Trudvang Chronicles is a great fantasy roleplaying game. The setting is heavily influenced by Scandinavian lore, the sagas and medieval poems, as well as Celtic legends, like Beowulf. The setting doesn’t have many similarities with D&D and such fantasy roleplaying games. Here are a few tips for players and pointers on where to seek inspiration for Trudvang games.
I must admit, I really like Trudvang Chronicles. The setting is right down my alley and has everything I love about the Viking era, the Icelandic Sagas and the Scandinavian medieval poetry (like Havamal and Voluspa). Of course, there are a few games out there that draw from the same fountain, but none of them I feel have as good connection with the spirit of this literature, and still manage to bring it into a roleplaying game, being neither too fantastic nor too historically correct.
The designers of Trudvang have said that old poems like the finnish poem Kalevala and the epic of Beowulf inspired the setting of Trudvang. These are both great for inspiration, but you can find inspiration in other literature as well. The Icelandic Sagas are medieval stories, mostly written in the 12th and 13th centuries, that tell of events that happened in Iceland and Scandinavia during the 9th and 10th centuries. These are the stories of vikings, mighty yet imperfect heroes and poets, but most of all, these are stories of conflict, where honour matters more than all the gold in the world.
Now Gisli goes to the isle with eleven men. In the meantime Skeggi had come to the isle and staked out the lists for Bard, and laid down the law of the combat, and after all saw neither him nor any one to fight on the isle in his stead. There was a man named Fox, who was Skeggi’s Smith; and Skeggi bade Fox to carve likenesses of Gisli and Bard: “And see,” he said, “that one stands just behind the back of the other, and this laughingstock shall stand for aye to put them to shame.”
These words Gisli heard in the wood, and called out:
“Thy house-carles shall have other handier work to do. Here behold a man who dares to do battle with thee!”
Then they stepped on the isle and fought, and each bore his own shield before him. Skeggi had a sword called “Warflame,” and with it he smote at Gisli till the blade sang again, and Skeggi chaunted:
“Warflame fierce flickered,
Flaring on Saxa.“
But Gisli smote back at him with his battle-axe, and took off the tail of his shield, and Skeggi’s leg along with it; and as he smote he chaunted:
“Grimly grinned Ogremaw,
Gaping at Skeggi.“
From the Saga of Gisli Sursson
The sagas are a great inspiration, no matter what Archetype you choose to play. You have your bards, like Gunnlaugur ormstunga, warriors like Gunnar from Hlidarendi, Vitner weavers like Thorgrimur nef. You can find even more in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla which contain stories about old Scandinavian kings. And of course, if you wish to get a glimpse of what morals the Vikings and the people of that time, I recommend that you read the poem Havamal, since it contains so much information on those.
If you are not into reading old texts, there are of course a few films and TV programmes that seek inspiration in these stories and poems. The popular TV programme Vikings comes to mind and the character creation there is quite good. Then there are films that dig deep into this lore, films like When the Raven flies and In the Shadow of the Raven.
The system, just like any other roleplaying game, isn’t perfect. At first, character creation can be a hassle, and I’ve seen more than a few players complain online that the combat system is cumbersome. Sure, the character creation takes time, especially when you are building your first few characters and figuring out what are the best practices takes a few tries and a couple of character deaths. The first fights are slow, but as you figure things out, the combat can move just as fast any version of D&D.
There are a few things that my groups have discovered that can be really helpful. Here’s a short list of things that are good to keep in mind during both character creation and while playing:
- Go big on your role
In many games you can get away with being a jack-of-many-trades. Trudvang is not one of these games, especially if you start out with 300 creation points. So, if you are building a fighter, use your creation points to go big into the Fighting Skill. Go to level 10 in the skill and buy Disciplines and Specialities that support your role.
- Equipment matters
Make sure you have spare! Combat can be brutal and quickly ruin your equipment. There are few things as disheartening as being lost in Wildheart and your armour is broken as well as your spear. But this also applies to your rations and other equipment. This is a game of exploration, so don’t go easy on equipment because it really matters.
- Avoid combat, especially against monsters that cause fear
Ok, so being wounded has a negative effect on your skill values, making it harder to stay active in the fight. However, when you add fear and the effects of fear to the mixture, things quickly become deadly and so difficult. Running away is sometimes the best option you have. Never forget that.
- Write down your combat actions
To speed up combat, have your combat actions written down. Not only the amount of combat points spent, but also the initiative modifier and other modifiers that come into play. This is so helpful, especially since combat can get complicated, not to mention if players are changing their actions.
- Learn more than one language
Yes, this matters. There are a number of languages spoken in Trudvang, just as in many other fantasy settings, and your character needs to learn more than her own language. Spend a few points on learning the other languages spoken in Trudvang and make sure that your character is ready to take part in almost all social encounters.
Trudvang is a great and beautiful fantasy setting and the more I dig into the setting the more I like it. The game is skill-based and the character creation is open-ended, which means that you can create whatever kind of character you like. The first sourcebook for the setting, The Stormlands, is due in October this year and I can’t wait to have it.