Nordic RPG News – Penguins and Varg Vikernes

I’ve heard interesting news from the sphere of Nordic roleplaying games in the past few days.

First, the company Vagrant Workshop has announced they will be releasing Valley of Eternity, the Finnish penguin roleplaying game, in English. Written by Juhana Pettersson, the game was originally released in 2009 as Ikuisuuden laakso. It’s a game about penguin heroes and antipenguins, about survival in the bitterly cold Antarctic, and the things a hero must do to protect their community. Its inspirations include Conan, spaghetti westerns and March of the Penguins, if I recall the original press release correctly. I must admit that I thought it was an off-season April Fools joke, but it turned out to be a fine game. Once the English version is released, I’ll translate my original review and post it here.

Vagrant Workshop is also, apparently, releasing Itras by, from Norway. Its Finnish translation was released at the same time with the original Ikuisuuden laakso, and I reviewed it here. I am less excited about that.

My other news item also comes from Norway, and good or bad (or evil?), it’s at least interesting. Last month, released an interview with Varg Vikernes that includes the following exchanges:

Are you still planning on the release of your own role playing game? What can you tell us about this, if anything at all?

Yes, very much so, but I am not yet sure exactly on how to do this. I expect to be asking for help from gamers to play-test the system and to get feedback, but I will do some proof-reading and add some more meat to the bone, so to speak, before I do so.

Note that I am not trying to revolutionize RPG gaming with this game or anything like that. I just wanted to add in a game some things I have always missed in other games and remove some things I didn’t like, and then create a setting I would want to play in myself.

It’s all done out of love for RPGs, and because I enjoy working with this.

Do you have any fond memories of your role playing game days you would like to share? I myself, with a few, select others, played the first edition AD&D only, and we still sometimes do, in the manner of the old Gary Gygax tradition of early RPG… We have created many characters and had much magic still, with some great opportunities to play out the character and personalities like Mackarel Dale the rouge; the druid Owck the gnarled or against villains we have created like Fitzworg the enslaver…

Oh, it is a very long time since I last played a game, and I think even back then, when I had the opportunity to play, my biggest fascination was the logic (or lack thereof) of the system itself, the technical details and gaming mechanics, the complexity of the gaming world, races, stats and so forth. I am a terrible friend, so I have lost all my RPG-friends, and I lost the last one many years ago, and have gained no new friends to replace them, so I relate to RPGs pretty much just like some autistic person trying to figure out in details how a complicated mechanical device works. Right now I just try to make a logical system and a logical world for it…

My fond RPG memories have mostly been lost, but I still remember how fun it was to even just have the PC party walk up to some ruined tower or a cave entrance, and then try to unveil the secrets therein.

Ah, you know; Det som engang var (“what once was”)…

Okay, it would actually have surprised me more if Vikernes was not a former roleplayer, what with the 1990’s metal scene and all (and upon investigation, I found out that Det som engang var is actually the name of a Burzum album with cover artwork inspired by Temple of Elemental Evil). However, having the guy design and release a game of his own… yikes.

For those who aren’t entirely certain who Mr Vikernes is or why his RPG background is interesting, well… he just got out of prison a couple of years ago, having gone there for stabbing his Mayhem bandmate Øystein Aarseth (himself apparently a theistic Satanist) to death. Before that, he’d been running around burning churches in the name of Nordic paganism. He has also been associated with the neo-Nazi movement.

So, he’s not necessarily the first public figure I’d pick to have associated with my hobby, but I must admit to a certain curiosity towards the game project. The thing is, the interview answers above don’t sound like he’ll be turning out a new FATAL or RaHoWa. Spawn of Fashan or World of Synnibar, perhaps. Fantasy heartbreaker, quite possibly. Still, he seems to have a sense of perspective.

I’ll be keeping an eye on that project. It may not be anything I’ll want to play, but it would almost have to be a hoot to read.

Oh, and one more thing: the first review of Stalker RPG is up!

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