A downloadable adventure game

Buy Now£10.00 GBP or more

Runecairn: Wardensaga is now available in hardcover and softcover from Exalted Funeral


In a long-forgotten age, a raging war shattered and devastated the worlds of gods and men. Now green life blooms amidst the ruins of the lost worlds. Wondrous and terrible beings roam the Nine Realms. Civilisation stumbles forward, fresh and reaching.

Fate carves the skein anew but there are loose threads, lost long ago in the wars, with no place in the tapestry. These threads must seek the fire within and weave their own path.

Strap on your bearded axe and linden wood shield, delve into the forsaken barrow and cleanse the draugr within. They will overhwhelm you at first so prepare to die. But when you wake up at the bonfire, you'll know what to expect for your next attempt. Parry their attacks, disarm them, and hack them to pieces. Defeat the mad jotunn within and claim the soul remnant they protect.

Death is not the end.

What is Runecairn: Wardensaga?

Runecairn is a Soulslike Norse fantasy RPG by Colin Le Sueur for 1-3 players. Character creation is quick and intuitive, dynamic combat is intense and reactive. Wardensaga combines the Runecairn: Core Rules, introductory dungeon crawl adventure Beneath the Broken Sword, and newly introduced Advanced Rules in an 84-page deluxe hardcover edition with a cover from ground-breaking artist CROM. Runecairn: Wardensaga is published by Exalted Funeral and is available in hardcover and softcover.

Wardensaga Features:

  • Set in a Norse fantasy world some time after Ragnarok
  • Core gameplay designed for 2 players, one Warden and one Adventurer
  • Streamlined d20 roll-under rules based on Cairn, Into the Odd, and Knave
  • Soulslike mechanics such as resurrecting at bonfires, respawning monsters, and dynamic combat
  • Quickstart dungeon crawl adventure Beneath the Broken Sword, perfect for new players
  • 4 core starting classes: Warrior, Scout, Seer, Skald
  • 2 new advanced classes: Berserkr, Pyre
  • New options for solo play with a rune-based oracle
  • New random delve generator for creating Norse dungeons
  • New options for 3 or more players with summoned allies (jolly cooperation!) and invasions

Links

Social Media Links

You can find Colin (@ByOdinsBeardRPG) on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Or you can find our store at shop.byodinsbeardrpg.com.

Art Assets

The primary art & promotional assets for Runecairn: Wardensaga can be found here.

Team Members

Colin Le Sueur (@byodinsbeardrpg) - Writer/Illustrator/Designer

CROM (@bitsofcrom) - Cover Illustrator

Jonus Lau Markussen - Viking Age Illustrations

From Colin

Runecairn started as the kernel of an idea: could I turn Dark Souls into a TTRPG? After early tests with different systems and approaches, I had a rickety skeleton. I just needed some Norse magic to bring it to life!

Combining Norse fantasy and Dark Souls was the key combination I'd been searching for. Cairn is an efficient and streamlined system built for hacking and it sings with additional mechanics like weapon abilities and item as class. As the game developed, I realised it worked best when played with just two players, to allow the Adventurer to get closer to a Soulslike experience.

The response to Runecairn has been amazing and I'm so proud of how far this little game has come in the last year.

What People Are Saying

Chris McDowall (@Bastionland), designer and creator of Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland:

I absolutely love Runecairn! As soon as I read it I wanted to steal its ideas. It changed the way I think about the type of games that the Into the Odd system can run.

Rich August (@RpgAugust), designer and writer at Steamforged Games (Dark Souls: The Roleplaying Game):

Thank you for such an awesome game - I loved reading Runecairn and it’s on my list of 2022 games to get to the table. And the layout is lovely too.

Richard Kelly (@SprintingOwl), designer:

If you're looking for a moderately crunchy duo TRPG, or if you're a fan of Souls games, or if you want to see a stellar adaptation of video game mechanics to tabletop, I would strongly recommend giving Beneath the Broken Sword (and Runecairn) a shot.

Sebrina Calkins (@EntwifeXP), reviewer:

This is a quality game, adapting Cairn to an apocalyptic Norse setting with a greater emphasis on arms, armour and combat without losing the deadly and considered tone of its forebear.

Print

Runecairn: Wardensaga is available in hardcover and softcover exclusively from Exalted Funeral:

https://www.exaltedfuneral.com/products/runecairn-wardensaga-pdf

Updates

Sign up to the By Odin's Beard RPG newsletter for release information and updates:

https://byodinsbeardrpg.com/newsletter

Runecairn Ardent Follower Sale

If you own Runecairn: Core Rules and Beneath the Broken Sword, get 20% off the Runecairn: Wardensaga digital edition.

https://itch.io/s/68419/runecairn-ardent-follower

--

TTRPG icons by Gontijo, released as public domain

Reviews and Actual Plays

Actual Play with Tony from PlusOneExp for Beneath the Broken Sword, the introductory dungeon crawl adventure in Wardensaga:


Review of Wardensaga from Roll 4 Initiative:

Read through and kind words from Chris McDowall, creator of Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland:


Purchase

Buy Now£10.00 GBP or more

In order to download this adventure game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of £10 GBP. You will get access to the following files:

by-odins-beard-rpg_Runecairn_Wardensaga_v1.0.pdf 25 MB
runecairn_character_sheet_fillable_v2.0.pdf 1 MB
runecairn_character_sheet_fillable_v2.1.pdf 1 MB
delve_generator.pdf 1 MB

Community Copies

Support this adventure game at or above a special price point to receive something exclusive.

Donate a Community Copy

For £12 you'll get a copy of Runecairn: Wardensaga AND donate a copy of the game for others to claim.

Community Copy

Claim a free copy of Runecairn: Wardensaga if you're marginalised or in need. In return, please leave a rating as it helps me out enormously!

Development log

Comments

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(+1)

Hey, nice game! This is one of the best OSR, In the Odd inspired RPGs I've ever seen! The combats are so simple and fun at the same time!
 I just got one rule question: When you use a soul to level up, what exactly do you level up and how much does it level up? One point on a stat you wish? Or you level everything at the same time? Shouldn't Resilience get higher too? 

again, amazing game you made!

Hello, thanks!

Levelling up with a Soul allows you to increase 1 ability (STR, DEX, WIT, or SPI) or Vitality (which in turn increases Resilience). Hope this helps!

(+1)

I have a question about the solo delve rules. Once you get your dungeon size to 1, you roll for resolution, note the adjustment depending on if you got a clue or a setback. If I understand correctly, from then on you do a resolution check after each new room. So if I get to +4 Setback, it becomes impossible to roll a clue or the objective? Is this intended?

(+1)

Good question! I’ll update the text to clarify but if you reach +4 Setback, fate acts against you and your objective becomes impossible to reach. You determine what form this takes.

(1 edit) (+1)
Hiya! I've got a few things after going through a bit of the book (reached the combat example section by time of posting). This is coming from someone who's used to reading TTRPG rules like contracts and "omission =/= permission" interpretations so I'm sorry if some of these are dumb!
  1. Say you've got 5 Resilience and take 6 damage. Does an Omen trigger, or no?
  2. Is the amount of actions an average PC gets per round 1 reaction per enemy, a 40 ft. move, *and* an action (i.e. attack)? Have I missed anything? Wording confused me a bit
  3. The font used for the fields of the form filable character sheet (i.e. your character's name, their stats, etc.) is too small! Can I get some help with that? I use Firefox if that happens to matter
  4. Who acts first in a round, the enemy, or the player? How do you determine turn order when playing with more than one Adventurer? I'm guessing that you simply choose which enemy goes first as the GM but can I get confirmation on that?
  5. As a blanket golden rule, do you round up, or round down?
  6. How do you use skills - do they use your action for the round or no? How do you get weapon skills? Do you always have them?
  7. For confirmation, the Charge and Rage skills need the Beaststone/the Berserkr's key item yes?
(+1)

Hi Fred!

  1. Nope, Omens are only triggered if you’re reduced to exactly 0, which should be pretty rare.
  2. That’s right. Reaction, move, action. Or reaction, move, move.
  3. I’ll look into this. A few people have mentioned it but I couldn’t replicate the issue but I’ll dig into Firefox. Thanks!
  4. Adventurers automatically go first unless surprised. All adventurers act simultaneously. If surprised, they need to make a DEX save to act before their opponent. Yeah, the Warden determines which enemy goes first.
  5. Depends on the situation but normally round down (can’t think of too many situations where you’d need to round up or down, honestly).
  6. Using a skill is your action for the round. You get weapon skills by having the weapon. If you no longer have the weapon, you can’t use the skill.
  7. Yup, as above, skills are tied to the items/weapons.
(1 edit) (+1)

Hiya, thanks for the help! I put these in my notes and tried some solo play, and I've got a few more questions if you don't mind!

  1. Are reactions 1/round, i.e., if you use Parry against 1 enemy's attack can you use it on another in the same round? I Parried all 3 attacks in one round and it felt good but if you can actually do that I'm a little worried about the other classes since they don't seem to have something similar.
  2. Is there a distinction between "soul remnants" and "souls" or are they synonymous?
  3. What does this mean? (p. 25, spending souls) "Certain spells or relics can also coalesce soul remnants from imbued souls."
  4. I share a common sentiment in that I'd defo appreciate some more enemies to fight. Do you have any guidelines or pointers for homebrewing a new enemy?
  5. I'm not sure if the book has a way to decide what loot you can find (besides the runes) but say you use a rollable table, how would you weigh Rare items on it?
(1 edit)
  1. You can use as many reactions as you want as there’s normally a trade-off (causes Fatigue or the risk of additional damage).
  2. Soul remnants are physical items and souls are not. Souls are lost at death but soul remnants stay in your inventory.
  3. Transfer souls into soul remnants, ie. make souls physical.
  4. A Runecairn bestiary is in the works, but for now here’s some advice for converting Cairn monsters (https://cairnrpg.com/resources/monsters/):
  • HP -> Resilience Armor -> Defence WIL -> Split between Wits and Spirit, adjusting Wits according to how -cunning/crafty they are and Spirit according to how self-possessed/confident/controlled they are
  • Critical damage -> Dire Strike (with judgment)
  • Speed: start with a base of 40 and adjust according to how fast/slow they are

Yochai Gal has some good advice for converting monsters to Cairn from other systems, the principles apply to Runecairn as well, though not in the exact manner. 5. I’d say rare items should have a 5-10% chance if rolling on a random table.

(+1)

I love this game, and I've played it solo once using the provided adventure. But one thing I'm stuck on is where to place bonfires when using the delve generation mechanics. Do you have a rule of thumb you use (outside the dungeon, then at the midpoint) or is there something obvious I'm missing?

This is a great question! I use the following guidelines:

  • Bonfire at the start of the delve (just outside the first room)
  • Bonfire after every 5 encounters

Thanks!

Awesome, thank you! Excited to take the solo rules for a spin. 

(1 edit) (+1)

Some extremely kind words from Chris McDowall of Bastionland Press, creator of Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland. Thanks Chris!

(+2)

First off, this looks extremely rad and I'm excited to check it out. Secondly, I love the tag icons you have at the top of the page (Solo, Lethal, etc.)—is there a master reference of those available somewhere, or were they created bespoke for this project?

(+2)

Thanks! The icons are from Guilherme Gontijo and are released under public domain.

https://gontijo.itch.io/tabletop-rpg-icon-set

(+1)

thanks so much!

(+1)

For those interested in seeing the Solo Rules in action, check out this series of videos from Stoneaxe Tabletop Gaming!

(+1)

Excellent review from Roll 4 Initiative on YouTube! Ryan really got into character!

(+1)

Last night I ran Beneath the Broken Sword from Runecairn Wardensaga live on Twitch for PlusOneExp!

Includes character creation and the adventure from start to finish.

(+1)

Part 1 of a review from the Talking About Games YouTube channel. Thanks Abraham!

(1 edit) (+1)

Here’s part 2!

And Part 3!

And here’s Part 4!

Part 5 now!

(+1)

Hey, thanks for making this game. Just looking through it and there are zeros/noughts on the character sheet (back of book and the separate form-fillable PDF) which can't be removed. These are in Resilience, Def, and Inventory. Please let me know if there's any possibility of an updated character sheet PDF. Thanks!

(+1)

Hello! I’ve just uploaded a plain version of the PDF rather than the auto-calculating one:

https://byodinsbeardrpg.itch.io/runecairn-wardensaga/devlog/368294/added-plain-paper-character-sheet

Thanks!

(+1)

Ah! Thank you so much.

(+1)

This is so so good! Well done Colin. Solo rules! Lots of tables! Good art! Adventure! its all there

Here’s a video I made earlier with an example of character creation in Runecairn:

(+1)

Thanks a lot for the solo-option; can't play this right now with my group but I wanted to try this ...!!!