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Sagas of Midgard: A Cinematic Norse Tabletop RPG
Sagas of Midgard: A Cinematic Norse Tabletop RPG
Sagas of Midgard is a new, cinematic Tabletop RPG that prioritizes storytelling over numbers with a deadly combat and raiding system.
Sagas of Midgard is a new, cinematic Tabletop RPG that prioritizes storytelling over numbers with a deadly combat and raiding system. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Funded in 90 minutes and now working on Stretch Goals (see below the initial campaign!)
I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We're in one, or course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards.
--J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
A world of raids and bloodshed. A world of mead-halls and celebration. A world of funeral-pyres and mourning. A world where the Gods simultaneously give you power and test that power, undermining your strength and cunning. A world of great heroes chasing death and glory in the face of unbeatable odds.
Above all, a world of stories.
Welcome! Sagas of Midgard is a new Tabletop RPG from Nick Porter and Dominic De Duonni. We've played TTRPGs together for over fifteen years, working through (seemingly) every system that's out there in that time. Along the way we've come to realize the things that we do and do not like in TTRPGs, and our singular goal when we first began this project was to make a game that we'd want to play.
The result, a year and a half later, is Sagas of Midgard, a Norse-themed Tabletop RPG that emphasizes cinematic story telling and using rules and numbers in service of the story, rather than the other way around. After over a year of play-testing, our play-testers agree that we've succeeded in making a game that we love playing, and we're confident that you'll love it too.
At present, the 180+ page Sagas of Midgard Corebook contains:
- Over 100 unique skills to customize your characters
- Original acrylic and watercolor paintings by Leah Porter, with additional digital art by James Cornell
- A Unique "Raiding" system whereby your Viking Warband can gain wealth, glory, and Favor in the eyes of the Gods
- Player settlements with over 20 Settlement Upgrades available to help improve your Heroes and their Warbands
- 24 "Runes of Power" with 3 effects each to be found throughout the world, allowing for hundreds of different combinations
- Over 20 "Artifacts", powerful items that change not only your character's stats but also their personality
- Over 15 pages describing how to run Sagas of Midgard (and TRPGs in general) pulled from over 30 combined years of tabletop gaming experience
- A fully realized, original, mythological Norse world (The Drengrlands) with scores of plot hooks
- A cultural guide to the Drengrlands, in which we pull from the Sagas and Eddas to help players understand the Drengrlands as a living, breathing place that differs from standard fantasy worlds
- Over 30 monsters pulled from Norse Mythology and our imaginations
- Over a dozen NPC allies pulled from playtesting, with unique motivations and personalities
- Three fully formed, fleshed out Adventures, meant to help ease players into the system and then push them to their limits
- A fully fillable PDF character sheet
And that's just what we have so far! As we pillage and plunder our way into the stretch goals, who knows what we'll find?
To become a Hero, one must endure great hardships, and while creating a Hero in Sagas of Midgard is simple, it has to be because combat has been built to be brutal and often deadly. This decision was made for two reasons:
1. Combat is more exciting when it doesn't drag on and on and on and...
2. The most exciting and memorable battles we've had at our table involved Player Characters either at death's door or sacrificing themselves nobly to save their party.
As a result, EVERY Hero begins their Saga with the following ability (whose name was pulled from the Dying Ode of Ragnar Lodbrok):
With Joy I Cease: In your darkest hour, you call upon the Gods to give you strength for one final act of glory. Advancing toward your enemy, you strike him with a death-blow; with his dying breath he strikes you down as well. Any healing, magical effects, rune effects, or damage reduction effects are ended upon you. Your hit-points are then immediately brought to zero and you die. Any other Heroes within bow range gain 5 Favor. This ability must be used on your turn.
Thankfully, our Skill Point based Character Creation system is simple and intuitive and consists of five steps:
- Pick Prophecies (Surname/Title): Each character chooses a Surname and Title, either pulled from or inspired by Norse mythology, that grants them certain bonuses and abilities.
- Spend starting Skill Points: Skills are divided into five "Domains", each corresponding to a Norse god. Within those Domains are "Subdomains", that contain unique and powerful abilities that help you feel like a Hero from the very beginning.
- Roll for Random Runes: See "Runes" below.
- Choose Starting Weapons/Armor: Each character can be further customized with an arsenal of various weapons and armor.
- Develop Character’s Personality and Temperament: While character development happens organically throughout a campaign, we wanted to ensure every character entering a Saga has personality and motivation, and we've provided tools to help players develop them!
For all of their fame and renown as merchants, traders, and explorers, the Vikings are remembered primarily as warriors. Unconventional, unyielding, and ferocious, the centuries in which the Norse raided the coasts of Northern Europe has left them with a legacy that persists to this day. We knew when we were creating the Sagas of Midgard system that Raiding would have to feature, and feature prominently.
Raiding as a game mechanic arose from our experiences with previous game systems, where we encountered the problem of traveling. Not how to travel, per se, but how to make travel interesting. How do you make getting to wherever your adventure will be worth the trip (and perhaps an adventure in itself), rather than merely “cut-scening” through the journey (“Okay, it took a month but you got there!”) or having it broken down into a series of relatively meaningless encounters (“Now there’s a bugbear. For… reasons”)?
Raiding works as a cinematic experience in which your Game Master will walk you through a series of events, stopping to ask for rolls that correlate to your character's Domain skills. The success or failure of these checks will determine your overall success in the raid and, thereby, how much loot you receive. It also helps to emphasize that although the Player Characters are the Heroes of the story, no Hero fights alone.
After Raiding (and whatever other adventures your Skald has planned for you), in between sessions you will return home to your player settlement. With over 20 unique upgrades available that improve your raiding and fighting ability, and mechanics in place to help ensure a vibrant, unique populace of non-player characters, the Settlement should help the Heroes feel as though they truly have a home worth fighting for.
"Runes" within Sagas of Midgard function as single-use magic items. Pulled from Elder Futhark and with effects inspired by the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem, every Rune has three different “positions”, each of which creates a different effect. With 24 Runes in the Elder Futhark and up to three different effects for each, there is a great deal of customization and variation available in the Runecasting system. Every character begins with the ability to cast Runes in the “First Position.” By buying skills in the Rune Magic subdomain of Odin, they may unlock the second and third positions, allowing them to chain up to three effects together at once with one action!
Every character starts with two random runes, with certain Titles and Surnames granting the ability to start with more and find Runes more easily. The runes are one of the ways that players can “stay afloat” in what is meant to be a brutal system; the right rune in the right situation has saved several lives in our playtesting.
Since the Rune effects can be a lot to write on a character sheet (especially given their one-use utility), we've created a Rune-Deck to help you easily select random runes and use them at the table. Each Rune Card features custom calligraphy by Jennifer Baugh, with the effects of each card under the Elder Futhark calligraphy. This was requested specifically by our playtesters (and prototyped by a Runecaster character before our plans became more concrete), and it's been a great addition to the game!
Every culture that has a Hero myth also gives its Heroes weapons, armor and tools of equal magnitude to help them accomplish their tasks. Heroes and Gods need weapons worthy of their stature. The Norse were no exception, and the Eddas devote many tales to the forging and creation of various items.
Our focus within Sagas of Midgard was to make these Artifacts feel significant: we’ve played in a lot of systems where magic items were so commonplace and, in all honesty, dull. Where runes are more prevalent and transitory, Artifacts should feel rare and important.
To that end, we suggest in our Corebook to make Artifacts much harder to find or make (recommending one or two per character throughout the entirety of the Saga), but that’s not all. Each Artifact can be attuned only to one person at a time (allowing the bonus only to them), and each Artifact has:
Personality: An artifact, if not outright sentient, is blessed with the powers and shortcomings of the Gods. Artifacts should change the person that wields it and change with them; a “personality” that does not have to be strictly followed but that helps the Hero become closer to the original recipient of the Artifact.
Boon: Oh yes. This is what you’re here for. The boon of an artifact is the bonus it grants you for your trouble.
Bane: Nothing is without its price, especially where it comes to power. Every artifact has a bane, typically commensurate in power to the boon.
There is much more to this existence than we can perceive; beings of immense power, monsters prowling through the dark reaches of the earth, and entire worlds whose mysteries even the Gods have not fully uncovered.
Norse cosmology (and, as such, Sagas of Midgard) is made up of Nine Worlds, and we've done our best to breathe life into them and create ways in which your players can interact with them. Although we give information about all Nine Worlds, we've saved the bulk of our work for where you'll be spending most of your time: Midgard.
Our version of Midgard is a mythologized version of Scandinavia, with new geography and many new challenges to overcome. The homes of the Vikings (the Drengrlands) are the most fleshed out, with four Kingdoms, dozens of towns, and pages of locations, organizations, and intrigue that you can throw into your Sagas at will. We've also mythologized the rest of Northern and Central Europe, giving you potential allies and enemies with whom to trade, settle lands, or simply do what Vikings do best: raid!
We've only scratched the surface of the system here in the preceding paragraphs, and indeed with the book thus far. We've got a TON of ideas for adventures, rules supplements, and new skills and Domains, but now we need YOU! This is a passion project and we're pouring every dollar we make back into more art, more design layout, and more game. Your support means so much to us!
If you have any questions, check out sagasofmidgard.com for additional information or feel free to message us directly on here, the website, or any of our social media!
- Stretch Goal 1: Adventure 4: Twilight of the Gods (Looted on February 3rd!)
- Stretch Goal Two: Hand Drawn, Fully Fillable Illuminated Manuscript Character Sheets (Looted on February 4th)!
- Stretch Goal #3: Brave New Worlds (Looted February 8th!)
- Stretch Goal #4: Premium Color Corebook Upgrade to be Looted at $5500 (Looted February 12th!)
- Stretch Goal 5: KICKSTARTER EXCLUSIVE, fully written and illustrated Adventure to be released in PDF form after the Corebook ships (Looted February 18th!)
- Stretch Goal 6: Professionally Produced Quick-Start Tutorial Video (Unlocked at $8000!)
Stretch Goal 1: Adventure 4: Twilight of the Gods (Looted on February 4th!)
The Fenris-wolf advances with wide open mouth; the upper jaw reaches to heaven and the lower jaw is on the earth. He would open it still wider had he room. Fire flashes from his eyes and nostrils. The Midgard-serpent vomits forth venom, defiling all the air and the sea; he is very terrible, and places himself by the side of the wolf. In the midst of this clash and din the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of Muspel come riding through the opening.
-The Prose Edda
In your time, you were a fearsome and beloved Hero; you honored the Gods and fought well for them before finally succumbing to your destiny. Due to your valor and service to the Gods, you were delivered to Odin's Hall. Now, as one of the Einherjar in Valhalla, you know it is your final sacred duty to defend Asgard when the end comes.
And, indeed, it seems the end has come. Loki and his sons have broken their chains, and the sky falls to black. The fire-giants of Muspelheim march upon Asgard. It falls to you, your fellow Einherjar, and the Gods to defend Valhalla on the field of Vigrid.
As Midgard falls into destruction, you stand on the field of battle before impossible odds, but you are not afraid. You spent your entire life succeeding in the face of impossible odds. If it truly is the end, you will go to rest once more in the service of the Gods, and if any remain after the battle, you will fight with such ferocity that they will remember you. "Twilight of the Gods", featuring full, scripted scenes and unforgettable encounters, was unlocked on February 4th!
Stretch Goal Two: Hand Drawn, Fully Fillable Illuminated Manuscript Character Sheets (Looted on February 5th)!
We certainly underestimated how badly you guys wanted the apocalypse, and funded our first stretch goal almost immediately! But since we've just gotten started here, why don't we take a look at sprucing up our already fully-fillable PDF character sheet with our next stretch goal, the Hand-Drawn, Fully Fillable Illuminated Manuscript Character Sheet? Illuminated What-now?
From Leah Porter, our Art Director: Despite the heavy footprint (axe print?) the Vikings may have left upon the world around them, they did little to record all that on their own. They were not a particularly bookish bunch and so history and mythology was passed along almost exclusively through storytelling tradition and inscribed rune-stones. Much of the written history of the Vikings we have now is through the efforts of Christian scholars during the Middle Ages, from which we have Illuminated Manuscripts.
An illuminated manuscript is a text enhanced through miniature illustrations, borders, and decorative script. The majority of surviving illuminated manuscripts are from the middle ages and of a religious nature; they were an art form that these Christian scholars recording Viking history and mythology were likely to have practiced. Why not offer Sagas of Midgard players the chance to record their characters in similar style?
Our plan is to take this style and add a Norse "flair" to it so that it remains a workable, fully fillable character sheet PDF that's in-line with the other Norse-inspired art in the book.
The Illuminated Manuscript Fully Fillable Character Sheet will be unlocked for ALL backers on our website and included in the Corebook!
Stretch Goal #3: Brave New Worlds (Unlocked February 8th!)
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't!
-William Shakespeare, The Tempest
One of the things we're proudest of in Sagas of Midgard is the way in which we facilitate stories: the way we see it, it's not necessarily our place to tell your group a story, but rather to create a dynamic, exciting framework for your group to tell their story together. At current we have 14 pages and 6,700 words describing the Drengrlands (where your Warbands will reside) and our interpretation of Viking Culture. We've included some additional information about other lands and Kingdoms to pillage, but we've decided we want to take that a step further with our next Stretch Goal, The Skald Morotar's Knowledge of the World Beyond the Drengrlands or, more simply: Brave New Worlds!
The Gallian Empire is a unique place. Where we wear our wealth literally on our sleeves, they wear it on their buildings; their cities are full of resplendent castles and cathedrals to their God. Although they fight with discipline, none can match the ferocity of the Drengr-- meaning their wealth is our wealth, if a Warband be audacious enough to go and take it.
--The Skald Morotar
The Drengrlands are a host unto themselves. Cold, unyielding, and harsh, it sometimes seems the Gods have placed you there as a test. The Skalds sing of new lands to the South; with warm climates and fertile fields, and large caches of unprotected wealth. Your people have never been content to stay in their Settlement, and the Continent to the south seems to offer unlimited potential to trade, to settle-- and to raid.
When Unlocked, the Brave New Worlds expansion will include:
- At least 5 new Kingdoms to explore on the Continent and beyond (including mythologized corollaries of England, France, the Byzantine Empire,and more), each with their own governance, temperament, and unique riches and treasures
- Dozens of plot hooks and prominent people within each Kingdom, offering your Game Masters hundreds of adventure ideas
- Unique Settlement Upgrades exclusive to each Kingdom; What's the point of a mechanic whereby you can take over a Settlement if you can't stay there?
- New foes to face, drawn from the military history of Continental Europe (for its soldiers) and from its various Myths (for its monsters)
- A SECOND high resolution hand-drawn, Medieval-style map of the Continent to supplement the hand-drawn, medieval-style map of the Drengrlands drawn by our very own Leah Porter available on our website and included in the Corebook
Stretch Goal Four: Premium Color Corebook Upgrade
The Stretchiest Stretch Goal Yet... Premium Color Books!
We admit, there was a slightly ulterior motive to ensuring that anyone who wanted a Physical Corebook could get one via International Shipping... because now, we want to make them better. We're going to be using DriveThruRPG for our printing, and at our initial funding goal, the plan was to use "Standard Heavyweight Color" printing. We simply couldn't afford to use Premium Heavyweight Color.
In the last week, you've taught us to dream bigger.
One of our favorite parts of developing Sagas of Midgard has been leveraging the skills of all the amazing Atlanta artists that we know. We want their art to look as good as it possibly can, so even though it increases our printing costs significantly, it will give our backers the best possible product, which is, at the end of the day, our only goal.
Stretch Goal Five: Kickstarter Exclusive fully written and illustrated Adventure!
We've been burning through our Stretch Goals like a hot knife through... enemies...? and we realized something astounding: although we love every one of our Backers, and we've added a bunch of stuff into the Book already, we hadn't yet made anything just for you.Your generosity has already unlocked Ragnarok (which sounds bad when you put it like that) for everyone who buys the Corebook, but we wanted to give you something more. During our year of playtesting, our groups have created a lot of great stories together. Now, we want to share them with you in an exclusive, fully written and realized premade adventure, fully illustrated with art by Leah Porter and James Cornell!
The trouble, of course, is with all the great stories we've made together, it's been difficult to choose just one. So, like good crowdfunders we're going to make it your problem! When the campaign ends, you'll all receive a backer survey. In that survey we'll ask for information to send your rewards, but we'll also ask you to include your choice for the exclusive Adventure from a list of five. Here are just a few of the Adventures, inspired by the Sagas and Eddas, that our playtesters have been through:
- Stealing Hymir's Cauldron from a tribe of cannibalistic berserkers and filling it with the Mead of Poetry
- Raiding a well defended Cathedral of Albion seeking their most prized Artifact: a cup used by their God, said to grant eternal vigor and life (Wait... which Saga is that from?)
- Recovering the Apples of Idunn to give Thor the vigor he needs to continue fighting the Frost Giants
- Shipwrecking on an island in the middle of the sea where a mysterious hermit makes you consider, and prove, what it is that truly makes a Hero
- Proving your mettle by killing a supposedly immortal Knight of Gallios
- Saving the harvest by reuniting the heartbroken God Frey with his estranged love
- Navigating the impassible Mists of Niflhel and outsmarting a Lord of Hel to find your way home
These represent just a few of the highlights of our year of playtesting and is certainly not an exhaustive list (though do email us if one in particular strikes your fancy and we'll ensure it's on the final list). The Backer Survey will include a synopsis of each potential Adventure and about how much combat, RP, and non-combat savvy your Heroes will need to overcome the challenges that you will choose for them.
This fully written and illustrated PDF Adventure will NEVER be released for public sale.
Stretch Goal Six: Professionally Produced Quick-Start Tutorial Video
As you may have figured out, we have a... small gaming problem. When we're not making (or playing) TTRPGs, we're playing board games. One of our favorite things about board games these days are video tutorials; rather than having to read a manual full of rules, you can watch a short video explaining the basic rules and allowing you to dive into the game faster.
While the rules of Sagas of Midgard are very straightforward, the hardest part of any game is figuring out how to start the first time you bring it to the table. We want to fix that, so with your help, we're going to produce a Quick-Start Tutorial Video as our next Stretch Goal! Working with professional videographers, we're going to produce a high-quality (coughbetterthanourKickstartervideocough) video. Using one of our five included Demo characters as a template, we'll walk new players through the ins and outs of making a character, navigating our (now Illuminated!) Character Sheet, and the flow of play. We want to do everything we can to lower the barrier of entry for both novice and experienced Tabletop RPG players so you can jump right into your first Adventure and begin telling your Sagas!
The Quick-Start Tutorial Video will be unlocked for ALL players at $8000!
Risks and challenges
We understand that we're new at this, and that can make it difficult to trust us. But the game itself, after over a year and hundreds of hours of play-testing is DONE.
We've got professional artists, animators, illustrators and graphic designers ready to get started, and the day after we're funded we can start to take this project from a Microsoft Word document to a fully realized product worthy of the team that's building it. This is a labor of love: we've set our funding level as low as we possibly can to get the experience as we envision it out to you. Any additional funding will go into the game to make that experience EVEN better through the great stretch goals we've got planned.
This project has been humbling in that creating and balancing a 180+ page Corebook has taken a lot longer than we originally envisioned to complete. These unanticipated snags are why we've given ourselves a year to deliver rewards, but we hope to ship earlier, and if we can we definitely will!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter