Paul StJohn Mackintosh

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A review of Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland

164 pages
Published by Free League (Fria Ligan), 2022

Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland arrives as a welcome, but hardly unexpected, pleasure. The Kickstarter for this supplement blew through its target in just six minutes, and finished over 60 times overfunded, with stretch goal after stretch goal unlocked. Was it worth the wait? Well, Free League is practically a guarantee of quality, and Vaesen is one of the best pedigrees a gamer could wish for. And Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland doesn’t disappoint.

At 164 pages, it’s not the biggest roleplaying supplement you’ll ever see, but it has been produced to the same immaculate standard as the original Vaesen, with similarly superb artwork. Indeed, Johan Egerkrans, whose work inspired the original RPG, is lead artist for this production too. Lead writer is veteran gaming author Graeme Davis, who has been producing one-off creature sheets for Vaesen on DriveThruRPG for ages now, many of them very British. So you’re pretty much guaranteed something of Free League’s usual high quality out of the gate.

This is definitely an expansion supplement: you will need the original Vaesen rules to play the game. (What, you don’t have them already? How could you deprive yourself this way?) What you do get is a framing narrative to situate Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland in the same old-vs-new 19th-century confrontation as in Vaesen’s Scandinavia, a guide to the British Isles of the time (mundane and occult), a society (the Apollonian Society, no less) to provide the same campaign structure as its sister organization in Uppsala, new character archetypes (the Athlete, Entertainer, and Socialite), thirteen new and very folkloric creatures to challenge investigators as well as guidelines on how to adapt existing vaesen to the British setting, and three very extensive scenarios ranging from Wales to Hampstead. As any Vaesen player knows, that should give you 16 new adventures out of the box, with each creature having its usual peculiarities and unique responses to conflict. Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland players will likely have settled down into a long-running campaign before the GameMaster even needs to think of stepping outside the basic book to look up further sources and inspirations in the Bibliography. As with much Vaesen material, my only caveat is that I wish there could have been even more of it, but that’s a good problem for any game to have, and as said, there’s more than enough here to keep a gaming group busy for many sessions on end – well over a year’s worth, if you reckon on one session per week and an average of three sessions per creature or adventure.

Vaesen: Mythic Britain & Ireland is an expansion that the game has been crying out for ever since the original game debuted, taking the Vaesen experience into new and very fertile territory. It maintains all the charm of the original, while tapping into one of the richest and most thoroughly documented pools of folklore on the planet. And in the unlikely event that you ever tire of playing, you can always just sit back and luxuriate in the gorgeous pictures. Highly recommended.

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