Hey there everyone, it's been a while since I've provided an update here. 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 official 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:
- There will be no Professions. Instead, a lifepath chargen system (complete with random tables) will determine your Attributes, Skills & Starting Gear by looking at your upbringing to create classless PCs. PCs will have a list of Careers (things like farmer, peasant, pickpocket, messenger, etc), which can be used alongside Lore rolls for positive modifiers if your PC should know something from their background.
- A small number of Skills will be slightly expanded (Crafting, Stealth, and Healing) to allow for their use with other Attributes in certain situations.
- Talents will be overhauled. Current thinking is that PCs will get 3 Talents at chargen, and that's it. One determined by Culture (Kin), one by Upbringing, and one choice of General Talent. Magic is no longer controlled by Talents (see point 8 below). XP can be spent to rank Talents, but not to purchase new ones.
- Increasing Skills will cost more - namely 3 times the new rank (exactly like how Talent advancement works in FBL). This means it takes longer to hit a skill's 5th rank.
- There will be some different XP triggers tied to personality, namely Belief & Impulse will replace Pride & Dark Secret.
- There will be an Insanity mechanic. The current design is a pool of Distress Points (threshold = Wits x2). When you fill up the DP pool, you roll for a Disorder (modelled on CoC's Phobias and Manias). Disorders have 3 "ranks" - Minor, Moderate & Acute. When your Disorder is acute and you fill your DP pool again, your PC's mind breaks and that character is no longer playable.
- There will be a mutating corruption mechanic called Ylda. This will also feature a pool of Ylda Points (threshold determined by your "Culture" = Kin, between 6-9). Each time this pool is filled, your PC gains a mutation. 3 mutations are possible before the PC is overcome by Ylda's taint, and mutated beyond recognition.
- Runic Magic will be the only type of magic. Spells are performed in three steps - carving a rune (this can be done in advance, and by someone else if desired), infusing it with fresh blood (often from the caster), and then singing an incantation in falsetto. Practically, this requires a Crafting roll to create the rune and a Performance roll to cast the spell. Spells will also be much more freeform, with effects based on the rune carved and intensity of the effect determined by the number of successes.
- As Nordsaga is a more mundane game (alt-history rather than fantasy), there will be no Artifacts.
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 card deck on PDF, but the custom dice issue is much 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.
- It now feels a lot less like WFRP (it started out as a WFRP hack using the Year Zero Engine) with the focus on survival, but the addition of insanity and mutating corruption will help mitigate that somewhat.
And that's really it. Nothing too major, and not many issues.
I'll stop here, because that is an awfully big wall of text - well done if you've read to the end!
I make YZE games (https://drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?author=Matt%20Kay) and produce predominately Free League content on my YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/@3skulls)