TristramEvans

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So sorta accidentaly happened across this game recently

Apparently there wasa Kickstarter I entirely missed about 2 years ago.

From Sweden, it describes itself as

"A DOOM METAL ALBUM OF A GAME. Rules light. Art heavy. MÖRK BORG is blackened artpunk/osr about ill-fated bastards seeking redemption, forgiveness or just the last remaining riches of a world that is plunging ever faster to its inevitable ruin. An art book you can play. A spiked flail to the face. "

It's OSR-tangential, but it's not the rules that grabbed me so much as the graphic design



5c6690c5fe4406afa76e54f92ce10dc1_original.jpg

891a61254d68bda7ff4a1e5d9ae53e5f_original.jpg
94a1e11d729369474edce29a2f17a232_original.jpg

The hardcopy edition is currently sold out on the site, as I ran there to grab a copy the minute I saw it, so waiting on a new print run.

But surprised I've not seen anyone talking about this one. Possible I just missed it.

Anyone familiar with the game or own a copy? Anyone played and have some insights to share?
 

E-Rocker

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I only became aware of it a couple days ago, so I don't have much to say other than, "that's a rad cover."
 

TristramEvans

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Apparently the next print run is April. I could get the pdf, but this is the kinda thing I'd really prefer to experience in HC
 

Edgewise

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I picked up the PDF because of the art. Yet to read it, but it's near the top of the stack. I just finished off Future/Perfect for Delta Green, so I believe the time has come. Will report back.

By the way, I noticed that today Free League put up a PWYW supplement for this game, and it is focused on hunting mechanics. The asking price was $5 on a 7-page document. If you're going to go with PWYW, why suggest such a high price for so few pages? Weird.
 

Rob Necronomicon

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Right up my alley so I backed the kick Starter. Very dark and surreal osr game (well, it's not quite OSR as it doesn't use the D&D mechanics).

Setting is bleak and on the cusp of the apocalypse, but there's not much detail, so the GM will have the opportunity to put his own stamp on it.
 

Necrozius

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Yeah I was interested in the Kickstarter, but, as usual, I wanted a hard copy but it was ludicrously expensive to get it to Canada.

Too bad: I was really into a Doom metal phase when all the cool kids were talking about it.
 

Chris Brady

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Right up my alley so I backed the kick Starter. Very dark and surreal osr game (well, it's not quite OSR as it doesn't use the D&D mechanics).

Setting is bleak and on the cusp of the apocalypse, but there's not much detail, so the GM will have the opportunity to put his own stamp on it.
Oh? What's the system like?
 

Skywalker

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It’s cleaned up D&D/OSR similar to Black Hack I believe. Roll D20 and meet or beat a target number.
 
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Edgewise

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OK! So I read through it and I have a few conclusions. There's a lot to talk about, so I'll try to keep it terse (ha!).

First of all, the game is really simple. It has a basic d20 mechanic at its core with ability modifiers that range from -3 to +3. Outside of that, however, the game is no retroclone. There are four abilities (Strength, Toughness, Agility and Presence) and Hit Points, and...that's pretty much it, except for equipment.

Everyone has the ability to cast a number of spells a day based on their Presence, but they need to possess scrolls for any spells they would cast. The game gives you ten "unclean" spells and ten "sacred" spells, undifferentiated by level.

One thing that I like is that armor is rated in terms of a damage reduction die. I've been saying for a while that this is a good idea, and here's a nice example of it. Armor does impair your Agility and defense, but I don't think you go into a game like this expecting realism. It's meant to be quick and dirty (more on the dirt in a little bit).

But my first impression of the mechanics: The Black Hack with armor done right.

There are a few other features I like about these rules, and a couple of complaints. First, the game has lots of tables for lots of things, including character creation, and I like that. They're the good kind of tables that lend themselves to chaotic events and adventure hooks. Second, the classes are optional, and they're very distinctive. No generic "warrior" or "thief," but you do get "fanged deserter" and "gutterborn scum." Third, it comes with an adventure, and it's an excellent compact dungeon crawl.

To be honest, with all the tables and flavor, it reminds me more of Troika! or Into the Odd than The Black Hack. Maybe a tiny bit crunchier than those two.

There are really only two things that I don't like. First, I wouldn't have picked that breakdown of abilities. Three physical and one mental? Considering they are really the only stats in the game to measure a character's, well, ability, I would be inclined to make them more like areas of expertise. Almost like classes, to be honest.

A bigger problem I have with the rules is the experience system. You basically level whenever the GM thinks it seems appropriate. I don't like things being quite so loosey-goosey. Also, the system of advancement is pretty lame. Roll 1d6 for each ability. If it's between -3 and +1, then 1 means -1 but 2-6 means +1. If your ability is +2 or more, then rolling higher than the ability gives you +1 but rolling lower gives you -1.

HP is similar but not quite as bad. Roll 6d10; if that's higher than your current HP, add 1d6 more.

I haven't mentioned another important mechanic: player-facing rolls. The players make all the rolls for this game. Some people won't like that. Personally, I'm fine with it for such a rules-lite game. It definitely keeps things nice and pacey if the players are holding the dice and rolling them, and the GM is just saying what happens. But it does smack of solipsism in elf-gaming, so I am not exactly enthused.

That covers the mechanics. Now I'll talk about setting and aesthetics. These would ordinarily be distinct topics, but this game really conflates them. In fairness, the mechanics also reflect the same atmosphere, but perhaps not as strongly.

Anyway, the game proudly advertises its metal inspirations. I'm not a metal guy, but here are the bands that the text lists up-front:
MÖRK BORG title page said:
Ash Borer. Batushka. Bell Witch. Belzebong. Black Tremor. Bongripper. Bongzilla. Cathedral. Conan. Dark Buddha Rising. Darkthrone. Domkraft. Dragged Into Sunlight. Dödsrit. Earth. Electric Wizard. Eyehategod. Gnoll. Godspeed You! Black Emperor. KTL. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard. Mayhem. Mephorash. Monolord. Morbid. Murg. Phurpa. Primitive Man. Profetus. Shadowmaster. Sleep. Slomatics. Sunn 0))). The Body. This Gift Is A Curse. Thou. Tiamat. Ufomammut. Urfaust. Weedeater. With the Dead.
I randomly googled a bunch and the "stoner rock" tag seemed to come up a lot. The only ones I had heard of before were Electric Wizard and GY!BE.

Anyway, the word I'd use to describe this game would be Gothic. This game is Gothic as fuck. For example, before the rules for character generation are given, the rules for the apocalypse are given. This is very simple and nice; depending on the timeframe the GM has in mind (which can vary from "years of pain" to "the end is nigh") the GM rolls a die that varies from d2 to d100, every game day. If the result is a "1," the GM rolls on the table of signs of the apocalypse. On the seventh sign, the world ends.

That right there may tell you all you need to know about whether this game is for you.

The aesthetic is very arty, very reminiscent of Mothership. I looked at the credits for both, and I see two names in common: Fiona Maeve Geist and Jarrett Crader. Fiona was one of the authors of Mothership while Jarrett was the editor, and they are both listed as editors for Mörk Borg.

There's a lot of changing up of fonts, art styles and layouts with a collage approach that reminds me more of what you might see in arty magazine layouts. But it's really not distracting at all! There's a lot of whitespace to let the text breathe - the book's 96 pages could have easily been halved, but it would sacrifice some of the clarity. It does this while being very pretty and memorable.

Let me give you a screenshot of a two-page spread that illustrates a lot of what I'm talking about:

mork borg.png

Do you see what's going on here? This is that doomsday clock mechanic on the first of two facing pages. The second facing page contains a d66 table of possible signs of the impending apocalypse. But note how the table is printed to resemble Bible verses? It's almost too clever, that's how cool it is.

This is all extremely stylized, but clarity doesn't suffer. Quite the contrary; if you're holding this as a physical book, you'll have a lot easier time flipping to the right page. Each spread looks so different.

So yeah, it's definitely worth owning if you're into this type of game. The physical book is going to be very pretty and very handy if you want to actually run it. And why wouldn't you? If you want some gritty and Gothic fantasy that plays fast, MB is a great choice.
 
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Séadna

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Edgewise I've seen you say you prefer essentially randomised armour, either in the terms of a save or randomised reduction. That this is better than AC or flat reduction based on armour points or similar. Do you have post explaining why. I remember you mentioning edge cases where flat reduction and AP are particularly bad.

Of the two, do you prefer the save or reduction die approach?
 

Edgewise

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Do you have post explaining why.
No, but I'd be glad to explain my preferences.

I think DR is how a lot of people intuitively feel like armor should be represented. The problem for me with a fixed DR (and I think other people have observed this as well) is that you can get into too many situations where a character in armor just can't be hurt at all in certain fights. The only way to avoid that is to keep DR very low except for truly exceptional armor, but then it never feels protective enough to matter as much as armor should.

My problem with AC isn't the all-or-nothing aspect. I think AC (along with HP) is reasonable for simulating combat between, say, human beings outfitted with medieval arms and armor. I can quibble about the numbers, but those can be adjusted, anyway. My objection to AC is that it fails to provide the same verisimilitude for combat with monsters.

For instance, plate armor is pretty much impenetrable to sword slashes, extremely difficult to circumvent with the points of spears and swords, and still pretty damn tough against maces and axes. But against a giant's club? A bullette's bite? A purple worm's stinger? Armor would provide a lot less protective value.

So for me, constant DR doesn't scale well to low-damage opponents, while AC doesn't scale well (for me, anyway) with high-damage opponents. The DR die does a better job at both ends of the spectrum. Armor can be really useful without ever being perfect. Likewise, it's value is reduced against big damage attacks, but not eliminated. It's a simple mechanic that's scalable while providing verisimilitude and tactical depth. Dare I say it? Yes...the DR die is elegant.
 

Séadna

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Interesting and do you feel a DR die is a better mechanic than an armour save such as in Mothership?
 

Edgewise

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Interesting and do you feel a DR die is a better mechanic than an armour save such as in Mothership.
I have to refamiliarize myself with the particulars of the armor save...one minute...

OK, so...in a way, it's a strange question. I think they are both good for what they are trying to do.

I feel like the mechanics of Mothership are simplified to the point that it is a kind of statement that the mechanics just need to GFTO of the way. They aren't even really trying to be realistic about some things. The armor save is more than resistance to damage; it's basically your character's entire defense roll! Here's the text:
Mothership Player's Survival Guide p. 9 said:
Attacking is a specific kind of significant action performed by rolling an Opposed Check. In ranged combat the attacker makes a Combat Check against the defender’s Armor Save. If the attacker succeeds they roll their weapon’s Damage dice.

In Close-Quarters Combat the attacker makes a Combat Check as usual but the defender can decide whether they want to oppose that roll with their Armor Save (to defend against the damage), another Combat Check (to counter-attack) or a Body Save (to try and get out of CQC and run away). If two characters are wrestling or grappling that would be an opposed Strength Check.
To me, Mothership is basically telling you to come up with your own interpretation that makes sense, or...maybe you should be worrying more about not getting into combat, right? That should be the takeaway from these rules!

Mörk Borg, by contrast, seems to be inviting you more to enjoy the mechanics and enjoy fighting. These rules aren't an afterthought, and they're not meant to discourage combat. So I think they are more tactical and they more readily provide verisimilitude. I tend to enjoy that more. I don't think they are particularly realistic, either - how realistic can a game be with player-facing rolls?

The armor save is a lot more like AC than DR. It opposes the attack roll with no regard for the amount of damage. I'd say that's actually more glaring in a sci-fi setting where you will have space monsters and high-tech heavy weapons.
 

Necrozius

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Great summary of the game @Edgewise !

I’m definitely interested in the aesthetics, but the rules do nothing for me based on what you described.

A major pet peeve of mine is graphical flair over basic readability, and it looks like they balanced this out well.
 

Séadna

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OK, so...in a way, it's a strange question. I think they are both good for what they are trying to do.
Indeed the question was phrased too oppositionally, thankfully you answered the question I should have asked. :thumbsup:

An interesting thing in Mothership is that if you fail the armour save and the opponent fails the combat save then as an opposed roll it means things get worse for both of you, even though the failed combat roll means the weapon damage isn't dealt. Nice little quirk one can have fun with.
 
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Chris Brady

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No, but I'd be glad to explain my preferences.

I think DR is how a lot of people intuitively feel like armor should be represented. The problem for me with a fixed DR (and I think other people have observed this as well) is that you can get into too many situations where a character in armor just can't be hurt at all in certain fights.
Well, yes. A man with a knife isn't going to do much to a man with in plate armour. Not in a straight up fight. There's a reason a stilleto was used when the opponent was down and vulnerable. At that point you could bypass armour completely, but until then, you're not likely hurting the target at all.

There's a reason two handed weapons came to the fore in battle weaponry.
 

Chris Brady

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She sounds like a Dark Souls (Video game) character. Not a value judgement, just an observation.
 

Voros

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Makes sense I think Mork Borg has a Dark Souls feel.
 

Fenris-77

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I just broke down and ordered a copy. I wanted it mostly for the art and due to my general fondness for anything Fria Ligan publishes. Oddly, what sold me was the discussion of the armor die here. I've been swishing that idea around in my head for a week as part of some alternate combat mechanics design, so it just seemed fated to be.
 

Trippy

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I just sold mine by contrast. Easy sale, to be sure, and I too like a lot of Fria Ligan publications. However, I just didn’t enough material, or depth of material, in it to be useful enough to me.

Odd, considering I treasure my copy of HöL....
 

TJS

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No, but I'd be glad to explain my preferences.

I think DR is how a lot of people intuitively feel like armor should be represented. The problem for me with a fixed DR (and I think other people have observed this as well) is that you can get into too many situations where a character in armor just can't be hurt at all in certain fights. The only way to avoid that is to keep DR very low except for truly exceptional armor, but then it never feels protective enough to matter as much as armor should.

My problem with AC isn't the all-or-nothing aspect. I think AC (along with HP) is reasonable for simulating combat between, say, human beings outfitted with medieval arms and armor. I can quibble about the numbers, but those can be adjusted, anyway. My objection to AC is that it fails to provide the same verisimilitude for combat with monsters.

For instance, plate armor is pretty much impenetrable to sword slashes, extremely difficult to circumvent with the points of spears and swords, and still pretty damn tough against maces and axes. But against a giant's club? A bullette's bite? A purple worm's stinger? Armor would provide a lot less protective value.

So for me, constant DR doesn't scale well to low-damage opponents, while AC doesn't scale well (for me, anyway) with high-damage opponents. The DR die does a better job at both ends of the spectrum. Armor can be really useful without ever being perfect. Likewise, it's value is reduced against big damage attacks, but not eliminated. It's a simple mechanic that's scalable while providing verisimilitude and tactical depth. Dare I say it? Yes...the DR die is elegant.
If the players make all the rolls is this basically just like Symbaroum where the armour die is just the damage die flipped?
 

Skywalker

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Not really in that in Symbaroum, when the players are rolling for armour the damage for the monster is fixed. Its effectively a fixed DR flipped.

I think Edgewise is talking about where damage and armour are both rolled.
 

TJS

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Not really in that in Symbaroum, when the players are rolling for armour the damage for the monster is fixed. Its effectively a fixed DR flipped.

I think Edgewise is talking about where damage and armour are both rolled.
How does that work though when the players make all the rolls?
 

Skywalker

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In Symbaroum damage from NPC attacks and DR for NPC armour are fixed numbers. Players roll damage and DR for their PC's attacks and armour.

In Mork Borg, DR is rolled by both sides, as is damage. This creates for a greater range of possibilities.
 
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Have the PDF and can't say it did anything for me personally, nothing massive wrong with it but neither did it grab hold of my imagination. I wasn't particularly keen on the layout or massive amount of different fonts used, but that's just my opinion.
 

TristramEvans

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There was a second KS recently with adventures for the game, wasn't there? I wonder how those are - if this is maybe a case like LoTFP, where the interesting part of the game is expressed primarily through the unique scenarios, rather than the ruleset itself?
 

Skywalker

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Feretory includes rules, adventures and other tools. It’s not released yet though. There has only been a handful of adventures elsewhere and these are generally brief yet flavourable much like the rulebook.

The appeal of Mork Borg is clearly for the setting briefly presented in the rulebook, its simple yet colourful rules, and most of all its presentation and layout. It’s not for everyone, but I would expect most to be able to at least see that it can appealing to others for these elements.
 

Chris Brady

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Feretory includes rules, adventures and other tools. It’s not released yet though. There has only been a handful of adventures elsewhere and these are generally brief yet flavourable much like the rulebook.

The appeal of Mork Borg is clearly for the setting briefly presented in the rulebook, its simple yet colourful rules, and most of all its presentation and layout. It’s not for everyone, but I would expect most to be able to at least see that it can appealing to others for these elements.
I wish I could get a copy, I can't seem to find anything on when it's coming to print outside of Drivethru?
 
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