Forbidden Lands by Free League Publishing Worldwide Release

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Enjoy the chaotic, the grim yet heroic world of settings such as Conan the Barbarian, John Carter of Mars, or Fire and Ice? What about iconic settings like Dark Sun or Mad Max but with a fantasy twist to do them? What about Netflix’s the Dragon Prince or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe? Strap on your raider’s mask, delve for lost and forgotten treasures from a bygone age and face harrowing adventures in Free League Publishing’s Forbidden Lands, released today for worldwide distribution.

Check out their YouTube trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgpOkhsvPvM

Forbidden Lands is a grimdark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game with a detailed history that provides many legends, secrets, and mysteries for players to find and solve. Players will assume roles of the many possible races and creatures that have endured in the Forbidden Lands since the creation of the Iron Lock. Character creation is something that can be a personal choice or randomly generated by dice rolls. Most of the major dice rolls utilize a d3, 2d6, and d66 with the occasional d8, d10, and d12. The d66 is a unique percentile dice, with one die referring to the tens place and the other representing the single digits with results ranging from 11 to 66 as outcomes.

Set in a fantasy world, where elves, dwarves, and humans lived separated by a mountain range called the Divide. After several centuries of peace, war erupted, a powerful sorcerer took over the region north of the Divide, demons poured through a mystical gate which made the area inhospitable. An effort to create a great wall severed the lands to the north from the south which became known as the Forbidden Lands. Travel was made impossible due to the Blood Mist for nearly three centuries until it inexplicably vanished. New opportunities for exploration and conquest have risen, with many secrets of the land hidden, waiting to be discovered. Additionally, the Gamemaster’s Guide provides tips and details about incorporating the game’s mechanics and sandbox campaign setting into your settings and games.

 

The Forbidden Lands boxed set, includes the Player’s and Gamemaster’s Guides


Each character has four primary attributes: Strength, Agility, Wits, and Empathy. A character’s race or “kin” and profession affect their attributes, while each kin entry provides suggested professions they are not necessarily bound to them. A character’s Dark Secret and relationship with the other player characters are essential to developing the bonds of the party to adventure together. There are some remarkably familiar aspects of character creation akin to Cubicle 7’s Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition except minus the percentile statistics and percentile dice though I found Forbidden Lands to be quick and painless with smaller numbers for attribute and skill assignment.  

The game mechanics can be best described as an admixture of d6 dice pools determined by attribute, skills, and gear. Success is defined by having at least dice result with a 6, while failure is any result with no 6’s rolled. There is a mechanic to allow a character to “push” their rolls, which offers a reroll of any dice that did not come up as a 6 or any 1’s. Any 1’s that appear after pushing your dice can result in wounds, exhaustion, or damaged gear depending on the dice category. It’s heavily suggested that you have three colored sets of d6s, along with a d8, d10, and a d12. The latter group of dice is reserved for magical artifacts that players will come across during their adventures, which are rolled along the gear dice.
Characters in the Forbidden Lands have a varied set of tricks and abilities which are defined as talents, separated by three categories: kin talents, profession talents, and general talents. Kin and Profession talents are more potent than general talents and require the expenditure of Willpower to activate. Willpower is generated whenever a player character pushes on their dice rolls. Each kin has a primary talent, then each profession has a trio of talents to select, and then a more extensive list of general talents. Players may invest ranks into some of these talents to unlock additional features, up to a maximum of rank 3. Casting spells in Forbidden Lands will always happen but require expending Willpower which may have the chance to either overcharge the spell, or the player suffers a magical mishap. Ultimately, the hope is that players will incur riches, boons, reputation, and influence to establish their own stronghold. After all, while the nomadic adventurer’s life can be glamorous, having a safe place to return after an excursion is always lovely.

Many creatures, dangers, and mysteries wait in the Forbidden Lands

The setting brings many unexplored horizons, taking less the role of heroes and more of individuals thriving under a dark regime. While delving into the material, the inclusion of additional legends and backstories for the players during character creation enrich the experience and the setting.  Especially if the group decides to go the alternative character creation route which includes a randomized generation of race and professions. This is a game about thriving in a bleak existence where evil reigns but vast treasures from centuries ago lie hidden and forgotten by time. When players tally experience for their characters, it’s in the form of a questionnaire (you’ll find this familiar with games like Tales from the Loop), as the premise stems from the idea of the characters learning from their adventures to become wiser and smarter. Additionally, your character’s pride, dark secrets, and relationships are free to be changed across gameplay which provides a profound metaphor on the nature of growth and development.

You can find Free League Publishing’s Forbidden Lands in their storefront here: http://frialigan.se/en/store/?collection_id=84541866032

Additionally, Free League Publishing also launched the Raven’s Purge Campaign Book which as an epic campaign module for Forbidden Lands that can have a profound influence over the region. Unlike traditional story modules, there are no clear objectives but plenty of material for legends, locales, and individuals to interact.

Role Book: The Face

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Face
Whether by empathy or deceit, by rhetorical flourish or astounding beauty, charismatic characters excel at steering social interactions in their favour. If you’re playing an even remotely charismatic character here are some things to consider beyond your shining persuasive dialogues.

Background Considerations
Contacts, Contacts, Contacts
As a face, you rarely visit a location without leaving an impression on someone. When adventuring in places you’ve been to before, be sure to discuss your potential contacts with your GM. While NPC contacts aren’t always going to have direct insights about your current objectives, they still function as a valuable barometer to your game’s setting and goings-on.

Spurned
Every once and a while, even the most charismatic characters will slip up. More often than not, these unsuccessful attempts to persuade/deceive will leave NPCs frustrated, suspicious, or outright offended. As a counterpoint to your address-book of positive contacts, provide your GM with a few spurned NPCs to keep those return trips to familiar towns and ports just a little bit more interesting.

Tactical Considerations
De-Escalation
If things haven’t become too heated, why not try keeping some confrontations from coming to blows? See if you can convince your enemies (and sometimes your fellow PCs!) that, for whatever reason, it might NOT be in their best interests to engage in a bloody combat. Keep in mind that the viability of this sort of interaction will depend on the circumstances of the given combat encounter. But hey, if those bandits are underpaid or that guardian ogre is intellectually underdeveloped, you just might be able to save your party heaps of time and trouble!

Dramatic Feint
Sometimes explosive combats can’t be avoided. If you happen to find yourself unsure of your character’s odds of making it out alive, a dramatic feint may just save your skin! Remember, either by deception or charm people are inclined to believe what you offer them at face value. So why not collapse into a heap after a glancing blow to deter your enemies from wasting any more time on actually beating you to a pulp? It isn’t advisable, however, to trust this tactic more than once against the same foes.

Story Considerations
Morale Boost: Adventuring is tough – physically, emotional, psychologically. Sometimes it can go a long way to turn your convincing demeanor towards your friends when things get heavy. This could equally be listed as a tactical consideration, but since it can be just as important at any given moment in an adventure, we’ve kept it down here. Morale boosts don’t need to be measured mechanically to be valuable, unless your GM is already tracking morale in that way (in which case, don’t stop sweet-talking!).

Social Barometer: Even if you’re not perceptive enough to be tracking every nuance in every interaction, it’s always in your best interest to try and pick up what you can. When trying to steer a social interaction, you’ll want to be as informed as possible so as to not risk derailing it entirely! Ask your GM questions regularly about any cues NPCs are giving off – shifts in tone of voice, body language, or mannerisms – so as to keep your guiding influence as unobtrusive as possible.

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage Dealer; The Tank; The Skill-Monkey; and The Textbook!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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Role Book: The Textbook

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Textbook
Let the hot-shots and bruisers say what they want, NONE of them has ever stepped outside the wire without the right intel (at least, none of the smart ones). As a Textbook Character, you know a lot of stuff and this makes you an invaluable member to any band of adventurers who doesn’t already know everything there is to know about the places they’re headed (which is none of them). Here are some ideas to add depth to and get more mileage from your character’s bookish side!

Background Considerations
Academic or Experiential
Not all learned characters spend time in libraries or academies. Decide whether your character accumulated the bulk of their knowledge in an academic environment or through a more experiential approach. If going with the former, give your character a strong connection to a particular school or institution and one or two prominent NPCs from their studies – fellow students, professors, groundskeepers etc.. As an experiential learner, your character will have a stronger connection to a broader region or landscape wherein they went about gathering their knowledge first hand.

Tactical Considerations
Know My Enemy
A Sullarian ground wurm’s tail-end has a sheathed stinger almost an inch thick; nocturnal swamp hags are known to disguise themselves as lost children to lure in victims deeper into the bogs; the Fifth Fleet has a reputation for being the most ruthless and trigger-happy unit in the Alliance Orbital Security Command; Etc.. As a knowledgeable character, always ask your GM what you might know about your foes! Being able to recall or identify even the smallest of details about potential enemies, their abilities, or their habits can more than make the difference between a reasonably safe scuffle and a devastating fight for survival.

Know My Environment
Short of hiring a local professional to guide your group through the perils of every unique environment they enter, having a well-read companion can often be the best protection against an unexpected disaster. When entering a new tavern, town, province, country, or planet, be sure to ask your GM about things like the local fauna, terrain, climate, cultural practices, prominent figures, and any other major features from that area that you might have come across in your studies.

Story Considerations
Research Withdrawals/Deposits
By whatever method works best for you, you’re an avid learner, and that doesn’t stop just because you’ve started this whole adventuring thing. Whenever you get the chance, stop in at local libraries, archives, or infochants to see what you can dig up about the current milieu or your present objectives – after all, it’ll take you far less time than your companions to land on something useful! Similarly, every time you come back from periods of exploring relatively unpopulated regions, consider sharing (or selling!) any new information you’ve gathered to those same sources!

Data-Diplomacy
Sometimes a well-placed fact can trump even the most persuasive or intimidating tone, diction, and body-language. When engaged in social interactions with NPCs, consider the limits of their knowledge on current/local issues and where their motivations and loyalties lie. Peripheral figures often react strongly to secrets or details about major persons/ events, and so these can often be quite effective means to win over or intimidate tight-lipped NPCs.

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage DealerThe TankThe Skill-Monkey; and The Face!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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Role Book: The Skill-Monkey

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Skill-Monkey
Anyone who’s eaten enough pot-roasts can break down a door, but it takes years to master the art of lock-picking. Similarly, no amount of flexing your brain-pan will render streams of computer code or a malfunctioning ion-blaster comprehensible to untrained eyes. Short of adventuring through absolute wilderness, all parties understand the value of bringing along some form of skilled technician – and even those outland wayfarers need a pilot to get out into the wastes! Here are some different ways to think about characters with trained skills.

Background Considerations
Tutor
Complex skills like decrypting code, picking locks, setting traps, or piloting starcraft are extremely difficult to learn in a vacuum. Often, this means you will have received some form of tutelage from a skilled instructor. Whether this mentor provided you with only the basics at the start of your skills training or was someone you sought out at a later stage for higher-level mastery, your refined aptitudes provide your character with his/her own built-in NPC. NPCs are a great way to root your character in the world, provide an ally/asset and sometimes a compelling complication!

Skilled Employment
Skilled workers are always in high demand. As a result, you will have likely held a number of jobs with employers who valued you somewhat more highly than the average labourer. This will give your character some form of social and possibly commercial connection to a local business, politician, agency, or institution. Discuss past employers with your GM to determine what kind of favours you may be able to call in or any non-public information you may have picked up on the job.

Tactical Considerations
Environmental Interactions
While not all interactions with a combat environment will require unique skill sets, some of the most important ones will. Whenever your party needs to activate/deactivate a device, open/close blast doors, steal a talisman, or just climb the curtain to drop the chandelier, you’ll likely be called up to bat. When entering combat, be sure to survey the field for additional objectives or anything unique that could help turn the tide of battle apart from simply whacking your opponents (the rest of your party will likely have that covered).

Storm Considerations
Quick Cash
As a character with specialized skills, you should be able to make some extra cash on the side. An evening singing in the local tavern, a few hours translating at the local archives, and repairing an engine at a chop-shop are all quick ways to earn extra spending money when passing through populated areas. If nothing else, skilled characters (when not under tight deadlines) almost always have the option to earn their room and board rather than pay for it. And who knows, you may even pick up some local rumours or make a new friend along the way too!

Bodily Cautions
Most tactile skills rely equally upon physical training as they do upon conceptual mastery. As a result, many skilled characters are likely to be more protective of their skills-affiliated body parts than most. Consider whether your character would be extra sensitive about taking care of their hands, fingers, eyes, or vocal chords. After all, a lingering physical injury can bring about debilitating levels of skill-fade or even outright inability!

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage DealerThe Tank;  The Textbook; and The Face!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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Role Book: The Tank

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Tank
Whether your character is particularly hard to kill or just not especially concerned with the prospect of dying, being able to take a vicious beating can be invaluable to your fellow adventurers. Don’t worry though, there’s more to playing a Tank character than simply being a punching bag!

Background Considerations
Fearless Origin
What is it that keeps your character relatively un-bothered by physical harm? Is it a deep-rooted pessimism triggered by a tragic event, an accreted stoic disposition, or maybe just plain recklessness. Either way, the majority of people (adventurers included) have a healthy dislike for pain and injury, so it’s worth considering why your character is at least less-than-bothered by the sight of his/her own blood.

Fallen NPC
However brave or brash you may be, you can’t be everywhere at once. If you’ve spent much of your life diving in front of punches, bar stools, or blaster-fire, there has likely been a time or two when an errant attack struck home just over your shoulder. Give yourself an NPC who was killed or seriously wounded while in a scrap with you – a friend, employer, bystander, or family member of one such – and decide how the two of you feel about their injury. Do you feel ashamed or guilty for their loss or are you unaffected by it, and do they begrudge you for what happened?

Tactical Considerations
Marching Order
Contrary to the old adage, it can often be wiser to lead your spear with the thickest/densest tip rather than the sharpest. While adventuring, always consider your party’s marching order and try to keep yourself placed between your allies and the most immediate danger. If venturing into unknown caves or woods, put yourself closer to the front; if being pursued by trigger-happy bandits on horseback, maybe ride further back.

Biggest Baddy
While it may go without saying, it can’t be left unsaid: every ounce of hurt you take upon yourself keeps your companions alive that much longer. One of the biggest roles you can play in combat is soaking up extra stabs/shots/bashes so your friends don’t have to. Try to physically impose yourself on the biggest threat early and, if they try to disengage, shout all manner of foul dwarven curse at their backside to redirect their attention!

Story Considerations
Storied Scars
Ya, it’s safe to say that you’ve got a few…More than just grisly conversation starters, these storied scars can also serve as rough a Baedeker Guide for common wounds – that bump under your ribs is a daily reminder to never to fully cover a sucking chest wound from a gun-shot! Having seen first hand and recovered from more than a few serious injuries, it’s not unreasonable for your character to have some basic familiarity with common first aid treatments. Ask your GM about gaining some partial first aid proficiency, perhaps limited to a small list of wound types you’ve suffered most often.

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Damage Dealer; The Skill-Monkey; The Textbook; and The Face!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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Role Book: Damage Dealer

PC Role Book
Your character in a tabletop rpg can be usefully understood in terms of certain roles. This Role Book series explores some of the ways these various roles can help enrich the roleplaying of your character – things like background, tactics, and story. These posts will help both the single-role min/maxer get more mileage out of their abilities as well as help the multi-faceted PC more effectively don a variety of hats.

The Damage Dealer
Whether you’re swinging a battle-axe or a billy-club, firing a ray of frost or a plasma-rifle, as a damage dealer you’re exceptionally good at dishing out hurt. While the focused damage dealer is often criticized for being one of the more 1-dimensional members of a party, this guide will help you highlight the depth and intricacy of your warrior, proving that there is always more behind the mean!

Background Considerations
Tutor
Martial skills rarely develop in a vacuum, especially when they require competence in any specialized weapons or equipment. Often, this means you will have received some form of basic instruction from an already skilled combatant. Unless you acquired all of your combat aptitude piecemeal in the wild/on the run, your martial skill can provide your character with his/her own built-in NPC. NPCs are a great way to root your character in the world, provide an ally/asset and sometimes a compelling complication!

Stomping Ground
Tutored or not, every fighter needs to hone and develop his/her craft. This means you’ll have a region or area that you’ve spent some time in and have a developed relationship with. This can be as narrow as one particular patch of woods or as broad as a string of fringe planets. As an alternative, the travelling fighter might have a more nuanced political opinion from his/her exposure to various places. Either way, your fighter will have his/her own territorial views informed by their background.

Tactical Considerations
Terrain
As the player who’s going to be doing the most wading-in or utilizing the most cover, be sure to know your terrain. While the GM may only give you certain details, make sure to ask about each of the following: exits, hazards, obstacles/cover, difficult terrain, levels. Knowing what you (and the enemies) have to work with can make the difference between an easy encounter and a fatal one!

Morale
Most enemies – like PCs – would prefer any alternative to the fatal mop-up. Since not all GMs incorporate morale into every combat, be sure to prompt them: any time you manage to dish out a torrent of pain, ask how the baddies are doing. Drop one of their commanders? Ask about the minions. While it’s not always going to be a slam dunk, the Damage Dealer’s capacity to draw blood can have significant impacts on a battle beyond the awesomely cinematic.

Size-Up
Some game-systems already have a built-in mechanic for sizing up an enemy, but this is a concept all Damage Dealers should discuss with their GMs. While you shouldn’t expect to be given a stat-block for each of your foes, there could be grounds for granting small bonuses when your character has the chance to witness an enemy combatant in combat who utilizes weapons/equipment/maneuvers that you are familiar with. While you’ll need to work out the rules and parameters for this with your GM, the reward can be well worth taking the time to discuss it!

Story Considerations
Threshold
The majority of damage dealers are very familiar with taking lives. It’s only a small portion of them, however, who do so indiscriminately. Make sure you know what your character’s execution threshold is – what rules, if any, he/she adheres to when it comes to the killing blow. This will add further depth to your role and be a significant determining factor in how you roleplay the end (and sometimes the beginning) of every combat.

Keep Busy
This is a staple for all character roles. Just because you can’t sweet-talk or do maths, doesn’t mean you are invisible. Something as simple as, “I’m going to keep an eye out to the rear…” keeps your character engaged with the situation, even if they aren’t the one picking the lock. Everything your character does makes the story that much more rich, so always keep busy! “Thog pulls out a hunk of cheese and sits down,” can lead brilliantly into “Thog flings his cheese to the ground and charges the goblin with curds in his beard.”

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series: The Tank; The Skill-Monkey; The Textbook; and The Face!

Image © 2015 Paizo Inc.

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