Ronin Roundtable: Walking the Royal Road, Part One: Friends & Loved Ones

Hello and welcome to Walking the Royal Road, what I hope to be an ongoing series on using the Tarot (or Royal Road, in Aldean parlance) in Blue Rose AGE games.

The Tarot has been used in roleplaying games for quite a long time, in a variety of contexts, and with good reason. Reading and deciphering the Tarot is less a matter of divination as it is storytelling—each card carries an intrinsic meaning (and sometimes a second meaning when the card appears inverted) that can serve as a building block for a larger narrative. When multiple cards are laid out, with each card position also having a meaning, it is possible to use them to build a small story of some kind, through the language of symbolism and the very human act of pulling disparate elements into a larger narrative.

The Blue Rose AGE core book already suggests a use of the Royal Road: in the establishment of a character’s Calling, Destiny, and Fate. There are also some suggestions for using tarot in Chapter Ten (p. 313, in the section “Walking the Royal Road,” where the title for this series comes from). This series of articles is going to suggest some additional uses for them.

The cards we use in these articles are the Shadowscapes Tarot, with art by the amazing Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, whose art has graced the covers of Blue Rose books throughout the game’s history.

Friends & Loved Ones

Today’s article is going to offer some additional character building. Romantic fantasy, as a genre, focuses not just on magic and feats of derring-do, but also the relationships formed by the characters. Characters do amazing things for love, for friendship, and for hate, and these kinds of motivators should always play into games of romantic fantasy, to some degree.

In order to have these kinds of motivations, though, player characters need some relationships in place. This system is intended to augment the Relationships mechanics, as found on p. 60 of the Blue Rose core rulebook. Where that system helps define how strongly heroes feel about other characters, this one will help with the brainstorming of figuring out who they are.

 

The Spread

The spread for this method is a simple three-card spread for each character.

The Role Card indicates in what capacity the PC knows the character in question. Take a look at the suit (pentacles, cups, wands, swords, or Major Arcana).

  • Pentacles: The person is someone you know in a professional capacity.
  • Cups: The person is someone who know familially, either a member of your family, or someone you met through a family member.
  • Wands: The person is someone you met in a social capacity, at a party or festival, tavern or theater.
  • Swords: The person is someone you know from a training or learning endeavor: a fellow apprentice, or someone you met in schooling of some kind.
  • Major Arcana: You met this person in some extraordinary capacity. Use the card itself as an inspiration: perhaps you met the Chariot while traveling, or you met the Tower during a terrible disaster of some kind.

The Personality Card indicates what this person is like. Use the tables for Calling, Destiny, and Fate in the Blue Rose core rulebook as a starting place. Note that this card does not indicate this character’s Calling, Destiny, or Fate—it’s simply what their outward-facing personality is like. There are always depths beneath this surface.

The Relationship Card indicates what your relationship with this person is like. The meaning of the card should be applied to this in some capacity. A Six of Wands suggests recognition of success, so perhaps this person looks up to you for your heroism; in contrast, the Page of Swords is about having enthusiasm but needing more information, so this card in the Relationship space suggests that the person looks to you as a source of information, or is themselves such a source for you.

 



Example

In the image, we have laid out some cards in the Friends & Loved Ones Spread.

Role: The Magician. We know this person because of magic, clearly. They might be an adept of some kind, or if we’re playing an adept or other talented character, perhaps we aided them with our own arcane arts.

Personality: The Star. Consulting the Callings table on p. 57 of Blue Rose, we see that this card represents “Artistic Mastery.” This character seems to be an artist to everyone they know, and not just a dabbler, either, but someone who really works to master their craft and achieve their vision.

Relationship: Seven of Wands. One of the typical meanings for the Seven of Wands is both aggression and defiance. In the Relationships space, this suggest someone whose closeness to the player character is either defiance—or, it’s someone who maintains the relationship out of defiance.

Conclusion

Here is just one example of a Narrator character generated using the spread above. It’s far from the only one, to say nothing of the variety possible from other card results entirely!

Godia Tulry: The Wishful Scrivener. We met Godia in the way she tends to meet new people—when she barged right up to us to ask us about our experiences and theories about the arcane. The other adepts roll their eyes and make themselves scarce when she shows up, because she’ll take up every bit of your time, if you let her. Despite their warnings, though, we find her delightful. She’s a dedicated magical chronicler, and we’re good enough friends that she has shyly confided that she wants more than anything to wield magic herself some day, but she just doesn’t have the Talent for it. Still, she is very sweet, loves when we use magic around her, and whipcrack sharp when it comes to arcane theory and history.

In the above example, magic is at the center of the friendship between Godia and the player’s character, per the Role card showing the Magician. Her insistent personality around her craft we derive from the Personality card showing the Star, and we’ve interpreted the defiance in the relationship, per the Relationship card showing the Seven of Wands, as coming from others who don’t understand the friendship.

 

Thanks: To Stephanie Pui-Mun Law for her amazing Shadowscapes tarot, which we use in this article. Her deck can be purchased off of Amazon here.

Pre-Order and PDF: The Book of the Righteous for Fifth Edition

The Book of the Righteous for Fifth Edition

The Book of the Righteous for Fifth Edition

Now available for pre-ordering, The Book of the Righteous provides a complete pantheon for Fifth Edition games.

When you pre-order through our Green Ronin Online Store or through participating Green Ronin Pre-Order Plus retailers, you can get the PDF version right away for just $5!

The most comprehensive pantheon in roleplaying games is back in a new edition for 5E. This massive tome provides more than 20 pick-up-and-play churches, whose organization and beliefs are described in lavish detail. These churches can be used in any campaign setting to bring a whole new level of detail to religious characters. Plus, for those who don’t have a complete cosmology in their game, The Book of the Righteous provides a comprehensive mythology that unifies all of the gods in the book. The original edition of Book of the Righteous was one of the most critically acclaimed books of the d20 era. Now Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition designers Robert J. Schwalb and Rodney Thompson have brought the new edition up to date with the 5E rules and the whole book is in glorious full color. The Book of the Righteous is truly a divine sourcebook like no other.

[Pre-Order] [PDF]

Ronin Roundtable: The Six of Swords

 

The Adventure Gaming Engine (AGE System) edition of Blue Rose: The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy is now in the hands of backers of the Kickstarter and available through distribution in fine game stores everywhere. As readers digest the contents of that sizable book, those looking to run a new Blue Rose game of their own need only one additional resource: Adventures! The Blue Rose book provides a sample adventure (“The Shadows of Tanglewood” by Steven Jones) and a wealth of adventure hooks and ideas, but for an ongoing series, Narrators are going to want additional adventure resources. Fortunately, we’ve anticipated their needs.

The new Six of Swords adventure anthology offers a set of six adventures for Blue Rose, complete stories including important characters, setting information, and all of the material a Narrator needs to run them.

  • The Mistress of Gloamhale Manor pits the heroes against the ghostly inhabitants of a haunted mansion in a search for the truth.
  • The Sixth Beast offers an opportunity to prevent war between factions in an outlying region of Aldis.
  • The Night Market sends the envoys into the dark depths of the Veran Marsh and the heart of the criminal underworld to recover a valuable arcane artifact.
  • A Harvest of Masks begins with mysterious abductions from Aldin villages near the wilderness of the Pavin Weald. Who are the masked abductors and what do they want?
  • Storms Over Kamala finds the heroes out on the wild Plains of Rezea to challenge the forces that have claimed a witch’s ancient homeland.
  • A Wanton Curse is set at a high society masked ball in a castle on Gravihain Eve, the Aldin equivalent of Halloween. What dark secrets are some of the guests concealing?

Most of the adventures are pitched toward low-level heroes, working from 1st level up through the upper low levels. The last couple adventures are intended for mid- and high-level heroes, both for Narrators who want to start out with a higher level game, and to offer examples of such adventures for a series as it grows and develops. Each adventure should be good for multiple sessions of game play, and most feature mysteries and character interaction alongside action and combat encounters.

The adventures cover a wide range of locations and styles, from the depths of the Veran Marsh to the open grasslands of the Plains of Rezea and the deep woodlands of northern Aldis. Adversaries range from criminal syndicates to corrupt sorcerers, vengeful spirits, and terrible unliving creatures like vampires.

We think this format provides a nice combination of adventures usable right out of the book and varied locations and plots. If Six of Swords does well, it may be a model for future Blue Rose adventure collections. We’re looking forward to offering other adventures and source material for the Romantic Fantasy role playing game and the fantastic world of Aldea.

Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order & PDF

Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order and PDF

Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order and PDF

Pre-ordering is now active for the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting!

Important! You have three choices of where to start, so please make sure you choose the one you want:

  • Pre-Order for Shipping
    This is the option to get the physical book shipped to you once they are done printing. You’ll receive an offer to get the PDF version right away for just $5, but you must choose “Add to Cart” in the pop-up window to get the offer.
  • Pre-Order for Gen Con Pick-Up:
    This is the option to choose if you are going to be at Gen Con 50 this August in Indianapolis and can come by the Green Ronin Publishing booth (#1321 in the Exhibit Hall) to pick up your book in person, with photo ID. When you check out you’ll be offered the PDF version for just $5, but you must choose “Add to Cart” in the pop-up window to get the offer.
  • PDF:
    Don’t like lugging books around with you as you search for adventure in Tal’Dorei? This is the option for you.

Questions?

We have a FAQ set up just for you. If you’re still not sure about something, you can write our Customer Service Templar at custserv@greenronin.com. But please do read the FAQ first.

GenCon Memories

GenCon is coming up next month and it’s a big one: the 50th anniversary! We will, of course, have a booth (#1321) and we’ll be debuting the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting there (pre-orders for which started today). GenCon is doing a lot of cool stuff to celebrate the anniversary, including a recreation of Lake Geneva’s Horticultural Hall, site of the very first GenCon. There will also be a museum with all sorts of artifacts from the history of the hobby, including a couple of Green Ronin books. I already wish I was going to have more time to check all that stuff out!

The anniversary has, of course, made me think about my own history with the show. I first went to GenCon in 1989, when I was in college. I didn’t know anyone there. I went out by myself, had an amazing time, and convinced some friends to come back with me the following year. I’ve never missed a GenCon since. In 1993 it started to turn into work, as I began to pursue a career as a freelance game designer that eventually lead to me becoming a publisher. For a long time now the focus of the con has been work and I wouldn’t give up that up, but I do look back on those first five GenCons with much fondness.

Playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle at GenCon, 1990

In those days I came to play and I did not mess around. I would usually play in three 4-hour events per day. I would try to have one block free so I could get food and hit the dealers hall, but sometimes the events would line up so that I’d play for 12 hours straight. Some of the bigger miniatures game I played would be 8 hours by themselves! I didn’t mind. Quite the opposite! I was hungry for it, and I developed strategies to maximize my fun. At the time, I worked at an old school Italian coffee store in New York City. To save money and also time, I began bringing ground coffee, filters, and an electric kettle with me from home. I’d make a big thermos of coffee in the morning and drink it all day. One year, when I could barely afford a plane ticket, I brought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and that was most of my meals that week.

I hear folks complain about the various online registration systems in use at conventions today and all I can think about is fax machines. Back then you’d get a program book in the mail ahead of time and a sheet where you’d fill in your requested games and some alternates. On a specified day, you would fax it to TSR’s headquarters. Or try to anyway because thousands of other people were jamming up the fax lines at the same time. I was working a different job one year and one my regular duties was faxing various documents. Come registration day, I took my sign-up sheet, told my boss I had to make a fax for our department, and then spent an hour and a half in the basement trying to get it to go through! I pity the poor TSR staffers who had to hand collate all those sheets and fill the games. Closer to the con you’d get an envelope with printed tickets for your events. You often didn’t get all the games you wanted, so they’d fill out your order with generic tickets. On site, they had a giant board where the tickets would hang from rows and rows of hooks. You could wait in line and try to get into more events there. As you got the front, you could actually figure out which events still had tickets left by looking at the code numbers under the hooks that weren’t empty.

In this era GenCon was in Milwaukee. I don’t know if this is still the case but the downtown often smelled like chocolate because there was a factory there. Fun fact, it’s where noted cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer used to work! Every year there was a rush on the Hotel Wisconsin because it was cheap (like $64 a night) and close to the convention center. There was a diner on the ground floor where we’d get breakfast some mornings. I remember tying to order a bagel there and the staff had no idea what I was talking about. This was a confusing experience for a New Yorker. It did not help that was a vegetarian at the time. Let’s just say the options for non-meat eaters in Milwaukee in the early 90s were not plentiful. There was a terrible sports bar called Major Goolsby’s across from the convention center and I once ordered what they called a Wisconsin cheese sandwich there. Seemed safe enough. Wisconsin! Cheese! Why, there’s even a cheese museum on the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee. I get my food and it is a hamburger bun with one slice of American cheese, one piece of lettuce, and one slice of tomato. Sad vegetarian was sad.

But hey, no one goes to GenCon for the cuisine. I was playing tons of games and meeting new people every year. I loved the dealers hall then because the internet was barely a thing and there was so much gaming stuff I’d never see anywhere else but there. Finding that game I’d only heard about or scoring something long out of print felt like victories. The auction was great for that and I spent a lot of time between games there.

After my first GenCon experiences, I decided I wanted to start running games myself. Ars Magica was my favorite RPG then, so I began to run a two round ArM tournament. The characters and their covenant persisted year to year and I built on stories that played out in the finals. I did that for four years and it was a useful bridge between just being a fan and starting a career as a game designer. The things I learned playing and running games, and the people I met and the contacts I made, all played a role in me taking that leap. For these reasons and so many more, GenCon will always be special to me. So thanks, GenCon! Happy 50th and here’s to 50 more!

ENnie Awards Voting Open and ENnie Awards Sale

We are pleased and humbled to be nominated for eight ENnie Awards this year. We’ve included a list of our nominations at the bottom of this post.

2017 ENnies voting is now open

In our excitement about the ENnies we placed several products on sale in our Green Ronin Online Store. Please check out our 2017 ENnie Awards Sale.

Our nominations are for:

Best Adventure:
Dragon’s Hoard
Best Art, Cover:
Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy
Best Monster/Adversary:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Fantasy AGE Bestiary
Best RPG Related Product:
Cinema and Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film
Best Setting:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Best Supplement:
Cosmic Handbook
Product of the Year:
Atlas of Earth-Prime

As always, sincere congratulations to our fellow nominees, and thank you to all who worked on these products, all who vote, and everyone else we may have forgotten to list.

The Lost Citadel Countdown

The clock is counting down on Kickstarter for The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying. Thanks to our amazing backers, we fully funded in 24 hours, and have been knocking down stretch goal after stretch goal.