Earlier this week, I was involved in an all-too-familiar Valheim tragedy: after sailing too close to the shoreline, I was pursued by a rather large insect and nibbled to death, leaving my tombstone (and all my precious belongings) stranded in a distant land. What followed was a high-risk naked rescue mission that only just succeeded, but it turns out there was a far easier way I could have solved this: by enlisting the help of Valheim's very own Body Recovery Squad.
The BRS is a group of Valheim players dedicated to helping others recover their items, no matter where the tombstone is stranded - and they do it all for free. Players in need of assistance can head over to the community's Discord server, join a channel called #assistance-application, and hit an "SOS" button which changes their Discord role and allows them to request help in the channel. At this point one of the team members (known as operators) will get in contact with the client, organise to join their server, and a bunch of burly Vikings will set sail to help them recover their gear.
It all sounded like a fantastic community effort, so I got in touch with BRS founder and leader Lucas (known as Rim Jaynor) to ask him more about the process. In the real world, Lucas is a mechanic who lives in northern British Columbia, but he decided to establish the BRS after he and his friend had a brush with a deathsquito. "We were lucky that we had a portal close by and another friend who wasn't with us," he explained. "For us it was a quick run back through the portal to grab our stuff. In the discussion of the events it came up - 'you know, what if we weren't that lucky? We'd be back in the Stone Age!'"
Lucas then started to notice that this brutal experience was actually rather common in the Valheim community, with players confessing to rage quitting after losing their items, or grinding their way back to their tombstone... only to be slapped down again. "That singular moment, losing everything, can be so detrimental to players and has caused some to quit playing the game entirely," Lucas told me. "I thought to myself, what if it didn't have to be that way? What if there was a lifeline out there that helped players keep going?"
This spurred Lucas to make a post on the Valheim subreddit, and that afternoon the BRS was born. It's now been running officially for a little over two weeks, but the team already boasts 15 operators - and that number is still growing. The BRS is accepting applications for new operators, and it seems to be seriously popular (Lucas told me he'd yesterday woken up to over 50 new applications). But you'll have to make sure you're up to scratch before applying: these recovery missions aren't for the faint-hearted, and require players to have some decent gear. Due to the volume of applicants, the BRS uses a Google form to ask wannabe operators questions about their skills and experience in Valheim, along with their progress so far in the game. "After that, I interview those I believe 'have the right stuff'," Lucas said. "But that form is ever-changing and adapting to handle volume."
When an applicant meets the selection criteria, they are then given some "training and literature" to get them prepared for service - and they are also paired with a more experienced operator until they get their "sea legs". Frankly, this sounds like better training than I got on some work experience placements.
But what's it like for an operator once they're out on the job? There's no set number of operators required per mission, as this is usually decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the difficulty of the recovery and which operators are available. Recovery missions don't have time limits, and operators ensure that each mission ends with the client deposited to their requested location, be it a home village or lost boat. Lucas told me that recoveries share some similarities - often requiring sailing from one place to another, slaying enemies and recovering the client's body - but that no two recoveries are the same.
"I honestly have too many anecdotes at this point," Lucas said. "From saving a player stranded on the leviathan, fighting back hordes of fulings to the awe of our client, scaling mountains with naked guys, to helping someone kill their first serpent, the list goes on."
Although he doesn't know exactly how many bodies have been recovered so far, Lucas believes he can confidently say over 100 players have been assisted by the BRS - and that number could potentially be higher. It seems the BRS is also sticking pretty firmly to its policy of doing all this for free: Lucas said the group doesn't accept payment, donations or gifts of any type. "We aren't doing this to make money, we aren't doing this because we want some reward - we are doing this to help foster a great community," Lucas said. "It has been such a pleasure so far being able to help other players and give them a lifeline when they get into trouble. I'm very grateful to the group that has formed around this and all the hard work they have put in to get us here."
Along with the boom in operator applications, it seems the BRS has further plans for growth in the future - the group intends to join more social media platforms, and establish channels on both YouTube and Twitch. It's a lovely community effort, and reminds me a little of some of the rescue missions carried out in games like Elite Dangerous. There's clearly demand for it in Valheim, so if you think you've got what it takes to help a player in need, you can find the operator sign-up form here. Or if you need a little assistance in getting your items back from those pesky fulings... here's your lifeline.