Exploring the RPG World of Midgard

In 2011, Kobold Press set out on an epic quest to bring the world of Midgard to life, a world which originates from Dungeons & Dragons designer Wolfgang Bauer’s campaign. In 2016, Kobold Press returned to Midgard to bring it to 5th Edition, expanding the world with richer lore.

With many adventures and expansions backed through Kickstarter, it’s clear that the following for this deep, intriguing, and dark world is very strong. In a space that’s still dominated by big names like Dungeons & Dragons, many players have found that the Midgard Campaign Setting delivers something very different but in a format that is not only easy to get to grips with but also incredibly detailed and well-made.

The dark world of the Midgard Campaign Setting

Using your cunning, weaponry, and spells, the heroes of these adventures are tasked with fighting against the unruly darkness rising in all directions of this realm. Giants prepare for the end of the realm, vampire princes look to expand their dominion, goblins grow increasingly restless, and the World Serpent has begun to stir, creating a world of uncertainty and danger where only the light of hope and magic can shine in the darkness.

Rather than its setting being within the British Isles or France, as many fantasy role-playing games do, Midgard draws its inspiration from Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavia, and areas of the Mediterranean through myths and folklore. The Midgard Campaign Setting immerses players in its setting, utilising folklore, mythology, and historical events to inspire the fantasy world. But it also takes you far beyond that of what our world has already scribed, introducing complete novelties and new intrigues to forge the Midgard landscape. The RPG is defined, however, by how far it delves into the darkness of the mythology and folklore from which it draws.

Midgard explores the lesser-seen side of serfdom, its crippling effects on serfs, and then further exhibits its horrors by making the landlords vampires that are true to Eastern European lore. These vampires aren’t your run of the mill sometimes scary, sometimes erotic beings that have been brought into modern pop-culture: this game shows the true extent to the terrors of having vampire overlords, which includes elements of implicit sexual violence. Slavery is also commonplace, but no less awful, in Midgard, as is the use of blood sacrifices, demonic worship, and dark rituals.

You can explore the Northlands where the giants are going to war to trigger the beginning of the end. To the west, goblins have been forced out of their ruins and scurry like a feral a plague onto the pilgrims of the Seven Cities while corrupt cultists make the wastelands their home. Elsewhere, the Glittering King’s demonic ships battle with the Dragon Empire for the Ruby Sea, a war of backstabbing, deceit, and skullduggery for succession is brewing among the elves, and the god Nethus has returned to raid the seas of Midgard. While the Dragon Empire begins to divide, vampire princes set out to conquer more land, bringing terror on the provinces which they seek to make their own.

Despite the many dark forces at work in the world, nothing is black and white, and there isn’t a clear-cut notion of good versus evil, which adds an extra layer of realism to the choices and quests in the high-fantasy setting.

The Midgard Campaign Setting is massive, finely tuned, and presents a unique and dark world that is as immersive as it is thought-provoking. Everything is so well designed that you can’t help but want to explore the whole realm and be the hero in the many struggles taking place across Midgard.

The Classic Japanese RPG we want to be Translated into English

Having performed a fair amount of forum, chat room, social media, blog, and comment section scrolling to find another great new tabletop role-playing game to delve into, something that was quite noticeable across the internet is that people would like to see Sword World RPG translated into English.

There are many posts headlined with something along the lines of: will Sword World RPG ever be printed in English? Having been first published in 1989, Sword World RPG has been around for 30 years and has been able to create quite a lot of buzz in its native Japan as well as further west despite very few western players being able to play the game.

A lot of the desire comes from wanting to try out a Japanese tabletop role-playing game because the nation is a hotbed for creative and exciting adventures in gaming, comics, and anime. Then, when you look at the sales figures of the original games – over 10 million copies of related books sold – and the fact that publishers Fujimi Shobo released a 2.0 in 2008, it’s quite surprising that it hasn’t been translated to English for what you would assume is a larger potential audience.

Sword World

The universe of Sword World became so popular that it spawned an official range of role-playing video games. It started with Sword World PC in 1992, followed by Sword World SFC and Sword World SFC 2 for the SNES console over the next couple of years. A year after its tabletop launch in 2008, Sword World 2.0 came to the Nintendo DS in the form of a visual novel adventure game that tries to encapsulate the essence of playing the game in its original tabletop form.

It seems as though there was a concerted effort to translate Sword World’s rulebooks and other related publications, but the movement appears to have gone cold at some point last year. However, many pages were able to be translated and posted online during this project, which can be found on the Sword World Wiki.

Sword World RPG uses a 2d6 System, which is also used in Scrapped Princess RPG and Dragon Half RPG. In the original edition of Sword World RPG, you select your ginou which has a specific set of skills based on its class, forming a kind of hybrid class-skill system for characters. Players can choose between a thief, fighter, sage, bard, shaman, priest, or sorcerer with the major races being grassrunner (halfling), half-elf, elf, dwarf, and human. The game mostly takes place on the continent of Alecrast, but Lodoss Island and Crystania are also included in the Sword World setting of Forcelia. The world is said to be high-fantasy and heavily influenced by games like Dungeons & Dragons. In Sword World 2.0, there are 15 classes and eight races to chose from with the campaign setting being the new realm of Raxia.

Hopefully, Sword World RPG gets an English language release at some point down the line because a hugely popular Japanese tabletop role-playing game would certainly garner interest among English-speaking players. If not, lets hope for a japanese rpg slot game similiar to Dungeon Immortal Evil.

Top 5 Upcoming Tabletop RPGs in 2019

The world of tabletop role-playing games continues to evolve. Most games these days come via Kickstarter-backed projects and appear to be the most successful of those which use the crowd-funding platform in terms of actually delivering a quality product at the end.

So, while there may be even more exciting tabletop RPGs pitched on Kickstarter or announced at events such as Gen Con, these are the ones that, as of March, look to be among the best of the bunch by the time 2019 is over.

Lex Arcana

lex arcana tabletop rpg

There’s a lot of hype around the upcoming release of Lex Arcana because of the exceptional original of the same name, which was released in 1993. Unfortunately, many English-speaking players didn’t get to play the original as it was released in Italy, so a team of the same authors of the original have been assembled to create a new Lex Arcana. The game itself takes place in a unique setting where Romans battle barbarians in the field while mystical powers, ancient monsters, and cults threaten the Caesar from within Rome’s walls. Lex Arcana is set for release around June 2019.

Pathfinder RPG: 2nd Edition

Pathfinder RPG, lovingly called D&D version 3.75, started as a modified version of Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 as a means to offer players a way of continuing to play in a similar way to the much-loved D&D 3.5 rather than the controversial 4th Edition, leading to Pathfinder even outselling Dungeons & Dragons through many quarters. In late 2014, D&D returned to the top with 5th Edition, but there’s a good chance that Pathfinder will once again give the legendary game a run for its money in 2019 when Pathfinder RPG: 2nd Edition is released. There are many stages to get through yet, but the hope is that 2nd Edition will release at or shortly after Gen Con 2019, which takes place from 1-4 August 2019.

The Expanse

Inspired by the novels of James S. A. Corey, just as the excellent series which was saved by Amazon in 2018 was, The Expanse will be a tabletop role-playing game which takes players to the universe where humans have colonised much of our Solar System. In the game, the people of the Earth, Mars, and those known as Belters continue to struggle for power while an older alien force begins to stir across the universe. Originally slated for a late 2018 release, the Expanse RPG was approved on 4 March – coincidentally, the day of writing this article – and is now available for purchase.

Savage Worlds: Adventure Edition

In 2003, the creators of miniature wargame Deadlands: the Great Rail Wars revised the rules for the game and expanded it into a new role-playing system that they would then call Savage Worlds. After many revisions and expansions to the original, a new edition was announced 15 years later, Savage Worlds: Adventure Edition, which was fully funded to the tune of $15,000 in less than five minutes and has since been given in excess of $520,000 in funding. The creators, Pinnacle, say that they’ve taken on all of the feedback of their fans to create a faster, more furious, and more fun edition which is expected to be given a print release later this year.

Things from the Flood

Hot on the heels of the fast-selling Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood will be taking players back to the Loop in the 1990s, where you’ll try to balance your regular life with solving the mysteries of the dark times. The big difference here, according to creators Free League, is that the stakes are much higher – meaning that you can die. Final PDFs of the core rulebook were released in February, with printed copies on the way later in 2019.

While Pathfinder RPG: 2nd Edition and Savage Worlds: Adventure Edition are set to be huge hits with the tabletop RPG audience, Lex Arcana could challenge for the top spot with its very intriguing story and undoubtedly popular theme which blends history and mythology.