A DOOM METAL ALBUM OF A GAME. Rules light. Art heavy. MÖRK BORG is blackened artpunk/osr about ill-fated bastards seeking redemption, forgiveness or just the last remaining riches of a world that is plunging ever faster to its inevitable ruin. An art book you can play. A spiked flail to the face.
This game is made by two nerds: Pelle Nilsson of Ockult Örtmästare games (writing it all), and Johan Nohr of Stockholm Kartell (making it look not bad).
The book will be available in both English and Swedish. You choose which language edition you want in a backer survey after the Kickstarter campaign ends.
We also want to say a big Thank You to the guys at Domkraft for letting us use their track Octopus from the album Flood. Should you be a fan of organic, electric, hypnotic and loud doom metal (and why shouldn't you?) get their albums here.
Ok, let's go:
While MÖRK BORG is certainly a product of the OSR genre and share the same roots and foundations as many of the retro-clones, we try not to care too much about tradition or nostalgia. Emulating gaming in the 70's or being compatible with other OSR modules is not a design choice, but MÖRK BORG can do both regardless. Aesthetics are more important than being truthful to some Gygaxian heritage, this time. As for the blackened part of our hefty epithet, well… The world of MÖRK BORG has seen its brighter days. And soon, there will be neither day or night ever again.
MÖRK BORG is a complete game and can be played as-is, or you can pick what you want from it and place into your own game. Or hey, you can skip the text completely and just focus on the images for either inspiration or to cut them out and pin them to your fridge, it’s up to you. But regardless of your approach, we hope that you will find the book inspiring, exciting and terribly depressing.
MÖRK BORG'S RULES are all about minimalistic simplicity. We've designed them so that they will never interfere with your game, and so that you can easily adapt and change them to better suit your needs. In short: whenever you try to accomplish something in the world, be it climbing a ruin or bashing a skeleton's head in, you roll a d20, apply a modifier and try to beat a set number. That's it. And you either let your equipment define your character, or you pick one of the six optional classes that each has their specific quirks and strengths. The system is player-facing, and they will roll most of the dice, to really put the destiny of their characters in their hands. No fudging allowed. The few times the GM will roll the dice are when NPC's morale or reaction is rolled, things like that.
ONE DAY ALL WILL BLACKEN AND BURN. Just as the two-headed basilisks predicted. Lies, Truth, Denial and Envy embodied. Their riddling yet oddly accurate prophecies were put in ink by Anuk Schleger the monk, in the scrolls that now hold many names - The Nameless Scriptures, The Unwritten, The Dirt Pages. And so far, every promise therein has been realized, hence why both kings and beggars now cry and wail. Everything will blacken and burn. The stormy, Endless Sea will boil and flood. The Valley of the Unfortunate Undead crumble and turn to dust. Every city: Galgenbeck and Schleswig, Alliáns and Grift will perish in flames. The trees of Sarkash rise as black smoke and the sprawling tunnels beneath the mountains of Bergen Chrypt will collapse in chaos and blood. And still there are those who seek riches. Those who seek redemption, and those who try to stop the apocalypse. They too will die, but they will die tired.
✖ To set the proper tone and get in the right mood, have a look at this Spotify playlist which is currently playing in our speakers when writing and designing this.
Should we receive the funds we’re asking for, we will produce a beast of a book. 88 pages printed with 6 colors (CMYK+2), hardback A5 size with a soft-touch laminated cover with embossed and reliefed details, two different paper stocks, and (if we meet the stretchgoals) glow-in-the-dark ink on the spine. We’re even considering gold foiling some details in the book, but we’ll see where we end up economically. We love print, and would like to show the RPG community what you can do with a couple of dead trees and some ink.
✖ Our goal here is to make every spread visually unique and hopefully interesting and inspiring to browse through. We're breaking a lot of traditional graphic design "rules" here. There are no design templates, no grid, we use around 100 typefaces, things are rough, crooked and punk. We use both Papyrus and Comic Sans. Why not?
Some spreads from the book. Click them to see them in larger size:
- A brief look at this grim world at its final hours. Visit the tomb-mountains of Bergen Chrypt, the Valley of the Unfortunate Undead and the two Two-Headed Basilisks who predicted the end of the world.
- Lightning fast character creation. Let the dice decide just how bad things start out.
- Easy to learn, easy to master rules covering doing stuff, killing stuff, getting better at it with time or simply dying.
- Nechrubel's Calendar, an apocalyptic count-down mechanic that brings chaos to the world and sunders the rules of reality every day, until the final hour comes.
- 20 eldritch spells in the form of sacred and unclean scrolls. As well as a table of 20 arcane catastrophes for when you try to master the powers of magic but fuck it all up.
- Optional rules that adds more depth to your game: Omens that let you alter your fate and perhaps turn your bad luck into a slightly better one. Classes with unique specialities and quirks, such as the Gutterborn Scum, the Fanged Deserter or the Bitter, Forgotten Prince. Tables to help you bring your character to life, covering personality traits, physical appearance/maladies, bad habits and exactly what went wrong and forced you to become a grave-robbing adventurer.
- 12 merciless and menacing monsters and maniacs to meet and murder.
- GM tools including but not limted to name lists, a corpse plundering table, 50 plot hooks, a list of occult treasures, traps and devilry, and the game rules in compact reference format on the final spread for quick and easy use at the table.
- The introductory dungeon crawl scenario Rotblack Sludge, or The Shadow King’s Lost Heir, where you'll investigate the forgotten parts of the Shadow King's monolithic cathedral-palace. Cannibal-warlocks, poison-peddlers from beyond the void and hungering gutworms await. It is printed on a different paper stock to make it unique, not only visually but also physically. Here, the graphic design is focusing fully on usability and easy reference instead of crazy aesthetics, hence why it will visually differ dramatically from the rest of the book.
As both Pelle and Johan are Swedish, the book will be written and designed in Swedish first, and later translated to English (by us). So the first English draft will be OK, but probably with a bunch of small grammatical errors and strange word choices, and that is why we have enlisted Patrick Stuart (Silent Titans, Veins of the Earth, Deep Carbon Observatory) to help us out. He will dig into the text, correct errors and also give creative consultation on how to improve and take it up a notch. Or just rewrite the whole thing in his characteristic style. So we feel confident that the English version will be just as brutal, strange and alive with undeath as the Swedish one.
Below is a summary of what is included in the different pledge levels. The printed world map is included if that stretchgoal is unlocked.
Kickstarter exclusive special edition
✖ Backers of this Kickstarter have the unique opportunity to score an exclusive special edition version of the book, bound in black faux leather and printed with holographic cold foil, you know the kind that reflects light in all the colors of the rainbow like crazy. We don't understand the concept of subtlety. This version of the book will never be printed again and won't be available after the Kickstarter campaign ends.
PDF version of the book
✖ We believe that the printed version of the book really is half the appeal here, but we know some of you are of a more digital kind, maybe you really hate Gutenberg or something. For you, we'll include a hyperlinked and nicely indexed PDF of the book so that you can read or play from your high-tech device. Or actually two hyperlinked and nicely indexed PDF's, since you'll be getting both the Swedish and the English pdf's as part of this Kickstarter.
Dungeon synth cassette tape by Heimat Der Katastrophe
✖ If you haven't heard of Heimat Der Katastrophe, stop reading now and head to their Bandcamp. Right now. Seriously, you won't regret it. They are a Milano-based label focusing - in their own words - on ambient punk, minimal-synth, dungeon-drone, wartime music and post-nuclear wave. They will produce a MÖRK BORG themed cassette with the official dungeon synth soundtrack, which will be included in the Two-Headed Basilisk pledge level. A digital download is also included for those of you who do not own a cassette deck anymore.
Organic MÖRK BORG T-shirt
✖ Wear the end of the world. This Kickstarter exclusive t-shirt will not be available after the campaign ends, so this is the only chance to get your hands on it! It is produced through Spreadshirt and is made up of 100% organic cotton. Available in sizes S to 5XL.
Embroidered textile patch
✖ As part of this campaign we will produce embroidered textile patches for you to pimp out your battle jacket with. Be the toughest of nerds! The patch presented here is just a mockup and not the final design. This patch is Kickstarter exclusive and will never be produced again after the campaign ends.
Stretchgoal 1: Golden foil details
With this stretchgoal, we can beef up the book even further and add a gold metallic foil to a few details within the book.
Stretchgoal 2: Fluorescent ink on the book spine
This is the funds we need to afford to print the title on the spine in glow-in-the-dark ink. Because everybody needs a light in the dark, and this way, the very book will be your lantern to chase away the worst of ghosts.
Stretchgoal 3: Poster-sized map of the dying world
Another print product! With this stretchgoal, we'll have a big map of the world printed and include it in every pledge that also includes a physical copy of the book. The exact size isn't decided yet, but we're hoping for bigger than A3.
Stretchgoal 4: Bookmark ribbon
The graphic design of MÖRK BORG can be a bit chaotic at times, and even though we provide all the rules needed at the game on the last spread, you might want to browse through the book at some point, and then, it’s good to have one of these! We don’t know exactly which kind yet, but we will hear with our printer house what the coolest bookmark ribbon they have is. Maybe you can print your own stuff on it, I don't know.
Stretchgoal 5: Silver foil details
With this stretchgoal, we match the golden foil details with silver metallic foil to make a few elements in the book really pop out.
Stretchgoal 666: Short pamphlet dungeon
Should we reach this ungodly amount of money we will write and design a short 12 room dungeon in the form of a two-page pamphlet. The dungeon, which does not yet have a name, is riddled with riddles, untimely death and Twin Peaks drapes. We will investigate the possibility of having this printed and folded into the book, but if that's not possible for some reason it will be a pdf that you can print and fold at home, DIY style!
Stretchgoal 7: Mini dungeon generator
Should we reach this goal, we will create a simple but inspiring dungeon generator, to allow the GM to randomize a name, the appearence, contents, inhabitants and the general feel of the dungeon. It will not be room-by-room, but more a spark for your dark imagination.
Stretchgoal 8: Character sheet pad
Ok, so 400 000 SEK is an insane number, but who knows? If we reach it, we will throw in a pad of character sheets into every package that includes a physical book. For free! The pads might be made available later (even if we won't meet this stretchgoal) but not for free.
- Printing books is quite expensive, especially the kind of print quality we're aiming for here, and so the majority of funds will go toward financing actually producing the physical book.
- We're also two Swedish guys writing this game and though we'll do our very best to translate it into English, we no tålk as gööd like Swedish. And so will need the assistance of native English speaking editors, proofreaders and translators. Patrick is doing a hell of a job here but we need more people to hunt for errors. And we want to be able to pay the people who help us out!
- We will need to pay licence money for typefaces that we use in the book. Don't pirate typefaces, folks!
- Same as the printing, anything produced or handled by anyone other than Pelle and Johan will have to be paid for. The work on the music by Heimat der Katastrophe, the embroidered textile patches, the warehouse storing the books etc.
The shipping is handled by Free League Publishing through GamesQuest, and the costs are their standard rates for untracked parcels. The shipping to Sweden is done by Förlagsystem and uses their standard rates. These are the estimated shipment costs, based on what we believe the book will weigh:
How the hell do you pronounce it?
MÖRK BORG is Swedish and translates to something like DARK CASTLE or DARK FORT, and "MÖR" is pronounced sort of like MUR in MURDER. And BORG is well, pronounced like those robot guys in Star Wars.
✖ Ockult Örtmästare is Pelle Nilsson, Swedish game designer and author focusing on streamlining the old game systems from the 70s. He has published a couple of rpgs, among them Barkhäxan and Ut mot skären. Thus, MÖRK BORG will be more about digging into the right feeling instead of complicated rules.
✖ Stockholm Kartell is a creative coven of writers, designers and idiots (The Unseen Vaults of the Optic Experiment, Through the Gate of Flesh, Into the Jungle) and among them, Johan Nohr is an established, award-winning Art Director/illustrator responsible for the graphic design of Symbaroum, Oktoberlandet and Barkhäxan. He has been involved in projects such as Mutant: Year Zero, Vampire: The Masquerade and Forbidden Lands.
✖ Free League Publishing is a Swedish publisher dedicated to speculative fiction in various forms. They publish games, art books and novels set in strange and wondrous worlds. Their international releases include Mutant: Year Zero, Tales from the Loop RPG, Symbaroum, Coriolis and Forbidden Lands.
✖ Patrick Stuart, is a critically acclaimed and ENnie-awarded author of Silent Titans, Veins of the Earth, Deep Carbon Observatory and many others. He will help us out with creative editing, brainstorming and making sure the English text is as good as it can be. He would have written this description better.
Risks and challenges
Right now, when this Kickstarter launches, the Swedish words and layout are about 95% done. That % will be at 100 before the KS ends. At that point we will begin the proofreading of the Swedish edition while the text is translated to English. We will translate it ourselves, and then leave it to Patrick Stuart to sink his teeth into our butchered, weird English, making sure it keeps the same quality as the Swedish original. We estimate this will take about 4 months, including any layout changes that has to be made for the English version.
The established and skilled publisher Free League Publishing will take care of the printing, stocking and shipping process, so we feel safe you will get the books by November 2019. Of course, things can always happen. Planes could crash, bombs could go off, the Hungry Sleepers from Beyond could awaken etc. But we will do our very best to ensure you have your things by November!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)