A Nanaimo fantasy writer and Norse mythology enthusiast has created a card game inspired by the early Viking government of medieval Iceland.
Starting on Nov. 9 and continuing until the end of the month, Joshua Gillingham is holding a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for Althingi, a gamed named after and simulating the annual Icelandic Viking gathering where goods were traded, disputes were resolved and feasts were had.
“Some people consider it to be the oldest running parliament in history and still today the parliament in Iceland is called the Althingi,” Gillingham said.
In the game, players take on the role of chieftains from Iceland’s north, south, east and west. At the Althingi they use loot to bribe Vikings to join their side and then arm their recruits as they face off against Vikings from rival camps. In the end the player who leaves the Althingi with the most influence is the winner. It’s the third game Gillingham has designed but the first that has reached this stage of development.
“If you are into Viking stuff you kind of tire after a while of the same Conan the Barbarian-type thing again and again,” Gillingham said. “It’s cool to dig a little deeper and look beneath the surface of the tropes and learn a bit about the actual history.”
Gillingham learned about that history while reading Icelandic sagas as part of the research for his Viking adventure book, The Gatewatch. He said the most famous sagas cover the period of history when the Althingi was established and describe what would happen at those gatherings.
“The barbarian image we have of [Vikings] is exciting and sexy, but once you start getting into the history there’s so much more there,” he said.
While the Viking character cards in the base game are fictional, there are crowdfunding incentives to include historical Vikings as well. The attention to historical detail is also present in the game art, as the illustrations were done by an artist who is also a Viking reenactor.
“You can see in the cards that the costumes of the characters are much more aligned with the traditional things that the Vikings actually would have worn,” Gillingham said. “And not all these sexy leather bikinis and horned helmets and axes the sizes of basketballs.”
For more information and to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.