Pre-Order and Download: Cinema and Sorcery

Cinema and Sorcery

Cinema and Sorcery

Cinema and Sorcery: A Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film is now available for pre-order, or as a multi-format eBook.

From the dawn of feature films, fans—be they artists, gamers, visionaries, writers, or dreamers—have drawn inspiration from the big screen. Now, between the covers of Cinema & Sorcery, embark on a decades-long journey through time from the earliest days of sword and sorcery films up to the present day. Learn the who, the what, the where, and the how of your favorite fantasy movies (and perhaps a few you may have never even heard of until now). Fifty films are covered in great detail, followed by shorter entries for every fantasy film we could find. So turn up your Krull soundtrack, slip into your Labyrinth t-shirt, and brush up on your Princess Bride quotes, this is Cinema & Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Films!

When you pre-order the print version of Cinema and Sorcery, you’ll be offered the eBook versions for just $5 at checkout. The eBook is current available in mobi and ePub formats. Any future electronic formats will be added to your available downloads when they become available. You can get the same deal from participating Pre-Order Plus retailers.

Pre-order Cinema and Sorcery today!

New PDFs: Short Cuts, Atlas of Earth-Prime, Rogues Gallery

This week features three new additions to our ongoing PDF series.

Fifty Campaign Themes

Fifty Campaign Themes

For Pathfinder Short Cuts, we have Fifty Campaign Themes. This is a 10-page PDF offering suggestions and guidance from Owen K.C. Stephens with themes new Pathfinder-compatible campaigns can be built around. Do you want to send the PCs on a voyage of exploration? Turn them into world-changing dam busters? Examine a technological revolution? A campaign can be as simple as a dungeon stomp, or as complex as you want it to be, and these themes can help a GM introduce new directions for a game as an overarching plot, or just a change of pace.

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Atlantis

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Atlantis

The Atlas of Earth-Prime goes from the surface of the world to beneath the seas, exploring the fabled lost continent of Atlantis. Once the home of the most advanced civilization on Earth, Atlantis sank beneath the ocean thousands of years ago, its surviving people transformed into aquatic water-breathers. For decades the House of Atlan—the Atlantean royal family—have held ties to the surface world and hero teams like the Liberty League, Freedom League, and the Next-Gen. Explore their mysterious homeland and dangers in the shifting currents of power in their undersea realm.

M&M Rogues Gallery: Cheat Code

M&M Rogues Gallery: Cheat Code

For Mutants & Masterminds Rogues Gallery, we have Cheat Code. Granted a wish for saving a young woman from attackers, Reggie asked for the ability to use cheat codes IRL. Now, as Cheat Code, he uses his smarts, skills, creativity, and “computer game” powers to pwn any noob he wants! Or, really, anyone he wants.

Get the Cheat Code today—just $1.95!

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.

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.

Rogues Gallery: Newt (PDF)

Rogues Gallery: Newt (PDF)

Rogues Gallery: Newt (PDF)

Today we have a new Rogues Gallery issue for Mutants & Masterminds!

What do you do if your only superpower is to leap long distances? If you’re Newt, you become a second-story thief and use the money you make to buy you a high-tech suit to make you an even better second-story thief! Newt may be an odious little man, but he’s good at what he does! And nothing else….

Get the Newt today—just $1.95!

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Inquisitor Spells of Freeport (PDF)

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Inquisitor Spells of Freeport (PDF)

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Inquisitor Spells of Freeport (PDF)

Today we present the second installment of our Short Cuts PDF series. These are tightly-focused PDF products that look at a single topic relevant to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. All Short Cuts are appropriate for use with Freeport: The City of Adventure, but can also be easily used in any Pathfinder RPG-compatible campaign setting.

Inquisitor Spells of Freeport is a seven-page, full-color PDF featuring several new spells by Owen KC Stephens. The Church of Retribution brought its inquisitors to Freeport generations ago. This was seen as a dark time by many spellcasters, but in truth the inquisitors brought as much spell knowledge as they attempted to repress. The fall of the Church of Retribution caused much of their eldritch lore to become commonplace, at least in Freeport’s spellcasting circles.

Revealed in this PDF are the spells arcane ram, astute fighting, battlelink, beneficence, censure, chastise person, crown of terror, crown of valor, draw on faith, fastheal, foozle, furious assault, locate individual, mark of apostasy, missteps, potent weapon, sanctum, steely will, strength of faith, thievesbane, and vigilance.

These spells are appropriate for any campaign set in the World of Freeport, especially those utilizing Freeport: The City of Adventure, but can also fit with any fantasy campaign compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Inquisitor Spells of Freeport (PDF)

Ronin Round Table: Hero High Introduction

Welcome! In this week’s Ronin Round Table, we’re showing off the cover to the revised and updated edition of Hero High for Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition! Plus introducing you to the heroes in the latest lineup of the Next-Gen! We’ll cut right to important stuff and show off the cover first!

HeroHighFinal01This is the cover image before we add any other graphic elements such as the Hero High title and logos, but it’s great to see this come to life!

This image was born from a discussion between M&M game designer Steve Kenson and me. I sent him a paragraph about two different ideas, one in which the characters were standing on some bleachers with a defeated enemy on the gym floor in front of them and the second idea was them standing on a giant defeated robot. Clearly, the ideas were combined Voltron-like into the above image, which shows the heroes standing on a defeated robot (a Probot from the Terminus, also featured on the cover to the Gadget Guides) in front of outdoor bleachers!

Seven of the eight members of the Next-Gen from the updated Hero High are shown on this image. We couldn’t squeeze Blue Bolt on the cover, but he’s featured in the Mutants & Masterminds Quick-Start that’s currently in the works. Blue Bolt was featured in a couple of Power Profiles and we liked the character design Sean Izaakse came up with so much we decided to use him as a character in Hero High!

Because the Next-Gen is a team made up of students at the Claremont Academy, its lineup changes frequently. The members of the team featured in the original Hero High are now out in the real world, dealing with challenges all their own. (You’ll hear more about them in Freedom City when it’s released later this year.) Now, let’s meet the new lineup of the Next-Gen so you can be prepared for them when Hero High is released in a couple of months. (We’re commissioning the interior art now, but the cover and text is finished!)

Blue Bolt is Jae Murphy, a Korean-American kid from Irvine, California. He’s a half-human/half-alien with the ability to generate and sense electricity, cause blackouts, and make quick jumps in the form of living lightning. He’s a thrillseeker who’s in love with the idea of being a superhero.

Catalyst is Reena Sarin, the daughter of Indian immigrants and is from Florida. She’s a very smart, impulsive girl whose body produces incredible amounts of excess bio-energy. Initially she could only generate a powerful energy blast that exhausted her when she used it, but she built herself a control rod that stores and allows her to control her energy to create a wide variety of effects. She’s determined to prove herself a valuable member of the team, but her unluckiness and destructive powers make that difficult for her.

Elflight is Alea Arlissan, a half-elven girl from Tuatha, the realm of Faerie. She came to the Claremont Academy at the suggestion of Seven, who she helped on a recent quest that took her to Tuatha. Elflight wields the powers sword known as Whitestar, has mastered a few spells, and is accompanied on Earth-Prime by her dragonling familiar Phoros. She is motivated to be a force for good in the world–and to hunt down and deal with supernatural threats.

Junior is Wally Thompson, Jr. and he’s actually a young sasquatch from the Cryptid Clans found in the wilderness around Emerald City. Abandoned by his parents on the doorstep of an isolated farm, Junior was adopted and raised as a human child. As a young sasquatch, he still looks mostly human, but is incredibly strong, has a connection to the natural world, and possesses a supernatural ability to hide from view. Junior was raised right and believes he should try to make the world a better place.

Miss Kitty is Amelia Cero. Her family owns CeroSoft, a software manufacturing company in Chicago. Her grandmother gave her a beautiful Egyptian cat statuette which was a family heirloom. The statuette came to life in the moonlight and explained Amelia was the next in line to be granted powers by Bastet and act as her emissary on Earth. Calling herself Miss Kitty, Amelia became a hero, but as soon as her parents discovered what she was up to, they sent her to Claremont Academy. Despite her youth–she’s 14–Miss Kitty is one of the most experienced heroes on the team.

NGM is Martin Conte, grandson of Leroy Conte, the Civil Rights-era hero known as the Golden Marvel. When Leroy was released from Buckner Ridge, better known as Lockdown, and he saw the difficulties Martin was having, he decided to pass on the golden light he possessed in the hopes it would give the boy a purpose and prove he could make a difference. Now, Martin, as NGM, is a powerful, overconfident, and angry young man. He wants to do good and he especially wants to be recognized for doing good.

Silver Eagle is Nina Cruz, the daughter of two AEGIS agents, one of whom was exposed to large doses of interdimensional energies during the Terminus Invasion. Since birth, Nina has possessed “argent energy” she can use to fly, enhance her already considerable strength, protect herself, create objects from the energy, and generate destructive blasts. Silver Eagle was trained by AEGIS for a number of years and is a patriot through and through. She’s also the most responsible of the students and has been at the school for years.

Wraith is Luke Dixon, the son of a scientist for the Foundry. When he learned what his father did, he ran … right into a war zone where he was blown to bits. Rather than let his son die, Malcolm Dixon rebuilt him using the “living cybernetics” he was experimenting with for the Foundry. Unlike so many before him, Luke survived and was rescued during an AEGIS raid. Now recovered from his transformation, Luke feels less than human despite his enhanced strength, speed, and toughness. Wraith believes he should make the best of his abilities and feels it’s his responsibility to use them to help others.

The Next-Gen are designed as PL8 heroes, which is the recommended power level for teen heroes in Hero High, so you and your friends can use them as player characters if you want to get started playing right away. Be on the lookout for more information on the Next-Gen and Hero High in the coming weeks!

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Magic Firearms of Freeport (PDF)

Short Cuts: Magic Firearms of Freeport for the Pathfinder RPG

Short Cuts: Magic Firearms of Freeport for the Pathfinder RPG

We are pleased to present the first installment of a new PDF series, Short Cuts. These are tightly-focused PDF products that look at a single topic relevant to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. All Short Cuts are appropriate for use with Freeport: The City of Adventure, but can also be easily used in any Pathfinder RPG-compatible campaign setting.

Magic Firearms of Freeport is a six-page, full-color PDF featuring new magical abilities for firearms and powder, by Owen KC Stephens. A corsair’s weapon can transform from its firearm form to a melee weapon. A hairtrigger firearm is infused with magic to help a wielder strike unexpectedly. A firearm or crossbow imbued with the rumlord’s ability contains a hidden–and deadly–surprise. This PDF includes eleven enhancements for firearms, and three types of special powder.

These firearm special abilities are appropriate for any campaign set in the World of Freeport, especially those utilizing Freeport: The City of Adventure, but can also fit with any fantasy campaign compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook that allows early firearms.

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Magic Firearms of Freeport (PDF)

Ronin Round Table: Freeport Creature Encounters

creatures_covA lot of GMs drawn to Freeport: City of Adventure are relatively new to the Pathfinder RPG, and many who aren’t new to Pathfinder are new to running adventures in a city focused on pirates and cults to elder horrors and serpentfolk. A great deal of advice for both groups is available, much of it in Freeport: City of Adventure, and the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. But especially given how well Freeport allows a GM to draw in options and monsters from any setting, I thought it might be useful to go over a few oft-overlooked basics on building creature encounters in Freeport.

Change It Up

It’s easy to think a pirate-and-cultists setting like Freeport should focus primarily on humanoid foes, but that can be a mistake. First, it gets boring to face nothing but more warriors and the occasional ranger or sorcerer. Second, PCs are much more likely to identify NPC abilities when they are drawn from the character classes the players can also choose from. And third, it means a weapon that is bane against magical beasts isn’t very useful to the player who wields it.

There’s nothing wrong with having lots of humanoid foes, but it’s also easy to add a few animal and magic beast pets or allies, have cultists accidentally summon outsiders, have aberrations lurk beneath cult strongholds, have one of the main pirates happen to answer to a sea dragon, and so on. Freeport draws its inspiration from stories that primarily focus on human foes, but as a fantasy game there’s no reason not to figure out how chuul and hangman trees figure into local adventures. Read more

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Australasia (PDF)

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Australasia (PDF)

Atlas of Earth-Prime: Australasia (PDF)

Today the Atlas of Earth-Prime goes down under, to the continent of Australia and the islands and oceans in the Pacific. Written by native Australian Darren Bulmer, this Atlas entry offers an overview of Australia, then introduces us to Federal City and the hidden super-advanced civilization of Warrangina and its hero/leader Wandjina. Also included are the national hero Blue Ensign, the vigilante Nighthaunt, and the Southern Stars—along with descriptions of a number of villains. It also introduces Amphitritus, a sunken city that’s a sister to Atlantis with its own king, Ormor the Aquarian.

Get Atlas of Earth-Prime: Australasia today, for just $3.95!