First time playing: Vaesen


Sue Savage

I missed the kickstarter for Vaesen, but got in on the pre-order. I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival. Fortunately my Coriolis GM is an even bigger Fria Ligan fan than I am, and has got the beta. Hooray!

Like most Fria Ligan games it uses the Year Zero engine, with a push mechanic that requires you to take a condition to push a roll. It added a little interest to the pushes, thinking about which condition to take and how that affected the interaction.

I haven't seen much of the setting yet, but the combination of urban fantasy and the Victorian era is definitely my jam. We're playing in the 1850s, which is a little earlier than I'm used to in the 19th century, and combined with the fact we're playing in Sweden, that makes for an interestingly novel setting. Doing things like climbing into a sewer in voluminous petticoats while carrying a paraffin lantern certainly gives it a different feel to a modern day game, and having to think about things like trains and telegrams not being available yet distinguishes it from games set in Victorian Britain.

So my initial thoughts are that I'm enjoying both system and setting and am looking forward to seeing more. But there's something else. Something special.

I love life path systems. While there's a lot I complain about in Cyberpunk 2020, I maintain the life path system is absolute gold. So imagine my excitement on learning Vaesen has one too! But the test of a life path system is whether you get an interesting character out at the end of it. So here goes...

I rolled an aristocrat
With a rebellious nature
Who is a bohemian academic
And created an influential piece of work
(At this point I had the choice to be older, which I took)
And was involved in a scandal
(I chose not to age any further)

I picked a motivation, trauma and dark secret (from a choice of three of each) and here she is:

Dr Elin Gregorius comes from a wealthy aristocratic family, and was expected to make a good marriage. She had other ideas. She wanted an education. Folklore became the main focus of her studies, and against all odds she produced work on the myths and legends of Sweden that brought her fame and influence within the academic community.

Then it all started to go wrong. Rumours began to fly; rumours of both immoral conduct and of academic dishonesty. People were casting doubt on whether the work that brought her fame was truly her own. Her attempts to defend herself were hindered by a sudden illness, leaving her suffering with headaches and confusion. The medicines she was prescribed eased the pain but otherwise only seemed to make her worse.

It was by chance that she learned the truth. An overheard conversation told her that one of her colleagues was behind it all. He had been spreading the rumours, while poisoning her with arsenic to destroy her credibility.

Escaping her poisoner, she was able to make an almost full recovery from the effects of the arsenic. What she couldn't recover from was the laudanum addiction that the medicines had given her. All the same, she is now determined to repair her reputation and prove to everyone that she is every bit the academic she was once lauded as.

So yes, it's a good enough life path generator that I've got a complete character with background and motivation with just a few dice rolls and a couple of minutes to fill in the details. Wonderful.

So far Elin hasn't done much beyond completely fail to prevent a library being set on fire, but who knows what will happen next week?

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