As we close in on the launch day for KING BEOWULF kickstarter, let’s talk some basics!
What is KING BEOWULF?
KING BEOWULF is a supplement for BEOWULF Age of Heroes 5e. It provides rules for your characters to step up from being a wandering, monster-slaying Hero to become a Ruler with their own mythic early-medieval kingdom.
It’ll be a hardcover, full colour book, just like BEOWULF Age of Heroes, and The Trials of the Twin Seas. We’re looking at around 176 pages, but it’s very likely to go over that in both production (every single book we’ve ever made has gone over our estimates, and that’s unlikely to change), and if we’re lucky to unlock some stretch goals on the campaign we’ll add more content to it.
There’s a free preview here.
What is BEOWULF Age of Heroes?
BEOWULF Age of Heroes is an ENnie-nominated setting and rules addition for 5e. It presents rules for play with one player and one GM – “duet play” in the half-remembered story-world of the Early Medieval period. It’s a book packed with setting, rules, monsters, generative tables and more! It’s won critical and popular acclaim for its rules additions like the Portent, the Inspiration Pool, Followers and the Alignment Die. Check out the free pdf introductory scenario The Hermit’s Sanctuary here.
Can I use KING BEOWULF for other 5e settings?
Yes! The rules in KING BEOWULF can be used for any setting. There are of course some setting-specific terms used, and we always weave our rules into the setting – in this case the myths and stories of the Early Medieval setting of BEOWULF. Nonetheless, this is easily adapted to suit your chosen setting, and then you’re good to use KB to run a kingdom anywhere. Just like BEOWULF Age of Heroes, it’s a goldmine of ideas. Arguably the main “thing” KING BEOWULF is giving you is the structure and processes to run a kingdom through the year in a way that’s easy and fun to do.
Do I need BEOWULF Age of Heroes to make use of KING BEOWULF?
It would certainly be useful if you want to play in the Age of Heroes, and build up a Hero character in duet play prior to making the switch to Ruler. But if you’re just looking for ideas to mine for your own setting, then there’s plenty here to dig into without BEOWULF Age of Heroes.
Of course we will have a bundle of all the BEOWULF titles available as part of the kickstarter both in print and in PDF. (And we want to warn everyone that mail ordering 3 hardcover books can get quite pricey, so if you’re excited for BEOWULF, consider grabbing the currently released books right now!)
Running a kingdom? Is this going to have a lot of book keeping?
Our primary goals in development were two-fold: to keep book-keeping to a minimum, and to use systems you’re already familiar with. Rather than track massively detailed aspects of a kingdom, we’ve cooked things down to a manageable and flavourful model, which is easy to grasp, and which won’t require you learn a whole new set of rules.
KING BEOWULF presents the idea of your kingdom as a character in its own right. It has a class, ability scores, skills, gains XP, and a new ability score, Prosperity. All of which means you’ll be using rules you’re already familiar with, at an entirely new scale. You’ll be recording some things you go, but no more than your average 5e character.
The process of creating your kingdom takes the form of a special adventure which both fills in your Kingdom sheet, as well as providing the in-game bridge to this new type of play. You’ll play through the process of discovering with what kind of kingdom you’ll start your rule.
Are there mass battle rules?
Yes! With some options on how you choose to tackle battles. By default, you’ll creating the story of the battle with a series of skill checks, leveraging your various advisors and aspects of your kingdom that help you in a battle. There are additionally other options too for more direct combat between kingdoms.
Can we use KING BEOWULF for our multi-player game or is it only for duet play?
You can totally use KING BEOWULF for multiplayer games, and there’s a section in the book about that, just as there is in BEOWULF Age of Heroes. You’ll have several options on how to approach it, whether your players share rulership, or one player is the overall ruler with the others taking prominent roles within the kingdom.
What’s actually in the KING BEOWULF book?
- Founding/inheriting/conquering a kingdom and thereby filling out your Kingdom sheet
- Everything needed to create your Kingdom as a character – classes, levels, XP, skills in the form of advisors and more!
- Building your Meadhall
- Running your kingdom through each year, with four seasonal festivals
- Expanding and developing your kingdom with loads of creative details to describe its nature and improvement
- Things that happen to your kingdom
- Gathering information in the state of the world around your kingdom
- How your neighbours react to your decisions and actions with actions of their own
- Monsters at a scale to truly threaten your kingdom
- Kingdom adventures
Plus lots of advice:
- For GMs and players on making the switch from wandering Hero to Ruler with power and responsibilities.
- Naming your kingdom
- For creating and running kingdom adventures
There’s loads more details to explore – this book has been a long time in development!
What is “a kingdom adventure?”
When you’re playing regular 5e, your character moves through a series of locations and events. With a kingdom adventure, a series of events move through the location of your kingdom. It’s a different way to play and an exciting twist on a regular adventure.
Development of this idea has been a truly fascinating task – taking the norms of a 5e adventure and what your character does, and scaling it up to allow a scenario structure that allows events to move through your kingdom. It’s been really interesting, and we hope you really enjoy reading the results of the develpment process.
If my Hero character becomes a Ruler can I still do regular adventures?
Yes! You can still head out in your ship like you always did. There might be a cost to your kingdom if you’re away too long though!
The book contains a lot of help and guidance about when events require the Kingdom sheet and when your character might step in and take a personal interest, and use their own character sheet. Mostly this is a matter of scale and scope. Some things just can’t be handled by a lone Hero.
How far along is the project in terms of completion?
All the rules and procedures are designed and tested. A large proportion of the final text is written, but not all. We have a lot of art made, but want to make more.
We’re now at the point where it’s time to seek your help finding the rest of the book. As you may have heard, we were hit with some serious setbacks during our last BEOWULF campaign, when all the books for US backers, along with a bunch of other books, were stolen. That’s still being investigated by law enforcement, but it’s been a tough blow to endure. We replaced all the books and resent them to US backers at our own expense. Usually we reinvest everything beyond our wages back into the next book’s development. That’s proved very tough this time around, so we need your help!
When will the book come out?
If we’re lucky enough to fund, we’re aiming to have the PDF done in the first quarter of 2024, to give ourselves plenty of time to finish it and polish it. As ever we want to make a glorious celebration of art and meticulously researched gaming content. So we’re giving ourselves time to do it.
The book will then need to be printed, and hopefully delivered in the first half of 2024. Which sounds like the distant future, but in fact is scarily close!
Helmets shown in the photographs are by the marvellous Wyrmwick Creations. Fuller brooch recreation is by Glitterbeards Viking Crafts.