Skills rule! Action is skill-based, roll low with 1D100 or 1D20 to succeed; character levels aren’t used.
Medium-powered adventurers: Character Hit Points usually don’t increase; combat is dangerous; no nuclear magic/tech/etc.
Brains before brawn: social interaction generally pays off.
Genre-emulating settings: Open-ended adventures with plenty of problem-solving; the selected genre defines the setting; open vistas with much flexibility for the game master.
Recently, I published my new Swedish role-playing game Expert Nova at Lulu.com (link to the game in my Lulu shop >>>). Its is designed for real-world or science-fiction campaigns in the contemporary era (i.e. circa 1880 to 2050).
So far I have seen one review (it’s there at the game’s Lulu page); the reviewer awarded five stars out of five. I am eagerly waiting for the review in the Swedish game magazine Fenix later this autumn.
When I started working with Expert Nova in the late Spring, I made a mental survey of what role-playing games there currently are in the Swedish market. Half a dozen or more are competing the fantasy niche, each targeting a particular age or style segment. In the post-apocalyptic niche, there is one multi-faceted line, and as for space opera there are a few titles. But when I considered the contemporary/near future/near past niche, there was only one tentative competitor and it doesn’t resemble anything in my oeuvres.
In my gaming group (playing weekly or biweekly since the 1980s), we have enjoyed several fairly low-key campaigns set in the 20th century, e.g. cops in Vermont 1931 or in Los Angeles 2003; freewheeling British intelligence officers in WW2; Soviet investigators of UFO phenomena in 1956; pulpish adventurers in 1930s Far and Middle East; and so on. So I made up my mind and wrote Expert Nova as a set of flexible rules for that kind of campaigns, using plenty of detective, spy and soldier tropes in its explanatory descriptions because they are familiar to the readers.
I selected Basic Role-playing 1D20 as my foundation for Expert Nova, because I know that system inside out, having used it creatively since 1979. But in Expert Nova I deviate from BRP’s common implementation by cutting the PC’s characteristics from seven to four (Push, Knack, Sense, Grit) and reducing the number of skills to a score broad ones.
For example, the Soldier skill encompasses everything that a competent infantryman is trained to do: marksmanship, field-works, orienteering, spit-and-polish, instruction, first aid, swimming, etc. I want to enable the players to play competent characters that won’t get lost in an an adventure because their team lacks one narrowly-defined skill.
My current intention is to proceed with an Expert series by books, each dealing with a specific milieu or trope. Such a book is supposed to contain a setting with campaign advice for the game master, adventurer creation tips for the players, and an adaptation of the Expert Nova rules with setting-specific add-ons. Each book will be a complete stand-alone game.
During October I have jotted down several ideas and outlines. Some milieus came easily to my mind, such as an adventurous oldschool solar system (explanatory link >>>) or espionage in a Cold-War or a pre-Cold-War timeline. Below I outline three appealing settings:
- I have always been fascinated by uchronias, i.e. when history took an alternate turn at some point and thereby created a world different from ours. My academic background of political science and history often inspires me speculate on “What if?” settings. Currently I am spending a lot of key-board time working on an retro-style alternate Europe, a setting designed for crime-fighting, espionage and liberation struggles in oppressive, conservative societies.
- I have also outlined a 1990s science fiction setting, in which the adventurers will deal with mankind’s unenviable minor role in cosmos while coping with the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet empire. Yes, this proposition makes sense in context.
- I am considering a reboot of the world of Gondica that I created twenty years ago; it would entail an extensive revision and expansion of Gondica’s original timeline and backstory to create a milieu with airships, clockwork automatons, steamships and strange places to explore. I might perhaps derive inspiration from Conan Doyle’s professor Challenger adventures and Kipling’s stories. However, I have currently no idea what results my creative process might deliver in this case.
- Also, some people have suggested that I make an English edition of Expert Nova. Yes, I hear you loud and clear, and I have started translating the texts.
I have earlier described myself thus: “Anders Blixt is a machine that turns coffee into role-playing games”. However, available time does not match my relentless creativity, so I must prioritize wisely. General Eisenhower once said:
I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything. There is a very great distinction because when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
Therefore, I make no promises about this or that Expert book. Please have patience and stay tuned to this blog for future updates.