Vaesen: Nordic horror roleplaying has never looked prettier 🧊 RPG Review & Mechanics

Vaesen is a tabletop roleplaying game by Free League published in 2020. It uses their Year Zero Engine and features a reimagined 19th-century Scandinavia haunted by beings, or β€œvaesen” of Nordic folklore.

0:00 – Intro
0:57 – Sponsor: Arc Knight:
1:41 – Unboxing
4:03 – Setting
6:16 – Character Creation & Mechanics
11:05 – Other Mechanics
13:09 – The Vaesen
16:09 – Running a Mystery
16:50 – My Thoughts
19:22 – Conclusion

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Thanks to Arc Knight Games for sponsoring this video! You can find their flat plastic miniatures and other cool RPG stuff here:
🎼 Song Credits 🎼
No 7 Alone With My Thoughts by Esther Abram
Orison by Dan Boden
Allegro by Emmit Fenn
Stopping By the Inn by Twin Musicom is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (
Special thanks to Free League for providing a review copy. I received no compensation or consideration for this review. All opinions are my own.
And many thanks to Magnus! No native Swedish words were harmed in the making of this video.

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40 thoughts on “Vaesen: Nordic horror roleplaying has never looked prettier 🧊 RPG Review & Mechanics

  1. Thanks, Dave! This is fascinating–love the setting and mystery focus, and I'm already a fan of the Year Zero Engine. I just bought the Vaesen RPG Bundle off the Fria Ligan site, with the GM screen, map, cards, and hardcover book. Can't wait to dig into this!

  2. Great review. Loved Magnus! Didn’t like having you down there in the corner before, but maybe I’ve just got used to it or you’ve changed something. Great choice of music to fit the mood of the game and the visuals. Love the look and feel of the game. Might just give this to myself for my birthday, despite the quite hefty price tag. Great review and seems like a great game. Thanks!

  3. Dane here! This looks super interesting! And the pop-up was the right choice. If you speak English natively, the æ sound is almost impossible to get right. Væsen means "Creature", and yes, refers to supernatural beings. But another meaning is "department", leading to a pun l heard once: "What kind of creature are you? Oh, a fire department!"

  4. I wonder if they will release a source book set in Portland, Oregon in the 2010's? I loved the Grimm TV series. Also, I guess that this could form the basis of a more general horror investigation game, or for a wider range of Gothic Romance games.

  5. I already own this game and all the extra items that came with the Kickstarter. But man, I love your reviews so bad!.

    You are so good at this and I like your in depth reviews. Always, before I start a game with mu friends I check if you reviewed that game before and after that is when I share your videos to them! And they seem to love them to!

  6. I think the base Y0 engine is pretty solid but my experience so far has been a slight limit on how long one game can last. Unlike a lot of other systems what you have to spend xp on tends to be a bit limited which does curtail lengthy game play which my group tends to lean toward. However if you are doing one shots or want something to do for a few months vs a year or more, they have all treated my group quite well.

  7. I compiled a list of all swedish vassen/vΓ€sen names. I wrote the anme in swedish (put a short description of the illustration in parenthesis) and then a direct translation to provide a feeling of what the words communicate. have I written no translation, the directtranslation is the englis name (such as troll and giant).

    Askefroa (green elf-looking-thing in tree), – Ash lady (ash as the tree)Β 
    BΓ€ckahΓ€st (the horse on an isle),Β – stream horse
    Gast (ghoul-looking fellow),Β – Ghost
    GengΓ₯ngare (the ghost looking one),Β – walks again
    Havsfru (mermaid),Β – sea lady
    JΓ€tte (Giant),Β – Giant
    Kyrkogrim(the black cat),Β Church grim
    Lindorm (the dragon-snake),Β –
    Lyktgubbe (the creepy gnome with a lantern),Β old Lantern man
    Mara (the nightmare hag/harpy lady),Β – Mare
    Myling (the dead child),Β – not translatable
    Nattramn (raven),Β – Night raven
    NΓ€cken (the fiddler in the river),Β – Nude
    SjΓΆorm (sea-monster),Β Sea serpent
    SkogsrΓ₯ (the forest lady with deer-legs),Β – forest adviser
    Spiritus (the bug thing),Β 
    Tomte (the tiny fella with a big axe),Β tomte is the same word as Santa Claus
    Varulv (werewolf),Β 
    VΓ€tte (the cute one with a frog),Β 
    Γ„lva (Fairy),

  8. Very nice review Dave. I am thoroughly enjoying these videos of yours! So, thank you. I disagree, however, about those "trigger warnings". Back in the 70s and 80s, we did not have those types of things. You just played games. I can understand that a small percentage of younger players today appear to be more touchy about certain things but we used to gloss over certain "questionable" things or chose to ignore those parts we did not like. In other words, we made the game our own. I believe we had some labels on certain rpgs that stated that those books were for "mature audiences" from time to time but we never had "trigger warnings". I believe that this concept is taking things a bit too far. At the end of the day, player characters will often times hurt or even kill npcs. Do we then give all rpgs "trigger warnings"? Is there anything worse than killing? It just appears somewhat silly, at least to me. By the way, this is not a "dig" at you but merely my own opinion and the state of the rpg industry as I see it today. Thank you once again for a superb review!

  9. This was a seriously awesome review! Great use of visuals to keep things engaging, and the idea of doing a quick character creation to showcase the rules was brilliant. Great presentation overall, and not too much detail so things don't get boring, but at the same time just enough to give a solid understanding of what the game is about.
    I have watched/read a lot of RPG reviews… a LOT! But this one definitely ranks up there among the best I've encountered.

  10. I am really looking forward to running a game of Vaesen for my regular D&D group, and this video has been a great help with wrapping my head around it that bit more. So thank you for that.
    The only thing I'm planning to do differently is to set the game in 19th century Ireland instead, as we have some nice twists of our own on a lot of these mythological and faerie creatures that appear in the book. While I would appreciate the Swedish names being included, I'll likely end up using the Irish and Celtic versions where I can for my own game.

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