The Iron Ring – Can Nordholmia be saved from doom?
Relaxation?, Comfort?, Breathtaking Nature? – Hotell Imperator
Nordholmia is in danger. The farmsteads of the city gets destroyed by an unknown powerful enemy and the mayor turns to the adventurers for help. During the adventure a big conspiracy is expose that could threaten the whole of the Pyri Commonwealth. The Player Characters are confronted with a investigative problem that leads to countless dangers, first in the city of Nordholmia and afterwards at the ancient hotel Imperator. Big skill is required by the players in addition they should have experienced player characters.
– Backblur from the 1985 scenario Järnringen (the Iron Ring) for the Swedish Roleplaying Game Mutant!
This was the first and perhaps the best of the adventures produced for the Swedish Mutant 1984 RPG (apart from the starter adventure in the box). The “Grey Death” adventures (I wrote about part 1 of those in here) were more epic but I think this is the one in the whole that captures what I feel was the essence – maybe because it came first? It was also funny that the scenario took place in the county in Sweden where I was born – Dalarna. I have written about this RPG in an earlier blog (link here). But in summary:
Basically following a deadly and incurable epidemic caused by samples from a mission to Mars the human civilization collapses. The survivors build enclaves and start experimentation on humans and animals, in effect creating mutants, to see how they will survive outside the enclaves. However conflicts arises between the enclaves and it leads to a nuclear war sealing the fate of the world.
Fast forward a few hundred years and the from the ashes new civilizations start to emerge with mutated humans and animals, some “pure” humans and even some mutants with mental powers. There are remnants of the old worlds scattered all around, and some androids/robots from the old days are still around. In addition there are certain areas where the effect of radiation has left some strange effects on the flora and fauna and these areas are called “Forbidden Zones”.
The game is set in Scandinavia, but not as we know it today, and the general level of new technology is equivalent to that of the 19th Century, give or take. There are steam engines, muskets and some emerging rifle like weapons, heliogram for communication, etc. Some of the old technology has survived but is rare.
The Prologue – The Postman dies once, but slowly…
Although the cover of the adventure is intriguing, not so much in what is happening on stage but more about what is going on in the crowd. But there is one picture that I think stands out in the scenario and it is the one that illustrates the opening scene.
The fog is dense around you. From a distance you can hear the howling from wild beasts prowling in the unknown. But it is not your main bother as you are fully occupied trying to figure out who really suggested that you would get out on the Moor. It has been raining all night and your are thoroughly wet and miserable. It is now the third day that you have been straying around the wilderness between Hardin and Torsvad. Comments like “Shortcut to Torsvad, my arse!”, “Are you happy now, when we have no food left!”, “I was against this from the start!”, “It was you that ….”, has been flying around during the last few days.
Suddenly you hear the sound of hooves approaching. A lonely rider seems to pass by at a distance in full gallop. The fog starts clearing and you can see the silhouette of some crags on the left. You realise that the rider must have passed behind them.
The silence is interrupted by a scream followed by two loud bangs of musket fire and another scream. From the crags a saddled horse without rider storms against you. When you carefully advance you hear voices and can soon see to whom they belong.
On the ground behind a large stone a man is lying down and desperately holds a shoulder bag against his chest. He holds his other hand against his bleeding shoulder and next to him lies a smoking pistol. Around him stands four creatures that all are directing their weapons against him. The leader seems to be a giant mutated moose and the other three are mutated lynx. The Moose grins against the man and asks him to hand over the bag. When the man refuses he aims his musket towards him to end his life.
Roughly translated from the Järnringen scenario book (page 3, this is from the introduction to the players). The picture is drawn by Peter Johnsson. I love this picture especially the “Bobby on the Beat” Hat! Proper “In Medias Res” – straight into action. It is how we liked to roll.
There is limited information in the scenario about these four creatures, apart from the information above and some mediocre game stats (they were not suppose to give our character any major problems), so in normal fashion I have fleshed out these characters a little bit in my take on them – given them some names (with my apologies to Alexander Dumas), sketched out a little bit of a background story and tried to find a suitable way of representing them on the table in miniature form.
As always these are not artistic master pieces, but I do hope a sufficient representation to give some kind of homage to an old Swedish rpg from the 1980s that I have so many fond memories of.
The Three Lynxeteers – Arameow, Purrtos and Arthiss
These henchmen (or should that be henchlynx) are brothers and were born in the outskirts of Hardin to a very large and poor family. From an early age they had to fend for themselves and became reasonably successful in picking pockets and locks, and other illegal means, to make ends meet.
On the day of the annual celebrations in Hardin commemorating the killing of the Hound of Tandalsåsen (Sorry Lovecraft!), the brothers decided to pay a visit to the Mayors house. As was custom the Mayor, Signe Frihamn, held a speech and attended the celebrations with her family – the house would be empty – they thought.
On the morning of the festivities Signe’s husband Johannes, the previous Police Chief of the county, had woken up with a very bad back pain and had decided to stay home. The Couple had given their servants the weekend off to go and visits some relatives in Hindenburg. When the trio entered the house Johannes heard them from upstairs and armed with a rifle he went to investigate. She startled Arameow and Purrtos as they were rummaging through his belongings and held them at gunpoint. Arthiss, being elsewhere in the house, sneaked up on him and drew his knife and stabbed him in the back. The trio quickly took what they could, including Johannes trademark black helmet, and fled the house.
When Signe returned Johannes was still barely alive, but in his dying breath identified his assailants. A manhunt ensued and the brothers took their refuge in the Moorlands outside Hardin. Here they met a mutated Moose (Dart an Älg, see below) who realised that the three brothers could be useful for his needs – although the brothers thinks he has joined their gang. They are now operating as highwaymen and hiding from the law.
They recently robbed a short noble man who had a travelling wardrobe with a large number of coats – seemed a shame not putting them to use (this is of course to justify the choice of models and their clothing below).
The helmet worn by the constables of the representatives of law and order in Pyrisamfundet is based on a so called Custodian Helmet used by the police force of the former countries of England and Wales. The design was based on the Prussian pickelhaube and was used by constables and sergeants.
Signe and Johannes Frihamn were seasoned adventurers and apart from being the slayers of the Hound of Tandalsåsen in 86 they had travelled wide and far. They had worked as troubleshooters and mercenaries for the King of the Scottish Badgers and travelled in other parts of the Islands known as Ängland (meadowland, due to the green and pleasantness of the flora and fauna). In the forbidden zone of Batteracid (in former London) he had found his trademark black helmet, that he had worn since then. When he later became responsible for law and order for Hardin he had some copies being made for his officers – the helmet was now standard all throughout Pyrisamfundet, and some versions has even been developed for civilian use.
[Yes, this allows me to use Victorian Bobbies to represent the law and order in my version of Pyrisamfundet]
Modelling the Brothers
I ordered a few cat people form Black Cat bases (link here), and did a few modifications, like adding a policemans hat (you can buy some heads with Police hats from Crooked Dice, here) and weapons (I got some flintloque pistols etc from Black Cat bases too, link here). The cat with the sabre got a police hat, the cat with the parasol got a musket and the cat with the tray got two pistols.
Overall I am happy with the look (they originally did not had a fancy clothes but I thought they would look ok in the attire they came in).
Dart an Älg (The Mooseketeer)
Dart originates from the forests around Nordholmia (where incidentally this adventure will progress to) and worked as a trapper during his youth selling furs to the Nordholmia traders and occasionally working as a scout for the Army or other daring folk who ventured in the area. He gained some reputation as a reliable man and his fur trading grew to a healthy business. However Swizzle, one of Pyrisamfundets biggest trading houses did not like the increased competition. Swizzle’s operations in Nordholmia were run by the founders grandson Vizel Swissle. Vizel instigated a campaign to damage Dart’s business, bribing officials, burning down storage facilities, threatening suppliers, etc. However, Dart was resilient and seemed to recover stronger from every set-back. Vizel had to escalate his efforts and framed Dart for the murder of a local school teacher by the name of Elvira Snyft.
Dart did not stand a chance against the resource of the Swissle House and ended up in a labour prison outside Hindenburg. Here he was , to put it in the words of the stern judge at the trial, “..to serve for his horrendous crimes until the day he died”. He felt betrayed by his town and his country, but most of all he had a raging anger towards the Swissle family as he was more than sure they were behind the plot. From the moment he put his foot in that god forsaken prison he tried to work out a plan to escape and seek revenge. As the years progressed he became more and more bitter. He made numerous attempts to escape but were caught and brought back and was punished severely with beatings and long times of isolation – somewhere along the way he went insane. One day when a group of prisoners were out working on a road repair job one of guards suffered from a heart attack. Dart told the second guard that he could save his colleague and lied that he had been a doctor as a civilian. The guard dropped his guard for a few moments whilst Dart pretended to help the his suffering comrade. The opportunity presented was quickly exploited by Dart who strangled one guard whilst watching the other man die. Needless to say he sought out Vizel and took out his revenge in the most brutal of ways. He was chased by the Nordholmia Sheriff and a Posse but managed to escape. Since then Dart has been an outlaw and have become a terror in the area around the Hardin Moors. One day he stumbled across on the three brothers who also were outlaws – a relationship was formed and the group operate as robbers and thieves in the area. They have successfully avoided capture as they are careful and knows the lay of the land very well.
I got myself a Garrison Caliverman from Perry Miniatures – it is part of their fantastic Border Reivers 40mm range (here is a link).
As you can see in the picture it comes with a number of heads – but none of them being a moose head. So I had to find it elsewhere. I got myself a Moose from Northstar (pulp miniature range, link here).
Some cutting later I had my Mooseketeer!
As for the dying Postrider, his name is Erjan, and I think he may be from a the body of a WW2 soldier I had in my bit box? I made the post bag from some putty (Somewhere along the way I forgot that he was bleeding from his shoulder and not his leg – my mistake).
Anyway here is the set-up, this should not have been a life changing encounter for the group but this is untampered nostalgia on overdrive – so why not! My 13-year old self would have been as happy as I am now!
So just do not stand there, get on with it…. what do you do?
Some other related stuff
I have painted a few models from the interloper miniatures range (link to their webpage), they are wonderful models. I hope you like them they form part of my overall Mutant 1984 “collection”.
/Hope that was some interest.
Currently I am working on another scene from the adventure – the Robot Attack in Nordholmia. But that is for some other time.