Reading Hyperborea – Meister des Stahls by Croc and G.E. Ranne

Many years ago I read a review of Bloodlust on RPG.net. It told of a fantasy RPG all sex, violence and tough guys where you could play magic weapons! Awesome!

Unfortunately, Bloodlust was written in French, which I do not speak, and both of the two English translation efforts burnt out and faded away before any books reached the shelves. But the game was translated and released in German under the name Hyperborea – Mesiter des Stahls in 2001. I did take some German in school, even if it was fifteen years ago, I wonder if it is enough, and if the game lives up to my expectations …

Hyperborea

Hyperborea

The Book
The book is 216 pages US-letter. There are a few b/w illustrations, showing scantly clad fighting men and women. The text is laid out in a two column format, well organized and very readable. Since I read the game with a dictionary in the other hand I will not even guess at the quality of the text as such, but examples were clear and the text seemed straight forward.

My game is the limited edition boxed version, which also adds a GM’s screen, 2d10 and a few character sheets.

The setting
The setting is the generic fantasy world Tanaephis, pseudo Vikings, pseudo Mongols, pseudo Amazons, heirs to a dying empire and half-men populate it. That far all is as can be expected, but the setting’s selling point is the Godweapons. Gods who grew bored with the uneventful lives as immortal gods transformed themselves into weapons and fell down to the world. Where they could be found by heroes, and through them experience the emotions, sex, greed, slaughter and power the heroes did.

The players play both the Godweapons and the heroes. If a hero dies, another can pick up the dropped weapon and the game goes on.

The rules
Hyperborea is a BRP derivative with percentile skills, but extended with a tactic card-style combat system, where the players use ordinary dice to indicate their choices instead of special cards. There are extensive tables for generating Godweapons, and they can also get experience and advances during play.

Desires are a fundamental part of the game. Both Godweapons and heroes have them, but not necessarily in the same areas. Sometimes leading to conflicts between the weapon and it’s wielder.

The form
The form is traditional, GM and players. But different ways of dividing the control of the the heroes and Godweapons between the GM and players are suggested. Each combination radically changing the feel of the game. Play the heroes, play the Godweapons, play both, play the Godweapon of the hero on your right …

There is not much in the way of advice and instruction for the GM, and prior familiarity with RPGs is expected. The game comes with a skeleton of a mini campaign to introduce the players to the setting.

Conclusion
Set setting is OK. Much of it reads like a geography book, but there is enough material in the game to support the GM in writing many adventures.
The rules are very good. It is BRP, but the changes that were made reflect the setting well.
The form is weak. There is not much help to be had in the text, but the idea of playing both weapons and heroes is still very cool.

Will I play it?
That is a difficult question, sans Ars Magica there is no game in the traditional style higher on my list of games I want to play. The feel of the game is something like ManowaR meets Frazetta. But there is a significant translation effort ahead of me before I can bring this game to the table.


www.truant.de The publisher of Hyperborea.

www.amazon.de I usually link to some place where the read game can be purchased. But I could not find it anywhere online, save for on the German Amazon site, if you search there you might find some sellers that still have the game in stock. It seems the game has gone out of print since I bought it.

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The Daughters of Verona

The Daughters of Verona

The Daughters of Verona

The judges in this year’s Game Chef are still … well … judging, I presume. But I have developed my entry, The Daughters of Verona further. It’s a really neat little game of Shakespearean comedy, and I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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