Nordsaga Teaser

NORDSAGA Quickstart

Playtest v1











DESIGNER
Matt Kay (@9littlebees)

FICTION & ADVENTURE WRITER
Adam Attley (@AdamAttley)

COVER ARTIST
Carys Young (@unburnedwitch)

INTERIOR ARTIST
Christopher Spence (@hominidart)

Preface


Thank you very much for taking a look at Nordsaga! If you get an opportunity to run the game, I would greatly appreciate some feedback on your experiences, specifically:

  • Which aspects of the game did you particularly enjoy?

  • Have you had any problems with the rules as written, the mechanics, the character sheet, etc?

  • Did you deviate from the rules, create a houserule, or make something up? I’d love to hear what you did!

You can send feedback to matt@nordsaga.co and if you were able to record an audio or video file, please send links!

Alternatively, Nordsaga community groups can be found at:

Adventure Synopsis

In the Bretland village of Stefna, the mute Jotnar called Branchbreaker has been accused of murdering the local Karl’s son and has gone to ground. Players join the hunt for the Jotnar, who would ordinarily never hurt a fly, and whose guilt one witness casts doubt on… but who in the town, or in the nearby city of Jorvik, stands to benefit from his death?

What You Need to Play

DICE: “Pools” of normal, six-sided dice (referred to as D6) in two contrasting colours (Fate & Ability Dice). Each player will need 5 Fate Dice and about 10 Ability Dice. 

For Resource Dice, you will need one each of the following polyhedral dice: four-sided (D4), six-sided (D6) eight-sided (D8), ten-sided die (D10) and twelve-sided (D12).

While the players can easily share Ability and Resource Dice, it is important that there are 5 Fate Dice per player available at the table. So if a group has 3 players (plus a GM), there should be 15 Fate Dice at the table. 

It is also recommended that the GM has their own pools of Ability and Resource Dice.

A BOWL: (or container) to hold Fate Dice and keep them separate from Ability Dice.

CHARACTERS: Print as many of the pre-generated character sheets as needed for your group.

PENCILS & SCRATCH PAPER: For writing on the character sheets and general scribbling.

The Engine

Mechanically, Nordsaga uses a heavily modified version of the Year Zero Engine. This is the rules framework that drives many Fria Ligan games, including Mutant Year Zero, Coriolis, Tales From the Loop, and Forbidden Lands. There are have been many changes to the Year Zero Engine to fit the design goals of Nordsaga, including (but not limited to):

  • Smaller dice pools & less heroic PCs by default;

  • Attributes inspired by WFRP;

  • Careers-as-Skills;

  • Advancement through use, not XP;

  • Personality tied to mechanics to encourage roleplay;

  • Classless characters;

  • Simplified equipment;

  • Faster combat;

  • Simple (but robust) Insanity rules.

Themes

Nordsaga began life as a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP) clone. While it has since grown beyond simply being a clone, many of the themes found in the Warhammer setting still exist in Nordsaga:

  • “Low Fantasy” in feel, despite fantasy races;

  • Otherworldly corruption (akin to Chaos);

  • A central, corrupt Empire;

  • Internal strife (the enemy within);

  • Illicit investigations;

  • Anti-hero protagonists.

Acknowledgements & Inspiration

  • Coriolis & Forbidden Lands by Fria Ligan;

  • Svavelvinter by Fria Ligan;

  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by Cubicle 7;

  • Conan by Modiphius;

  • FATE Core and FATE Accelerated by Evil Hat;

  • Shadow of the Demon Lord by Rob Schwalb;

  • Torchbearer by Thor Olavsrud & Luke Crane;

  • Call of Cthulhu by Chaosium;

  • Oath of the Frozen King by Absolute Tabletop.


The Norse Empire


Nordsaga is set in an alternate version of the Early Middle Ages which asks: "What if legendary Viking warrior Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye had been given the aid of the Aesir (Norse gods) to push back Christianity's spread?" The answer provides a pagan Norse Empire spread across Northern & Western Europe, with Emperor Sigurd still ruling over the Imperial Kingdoms more than 400 years later.

The Joining of the Nine

Sigurd’s rise to power came shortly after his father’s death at the hands of the English. Sigurd’s official Saga tells of how he visited three of the Nine Worlds, and returned to Midgard accompanied by the Aelfar, Dvergar and Jotnar – creatures out of myth, armed for war and sworn to fight at his side.

With none doubting Sigurd’s divine right, the Norse Jarls united under the young warrior and swept in an unstoppable fury through the British Isles and Western Europe. In less than a decade, they had conquered the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the lands of the Holy Roman Empire.

Sitting his new throne, Sigurd made Kings and Queens of the Norse Jarls who had fought at his side, showered gifts on the Celts and Gaels, and gifted lands to the Nine Worlds creatures.

The vulpine Aelfar settled in the forests of Irland and Tekkland, and then largely withdrew from any dealings with humanity. Only traders are now welcome in Aelfar realms, and then only in the outskirts.

The subterranean Dvergar settled in Mundiafj?ll and Pirinfj?ll, digging deep into the mountains and creating wondrous underground cities. However, like the Aelfar, the main Dvergar settlements cut ties with humanity and now only tolerate traders into their halls. Nevertheless, small Dvergar communities still thrive under the Empire’s cities.

The hulking Jotnar settled in Nordrland, but within a few generations began migrating south into more temperate lands. While they are now integrated with humanity in Sigurd’s Empire, hostilities and prejudice still linger.

Rumours of the diminutive Nissar had been myth long before they came out of hiding during Sigurd’s war. When it ended, they were given no lands but are now widely spread across the Empire, fully integrated with humanity.

Ylda: Fire & Ice

When the Nine Worlds aligned, Sigurd’s actions unwittingly created a bridge to Muspellheim and Niflheim, the Worlds of Fire and Ice. Ethereal creatures from these worlds settled into the wild places of Midgard, and over the past 400 years a corruption, called Ylda, has steadily been spreading:

Weird things have started to emerge from the cold forests and highlands of Scandinavia, Russia and Scotland, seemingly immune to the extreme cold.

Angry lava ruptures out of long dead volcanoes, mountain crevasses and new fissures in the ground. The ash settles to the ground for leagues around and transforms the vegetation and wildlife into horrific parodies of their previous forms.

Worst of all, cults worshipping Ylda have become increasingly active; each one seeking to be the catalyst which brings about Ragnarok (from which they believe they will be spared).

The Rise of Sigatru

Not long into Sigurd’s reign, Norse folk religion was formalised and the Asatru faith was established. This fledgling organised religion soon quarreled about incorporating Sigurd into the Norse pantheon alongside the Aesir, leading to the formation of Sigatru, a sect propagating worship of the Emperor and fear of Ylda. With the Emperor’s blessing, Sigatru Ylda Hunters now scour the Empire, seeking out Cultists. Once convinced of guilt, they execute without mercy.

Neighbouring Powers

With this otherworldly threat ever growing, Emperor Sigurd maintains an uneasy truce with his neighbours. Nevertheless, tensions remain high.

To the southwest, the Caliphates seek to spread from their foothold on the Iberian peninsula. 

To the southeast, the Holy Roman Empire desires its ancient lands and maintains a network of Christian spies in the heart of Sigurd’s Empire. 

To the northeast, the Kingdom of Rus has turned its eyes to the temperate lands of their ancient cousins. 

Far to the east, the vast Mongol Empire slowly approaches, hungry for the spoils of central Europe.




It is now the year of Sigurd 420 (~1270 AD), and new Sagas of unsung heroes are waiting to be told…

Your Character

2 pages

Playing the Game

2 pages

Conflict

3 pages

Gear

1-2 pages

PART 2: THE ADVENTURE

On Stefna and the Surrounding Lands

1 page

Locations

2-3 pages

Characters & Creatures

3-4 pages

Plot Points

1-2 pages

Toolbox

4-8 pages (maybe more?)

Player Characters

8 pages

Appendices

App 1: Phobias

TBC

D66

-phobia

D66

-phobia

11

Acro- (heights)

41

Hypno- (sleep)

12

Andro- (men)

42

Ichthyo- (fish)

13

Arachno- (spiders)

43

Kerauno- (thunder)

14

Astra- (lightning)

44

Merintho- (being tied up)

15

Ate- (ruins)

45

Mono- (being alone)

16

Baso- (falling)

46

Myso- (dirt)

21

Botano- (plants)

51

Necro- (dead things)

22

Cheima- (cold)

52

Odonto- (teeth)

23

Claustro- (confined spaces)

53

Ornitho- (birds)

24

Cyno- (dogs)

54

Phenogo- (daylight)

25

Demono- (demons)

55

Pogono- (beards)

26

Demo- (crowds)

56

Pyro- (fire)

31

Felino- (cats)

61

Rhabdo- (magic)

32

Gyno- (women)

62

Scoto- (darkness)

33

Haemo- (blood)

63

Steno- (narrow places)

34

Hapho- (touch)

64

Terato- (monsters)

35

Homichlo- (fog)

65

Xeno- (strangers)

36

Hydro- (water)

66

Zoo- (animals)

App 2: Manias

TBC

D66

-mania

D66

-mania

11

Abluto- (washing oneself)

41

Gelio- (need to laugh)

12

Acro- (heights)

42

Gymno- (nudity)

13

Agatho- (kindness)

43

Helmintho- (worms)

14

Aichmo- (sharp objects)

44

Hydro- (water)

15

Algo- (pain)

45

Klepto- (stealing)

16

Ameno- (cheerfulness)

46

Ligyro- (making loud noises)

21

Asotica- (spending)

51

Melo- (music)

22

Auto- (solitude)

52

Miso- (hating everything)

23

Callo- (one’s beauty)

53

Noso- (imagined disease)

24

Cheimato- (cold things)

54

Persona- (wearing masks)

25

Clino- (staying in bed)

55

Photo- (light)

26

Counter- (experiencing fear)

56

Pseudo- (lying)

31

Dacno- (killing)

61

Pyro- (starting fires)

32

Dermatillo- (picking at skin)

62

Rhinotillexo- (nose picking)

33

Dora- (owning furs)

63

Theo- (believed godhood)

34

Ecdemio- (wandering)

64

Titillo- (scratching oneself)

35

Ego- (self-worship)

65

Trichotillo- (pulling out hair)

36

Eremio- (being still)

66

Zoo- (animal fondness)


App 3: Maps

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