Friday, 16 August 2019

Project Dread Onion Dog

This project is far enough along that I feel I can talk about it now.

The title of the blog post is just a code-word for now, because I was feeling silly.
There is an actual name, but I'm not sharing that until we're a touch closer.

So what is the project?

Well, it's an RPG project.
It'll be a retro-clone of sorts of a venerable Nordic role playing game.

What all is it going to include?
Well, ideas change but right now, the goal is:

* A skill-driven RPG derived from BRP roots.
No classes or levels: Make a character and develop them as you see fit.
Improve as you adventure and train, based on the actions in-game.

* Quick character creation that still produces a well rounded character, with a mixture of random rolls and player choices.

* Combat that is fast, yet has enough detail to be interesting.

* A complete game with mass combat rules, creatures, magic item creation etc.

* A logical, consistent game system that isn't driven by tons  of special cases.

* A flexible, open-ended magic system.

* Gritty game play with room for heroics.

* "Cosmopolitan" game play where characters can be from a number of interesting species and places.

* A built-in game world with a mixture of recognizable fantasy tropes and creative ideas.  A loving homage to "kitchen sink" fantasy worlds but with a more cohesive feel.

* Also a game world where we hope players will read about it and immediately want to make a character from one of those places.

* * * * *

I realize that the above probably sounds fairly vague.

So let me try to explain it this way:

The trends of roleplaying right now tend towards one of three things in my view:

*The OSR, with a big emphasis on random encounters, survival-dungeon crawling and player-over-character approach.

*Indie/story games, with their emphasis on precise marriage of theme and mechanics and telling of specific story experiences.

*"Big Traditional" games like 5E and Pathfinder (2 now) with a focus on chains of tactical combat experiences and precise encounters.

What we're working on is not any of those.

Instead it is (hopefully):

*A style of game where a reasonable degree of realism and simulation is viewed as a positive.

*A game where characters are expected to have a place in the world and not simply be blank slates.

* Encouraging a play style where it is understood that fantasy adventure is about many things: Dialogue, sword fighting, exploration and excitement.

* Exists in a game world that facilitates adventure but also feels like it was alive before the players came along.

* A game that evokes a sense of fairytale adventure:
If the stories of Conan and Barsoom and Lankhmar are the building blocks of the OSR, this is the stories of Middle Earth, Sparhawk and Lyonesse.

* * * * *

What we're hoping to do is around 200 pages, including a complete game setting, world map, character sheet and an introductory adventure.

We may try to do a POD version as well, that remains to be seen.

It's VERY unlikely there'll be a kickstarter or anything like that.
It's possible we'll have a beta test version.
If so, it'll be done NWG style where you buy the beta for a reduced cost and then get a discount on the final game.

* * * * *

Answering a few obvious questions:

Q: Why would this be better than [insert BRP game here]?

A: I think this will sit nicely in a spot where there's more "meat" than something like OpenQuest but be a bit smother than most versions of Runequest.

Q: Can you tell us exactly what game you are retro-cloning?

A: If you haven't figured it out, I'm not telling.

Q: How much original content will there be?

A: The game world is 100% our own creation. Mechanically we're trying to lean on the source material but the goal isn't to be a precise copy (which would be pointless)

Q: There's already 10 billion roleplaying games on the market, why don't you just publish the 47th new take on B2 instead?

A: The reason to do anything creative is because you want to do it.

Q: Is this a solo project?

A: No, it's a collaboration with someone.


  1. It doesn't seem to be Dragons and Deamons (which had the best monster manual ever created), so I'm really curious as to what old "nordic" RPG it could be. Sounds interesting regardless :)

  2. Very interesting indeed sir!
    I thought Openquest could have gone further, while Runequest was a little too much, and too defined in Glorantha - so I am looking for exactly what you have described ...and with a touch of high fantasy no less.
    I for one will be interested in the playtest docs with my group.