North-America has dominated for years in the pen&paper roleplaying games industry. The main players in publishing are based there and for most parts writers and developers have been American. Whether you look at WoTC, Chaosium, White Wolf, Catalyst or other large publishing houses, it has been the same all over. In recent years however, this has been changing and what’s even more interesting, Sweden has been producing many interesting games and has been emerging as a powerful player in this field. Will Sweden take over?
Since the dawn of Dungeons&Dragons North-America has been the Mecca of roleplaying games. All the major publishing houses have been based there and the same goes for the writers and developers. There have, of course, always been indie games published by non-American publishers that gained attraction and became popular, e.g. the swedish rpg Kult, which recently got re-published after a super-successful Kickstarter campaign.
In recent years many great non-American publishers have emerged and it’s been interesting to witness their success, e.g. Cubicle 7 in UK and Ulisses Spiele in Germany. There have also been shifts in the roleplaying industry, e.g. CCP, the producer of the computer game Eve Online, buying White Wolf and later selling the World of Darkness brand to Paradox, a Swedish computer games publisher. TSR’s history and WoTC’s takeover is probably known to most, which seriously affected the D&D brand, e.g. discontinued settings and major system updates. More and more major publishers rely on crowd funding, e.g. Chaosium and their success in using Kickstarter to fund their republishing of the module Horror on the Orient Express and funding the 7th edition of Call of Cthulhu RPG, raising over 500.000 dollars!
What’s happening in Sweden?
The Swedish economy emerged from the financial crisis as one of the strongest in Europe. A high-tech local economy and a comprehensive system of welfare benefits allow Sweden to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Sweden has one of the most globalized and competitive economies today and a great educational system.
For years Sweden has been a major exporter of art and creativity. Music has been a huge export and many Swedish authors were at the head of the Scandinavian crime fiction wave, that took Europe by storm, e.g. Stieg Larson. Swedish and Scandinavian films and TV shows have gained huge popularity, e.g. Broen (The Bridge), many of which have even been remade in the US.
There has been an active RPG-scene in Sweden for years and it’s one of the first countries to publish a non-english roleplaying games. Drakar och Demoner (Dragons & Demons) was first published in 1982 and is still in print, though it has been heavily changed since then.
Move over, America
Last year enworld.org listed the 10 most anticipated rpg’s for 2017. On that list were 4 roleplaying games published in Sweden and the top three were all Swedish, many of which had a very successful Kickstarter campaigns and gained following through other social media.
The Swedish games are interesting and original and even with the advent of 5. edition of Dungeons & Dragons and a new version of Call of Cthulhu, an edition that has been celebrated by most roleplayers, the grounds for new roleplaying games have been especially fertile. One can only speculate as to why it is so. Are the older publishers too set in their ways? Have their games gone stale? Are roleplayers more open to non-American games now? Has the internet enabled non-American publishers to get their message across?
Whatever the reason, the fact remains, Sweden is slowly climbing to the top and emerging as major player in the roleplaying industry.
Great Swedish games
As stated earlier, roleplaying games have been published in Sweden since 1982 and even before 2000 the world was starting to learn about the many great games developed there, e.g. Kult. Lately however, there has been an explosion of great roleplaying games and here are a few.
Enworld.org voted Thrudvang Chronicles the most anticipated roleplaying game of 2017. Thrudvang Chronicles is based on the Drakar och Demoner rpg, first published in 1982, and only now getting an english version following a super-successful Kickstarter campaign. Published by Riotminds, the game was expected to be released in May this year, though that date has been pushed back.
Trudvang Chronicles is an award-winning fantasy roleplaying game based on the mysterious and dark Nordic and Celtic sagas and myths. Enter a world of enchanted forests, trolls, dragons, spirits of nature, heroes and adventures. Trudvang is both grim and dark, epic and yet down to earth, with a melancholic tone of an ancient age when nature was a living creature and magic was wild and strong. Above all, Trudvang is a saga.
Tales from the Loop
Did you like the series Stranger Things or the movie ET? If yes, then you should check this game out, published by Fria Ligan. In Tales from the Loop, you play teenagers in the late Eighties, solving Mysteries connected to the Loop. Choose between character Types such as the Bookworm, the Troublemaker, the Popular Kid and the Weirdo! Everyday Life is full of nagging parents, never-ending homework and classmates bullying and being bullied.
Tales from the Loop has gotten some great reviews, e.g. on Shut Up and Sit Down, and is one of the more original games out there.
Symbaroum Roleplaying game
Symbaroum is a fantasy setting, albeit a dark one. Symbaroum, published by Jarnringen, takes place in and around the vast forest belt Davokar; An ancient forest, a forest with a dark past and an even darker heart. In Symbaroum players explore the vast Forest of Davokar in the hunt for treasures, lost wisdoms and fame.
Symbaroum has received great reviews and on the popular Drivethrurpg.com has has 4.8 out of 5 stars! This is a game that every dark fantasy fan should check out.
Coriolis is a science fiction role playing game set in a remote cluster of star systems called The Third Horizon, published by Fria Ligan. It is a place ravaged by conflicts and war, but also home to proud civilisations, both new and old. Here, the so called First Come colonists of old worship the Icons, while the newly arrived Zenithians pursue an aggressive imperialistic agenda through trade and military power.
Coriolis is based on the same core system as Mutant: Year Zero, that was awarded with a Silver ENnie for Best Rules at Gencon 2015.
LexOccultum, published by Riotminds, is a game about flintlock pistols, filthy grave diggers, lanterns, werewolves, wine and decadence, secret societies, conspiracies and mysteries too dangerous to uncover. It’s a game about explorers battling the raging seas, the truth about the Templars, holy bloodlines, a quiet war between men and beast.
LexOccultum is a skill-based BRP-clone (using the same system as Trudvang Chronicles) with archetypes such as Occultist, Highwayman, Vagabond, Soldier, etc. and a set of Character Traits (Health, Charisma, Perception, Intelligence, etc.).
Keep an eye on Sweden!
It will be interesting to see if Sweden will follow through. The groundwork is in place and it’s obvious from their Kickstarter success that there’s interest worldwide. Perhaps the US dominance has come to an end. Who knows?
Read more about Nordic Roleplaying Games.