Modern AGE, Four Years On: Our Modern Worlds
In my last article, I talked about the state of the Modern AGE line as we move into its fifth year. I started out by dividing the line into two loose categories and exploring the first, of “core” book releases. While Modern AGE is completely playable with the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook, the other releases I placed into the core category assemble numerous tools and ideas to customize the system generally, and to suit the worlds you invent.
But Modern AGE has worlds of its own which you can use as-is, or to influence settings of your own creation. In fact, we have various degrees of setting material, ranging from loose outlines to entire setting books.
In Modern AGE, we try to provide concrete examples so that you have something to work from. The Modern AGE Basic Rulebook talks about settings and genres in general terms, but subsequent books get more detailed.
Chapter 9 of the Modern AGE Companion offers firmer outlines of the possible settings associated with various genres, including the age of sail, 1800s gothic horror tales, 1950s UFO sci-fi, 1960s spy-fi, and modern or near future cyberthrillers. These treatments include recommended rules, sketches of settings, and possible NPCs of interest. The rest of the book provides ways to customize the game for these and other settings.
Chapter 7 of the upcoming Modern AGE Powers book also features outlines for supernatural and other power-filled worlds, from the mystic martial arts of “Immortal Ring,” the modern sorcery of “Phoenix Band,” and more, all in a book that gives you the “crunch” of powers as well, and strong guidance on how to use them in your own worlds. I can’t wait to share it with you.
In addition, Modern AGE has two full-on setting books. Each requires nothing more than the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook.
Created by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, the Lazarus comic (with follow-ups including Lazarus X + 66 and Lazarus: Risen), World of Lazarus introduces the world after Year X, when governments have collapsed and the families behind the world’s mightiest corporations and political influence blocs take over, effectively reinstituting feudalism. These ruling families use various forms of human enhancement, from cybernetics to gene alteration, to create the Lazari, champions who settle disputes on their families’ behalf.
The World of Lazarus setting book isn’t just about Lazari, however, though the book provides in-depth rules for playing them. You can play wasteland renegades, desperate serfs, or privileged members of the Families, navigating a world with notes of cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic fiction, near-future military technothrillers, and feudal intrigue.
In addition to the setting book, individual issues of the Lazarus: Risen comic include expansions to the new rules in World of Lazarus, written by World of Lazarus developer Crystal Frasier.
Intended to be the “flagship,” or exemplar setting for Modern AGE, Threefold is a vast setting designed to make use of the game’s full potential. Threefold contains notes of cyberpunk, cosmic horror, and portal fantasy, as it reveals Earth is one of many inhabited worlds in the Metacosm, an array of universes primarily linked by gates.
Threefold’s stories center on the exploits of the Sodality, explorers, diplomats, and agents of utopian democracy that spans multiple planes of existence, as well as the operations of Aethon, cybernetically enhanced operatives who shape alternate universes to, perhaps, produce a transcendental AI. These aren’t our only options, however. You might want to play a renegade psychic, defending their guild from families who treat psychic powers as a divine right. Maybe you want to be a plane-crossing mercenary, or a disoriented, semi-human wizard, stuck in our modern world. Threefold provides the greatest possible scope for characters in Modern AGE, including rules for cybernetics, the supernatural, and strange ancestries.
Characters explore Earths with alternate histories, Otherworlds, where magic reigns, and the Netherworlds, ruled by demonic forces. The planes are countless, and Threefold uses them to allow virtually any adventure and genre, but unlike many multiverse settings, there are strong core factions and influences that drive stories, such as the rebel hell-conquering soldiers of the Nighthost, or the tyrannical demigods of the Divine Empire. If you want a taste (and an introduction to Modern AGE generally), try the Threefold Quickstart for free!
In addition to the setting book, Threefold gains an adventure collection this summer, as the combined and expanded Five and Infinity adventure series is due to premiere at or around Gencon. Five adventures take characters through multiple worlds, and levels 1 to 16. A capstone chapter includes table-based tools to outline further adventures, and even generate new planes of existence in the Threefold Metacosm.
From Worlds to Stories
This article was originally going to talk about Modern AGE’s adventures as well, but as things are already running a little long, I’ll save it for next time. Until then? I’m going to recommend you check out Threefold in play (YouTube playlist) by the Fresh Out the Box (Twitch.tv) crew. Cheers!