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Author Topic: [setting] Requesting feeback for a setting entitled Song of the North  (Read 2259 times)
J-MK
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Posts: 4


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« on: January 10, 2006, 10:31:04 AM »

Hello! This is my first post here after having lurked awhile in order to learn something about the place.

I have been working on an RPG setting of my own for some years and last mid-December saw the finishing of the first sourcebook which has been available for download for a few weeks now. The name of the setting is Song of the North though that is not the name of the world itself, just the product line.
What I am now asking is for people to take a look and perhaps give me some feedback. So that you don’t have to go flying blind, I’ll pre-answer some questions which I personally believe are the most relevant ones.

What is the setting about?
The setting is a low-fantasy setting which tries to avoid the heartbreakers class. It tries to capture the mythical essence of ancient folktales such as the Kalevala, Edda and Beowulf to name a few. That being said it still tries to maintain a certain “feeton the ground” approach and the world is very much styled after ancient cultures of Europe ranging from the iron age to early medieval times. This is a conscious development choice. If one would like, one could refer to it as being “quasi historical” or some sort of an “alternative early medieval Europe” but the world of SotN is not Earth but a world of its own. It is simply governed by similar rules of cultural development and physical laws, as I understand them, with the back door for the fantastical elements left open in that where Kalevala, Beowulf etc. were largely based on myths in our world, there may be a bit more truth to such myths in SotN.
Another thing that I think is one of the driving factors behind SotN is that it is completely about the setting, there is no system to go with it. The reason for this is because I personally would like to see more detailed setting descriptions than rules among RPG products. By omitting a system I can now fully concentrate on the setting without having to bother about the rules. I know that there are other settings out there, that are very detailed and rich and I do not mean to say SotN would be, or rather would become, unique in this respect. I just think there are not enough richly detailed settings out there and none that would fit 100 % to my own tastes. So instead of complaining, I decided to try my hand on making one myself.

Ok, but why?
I think I answered to this question to some degree by saying that I don’t think there are enough richly detailed settings (as I define “richly detailed”). I initially began this project just for my own pleasure and frankly I’m still mainly doing it because I think its fun.
Other than that, I think there is room for settings of the type SotN tries to be and that is low-fantasy and detailed settings based on some (current) knowledge of our own pre-history and history.
So that you understand why I’m relatively confident in the “realism” (or should I say verisimilitude) of SotN when it comes down to cultures, is because I am a student of archaeology and ancient cultures, their development and nature are the things I spend my days with. This is not to brag, just so that you understand where I’m coming from. The cultures of SotN are not a direct copy of the cultures of iron age and early medieval cultures of Europe, just based on them.
I like to think that SotN, as a setting, tries to focus mainly on the people living in the world, their beliefs, customs, history and folklore from their point of view. Also I want to emphasize the differences between the cultures in the world as well as their similarities for the differences between cultures are underlined by their similarities with each other.

Is this a commercial project?
SotN is a free project made by volunteers working for free. There are currently very few of us in the development team and the lack of resources sets some restrictions on what we can do. On the other hand by not making it commercial I think I allow myself, as the creator and writer, far more freedom with my developmental choices than if SotN would be a commercial project. As far as I am currently concerned I do not have interest in trying to turn SotN into a commercial endeavor anywhere in the future.

Known problems
Having made the first sourcebook available some time ago I have become aware of some problems and these are:

Pictures
The resolution of the pictures in the book is not uniform. Some pictures (like the map on the first pages of the book) are too low resolution so that zooming in makes them very unclear. On the other hand, some pictures have too high resolution making them somewhat heavy loading.
Also, the pictures specifically made for SotN and the book, lack a finalizing touch i.e. ink, and that makes some of them look a bit unfinished perhaps.

Language
I am not a native English speaker and unfortunately this shows. I can write understandable English but when I get carried away I have a tendency to write over long sentences and thus obscure their meaning and make them clunky. My grammar, I’m sure, is also incorrect in several instances. This is the unfortunate result of the first book not having a native English speaker as a proof reader, something I wish to correct in future releases.

The above are mainly technical problems which will be paid attention to in the future and the first book will also be revisited in the future so that these problems can be corrected. However, though I’m keen on hearing any feedback (technical included) I would also like to hear feedback pertaining to the content i.e. the world itself. What do people think its like and what are the aspects they would like to know more about?

The Song of the North webpage is at www.songofthenorth.com and the first book is downloadable for free under the “Products – Regional Sourcebooks”. Or you can simply click that neat flashing gif to get to it immediately. The file is about 6 megs in size. I would really appreciate it if someone would be willing to take a look and tell me what do they think and give me some feedback. I would especially be thankful of feedback concerning the world though any feedback is welcome of course since this book is the first one this team has made so we are all novices in this stuff. If you have further questions or would like more clarification on something ask away and I'll try to answer to the best of my ability.

Thank you in advance!
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-Jari-Matti Kuusela
darrick
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2006, 11:13:37 AM »

hi, very professional-looking website.  nice, although i'd recommend putting some artwork on your site's main pages.  the rock and wood backgrounds are nice, but i don't get a feel for the game as i would with pictures of Norsemen with axes or whatever.  i would also put some exciting sample text or sentence long review of your game to catch people's eye.  put whatever makes your game stand out in the forefront.  grabbing people's interest before they download the document is key.  i do some of those things on my site to give them an idea of what they're getting into, although my own "sales pitch" could be better.  this if for my indie RPG Empire of Satanis.  and like you, i just wrote it because it was fun.  http://www.CultofCthulhu.net
 
i like your site's forum too.  i was thinking about doing that for EoS or sharing a forum with another RPG or two, so that's an idea.  you might want to find a RPG with more in common than mine, however.  although feel free to include my link.

as for the language thing, your writing reads well enough for me.  pictures - i don't know much about that although i believe that somewhere in the 700 kb range is good for most of a page.

ok, hope i helped.

DDD
666

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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2006, 04:32:43 AM »

I like it a lot.

However, I might suggest a section the focusses more finely on a sample settlement, or similar.  When you are not familiar yourself with the culture in question, it can be very hard to get a useful idea of their daily lives, or the skills people practice, and so forth.  This is one of the functions that a system in conjunction with a setting provides.  I'm not advocating you add a system, but a discussion of the kinds of ways by which people make a living, and perhaps the tools they use like boats etc, would be very useful I think.
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J-MK
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Posts: 4


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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2006, 07:11:32 AM »

Thank you both for your input, your iideas are all good and have been taken into serious consideration. I especially liked the idea about a section focusing on the common life of the people. When you're close to the material yourself you just don't understand that its this kind of stuff that people want more. So I will write an article dealing with the normal day-to-day life of the common people and it will be published shortly as a part of the first issue of SotN "magazine" -- The Bard.

Another issue has risen lately, of which I would want to have your opinion. SotN is designed to be system free and I wonder, would you as a GM, like to have some meta stuff published? With "meta" I mean guides of how to use SotN with different kinds of systems, not specific systems per se but rather in a "GM:ing guide" sort of way? Something along these lines perhaps: "If the system you use, has rules for falling damage then..." or "If the system you use has attributes for intelligence, wisdom, aura etc. then...". Or do you think that such is unnecessary? SotN is kind of complex I guess and by that definition I have always viewed it as attracting the more older and experienced type of roleplayer and therefore I have never really thought about including any meta information but then again that may be because I'm too close to the material, being the creator, that I don't see the need for this kind of thing.

As always, I am happy to receive any input.
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-Jari-Matti Kuusela
Bryan Hansel
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Posts: 111


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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2006, 09:44:35 AM »

Hi, a very enjoyable read.  I especially enjoyed the history section.  It reminds me of a book, The Making of England, and held my attention for the whole read.  I'd like to see more about the Religion of the setting.  A lot of the rituals are described, and I think that a more in depth discussion about how the rituals came about, the feelings about the various rituals among the population, and their overall meaning, justification from "holy writings," history, etc...  And then more about the structure of the Church, particularly the Church Knights.  Maybe I missed it, but I couldn't figure out if the gods are real or not.  Maybe an article in The Bard that could explore these rituals would work?

Personally, I'd skip adding GMing guide info, because of the massive variety of gaming systems, you will probably always miss addressing one that might be used to run a game in this setting.  Instead, I suggest that you use the space that you would devote to GMing info to more setting and discussion.

Hope this was helpful,
Bryan
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J-MK
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2006, 08:27:37 AM »

Quote
Hi, a very enjoyable read.  I especially enjoyed the history section.  It reminds me of a book, The Making of England, and held my attention for the whole read.
Thank you for your kind words. I am very glad that you liked the read.

Quote
I'd like to see more about the Religion of the setting.  A lot of the rituals are described, and I think that a more in depth discussion about how the rituals came about, the feelings about the various rituals among the population, and their overall meaning, justification from "holy writings," history, etc...  And then more about the structure of the Church, particularly the Church Knights.
Yes I have planned a release that will focus on the metaphysical side of SotN, the working title is simply "Metaphysics of Venrea". When this will be released I cannot say for sure since there is one big release to be finished before I begin working on it but rest assured that one is coming. I am thinking of releasing smaller articles in the Bard in the future as I understand that this kind of knowledge is important.

Quote
Maybe I missed it, but I couldn't figure out if the gods are real or not.
Then I have succeeded ;-)
When it comes to such things as deities I have consciously taken a bit of an ambiguous approach. Basically they exist if you want them to exist. One of the aims if SotN is to try to make it functional both with and without the fantastical elements.

Quote
Personally, I'd skip adding GMing guide info, because of the massive variety of gaming systems, you will probably always miss addressing one that might be used to run a game in this setting.  Instead, I suggest that you use the space that you would devote to GMing info to more setting and discussion.
Yes, this seems to be the general consensus at least from the point of view of the feedback I have received thus far and I am inclined to agree for the very same reasons you stated.

As always, I am most appreciative of your insight and feedback.
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-Jari-Matti Kuusela
stefoid
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Posts: 319


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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2006, 02:01:37 AM »

some effort there.

for me the most interesting part was the folklore, and the least interesting was the history.

My advice would be to look at what is relevent to the characters.  Id tend to distill the history to concentrte on those matters that have a repercussion in the time the characters inhabit.  otherwise those bits might get lost in the wash.
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