursir in Trudvang, Hrímþurs in Icelandic) which made me very happy.
Jorgi’s bestiary has many great monsters and I can imagine that most players will find many challenges therein. As much as I enjoyed browsing through the book, for it has many beautiful drawings and images, I have to admit that I miss seeing more information about animals, especially since so much effort was put in the chapter on environment, exploring and hunting.
Trudvang truly is a beautiful setting and I believe that many roleplayers will find the game to their liking, especially those who like vikings and the Celtic culture. It is true to the fantasy genre, it’s easy to learn and the setting is rich and full of great potential.
Stay tuned for our final part, where we review the module Wildheart.