Expert Nova, English Edition Is Now Live on Lulu!

Expert Nova is my new role-playing game for action and mysteries in settings from the late Victorian era to a near future in which man still is the measure of all things. Put your players to the test in London’s seedy alleys, the trackless jungles of the Amazonas, the catacombs under Paris, or the Templars’ hidden headquarter. It is a translation of the Swedish version that I published last year, though with an extra chapter explaining campaign design according to our distinctive Swedish RPG lore.

Expert Nova is a 6″x9″ book of 64 pages. €25 at Lulu.

  • Flexible rules that favour playability and encourage clever schemes and social interaction.
  • Speedy character generation that produces hardy and versatile adventurers.
  • Action is skill-based: roll 1D20 as low as possible.
  • Adjust the grittiness and lethality of your adventures by applying optional rules.
  • Campaign design guidelines with a 1950s Australian science fiction setting as a hands-on example.

My RPG Accomplishments in 2019

At the New Year holiday, people often look back at the past year and muse on what has happened. In my case, I pulled off a few nice game-related accomplishments.

  • Ruby Jubilee as a game writer: In 1979, I made my first professional sale, a Traveller article for GDW’s inhouse magazine Journal of Travellers’ Aid Society. Read the full story here — link >>>.
  • Expert Nova, my newest game: My professional situation got a complete overhaul in April for reasons that are of no interest here. What is relevant, though, is that suddenly I had more time for making role-playing games. In May, I decided (snap — just like that) to use my forty years of RPG designer experience to write Expert Nova, a role-playing game for contemporary settings (currently an almost empty niche in the Swedish RPG market) The rules are inspired by Basic Role-playing, the dominant game system in Sweden since the  1980s. I launched Expert Nova via Lulu in October; buy it in my kiosk — link >>>.

    Elin Blixt’s illustration of the chapter on equipment, endurance, and health in Expert Nova.

  • Family Business: I have recruited my adult daughter Elin, an art & design student, for doing interior artwork in my games. Her first job was Expert Nova and she quickly grasped the ins and outs of illustrating RPG rules. We will proceed with new projects in 2020.
  • Expert Nova English Edition: In November I translated Expert Nova into English, an easy task because I am bilingual. Because foreign gamers are unfamiliar with Swedish RPG lore, I added a chapter about our traditional way of designing campaigns. The English text is currently being reviewed and I intend to launch Expert Nova English Edition via Lulu at the end of January. Stay tuned to this blog.
  • The Expert setting books: I have started outlining some settings, the Expert Series, for the Expert Nova rules. However, I haven’t yet decided which book to complete first.
  • Cthulhu Calling: The Swedish game publisher Eloso is busy developing a Swedish version of Chaosium’s classic RPG Call of Cthulhu, part translation, part new material about Sweden in the 1920s. In late 2019, they hired me to work on some chapters. Great assignment.

Expert Nova: vilddjur i Fenix

Summary in English: The rules for wild animals in Expert Nova will soon be published in the Swedish RPG magazine Fenix.


I den dunkla forntiden, dvs någon gång före 1985, förklarade min vän Lennart att rollspel kan delas in två kategorier: sådana där äventyrarna brukar tampas med monster (t.ex. Dungeons & Dragons) och sådana där de brukar tampas med människor och liknande varelser (t.ex. Traveller). I den första kategorin behöver äventyrarna stridsskicklighet, eldbollsmagi och goda rustningar, medan den andra kategorin betonar list, sociala färdigheter och indirekta tillvägagångssätt.

När jag sommaren 2019 skrev rollspelet Expert Nova (länk >>> ) placerade jag det i kategori två, eftersom jag föredrar den sortens kampanjer. Därför skrev jag inga specifika regler för hur djur används.

Men i december 2019 började jag skissa på två kampanjmiljöer där äventyrarna ger sig ut i vildmarken och då såg jag behovet. Under en kreativ vecka konstruerade jag de här djurreglerna. De omfattar djur och odjur från varg via jaguar och afrikansk buffel till Tyrannosaurus rex. Idag har Tove Gillbring bekräftat att reglerna publiceras i kommande Fenix med illustrationer av min vuxna dotter Elin, som även har illustrerat själva spelet.

Chock tillbaka på banan

Summary in English: Eloso’s reboot of the Swedish horror RPG Chock is currently being launched in gamestores and bookshops. I have written a full-length adventure for it.

Nisse Gullikssons omslag till mitt Chock-äventyr

Sisådär, nu Elosos nya skräckrollspel Chock: Åter från graven på väg ut till butikerna. Här är mitt bidrag till nystarten, äventyret Märk hur vår skugga som utspelar sig i Stockholms yuppiekretsar under sent 1980-tal: “Greed is good!”, Café Opera, snabba börsklipp, droger och bredaxlade kostymer.

Illustratör är min gamle kollega Nils Gulliksson. Titeln Märk hur vår skugga är från en av Fredmans epistlar av CM Bellman.

Stockholm Calling or Localizing Cthulhu

OlaLarssonCoC

Ola Larsson’s cover for the Swedish investigator’s handbook

I have been an inactive blogger recently. The cause is what you would expect: shortage of time. I am currently spending a lot time on localizing Call of Cthulhu to Sweden. Among techwriters, localization is a form of translation in which you not only translate from language to another, but you also make the product fit the new market by removing superfluous information, and inserting new information that your domestic customers need.

In the case of Swedish Call of Cthulhu, the publisher Eloso wants to give the game a distinctive “Sweden in the 1920s” flavor. Swedes today know little about what our country was like hundred years ago, so we must explain how e.g. law enforcement, academic institutions, and municipal bureaucracies functioned.

For instance, when the intrepid investigators do research in rural areas, a good source of information might be the local hembygdsförening (“local history association”), whose members delve into the past of their parish or village, holding lectures and writing newsletters and booklets about nearby rune-stones, old churches, and legends of things that go bump in the night. The local temperance lodge keeps a keen eye on the inhabitants’ use and abuse of alcohol, so its leaders might know who is making moonshine and who is smuggling illicit Estonian vodka.* The vicar** of the parish church occupies central role in rural society; apart from his ecclesiastical duties, he is charged by the state with maintaining a detailed population registry, keeping track on births, deaths, marriages, people’s domiciles and other matters. He therefore knows a lot about who is doing what, even though he might be unwilling to share his knowledge because of his pastoral vows.

In the major cities, the above-mentioned organizations are of lesser importance. Instead, trade union chapters and sports clubs in the neighborhood may provide useful information. Social control remains tight because people, apart from the very wealthy, live under cramped conditions in rickety apartment buildings.

We, Eloso’s team of CoC developers, are therefore busy with giving the original rules a Swedish touch and adding brand-new material, such as site descriptions, Swedish grimoires, new adventures, etc. We’ll spend the winter 2019/20 with these chores, a good reason to stay indoors and avoid the sleet and darkness of the season.


*In a tight national referendum in 1921, the Swedish electorate rejected a US-style prohibition; instead, they got a rationing system (link >>>) by which adult citizens in good standing were allowed to buy a certain quantity of hard liquor per month. People were of course circumventing the restrictions in more or less ingenious ways. Smugglers who transported Estonian vodka to Sweden by speedboat became folk heroes. Read about the dashing Algoth Niska here — link >>>
**The established Lutheran Church of Sweden had been governed by the king/state since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. In the 1920s, anti-clerical socialists and Christian dissenters, mainly baptists and presbyterians, disliked this arrangement but lacked the political clout to change it; it was eventually reformed in the 1950s.

Expert Nova English Edition

The day before yesterday, I finished translating my new role-playing game Expert Nova English Edition and emailed it to my test reader. Next step is line editing and proof reading. My plan is to complete those chores during December and publish the game on Lulu in January.
Here is an excerpt from the Preface that explains the background of Expert Nova.

In the mid-1980s, Sweden experienced an amazing role-playing boom. In those years, I was the inhouse designer at Target Games and we dominated our market with sales figures that an American company would envy. Our freelancers and I created an informal lore for what constitutes a good game. Its roots lay in Chaosium’s Basic Role­playing (BRP), but we blazed our own trail and developed a distinctly Swedish RPG style. Recently, Swedish RPG fan Wilper systematized this lore as Classic Swedish Role-playing (KSR). Its basic tenets, regardless of genre, are:
  • 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.
Expert Nova is a part of our KSR tradition: I have assembled a toolbox with flexible rules that you can adapt and expand on for any contemporary campaign you want to run.