Why I’m Obsessed with MÖRK BORG

I’ve been working on my Grimdark RPG Project and two other things. I’m just throwing all my creative muscle into designing my own worlds at the moment. In my research to discover what is out there in the RPG realm, I came across MÖRK BORG, a Swedish doom metal art book RPG. Yeah, that’s a mouthful. I actually first heard of it from Rob Matheny, my friend and former podcast partner with The Grim Tidings Podcast. It looked cool when he showed me, but I never really considered buying it. At first, it just looked like a book that would be fun to show friends. But the more I researched it, the more it intrigued me. I bought it with several other books and waited for it to arrive.

Even my wife, who is into board games but not RPGs, marveled at the design of the book. What I read in the first couple of days made me laugh, but I kept thinking “Where’s the game?”

That’s why I realized, this is like the ultimate “prompt” book. It’s very evocative and gives tons of ideas. While the worldbuilding is sparse, it done so purposefully to let the GM and players fill in the blanks. The rules are equally spartan, designed so to give great flexibility.

Here’s how to pick your starting weapons. Wee!

But what am I obsessed about? It’s hard to put a finger on it, but I think it’s just how dark it is. It’s so dark, it loops around to being silly. Which I love. That was my vision for my Splatter Elf world as well. Just loads of monsters getting killed and hunters gaining glory and coin.

MÖRK BORG deals with a world on the verge of apocalypse, the denizens trying to scrape together a life while waiting to die. It’s nihilistic, metal, and hilarious at times. When the world ends in game, the book tells you “Burn the book.” Like that’s it. No more game.

The graphic design of course is remarkable, one of the “wow factors” of the book, but the tables available in the book allow for some of the weirdest, grimmest, jaw-droppingly awesome combinations. I rolled up a character named Floki Beholden who is “hauntingly beautiful and somehow clean” which is bizarre enough in this world gone to shit, but then he also is an obsessive gambler and drug addict (which I found funny because it was almost identical to one of the players from The Glass Cannon playthrough I watched.)

Magic is chaotic and dangerous as it should be and some of the results if someone fumbles are pretty horrific (in a ludicrously dark way). One Scroll fumble results in the caster getting an STD that turns other people that you “sleep with” into weeping zombies that follow you in your dreams before appearing in reality. It’s like WTF after WTF in this book.

I’m running the game for the first time this weekend and I’m looking forward to it a lot. Simply because this feels like a game that will be memorable, weird, and fun even if everyone dies horrible deaths.

Check out MÖRK BORG here and see if it looks like something that might be up your alley if you’re into a creative presentation and rules-light game that allows for some crazy sessions.