From “Chock” to “Swedish Wastelands”

Completing a challenging game-writing assignment is always a mixture of elation and weariness. In this case, a few days ago, I delivered my intro adventure to the new second edition of the Swedish horror RPG Chock (“shock” in English) by Eloso. Ten thousand words dealing with young men dying strangely in Stockholm’s finance industry in the late 1980s. This setting coincides intentionally with my time at Target Games as its editor & in-house game designer; we then published the first edition of Chock, which (unlike the second edition) was a straight translation of Pacesetter’s Chill.

Designing games in my spare time is always an up-and-down experience: while writing this adventure, I have also had a regular office job as a techwriter, moved to new home, assisted my three daughters with this and that, been knocked over by an Italian stomach infection (steak tartare is tasty but hazardous), and so on. But writing games and fiction is such a pleasure that I won’t stop doing it despite being short on time.

Next major challenge is developing the Swedish Wastelands setting for the post-apocalyptic RPG Freeway Warrior by Åskfågeln. I have a pretty good idea what I want to do — for example taking a closer look at my old hometown Gothenburg and the farmlands of adjacent Västergötland — and I have some old stuff that can be overhauled to fit the new context. This will be fun.

If you want to support my continued game writing, please sponsor me at my Patreon page — link >>>

If I get sufficient backing, I’ll switch to designing new games and stuff full-time.

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Quick Authorial Update For Q4 2018


I haven’t touched the blog for three weeks, because I have been terribly busy with my daytime job as a techwriter and with various family-related matters. However, I’m gearing up for an exciting fourth quarter. My first priority is to complete my introductory adventure to Eloso’s new Swedish horror RPG Chock. Only 20% of the text remains to be written.

After that, it’s time to get going on Wastelands Sverige, a Swedish setting for Åskfågeln’s postapocalyptic RPG Freeway Warrior. My setting is based on the classic Swedish RPG Wastelands from 1991, updated to fit the 21st century. I intend to pay a lot of attention to the port city of Gothenburg and to the fertile farmlands of the adjacent province of Västergötland.

And there are a few other “gamey things” in the pipeline, though my non-disclosure agreements prevent me from saying more. It looks like I’ll have an exciting 2019 when it come to writing games.

I am still working on my Patreon site, and I want to get it up and running before the end of the year.

As for my science fiction and fantasy novels, they are in the backburner for the time being; they have no deadlines, unlike the game texts.

Podcast: Writing the Kin-strife sourcebook for MERP

Twenty-five years ago, I masterminded the creation of the sourcebook The Kin-strife for Iron Crown’s game Middle-earth Role-playing together with a bunch of creative Swedes and Americans.

The Kin-strife deals with a civil war that wracked Gondor about 1,600 years before the events in Lord of the Rings. Gondor suffered ten years of bloodshed and tyranny as the usurper Castamir deposed the rightful king Eldacar by armed rebellion. However, Castamir failed to hold on to power, and the exiled king staged a successful counter-rebellion and reclaimed the throne by killing the usurper in battle. Our book, about 200 pages long, explains in depth what Gondor is like in those tumultuous years and how to run several types of campaigns there.

Today, The Kin-strife remains a much appreciated sourcebook and, a few days ago, the podcast Red Moon Roleplaying interviewed me about what is was like to write it. Listen to our discussion at Red Moon’s web page (link >>> ) or in this YouTube video.  (And here is a blog post from 2011 about the MERP Kin-strife project — link >>> )

Podcasten Bortom: Jag blickar tillbaks på mina 40+ år i branschen

Summary in English: I have been interviewed in a Swedish podcast about my 40+ yaers in the RPG business.

Robert Jonsson har intervjuat mig för sin podcast Bortom Bortom. I avsnitt 62, inbäddat nedan, berättar jag om hur jag började med hobbyn och tar er med på en resa igenom min karriär där världsskapandet är den röda tråden. Jag berör bland annat rollspelen Drakar och Demoner, Mutant 2, Partisan, Gondica och Wastelands.

Finding Intangible Gold

Stan Lee, I stand right next you:
I have been a professional game designer for 33 years. Meanwhile my fluffy hair has turned sparse and grey, and my once sprightly stride has grown heavier and slower. Every now and then people in their thirties and forties approach me and thank me for stuff I wrote in the 1980s and 1990s. They say that during their teens, they found so much joy in my games. Their words hearten me by proving that my hard work at the office (nope, creative writing is not an easy chore) was, is and will be time well spent.

Encounter in Jotunheim

In the Norse pagan legends, cosmos is layered in many adjacent worlds. Men live in Midgard (Middangeard/Middle-earth), whereas the gods live in Asgard above mankind.

The giants live in Jotunheim (Giant-home), a dangerous untamed world beyond the wild river Ifing. Most are settled in farmsteads under the leadership of a chieftain. Some giants are great warlocks that excel in illusions. Many stories tell about interactions between gods and giants, and occasionally a shrewd giant outsmarts a god. Therefore mannish adventurers must tread carefully in Jotunheim.

In the 1990s I was commissioned to write several Swedish Norse-themed role-playing products: Ansgar (an educational RPG about the first German missionaries to pagan Sweden around AD 830) and two sourcebooks and one adventure for the Viking RPG. Both publishers initially wanted only material based on real-world Scandinavian history.

After a while Viking’s publisher also asked me, Magnus Seter, and Mats Blomqvist to write a fantasy sourcebook based on Norse legends: Saga. Among others things it included spell-chanting, rune-carving, undead, elves, dwarves, divine favor, and visits to legendary worlds. However, when we had completed our texts, the publisher went bankrupt and aborted the project. (You can read more about the Viking RPG in Swedish here — link >>>)

The picture above by Eytan Zana at DeviantArt perfectly captures the mood of the Jotunheim section of Saga: crows at the carcass of a fallen giant. (Click on the picture for a larger version.)

For those of you who know Swedish, here is Magnus Seter’s Jotunheim text on page 18 in a PDF file of issue 24 of the Sverox gaming magazine — link >>>

Post-human Earth

When man vanishes, what will Earth look like? I worked with two post-apocalyptic role-playing games in the 1980s and 1990s: Mutant and Wastelands. They each introduce settings in which the current civilization has been destroyed, resulting in two dissimilar game worlds, the grim and serious Wastelands Europe and the less serious Pyri Scandinavia.

However, after watching this video, I realize that my background research was insufficient, particularly in the Wastelands setting. For instance, there would have been extensive problems with the plentiful hydroelectric power stations in northern Sweden: cracked dams, flooded river valleys, and swamped riverside towns.