Beowulf 2-player 5th edition D&D

Franko77

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When I was younger I had kind of a thing for Beowulf (along with Gilgamesh, Morte D'Artur, basically any ancient stories about heroes and monsters). I wrote an A-level extended essay on Beowulf that I was immensely proud of (and it later transpired that I didn't really understand it at all, but that's another story). This - Beowulf Age of Heroes - popped up on my social media feeds last night, and immediately piqued my attention. I've never even seen 5th edition D&D, so don't know how well the setting and the system work together, but the idea of a GM+player set-up , with the player playing a hero and their followers, sounds really interesting. The art looks great as well. I'm a bit skeptical about Kickstarter, though. I've never used it and have heard some horror stories about people handing over money for games and then never seeing anything, or just being fobbed off with excuses for years!

beowulf.jpg
 

Skywalker

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The group of creator behind this KS are all well known and have a proven track record. I would consider it very low risk.

FWIW I have backed 83 KS and only 1 has failed. That’s better success than standard preordering IME.
 

Stan

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There's a free adventure (including pregens and battlemaps) and designer notes which gives a much better idea of where they're going. That they're that far along is also a good sign for completion.

Based on the above,

Compared to 5e:
  • one new skill (legends)
  • max followers makes a come back
  • one class with 6 subclasses - looks like some magical abilities but no spellcasters
  • followers which are activated with a reaction or bonus action. They are not full characters but a list of abilities to activate, like engaging opponents, taking a blow, rescuing the hero, and noncombat things
  • followers can be spent (power activated so can't be used for a while), killed in a cool way which doesn't affect your reputation, or killed in a lame way which hurts your reputation.
  • initial hp is 10 + con score (not mod) as it's just you and followers.
  • ships appear on character sheets so I'm guessing there's rules about that.
  • alignment is Old Ways, The Church, or neutral
  • gifts and burdens expand your personality in mechanical ways

I think the biggest change is going to be the follower rules. Instead of a team of heroes in standard group play, you're one hero plus a team of followers so you you're simultaneously a lone hero and a team manager.
 

Franko77

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Knowing Jonny Hodgson (artist for much of The One Ring and many other works) I can assure you that he isn't a flake likely to abscond with your hard earned cash.
That's great to hear.

There's a free adventure (including pregens and battlemaps) and designer notes which gives a much better idea of where they're going. That they're that far along is also a good sign for completion.

Based on the above,

Compared to 5e:
  • one new skill (legends)
  • max followers makes a come back
  • one class with 6 subclasses - looks like some magical abilities but no spellcasters
  • followers which are activated with a reaction or bonus action. They are not full characters but a list of abilities to activate, like engaging opponents, taking a blow, rescuing the hero, and noncombat things
  • followers can be spent (power activated so can't be used for a while), killed in a cool way which doesn't affect your reputation, or killed in a lame way which hurts your reputation.
  • initial hp is 10 + con score (not mod) as it's just you and followers.
  • ships appear on character sheets so I'm guessing there's rules about that.
  • alignment is Old Ways, The Church, or neutral
  • gifts and burdens expand your personality in mechanical ways

I think the biggest change is going to be the follower rules. Instead of a team of heroes in standard group play, you're one hero plus a team of followers so you you're simultaneously a lone hero and a team manager.
I'm completely unfamiliar with 5ed, but I think I'll get this anyway and familiarise myself with the system beforehand. If nothing else, it sounds like the kind of thing one of my nephews would enjoy playing if and when he can come and stay with us again after lockdown.
 

Necrozius

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I'm loving the follower system. I may just borrow that.

I also love the change to Alignment. It never occured to me to change that system in that way. Lots of possibilities there...
 

Stan

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I'm completely unfamiliar with 5ed, but I think I'll get this anyway and familiarise myself with the system beforehand. If nothing else, it sounds like the kind of thing one of my nephews would enjoy playing if and when he can come and stay with us again after lockdown.
Here's a pdf link to the free basic rules. which is a fully playable game. You may not need more in that if you're primarily interested in the Beowulf game.
 

finarvyn

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This does look pretty interesting. Sounds like followers are sort of like spells.

I know in the old days we used to play OD&D with 1-2 players plus a DM. Our solution at the time was just to boost the number of levels that each character had, but this looks like the designers are trying to boost HP without adding in levels. Could be an interesting system.
 

TheophilusCarter

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Wow, fantastic. I like both the setting and the duet play approach to D&D. It sounds like you'd only really need the free basic D&D rules to use this, though they "recommmend" the PHB (which probably means "it's entirely optional but we want to encourage support for D&D").
 

Franko77

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Wow, fantastic. I like both the setting and the duet play approach to D&D. It sounds like you'd only really need the free basic D&D rules to use this, though they "recommmend" the PHB (which probably means "it's entirely optional but we want to encourage support for D&D").
I'd imagine that's part of the deal for being able to use the rules?
 

Arcane_Avatar

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No, AFAIK the D&D 5e System Reference Document (SRD) (AKA D&D basic rules - free online) is free to use. If you don't go beyond what's in there you're golden as a publisher.
 

Ladybird

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You obviously can't be certain with Kickstarter until the product is in your hands, but you can judge a creator on their previous projects; Jon and his crew know what they're doing, the scope of the project is simple and achievable, the people they're working with are reliable, and most of the pre-production work is done. I can't see any issues with this kickstarter; it looks like a safe place to spend your money.

Project looks good, though. I'm not sure if it's for me, but I've added a reminder to check it out.
 

Franko77

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You obviously can't be certain with Kickstarter until the product is in your hands, but you can judge a creator on their previous projects; Jon and his crew know what they're doing, the scope of the project is simple and achievable, the people they're working with are reliable, and most of the pre-production work is done. I can't see any issues with this kickstarter; it looks like a safe place to spend your money.

Project looks good, though. I'm not sure if it's for me, but I've added a reminder to check it out.
Yep, it seems like Jon is a super reliable guy when it comes to KS projects from what everyone, everywhere is saying (he seems to be one of those guys in the games industry where nobody has a bad word to say about him. He's a bloody good artist as well). It seems my qualms about this particular project were unfounded!

Anyhow, backed the game and looking forward to seeing it in print!
 

Franko77

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No, AFAIK the D&D 5e System Reference Document (SRD) (AKA D&D basic rules - free online) is free to use. If you don't go beyond what's in there you're golden as a publisher.
Aha, right! Thanks. I'm clueless about these things!
 

Wbweather

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I've backed 2 of Jon Hodgsons Kickstarters in the past and have been very happy with the results. I am looking forward to this game and have played the free adventure and loved it. I actually built a mod for Tabletop Simulator to play it online with people. From what I've seen so far, this is really good. The artwork looks amazing. Knowing that he was the art director for the One Ring and Adventures in Middle-earth, I think this book will look gorgeous. ALso Jacob Rogers (who is co-authoring this) is a 5e genius. He worked on the adaptation of The One Ring to the 5e rules for Adventures in Middle-earth.
 

Loz

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I'll also endorse Jon Hodgson's work in terms of its sheer quality, and his ability to deliver on his Kickstarter projects. Jon is one of the nicest, most reliable figures in the industry, and his reputation is deservedly outstanding. I backed Beowulf without hesitation as it's a period I love, by a creative team I really respect and admire.
 

finarvyn

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This RPG keeps popping up in my mind. My problem is that while I'm familiar with the basic story of Beowulf, I have never really read the thing. I know that the original is beyond my comprehension, as it's written in a language of which I cannot read, but I see there are some translations and I wondered if anyone had an idea which is the best to try.

I'm thinking of the Tolkien one, because (1) I like Tolkien, and (2) his appears to be one of the few written more in prose and less in verse. For some reason I don't like reading poetry or anything written in choppy verse. [It's a "me thing" and I can't get over that somehow.] I also thought about tracking down the Cliffs Notes for the thing, but I'm thinking it would be a poor substitute.

So … anyone have a version of Beowulf to recommend?
 

Mankcam

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Wow, jeez, another kickstarter to throw my coins at - I just backed Truvang 5E, and now this looks promising as well!
 

TheophilusCarter

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This RPG keeps popping up in my mind. My problem is that while I'm familiar with the basic story of Beowulf, I have never really read the thing. I know that the original is beyond my comprehension, as it's written in a language of which I cannot read, but I see there are some translations and I wondered if anyone had an idea which is the best to try.

I'm thinking of the Tolkien one, because (1) I like Tolkien, and (2) his appears to be one of the few written more in prose and less in verse. For some reason I don't like reading poetry or anything written in choppy verse. [It's a "me thing" and I can't get over that somehow.] I also thought about tracking down the Cliffs Notes for the thing, but I'm thinking it would be a poor substitute.

So … anyone have a version of Beowulf to recommend?
Any recent(ish) translation by a reputable publisher would probably be just fine. I think the Seamus Heaney is well regarded. Having taken a couple of semesters of Old English back in my college days, including translating several pages of Beowulf with my professor, I don't think you'll miss out terribly by reading it translation for the purposes of learning out the story, it's themes, etc. FWIW.
 
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Spellslinging Sellsword

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This RPG keeps popping up in my mind. My problem is that while I'm familiar with the basic story of Beowulf, I have never really read the thing. I know that the original is beyond my comprehension, as it's written in a language of which I cannot read, but I see there are some translations and I wondered if anyone had an idea which is the best to try.

I'm thinking of the Tolkien one, because (1) I like Tolkien, and (2) his appears to be one of the few written more in prose and less in verse. For some reason I don't like reading poetry or anything written in choppy verse. [It's a "me thing" and I can't get over that somehow.] I also thought about tracking down the Cliffs Notes for the thing, but I'm thinking it would be a poor substitute.

So … anyone have a version of Beowulf to recommend?
I just started teaching myself Old English, so I can't say which is the best translation, but looking in the bibliography section of my Complete Old English book it lists the Heaney and Tolkien translations. It also mentions The Beowulf Manuscript by R.D. Fulk. One thing it mentions about the Tolkien edition is that the line numbering doesn't match the modern standard editions of Beowulf.
 

Voros

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This RPG keeps popping up in my mind. My problem is that while I'm familiar with the basic story of Beowulf, I have never really read the thing. I know that the original is beyond my comprehension, as it's written in a language of which I cannot read, but I see there are some translations and I wondered if anyone had an idea which is the best to try.

I'm thinking of the Tolkien one, because (1) I like Tolkien, and (2) his appears to be one of the few written more in prose and less in verse. For some reason I don't like reading poetry or anything written in choppy verse. [It's a "me thing" and I can't get over that somehow.] I also thought about tracking down the Cliffs Notes for the thing, but I'm thinking it would be a poor substitute.

So … anyone have a version of Beowulf to recommend?
Personally I'm not a fan of translating verse into prose, I think too much is lost but I also think Tolkien is a much, much weaker poet than he is a prose writer.

My understanding as well is that Tolkien's 'translation' is really something he started as crib notes he wrote for his students, are very literal, was never completed and considered ready for publication by Tolkien. I know it is not held in too high regard by a lot of medievalists although Tolkien's commentary is considered excellent.

Seamus Heaney is an excellent poet which I think is a major advantage when translating something from verse so I'd strongly suspect his translation is the better of the two.

I've previewed Heaney's and Tolkien's translations as I'm also interested in reading Beowulf and it is Heaney's that is the more readable and accessible.

Tolkien's translation attempts to cleave closer to the original verse rthymns and breaks in spots and is also written in an often strained pseduo-archaic style compared to Heaney's more fluid and clear approach.

The way it switches between verse and prose suggests its very incomplete nature, I think Tolkien was slowly translating the prose sections, which are often clotted and difficult to read, into verse. Honestly this should have been published for academics with notes acknowledging its incomplete nature but I guess these days they'll publish anything with Tolkien's name on it. I think Christopher Tolkien is really blurring the historical and literary record with these pastiches of his father's work published as if they were complete pieces of work by Tolkien himself.

Probably the best way to experience Beowulf would be as an audiobook as it was originally an oral story. I've found what looks like an unabridged version of Heaney's translation read by George Guidall that I've just added to my Audible wishlist. Unfortunately the Heaney reading is abridged.
 
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Chris Brady

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This RPG keeps popping up in my mind. My problem is that while I'm familiar with the basic story of Beowulf, I have never really read the thing. I know that the original is beyond my comprehension, as it's written in a language of which I cannot read, but I see there are some translations and I wondered if anyone had an idea which is the best to try.

I'm thinking of the Tolkien one, because (1) I like Tolkien, and (2) his appears to be one of the few written more in prose and less in verse. For some reason I don't like reading poetry or anything written in choppy verse. [It's a "me thing" and I can't get over that somehow.] I also thought about tracking down the Cliffs Notes for the thing, but I'm thinking it would be a poor substitute.

So … anyone have a version of Beowulf to recommend?
Why does it matter? Honest question. You know vaguely the type of story it'll be like (Viking Epic), and I'm going to make a massive (and honest) assumption here that the game will have some sort of basic primer on how to run it.

Now, I can understand wanting to read Beowulf, but I don't think it's going to be necessary to run the game.

I could, of course, be wrong.
 

Voros

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Why does it matter? Honest question. You know vaguely the type of story it'll be like (Viking Epic), and I'm going to make a massive (and honest) assumption here that the game will have some sort of basic primer on how to run it.

Now, I can understand wanting to read Beowulf, but I don't think it's going to be necessary to run the game.

I could, of course, be wrong.
Beowulf is not a Viking epic.

It is also quite short, it can be read over a day or two at the most.
 
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finarvyn

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Why does it matter? Honest question. You know vaguely the type of story it'll be like (Viking Epic), and I'm going to make a massive (and honest) assumption here that the game will have some sort of basic primer on how to run it.

Now, I can understand wanting to read Beowulf, but I don't think it's going to be necessary to run the game.

I could, of course, be wrong.
An honest question, so I'll give an honest answer. Yeah, I think that the RPG book will give a good feel for the setting. But...
(1) Release is months away, and I have time now.
(2) I like to read source material myself where possible. (Read LotR before running a Middle-earth game, that kind of thing.)

Beowulf is one of those "someday" reads that has been on my list for a long time, but I dislike poetry style writing and I know that I will NEVER finish the thing if that is its layout. Nothing against folks who like that form of writing, but I know myself and I won't finish it. That's why I was hoping to find something in prose style instead of poem. Now, I do understand that the more the format changes the less "primary source" the edition, but honestly it's all about what I actually will read as opposed to buying a book and storing it unread on my shelf. I've done that too many times.

As I said, it's been on my list for decades so it wouldn't surprise me if I can't find an edition I like. Particularly in the current C-19 environment where I probably can't read a page or two in person prior to purchase. That's why I asked for recommendations. :smile:
 

Voros

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An honest question, so I'll give an honest answer. Yeah, I think that the RPG book will give a good feel for the setting. But...
(1) Release is months away, and I have time now.
(2) I like to read source material myself where possible. (Read LotR before running a Middle-earth game, that kind of thing.)

Beowulf is one of those "someday" reads that has been on my list for a long time, but I dislike poetry style writing and I know that I will NEVER finish the thing if that is its layout. Nothing against folks who like that form of writing, but I know myself and I won't finish it. That's why I was hoping to find something in prose style instead of poem. Now, I do understand that the more the format changes the less "primary source" the edition, but honestly it's all about what I actually will read as opposed to buying a book and storing it unread on my shelf. I've done that too many times.

As I said, it's been on my list for decades so it wouldn't surprise me if I can't find an edition I like. Particularly in the current C-19 environment where I probably can't read a page or two in person prior to purchase. That's why I asked for recommendations. :smile:
Verse is not really poetry per se, check out this excerpt of Heaney reading Beowulf to see how his translation reads quite smoothly and 'prose-like' as opposed to modern poetry. If you find the line breaks distracting for reading the audiobook would solve that issue.

If you dislike audiobooks David Wright's prose translation for Penguin books is considered quite good. It was what we read long excerpts from in high school English lit.
 
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Jon Hodgson

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Hello! I got pointed to this thread by a friend, and what a lovely thread it is! I'm glad people are finding some interest in BEOWULF, and gosh I'm blushing at the kind words.

Shout if you have any questions about BEOWULF or any of the other mischief we're up to.

Seems like a very nice atmosphere hereabouts, I might hang about! :smile:

Jon
 

Dumarest

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Beowulf used to be part of the standard high school curriculum. Has it gone the way of Latin? Unfortunate if so. I also read it in college and have at least 3 versions on my shelf. You could easily read it in a sitting. Heaney's version is good and he tried to use only modern English words of Germanic origin to keep it close to the sound and rhythm of the original. Best is the edition with the Old English on one page and the translation on the facing page.

As for RPGs, I'd just use Pendragon with very minor changes.
 
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Séadna

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Verse is not really poetry per se
Yeah if anybody is put off by it being verse, the term just refers to how in older languages people rarely wrote in an unornamented style, i.e. they kept track of counts of stressed and unstressed syllables and made sure consonants in the same "class" (depends on the language as to what the classes were) followed each other in certain patterns. This was to bring out a certain nice rhythm to things, but it isn't like a modern poem.
 
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Ronnie Sanford

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Hello! I got pointed to this thread by a friend, and what a lovely thread it is! I'm glad people are finding some interest in BEOWULF, and gosh I'm blushing at the kind words.

Shout if you have any questions about BEOWULF or any of the other mischief we're up to.

Seems like a very nice atmosphere hereabouts, I might hang about! :smile:

Jon
Welcome Jon!
 

Franko77

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Hello! I got pointed to this thread by a friend, and what a lovely thread it is! I'm glad people are finding some interest in BEOWULF, and gosh I'm blushing at the kind words.

Shout if you have any questions about BEOWULF or any of the other mischief we're up to.

Seems like a very nice atmosphere hereabouts, I might hang about! :smile:

Jon
Hi Jon, thanks for dropping by! The art for the game looks amazing. You've said on the KS updates that the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf is worth reading. I know that there's been come chat on this thread about reading Beowulf. So, two questions really: Would you advise the Heaney version? When I wrote my A-level essay on it, I used the Osborne (???) version that my teacher leant me. Also: Aare there any good history works about the Beowulf period that you'd recommend?
 

Jacob Rodgers

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Hi Jon, thanks for dropping by! The art for the game looks amazing. You've said on the KS updates that the Seamus Heaney version of Beowulf is worth reading. I know that there's been come chat on this thread about reading Beowulf. So, two questions really: Would you advise the Heaney version? When I wrote my A-level essay on it, I used the Osborne (???) version that my teacher leant me. Also: Aare there any good history works about the Beowulf period that you'd recommend?
I can't speak for Jon but we're both very fond of Heaney. Translations can never be entirely literal but Heaney preserves the feel of the poem throughout. If you're familiar with Discord we actually have a book club channel. Go to https://discord.me/handiworkgamers and click 'Join Now'. If you're not using Discord, then go to http://www.handiwork.games/beowulfcampaign and look at the Kickstarter Updates... several of the recent ones cover books we've used in our research and they're all public so you don't have to be a backer to see them.

I'm interested in the game.
Fantastic! Do you have any particular questions?
 
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