We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Vrahode on our blog, podcast, and social media. Now, I feel like it is important to take a few minutes to explain to potential backers what Vrahode is and what it isn’t. I don’t want someone to back us only to find out they’ve wasted their money on something they don’t like or that their gaming group wouldn’t embrace!
How Vrahode got started
My name is Jeff Irving the designer of the Vrahode Game System. I first came up with the world of Vrahode back when I was a graphic design and journalism student at Ball State University (Muncie, IN) in 1990.
I initially wanted to write the story of Vrahode into three novels. Though I am a fair writer, the idea of sitting at a computer long enough to write the three novels needed to get the whole story out was something that just didn’t sound fun to me, especially at my age. (I’m not exactly in college any more.)
As a lifelong gamer, voracious reader of fantasy novels, and an entrepreneur, I decided to pivot! I decided that if Vrahode was ever to see the light of day, I would prefer that it do so as an interactive board game series. My biggest hope is to play the game with others and have them ask me about Vrahode and be able to answer those questions as the resident sage!
So I decided to make the sharing of Vrahode with the world a group art project, not just in terms of visuals but also in terms of storytelling! I began to construct a ruleset for the series first and enlisted much-needed help from the great writer, Shawn A. Dressler.
It was difficult to give up control of the narrative that I had bouncing around in my head for so many years, but I was painfully aware that I needed to do it. It was the best way to make the story the best it could be for our game series.
Around the same time, I started building a strong list of artists from around the world. I chose these artists because I felt they could bring the world of Vrahode to life in the style and feel that matched what was for so long only in my head.
At this, I feel like I have been very successful at that part of my job. I absolutely love being an art director and it feels natural since I have a clear vision of the world I want to create.
So…what is Vrahode?
Put simply it is the game (series and system) that I always wanted to play! If you are a gamer, I know you know what I am talking about. When you play games, you always compare them to some ideal experience you wish you could have had. Oftentimes games are just too fiddly, complex, simple, limited, or long-to-play to be that “perfect game” for you.
I asked myself if I could create that “perfect game.” What would that look like for me?
In order to make Vrahode that “perfect game,” I listed the goals that I needed to achieve in order to deliver on that promise for myself and prospective backers. Here are the main ones:
- Easy to learn
- Easy to teach
- Rich but not complex
- Numerous play modes (campaign, medium-length quest chains, one-offs, solo play)
- Effective scaling based on player counts
- Great artwork
- Great writing
- Must contain amazing dashboards to do the heavy lifting and keep the table clean
- Must have a terrain system that offers something different and special to the genre
- A compelling and immersive world
- Consequential upgrades
- Minimal fiddliness and clutter on the table
- Maximized replayability
- A system that invites content creators and players to create their own quests, heroes, etc.
- Varied styles of play within the game to create various textures depending on where in the world you are or what you are doing
- A logical and simple rationale to the world and its inhabitants that increases immersion
- Minimal dice chucking
- Minimal risk mitigation
- A higher bar on “failing forward” especially on campaign play!
- No cryptic icons
- Intuitive card design
- An ethos of erring on the side of faster play and simplicity and away from realism and tactical depth that bog down play
- A consistently high challenge level
- Multiple enemy types (flesh and blood, the world and the heroes’ inventories) so that it feels like an adventure/dungeon crawl/survival experience
What is Vrahode NOT?
I don’t like heavy rules and I don’t like games that are hard to learn or teach. I also don’t like games that are so bogged down in realism or tactical depth that they aren’t fun.
Maybe that is exactly what you seek, and if so, Vrahode is likely not going to be for you, at least not at first.
But don’t just write us off! Given a chance, we think the system will win you over to a faster, lighter, easier style of gameplay. Think something like a richer version of HeroQuest, rather than a Gloomhaven clone.