On Writers’ Response to Sad Puppies, Medicide Review, and Magazine Update

In light of the responses I’ve seen from authors who were in the top 10 of the open forum Sad Puppies IV vote, which ranged from confusion and mild annoyance to shrill angry freak outs, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes from Varg Vikernes:

I might be Nordic, heterosexual and have a Pagan ideology myself, but why would I expect the fans of my music to be just like me?

I am a narrow-minded ultra-conservative anti-religious misanthropic and arrogant bigot, alright, and I have a problem with just about everything and everyone in this world, but I am not demented, and if those who are not like me are able to enjoy my music that is all fine by me. Be a Christian-born black gay feminist converted to Judaism for all I care, or worse; a Muslim. Just stay off my lawn…  – 2010 Interview w/Stereo Gum

If only some of those in the sci-fi community could be so magnanimous!

Rather than harp on about that, I would like to share a review I recently received. No, not for Cirsova, but for medicide’s latest album, Supernova Black:

5.0 out of 5 stars Open Up & Take Your Medicide
By S. Rosin on March 20, 2016
Supernova Black

If you like your Industrial music “old school”, then you’ve come to the right place. Herein are practiced the sonic rituals as they were originally taught before the term degenerated into nothing more than dance music with a bad attitude. This is light years away from any dance floor with a focus that is beyond the void where these sounds are being generated. This duo are on a mission to mess with your mind, inspired by Magick and the malevolence of a corporate pharmaceutical industry that places profit over people. To that end, the technicians at Medicide Industrial now present 5 new prescriptions for altering your perceptions. The first thing you need to get about these guys is that they are a LIVE band, man. Everything is recorded live in a live room with microphones. The air is just as important to the sound as the instruments making it. What you hear is what you get and there’s no messing around. These sounds exist in the real world where they shudder and vibrate the air as a physical manifestation of the will of its creators. That fact makes these recordings as vital and dangerous as a rattlesnake. You just don’t know when it’s going to strike. It’ll hiss and chatter at you with menace and then spring forward with a thrust and get you right in the jugular. So if you’ve got some bottle, you can make like one of those southern Baptist snake handlers and pick up this serpent for a little soul salvation. If you’re lucky, you might even survive!

Now that’s the kind of love I’m talking about!

Even though we didn’t technically announce it until mid January, Supernova Black’s Amazon release date is Dec 30, so we ARE technically eligible for Best Related Work… I kid, I kid, but you should check us out!

I did some catching up on my reading this weekend, and though I didn’t quite clear my inbox, I made some pretty big steps towards doing so. I am now more determined than ever to step up Cirsova’s output this year because I have so many great submissions. I’m not ready to officially announce that I’ll be buying for two or three issues – that will happen some time after submissions are closed at the end of next month – but I’m probably going to be buying for at least two issues. That’s just how much great stuff I’ve gotten. I’m losing my mind with how exciting some of this stuff is!

MYFAROG RPG Delay: Varg Vikernes Arrested! (Anniversary Edition)

Okay, Varg’s been arrested. The French think that he’s planning a massacre. Now, I don’t follow all of what Varg’s up to, but I’m pretty sure he’s been too busy building his house, blogging, working on music and writing an RPG to be planning a massacre. Varg strikes me as being too busy with various personal projects to jeopardize it by planning a massacre.

I guess I should’ve ordered a copy of Forebears sooner than later. And I figured out why all of a sudden I’m getting all of these hits on my old MYFAROG post.

Apparently his wife bought a few guns (legally, I might add; she’s a member of a rifle club), and that was enough to bring the heat down on the couple, and both of them were arrested. The articles are quick to point out that he’s a “convicted murderer”, but don’t forget that, while Varg didn’t do himself any favors in trying to cover it up initially, it was a case of self-defense. Also, the articles have pointed out that “there is no evidence that Kristian Vikernes was formulating any kind of plan.”

Anyway, the whole thing got kicked off apparently because Behring Brevik sent Varg a copy of his manifesto in hopes of finding an ally. Varg basically called Brevik an idiot, but receiving and commenting on it was enough to make French officials worry.

I hope things get straightened out soon. Varg has always been very personable and a generally nice guy to me, and while I heartily disagree with many of his ideas and points of view, I don’t believe that he is personally a threat to anyone.

Update: They don’t have anything on them, but are holding them anyway (probably for political reasons)http://www.euronews.com/2013/07/17/no-target-no-identified-project-as-vikernes-and-his-wife-s-custody-extended/

Also, it should be noted that in the posts in question, Varg specifically said not to do anything illegal in ‘revolt’ against the European status quo.

Update 2: Marie Cachet has been released from custody.

Update 3: Varg has been released, but may be prosecuted for hate speech. http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/07/18/la-garde-a-vue-de-l-extremiste-norvegien-kristian-vikernes-levee_3449857_3224.html

Update 4: Varg has an account of the incident, which may be found here.

Update 5: A candid interview with Marie Cachet & Varg Vikernes.

Update 6:  The verdict of Guilty for charges of hate-speech quietly came and went, followed by a few news articles reminding us of Varg’s past, calling him a neo-Nazi (he’s not) and making spurious allegations in an attempt to link him with Breivik.  I’m guessing that since Varg’s most recent update, post verdict, is explaining mechanical changes to his RPG that he’s taking things in stride.

Radical New Changes Pre-Publication to MYFAROG Skill System

So, the news is that MYFAROG is doing away with its skill system in favor of XP based point-buy. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the overall system.

Originally, rather than using XP, MYFAROG used a system not too dissimilar from the old FF2/Daggerfall skill-grind. The idea was that improving skill is something of an upward curve; while it wasn’t hard to learn a basic skill and improve it somewhat, the higher your mastery, the longer it took to improve. It was an interesting idea, and not something you saw in tabletop games too often. But as Varg himself pointed out, you don’t want the tabletop version of taping down the run button in Morrowind and leaving your character to run against a wall to grind athletics.

So, now he’s implementing an XP based system which we have yet to see. As clunky as the old skill system might have been (I don’t really like skill systems in general for tabletop games), I can’t say I’m a huge fan of point-buy systems either. Well, okay, the old white-wolf point-buy system held up alright for what was essentially a rules lite game focused on story, but I’ve seen 3.5e Eclipse stuff that boggles the mind.  If he has gone the XP route, I’m hoping Varg took my suggestion to better flesh out the Power Levels to something equivalent to the 3e CR rating system.

When I do get the final version of MYFAROG, if I end up running it, it will undoubtedly be with some of my own tweaks and adjustments (c’mon, who doesn’t houserule things a bit?). Luckily, this time I’ll be approaching it with some more experience with both GMing and game design under my belt, so I might make some changes of my own to keep the old skill rules, or a variant of it. Recently a friend introduced me to Altars and Archetypes, which is a ruleslite system that allows for pretty infinite flexibility in character creation; you choose your character’s archetypes/roles (so you can have a Pirate/Wizard/Baker) and you roll dice of varying sides based on your character’s experience in that role to perform tasks. You’ve been a pirate for a long time, so you’d roll 1d12 for pirating tasks; you’ve been studying magic for the last year, so you’d roll 1d8 for casting spells; you’ve recently taken up baking, though you’re not very good at it yet, so you’d roll 1d6 when you’d try to bake something. That’s a silly example, but you get the idea.

Since MYFAROG is essentially a “Job” based game, I think that a similar system could be swapped out if you didn’t want to use point-buy or the crunchier Skill system. You’d simply have to take into account what each job/role is and the skills/abilities they grant you in MYFAROG and translate that to the flexible skill system.  I don’t know.  It’s something I might look at.

Most of all, I’m itching to read the portions of the worldbuilding and background info that was dummied out of the playtest version. Once it’s out or once I know more about the changes Varg has made, I’ll start fleshing out ideas, maybe even write up a module or something.

 

V – Varg Vikernes

Fantasy has always had big impact on metal, and metal has had a big impact on fantasy. But so rarely have the two been joined so integrally as by Varg Vikernes. Sure Summoning, which is a great band, may put out album after album of (often obscurely) Tolkien themed black metal, but at the early forefront of the movement was Varg. While many of the other black metal bands had ‘cool’ ‘evil-sounding’ names in English, Burzum stood out. Meaning ‘Darkness’ in the Black Tongue of Mordor, Burzum was the brainchild of its sole member, ‘Count Grishnakh’, whose name was also an obscure lord of the rings reference. The project sprung out of an earlier effort, Uruk-hai, but beyond and apart from singing songs about elves and hobbits, as most metal bands are wont to do, Burzum explored the black and white morality presented in Tolkien’s world as it could be applied to the real world, viewing it through the lens of his own unique brand of Norse pagan nationalism.

Tolkien’s Middle Earth is a setting heavily influenced by old English and Scandinavian culture and mythology. However because he was a Christian writer essentially writing morality tales for a Christian audience, his cultures tended to be rather flat morally, which could be seen as a bowdlerization of the peoples from whom they were derived. His Orcs were uniformly evil, and his Men of the East were all barbarous, vile and amoral; a traditional view of less civilized pre-Christianized warrior societies and cultures.

For Varg, darkness represented the adventure to be had in the world, and when the light had purged that darkness, society would become decadent for that lack of adventure. Recall for a moment, how little of any import or interest happens in the 4th age; though it may be Middle Earth’s ‘happily ever after’, there is something sad about Sam all alone in his final days, looking to the west. In a more real-world sense, Varg explores the ideas of an ancient world that has been purged and homogenized by Christianity. The old ways and ancient culture is inevitably lost. It’s a recurring theme in fantasy, the departure of magic from the world. From the exodus of Dunsany’s Magician in the Charwoman’s Shadow to the last desperate attempt to stop the march of man’s progress by the Woodsy Lord in Thief, fantasy is filled with stories of a world diminished by the absence of these things. Man creates light to push back the darkness, because man fears the dark. But that is where the magic is.

Over his long career, he has recorded several albums that run quite the range of genre and style, never easy to peg down. His stuff gets lumped in with Black Metal because of the time in which Burzum was recording and individuals associated with him, though he has distanced himself from the movement and scene which he was never actively a part of.

This track from the album Hvis Lyset Tar Oss (If the Light Takes Us) is quintessential black metal, provided you like keyboards in your black metal:

This track from Filosofem is more along the lines of (oldschool) industrial metal:

This track from Daudi Baldrs (The Death of Baldr), which was recorded while in prison (for the slaying of Øystein Aarseth, who had concocted an elaborate plan to murder Vikernes, in self-defense), is something else entirely.

If I ever get around to playing Daggerfall again, I fully intend to go through with my plan to swap out the original sound files for the Daudi Baldrs album.  As a fellow fan of the Elder Scrolls, I think he might be able to appreciate that.

After being released from prison, he put out a pair of excellent metally albums, but has been on a much more experimental bent the last few years with Umskiptar (neo-folk with some heavier elements) and Sol Austan, Mani Vestan, which admittedly reminds me a lot of the stuff I was doing with Medicide before I had my mid-life crisis.

There are plenty of reasons you can find to not like Varg or to discount his body of work, but I won’t go into them here. You can do your homework and come to your own conclusions. As for me, I’ve found that despite any disagreement, qualms or whatnot, I’ve found his output incredibly enjoyable and excellent inspirational material for fantasy settings. Oh, yeah, and have I mentioned he’s working on an RPG? MYFAROG.org. You can find a lot of his thoughts on music, gaming and other things at Burzum.org.   He regularly blogs about religion and survivalism over at Thulean Perspective over on the blog-list there.

 

Emergent Narratives and a Few More Shout Outs

I’m always intrigued by games that have emergent narratives, and the emergent aspect of rogue-likes combined with the work/reward cycle makes games like Elona particularly addictive.

I’ve been playing in a way I hadn’t ever played before. Usually, I would only have 1 or 2 allies and would never even think about hiring other adventurers in the world for short term contracts. The character I’ve been playing this time, however, has grown to have quite the entourage, including a core party of a tank, two gunners, a tank in training, and a very low-level tank in training that I don’t quite know what to do with right now. I’ve got a high level rock-thrower, but he’s keeping things under control at my Shop, which is like a used car lot for undesired dungeon-loot. In addition to this fairly large party, I’ve been taking the opportunity to hire any reasonably priced adventurer who swings by my house to say “hi”. This has more or less ended up with there being 3 mediocre adventurers I’ve had with me several different 7 day stretches each, as well as a few others I may have only hired once. I typically use them for a little extra oomph in dungeons around my level, hoping that they’ll keep my lower level companions from taking the heaviest hits.

Anyway, I was playing last night, and something happened. Some adventurer showed up at my character’s house, and she had the Zantetsu. The Zantetsu is probably the best longsword-type weapon in the game, and god knows how much stuff you have to have to be able to trade for it (you can only trade one stack of items at a time, and 19 Scrolls of Wonder got me laughed at). The chances of finding one or having someone who has one stop by your house is astronomically low. So, I had a plan. I hired her.

Hiring this adventurer cost me about 1.5 million gold for a 7 day contract. This pretty much broke the bank for me, so I had to get my money’s worth. The original plan was to tell my main party to stay behind, take her to high level dungeons, and hope that she got killed by something so I could get her loot and escape using various scrolls before whatever killed her got me. After clearing 2 high level dungeons, it became apparent that there’s next to no way that anything in these holes are going to kill her. I’ve got maybe a day or so left on her contract and I’ve taken her into a level 34 dungeon, which is more than twice my current level and will have out of depth monsters of nearly godlike proportion. One after another, she cleaves her way through wyverns, titans, liches, dragons, greater mummies, evil chess sets, and worse. And with each monster she obliterates with her Infinity+1 sword, she smiles at me and winks. This changes everything. I may not get Zantetsu as a bequest but as a dowry.

Sleezy evil wizard (c’mon, it’s a roguelike!) brings a beautiful warrior with him, hoping that she will die and he can steal her treasures, but over the course of their time together, he sees more than her sword, she maybe sees the job as more than just a contract, and they start to fall in love. Will they get married? Will they live happily ever after? WHO KNOWS!? I do know that mechanically, the characters are a little over half-way there. I don’t know exactly how much time is left on her current contract, but it should be enough to finish off this last dungeon. If I’m lucky, she’ll have killed enough monsters that she’ll be willing to stay as a permanent fixture of the party. If I’m less lucky, I might at least get enough money to hire her again and run another high level dungeon or two. Because it’s Elona, there’s a lot of potential for evil unhappy endings for this relationship: after the wizard and warrior get married, and the wizard could always just rob her of her prized possessions and then sell her into slavery. But that’s pretty awful. I’d like to think that maybe the wizard sees more in her than her valuable equipment and she becomes a staple in his party and in his life.

Anyway, enough about that, there are a few other things I wanted to mention.

First of all, there are only 10 days left on the Rumors of War kickstarter, and it’s just under half-way to its goal. Go over there and show some love!

Secondly, Varg has started a new video series of mini-documentaries on Black Metal. The first might be of particular interest to some of the readers here, as it pertains in part to the influence of RPGs on Metal. I’m not entirely sure how this documentary project is going to turn out, as it’s just begun. If he cuts it short and only makes a few, it’ll be kind of a disappointment, especially as a lot of what he talks about can be found elsewhere or is common knowledge to music wonks. But if he keeps it up and actually creates, as he says he’s planning, a definitive and myth-dispelling analysis of Black Metal from the perspective of someone who was there, if only to try to set the record straight, it will doubtlessly be insightful and fascinating.

Lastly, I’ve found a tool that will help me in my Batman quest. Or deter me. I haven’t decided yet. Either way, http://www.therealbatmanchronologyproject.com/ is a thing of wonder.

Re: They Thought They Were Free

Recently, Varg Vikernes and his wife were arrested in a violent raid on their country home and were eventually released without having been charged with anything because they hadn’t actually committed any crimes.

Of course, despite this, their house was torn apart, their things more or less ransacked, and their accounts frozen. They’re still recovering from this and trying to pick up the pieces.

This shouldn’t happen to anyone.

Anyway, Varg is considering filing suit against the French police for the damage done to property and for smashing, among other things, his pregnant wife’s face.

If you want to help out, there are a few things you can do. Buy Burzum albums. Buy Forebears (Marie is handling these and doing distro, so I expect this would be the quickest way to help by buying something). Donate directly; Varg’ll have more info up soon.

Alignment in MYFAROG

Though I’m sure most of you folks out there have yet to glimpse into the dark depth that is MYFAROG, discussions on the virtues of Alignment and Alignment systems are ongoing and ubiquitous throughout the gaming community. Some time ago, when I was posting my first reactions to MYFAROG, I’d mentioned briefly how alignment worked, but did not go into any details other than that it is determined by a combination of factors rather than plotted on a grid or spectrum. Well, turns out I’m a little wrong; it can be plotted on a grid, as is illustrated in this post. If anything, alignment in MYFAROG is similar to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator archetyping.

With any game system that implements an alignment system, one needs to decide if alignment is what guides and motivates the character or if alignment is the manifestation of a character’s actions. Alignment as a constraint is very unpopular in some circles, with many players simply choosing to ignore it altogether, treating it as an optional rule. But in a game like MYFAROG that focuses on social interaction, diplomacy and both the mechanical and cultural aspects of religious practice, the alignment, in some ways, IS the game.

I’ve said before that MYFAROG is an incredible world bogged down by some cumbersome stat-based rules. If I had to recommend a way to play a rules-lite “introduction” to MYFAROG, instead of discarding the non-mechanical optional rules, create characters using ONLY the the rules regarding Culture, World-view, and Alignment. Play around in the world of Thule a bit, exploring the motives and means of its inhabitants. Use some simple proxy system for combat until you decide that you want to get into the system’s crunchier aspects.

My First MYFAROG character: Krokar the Barbarian Swordsinger

In my first serious attempt to roll up a character for MYFAROG, I probably made some mistakes, some due to laziness (mostly in the form of omissions), others due to difficulties in finding the appropriate tables.

Once Varg hammers out power levels a bit better, it might be easier to create NPCs, but if you want a fleshed out, equipped individual, you’ve gotta get your hands dirty. Very dirty. Especially since things like birthdays actually have significant gameplay effects in terms of abilities and divine favor.

The result of a little over an hour’s work, I give you Krokar the Barbarian Swordsinger.

Name: Krokar (I didn’t give him a full name; he should be ‘Krokar af (tribe) auk (homeland)’. While you wouldn’t think this would be a big deal, it kind of is. Because I didn’t give him a full name, he cannot properly and formally introduce himself to strangers, and will thus provoke a hostile reaction for bringing dishonor upon both himself and the other party.)

Species: Jarlaaett (the default)
Race: Jarnmaðr (Iron Man, again the default)
Gender: Male
Weight: 146 lbs (this involved some rolling dice, comparing against strength, gender, etc)
Size: Average
DV (Defense Value) ME (Melee): 0 (I think I made a mistake here. Probably because I equipped him, but never got around to crunching the number on what his furs and swordsdudeship meant to his real defense)
DV (Defense Value) MI (Missile): 0 (Again, I think I was too lazy to crunch the numbers. Pulling out Krokar’s sheet, I’m pretty sure I never finished him. Stuff at the top of the sheet can’t be fully calculated until you get all of your equipment values and skills calculated first.)
Height: 70″ (again, there was some dice rolling involved)

I think I should’ve checked a table somewhere to figure out what my Skin, Hair and Eyes are, but I figure that regardless of the dice or tables Krokar is gonna look like one of the guys from Vore .

Again, I didn’t get far enough to calculate Daily Needs, in terms of hours of Sleep, lbs of Food, justas of Beverages, number of Hugs, etc.

Social Class: Noble (default; think ‘Honorable Bloodskaal’ rather than lord of the manor house)

Life Stance: Asatru (religion & gods rather than spirits and animism; also, he can’t be a wizard)
Cultural Background: Byggjandi (sedentary rather than hunter gatherer)
Alignment: Ecstatic Harmonic Spiritual Sympathetic (Just go look for yourself)
Birthday: Summer (aspect of fire), month of Pulkawangis (“folk meadow” sacred to Prio), and the 18th day (no cool bonuses, but born under the Full Moon and cycle of Life)

Age: 19, but with a maximum calculated age of 57.

Krokar is “marked” by the Gods and has +1 to fortitude.

Krokar is pretty middle of the road, healthier than normal, but a little slow-witted.
Chr 11
Con 14 +1
Dex 10
INT 8 -1 (This is a huge problem, because skills are skewed heavily in favor of INT mods)
STR 10
WIL 9

He’s got 13 stamina points (I think) based on the base of 12 + whatever I pour into the skill and modifiers…

I haven’t calculated his Melee or missile values on attack or defense, again, cuz lazy.

He wears fur and leather armor, an Iron Cap helmet, Leather arm guards and leather greaves and wields a short sword.

As new character, he has 12 skill points to distribute, so I gave him
Acrobatics: 1 (so only a -1 penalty)
Foraging: 1 (-1 penalty)
Singing: 4 (+2, he’s gonna sing a song while he kicks your ass!)
Social Skills: 2 (0)
World Lore: 1 (-4)
Melee: 2 (0)
Swords: 3 (+1)

There are 2 dozen or so extra skills that he doesn’t have points in, so he really sucks at all of those, like his -5 when attempting to do Arts & Crafts.

He only has his starting role, which is “Buandi” or “Peasant”, though presumably, as a sworddude, he would quickly pick up the “Striðsmaðr” or “Warrior” role not long after his story began.

He may or may not have divine favor based on god knows what, but I haven’t bothered to fill out the half page of character sheet devoted to that.

Again, I find myself loving the setting more than the system, though the system is like a precious ore: there may be something of great value once it has been smelted down.

The thing that will be most beneficial to the future of MYFAROG at gaming tables would be if someone came up with character Generation software. I know this goes against the spirit of playing tabletop RPGs in the woods after civilization has collapsed, which Varg puts forth as a great selling point of his and other tabletop games, but the rules, as currently organized, pose a fairly high wall into entry of the world of MYFAROG. Then again, if Varg’s apocalypse comes about, we’ll all be LARPing as Hunter/Gatherers, like it or not, which may be preferrable, at the end of the day, to learning a new core rule system.

Note that I’m not doing a ‘necropsy’ on this, by any means, and I fully intend to get the finished product when it’s available, because the world is great (I cannot state this enough), but whether or not it ends up on my shelf or on a gaming table is highly dependent on the changes Varg makes to the core rules, both in content and presentation. Maybe someday down the line, someone can Holmes Basic it for him?

Next MYFAROG post will be taking a look at the adventure Demise of Watchman Isle and some of the Monsters and Ettins in the world of MYFAROG.

A First Look at MYFAROG (Varg’s ‘Burzum’ RPG)

While the vast swaths of the tabletop gaming community spend  post after post wringing their hands over the fate of Dwimmermount, Shortymonster and I seem to be the only members of RPG Blog Alliance community who have taken up the bizarre, once in a life-time opportunity to be play-testers for MYFAROG (Mythical Fantasy Roleplaying Game), a game developed by the infamous Varg Vikernes of Burzum fame.  Mr Vikernes, who has already stated he would be using his own money rather than Kickstarter to fund his project, recently announced that the core book that he’d hinted at a few times over the year was complete and ready for playtesting.  For that alone, he towers above much of the gaming development community as a gentleman and a scholar.

Pretend I spent this paragraph explaining who Varg is and how I disavow him. These posts are going to be a review of his game and the adventure he supplied with it.

First, let me say that I guess my head has been so wrapped around the purely academic question of which OSR ruleset would be the best to play with, I was briefly under the illusion that maybe Varg had the answer. Maybe I was hoping for Dungeons & Vikings? Instead, what he has given us is “Norseman: the (Hunting and) Gathering”.

In many ways, MYFAROG reminds me of a White Wolf game, in that the system is inextricable from its setting. While all White Wolf games (the last time I looked at them, which was back in 2004) had a common character sheet and dice-rolling mechanic (Stat 1-5 + Skill 1-5, then whatever crazy system/character/class related stuff added to it), Races, Classes, “Charms” or whatever their Masquerade equivalent was, were all highly specific to the setting. With something like Exalted or Vampire, rather than buying a game that could be plugged into settings, you were buying a setting that came with game mechanics.

MYFAROG is an astoundingly detailed setting for which mechanics have been lovingly created. Yet herein lies some of the difficulties of bringing MYFAROG to your gaming table. Varg’s world is a vibrant and complex fantasy realm set in a far northern pre-medieval pseudo-Europe called Thule; the cultures of Thule are coming to grips with the growing pains of transitioning from Hunting/Gathering to settled society, transition from ‘The Old ways’ and ‘Tradition’ to ‘The New Ways’ and ‘Religion’, all while the mysterious realms of the Ettin grows and threatens human life. The game’s mechanics account for the sub-races of men, all of which have names which are both difficult to spell and/or pronounce unless you have some background in Scandanavian language, culture and grammar (consider that your default race is ‘Jarlaaett’/’Jarnmaðr’; I am looking forward to seeing the additional rules on the ‘Alfaborinar’ or ‘Elfborn’, which are gonna be the half-elves, I think). Worldview is divided into a 2×2 of “Veiðr”(old) and “Byggjandi”(New), “Seiðr”(Tradition) and “Asatru”(Religion), which respectively represent chaos (entropic & natural, not evil) and law (order and structure to society), and bestows mechanical benefits as part of a characters ‘upbringing’, as it means that, as a part of that culture, the character was raised with certain skills and values. Note that this is on top of an alignment system, which I’ll go into in a future post, perhaps.

There’s the old saying “A truly great (whatever) must wear many hats.” In MYFAROG, think not of classes but roles, and these roles are the many ‘hats’ that the character wears. Everyone starts out as either a ‘Hunter/Gatherer’ or a ‘Peasant’ (of course MYFAROG uses the more appropriate terms “Veiðimaðr” and “Buandi”), but gains new roles throughout their adventures, such as “Striðsmaðr”(warrior), gaining points to allocate and develop skills and attributes along the way.Thule has a complex pantheon and system of high festivals.

Further adding depth and complexity, your character’s birthday is important in determining which gods influence their life, bonuses to divine interaction, and other attributes.There are tables for ways of currying favor with deities (I’ll have to read more on how Favour Points work, cuz it seems that even a moderately devout character can rack them up extremely fast).  Needless to say, if you want to get the full experience, you’re going to need to use a campaign calendar (Varg has provided a sample 28 day lunar calendar).

As you can imagine, I have been a bit overwhelmed by the amount of detail, to the point where I’m still not ready to roll up a sample character yet. If and when I do get a chance to run the sample adventure, I think I’ll use some of the pre-generated characters that Varg provided, and instead just give the players a chance to read up on the world and what their character’s stats all mean, rather than send them headlong into things saying “here’s a book, you’re all playing Jarlaaett with the
Veiðimaðr and Striðsmaðr roles and Byggjandi/Asatru worldview, good luck!” Well, I guess that’s the same thing, only they won’t have to fill out the stat sheets…

Varg himself recommends starting with a stripped down version of the ruleset and slowly adding rules to add complexity to the campaign. A lot of your enjoyment of MYFAROG will be determined by how invested you become in the setting, which should not be hard if you give it a chance. So far, most of what I’ve gotten through is ‘fluff’ rather than mechanic, but by golly, what amazing fluff it is! (Even if MYFAROG ends up on your shelf more than your table, it’s a great fantasy read, so I highly
recommend it.)

I’d also like to mention that it was a ballsy move to make the playtest scenario a wilderness adventure. I won’t give away any details, but “The Demise of Watchmen Island” embodies all of the best moments of Morrowind’s Bloodmoon expansion. It also sets a number of expectations, in my mind, for what MYFAROG should be. Norsemen wage war bravely and heroically, go on mighty hunts, fight giants and monsters who threaten their homes, etc. etc., but don’t spend a lot of time in dark caves and dungeons looking for treasure. There should be some opportunities for dungeon crawling, but looking for treasure in a hole should take a back seat to going forth against incredible odds to outsmart the Ettin and possibly die a heroes death on the field of battle. While Varg mentioned that he didn’t make MYFAROG with minis in mind, this is a perfect game for setting up a wilderness hex map.

As I get through more of the book, I’ll try to review the content, and I DO hope that I get the opportunity to run “The Demise of Watchmen Island” with some folks. When I do, I’ll relay the experience here.

MYFAROG: Varg Vikernes’ (Burzum) new RPG

So, despite poking around on Burzum.org every now and then expecting to see something pop up on the news feed, I’m just now finding that Varg has had a site up since almost the beginning of January this year focused entirely on the RPG he’s been working on.

And the Play Test period is beginning soon!

Just based on the information he’s already posted, his Mythical Fantasy Roleplaying Game or “MYFAROG” looks like it’s going to be fairly brutal for hack n slashers. The combat strives for realism, but as such is complex and unforgiving, thereby discouraging (purposefully so, according to Varg) combat as a first option for problem solving. Plus, as there are no levels, and characters are simply heroic individuals, not super powered plot monsters, the engine looks to force teamwork, cunning and innovative problem solving to take out the sort of monsters who would make quick squishies out of even the most hardened of veterans. Additionally, there won’t be hit-points, but rather some sort of function of toughness (as a calculation of strength, constitution, and size?) vs strength to figure hout the results of hits in combat. In a way, this makes a lot of sense: even if you’ve killed several dragons, that shouldn’t mean that if a dragon hits you really hard you’re going to be able to shrug it off because you’re level whatever; it’s using a crane to crush a fly.

Another point I was interested in was the magic system. Varg has expressed on his Burzum blog that he wasn’t a fan of Vancian magic and that it wouldn’t show up in his game. It sounds like spellcasting is going to be based on a combination of stamina (he says it’s not the same as having spell points, but I guess I’d have to actually see the mechanics of it) and having an awesome beard (seriously, you can depower wizards by cutting off their beards).

He’s spent a lot of time on background and “fluff” a lot of which is available for download on his new page. The font is… unpleasant (I like a cleaner font for anything that will be used for reference). I’ll either get a chance to read it in the next few days or later if it’s included in the PlayTesting stuff.

For the Playtest, Varg is including a sample adventure.

The main questions will be:
How well does combat flow? As someone who has mostly just played older D&D and Exalted, it looks a little overwhelming.
How easy will it be to create for Varg’s system?
Who will be my friend and play Varg’s game with me?