One of the topics discussed during breaks in my Sunday game was WOTC’s 5e announcement. Most conversation revolved around what people liked about the various editions of D&D and D&D-like games that they would like to see in 5e. When we were talking about old D&D-like games, one of my players mentioned Bifrost. I was shocked as most people have never heard of it. Heck, most of what I know about it comes from a review of the first book in White Dwarf #7. I believe read a review of one of the later volumes as well, but I could not find that review in White Dwarf issues this morning — perhaps I missed it or the review was in a UK D&D fanzine or I simply imagined the review.
Bifrost is the game I always wanted to find in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Unfortunately, I never saw a copy of any of its four volumes. More surprisingly, I have never found anyone who had seen a copy of played in a Bifrost game. If any copies made it to the US, they must have been very few and very far between. If you check Noble Knight games and RPG.net you can find ictures of the covers and a line or two of description, but not much else.
As far as I can tell, the game never made much of an impression on anyone. Well, except for me, that review in White Dwarf #7 obviously made an impression on me. Part of the reason it went nowhere was probably the way it was published, four volumes (originally planned to only be three) published once a year and from what little I’ve been able to find out, the weird organization meant that you really needed all four books to play. For example, here’s what was in the first volume according to the White Dwarf review: “….Setting Up the game, Game content and Sequence of Action, Choice of characters, individual abilities, Alignment, Gods, and the Hand of Fate, Social position, Prices and equipment, Map movement and symbols, Fatigue, Diseases and illness, Incident locations, Morale and reactions, Weather, Progression, and advancement.” Things like combat, magic, monsters, treasure, etc. were left for later books. The reviewer (Don Turnbull) did say that there was quite a bit of material that could be incorporated into a D&D game either because it was material not really covered by D&D or did things somewhat better than D&D did, for example alignment and gods.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has read Bifrost — or better yet played Bifrost. While I’ve given up on ever finding a copy (I could not afford it if I could), but I would still like to find out more about it. I’m sure that it was just another early example of what came to be called a “fantasy heartbreaker” but even after all these years I remember that review of the first volume of Bifrost in White Dwarf #7 and wonder what the game was really like. Any readers who played the Bifrost or know someone who did?