Chronicle System: Mountain Terrors

Mountain Terrors: AlpingastWe have posted two new PDFs for the Chronicle System, the rules that power our A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game. Mountain Terrors: Introduction is free, and Mountain Terrors: Alpingast is only $1.29.

In the heights of the world, dangers await. Whether those dangers take the form of bone-biting cold, ever-hungry predators, avalanches, or even creatures from the darkest of stories the common folk tell, this invaluable resource provides what you need to tell stories in the soaring, wild mountain terrain of your Chronicle System campaign.

[Ronin Round Table] Fantasy AGE: What’s Different from Dragon Age?

Fantasy AGEThe Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook will be releasing in PDF format and going up for pre-order soon. We will debut the game at GenCon, alongside Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. The most frequently asked question I’ve been getting is, “How is Fantasy AGE different than Dragon Age?” Both games feature the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) so this is a natural question to ask and the one I’m going to delve into today.

Backgrounds

The first thing I’d like to talk about is backgrounds. In Dragon Age a background is basically a mix of culture, social class, and race. You might be a Fereldan Freeman, High-born Dwarf, or Qunari Beresaad, for example. That works because Dragon Age is set in a specific place: Thedas. Fantasy AGE, on the other hand, has no attached world. Its rules are meant to be used with a campaign setting that you choose or create. I thus did not want to assume too much about the culture of the setting.

Therefore Fantasy AGE breaks out backgrounds into three parts. First you choose a race. To make the game as broadly useful to gamers as possible, we went with the “fantasy classics” here: dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, human, and orc (and Titansgrave adds saurians to the mix). You roll for your social class (outsider, lower class, middle class, or upper class), then you generate a background based on the class. This is meant to represent the career you trained for or engaged in before you became an adventure. Examples include hermit, laborer, merchant, and pirate. Your race, social class, and background modify your starting character in various ways: ability increases, focuses, and other benefits.

Abilities

The heart of any AGE game is the ability test. When you try to do something, you roll 3d6 and add the relevant ability (Communication, Dexterity, etc.). If your total meets or beats the Target Number, you succeed. If you roll doubles on the test, you get to do something cool as a stunt. Easy enough!

Dragon Age features 8 abilities inspired by the video game Dragon Age: Origins. They are:

Communication

Constitution

Cunning

Dexterity

Magic

Perception

Strength

Willpower

 

In Fantasy AGE there are 9 abilities instead of 8. They are:

Accuracy

Communication

Constitution

Dexterity

Fighting

Intelligence

Perception

Strength

Willpower

So you can see that in Fantasy AGE two abilities were added (Accuracy and Fighting), one was removed (Magic), and one simply had its name changed (Cunning to Intelligence). The latter is the easiest to explain. I simply thought Intelligence was a better name for the ability and conveyed its nature more clearly than Cunning. But why the other changes?

In Dragon Age Dexterity and Strength both do a couple of things. Dexterity adds to your Defense (making your harder to hit) and adds to your attack rolls with light melee weapons and missile weapons. Strength adds to your attack rolls with heavy melee weapons and damage to all melee and thrown weapons. All this has certain implications. First, it makes big monsters that hit hard but strike inaccurately harder to model. A + 8 Strength, for example, means +8 on the attack roll and damage. Fantasy AGE breaks this out into separate abilities: Fighting and Strength. Now it’s easier to represent something like an ogre, who might have a Fighting 3 and Strength 7. Second, Dexterity in Dragon Age is something of a superstat for rogues. In Fantasy AGE I thus decided to break it out into Accuracy and Dexterity. Now it’s Accuracy that adds to your attack rolls with light melee and missile weapons and Dexterity that adds to your Defense. The net result these changes means you have some real choices to make when you level up and get to increase an ability. As a warrior, do you want to hit harder or more often? As a rogue do you want to dodge more often or hit enemies more frequently?

As for the Magic ability, I cut it for a couple of reasons. First, to keep the overall number of abilities down. Second, because I felt everything it did could be modeled with other abilities: namely, Intelligence and Willpower. In Fantasy AGE your casting roll is based on Intelligence but your Spellpower is based on Willpower. In Dragon Age both of these are based on your Magic ability.

Magic

Speaking of magic, that’s perhaps the biggest change from Dragon Age. The basics remain the same. Mages have a pool of Magic Points (MPs) that they spend to cast spells. You can keep casting until you run out of MPs, and you can cast the same spell over and over if you want to. What is different is how you acquire spells. In Fantasy AGE there are magic talents, each of which corresponds to a themed group of four spells known as an arcana (Earth Arcana, Divination Arcana, and Fire Arcana, for example). When you get the novice degree of a magic talent, you learn the first two spells of its arcana. You get another at the journeyman degree and the final one at the master degree (as well as some other benefits). A level 1 mage starts with two magic talents at novice degree, which translates to four spells. Mages then acquire more spells as they go up in level by learning new arcana or mastering the ones they have.

Specializations

In Dragon Age you can customize your character with a specialization like Blood Mage, Spirit Healer, or Templar. You get one specialization at level 6 and another at level 14. Fantasy AGE retains the basic concept of the specialization but gives you access to them earlier. You get your first at level 4 and second at level 12. Since you can take your first specialization at level 4, I eased up on the requirements somewhat so it shouldn’t be hard to pick the specialization you want. There are four for each class, twelve in total. The specializations are Arcane Scholar, Assassin, Berserker, Duelist, Elementalist, Guardian, Knight, Mage Hunter, Miracle Worker, Sharpshooter, Swashbuckler, and Sword Mage.

And those are the biggest differences between Fantasy AGE and Dragon Age. As you can see, the games have the same core, but some slightly different expressions. If you’ve played Dragon Age, you’ll find Fantasy AGE a breeze to pick up. If you haven’t played Dragon Age or indeed any other RPG before, that’s OK too. Fantasy AGE is designed with new players in mind.

Blue Rose AGE is now on Kickstarter!

Yesterday, Nicole launched the Kickstarter project, Blue Rose: The AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy. Not only were we fully funded the same day, but we have already surpassed some of our stretch goals! We have been so excited to see the response to Blue Rose AGE. And in our excitement, we forgot to write a news post for it. Truly, this is a labor of love for the whole company and all the fantastic folks involved with the project.

gamers

 

 

From our Kickstarter Project page:

The AGE of Blue Rose

Our new edition of Blue Rose looks to match its fantastic world with the critically acclaimed Adventure Game Engine or “AGE” System used to power Green Ronin’s Dragon Age tabletop RPG adaptation, also seen in the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana on Geek & Sundry’s web series of the same name. The new edition of Blue Rose will contain all of the rules you need to play the game, along with all of the key information about the world of Aldea, its nations, characters, and conflicts―everything you need to create your own stories and adventures.

Why Now?

So why Kickstart a new edition of Blue Rose now? When Green Ronin began the process of turning AGE into a stand-alone game system for supporting multiple settings, one of the first we thought of was Blue Rose, a fantasy world that had something different to offer, that could in turn expand the options available in the game system to include psychic powers and a focus on character motivations and inner struggles, among other things.

We also felt that we could improve Blue Rose. A lot has changed in gaming―and society―in the ten years since the original edition of the game was published. A new edition for the AGE system offers us a great opportunity to carry forward the setting’s ideas with the advantage of a decade of hindsight and new understanding, as well as player feedback.

Most important, we feel that games like Blue Rose are needed. Awareness of the importance of representation and inclusion in the hobby and the industry has grown in recent years. Now publishers need to follow-through on that increased awareness and deliver games that help to fulfill its promise. That’s what we’re looking to do with this Kickstarter so, if you agree, we would really appreciate your support.

Stretch Goal Details

The setting material our freelance designers have pitched to us is detailed on our Kickstarter Project page. Each one of these would be roughly 2000 words long, and expand the World of Aldea in a new way. The micro settings are regions reachable through shadow gates that can provide new places to explore. We would really love to break our $100,000 Stretch Goal, so we can produce a Fate Blue Rose Companion by Brian Engard and Clark Valentine, the authors of our popular Fate Freeport Companion.

Thanks to so many generous backers, we have hit the following stretch goals:

brks_stretch_u13000brks_stretch_u16000brks_stretch_u20000brks_stretch_u22500

We are super close to unlocking the next stretch goal! 

brks_stretch_25000

While we’re talking Blue Rose RPG, we’d love to remind you that we have a Blue Rose T-shirt Design Contest running and we have a Blue Rose Facebook Page.

Enter the Blue Rose T­-Shirt Contest!

We’re extremely excited to announce our very first t­-shirt contest, to help promote both the Blue Rose RPG and the forthcoming Blue Rose RPG Kickstarter campaign. Our community of players is made up of some extremely talented and skilled folks, and we’re always amazed by the artwork created by so many of them.

As Nicole mentioned in her Blue Rose Ronin Roundtable, we’re also super pumped to be bringing the game back with a fresh new system and new stories. Stories of inclusion, of representation of marginalized voices. Stories created by marginalized voices.

“Relationships and community, finding your own authenticity in the face of bigotry, presenting your best self and working for a better world? Those issues are in my news feed every day. Heroes fighting for the greater good are not the sole providence of comic books and they’re going to be taking their place in the new Blue Rose release. My abiding concern as we move ahead is to make sure we improve on our prior presentation. Happily, I can say that our working relationship with BioWare over the evolution of the Dragon Age property has been educational and inspiring and has definitely affected my attitude towards the Blue Rose reboot. The evolution from Dragon Age 2, where we saw trans characters as elven prostitutes played for laughs to Dragon Age: Inquisition where a significant NPC is revealed as transgender in a much more sensitive, and more importantly organic, manner was not only the right way to address a prior misstep but a deft handling of the issue that rippled through the development of the culture of the Qunari and resulted in a much richer background for the world of Thedas as a whole. That is what I hope to see from a Blue Rose reboot as well.”

Which brings us to our new t-­shirt contest! We’re offering a chance for you to design our latest t­shirt, specifically for the Blue Rose RPG. First place will receive $250 USD, along with a copy of the new Blue Rose RPG. And of course, will receive one Blue Rose RPG shirt, featuring the winning design! 2nd and 3rd place winners will also receive one free Blue Rose RPG t­-shirt.

So, are you ready to enter? Of course, we have some rules for you. Whilst we would love to allow people of all ages and nations to enter, we cannot due to contest laws outside the USA. We are a super small company, and don’t have the resources to manage an international contest. We would also love for our younger fans to participate, but as you have to sign a legal agreement to enter & win, we can only accept entries for folks 18+.

You can read our Blue Rose RPG T-shirt Contest Rules here. Once you have read the rules, you can email your entries or questions to me at donna@greenronin.com.

Note: By submitting you agree to the rules, so you might as well read them. They’re not that long. Honest.

Rogues Gallery: New Mutants & Masterminds PDF Series!

Lady LightningToday we are pleased to present Rogues Gallery, a new series of PDFs for Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition!

Rogues Gallery … villains galore! Each Rogues Gallery entry includes a complete super-villain profile and character sheet with Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition game information. It also includes the villain’s background and various adventure hooks to use the character in your own game. Each entry is illustrated and, as a bonus, includes the villain’s game information in Hero Lab format, so you can import it right into the character management software and use it in your game (or modify it as needed) right away. Where else can you get a super-villain for less than the price of a cup of coffee? It’s positively criminal!

Lady Lightning

An old friend and colleague of Captain Thunder, this villain was transformed into pure energy and horribly unhinged in the process! Now she’s obsessed with Captain Thunder’s own son, Thunderbolt … or any other energy-using hero who might happen to catch her attention! Can your heroes resist the super-powered cougar known as Lady Lightning?

Get Lady Lightning today–just $1.29!

 

Ronin Round Table: Titansgrave Character Creation Day

By Chris Pramas

Titansgrave CoverEpisodes 0 and 1 of Titansgrave debuted on Geek & Sundry last week and we’ve been delighted with the response. After working on this since last year, it was great to see the show begin and the way the community embraced it. For those of you not so familiar with RPGs generally and Green Ronin specifically, let me quickly answer the most common question we are seeing. Yes, you’ll be able to buy the Fantasy AGE RPG and yes, there will be a Titansgrave book to go with it. I’ve been working feverishly (sometimes literally) to finish them so we can debut them at GenCon in August. They will be in stores shortly thereafter. You can follow the above links to read about the Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave books in our online store.

So this week you were introduced to our fabulous players and their characters: Laura Bailey as Lemley, Hank Green as Aankia, Alison Haislip as Killiel, and Yuri Lowenthal as S’lethkk. Back in March I flew down to Burbank for a character creation day. Hank could not be there (we did his character over Skype), but the other players were, as was GM Wil Wheaton. While some people like to just make their characters at home and bring them to the first session, I prefer to create characters as a group. This lets everyone talk and bounce ideas off one another, which usually leads to stronger characters.

Wil started by giving the players some background on Valkana and explaining that it’s a science fantasy “swords and blasters” setting. I then guided Laura, Alison, and Yuri through character creation. They conveniently settled on warrior, rogue, and mage (the three classes of Fantasy AGE) respectively. Hank had previously made a rogue as well.

As for races, I explained that Fantasy AGE featured dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, humans, and orcs (the fantasy classics, if you will). Valkana also has saurians, who are a race of intelligent lizardfolk. I think it was Yuri who first asked about playing a mixed-heritage character like a half-orc. I like to accommodate players if I can, so even though I didn’t have rules for such at that moment I said they could do that if they wanted. And oh, they wanted. Half elf/half human? Too tame for our intrepid adventures! Alison decided Killiel would be half elf and half dwarf. Yuri got crazy with half saurian and half orc (you can see Hank’s amusing reaction to that in Episode 0). Laura, perhaps feeling left out as a plain ole human, decided that she was adopted by saurians. I rolled with all this and made rulings on the fly as needed. Later, as I was finishing Fantasy AGE, I made sure to add a section on mixed heritage characters to cover the bases.

After doing all the nuts and bolts work of picking classes, talents, spells, equipment, and so on, we moved on to goals and ties. This is an important stage of character creation in Fantasy AGE, as it helps flesh out the characters. Players create personal goals for their characters. Basically, why is your character an adventurer and what do they want to achieve? Ties are the things that bind the characters together. How did the group get together? What made them into an adventuring party? This is where a lot of the fun stuff you see in Episode 0 was first conceived. You can see by the end of that even though this was the first adventure of the campaign, the group already had a nascent identity. The character creation day was also crucial for Wil, who was then able to take what he had learned about the characters and think about ways to work that material into the campaign. As you’ll see in the coming weeks, this is something Wil is quite adept at!

With characters created, I flew back home from Burbank 12 hours after I arrived. I would return in just a few days for the beginning of the shoot. More on that another time!

To keep up on Titansgrave and Fantasy AGE news over the coming weeks, check back here or follow us on Twitter at @GreenRoninPub or on Facebook. The Titansgrave RPG has its own Facebook page, too.

Ronin Round Table: Blue Rose

At the risk of boring the audience with back-to-back Ronin Round Tables focusing on Blue Rose, I really wanted to have a chance to say a few words before the Kickstarter for the new edition with the AGE rules goes up. Very soon now we’re going to be in the middle of Kickstarter craziness and, for the first time, I’m personally going to be managing the Kickstarter project on behalf of Green Ronin instead of our illustrious president Chris Pramas. Chris is eyeballs-deep in finalizing Fantasy AGE and tomorrow (assuming this posts as planned) will be the first episode of Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop RPG show Titansgrave: the Ashes of Valkana, which Green Ronin helped put together (and which Chris is also eyeballs-deep into finalizing for the accompanying sourcebook that Green Ronin is publishing). It seems only fair that someone else take up the management duties under current circumstances.

Knowing this duty was in my future made me introspective; more so than usual. In 2005, when the True20-powered edition of Blue Rose came out, I was very much in favor of doing it but it wasn’t a particular pet project of mine. I saw the value in creating a game that catered to the tropes and themes of the less-served side of fantasy literature, the “romantic fantasy” branch dealing less with battle prowess and conquest and more with relationships, alliances, striving for goodness, and creating community. We were already doing the grim and gritty-style of fantasy with our Black Company license, Chris’s ever-expanding Freeport setting, and our design house work on Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition for Games Workshop. Touching on this other style of fantasy just seemed to make sense! A rich fantasy life can take shape in a myriad of ways.

I really wasn’t prepared for the response we saw. We got a lot of positive feedback, people embraced the setting and wanted more, reviews praised the system and the beautiful art in equal measure. Another subset of people really, really liked the system work Steve Kenson had done with the True20 system and wanted THAT and only that, to the point of making ever-escalating demands up to and including threats to use the Open Game License that True20 was based on to strip the setting from the rules and release it with or without our involvement and whether we liked it or not. While certainly within the letter of the “law” of the OGL, it really seemed to violate the spirit of creative expression and sharing that had been largely respected by the community. It’s also around that time that Green Ronin underwent (and barely survived) what we’ve come to refer to around the office as The Osseum Debacle, which resulted in our fulfillment partners rather spectacularly going out of business and leaving their clients (Green Ronin being the largest) out to dry and out many, many thousands of dollars. It was not an ideal situation, to say the least.

Because of the Debacle, and the competing forces demanding our attention (while seeming unconcerned about the fact that these game releases were our livelihood) we didn’t get to do a lot of the things we’d hoped to do with the line. Even our best efforts at the time resulted in some cringe-worth mistakes and oversights in retrospect, though not necessarily the ones critics of the original setting harped on. Ten years along the landscape has changed quite a bit. Game companies and personalities have come and gone. Dungeons & Dragons itself has had two complete redesigns (the most recent under the editorial guidance of Jeremy Crawford, who coincidentally also edited and helped develop Blue Rose). “Romantic Fantasy” as its own literary genre is virtually nonexistent in comparison with young adult dystopias and paranormal romances springing up in its place.

And yet the tropes and themes of that branch we called “Romantic Fantasy” are more current than ever! Relationships and community, finding your own authenticity in the face of bigotry, presenting your best self and working for a better world? Those issues are in my news feed every day. Heroes fighting for the greater good are not the sole providence of comic books and they’re going to be taking their place in the new Blue Rose release. My abiding concern as we move ahead is to make sure we improve on our prior presentation. Happily, I can say that our working relationship with BioWare over the evolution of the Dragon Age property has been educational and inspiring and has definitely affected my attitude towards the Blue Rose reboot. The evolution from Dragon Age 2, where we saw trans characters as elven prostitutes played for laughs to Dragon Age: Inquisition where a significant NPC is revealed as transgender in a much more sensitive, and more importantly organic, manner was not only the right way to address a prior misstep but a deft handling of the issue that rippled through the development of the culture of the Qunari and resulted in a much richer background for the world of Thedas as a whole. That is what I hope to see from a Blue Rose reboot as well.

Of course, the world now also contains Tumblr mobs, irate Gamer Gate aficionados itching to move beyond name calling on forums to DDoS attacks, doxxing, and other direct forms of harassment, and people willing to strike up a call for boycott if your response to “sea lions” * on Twitter doesn’t meet with their approval. A decade ago I was probably brash enough that I would have flipped them a couple of birds and cursed like Chuck Wendig. I’ll try to maintain slightly more appropriate behavior this time around but mostly, I’m just eager for the chance to do this again and to do it even better. The Kickstarter launch won’t be long now and I can hardly wait to see who is going to join us in Aldea.

*please see http://wondermark.com/1k62/ for more on “sea lions” if you haven’t already.

Ronin Round Table: A Field of Flowers

The first time I came out professionally was in a job interview. It was in the early ’90s, and I was in Chicago, at FASA Corporation, interviewing for the job of Shadowrun developer following Tom Dowd’s departure.

When I was asked if had questions, other than talking about the particulars of the job, I said (something along the lines of) “Well, yes. I’m gay. Is that going to be a problem?” See I was fairly newly out, just to family and a few friends. The prospect of starting a new life in a new city … well, I wanted to do it right.

As it happened, my interviewer didn’t miss a beat and didn’t think there would be any problems, and I honestly don’t think it had anything to do with my not getting the job (which, obviously, I didn’t. I was way too young and inexperienced. It went briefly to SR author Carl Sargent, and then to FASA designer Mike Mulvihill). Still, it was a big step for me.

Why am I bringing all this up? Well, as you may know, Green Ronin announced a planned Kickstarter for a new edition of the Blue Rose roleplaying game of romantic fantasy, and the fact that it’s late in getting going is at least partially my fault, as I’ve been busy with this other project you may have heard about. So Blue Rose hasn’t gotten my full attention until fairly recently. While I apologize for any delays, I think it will be worth the wait and, honestly, the timing couldn’t be better.

You see, it’s LGBT Pride month, which is, to me, the ideal time for me to be talking about and working on Blue Rose, a project that made such a concerted effort ten years ago to be one of the most inclusive RPGs in terms of gender and sexuality. Now, honestly, we fumbled the “B” and “T” parts of LGBT, and could do better with others, but part of the point of a new edition is to apply lessons learned and make a good game even better, and that’s certainly my intention.

Now, Blue Rose is not as much about “the gay stuff” as some of its detractors (many of whom haven’t even read it) seem to think. Indeed, we tried to make Aldis’ acceptance of same-sex and polyamorous relationships as integrated and “normal” as possible for the setting, without calling a lot of attention to it. So why keep talking about it? Because, while it might not be a huge part of the game, it is still a big deal.

How can I explain just how desperate I was as a closeted high school geek to see some openly gay characters in the games I loved? Not even as heroes—oh no, that would have been too much to hope for—just as people who existed in the world, evidence that, in my fictional fantasy worlds, at least, I wasn’t as alone as I felt in the real world. Seeing some reflection of yourself in stories: That kind of representation matters, especially to young people who feel isolated and afraid. It matters that when we talk about stories of adventure and heroism, we make it clear everyone can be a hero—or a villain, for that matter. We make it clear that you—yes, you—can be the hero.

Inclusion and representation—whether it’s gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, or any of the other qualities that make us who we are—have become much more widespread issues than when Blue Rose was first published a decade ago, and Green Ronin’s expansion of the Adventure Gaming Engine (AGE) system offers us a great opportunity to apply all that we have learned in the intervening years by returning to the world of Aldea and the Kingdom of the Blue Rose. It also allows us the opportunity to be more inclusive on the creative side of things, and we’re putting together a great list of creators interested in providing different looks at the world, its characters, and the kinds of adventures you can have there. Although the name of the game is Blue Rose, we want a garden of roses, an entire field of different flowers, to bloom, and we hope you’ll join us in making that happen.

I know better at this point than to give you an exact date, but I can tell you that the Kickstarter is coming soon, and to watch this space and Green Ronin’s social networks like Facebook and Twitter for an announcement as we get ready.