Vast Grimm Offers An Unlikely Element: Hope

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All of the games in the Morg Borg family are dark. (Spoiler alert, that’s what the word ‘mork’ means in Swedish). Vast Grimm, from designer Bran Colin, includes much of the same darkness one might expect from a game using the Mork Borg style and rules set. But hidden inside the review copy he gave me at GameHole Con was something I wasn't expecting out of a game like this; hope. Was that speck of light at the end of the tunnel a way out or an oncoming train? Let’s play to find out.

Vast Grimm takes the doom and gloom of Mork Borg and blows it up and out into science fiction. For those who have picked up Death In Space, it goes in a different direction. While that game leaned into the cassette futurism of the 70s and 80s, Vast Grimm reminds me more of the frag-em-ups of the 90s like Doom and Quake. Your character has survived countless wars, an invasion of alien worms that embed themselves in every living thing they encounter and the general horrors or life in space. They are built to go down firing a plasma pistol in both hands rather than waiting for the laws of physics to fall apart. So the crew travels from location to location, blasting their way through the monsters and aliens looking for a way out, hoping that the end of the universe doesn’t happen first. The art in the book supports this idea, feeling more like something you’d find on a Playstation Magazine cover than the death metal inspired original. Yes, there are still demons and dead things a plenty but your Manchine will probably take a few with them when they go.

The two cassette adventures I received continue this feeling. They contain adventures and soundtracks that feel like lost boomer shooter levels. On the one side of the label is a block map that details the area. On the other side are short descriptions of what monsters are in each room, what loot might be inside and how the whole thing comes together. I also liked the soundtracks which felt like listening to lost OSTs while I read the adventures. One of the joys of the Mork Borg movement has been watching designers push the form of games and game supplements in new and unusual ways. Vast Grimm does a great job of hitting that part of my brain that remembers blasting demons at LAN parties in the fuzzy age where high school ended and college began.

Ah, but where is that hope I mentioned? There are rumors of a dimensional gate somewhere in the galaxy that might allow the players to escape this royally screwed universe. It’s up to the GM whether or not the rumors are true, but I like the idea of structuring a campaign about finding the gate. If the players really fight and sweat and die for it, let the survivors make the leap to a brand new world. If they want to keep playing, well, looks like the wurms inside one of their friends made it through too, so now they have to stop the aliens from sullying a new galaxy with their presence.

Vast Grimm applies the Mork Borg aesthetic to boomer shooters and comes out with a fun campaign setting.
 
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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I recommend GMs watch a few Kurtz Gesacht videos about the death of the universe, which definitely tend to feel like the laws of physics turning against life at the end.
 

Retreater

Legend
I haven't played it yet, but I've collected all the books and really enjoyed the design.
It's just difficult to bring games like this to "family games" that I run with parents and their kids.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I haven't played it yet, but I've collected all the books and really enjoyed the design.
It's just difficult to bring games like this to "family games" that I run with parents and their kids.
I just ran Pirate Borg for the first time last weekend and the horror on the page there actually translates to a more comedic tone in game, at least for us. Depending on how old the kids in question are, Mork Borg-family games could probably work, if the tone is comedy-horror, rather than black metal.
 



I just ran Pirate Borg for the first time last weekend and the horror on the page there actually translates to a more comedic tone in game, at least for us. Depending on how old the kids in question are, Mork Borg-family games could probably work, if the tone is comedy-horror, rather than black metal.
I think you could turn Pirate Borg into Our Borg Means Death with just a click or two of the dial. It has a Tim Burton feel in some sports, but back when Burton was legitimately weird like his Beetlejuice era.

By the same token, I feel that way about Shadowdark. It seems like a great simple system for kids...but I don't know that I would just leave the books lying around for parents to flip through.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I think you could turn Pirate Borg into Our Borg Means Death with just a click or two of the dial. It has a Tim Burton feel in some sports, but back when Burton was legitimately weird like his Beetlejuice era.

By the same token, I feel that way about Shadowdark. It seems like a great simple system for kids...but I don't know that I would just leave the books lying around for parents to flip through.
I don't think there's anything in the Shadowdark illustrations (or especially the text) that is worse than even a DC Comics horror comic from the 1970s.

The Borg books, even Pirate Borg, would likely spook helicopter parents of elementary school kids. (My dad, on the other hand, would have been happy to have bought me Pirate Borg, We got a lot of trust/rope as kids.)
 

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