Valheim and lessons for RPG's


I'll write a blog every day he said. How hard can that be?

Well if I don't mind actually talking about stuff that I think about rather than my normal trick of just leaving it in my head? Maybe not too hard.

Scimon TrollslayerSo I'd like to talk about something I mentioned on Sunday about running a game based on building a community. This is something I'd been thinking about for a while mostly from reading Numenera Destiny. But I've also recently being playing Valheim (like 3 million other people apparently). And the more I play it the more I want to distill it's gameplay into a table top game.

Here's my character in my local game, yes he's only got leather armour, in my defence I took this a couple of days ago. But he's still wearing leather armour (some of it troll hide leather) because I need more bronze. And this is one of the things about the game that I like. You character fights creatures for a few reasons but they are all ultimately linked to surviving.

You hunt boars, deer and neck (little lizard people) for food and leather. You fight Greylings and Greydwarves mostly because they try and stop you from cutting down trees for wood and you need wood, lots of wood. If you want to build a nice house to live in you're going to need to chop down a small forest.

And then there's the dungeons, why would you want to go into a burial mound that's full of skeletons? Armed skeletons that really seem to not like you. But you need to go down there, if you want to stop using a flint axe you need bronze and for that you need a smelter for smelt ore. And to make that you need to use a thing called a surtling core, it seems to be some kind of magic heat generator.

And at least in the early game the only place to find surtling cores is in burial mounds, past the skeletons.

Burial Chamber Entrance

So down into the burial mound you go, sword and axe in hand. It's dark, there's twisty passage and groaning sounds. You're sure that at any moment the roof is going to cave in. And did I mention the Skeletons? And the Ghosts?

Now the argument could be made that this is what D&D is except the reason to go down into the dungeon is treasure. Gold coins that are lying around that you can use to but stuff. It just feels... less personal. Whereas if you are going into the dangerous ruins to find the magical runestone that your village shaman needs to cast the spell to being back tha rain? That's personal.

So yeah, this is the kind of thing I want to run. A game where the characters are part of society, where they do the things they do to help others. Of course the trick is to write adventures that do that... that's the hard bit.

Do I play D&D?


It's a question I've been asked a few times recently, thanks to the upsurge in it's popularity is I play D&D.

Short Answer



Still here?

Long Answer

So the longer answer is a bit more complex. No I don't play D&D for a number of reasons, I find the limitations of a level based system annoying and unbelievable. The same goes for Armour Class, the magic system and the generaly premise of how most games are laid out. The concept of a world where you have heavily armed and armoured warriors, who often appear to be delusional or utterly psychopathic wandering around does not fill me with glee. Going down into dangeours, trap and monster filled dungeons for treasure what's that about?

I got my first copy of D&D almost 40 years ago, it was my 8th birthday present and this year I'll be 48. And yes, it opened something up in my brain but over the years I found other games who I felt more akinship to. I do own D&D (the 3rd edition), 13th Age and King of Dungeons though I've not got round to getting 4th or 5th editions D&D. I'm kind of sad the recent Magic the Gathering campaign settings books are for D&D really as I feel it's not the best system for it.

So here's the thing, one of the things I mentioned yesterday was I'd like to try some RPG writing. But I'm trying to work out what, as the kind of games I love to run are not the kind of games people seem to want to play. So maybe before I write some stuff I should work on the selling of different ideas to people.

And of course there's the fact that dispite it being lockdown and all the gaming moving online I've still not managed to actually run something... My social anxiety and general belief that no one wants to actually spend time with me doesn't help. I'm hoping that with my new start I can fix this.

So here's five games I'd like to run if I can find some players. Each appeals to me and should give people lots of potential to make interesting characters and stories

Invisible Sun

The surreal game of magic and dimension hopping. One of the many things I like about and would like to explore is it's a very player driven game. It's a game for people who want to spend time on making their character, and even their characters house, just right. Players advance by completing character arcs that they choose and the GM works to entwine into the story.

This may have to wait until after the current crisis though as I think it really wants to be played at the real table. It's got so much stuff.

The Yellow King

Four interlinked campaign settings of extradimenional horror investigation. Uses the Gumshow Quick Shock system, which focusses on narrative outcomes over crunchy rules. One thing I like about it is that it's just based on the King in Yellow stories rather than dragging the King and his Daugthers into the bulging Cthullhu Mythos. The game starts in Paris in 1895 where a play must not be staged...


I love Numenera the setting just oozes style and also you can apply large gobs of handwavium to it. Plus there's a totally reasonable reason to explore ancient ruins, you're not looking for gold you're looking for ancient technology you can repurpose to you own ends. I also would really like to try running a game using the rules in the Destiny book of the 2nd Edition. In Destiny the focus is not just on the characters but on the settlements they live in. Now exploring dangerous places makes even more sense as you are looking for stuff you can bring back to help build your community not just riches for yourself.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy

So I've been a GURPS fan for almost as long as I've been a roleplayer. The recent(ish) release of Dungeon Fantasy takes the GURPS system and throws away all the bits you don't need. If you want a crunchy dungeon exploration then this would be my game of choice. Lots of chances for players to make their own characters and lots of options to make combat interesting. I've got my own setting Trevallis that I started writing about a few years ago or I could come up with something else.

Again if I'm running this the focus would be on how the characters fit into their world and making sure their actions have real impact, good and bad.

The Dracula Dossier

This is one of those games I really want to run at some point but again I think it really could do with a table as it's based on the most awesome player handout ever. A complete, updated and annotated copy of Dracula that gives clues to his reality and the shadow war between him and British Intelligence that's been going on since the 1800's.

Another Gumshoe games because frankly they are awesome.

Final thoughts

So this, as many of these posts will probably be, was something of a stream of consciousness type thing. I know I'd love to run a roleplaying game, I also know I've been very very prone to flakiness in this regards over the years due to my mental hangups. I'd love to promise that's not going to be the case again but all I can promise is I'm trying to make my mind a better place.

Drop me a line if you're interested in a game.