Sponsored.  The players' journey begins with a single tile.  From there, they build a branching, labyrinthine dungeon of dangerous enemies, wandering monsters, challenging puzzles, and valuable treasure.

Today, we'll be catching up with Steamforged's Lead Designer, Sherwin Matthews, to learn more about Bardsung, and the long journey that led to its creation.

Hey Sherwin!  Tell us about yourself and the inspiration behind Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge?
My name is Sherwin Matthews, and I worked with Mat Hart, Richard August, and Fraser McFetridge to design and bring Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge to life.

Bardsung is something we’ve wanted to create for a long time: an idea that bubbled away in the background over the years as we worked on other projects.  Our inspirations would probably be too many to mention.

We wanted to not only celebrate the old games we enjoyed when we were first discovering tabletop games, such as the Fighting Fantasy choose-your-own-adventure books, and tabletop games like HeroQuest, Key to the Kingdom, and Dark World, but also our shared love for roleplaying games and the universes they create.  Then we added a sprinkle of tabletop miniature game mechanics to really polish off the experience with exciting and impactful gameplay.

Bardsung is exactly what you might expect from such a heady mix.  A tabletop game with deep gameplay where players explore sprawling dungeons in search of fortune and glory, and an immersive story that offers meaningful decisions that will shape the course of the campaign and evolve the game.

Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge is packed with hours of gameplay and miniatures.  What are you most excited for players to experience?
This is a really tough question — there’s so much for people to enjoy!  I think for me it’s definitely the story.  Not just the main narrative, but all of the smaller side quests and interactions.

Bardsung’s scope is massive.  There are four different endings and over thirty separate locations to explore in the core game alone.  And because the game evolves based on player decisions, each playthrough will be completely unique, with the players encountering different characters, enemies, events, and locations each time.

If players want to see every enemy and location, they’ll have to play through the campaign several times over.  Each time they do, they’ll learn something new about the Ancient Forge and Bardsung world.  There are a lot of easter eggs and hidden narratives in there to find!

What do you recommend for players picking up their first big box game like Bardsung?
I think my best advice would be to just buckle up and enjoy the ride.  Bardsung and other games like it are best enjoyed as a journey, where the players can lose themselves in immersive worlds and tell the stories of their characters.

That journey begins from the moment you open the box and read the cover sheet, then builds as you attempt your first encounters and the narrative text sinks its hooks into you - and doesn’t let go until the final dice lands, and the final word is read aloud.

There’s a real magic and sense of reward with that type of experience — it’s what keeps players coming back to their favorite games and the genre, time and time again.  I’ll admit that I’m actually envious that I don’t get to experience Bardsung myself for the first time!

During playtesting, do you have a favorite memory or moment that stood out for you?
Phew — there are a lot that come to mind!  I think it might have to be some of the interactions we had when we were creating the heroes.

Each hero in Bardsung belongs to a set path, which is like a martial discipline, or a class in a traditional roleplaying game.  This informs the type of gameplay they specialize in, and helps focus players who might not be too familiar with how to build a character.

But one of the most exciting parts of Bardsung’s experience system is that characters are free to develop skills from any path they want, giving players complete freedom to customize their character how they see fit.

For a while during playtesting, we didn’t share this with the external groups, while we were getting the core abilities locked — and then, when we were ready, we dropped the bomb and told our testers that they didn’t have to stay on path when levelling up.

The emails and gameplay experiences we received immediately after that update were quite the sight to see, I assure you!

What can you tell us about working with guest authors?  How was it bringing their ideas and stories into the game?
Working with our guest designers was a privilege — they’re all extremely talented people, and each brought a wealth of different ideas and experience to the table.  Adapting their concepts to Bardsung’s game engine was very enjoyable, and never once felt like a challenge; partly because of the flexibility of the engine, but also because each guest designer was so versatile.

I think our audience is going to have a lot of fun exploring the universes that we’ve created together. Each adventure really feels like it captures the essence and presence the guest designer is known for, and will be a completely unique experience!

What can players expect for the future of Bardsung?
Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge is only the first entry in the Bardsung series.  It establishes the world and its inhabitants, and teaches the players a little about its cultures and history, but there’s so much more to discover.

Like any good series, we’re extremely excited about building on these foundations and exploring this universe some more.

Players should definitely be looking forward to where our path leads us next, meeting new heroes and villains, and finding out more about not only the setting’s ancient world and history, but also how the new world is emerging and changing around their characters…

Inspire the songs.  Live your legend.  Become Bardsung.

Bardsung: Legend of the Ancient Forge is now available to pre-order for April 1 release.
MSRP: £179.99 / $199.95 / €189.95
Players: 1-5
Game Length: 45-60 minutes
SKU#: SFBS-001
Age: 14+

Pre-order now: Contact jo@steamforged.com
Find out more: Visit www.steamforged.com/bardsung