Just The Facts
- Title: Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland
- Author: Graeme Davis
- Publisher: Free League Publishing
- Based On: Vaesen by Johan Egerkrans
Leave the Mythic North and set sail for the mist-shrouded isles of Mythic Britain and Ireland. Explore the bustling streets of London, discover the secrets of the Rose House and the British Society. Roam the islands and walk the moors in search of long-lost tales and ancient remnants.
Score: 4 out of 5
The cover art evokes three things in me: wonder, dread, and adventure.
I immediately wonder what lies through the darkness beyond the stone arch. The winged creature’s features, especially the bony hand pointing to the darkness, is what gives me a sense of dread. Lastly, the red-haired woman with a gun in one hand and a glowing cross in the other is what brings out the sense of adventure.
This cover promises harrowing tales of battling otherworldly enemies by using the tools of faith and mundane gear. I sincerely hope the book follows through on this promise.
My only gripe (and this is minor) is that covers need to catch the eye to make a prospective buyer pick up the book and handle it. I feel the muted colors (other than the splash of red hair) don’t accomplish this “catch the eye” objective. However, once someone starts paying attention to the cover, I feel it evokes the proper feels.
Score: 3 out of 5
The book I’m reviewing is an expansion on the original Vaesen: Nordic Horror Roleplaying book because it includes no explanation of the rules or mechanics. This was a surprise to me. Quite the surprise! The back cover does express the nature of the book. Since I was reading the PDF, I completely missed the fact that this is expansion material. Had I been holding a physical version, I might have missed this detail because, while called out on the back, it was not done so in an eye-catching manner. Because of this, I’ve knocked a few points off in this area.
I jumped to the core book (also provided for free for the purposes of this review) to look at the rules since I was not familiar with this particular game or setting.
The character creation process is straightforward (but having direct page numbers in the overview for reference would be nice). The use of skills is clear, but the list is pretty short for my tastes. My play style leans more toward expanded skill options, but I know plenty of folks that love shorter lists. I do like the ones that have been included. It feels like the vast majority of the bases have been covered with what has been provided.
Skill checks and conflict resolution are great and incredibly easy. This appears to be a solid, balanced, easy-to-learn, and fun-to-run system. While I’ve not had a chance to bring it to my gaming group, I could see this running smoothing for new and experienced gamers.
Score: 5 out of 5
I usually look at three aspects of the writing when doing a review: rules, world, and adventure(s). The third is sometimes left out if there isn’t an adventure to review.
In this case, the rules lie in another, already published book. I did a good read of the rules in the original Vaesen book, and the prose used in the “instructional reference” portion of the book are incredibly clear and well thought out. I have no complaints or concerns about the rules presentation. Anyone should be able to pick up the original Vaesen book and run with it.
The book I’m actually reviewing is evenly split between world building and mysteries (adventures).
The world building of injecting mythological and folk tale elements into real world late 1800s Britain and Ireland is top notch. The book presents the appropriate mythos, tales, and creatures for the setting. Everything gels together perfectly in the world brought forth as whole cloth.
The mysteries are put forth for the GM in a perfect format. The information goes from high-level to highly-detailed at the right pace and in the right format. GMs of any experience level should be able to run these three mysteries with ease.
Score: 5 out of 5
The book’s layout is great. The pages have two columns of text, which greatly improves readability in all reference, instructional, and RPG books. The PDF I used for the review had black text on a white background, but I suspect it was “off white” and “not quite black” because the contrast was not that harsh on the eyes. This drastically enhanced the length of time I could spend with the text. The typography choices were also clear and easy to read.
If I could describe the presentation in one word, it would be: minimalist. There were no page borders or fancy watermarks/patterns behind the text. I loved this about the book!
Call out boxes were outlined and used a different set of fonts for the header and body text. This made me very aware I was reading a set of “this is very important” text. It’s a subtle mind hack on the reader, but the shift in font and using a call-out border really makes me think about the boxed text differently. Well done on this front.
Great job on letting the content, not the packaging, shine forth!
(Side note: Super High Five to Free League for provided proper bookmarks in the PDF and a hyperlinked index. Not every publisher goes this extra mile for digital consumers, and we greatly appreciate it when publishers do this!)
Score: 4 out of 5
The map in the front of the book of Britain and Ireland is absolutely amazing. It’s a pure piece of gorgeous art that is also extremely useful. I’m highly impressed by the inclusion of roadways, railways, town locations, and other details along the way in a manner that is very pleasing to look at.
The early artwork in the book came with the impression they were prints made from a woodcarving or other etching process. I loved the esthetic of these wood carvings, but they quickly gave way to acrylic paint styles.
Each piece of art was well done, captured the essence of the section it was in, and caught the eye. The artworks’ colorings were muted and morose, but that fit the theme of the book exceptionally well.
My only complaint here is that the woodcarvings were more evocative than the acrylic paint styles. I wished all of the artwork had settled on a single style of presentation and stuck with it.
Score: 3 out of 5
- Proper PDF Bookmarks
- Hyperlinked Page Numbers
- Evocative Art
- Handouts for the Included Mysteries (Adventures)
- Great World Building Without Going Too Deep
- Exceptional Maps
- Great Mysteries (Three of Them!)
- The Prose was a Feast for the Imagination
Overall Score: 24 out of 25
I love what has been done with this expansion to the original Vaesen book. I’ve always been attracted to the true Norse mythos and stories as much as the next mythology nerd, but my ancestral roots lie in Ireland and Germany. Having a book of dark mythology role playing in Britain and Ireland is right up my alley. I had a good time reading the provided PDFs, and wish everyone involved in this (ongoing?) series all the best.
Thanks to Free League Publishing and Graeme Davis for making this book and allowing me to review it. I’ll close out by putting in an official request for the next Vaesen book: Please cover Germany in the 1800s next. Thank you.
SPECIAL NOTE: I was given a preview copy of the PDF by the publisher for the purposes of this review.