Blood in the Snow

Wicked helmet.

Weekend project. There’s something about getting REALLY into a task where the hours pass by that is just beautiful. Spent around 8 hours in the past two days alone. Geez.

More Arnesonian design!

Edit: This game has been reworked to Skorne, a full four page RPG. Find it here.

This game came about while watching Attack on Titan, a brutal anime about humanity versus giants. It’s Japan’s The Walking Dead, but with way more fascism and climbing gear and swords. There are some very neat themes for any OSR game present in the cruel, bleak world of terrible odds and disposable people.

So I knew I wanted humanity versus evil. In my Campaign of Skorne, I had a “Sauron/Voldement/Fire Lord” figure that united the players as a rag-tag rebel cell. I loved that. It gave everyone an immediate goal and reason to work together: overthrow the tyrannical evil-incarnate monster.

So giants have been done (Attack on Titan), zombies (Walking Dead and more), goblins too (Goblin Slayer)…

How about demons? (Yes, I’m certain it’s been done)

They come in all shapes and sizes, tempting humanity, turning them against each other, and eating them. So there’s flexibility in design there. Killing demons, inner and outer, is an excellent cause.

In that Campaign of Skorne I mentioned earlier, a religious element emerged more than once. Death being a regular occurrence and the undead being a constant threat, the players were always looking to commune with the divine to find some meaning and get an edge over their enemies. But I always kept any divine presence in the background, latent in the world. I want to bring that out more this go around into a darker setting.

The players are humanity. In this case, I wanted Vikings, but very much influenced by Anglo-Saxon culture. There’s some Warhammer flavor in here too.

As a designer, I also wanted to be aware of what materials would be brought to the table. Having dorked with Arnesonian “2d6 versus” design, I opted to go for d6-only. I wanted only one sheet of rules, one sheet of character creation with lots of replayability. And while browsing for character sheet ideas, I ran (once again) into MORK BORG and its evocative design. I ripped the “miseries” right out of the book and turned their “Psalm-like” structure into the rules of the game. I’m happy with that. The character sheet was shaped to my needs.

This is an open table game where the players can lose. There’s two ways the game can end: running out of characters (no more humans!) or the Seventh Seal is broken (ala the Book of Revelations). The first is triggered by too many characters dying and the second is from screwing around too much with magic.

The name is pretty weak-sauce I’ll admit, but I wanted to be able to easily turn the game away from my “humanity-versus-its-demons” premise if necessary.

Appendix N

  • Attack on Titan
  • Vinland Saga
  • Blood Rage
  • Berserk
  • The Witcher
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mount and Blade
  • Ranger’s Apprentice

Some principles

  • Devils walk the earth. Demons trample humanity.
  • Humanity is cornered.
  • Old Testament Christianity. There are miracles from long ago. Christ has not yet come.
  • Magic is corruption.
  • The Sevens Seals are unopened.

2 thoughts on “Blood in the Snow

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