Every Week It's Wibbley-Wobbley Timey-Wimey Pookie-Reviewery...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Lion After The Serpent

If you were wondering what had become of The Day After Ragnarok, the 2009 Savage Worlds setting created and written by Ken Hite and published by Atomic Overmind Press, then you are not alone. The award-winning post-WW2, post-apocalypse, post-Ragnarok campaign setting, which has since been adapted for use with Hero Games’ Hero Sixth Edition and more recently for use with Evil Hat Games’ Fate Core, has not received the support that it truly deserves. Ideally, that would be a Plot Point campaign, but in the meantime, the setting has been supported with a half dozen ‘One-Sheet’ adventures and three entries in the Serpent Scales: Fragments From The World After The Serpentfall series. To date, these have visited the rise of the Klan in Serpent Scales #1: The New Konfederacy; examined the STEN Gun in Serpent Scales #2: (Happiness is a) Sten Gun; and even gone ashore in Serpent Scales #3: Return to Monster Island. Now there is a fourth entry in the series, one which comes with a little bit of history of its own.

Available for Savage Worlds and Fate Core, Issue #4 in the Serpent Scales: Fragments From The World After The Serpentfall series is The Lion in Fimbulwinter: Sweden After the Serpentfall. It began life as a Ken Hite authored contribution to the Swedish gaming magazine FENIX for its ‘post-holocaust’ issue, and after all, there is no post-holocaust setting like The Day After Ragnarok. Atomic Overmind Press has taken Hite’s original article and developed it into this fourth entry in the Serpent Scales series. It describes the events in the July 1945 Serpent Fall as they fell upon Sweden, taking them up to the current situation in Sweden in 1948.

Of all the countries of Scandinavia, Sweden is the only one to survive nearly intact. To the west, Denmark and Norway took the brunt of the tsunami that flowed east and west in the wake of Jörmungandr’s atomic-fire induced plummet to earth. Sweden could not avoid the earthquakes or the torrential rain that followed, but despite hundreds of thousands that died, Sweden survived as a nation, although a politically unstable one. Placed east of the Serpent Curtain, Sweden is almost but not quite a client state of Moscow, which cannot be said of its neighbours – Norway and Denmark are both People’s Republics garrisoned by Soviet troops, whilst Stalin incorporated Finland into the USSR directly as the Karelo-Finnish SSR. At home, Sweden remains a monarchy although King Gustav VI Adolf or ‘Comrade G’ was forced to retreat from public life by a Communist government that has since been replaced by a left wing alliance that avoids making radical decisions that might break the government and force external intervention…

Meanwhile, the king’s son, Crown Prince Gustav Adolf, has decamped to the once-German island of Heligoland in the North Sea with much of the Swedish Navy and air force, and declared himself the Royal Governor of Heligoland. It has become a major staging post for ships of the British Royal Navy and for refugees getting out of Soviet occupied Germany – whatever their ‘former’ political allegiances. The British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, supports anti-Communist activities in Sweden, the country serving as the perfect jumping off point to get spies through the Serpent Curtain and back out again. This activity includes research into the oldest runic symbols in Europe; the very ones that the Ahnenerbe scholars are said to have used to summon the Midgard Serpent! Monsters are everywhere, just like the rest of the world, whether that be sinuous serpents newly returned to Sweden’s lakes or the trolls and even more fearsome troll wives that do the bidding of their Frost Giant masters.

Just ten pages long, The Lion in Fimbulwinter is a 2.42 Mb, black and white PDF. It not includes a succinctly written, but nevertheless rich description of a country that is rarely visited in gaming. This presents a fraught nation, desperately trying to rebuild following the Serpentfall whilst staving off the seemingly inevitable Soviet annexation. Although it maintains the high quality in terms of content – content that should spark ideas aplenty for the GM – seen in previous The Day After Ragnarok titles, barring a somewhat silly final scenario seed, what The Lion in Fimbulwinter really lacks is ‘the Top Five’ lists begun in The Day After Ragnarock – such as Top Five Places To Stomp Nazis and Top Five Secret Bases. That said, it is a shorter piece than other titles in the series.

What Serpent Scales #4: The Lion in Fimbulwinter – Sweden presents is the Berlin of the post-Ragnarok world. Which is a little odd given that Hite has already described the city of Tehran, as detailed in his Tehran – Nest of Spies, as being Berlin’s equivalent in The Day After Ragnarok setting, it being the closest non-Soviet capital with an accessible border to the Soviet Union. Perhaps the Berlin of the North of the post-Ragnarok world? If there is a thematic similarity, then the flavour and the tone of The Lion in Fimbulwinter are very different, not as exotic, much dryer, even starker, and colder than Tehran – Nest of Spies