From Selling Trudvang To Into The Wild (5E) – An Interview With Theodore Bergqvist (RiotMinds)

RiotMinds is known for their RPGs and selling one of their better known properties to CMON. I sat down with Theodore Bergqvist of RiotMinds to discuss the next chapter in their legacy and Into The Wild, their newest 5E project.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): RiotMinds is preparing a new Kickstarter for Into The Wild. What can you share about this book?
: Yes, we are super excited. Into the Wild is the complete and comprehensive guide to “everything wilderness” for 5E. So new sub-classes, new rules for survival, tracking, new equipment and descriptions of hundreds of plants, flowers, mushrooms and rules to make potions and elixirs from them. We introduce rules for playing in various environments, rules for natural hazards and a bunch of new monsters such as tree-demon, root-stalker and riverfly. With our roots in games like Trudvang whereas the Wilderness was a main theme, we’ve always thought there should be more interesting content for 5E on this topic. So, we will try to do our best to give an extensive guide to enhance the 5E game and create an interesting narrative between the dungeons so to say. Wilderness is cool, we don’t want to “fast forward” on that. We want to make it more interesting and immersive.

EGG: This is a sourcebook with an adventure. What is the hook for the adventure, “Withering Woods”?
: Withering Woods is about a forest-demon that is spreading its evil throughout the lands, actually a bit influenced by Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. A “living” forest spirit you can say who expand its evil by growing to the boarders of civilization. But if I say more, I will spoil. So gear up, this will be fun to play. I would say it has some elements of Wildheart in it, an adventure I wrote for Trudvang and that was quite popular.

EGG: You’re going fey with this book. What will readers find out about flowers, herbs, potions, and the like in your book?
: Yes! So readers will find a LOT. Full descriptions of plants, flowers, trees, mushrooms, etc with info where to find them, what to do with them and how to combine them to make potions and elixirs etc. This will be more fun to play a ranger, a druid or even a mage and give some meaning to actually spend time in the wilderness collect all these plants. It’s funny in all homebrew adventures there is always those “made up” Dragon-oak, or Troll-thorn mentioned here and there like “the staff is made of Dragon-oak”, but it does not say more than that. Now we give you the full story.

EGG: What subclasses are you creating with this book?
: As of now we have 10 new sub-classes, but it might be more. New archetypes for Rangers include Forest Warden, a ranger with some druid capabilities, Leaf Master a Ranger with expert knowledge in the flora and maker of potions, and Tunnel guide, a tailor-made Ranger for the Dwarves. The archetypes will come with new abilities and new fighting styles and will be tested a lot to keep the balance of the game.


EGG: Who is working on Into The Wild with you?
: So it’s me, Magnus Malmberg and Þorsteinn Mar Gunnlaugsson who will produce the main part of the two books, but as always we might include other free-lancers as we go. Justin Sweet will do some of the art together with some new talents that we have found and work with.

EGG: In 2022, CMON announced it purchased Trudvang Chronicles and more intellectual properties from RiotMinds. How did that deal come about?
: Well, I guess it all started with CMON acquiring the license to do the Trudvang Boardgame and as they produced it they fell in love with the property and spent a lot of time on the boardgame. I guess they did not want to part with it when the game was out so they gave us an offer we could not refuse. Trudvang is out of our hands now and we are sure CMON has some big plans for it. The conspiratorial part of me says CMON want to have Paul Bonner for themselves because nowadays he only has time for CMON and not RiotMinds. It used to be the opposite!


EGG: RiotMinds is heavily associated with Trudvang. Was it hard to let you of that IP (or any of them)?
: Yes, and no. We’d been working with Trudvang for almost 20 years and to some extent you feel that you’ve done all you wanted to do, rest is just iterations of previous things. To be honest, we grew up with Dungeons and Dragons, that game was our “high school sweetheart” and we’ve always wanted to produce content to D&D. We tried a bit with Trudvang and I think it came out pretty nice, but again we are creative minds, we want to do new things, so from that perspective Trudvang is now part of the past. Something we remember like an old song from the time when the world was young and heroes slew dragons.

EGG: You’re transitioning from publishing a full game to a greater 5e focus. Why 5e? Any concerns about the recent OGL crisis?
: First of all I think it’s great that Hasbro make this possible. Part of me says we should be grateful that we can “capitalize” on such a great brand and be aware of that. Another part of me says “don’t trust someone who is trying to cheat on you”. In any case I think it turned out good and I hope Hasbro learned a lesson here. The D&D community has a strong voice and it’s actually that community that keeps D&D alive. Sometimes big corporations forget that. What I don’t understand though is why they don’t go all in. Why not support all third-party publishers on DnDBeyond and take a more Apple-esque role as an app-store for D&D content. In my honest opinion I think that would be a greater business for them. In all honestly there are more and better third party content out there than official most of the time. Anyhow, to answer the question “why”? As I mentioned before, D&D is not without flaws, but it is a game with lots of fans and players, and as a publisher we want our content to reach out and make an impact. We’ve always loved to create settings and adventures and with OGL we have a good foundation to do that. Obviously there are a few interesting alternatives to OGL out there now and it might very well be that we try to support them too. I think it’s too early to say how good they are.
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EGG: Beyond Into The Wild, what else are you working on?
: So, we have two projects in the Fantasy Adventures Series right now. One is Into the Wild, second is a massive campaign called Darkentale, an adventure in three parts set in the lands of Westmandor with lots of new encounters and locations. Basic plot is that a natural phenomenon called “the dark cycle” is occurring. It’s a time when the sun is not seen for a year and during this time strange things happens, the dead walk again and an old Tomb King is trying to take control over the lands. Darkentale can be played in any setting or with the background info of Westmandor. We are super-thrilled about Darkentale and it is actually in beta-testing as we speak. The idea of Darkentale is to release a book, a screen, a folder, a map and tons of hand-out material in one great package. Best of all, pdf:s will be free! Aside of that we have two projects on the drawing table, one is about Undead creatures, and the other is about Dragons, but I cannot say more than that for now.

EGG: Thanks for talking with me. Where can fans learn more about RiotMinds?
: Thank you! Best is to follow us on Facebook.

I conducted the preceding interview with Theo before the campaign launched. After the campaign was underway, I covered RiotMinds’ project on my weekly RPG crowdfunding roundup. When I shared the article on social media, the images from Into the Wild drew questions regarding their origins. Theodore was kind enough to answer my follow-up queries about their artwork.

EGG: Who produced the artwork that appears on the Into The Wild Kickstarter page?
: So it is a variety of artists. Art we have produced internally in our studio: the fight with the undead, the guys at the campfire, the background image in the feature-box. They are all digital paintings made in Photoshop or various paint programs and some mattebackgrounds. The cover is done by Zeb Storm; some of the flowers, herbs, and stuff are made in AI-tools with paint-over and filters used. In an upcoming update we will also post some art from Justin Gerard. Hopefully we will have some art from Justin Sweet as well. We’ll see. We do have a statement in our Kickstarter that all art is work in progress though, so subject to change.

EGG: At EN World, there’s been discussion about AI artwork. What is RiotMinds' policy on AI generated artwork?
: We don’t have a firm policy about it at the moment. It’s a bit early to say A, B, or C. AI can be a helpful tool, especially for us non-native English speakers and indie publishers, no doubt about it. Our mission is to develop interesting products and concept and we look at art as art. And from that perspective we believe non-AI art is far better, is of a higher quality, and more unique than AI art. In the end, RiotMinds exists only because of our fans, and that they love and support what we do. I guess that’s our purpose and policy.

Into the Wild - For 5E from RiotMinds
  • “Complete guide to adventures in the wilderness for 5E players”
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