nordlond

End of May report

Oops! It’s already June 1st. My GURPS/Fate game was pushed back from Saturday to Sunday this weekend, so I ended up forgetting to write this post yesterday.

Of course, there are other things going on right now. Like, a lot. And I’m tired of people acting like this is a political issue too. You know what I’m talking about. Justice for George Floyd. Police brutality, racism, and murder are not political issues. And, if they are for someone, then that person’s politics are tainted. I feel fairly confident in saying that. I’ve also seen some of what’s going in first-hand in Columbus. It’s been really strange for me, coming from a smaller town. Big city protests are so different. Anyway, here’s a reminder that these things are not binary: I support the protesters and their message 110%; I have seen continuing police brutality during these protests about police brutality; I understand the rioting because people are frustrated that their voices aren’t being heard, so this is how they yell; and I think most of the looters are opportunistic idiots. I feel that so much nuance is being lost in the way that the internet (and people parroting the internet) talk about things. It’s rather unfortunate. Also, on that last part of my stance, I’ve heard what I believe to be a false equivalency about ‘a few bad cops’ giving all cops a bad name and ‘a few bad rioters’ giving all protesters a bad name. It’s not equal in my eyes. Law enforcement is an institution, they are expected to uphold the law (and should be held to higher standards), and they are expected to keep each other in line. Protesters are a sea of individuals with a largely common message, but they are not an institution in themselves.

I don’t even know how to transition after saying all of that. As I said in my fourth life update, my arm is just about back to its old self, and I am in physical therapy for pelvic floor dysfunction. A lot of other small things have happened (like getting my keyboard), but the details are in that post, so I’ll move on to my progress over the month. Well, first, let me say that, even though May was such a weak month in terms of blog content, it’s not a bad thing right now. This time, it’s a good sign. In spite of the craziness going on in the world, I’ve been enjoying my life as much as I can, and I have finally found my GMing spirit. As the honeymoon phase starts to die down (and I settle into things again), I’ll be talking way more about what’s going on right here on my blog.

Conlang stuff report

I took a look at how I want to handle adverbs and prepositions. I only worked on my conlang for a couple days this month. Right now, I’m actually waiting for Globasa to firm up a little more, so I can steal borrow some more ideas. I am trying a more cautious approach rather than just jumping into things only to radically change things again a short while later. Right now, I’m happy with that approach, but we’ll see if the conlang bug bites again.

RPG stuff report

I’ve dumped using Fate Condensed on its own, and I have integrated the Fate framework into GURPS. Aspects are actually a really handy way to cover my ass for rules that I can’t remember or that would take too much time to look up. Really, it just helps me drive GURPS in a narrative manner, which is really nice because I love GURPS and its complexity, but it can bog me down a lot, which is a me thing. Some people can just gloss over rules or make things up on the fly, and I can too, but I always feel guilty for doing that, and I feel a lack of structure when I do things like that. My integrated system gives me the structure by using Fate‘s narrative framework—as I said. It’s not perfect, but I’ve cobbled together 6+ pages of rules, and I hope that I can eventually share them in some form without having to worry about infringing on any properties. (With the power of logarithms, I’ve even finally been able to incorporate “Knowing Your Own Strength” and “Conditional Injury”, but more on that later too!)

Hand in hand with finally having a solid system (for me, personally, of course), I am finally running a really solid setting: Deadlands. I absolutely love Weird West stuff. It’s one of my favorite genres right now, up there with New Old West. I have the third edition GURPS Classic: Deadlands book for a nice and easily convertible reference point, but there are so many great adventures for Deadlands Reloaded, and I have had a blast converting and running those. It has taken away a lot of the burden of being the (forever) GM, but, even more importantly, because it has done that, it’s given me a lot more space to actually be creative. If I don’t have to worry about setting up the quest, the location, and most of the characters, I can dedicate a bunch of my prep time to creating cool things on the side. Spoiler alert to my players, but, yes, I plan on having a Weird West version of Metroid’s own Samus Aran appear.

Have I forsaken Norðlond? Oh, no. No. Absolutely not. If the Native Americans in Deadlands are trying to get back to the Old Ways, then who says that’s not happening in other (perhaps colder) parts of the world? Norðlond is definitely up next after I take off my Deadlands training wheels. I’ve mentioned my own campaign world that I’ve called GURPS Project Sirocco, which was going to squeeze in Norðlond as part of that, but, as I said, it may just become part of Deadlands now. We’ll have to wait and see! Really, it would make sense either way as both approaches give Norðlond a (semi-)post-apocalyptic magic-comes-back kind of scenario.

Writing stuff report

I didn’t work on my story at all, unfortunately. All of the story-building parts of my brain have been hard at work on tabletop RPG stuff. Next month, however, is another Camp NaNo, and I plan on participating. I’ve got some ideas stewing in the back of my brain, though!

Quick Review(s) of The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, Norðlondr Fólk, and Hand of Asgard from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

The Dragons of Rosgarth, Forest’s End, Norðlondr Fólk, and Hand of Asgard are all part of the Norðlond Sagas (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG, which is coming out right about now. Also, I should specify that Hand of Asgard is an extra, but, of course, I had to pick it up. I’m reviewing these books at the same time because they were all part of the same Kickstarter, so it seems fitting to me. First of all, let me just go ahead and say that Douglas Cole has done it again. These are all fantastic products, the art and the maps are as great as ever, and I am super happy to have backed them, and I anticipate that I’d back anything he created for the DFRPG, which is good because he’s working on a bestiary next.

The Dragons of Rosgarth is another great micro-setting and adventure that’s part of the larger Norðlond setting that I love so much. More worldbuilding, more festivals, more information about climate and weather—that’s the stuff I live for. Then, there are detailed factions, which are unique and well-written. But I’m still happiest about all of the dinosaurs in the bestiary. A great book, a neat adventure in a wonderful setting, and I can’t wait to run it.

Forest’s End is another-another great micro-setting and adventure. Of course, I love all of the history, the information about population, a very detailed underworld, and even some stuff about taxes. Yes, Douglas Cole makes taxes fun and interesting. You can quote me on that. There’s a wealth of information on resources, points of interest, services (like magical healing), and festivals and holidays. And it doesn’t stop there. It fleshes out more of how the setting approaches dragons and druids and faerie, all of which are ever so prevalent in Norðlond. A big chunk of the bestiary goes to dragonkin, which is also fun.

Of course, it tickles me that The Dragons of Rosgarth has a lot of dinosaurs while Forest’s End has a lot of dragonkin. No problem with that—it’s just funny.

Norðlondr Fólk is my kind of book. It’s a short supplement that details the races of the Norðlond setting, and a lot of the pages are spent on fitting in the base races in the DFRPG while also providing some welcome norse-themed versions of those races. Sick of how all fantasy dwarves have big bushy beards? Then take a look at the dvergr for hairless dwarves that resemble stone. Of course, I also have a special place for the hrafnar (raven-folk) because they remind me of the kenku in D&D, which is the race that my youngest sister chose when I forced my younger sisters to play D&D with me way back when.

Hand of Asgard is even more my kind of book because it’s a short supplement that deals with the faith, religion, and surrounding culture of the Norðlond setting while providing some really cool abilities for clerics and holy warriors. My review is short, but this book is absolutely packed with great stuff. Plus, you get stats for valkyries at the end.

Many thanks to Douglas Cole (The Dragons of Rosgarth), Kevin Smyth (Norðlondr Fólk and Hand of Asgard), Merlin Avery (Forest’s End), and Kyle Norton (The Dragons of Rosgarth) for bringing these truly incredible books to life.

Other Quick Reviews:

Quick Review of The Citadel at Norðvorn from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

The Citadel at Norðvorn (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG came out last year in 2019, so I’m a little late to reviewing that as well. It is a lot like Hall of Judgement with more experience and content behind it, and I really couldn’t have asked for more. My favorite parts were (as they always are) the worldbuilding and the information about said world. Furthermore, it gives examples of villages and gives the GM the tools they need to create more villages. I love a good bestiary. Learning more about history and geography and holidays is a GURPS specialty, and I’m glad to see it represented here. And that’s not to say that Hall of Judgement was barebones—it certainly wasn’t! But The Citadel at Norðvorn does it all and then some. With more polish too! I’m talking in circles a bit, though, but it really deserves the praise. Oh, and the bestiary—that’s another favorite. As it always is. It’s great-sized book of great work (and great art!) that fleshes out what is now one of my favorite RPG settings of all time, so, yeah, it comes heavily recommended.

Other Quick Reviews:

Quick Review of Hall of Judgement from Gaming Ballistic for the DFRPG

The Hall of Judgement (Kickstarter) for the DFRPG came out back in 2018, but that isn’t going to stop me from reviewing it now. 120 pages of a norse-themed setting and adventure for the dungeon fantasy sibling of my favorite table-top RPG ever? Yeah, I’m interested (and I was very happy to learn that it was only the tip of the norse-themed iceberg). The Warehouse 23 page describes the book in more detail than I would be willing to do in a ‘quick review’, so read it:

Hall of Judgment is set in the barbarian lands of the north (predictably called Norðlönd). It is designed to evoke the feeling of a nordic/viking culture without specifically invoking Norse myth and legend.

  • This product is a micro-setting and scenario for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game (Powered by GURPS)
  • It features non-linear adventuring for 4-6 250-point characters
  • Explore a Viking-flavored world trekking through cold, harsh mountains, facing dangerous faerie, and searching for a lost holy place, and the priceless relics within
  • Easily portable and usable with any GURPS Fantasy campaign

What’s in the book?

The book contains:

Preface. Contains a brief discussion of the original volume and how it came to be converted to the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Isfjall. The town is described in enough detail to serve as a base for further adventures.

The Journey. This section is broken out and expanded from the original volume. Random encounter tables, weather hazards, and other difficulties that arise when nature itself rises against you.

Lögheimili Ruins. A dangerous place. Full of evil it is. In you must go. A micro-dungeon! You don’t have to go in. Or come out.

Domstollinn. The core scenario. It is presented as a set of encounters that can be tackled (or not) in any order. An encounter includes a set of Challenges, telling the GM what must be overcome, Concealed information the players don’t know initially, Alternative ways to short-circuit, bypass, or otherwise not just Leroy Jenkins one’s way through a challenge, and Rewards, where appropriate.

Bestiary. Each monster that may be encountered in the scenario is given a description, statistics (including brief stats used with the Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start), and combat tactics to make each one unique. Over 30 creatures, nearly all of them new.

Fantastic Grappling Quick-Start. Even if you don’t have the book, you can still use the rules. Two pages of grappling the way it should be: fast, fun, and well-integrated with the Dungeon Fantasy RPG mechanics, using the control damage type first introduced in GURPS Martial Arts: Technical Grappling, but refined and simplified after years of play in multiple systems.

Pre-Gen Characters. Sixteen 250-point characters will be provided to allow the scenario to be played with minimal preparation; this adds to the excellent pre-gens already provided in the Dungeon Fantasy RPG boxed set.

All together, this is a complete adventure that can be run on its own or dropped into an existing campaign.

And that says nothing of the production quality of the book itself and the art within (especially the maps), which is great because I was a bit let down by some of the art in the DFRPG itself. It’s a great book, and it really whet my appetite for the books that would come next. Really, though—at this point, supporting Douglas Cole is like supporting the DFRPG and GURPS themselves. Even if his content wasn’t absolutely amazing (which it is!), I’d probably still be supporting him and his work. At least, this way, I am doubly happy about it!

Other Quick Reviews: