Exploring Forbidden Lands – A Preview of The Free League’s New Fantasy RPG

Swedish company The Free League have been making a lot of waves since they started publishing their games in English. Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis – The Third Horizon and, of course, Tales from the Loop all come from their design studio. So the news that they have a new game on the way, launching on Kickstarter on Thursday 21st September, is sure to excite many. The fact that the game is also going to be a classic fantasy setting, not to mention a boxed set, got us straight in contact with them to find out more. So, come and explore the Forbidden Lands with us…

Forbidden Lands is a classic fantasy RPG with a modern twist. Set in a remote valley, isolated from the civilized world by an iron wall. Once the domain of a mighty sorcerer, now a lawless land where demons and dark creatures roam the countryside, while common folk barricade themselves in their small villages. The players are adventurers and rogues, bent on making a mark on the land. They will discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands and build their own stronghold. They are not heroes, but raiders and rogues.

The land is isolated, by mountains to the north and west, the sea to the east and the iron wall o the south. Once the domain of elves and dwarves, the sorcerer Zygofer invaded from the south and waged a bloody war against the people living here. Wondrous ruins still remain from before the war. Zygofer eventually turned on his former masters and the iron wall was closed, leaving Zygofer the dark ruler of the land. Along with his daughter, Therania, they used their dark arts to summon weird creatures from other worlds. Demons that now roam the land. After a series of bloody wars, the strange Blood Mist settled over the land and three centuries of quiet and relative peace followed. Recently the Blood Mist has lifted, and now the Forbidden Lands are at your feet.

The game is a dark and dangerous low-fantasy affair. The stakes are high and there is no real good or evil within the Forbidden Lands. Everyone has their own agenda and the PCs are adventurers, scoundrels and rogues looking to survive and thrive in a harsh world. The world us filled with violence, traps and deadly threats… but the characters will matter, and their actions will (quite literally) change the face of the Forbidden Lands forever.


The centrepiece of the game is the Forbidden Lands map – which is double sided, for reasons mentioned below. The map is a clear canvass waiting for your group to explore… with important events (such as character deaths, catastrophes, magic, etc) changing the map as stickers are used to place Adventure Sites and other important discoveries on the map. Thus making every map unique. Players track their journeys and adventures in a chronicle sheet, and chronicling adventures is formalised in the rules. Being a double sided map allows two full campaigns to be played.

There are optional rules enabling characters to build, and develop, their own Strongholds. Indeed there is a mini game for base development and resource management that can also be fun to work on between sessions. Rules for integrating the strongholds into your campaign are also included.

The rules for Forbidden Lands are built upon the award winning Year Zero engine, which features in The Free Leagues other recent games. Combat is fast, furious and dangerous, characters attributes will degrade if they don’t strike camp and find food, and magic is wild and dangerous. A small set of traits and skills make character generation quick whilst a comprehensive set of talents provide mechanical depth and development opportunities.

Scenario locations can be placed anywhere on the map and are based on three main categories – Village Stronghold and Dungeon. Every site contain events, people, creatures, treasure and lore and many are classical themes with twists. The adventures, as with much of the lands itself, take much more of a sandbox approach to things.

Every adventure site will contain a Legend, which gets handed out to the players upon discovery. Legends come in thematic handouts and tell stories about adventure sites, important characters, history, creatures, monsters and artifacts, enabling the players to collect them and piece together the lore of the world one step at a time.

Artwise, the Forbidden Lands box sports a cover by Simon Stalenhag (Tales From The Loop) whilst the interior art is black and white, for the retro fantasy feel, by acclaimed Swedish illustrator Nils Gulliksson and others.


Due to be released at the same time as the game is the main campaign. The campaign is flexible and modular, allowing it to be played in any order. Players will face hard decisions and the events of this gritty, yet epic, campaign will change the Forbidden Lands setting forever.

Much of the boxed sets contents will be decided over the course of the Kickstarter. It will definitely be a boxed set, and definitely contain the double sided map, but time will tell what else will fill it. Cards for artifacts, weapons, equipment and horses, custom dice and stickers for customizing the map are all expected to be included though.

There are several expansions also planned, exploring the lands (and oceans) that surround the Forbidden Lands. The Frozen Wastes (North), The Wild Sea (East), The Ashen Vale(West) and The City of Pillars (South) hopefully await for future exploration.

The Forbidden Lands Kickstarter goes live on Thursday 21st September. So get ready to hexcrawl the world the way you want and to decide on the fate of the Forbidden Land.
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Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
I'm still dazed from helping proof-read Riot Minds' Trudvang Chronicles.

Now, another tantalizing offer from the land of lutefisk. Oof-da!
 

fjw70

Explorer
Love the art and it sounds like a neat campaign premise, but I really don't want to learn a new system. That said I may check it out. :)
 

Some people get system fatigue, that is true,
But I'm surprised how many people say something like that and the evidence points otherwise.

If someone has learned Dungeons and Dragons and then went to Mutants and Masterminds, they have pretty much learned a new system.

So for them the statement is much more about Comfort Zones then tackling a new set of rules.

I'm totally guessing here, but I bet most of the campaign rules could beat week to run with whatever your favorite system is.
 

Staffan

Legend
As far as I am concerned, Nils Gulliksson is one of the best fantasy artists ever when it comes to line art. I'll put his art up against the likes of Elmore. Or at least he was, I have little to no idea about how he draws these days (the pictures up there are over 30 years old, after all).
 


Fenhorn

Explorer
I love Nils art. They really feel alive (even though they are b&w). I know that it perhaps doesn't show very well in the interior art they have shown so far. I also like the system they will use, MY0, even though it will be modified to serve its purpose (just as they modified it for Coriolis and Tales from the Loop). They campaign ideas sounds promising and with the author Erik Granström on their team, I'm sold.
 
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Connorsrpg

Adventurer
These are the best complete games I have purchased in years. The setting with a built in campaign/premise is fantastic (and yet I have not used one - I have used the YZE to convert other games as the system is brilliant... and fun).

The YZE is an easy system. I do suggest you try it. LOVE Coriolis so much as use it for our Star Wars game.

(Anyone playing this sytem - we had done quite a lot of conversions/additions. Especially re talents. http://connorscampaigns.wikidot.com/yze-talents. Next step was going to be adding magic and more talents for a fantasy system - will now have to hold off to see how this goes :)).

Fria Ligan = my publisher of the last year (for me). Came to MYZ a little late. Coriolis got me in. :) Looking forward to a fantasy version of their rules.
 


Connorsrpg

Adventurer
Been thinking, you could almost run YZE game straight from a PC sheet from any other game ;)

Eg. D&D. Instead of the mods adding to a d6, it is the amount of d6 you roll. There is a close correlation.

We love having the 3 different colours for dice too. Even though Coriolis just pooled them all, for our Star Wars conversion we still roll Attribute, Skill and Gear dice. :) I hope Forbidden Lands keeps this up.
 


Staffan

Legend
We love having the 3 different colours for dice too. Even though Coriolis just pooled them all, for our Star Wars conversion we still roll Attribute, Skill and Gear dice. :) I hope Forbidden Lands keeps this up.
They're pooled in Tales from the Loop as well, and I guess they will be in this.

In Mutant Year Zero, the different colors mean different things when it comes to the decay of characters and their stuff. Green dice come from the mutant's training and practice, and there's no risk in pushing those. Yellow dice come from the mutant's own nature, and pushing those to their limit can take its toll (shown by taking trauma on pushed rolls where yellow dice come up ones). And finally, black dice are the mutant's gear, which when pushed tends to break.

In Coriolis, the PCs aren't mutants ravaged by chaotic Rot. They're people in a more-or-less functioning society, and for the most part using proper gear. So they don't have the same "push" mechanic as in MYZ - instead, there is a greater reliance on faith, so the push mechanic is represented by prayer (and the prayer gets balanced by the Dark Between the Stars getting stronger). And in Tales from the Loop, you have a small number of free pushes (fewer the older you get), and in order to push beyond those you get various sorts of trauma that require help, time, and comfort in order to get over.

So I don't expect that Fria Ligan will separate out stats, skills, and gear for Forbidden Lands. I do however expect that they will come up with a new twist on the push mechanic.

(That said, I'm not a super-big fan of their house system, mostly because I feel characters are too incompetent. Even a person with maxed stat and skill (5+5) only has about a 5-in-6 chance of a success without pushing, and I feel that's too low. And a starting character doing something that they're supposed to be good, but not specialized, at only has about a 60% chance.)
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Intriguing. That cover art is absolutely phenomenal, I love it.

That being said, more system details are needed. Saying "it's based on another system X" isn't helpful. It's like telling someone that Stilton cheese tasted like a milder Roquefort... that doesn't help if you haven't tasted Roquefort!

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using EN World mobile app
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
It looks like a quality product, but I could go for years (at least) without seeing another gaming product where the PCs "are not heroes, but raiders and rogues" in a world where "there is no real good or evil ... Everyone has their own agenda and the PCs are adventurers, scoundrels and rogues looking to survive and thrive in a harsh world. "
 
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Staffan

Legend
Intriguing. That cover art is absolutely phenomenal, I love it.

That being said, more system details are needed. Saying "it's based on another system X" isn't helpful. It's like telling someone that Stilton cheese tasted like a milder Roquefort... that doesn't help if you haven't tasted Roquefort!

Both Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis, and Tales from the Loop use a more-or-less common system for task resolution, where you roll a number of d6 equal to a stat + a skill (both maxing at 5 for humans). Each 6 is a success. All three systems have the option to re-roll non-successes at a cost, though what that cost is varies from game to game: in MYZ it's the risk of hurting yourself and/or your gear, in Coriolis it's giving the GM a Darkness point they can later use to insert all sorts of badness into the game, and in Tales it's either a luck point or taking a Condition (essentially a persistent -1 die to all rolls until you get an opportunity to remove it).

All three games use the same four basic stats (not sure about the English translations, but they are essentially Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Empathy (combining aspects of Wisdom and Charisma)), and a fairly short skill list (MYZ has 12 common skills plus one for each class, and Coriolis has 16 skills). You also have Talents, either giving you new abilities or letting you use old ones in new ways. Beyond that, the games vary quite a bit from one another.
 


Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
Both Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis, and Tales from the Loop use a more-or-less common system for task resolution, where you roll a number of d6 equal to a stat + a skill (both maxing at 5 for humans). Each 6 is a success. All three systems have the option to re-roll non-successes at a cost, though what that cost is varies from game to game: in MYZ it's the risk of hurting yourself and/or your gear, in Coriolis it's giving the GM a Darkness point they can later use to insert all sorts of badness into the game, and in Tales it's either a luck point or taking a Condition (essentially a persistent -1 die to all rolls until you get an opportunity to remove it).

All three games use the same four basic stats (not sure about the English translations, but they are essentially Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Empathy (combining aspects of Wisdom and Charisma)), and a fairly short skill list (MYZ has 12 common skills plus one for each class, and Coriolis has 16 skills). You also have Talents, either giving you new abilities or letting you use old ones in new ways. Beyond that, the games vary quite a bit from one another.

Excellent summary. Tak!
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Both Mutant: Year Zero, Coriolis, and Tales from the Loop use a more-or-less common system for task resolution, where you roll a number of d6 equal to a stat + a skill (both maxing at 5 for humans). Each 6 is a success. All three systems have the option to re-roll non-successes at a cost, though what that cost is varies from game to game: in MYZ it's the risk of hurting yourself and/or your gear, in Coriolis it's giving the GM a Darkness point they can later use to insert all sorts of badness into the game, and in Tales it's either a luck point or taking a Condition (essentially a persistent -1 die to all rolls until you get an opportunity to remove it).

All three games use the same four basic stats (not sure about the English translations, but they are essentially Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Empathy (combining aspects of Wisdom and Charisma)), and a fairly short skill list (MYZ has 12 common skills plus one for each class, and Coriolis has 16 skills). You also have Talents, either giving you new abilities or letting you use old ones in new ways. Beyond that, the games vary quite a bit from one another.

Thank you for the reply. How does combat work?
 

Staffan

Legend
Thank you for the reply. How does combat work?

It might vary a bit between games, but here's how it works in MYZ:

1. Initiative = d6+Dex. Can't remember if we rerolled each round or not, but I don't think we did.
2. Attack roll is a skill check, usually either Strength + Fight or Dexterity + Shoot. Most weapons give 1-3 dice as a bonus.
3. Opponent can defend as an action, rolling a similar check which removes successes from the attacker.
4. On a success, deal the weapon's base damage. Additional successes can either increase damage or do extra stuff (knock prone, deal damage as stress instead, etc.). If the opponent is wearing armor, they roll dice equal to the armor's rating and reduces damage by that much.

Now here's an area where I know the systems differ. In MYZ, all trauma directly affects one of your stats: damage reduces Strength, stress reduces Dexterity, confusion reduces Intelligence, and doubt reduces Empathy. This causes a death spiral, since taking damage means your Strength gets reduced which then means you'll be worse at fighting. Coriolis, OTOH, has hit points separate from stats. Not sure about Tales - I don't think you're supposed to fight per se in that game, but there are a number of Conditions that can reflect damage.
 

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