Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

Blue Rose Pre-Order and PDF

Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy Core Rulebook pre-orderIf you missed out on backing the Kickstarter campaign for Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy, you can now pre-order the book through BackerKit or our Green Ronin Online Store. When you pre-order the book, we’ll offer you the PDF for just $5, to download and read right away! If you want to support your local retailer, have them ask us about our Green Ronin Pre-Order Plus program, through which they can offer their customers the same $5 PDF deal for pre-ordering through them.

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
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Ronin Roundtable: New Year’s Message 2017

New Year’s Message 2017

Welcome to the new year, my friends and fellow gamers! Here at Green Ronin we have been rousing ourselves from our holiday torpor and getting ramped up for 2017. As long time fans know, I traditionally write a message in January to discuss what we have coming up in the new year. And that is true but I’m going to do it a little differently this year. Today I will talk about what we have coming your way through the Spring, then in June I will do a second one of these that covers the rest of the year. So let’s get to it!

New Faces

In December Crystal Frasier came onboard as our new Mutants & Masterminds developer. She introduced herself in a previous Ronin Round Table, which you can read here if you’d like to learn more about her. We are confident that Mutants & Masterminds is in great hands with Crystal.

Today I’d like to welcome another new Ronin to the ranks: Malcolm Sheppard. He is a 17 year veteran of the game industry who has done a boatload of work for White Wolf and Onyx Path, amongst others. Malcolm will be doing design and development work for us on a variety of lines. You can think of him as a sort of developer-at-large. He’ll be working on Adventure Game Engine (AGE) games for sure, as well as some other projects you’ll hear more about later. Please help me welcome Malcolm to Team Ronin!

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Now Pre-OrderingMutants & Masterminds

We are kicking off the year with a major release for Mutants & Masterminds: the Atlas of Earth-Prime. You’ve seen parts of this setting before in Emerald City, the Cosmic Handbook, Hero High, and many other Mutants & Masterminds books, but now Earth-Prime is getting full campaign setting treatment. The Atlas of Earth-Prime releases in just two weeks. You can still get in on the pre-order now if you are quick about it.

In the Spring we’ll be following that up with Freedom City. This was the original campaign setting for the Mutants & Masterminds RPG going back to 2003. The new book brings Freedom City fully into Third Edition, and creates a triumvirate of super power with Emerald City and the Atlas of Earth-Prime!

AGE Games

Blue Rose the AGE RPG of Romantic FantasyThe big Adventure Game Engine excitement for the first half of the year is the release of Blue Rose, our RPG of Romantic Fantasy, in February. Blue Rose was our most successful Kickstarter to date, and we’re delighted to get this book out to backers and then released to the general public. The BackerKit went live over the weekend. While we typically do pre-orders through our online store, with Blue Rose we’re trying out BackerKit for that. If you didn’t back the Kickstarter, you can pre-order now at this link . You’ll note some follow up releases on the BackerKit page. We’re making Blue Rose dice with Q Workshop, Blue Rose conviction Tokens with Campaign Coins, and then an adventure anthology called Six of Swords. Those should all come out in the Spring.

For Fantasy AGE itself we’ve got Titansgrave: The World of Valkana coming in the Spring. This is a full campaign setting book that greatly expands the information in Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana. A lot of stuff that was only hinted at in the show will be revealed in Titansgrave: The World of Valkana!

In other Fantasy AGE news, we’ll be creating a community content program for the game in conjunction with OneBookShelf (the parent company of RPGNow and DriveThruRPG). People have been asking us if they can publish Fantasy AGE content since the game came out and soon that will be possible. OneBookShelf already runs several of these programs, for games like D&D and the Cypher System. Ours will be similar to these but not identical. For starters the products you can do will be limited to settings and adventures because that is the support Fantasy AGE needs most right now. There will be more info about the program and how it all works when we launch it. That should happen in a couple of months.

Freeport Bestiary for the Pathfinder RPGFreeport and Pathfinder

Our big Pathfinder release this Spring is the Freeport Bestiary. The City of Adventure hasn’t had a monster book since Creatures of Freeport in 2004. The Freeport Bestiary brings together the setting’s many monsters and a bunch of new ones in a beautiful full color hardback. Meanwhile, the Return to Freeport adventure series continues. We’ve released three of these PDFs so far. The remaining three will follow over the next few months and then we’ll collect them all together for a printed book in June.

D&D 5E

You may recall that we worked with Wizards of the Coast to create two D&D books: Out of the Abyss and the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. Now we’re following those up with D&D books of our own. The first is Book of the Righteous, which presents a fully detailed mythology and pantheon you can use in your campaigns. The original edition of Book of the Righteous was our most critically-acclaimed book in the d20 era. We did a Kickstarter for a new 5E version last year and it should be out in May. As with Blue Rose, Book of the Righteous will have a general release after books ship to Kickstarter backers.

I’m going to make an exception and discuss one Summer release because I know I’d get pilloried if I didn’t mention it. Of course I’m talking about Critical Role! We had originally intended to release this in the Spring but we’ve scheduled it for Gen Con instead. This is Gen Con’s 50th anniversary (and my 28th Gen Con!). We wanted a big marquee release for the show and the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting book is a perfect fit. We want to make this a real event and hope to have the cast out to Gen Con again.

Love 2 Hate

Towards the end of last year we released Love 2 Hate: Politics, the first expansion for the game. We are following that up in April with Love 2 Hate: Comics. Both expansions have 108 cards. You can mix them in with the core game, or play with them on their own for a more themed experience.

Dragon Age and SIFRP

We have Dragon Age and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying books in development but licensed game lines require approvals and how long those take can vary quite a bit. It could be one week or three months depending. So don’t worry, books are coming. We’ve just decided to wait until everything is approved before we make formal announcements about their release.

PDF Support

We have a variety of PDF releases planned to support our various lines. We have more Fantasy AGE Encounters and short Titansgrave adventures coming for Fantasy AGE, as well as the Short Cuts series for Pathfinder. We’ll also be continuing our series of Chronicle System PDFs, which provide non-canon rules support for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. In the past year we’ve released rules for magic (Chronicle of Sorcery) and gunpowder/firearms (Spark to Powder), for example.

Chronicle System: Spark to Powder (PDF)

Chronicle of Sorcery (PDF)

Conventions

As a company Gen Con is, of course, our biggest show. Last year we had a room dedicated to Green Ronin games for the whole convention and that was great. We’re doing it again this year, so if you’d like to run games for us please contact Donna. If you run enough games, we’ll cover your badge and even subsidize your hotel room.

Donna and Barry also run OrcaCon in Everett, WA (just north of Seattle). OrcaCon is happening this coming weekend, so come on out if you’re in the area. It’s the unofficial Green Ronin convention and most of our staff will be there. We’ve got folks running games and giving seminars, though personally I just want to play some games this year!

Green Ronin is once again a sponsor of the JoCo Cruise and Nicole and I will be on onboard. Haven’t heard of the JoCo Cruise? Well, imagine a convention on a ship and you’ve got a pretty good idea, except it also includes music, comedy, and more. If it’s nerdy, it’s probably happening on the ship! There are still cabins available (the cruise is in March) and this year we have the entire ship to ourselves. Should be a great time.

We’ll also be attending various trade shows, like GTS, the Alliance Open House, and the ACD Gamesday. If you are a game retailer, come see us!

More to Come!

So that’s what we have coming the first half of the year. We also have some exciting news to share in the coming months. We’ll be announcing soon a new card game we’re bringing to Kickstarter in April and a new campaign setting for D&D 5E. We’ve licensed a comic book for RPG treatment. We’ve also got another AGE game in development, as well as Ork, Second Edition. Following us on Twitter (we’re @GreenRoninPub) is probably the best way to keep up with our announcements or just bookmark our website.

This is Green Ronin’s 17th year in business. Thank you for your continued support over the years. I started the company as a side project and it’s become so much more than that thanks to you. Come back in June when I reveal our Summer and Winter plans. Until then, game on!

Chris Pramas

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

Ronin Round Table: Blue Rose Draws the Six of Swords

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Artist Sketches for Cover

The much-anticipated new edition of Blue Rose Romantic Fantasy Roleplaying is wrapping up in production, soon to go off to print, with the final PDF edition released to Kickstarter backers, and then available with pre-orders of the book. On the design and development side, we’ve moved well past the core book for the game and into some supporting products, including a Narrator’s Kit with sturdy reference screen and pre-generated heroes to get you playing quickly and easily and something every tabletop roleplaying game can use, namely adventures!

Six of Swords is a forthcoming anthology of adventures for Blue Rose. As the name suggests, the book will contain six different adventures set in the world of Aldea, suitable for different levels of characters, and intended for Narrators to use as inspiration and resources for creating their own Blue Rose adventures as well. Authors Jaym Gates, Steven Jones, Kira Magrann, Alejandro Melchor, Malcolm Shepherd, and Rebecca Wise each present a tale where your heroes can make a difference.

The anthology includes ruined mansions, masquerade balls, vampiric curses, mysterious masks, sorcerous secrets, ghostly hauntings, lost loves, looming threats to the Kingdom of the Blue Rose, and tragic quests where heroes are called upon to make the right choices. As the initial cover concept sketches by artist Nen Chang show, the adventurers are expected to delve into some dangerous and inhospitable places, like the depths of the Veran Marsh, in pursuit of their goals.

Six of Swords is finishing up in development and editing and moving on to production and layout right after the main Blue Rose book and the Narrator’s Kit are complete. We’re looking forward to bringing you stories of adventure in the world of Aldea for you and your players to tell and enjoy.

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Ronin Roundtable: GenCon GMing for Green Ronin

GR-Gameroom1If you are a publisher, you of course want people to have the opportunity to play your games at GenCon. You can run demos at your booth but the exhibit hall is no place for long form RPG adventures (it’s super loud and booth space is limited). Those are better handled as scheduled events. Finding good and reliable game masters for your RPGs can be challenging though. In past years we’ve had mixed success with our GenCon events. What I really wanted was a dedicated area filled with Green Ronin games. To get that, you have to have a certain number of events. Coordinating that is a job in itself.

Enter Donna Prior, Green Ronin’s events manager. I told her what I wanted and wow, did she deliver. We had over 90 scheduled events this year and GenCon gave us a dedicated room for them on the second floor of the convention center. Going into that room and seeing tables full of gamers playing Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying was amazing. Read more

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

Ronin Round Table: Blue Rose Development

BRAGE_Core_cov_72dpi

Welcome! No, we haven’t accidentally reposted a previous Ronin Roundtable. This week we return to the development of the new edition of Blue Rose Romantic Fantasy Roleplaying for the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) System rules, following our successful Kickstarter for the game.

Blue Rose is through editing and now in production and layout, with Production Manager Hal Mangold hard at work both on laying out the book and assigning art to various artists to bring new visions of the world of Aldea to life. You can see a small sample of Hal’s design magic in the updated logo to grace the game’s cover above the fantastic new painting by artist Stephanie Pui-Min Law.

In addition to art, we’re working with cartographer Phillip Lienau, who provided the maps for the first edition of Blue Rose (as well as the comprehensive map of Freedom City for Mutants & Masterminds) to update his work for the new edition, particularly for the two-sided poster map for inclusion in the book. We’re eager to be able to present Phillip’s work in full color this time.

In terms of production, the new edition of Blue Rose is going to be sizeable: easily 300 pages (at Green Ronin, we like big books and we cannot lie), not quite as massive as the complete Dragon Age Core Rulebook, but easily the size of the Game of Thrones edition of A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying as a beautiful full-color hardcover book.

Meanwhile, in addition to working with Hal on copyfitting and layout matters, I am working on the collection of pre-generated Blue Rose heroes for the Narrator’s Screen booklet, offering a representative cross-section of novice characters, complete with backgrounds and customization options, usable for quick-start play and great for demo adventures and convention games to introduce new players to Blue Rose and the AGE System

Speaking of adventures, I’m also developing the first drafts of a number of short Blue Rose adventures by an exciting collection of authors, including Jaym Gates, Elsa S. Henry, Steven Jones, Kira Magrann, Alejandro Melchor, and Rebecca Wise. We intend to release these adventures as short, stand-alone PDF products and to collect them into a print edition to provide Blue Rose Narrators and players with a wealth of opportunities to tell stories in the world of Aldea.

As you can see, that’s a lot of Blue Rose in the works! We’ll keep you updated as things progress, perhaps with some additional previews and looks “behind the curtain” as the book finishes production and gets ready for pre-order and PDF release. Naturally, our Kickstarter backers will have the first look at anything new that comes along, but we’re looking forward to making the new edition of Blue Rose available to everyone!

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph Carriker is developer for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and the Chronicle System. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2000, and intends to keep doing that for the foreseeable future. He's an avid proponent of diversity in gaming spaces, and regularly runs LGBT-oriented panels at gaming conventions, including GenCon's "Queer as a Three-Sided Die." He recently sold a novel, Sacred Band, available this winter from Lethe Press.
Joseph D. Carriker

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Ronin Round Table: GenCon 2016 Roleplaying Games!

 

GClogo-header-2016-91a751cab7b3dc33dd0ac3b3b95595ac9c4e1b4bc5f42b6388531396cb8729beAs I’m sure most folks know, the events registration for GenCon 2016 went live on Sunday. As an aid to everyone who is interested in playing some of their favorite Green Ronin Publishing roleplaying games at GenCon—or trying out one they’ve never played before—we thought we’d compile a handy list of links to those games, by game.

What follows is not a complete list of Green Ronin Publishing games ato be had at GenCon. It’s just a collection of the games we’ve helped put together and coordinate for this year’s convention. See you there!

Reminder: While some of these games are already sold out (a big thanks to all of that enthusiasm!), remember that lots of folks over-buy, and then drop events as they figure out their schedule. Moreover, things happen and sometimes people aren’t able to show for a game, so make sure to pick up some generic tickets and if there’s a game you’re really interested in, show up to it and see if there are any slots unfilled when game time rolls around. Our GMs are only too happy to help.

Read more

Nicole Lindroos

Nicole Lindroos

Nicole Lindroos entered the game industry in 1989. In that time, she co-founded Adventures Unlimited magazine, served on the board of the Game Manufacturers Association and as the chair of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art and Design, volunteered both on the advisory committee and as the head of the Origins Awards, and has been an active freelancer for large and small companies alike. Since the year 2000 she has been co-owner and General Manager of Green Ronin Publishing. Her recent projects include contributions to the Dragon Age Tabletop Roleplaying Game and Titansgrave: Ashes of Valakana.

She's also the sweetest person you never want to piss off.
Nicole Lindroos

Ronin Round Table: People in Gaming

Nicole LindroosI have been in the tabletop game business since 1989. In that time I have seen a lot of changes to the way business is conducted and who is conducting it. I can’t count the number of “Women in Gaming” panels I have been invited to speak on over the years.

Recently, I was in Las Vegas at the GAMA Trade Show. GAMA is the industry organization for the tabletop game business. Publishers, game distributors, and game retailers get together to talk about business-related issues, show off new and upcoming games, and to make mutually beneficial connections. I was asked to sit on a panel for the manufacturing track of programming addressing “Gender Issues in Gaming.” I truly didn’t think anything of it, I’ve done version of these panels for years now. In fact, the title not just defaulting to “Women in…” but hitting a slightly different note with “Gender Issues in…” made the topic a bit more interesting to me.

I was taken by surprise once I got to Las Vegas by the varying and strong opinions on the issue I heard from other women. More than one of my female peers expressed doubt that “Women in Gaming” panels should even be part of a modern seminar track. Other women I talked to were fatigued with the “back in the old days, here’s how it used to be when we started” history of such panels and wanted to cut to the chase: what do we do NOW, what do we DO instead of talking about women as abstracts (or worse handing out simplistic advice like “Stores, make sure your bathrooms are clean, women like that.”) Another faction of women strongly agitated for more “Women in Gaming” panels because they looked around at the seminars and noted, rightly, that women in the business are seriously underrepresented even among their well-intentioned peers. (An example from the program book from this very trade show invited attendees to a cocktail reception where they could “meet the designers” and then listed seven white guys and one woman.) Women in Gaming, what does it even mean anymore? It did not escape my notice that despite the panel being publicized with the “Gender Issues…” title, it was very much still seen as “the Women in Gaming panel” for good or ill.

I generally believe that people in the game industry are trying to do the right thing and trying to be better about how they approach issues of diversity. Occasionally there are situations where the definition of “creator” or “designer” is very narrowly applied, for example the idea that there aren’t a lot of women who are “design” games because the definition of designer in that person’s mind is one who creates a unique game or stand-alone product, particularly rules sets. Many women designers who do work on supplements and expansions, in the roleplaying game segment particularly, would argue with that definition and note that they do, in fact, create game materials even if they’re not reinventing the wheel and bringing out new stand-alone games. I have a whole, long rant on the issue of socialization and the differences between male and female creative output in gaming in particular but this is a different essay so you’ll have to wait for that one.

Back to the point, I think where we stand on the issue of women and their places in the games business is largely positive. Even so, there are inadvertent slights that undermine a lot of the good and sincere efforts made at inclusion, such as the unintended message being sent by the published list from the trade show program. It’s come up for me personally a few times in a row in recent weeks: while on the JoCo Cruise showing off our Love2Hate game, the one other seminar we had was scheduled opposite the demo event which meant that I could not attend the Titansgrave panel with Pramas and Wil Wheaton despite having been involved with the project from the start. Alone even that wouldn’t have been so bad but I was also not listed as being part of the company in the materials… as far as people knew from reading the programs, Green Ronin was a gaming event sponsor and Chris alone was the rep. As a company co-owner and General Manager, I would have appreciated the acknowledgement even as I recognized that it wasn’t any sort of purposeful slight. It was an honest oversight. After our return from JoCo, another convention that I’m attending started announcing their guests and I went looking for my listing in order to promote my attendance, only to find that I was not listed on the website…but once again Chris was. In this case, the guests weren’t being announced all at once but in staggered groups over the course of weeks, which is a perfectly common and valid way to spread out promotion in the lead up to an event. Hot on the heels of being overlooked in the JoCo materials, I did find it stung a bit more than usual to have Pramas listed as a guest for weeks ahead of me.

Just using my own recent experiences as fodder for this essay, I feel it’s important to note that no one in these scenarios is undertaking any effort to keep me from the table. In fact, these bumps came up precisely because I was invited to participate, the big gestures, the important moves forward are there: hey, demo your game at our event; please come be a guest at our convention; please sit on our panel and share your experience with us. These other issues are more about fine tuning: hey maybe you should think about how unbalanced your list of participants seems, I don’t think that’s the message you intend to send. I recently saw a reference to “shallow diversity” in the game business that seemed quite a bit more concerned about such small imperfections amidst the larger effort and I personally think that is the wrong way to approach things. I’d rather tackle the bigger things first.

Ramping up for convention season and readying Green Ronin for our big summer releases, I hope we’re doing a decent job of hitting the “big issues” on our end. I’m certainly going to continue to make the effort. I’ll be appearing at several conventions this year where I hope people can get to know me a bit and maybe remember that I’m part of this company, too. I’ll be running a Blue Rose game at the Contessa event at GenCon, where they’re providing a venue for games run by women for women. I’ll be proposing some panels for this year’s Geek Girl Con that I hope will touch on some of the things I’d hoped to say at the GAMA panel. I’ll once again be participating as an advisor on the GenCon Industry Insiders Featured Presenters programming and I encourage my colleagues to put themselves forward for inclusion as well. Over the course of these efforts, I will definitely make missteps and will work through some number of inadvertent slights because that’s the nature of life as a human being interacting with other imperfect human beings. What I won’t do is participate in any further generic “Women in Gaming” seminars or panels: the topic is too broad, too fractious, and it just doesn’t interest me to be a part of that anymore. We can do better.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

Ronin Round Table: Conversion Experience

PendantImagePart of the experience of creating the forthcoming new edition of Blue Rose, following our successful Kickstarter, is the process of taking the original rules of the game, which were the first iteration of what became the True20 System and converting them over to the Fantasy AGE System. Game system certainly does matter when it comes to game experience, so we wanted to make sure Blue Rose both took full advantage of the best qualities of the AGE System and that the rules adapted, as needed, to fit the world of Aldea and the romantic fantasy style of Blue Rose.

Some things were easy: Fantasy AGE character creation is based off of three classes: Mage, Rogue, and Warrior. Blue Rose character creation was also based off three classes: Adept, Expert, and Warrior. The three mapped almost exactly. On the other hand, Blue Rose adepts are not quite Fantasy AGE mages. Indeed, Blue Rose needed a whole new system of arcana to reflect the more psychic-based style of magic found in the setting. Similarly, the expert class needed additional breadth to handle many more socially-focused characters in Blue Rose, in addition to the sneaks, scouts, and swashbucklers.

Likewise, Blue Rose called for new races and backgrounds, since the world of Aldea doesn’t feature the same fantasy races found in Fantasy AGE, and its cultures have different backgrounds. Whereas Fantasy AGE devoted a fair amount of space to detailing the various kinds of equipment and gear adventures outfit themselves with, Blue Rose doesn’t focus so much on such things, so we needed to condense and simplify the rules for weapons, armor, and miscellaneous gear of all kinds.

The original edition of the game was heavily driven by Feats, individual special abilities characters acquired both at creation and as they advanced. Fantasy AGE, on the other hand, is largely driven by Talent, three-tiered sets of abilities which improve as characters advance, similar to many of the feat-chains or advancement paths set forth in the Blue Rose Companion. We had to consider in many cases whether or not a particular feat needed to become part of a Talent (or get expanded out into an entire Talent unto itself), become a Focus, or perhaps a class power or even arcanum (as most of the supernatural feats became).

The core of the game remains very much the same, with the same abilities, the use of focuses (although there are some new ones associated with the setting), and the use of tests and the stunts that may result from them. There are some new stunts, naturally, and a new way of generating stunt points from the intensity of characters’ relationships, perfect for that needed-right-now stunt to save a hero’s beloved, or strike down a hated enemy. There are also new persona mechanics to determine a character’s Calling as well as their Destiny and their Fate, their “highest” and “lowest” expressions of their nature, the good and bad impulses that exist within us all that help to drive characters.

One of the best results of the conversion experience is the opportunity for players of Fantasy AGE to take and adapt what has been built for Blue Rose and fold it back into their own games. Even if you’re not playing in the world of Aldea, there’s nothing saying you can’t use the new backgrounds, talents, specializations, arcana, or game mechanics like relationships or persona. They make Blue Rose a big Fantasy AGE add-on sourcebook unto itself!

We’re looking forward to getting Blue Rose into production and into your hands this summer so you can see for yourselves the results of our efforts and either return to the world of Aldea or visit anew to create your own adventures.

Hal Mangold

Hal Mangold

Production Manager at Green Ronin Publishing
Hal Mangold is the Production and Art Director for Green Ronin Publishing. He's been playing tabletop games since the 70s, making them since the 90s, and hopes to keep doing both for many many more trips around the Sun.
Hal Mangold

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Ronin Round Table: The Art of Art Direction

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By Hal Mangold

Today’s Ronin Round Table draws back the curtain on some of the behind-the-scenes parts of creating our products. Art is an essential part of the look and feel of most games, and it’s the role of the art director (that’s me) to make sure all that art gets created. To give you all a little insight into the job, we’re going to answer a few common questions about what being an art director is all about.  

What does the art director do?

As the art director, my responsibility is to make sure that all of the art that goes into Green Ronin’s games and publications is up to the standard we’ve tried to set over the years. I select the artists, assign and approve the art, and herd cats to make sure it all comes into our hands by the deadline necessary for publication.  

How does the art direction process work?

It all starts for me with scouting out the artists who have the right style to fit the project. Games like Mutants & Masterminds have a radically different art style than Dragon Age or A Song of Ice & Fire. I contact the artists I want on the project, see if they are available during the timeframe I need them, and get them contracted if they’re interested in working on the project. Ideally, this is done about 4-5 months ahead of time, but circumstances often compress this a bit.  

The art order or brief comes next. This is a description or set of descriptions for the piece of art needed for the product. These can be written either by me or, more often, by the developer of the product, with my role being more to tweak or jazz up those basic descriptions. Sometimes the descriptions are general, sometimes really specific, and different artists work well with each type. In general, I try to art direct with a light touch when I can. I’m hiring the artist for their talents and inspiration, after all. I try to give them as much room to improvise as I can.   

The next step is to take that art order transfer it to the artist or artists. For a cover piece, this part is simple. For interior work with multiple artists, it’s a bit more involved of a process. The art assignments get broken up between the artists, taking into consideration both spreading the artists throughout the book for a unified look, and assigning the right pieces to the right artists based on their relative strengths.

Next the artists submit their sketches for the assignments. I review them to make sure the composition is as strong as it should be, that the basic look is right, that any characters depicted have the correct look, and so on. If revised sketches are needed, the artist submits them, and once everyone is happy with where the piece are going, the artist takes the piece to its final state.

If the project is for a licensed property, there’s one extra step: approval by the licensor. Most licensors require us to submit all of the original art we commission to them so they can make sure it depicts their world and characters properly. Some licensors want to see sketches, and some just care about the final result.

There was a time when there was another step: the artists physically shipping their work to us for scanning. Fortunately almost all artists today (even those working in non-digital mediums) submit digital files. Considering the international nature of the artists we work with, that’s especially fortunate today, with international shipping costs being what they are.  

Once all the art is approved, the art director gives it a look to ensure it’s in the proper color and file format, and that it will reproduce properly when actually printed. After that, the image file is handed off to layout for insertion into the product. The art director’s work is done.

Where do you find artists?

Anywhere and everywhere! The Internet is a fantastic source, of course. Sites like DeviantArt, Artstation and DrawCrowd give artists a place to put their portfolios, and I browse around on them quite often. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are also fantastic art resources, both for finding new artists, and building “mood boards” for how I want a particular project to look. It sometimes takes a little internet detective work to find out who created an image found that way, however. Not everyone is great about tagging sources for what they post.

Conventions are another great source for artists. Whether it’s a comic, gaming, anime or just overall sci-fi show, I always keep an eye out for creators whose style might work with one of our games. If we’re actually displaying at a show (like GenCon, for instance), portfolio reviews are another great source for me.

And finally, email submissions come in all the time, and have provided me with some great people I might not have noticed before.

Can I submit my art to Green Ronin?

Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to submit their work (or a link to an online portfolio, preferably), to art@greenronin.com.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

Ronin Round Table: Blue Rose Development

Blue Rose cover by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Blue Rose cover by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Welcome! In this week’s Ronin Round Table, we’re taking a look at the development of the new edition of Blue Rose Fantasy Roleplaying following last year’s successful Kickstarter, along with a preview of some of the ways Blue Rose uses and modifies material from the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) System rules found in Fantasy AGE.

Right now, Blue Rose is poised between the development and editing stages of the process: draft text is in, with AGE System Developer Jack Norris and I going over our respective sections of the book: Jack primarily on the game system material and me primarily on the setting and story material, although there’s some crossover on both our parts. The drafts we have include all of the stretch goals funded by the Kickstarter and the hero and villain submissions by our Kickstarter backers for inclusion in the world of Aldea.

We have Lynne Hardy on-board as editor (or “benevolent editorial tyrant” as we have chosen to call it), empowered to smooth the sometimes rough road of our text so you can enjoy your journey through Aldea. She’s working with the setting material that makes up the first third or so of the book, detailing the world, it’s history, mythology, and the current state of its nations and peoples, roughly a decade since the time described in the original edition of Blue Rose.

There have been some changes! Queen Jaellin of Aldis is married (and not all are in favor of her choice of consort) and has won a stunning victory over the dark kingdom of Kern. Aldis is regaining its equilibrium following that recent conflict, and hopes are high for renewed peace and prosperity, but there are still many challenges for the Sovereign’s Finest throughout the land. The forces of Shadow do not rest and their reach is wide and deep. The nation is still very much in need of heroes to aid the cause of the Light.

Preview: Personas

We also have a special preview of the Blue Rose material in the works (hopefully the first of several such previews).

In this case, it is a draft of the Persona section of the game rules, discussing the qualitative traits of characters: their good and bad qualities (embodied in their Destiny and Fate), their goals and overarching place in the world, the looming specter of corruption and its effects on the spirit, and—most especially—their relationships, the deep emotional bonds that define the characters and help to drive them, not only in the context of the story, but providing clear game system effects when the players focus on those relationships and how they motivate their characters.

Download the preview PDF and take a look! Keep in mind that this is fairly raw text, still going through the development process. Nonetheless, we think if offers a pretty good look at where we’re going. If you have feedback for us, visit the Fantasy AGE forum on Roninarmy.com and let us know!