Raiders of the Serpent’s Sea: Player’s Guide By Arcanum Worlds/Chaosium, Price: FREE!, Website
Review by Seth Stauffer
After Greek Mythology, the Norse gods are probably one of the most well-known pantheons in human history. Of course, that includes the real-world history of northern European countries such as Sweden or Norway, and by extension, the Vikings All of this makes compelling material available to people seeking inspiration for their own games. With that in mind, Raiders of the Serpent Sea by Arcanum Press is a Nose-inspired 5e compatible mission that has a free player’s guide available now. What does that free player’s guide offer to the Norse-lore curious gamer?
To begin with, a decent amount of content is available. There’s a history of the setting called Grimnir, including world maps. Additionally, there are character options such as class archetypes for Rangers, Wizards, and Bards (oh my!), new playable races (Wicker and Tallfolk), and even more beyond that. It would be entirely conceivable to think that this could become a resource in and of itself for people that wanted to make use of the world but didn’t want to commit to a larger campaign.
One observation though, Arcanum probably could have strayed a bit further from the source material to craft this world. It can be tough when borrowing from actual mythology and folklore, and it can be a fine line between determining too much and not enough of the actual lore. Players need something they can immediately relate to avoid reinventing the wheel. That being said, Arcanum could have at least tried changing the names such as of the gods they were referencing, such as Yoten and Hel. The cool, almost post-apocalyptic approach to the story is fun, but it’s too obvious where the original ideas came from. The setting and world are solid, but feel a bit less innovative than they could have been.
For a free product, the Raiders of the Serpent Sea is fairly substantial. It’s something a DM for the 5e game could pick up and use for a campaign. There’s a lot of new stuff, but also some stuff that won’t look new at all. If you want to add a little Norse flavour to your campaign without drinking grog out of an animal’s horn, this could be a way to do it.