What’s Swords of the Eastsea?

Due to popular demand (it was like one dude on IRC, but it probably counts) that I not set up a new blog for Swords of the Eastsea, so updates on it will appear here.

I’ve been on a nostalgia trip, going through old fantasy games like D&D (the first editions), AD&D, MERP and some other odds and ends. I started thinking about what’s so magical about those types of games.

My conclusion would be that it’s a certain type of play experience, the one you got when you first played fantasy rpg’s which probably was low-level D&D. I like that kinda thing myself. What I don’t like is the old school rules and various things that have carried on into the present day.

So I set out to write a game where  you’d have both a unified resolution system, enough flexibility to handle other stuff than wilderness or ruin exploration and yet be quick enough at character creation so you can make a character in less than five minutes if pressed. In essence, replicating the low-level dungeoncrawl experience from the seventies without the associated baggage.

And every game needs a setting, of course. I need a place to put all those orcs, dragons and magic swords, after all. So, I dusted off an old idea of mine and started thinking about Baltic history through a distant mirror. What if there was magic? I came up with a fundamental conflict that has played out in our real-world history several times: the East meets the West in conflict.

The up-and-coming Swedish Kingdom is turning into an empire and is challenged by old and proud Novgorod in the east. Stuck in the middle is the Karelian Commonwealth, masters of the deep dark woods, thousand lakes and the innumerable streams. To the south you have the ancient Danubian Empire, brought into conflict by Sweden’s allies along the southern coast of the Eastsea.

The North is riddled with orcs, draugr and bandits. The mountains hide dragon lairs. And there’s still a few dwarves and elves around: dying races that maybe still have enough power to make a last stand and a permanent mark in the world. The great cathedrals of the cities stand empty, as monuments to the God Forgotten. Wizards open holes in reality to move themselves from one place to another. Pirates leave hidden coves to seize trade ships.

If you can swing a sword or cast a spell, it just might be the place for you.

That’s my pitch for you. On a practical level, there’s still a bunch of writing, playtesting and research to be done before I’ll ask anyone for money. But eventually I think something will happen on that front. Artemis Kelosaari is co-writing this with me and I even have an illustrator set up. We’re going to do a pretty great thing together, I believe.

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