Back in September 2019 (read it HERE) I posted about Gaming Ballistic‘s latest Kickstarter which would eventually get 420 backers pledging $24,912 to produce four books for the Norðlond Sagas. These books are
The Dragons of Rosgarth
112 pages written by Kyle Norton & Douglas H. Cole. Full colour softcover book with lay flat binding. Essentially it works just like a ‘Hollow’ in a hardcover book allowing the book to lay almost completely flat without putting undue stress on the spine covering. I’ve had some considerable training in hand bookbinding. I’ve taken several workshops and completed Level One and Two training in London City & Guilds courses in bookbinding. That being said I’m very pleased with the binding and sewing of these books.Sewn signatures will last much longer than just glued sheets as are done in a Perfect Bind.
Now what about the content of The Dragons of Rosgarth? The events that unfold in the books expand on what was hinted at in Hall of Judgement. It takes place in Isfjall roughly 300 miles east of Norðvörn where we were first introduced to Douglas Cole’s “Not Really Icelandic” fantasy setting. You are given enough background information to set an adventure that will span a hundred mile journey with enough to keep the players busy. Background information for the main NPC’s is provided making it easier for the GM to direct their actions. Over 20 new monsters in the Bestiary, some of which I hope I never have to come across as a player (I’m looking at you Stothtroll!). The story line is not linear which for a GM makes it much easier to run. Nothing is worse then trying to herd players down a single path.
The artwork is lovely and the maps are by Monkey Blood Design who I’m particularly fond of his works. On a side note I was very pleased that the May 2020 Cartography Annual from ProFantasy was done by Glynn Seal! I have read most of The Dragons of Rosgarth before my physical copy arrived but it is more enjoyable to have the book in your hand rather than on a backlit screen. I can’t thumb through a pdf with as much enjoyment.
92 pages written by Merlin Avery. Same binding quality as The Dragons of Rosgarth. My only issue with the pages is the border graphic. It’s sharp contrast is distracting when reading. I’m dyslexic and things like that and page colour really matter. Maybe if it was more of a solid colour than the flames and black from the background graphic it would have been a bit better.
Forest’s End is an adventure book with dungeons! I’m really torn between wanting to run this and wanting to be a player in it! The information provided within makes it easy to use with the other books in the series. I would be nice to be able to purchase posters of the dungeons with 1″ Hexes much like the ones from “I Smell a Rat” that came in the box set of DFRPG. Obviously the cost and logistics of such an option would be a nightmare but maybe the option to purchase the images and getting them printed online or locally could be an option for the future? Who knows, I will suggest it though.
Lots of little gems in the book as well, such as new traps, random tables, and 20 Monsters and NPC’s. I particularly like the Blóðughúfa (redcap) as it represents how horrid and evil faerie can be. GURPS Faerie is one of my favourite books which heavily influenced my first GURPS Fantasy campaign in which I replaced having Gods with Fey.
16 page booklet by Kevin Smyth. This stapled booklet is on heavier paper than the previous two books. Lovely full coloured pages with amazing artwork on each page.16 templates to use with your Dungeon Fantasy RPG games. Obviously geared toward Norðlond Sagas, they can be used in any DFRPG setting. Lots of beast races such as the “Not Really Egyptian” Cat-Folk, Björnhjarta (Bear-Folk), Gullinálmur (Boar-Folk), Úlfblóðugur (Wolf-Blooded), Hrafnar (Raven-folk), and the very odd Triger-Folk.
A delightful section on Half-Breeds which takes me back to 2008’s Dungeon Fantasy 3 The Next Level (has it really been 12 years!) with races as Dragon-Blooded, Eldhuð (Demon-Blooded), and Himneskur (God-Blooded) with it’s clever artwork.
We also get a more Norðlond version of Dvergr (Dwarves), Elfàrd (Elves), Gnomes, Vandræðagemsi (Fae Gnomes), Half-Ogres, Half-Orcs, Neveri Halflings, and Hálfálfar (Half-Elves)
The Hand of Asgard
Like Norðlondr Fólk, The Hand of Asgard is a booklet of 16 pages stapled together also written by Kevin Smyth. Thick full colour paper of good quality and with some lovely artwork. The Hand of Asgard is a must for GM’s and any player wanting to play a Cleric or Holy Warrior. Kevin Smyth adds both Cleric Spell list and Holy might and suggestions for Holy Warriors as well. There are no stats for the ten Gods listed, I mean they are Gods after all! However there is a lovely surprise of Valkyrie’s in the back of the book!
To be honest I was unsure of how useful The Hand of Asgard was going to be at 16 pages but there really is 16 pages of very useful information to use. It isn’t just a fluff piece.
I have not been this excited since opening up the Dungeon Fantasy RPG box set back in October 2017. Gaming Ballistic have continued to offer a quality item that makes me feel like I’m 10 years old again playing D&D with my school mates. The Norðlond Sagas for me are like Forgotten Realms of my late teenage years full of information on the culture, area, and history which lays the foundation for adventures for years! Hints of “Not Really England” and thoughts of “Not Really Japan” have been mentioned (although nothing concrete or binding). Personally I’d really like to see a “Not Really China” Wuxia setting for DFRPG set in a Three Kingdoms period or Warring States.
So congratulations to Douglas H. Cole, Kyle Norton, Merlin Avery, and Kevin Smyth on four wonderful products! We hope to see more in future! Also a thank you from this fan to Steve Jackson Games for signing off on these great books, I also hope to see more DFRPG from SJG in the future.