[Review] The Nine Worlds for Yggdrasill

Yggdrasill is perhaps the best Viking rpg that I know of. Focused on bringing both historical and fantasy elements of the culture to life, the game has earned nothing but praise from me in my earlier review of the corebook.

The Nine Worlds is the first supplement to the game, and expands the setting in a way that many fans have been waiting for. The Nine Worlds contains information on the more magical realms of the Norse setting, discussing each one in turn and giving information on the creatures and challenges that the player characters may encounter there.

The book goes into detail into all of the Nine Worlds: Asgard, Alfheim, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Nidavellir, Svartalfheim, Muspelheim and Niflheim. The worlds receives a description of it’s geography, the dangers found in the world, the occasional important location, and plot hooks and artifacts that the GM could use to spice up their Yggdrasill campaigns.

The book also has new options for player characters, the most compelling of which would have to be the option to play Half-Breeds, those born from inhuman parents. The range from the Half-Jotun, to Half-Alfar. They also special traits that influence their starting abilities.

Special powers are also covered in the book, and can cover the various powers and abilities that can be bestowed to the players via magic items.

The book also contains 3 adventures, Winter’s Fall, The Hunter and The Forgotten Oath, all of which can be used as part of an ongoing campaign.

Overall The Nine Worlds is a good follow up to Yggdrasill. The book expands the setting but doesn’t lose it’s touch with the historical feel. Fantasy elements are sufficiently fantastic, but also well grounded in the cultural context of the setting.

If you’re looking for more ways to make Yggdrasill even more compelling, then you should definitely pick up a copy of The Nine Worlds.

The Nine Worlds is available from RPG.now for $14.99 or roughly PHP 675.00

GM’s Day Sale – Philippine Gamer’s Picks: Cubicle 7

Hey everyone!

It’s the happiest week in RPG gaming as DriveThruRPG has it’s week-long GM’s Day Sale. Today we’re looking at some of the best games from Cubicle 7 all on sale for this week alone!

Qin: The Warring States

Hailed as a gold mine of Wuxia setting goodness, Qin: The Warring States has more “realistic” kung fu while painting a beautiful setting that radiates the unique and enthralling tone and mood of Wuxia games.


If Qin paints Wuxia well, then Yggrasill is the last word in Viking games. With unique berzerker mechanics and another extremely well researched setting, Yggdrasill is the best game to pick up the moment your players want to try some real Norse adventures.


Cyberpunk and Horror make for a potent cocktail in Kuro. Set in a post-supernatural-apocalypse Japan, Kuro is a game that has a unique take on cyberpunk meets the supernatural that Shadowrun can’t pull off. It’s a beautiful game with a lot of potential, and interesting expansions that promise to change the game with each release.

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

The Dark Harvest is a uniquely beautiful and utterly cruel setting painted in heart-breaking shades of gray. Iain Lowson’s setting is one of the few games that have truly managed to score a bull’s eye when it comes to horror in my experience and this chance to pick it up is one that you shouldn’t miss.

Goal Setting 2013: Games I’ll Run

Hey everyone, since it’s the new year, the latest trend is not to come up with a list of resolutions, but to approach the year with a list of goals. So in the spirit of the new year, I figure I might as well put up a list of my own goals as well as far as running games is concerned:

Legend of the Five Rings – Inflated with the triumph of “Never a Dull Blade”, I’m hoping that my upcoming campaign, “Hearts and Souls” will be met with similar success.

Mummy: the Curse – It’s shiny and new and I’ve pledged for it in Kickstarter. Mummy promises to shake up how things are done for nWoD and I’m hoping that the book inspires me to run an interesting campaign that my players will like.

Exalted, 3rd Edition – Time to put my money where my mouth is… again. I’ve tried running 2e Exalted, only to quickly switch to the Qwixalted Hack because my brain died from the complexity. I’m still remarkably optimistic about this and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it work.

Something from Cubicle 7 – Qin: the Warring States, Kuro or Yggdrasill are all fine games and I’m curious about how they run. It’s a great time to actually break out of the usual stable of games I run and try stuff from other companies.

A Supers Game – Surprise, surprise! (Okay, not really.) Every year I keep hoping that I’ll be able to run a Supers game, but somehow it never really materializes. Whether it’ll be HERO, M&M, MHR or some other supers ruleset, I’ll make something happen this year.

[Gaming 101] Games to Start With Part 4: Alternate History and Pulp

Right, I know I said I’d do Alternate History and Pulp today. Then I realized what kind of trouble I got myself into. There’s an awful lot of this stuff out there right now! Okay, so no preamble, let’s just do this:

Hollow Earth Expedition from Exile Games
Fast, pulpy fun matched with an easy to grasp system that can use any size of die makes Hollow Earth Expedition (or HEX) a definite crowd pleaser. Add some top-notch art, compelling plot hooks for a hollow earth campaign and all sorts of crazy threats from Dinosaurs to Nazis to tribes of cannibals, the game practically runs itself. Add the fact that the supplements and expansions for the game are all aimed at targeting all other forms of pulp (Secrets of the Surface World covers urban pulp, for example) and an upcoming expansion set in MARS, what’s not to love about this game?

All For One: Regime Diabolique from Triple Ace Games
Musketeers fighting the forces of Hell itself! Swashbuckling action against the threats of the supernatural! Add a well-researched history and a very strong series of supplements to fill out everything from War to Fashion, this game presents itself extremely well and has a freeform magic system that is quick and easy to learn without having to trawl through massive spell lists. Imaginative and unique, All For One: Regime Diabolique also uses the Ubiquity system from Hollow Earth Expedition, but for fans of Savage Worlds, they’ve just recently released a version for that rule set as well.

Leagues of Adventure from Triple Ace Games
Another Ubiquity system game, Leagues of Adventure takes the Triple Ace Games level of research to pulling off steampunk and mashing it up with the adventure-seeking high of the pulps. Fans of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will find themselves right at home in this game, with strange devices, mysterious ruins and the call of adventure. Go out and heed the call for adventure!

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein from Iain Lowson
Perhaps one of the creepiest alternate history games I’ve ever had the good fortune to read, Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein is a dystopian steampunk setting where Dr. Victor Frankenstein uses his discoveries to establish his nation of Promethea. Commoners huddle away from the Dark Harvest, while the decadent nobility harvest body parts to live forever. Take up arms as part of the resistance, and fight the good fight in hopes for a brighter tomorrow.

Qin: the Warring States from Cubicle 7
I’m actually reading this book right now, and I have to say that it’s a blast to read. Low-powered wuxia action in a time before the Three Kingdoms Era, with plenty of room for adventure and kung fu action. If you’re interested in following along, just check out my Let’s Study articles.

Yggdrasill from Cubicle 7
Here’s another favorite of mine. Well researched and carefully presented, Yggdrasill gives an awesome look at the Scandian lands and the lives of the Norsemen Heroes that live there. Politics (?!) Magic, and Frost Giants abound, leaving players with more than a number of different avenues to get into trouble.

Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions
These days I can’t mention Pulp without mentioning SotC lest the FATE fans cry foul. :p Seriously though, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this game, and I’m just waiting for someone to run it for me and show me the error of my heathen ways.

Deadlands Reloaded! from Pinnacle Entertainment Group
Welcome to the Weird West. If you’re even remotely interested in Westerns, grab this game (and the Marshall’s guide too.) Deadlands is one of the longer running game lines and is one of the most loved horror-western settings around. Strange card-slinging hucksters and eagle-eyed sharpshooters are just two of the kinds of characters you can play, not to mention miracle wielding preachers and Ghostrock-powered weird gadgetry!

This is by no means exhaustive, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed more than a few titles here, but I think this is a good enough place to start if you’re looking for adventure and pulps. At this point I’m still thinking of what other areas to cover… anyone got suggestions? Just add them on the comments below!

If you’re interested in picking up any of these in hardcover, you can order them directly from Gaming Library.

To place an order, please go to Gaming Library’s special order express page : http://www.gaminglib.com/pages/special-order-express-page

Take note that placing an order there doesn’t mean you’re committed, rather the Gaming Library team will be giving a quote and you can now choose whether to push through with the purchase or not.

[Let’s Study: Yggdrasill] Part 7: Review and Conclusions

It’s easy for me to say that Yggdrasill is perhaps one of the most impressive alternate history RPGs I’ve read. It’s clear that the authors of the book possess two very important qualities in this kind of work: A love and respect for the source, and the imagination necessary to inject a kind of fantasy to make the history become even more vibrant.

The setting of the Scandian kingdoms is given thorough treatment, with lots of call outs to the unique qualities that make a culture interesting. From the call out boxes with notes on lore and history, to giving a chapter dedicated to the culture’s religion and gods, the book is as as educational as entertaining (though given that it’s still a work of fantasy, I wouldn’t use it as a reference for a thesis.)

The system takes a bit of getting used to, but careful reading and a few sample fights should work out all the kinks. Once you get going, everything falls into place. Combat is fast-paced and deadly while retaining a host of tactical decisions that can be used to optimize your chances of felling your opponent. Magic is a highlight of the game given that there are three different magic systems that work beautifully in maintaining the feel of the setting.

If there’s one thing I wish the book had more of, it would be the treatment of the other nearby kingdoms. They get a short mention in the setting chapter, but there’s not much to work on with regards to what kind of threats they might pose (if any) to the Norsemenn. But that’s a very minor issue as the focus of the adventures are grounded completely in the Norsemen’s lands.

For a game about vikings, there’s more to Yggdrasill than axes and berserkers. There’s room for a surprising amount of politicking, and the player characters are encouraged to act like the legends that they wish to be.

The addition of a complete adventure in the back of the book, which includes NPCs, plot hooks and villains all worked out is a cherry on top of the whole thing, helping new GMs who might still have some reservations about getting into a setting-heavy game like this to find their legs and run something that has that Scandian feel.

Overall Yggdrasill is a splendid product, with beautiful artwork and layout, excellent writing. Definitely a must-have for anyone interested in the setting whose ever dreamed of being a viking.

Yggdrasill is available on PDF from DriveThruRPG for $24.99 or roughly Php 1,125.00

[Let’s Study: Yggdrasill] Part 6: Extras, Equipment and Experience

Hello everyone, the rains that have been battering Manila have somewhat lessened and my internet is back (yay!) so here I am with the next installment to the Yggdrasill Let’s Study series.

Yggdrasill has two means of simulating NPCs. Lesser NPCs are known as Extras, and are created via a simplified version of character generation. Each Extra has six attributes: Conflict, Relationships, Physical, Mental, Mystical and Vitality.

These attributes represent modifiers to various rolls. When a player acts against an extra, the attributes are used as penalties. When the extra is acting, the attributes are used as bonuses to a basic 2d10 roll.

Extras take less hits to go down, as taking more damage than their vitality attribute drops them from Unhurt to Wounded, and a second drops them further from Wounded to Dead.

Generating Extras is relatively painless, with the GM choosing a base archetype from a list and picking three Traits that further modify the archetype. It’s a quick and easy way to generate stats for extras without them all coming from the same mold. Even the extras will have certain statistical differences based on the traits chosen for them.

Equipment is found much later in the book, and Yggdrasill doesn’t skimp on the details providing the standard exchange rates for silver (“2 ounces of silver = 1 milk cow”) as well as a sidebar discussing hacksilver, which are jewelry or objects that are hacked apart and weighed to assess their value.

The weapons are fairly straightforward, with a damage bonus, encumbrance rating, hit points and price in silver. There’s a good spread of weapons, but nothing too exotic. Likewise armor is fairly simple with Armor Values, encumbrance and price.

Of course Shields are included as well, it’s as staple of the Norse combat gear after all. Interestingly, shields work differently from armor, and improve Physical defense rather than absorbing damage as Armor does. The reasoning behind it is that shields are used to deflect rather than absorb, which works for me.

In Yggdrasill, characters gain experience in the form of Legend Points. These allow characters to increase their skill levels and develop their knowledge and expertise. Advancement is similar to Legend of the Five Rings, where experience points are spent to buy up individual stats as opposed to levelling up and improving across the board.

Renown is the second kind of character reward. This measures a character’s reputation in the Scandian kingdoms, and acts as a sort of fame rating. This doesn’t distinguish between good or evil, though, what matter is that you are recognized. Renown starts at a character’s highest skill rating at character creation and is increased by performing Deeds. Great deeds performed in front of influential witnesses grant more Renown.

The Renown system is pretty neat and I feel that the Deed x Witness = Renown bonus formula is particularly inspired, and I might hack that mechanic into my L5R games in the future.

And that brings us to the end of the Let’s Study articles focused on the mechanics of Yggdrasill. Tomorrow I wrap up the series with a review of the game, and turn my attentions towards Qin: the Warring States whose Let’s Study articles start on Monday!

[Let’s Study: Yggdrasill] Part 5: Magic of Scandia

Now that we’re done talking about most of the mundane world of Yggdrasill, let’s take a dip in the supernatural side of things with a look at the magic system.

Yggdrasill starts off with a quick rundown of the threefold soul as the Scandians understand it, composed of the Hugr, or world-soul, the Hamr or the individual soul, and the Fylgja which is equivalent to a spirit guide.

There are three basic spellcasting forms in Yggdrasill: Seidr (sorcery), Galdr (incantations) and Runes. All spells are considered to operate on line of sight range, and may take multiple actions to cast.

Spellcasting considerations are given full attention here, including  hurrying or extending a spell, taking damage while spellcasting, and resisting spells.


Sorcery is the magic practiced by Freya, and the one that she taught to Odin. This form of magic uses complex rituals and sacred ecstatic rites, where the practicioner falls into a sacred trance and frees his Hamr soul to communicate with the spirits.

Examples of Seidr spells include: divination, protection, healing, mastery of the elements (weather magic) and  curses.


Incantation magic is tied to the power of the voice, and is often used by skalds. This is Odin’s magic, as he is also a master of poetry.

Unlike Seidr’s set spell lists, Galdr has three paths: Curses, Illusions and Charms, each of which is subdivided into five domains each. Spellcasters learn these domains and try to learn as many as they can to expand their power.

Mechanically Galdr serves as a partial freeform magic where the player sets the parameters of the spell being cast and draws the Success Threshold from there.


Rune magic involved engraving it on a given material, and stained with the blood of the caster. The sort of material matters as it determines the duration of the spell.

As with reading runes, the runes may be written right way up, or upside down, which will determine if the effect happens normally , or if it has an opposite effect.

Runes also have their own separate listing of spells, each keyed to a particular rune. Runes aren’t a spontaneous sort of magic like Galdr or Seidr are, but one that is more deliberate and rewards people who are used to planning ahead.

Yggdrasill might seem like a game that’s well grounded in low fantasy, but the presence of three magic systems fixes that handily. The Seidr, Galdr and Rune magics are all very flavorful and reward magic users in a genre more known for Axes, Mead and frothing in the mouth.

Yggrasill is rapidly becoming a benchmark title for making a solid setting in my experience.

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