Fate of the Norns

Post Breakout Con Feedback
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Author:  Shamaman [ Wed Mar 15, 2017 5:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Post Breakout Con Feedback

Me and Mel played in the 11am-2pm Vanagard session that Christopher ran at Breakout Con.
We both loved the system and playing it turned out to be the highlight of our weekend.

My favorite feature of the game was how the managing of resources was, It was easy to pick up, I wasn’t bogged down with numbers, it allowed me to enjoy the story while at the same time the mechanics always felt interesting and satisfying.

Chris was excellent as the Norn and his passion for the game really showed .

I’ve had a bit of time to think over the game and Me and Mel have talked over our experience with it. Andrew asked us to post our feedback on the forums so here it is.

I didn’t feel like the aid mechanic was very strong
Where your only option for aid was to give treasures or Nature.

One thought I had for an Aid was a mechanic where you could draw the top card from your deck for your friend to use, if the rune matches what's required for the check, then it would help reduce the risk by 1 and you’d shuffle it back into your deck after. If the card you draw matches the rune type my friend wants to use as a Stretch then my card can also aid in the Stretch and is also discarded, like normal.

Example 1: My friend is doing a Chase check, he draws his cards and finds that he’s 2 risk short and can only stretch one Hunt card. I offer to help (say i know that there are a lot of chase runes in my deck) and draw one of my Chase cards, it’d reduce the risk by 1 and he would remove the last risk by stretching his Hunt card. He would succeed, get his share of the renown and then my share of the renown would be equivalent to however much risk I helped get rid of.

Example 2: Same situation but I draw a Hunt card. My friend can still use it towards his own Hunt card that he’s stretching. Together the two hunt cards reduce the risk to 0 and he succeeds. Both of our Hunt runes would then go to our discards.

Example 3: Same situation but I draw a Play card. It doesn’t help him and he fails the check and loses one card from his hand to his discard pile, I also lose my Play card to my discard pile.

I don’t think this should replace the current aid mechanic, maybe just be there as another option.

I didn’t like the turn order mechanic very much, with the role of first player changing and turns following them going clockwise around the table.
The reason is because it kept resulting in the check that I had to do on my turn being one that my character was bad at, it seemed like there wasn’t a way to get around it other than burning treasures, nature or stretching other cards.
My suggestion to fix this is take away the turn order and allow the group of players to decide the turn order for themselves for each scene. This would allow a party to coordinate strategy and elect the character best suited to the challenge to do it

I feel the use of the Nature card should feel more dramatic and represent more of a loss when it's used. As it is, it felt like just an extra treasure

Could the Nature Card count towards the number of cards you could draw that round. You would discard your Nature Card and draw your number of destiny in cards from your deck to your hand. So if you are doing a high-risk challenge, have taken on a lot of risk, and know you won’t be able to draw enough cards to beat the challenge normally, you can sacrifice your Nature Card and draw extra cards to aid in your ability to defeat the risk you have taken on. Then, to get your Nature Card back, you must restore all of your discarded cards into your deck, making the Nature Card the last one in the discard pile that you could bring back. This way it becomes a strong sacrifice card that is not overused
Or nature card restores after you’ve completed a 6 scene chapter

Our longest discussion was about some ways to make Treasures and Spell cards feel different. RIght now they are mechanically the same, with the only difference being the RP effect of each.

We both came up with ideas that shared a common aspect. The idea is to change how Spells are purchased, what they do and how their uses work.

Make it so that spells have fixed renown costs that don’t work like the cost system for Treasures
Make the mechanics behind their effects be a straight up risk reduction. So treasures would, when used reduce threat by a fixed value.
And last was to make them a single use only, so that once used they return to the Norn and must be purchased again to be used

One way we thought of to implement with was having a fixed list of spells to pick from. They could have whatever RP flavor that the players or Norn wants but mechanically they would be like this:

Level 1 Spell Level 2 Spell Level 3 Spell Level 4 Spell
Reduces Risk by 2 Reduces Risk by 4 Reduces Risk by 6 Reduces Risk by 8
Costs 20 Renown Cost 40 Renown Cost 60 Renown Cost 80 Renown

The other idea was to make the purchase and use of spells based on a player's Destiny

Make it so that Spells cost 10x your destiny and when a spell is cast it will reduce threat by the destiny you were at when you bought it

In either of these cases the spell is gone when it's used and spells can be bought multiple times (Maybe to a max total of three, like treasures)

The balance behind this works out to spells being weaker than treasures at lower levels but stronger than treasures at higher levels

I introduced Vanagard to a coworker today and we played a chapter on our lunch break. It got me thinking a little closer at some of the games features.

Firstly it was how we deal with not having any story cards. Basically what we did was pull runes from the bag and then referred to the internet to look at the meaning behind the runes and used that to create the story we play through.

Example: The first rune that was pulled was Othala and we took that to mean meeting Odin.

This got me thinking about a cool game style for Vanagard, the Seeing Norn. basically where someone would be playing the Norn and let the players draw from the bag to decide ‘fate’ the norn would then interpret the rune and base the next step of the story on it. This would be done like any old Tarot card or palm reading. Each rune has meaning behind them but their meanings are broad and unspecific. This allows the Norn to have great leeway with the story but still provide a cool experience for the players who would feel like their pulls are what affect their characters fate.

The other thing that I started doing was when I would draw a challenge rune. Rather than choosing between the two talents of that color I would let either one be used to complete the challenge, I know this makes it easier for a challenge to be beaten but I felt like it gave the players more options and created a more fun experience.


Sorry for the long post but it was kinda necessary to articulate my thoughts.
I hope its helpful and I’m happy to discuss some of the points further.
I was thinking of playing Vanagard with more friends and I’ll report back with more feedback as I get it.

Author:  andrew [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

That's great, thanks guys! :)

We definitely want the feel at the table to be cooperative, so any rules tweaks in that direction would be great.

We also had been brainstorming on how to make spells and treasures feel different, so these suggestions give us food for thought.

The nature card is something we've redesigned quite a few times (so much varied feedback). We are on the fence whether to allow players to make their own cards, or have premade ones in the box. We've seen great reasons for each setup. We'll probably offer both options, and the pre-printed and illustrated nature cards may be a stretch goal.

Author:  Chall [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

Thank you very much for the feedback. The game is still evolving and you've given us some excellent things to ponder.

In the Beta help his much more robust. Essentially, you draw a normal hand, as if you're facing the challenge yourself. and you have all the options to reduce the difficulty further. However, you must always spend something, even essence cards with matching talents. If your help results in victory you split the renown, if not you split the card loss.

I'm might go with that but I kind of like your take on it. I'll have to ponder this further...


I like your suggestion to allow folks to choose the challenge they want to tackle. I don't want to make things too easy, but I get your point in a character being forced to face a challenge he or she is bad it. I'll have to think about it.

I can see your point with the Nature card. I might go with what you suggested or... Maybe tie three talents to the card. If your Nature holds the challenge talent it's worth 5 risk rather than 3. That way the Natures can feel different,

For Example:
- Ravens have: Chase, Lead, Speak Wise
- Wolves have: Chase, Hunt, Lead
- Bears have: Play, Speak Wise, Work
- Badgers have: Lead, Hunt, Work
- Squirrels have: Chase, Play, Speak Wise

And so forth...

We'd have several base animals but it would still be super easy to make your own.

I like your spell idea. My other thought was to give treasures and spells a +1 risk reduction bonus to certain tasks. For instance:
- Treasures get +1 risk reduction when used with Hunt, Lead, Work,
- Spells get a +1 risk reduction when used with Chase, Play, Speak Wise

However, your idea sparked what I think may be a better way to handle this:
- Spells, by default, are worth 4 Risk. If one of their runes match the chapter rune they're worth 6.
- This makes them seemingly more valuable than treasures which are only worth 2 or 4 respectively.
- However, to spend a spell card you must also fuel it with 2 of your in-hand cards. These cards are spent with the spell and do not reduce the difficulty further, think of them as an Essence tax.
- You recover your spell and the taxed cards while resting, as per normal.


I'm pushing for a Rune taro as the initial map card set. I'd like art that exemplifies each symbol on the card that is evocative enough to be interpreted many different ways.

All this being said, I too have relied on the meanings of the runes before I had map cards. Perhaps we could include a elegant chart of such as a stretch goal?


I am elated that you've played further games with your co-worker. If you play more please feel free to share.

Also, feel free to share your thoughts on what I've written above.

Awesome to hear from you.


Author:  Shamaman [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

Chall wrote:
I like your suggestion to allow folks to choose the challenge they want to tackle. I don't want to make things too easy

That is the primary concern that comes to mind with this idea. Though it could introduce an interesting party dynamic where you might find that parties become more specialists in two or three talents rather than being more well rounded (maybe this already happens, I've only played two games so far)

Chall wrote:
Maybe tie three talents to the card. If your Nature holds the challenge talent it's worth 5 risk rather than 3. That way the Natures can feel different

I like the sound of that, could that risk reduction be based on Destiny? that way your nature card gets stronger as you do?

Chall wrote:
- Spells, by default, are worth 4 Risk. If one of their runes match the chapter rune they're worth 6.
- This makes them seemingly more valuable than treasures which are only worth 2 or 4 respectively.
- However, to spend a spell card you must also fuel it with 2 of your in-hand cards. These cards are spent with the spell and do not reduce the difficulty further, think of them as an Essence tax.
- You recover your spell and the taxed cards while resting, as per normal.

That's neat, the essence in your hand would function like mana. This would also keep the Renown Cost for items the same as Treasures (less rules for things is usually better)

Chall wrote:
All this being said, I too have relied on the meanings of the runes before I had map cards. Perhaps we could include a elegant chart of such as a stretch goal?

I tried looking online for the meaning behind each of the runes from a tarot card/fortune reading sense. There was some interesting stuff and some weird stuff. Is there anything else in the rest of the FotN systems that has gone through the runes and put specific meanings to them? keeping that sort of thing the same across the systems makes sense to me

I'm for sure gonna be playing around with this system more, I'll try out the changes discussed here and let you know how they go.

Also I found out that staples has a big sale on business cards right now, so I'm having some make up with Yggdrasil on the back to use in place of the index cards (easier shuffling)

Author:  Chall [ Fri Mar 17, 2017 4:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

I've done some thinking and here's what I'm adding to the Beta, for now.

Nature Cards
- Each have three talents bound to them, these must make sense for the animal. IE:
-- Raven: Chase, Lead, Speak Wise
-- Bear: Hunt, Speak Wise, Work
-- Cat: Chase, Hunt, Play
- When you spend it you reduce the level of risk by destiny.
- If you spend it on a challenge that's on your nature card, double this risk reduction.

Turn Order
- Norn will introduce the challenge with its talent. Then the players can pick who tackles it. Once that challenge is done move onto the next; introduce and those who can pick are those who have not done anything yet in the chapter.
- Any left over risk will still fall on the last hero though, so it's possible they may be forced to tackle a challenge they are ill-suited for.
- While playtesting, keep an eye out to see if this makes things too easy.

- 1 other hero can help.
- They draw 1/2 their destiny, round up, and handle the remaining risk like a normal challenge.
- They will split the reward or the loss with the hero they helped.
- You can help and still take on your own challenge.
- If you help or take on a challenge, you cannot rest.

- Spending a Spell Card by itself does nothing for you, you must also spend in hand essence cards.
- Risk is reduced by 2 per essence spent to fuel the spell. Such spell fuel does not count for match or stretch.
- If a rune on the spell matches the chapter rune, this risk reduction is increased to 3 per card spent.


Those are the official changes, for now. I'm adding them to the next iteration of the beta.

Again, thanks for all your feedback Shamaman.

- Chall

Author:  Shamaman [ Fri Mar 17, 2017 5:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

Great, I'll use these updates while playing

Author:  Shamaman [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

Played with some more people and have some feedback from them and some of my own

Ran a game with my in-laws (neither of them have games experience past the traditional deck of cards games, though i've tried running table top rpg games with them before and neither of them liked them. They are both 55ish. She didn't like the game very much but said that she doesn't like any form of improv and Vanaguard was too imporvy for her. He liked it much more, got into the game and even asked to play a second chapter. His feedback was that he liked how easy the game was to pick up, he liked describing his actions after combating a risk. His one bit of feedback was that he thought it would be helpful for people who are new to the game to be able to look at some kind of character template or pregenerated characters to use instead of making his own up. This is probably as easy as giving a list of animals and the three talents that go along with them and then a paragraph on some of the different builds someone can do with their character (focus on 2-3 talents or get a bit of all of them, seem to be the main two to me)

Did another game with my brother (13) I got him playing tabletop rpgs when he was 10 so hes probably as experience with table top as a 13 year old could be. He picked up the game fast and had fun playing. When i asked him for feed back he just said 'It was good' and after pressing him for more he told them that trying it once wasn't enough for him to take it seriously (he named his character Retardo the Italian Badger)

Lastly and probably the most valuable feedback has come from playing with my Coworder. He's in his early 30s and has had a moderate amount of table top experience but he is very experience with board games (he is part owner of one of Toronto's Escape Room/Boardgame Cafes) He likes the game a lot and we have been playing a chapter each lunch break (part of what i love about this system is how quick a chapter can be)

Playing with him has shed a lot of light on this game for me because after playing it i've gotten more familiar with the style and how to make the game flow well. I think the easiest way to explain in it just to give an example of how we play. Since there are only two of us we both have characters and share/pass back and forth the role of Norn. So we alternate scene to scene who is Norn. Both characters still take actions tho. We also aren't playing with scene cards but with the Runes (I've made up a card deck with the runes and their colors on it and I've also added the word meaning of each rune and some themes of each rune. Ex Othala 'inheritance' - tradition, nobility, heritage. When we flip the new rune that acts as the scene card we intemperate the meaning and theme of the rune in the context of whats happened, Then give the description of what the challenge is. The Rune color tells us the risk level and we as Norn determine what talent is required (we've been staying away from letting the color of the rune determine that because we found that it often didn't make sense given the circumstances. Then the other guy takes first action, deals with as much threat as they can and then the guy playing the Norn plays their character too and deals with the rest of the threat. This system has worked out really well for us (I've been looking for a good 2 person tabletop rpg for a while) I'ts fun to build of the story someone else started and the broad meanings of the runes are fun to rationalize to the situation.

Some of the rules feedback now.

Spells - they are way fun. powerful but well balances, they burn through runes but eliminate the threat, each time we use them work perfect but come back to haunt us when we start getting low on runes. The most fun part of using them has been including the Runes we use to power them in our description. Ex. Ursoc the Bear has an Intimidating Roar spell. Once he used it against a 6 threat hunt challenge (this is when we were at 2 destiny still) he used a Lead and Chase rune to power it and described how he charged the enemies and let out his roar and it was so intimidating for our enemies that it rallied our allies against them.

Aid - risky and satisfying, its saved us a few times now when we would have failed challenges.

Nature card - It feels a lot more valuable now and adds some fun to character creattion. I feel this also add some depth to talent build of your character

Turn order - this seems to be working well, however I've found the risk level for Vanaguard in the Phantom wood to be very easy. I suspect because the Phantom wood is supposed to be like the tutorial area and you are meant to leave it basically after the first round, is this right?

Is this kind of feedback helpful? Like telling you the reactions of the players to try the game and their feedback?

Author:  Chall [ Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

That feedback is incredibly helpful. I appreciate you taking the time to write it out.

We'll definitely go with the changes with Nature and Spells.

I'll make a note to add some pregens into the mix. Perhaps based off the characters from the youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0tjHf8 ... VZiWCZnZDr

The Beta's approach to expressing the rules is a long running example where you play with a fictitious player. I'm glad to hear that format works.

You're right about the Phantom Wood difficulty, it's meant to be very easy. To up the difficulty simply pick another world or raise the Red threshold, which, in turn, will raise the blue and green.

Keep an eye on this forum. I'll update it as things progress.

- Chall

Author:  Shamaman [ Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback

Chall, are you going to be at CanGaming Con? I'm planning on going and I want to volunteer as a GM for a bit of it. Would I be able to GM Vanagard there? I'd love to help promote this system. I'd be happy to meet with you there to go over things so that my Norning style fits with how you want the game to feel

Author:  Chall [ Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Post Breakout Con Feedback


Just offered to run Vanagard for it. I would be fine if you'd like to run a session as well. We could definitely meet up and discuss things beforehand.

- Chall

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