Modern AGE Enemies & Allies: What’s In It? (Ronin Roundtable)
Last time I got so interested in Enemies & Allies’ cover I neglected to really get into the book’s contents. Let me correct that now.
In short, Enemies & Allies is a book of Non-Player Characters and creatures for Modern AGE, but it’s a bit more than a manual of, er, “monsters.” The book contains five chapters and three appendices of NPCs, strange creatures, and guidelines for using them. Each chapter covers a selection of people and creatures that suit a particular genre. Some of these beings are unique, while others describe a type. Game statistics cover Gritty, Pulpy, and Cinematic modes for each entry.
Chapter 1: Arcane Beings
Will Sobel’s chapter starts by discussing the role of magic and monsters in modern games before providing rules for the arcane places of power that tend to attract them. Will did a fantastic job of drawing from American folklore as well as classic fantasy, and produced the following entries:
- The Banshee, a classic wailing ghost
- The Draugr, a shapeshifting undead creature obsessed with greed
- Modern Elementals of the atomic, genetic, quantum, and magnetic varieties
- Fair Folk, trickster refugees from another plane
- Gargoyles, guardians of sacred and symbolically powerful structures
- The Glawackus, a mind-altering predator cryptid
- The unique Headless Horseman, who arrives from hellish dimensions to claim its prize
- Warlocks, practitioners of dark magic who give ethical practitioners of the arcane arts a bad name
Chapter 2: Elite Operatives
Author Dylan Birtolo’s chapter presents a selection of people (and one robot) suited to military and espionage-focused games. After providing guidelines for modeling the abilities of the apex operators in this shadow world, he presents the following entries:
- The Armored Soldier, who specializes in operating tough vehicles for even tougher jobs
- Clara Lynch, an elite MMA fighter and veteran with ties to the military and intelligence communities
- The Double Agent, who specializes in betrayal
- The classic Field Agent, who depending on the genre might have gadgets to get out of tight spots
- The Field Commander, who may stay in the van but who can only be ignored at your peril
- The Mediator, an elite negotiator
- The Publicist, master of spin
- The Robot Dog, a next-generation agile robot who can be a lifesaver or killer, depending on its settings
Chapter 3: Horrors and Witnesses
Matthew Dawkins knows horror, so he was a natural choice to pen this chapter about creatures drawn from the genre. This chapter is a bit different from counterparts in other games as we tried to go outside the classic standards in a few cases, and we linked them to psychic phenomena to differentiate them from fantasy creatures (with options for changing this described clearly in the book). This chapter starts with an overview of the genre, and new rules for sensing psychic impressions—and optional rules for evil deeds making characters more vulnerable to evil creatures. Its entries are:
- The Anomaly, a living fracture in the laws of nature
- The Autarch, fragment of a fallen demon lord bound to a fascist mortal
- The Cacodemon, a spirit of psychopathy
- The Caries, a flesh-grinding psychic construct, born of decay
- The Chameleon, a psychic impersonator. Includes the new power of Psychic Shapeshifting
- The Dream Shard, a living nightmare that puts victims into fearful slumber
- Experiment 12, an individual capable of rousing crows into murderous rage
- The classic Ghost, spirit of the dead, whose exact powers depend on the reason it manifests
- The Psychic Vampire, a genial monster who drains energy from people it gets close to
- The Puppeteer, members of a conspiracy of sadistic psychics who use humans as playing pieces
Chapter 4: The Law and the Lawless
Ron Rummell created this selection of NPCs who have criminal and law enforcement backgrounds. These are suitable for most modern games, but this chapter opens with advice on how to focus on cops and crooks, introducing guidelines for undercover NPCs and rules for Heat, which measures how strongly interested parties might be looking for indiscreet characters. Then we move on to the following entries:
- The Enforcer, who collects debts—painfully
- The Gang Soldier, who violently protects the interests of their organization
- The Medical Examiner, who steps in to explain suspicious deaths
- The Mob Boss, at the apex of a murderous criminal enterprise
- The Pickpocket, a thief who specializes in sleight of hand
- The Police Chief, who can command the vast powers of their office
- The Special Agent, at the front lines of a federal police service
- The Smuggler, capable of eluding border security
- The Trial Lawyer, capable of confirming guilt or innocence with incisive questioning
- Vanya Patel, a genial but prepared underworld doctor
Chapter 5: Science’s Edge
Tanya DePass created a selection of NPCs especially suited for cyberpunk and other near-future games, or games in which futuristic technology is available to a connected few. This chapter starts with guidelines for futuristic technology and how to incorporate this chapter into your campaign, before moving to the following entries:
- Asher Kovindrenara, an elite envoy from the secretive high-tech nation of Invindara. Note that while Invindara is part of the Threefold setting (and everything in Enemies & Allies is Threefold canon) you don’t need to know anything about Threefold to use him and can assign him to a faction of your own devising.
- The Bioroid Assassin, a relentless android made of artificial flesh
- Cerise Anyeris, an enhanced human who’s become low-tech rebel against a high-tech conspiracy
- The Cyberspy, an agent with implants designed to help steal information
- The Extractor, a cyborg mercenary who snatches valuable human targets
- The Maker, an underground genius who creates bespoke tech
- The Reactionary, a drone-wielding, potentially deadly harasser
- The Tech Broker, whose connections allow them to buy and sell advanced technology
Three appendices round out the book:
Appendix I: Quick NPCs introduces a new system to create Non-Player characters based on their intended roles, abilities and threat ratings. This includes a selection of new Special Qualities and new options for administering stunts.
Appendix II: Animal Threats profiles a number of ordinary animals and includes advice for running them in the game.
Appendix III: Adapting Creatures from Fantasy AGE & Blue Rose gives you what it says: Rules for using the creatures from those AGE games with Modern AGE and vice versa.
Appendix I and II were written by Alejandro Melchor and were his final work for the Modern AGE line before his passing. We continue to miss him.
Your Adversary and NPC Toolbox
In essence, Enemies & Allies is a set of tools. We design them for you and show you how to use them, but we trust you to apply your own creativity. That’s the Modern AGE ethos—and I hope they prove useful.