Hey, heroes! In this EPIC (in both content and length) post, we take a closer look at the Bardsung guest writers and what they’ll be contributing to the campaign.
But first, we couldn’t wait to share...
Rhianna Pratchett as Lead Writer and Narrative Designer
Yes, you read that right.
Rhianna Pratchett (Fighting Fantasy, Tomb Raider) will be the Lead Writer and Narrative Designer for Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge!
As well as defining the setting and storyline for the campaign, she’ll be writing multiple adventures to weave the world around all intrepid adventurers who brave the Ancient Forge.
We’re beyond thrilled to have Rhianna on board in such a huge role. It’s a capital-M Moment for us here at Steamforged to be working with Rhianna, and we can’t wait to share her wondrous words with you!
"I will be developing the story and narrative design for the main campaign's setting, the Ancient Forge, establishing the history and environment around the vast and ruined place.
“As your heroes progress through the levels of the magically corrupted, sunken forge, the tales of their adventures against Hobgoblins, Bugbears and even more dangerous challenges that lurk in depths, are mine to tell."
Let’s Go on a (Guest Written) Adventure
Nestled amongst Bardsung’s unlocked Quest Goals and pledge rewards (now at 89 minis in the core pledge), are extra gems known as Daily Unlocks.
If you’ve backed the campaign, you’ll know most of these unlocks have been legendary guest writers!
As promised, it’s time to delve a little deeper into what each of those writers will be bringing to the campaign. But first, for those of you who missed Update #16, a quick reminder of what an adventure in Bardsung actually is...
What is an Adventure?
To understand adventures, we’d better start with encounters. (It’ll all make sense in a minute.)
The main gameplay loop for Bardsung involves moving from one side of your board (or mat) to the other, by laying tiles for your hero to move across. With each tile you lay, you’re building out your dungeon.
From your starting point on one side of the board (let’s call this point A) you’ll be making your way to a set destination on the opposite side of the board (let’s call this point B). How you get there is partly up to you, and partly up to which tiles you draw!
This point A to point B gameplay is called an encounter.
Adventures (see, I told you we’d get there) are made up of a series of linked encounters that represent a narrative path and/or area of the Ancient Forge that you’re exploring.
Each adventure has:
Introductory narrative to set the scene
One or more pieces of outro text (depending on how many potential endings that adventure has) to describe the end
Narrative beats to introduce new twists, inform or update your objectives, or pull you further into the story
Adventures have maps that let you choose which direction to explore in, and your choice will have consequences.
Take the example above. Would you choose the shorter, more dangerous route, with a wealth of treasure? Or the longer, safer path, with less loot?
These adventure maps change the contents of the event, aspect, and treasure decks to better suit the environment. They determine which enemies you might find in that area, and add special rules that will affect how your adventure shapes up, by introducing any global features, hazards, or bonus objectives.
All told, an adventure is a mini-campaign all by itself—but the main Bardsung campaign is actually made up of several packed adventures!
For those who want it, here's a more detailed explanation of the Bardsung campaign system.
Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s take a closer look at our other guest writers and how they fit in.
With such industry legends on board, we wanted each guest adventure to bear the true signature of its creator.
The personality of each writer will shine through in their adventure, so you can enjoy an awesome experience that truly feels both distinct and unique to their vision.
While guest written adventures will use the Barsdung engine, we’ve been in deep discussion with each collaborator to make sure their adventure is a celebration of their unique creativity and imagination. Their adventures will be additional content outside of the main Bardsung campaign, so you’ll have even more games to play as standalone or side quests!
For example, anyone who's experienced a Fighting Fantasy novel by Ian Livingstone will be delighted by an adventure that nods at his past releases, and fearful of the harsh penalties he’s turned into an art form!
Of course, to really give our guests the creative freedom to take you on a signature adventure, their adventures need to exist outside of the main Barsdung: Legend of the Ancient Forge campaign.
That way, they’re not tied to a set path, and you’ve got a whole collection of extra standalone adventures to enjoy.
“But won’t they be limited to the models in the core game?”
To keep the creativity flowing—and to give you the opportunity to break out your own proxy minis—each guest’s adventure will be more like a traditional RPG experience, with the potential to introduce new enemies not featured in the core Bardsung campaign.
If they do introduce new enemies, all characteristics will be featured alongside the encounter, so you won’t need to buy any new boxes to get hold of stats or rules—all you’ll need is a few minis to use as proxies.
You’ll receive all of these incredible adventures in a special Adventure Book, featuring all the adventures from our guest writers.
So, Who’s Writing an Adventure?
We’re incredibly thrilled to be working with legends from across the tabletop gaming and roleplaying scene.
As well as authors and game designers, we’ve chosen contributors who can add their own kind of magic into the guest Adventure Book.
Ian Livingstone CBE
Expect grimdark horror and deadly traps from Ian’s adventure!
In addition to creating an adventure for Bardsung, Ian sits on SFG’s board as Non-Executive Director. He’ll work closely with Steamforged throughout Bardsung’s development and will help to shape the way adventures work in the game.
Sara is a disability consultant for tabletop roleplaying games and will be working with us on accessibility.
An advocate for disabled people in RPGs, Sara created The Combat Wheelchair, an awesome ruleset that lets D&D characters use a battle-ready wheelchair in the game. She collaborated with Strata Miniatures and SFG sculptors Russ Charles and Thomas Lishman to create a set of minis that use her armoured creation.
In addition to growing up in the house where D&D was created and playing the game all his life, Luke has been a designer on numerous RPGs including contributions to Fiend Folio, Gamma World and Into the Borderlands.
He’s an advocate for tabletop RPGs and runs the Gary Gygax memorial convention, Garycon. In addition, he hosts the Heroes & Legends D&D podcast, launched the quarterly adventure gaming magazine Gygax Magazine, and is a regular contributor to Dragon+.
Jonathan Green is an author with more than seventy books to his name. Well known for his contributions to the Fighting Fantasy range of adventure gamebooks, he’s also written fiction for such diverse properties as Doctor Who, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Warhammer, Warhammer 40,000, Sonic the Hedgehog, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Moshi Monsters, LEGO, Judge Dredd, and Robin of Sherwood.
He is also the creator of ACE Gamebooks - Old school adventures with a modern twist. Expect the same nightmarish realms and steampunk weirdness to feature in his adventure!
Jason Charles Miller
Jason Charles Miller is a vocalist, musician and voice actor who has appeared in over 100 animated productions and video games.
Jason was lead singer of the band Godhead. In a guest spot on Geek & Sundry’s GM Tips Youtube series, he revealed the band’s name was inspired by an RPG adventure in a 1984 issue of Fantasy Gamer magazine called “The Haven of the Godhead”.
He brings a sense of chaotic good to all of his endeavours, and warns players to be prepared to meet some gnarly foe in his adventure’s caves…
Elye and Nate - Dwarven Forge
As creators of the world’s most impressive commercially available RPG terrain, you can expect the landscape itself to be a big feature in Elye and Nate’s adventure!
Ginny Di is a Denver-based professional cosplayer, YouTuber, singer, and tabletop gamer. Ginny is an amazing creator with a fun, fabulous imagination and a sharp sense of what fits within a vast range of imagined universes.
Elisa Teague is a board game, RPG, and puzzle designer and the Senior Producer of Roleplaying Games at Renegade Game Studios. She warns players should get ready for her trademark puzzles and traps, and a sinister twist in the tail!
Jules Gill is a YouTube presenter for popular culture and gaming channel, WhatCulture and heads up his tabletop gaming channel, Live and Lets Dice. His trademark humour will play a big part in his adventure, so expect an entertaining time even (or perhaps especially) if you get stuck rolling critical fails throughout.
Mark Hulmes is the Dungeon Master for HighRollersDnD, a UK-based RPG livestream, and Nights of Eveningstar. He's appeared in Season 2 of Critical Role as Calianna, and had many guest appearances as both player and DM in a variety of shows across Twitch and YouTube. Mark is known for his creative homebrew campaigns, custom designs and unique encounters. As a big fan of CONSEQUENCES, and a lover of pulp adventure movies, he warns heroes to expect a delve into ancient ruins where things aren’t what they seem...
Here Be Hints
And finally, because you’re all awesome, here are a few small teasers of what’s to come.
Rhianna Pratchett's Snippet
“During the most recent ice age, the Ancient Forge was sucked into a sinkhole in the earth between the Stargazer mountains and the great Murkmist forest.
"Only the surface area is thought to be accessible and rumoured to be haunted. The magical energy contained in the forge was not released when the giant building was sunk, but remains within its walls, waiting only to be released.”
Luke Gygax's Snippet
“Make your offerings to Hurna for strength to sustain you and ward yourself against the lifeless children of Dark Daghda, for you will feel their cold clutches!”
Elye and Nate's Snippet (Dwarven Forge)
“Centuries ago a legion of sadistic Duergar artificers constructed a subterranean vault to guard a treasure of untold power. A mechanical labyrinth of devious design bristling with lethal arcane wards and intruder countermeasures, this legendary dungeon is said to be unbreachable.
"Countless adventurers have perished trying to reach the treasury at the heart of the maze - are there any heroes with mettle enough to best this dwarven deathtrap?”
Join the party before the campaign ends at 18:00 UTC on November 27, heroes!