Nordsaga + Forbidden Lands
OK, it’s been a while since I’ve provided an update, and oh boy have I got a big one… I had a chance to playtest my latest Nordsaga draft just after Christmas with a visiting friend. It highlighted a number of issues which all go away if I make one big change:
Make the game an alternate setting of Forbidden Lands, rather than its own game.
I’ve been sitting on this thought for a good week, and it just makes more and more sense: I’ll need less time to write and playtest rules, and have more time to spend on the setting, whilst also (hopefully) gaining a bigger fanbase.
I’ll still be making some changes to the Forbidden Lands rules, but these are now much more minor than the complete rules overhaul I was working on earlier:
- There will be no Professions. Instead, a simplified chargen system based on Knave (complete with random tables) has been developed to help create classless PCs. Roll randomly to determine Culture, Careers, Traits, and Starting Gear.
- Skills are being replaced with Careers (similar to Shadow of the Demon Lord) to allow for greater flexibility and an increased focus on well-rounded characters. Careers (in conjunction with Cultures) also help determine PC knowledge.
- Talents will be overhauled. Current (WIP) thinking is that PCs will get 2 Talents at chargen, and that’s it. One determined by Culture (Kin) and a choice of one other Talent (adapted from the Profession Talents). They will not be ranked, but will still use Willpower Points.
- There will be some different XP triggers tied to personality, namely Conviction & Impulse will replace Pride & Dark Secret. These are modelled on Beliefs & Instincts from Burning Wheel (specifically Mouseguard’s implementation of Beliefs).
- There will be an Insanity mechanic. The current design is a pool of Insanity Points (threshold = Wits + Empathy). These act just like Rot in MYZ. When you mark your first IP as permanent, you roll for a Disorder (adapted from CoC’s Phobias and Manias). The idea is that you roleplay your Disorder, possibly with an XP reward for doing so.
- There will be no Magic, at least not in the initial playtests. I may add a single type of (low-powered) Runic magic later in the development process.
- Combat will be simplified, aiming for something more narrative, though this is very much WIP and may yet revert to following FBL.
- Tying in with simplified combat, equipment will also be simplified, to help reduce crunch and speed up play. As such, there will be no artifacts.
- Strongholds will be simplified, modelled somewhere between the Arcs in MYZ and Strongholds as presented in FBL.
In the spirit of Norse Mythology, I’ll leave the number of major changes at nine.
OK, so all well and good, right? How does this affect my original vision of Nordsaga?
- I originally wanted a Year Zero game that only featured one dice pool (like Coriolis), to keep the game more accessible. Players will now need the custom Forbidden Lands dice to play, which are currently sold out. A deck of cards is also recommended (for initiative and advanced combat), which also further reduces accessibility and relies on issues outside of my control (Fria Ligan’s supply chain). I can mitigate the card issue by creating my own printable card deck on PDF, but the custom dice issue is more problematic.
- The game will need to zoom in on a single region to play in, since it now becomes a survival game in a semi-apocalyptic location. As this region needs to be away from the centre of the Empire, I’ll probably go with the area around Jorvik / York (NE England), because I’ve already done a little world-building there. The apocalypse will likely be a major (fictitious) plague which has decimated the world’s population.
- With the focus on survival, it now feels a lot less like WFRP (as some of you will know, Nordsaga started out as a WFRP hack using the Year Zero Engine), but the addition of insanity will help mitigate that somewhat.
And that’s really it: minor changes and small issues.
I’ll stop here, because that is an awfully big wall of text – well done if you’ve read to the end! If you’d like to discuss, please head over to the official forum (link), the Nordsaga Discord server (link), or the MeWe group (link).