Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

Six of Swords Blue Rose Adventure Anthology Pre-Order and PDF

We have opened up pre-ordering for Six of Swords, an adventure anthology for Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy. Pre-order the physical book through our Green Ronin Online Store, and we’ll offer you the PDF version for just $5 during checkout.

If you’d rather support your local retailer, you can ask them to sign up for our GR Pre-Order Plus program. When you pre-order through a participating brick-and-mortar retailer, they will give you a coupon code so you can get the PDF from us for just $5.

Six of Swords is an adventure anthology for Blue Rose. Set in the fantastic world of Aldea, these six adventures provide Narrators with ready-to-go scenarios for characters of various levels. They include ruined mansions, masquerade balls, vampiric curses, mysterious masks, sorcerous secrets, ghostly hauntings, lost loves, looming threats, and tragic quests where heroes are called upon to make the right choices. Six of Swords has hours of adventure, excitement, and entertainment for your Blue Rose game. The Kingdom of the Blue Rose needs heroes. Will you answer the call?

Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

The Lost Citadel Q&A Video

Jaym Gates, Nicole Lindroos, and CA Suleiman sat down together at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, and talked about The Lost Citadel, answering some questions backers have posted to the Kickstarter project page while they were at it. Hal Mangold caught it all on video, so we can all watch and enjoy.

In other news from the City of Redoubt, we have unlocked the Double-Sided Poster Map stretch goal, and are on our way to achieving System Hack: AGE, in which we hire Gary Astleford to create a system conversion document so you can adventure in The Lost Citadel using our Adventure Game Engine as featured in Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Titansgrave, and more!

If you’d like to learn more about The Lost Citadel before (or after) backing, check out these free previews!

As always, thank you so much to all our backers (and future backers)!

The Lost Citadel—Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying

Malcolm Sheppard

Malcolm Sheppard

After writing and designing games as a freelancer from 2000 on, Malcolm Sheppard is pleased to join Green Ronin as developer at large: the one who works on any number of games, from the Adventure Gaming Engine to Ork! Malcolm’s experience before Green Ronin includes Exalted, Mage: The Ascension, Onyx Path’s Chronicles of Darkness and Scion lines, as well as Shadowrun and Eclipse Phase. Outside game design, Malcolm’s worked in community development and education, and as a professional historical re-enactor, where he gave large metal swords to children. (They were blunt!) Malcolm lives in semi-rural Ontario, Canada.
Malcolm Sheppard

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Ronin Roundtable: Enter the Modern AGE!

So, at the beginning of May, we announced we’re going to produce the World of Lazarus, a guide to roleplaying in Greg Rucka’s SF-feudal Lazarus comic series. We noted it would be a setting for the Modern AGE roleplaying game.

Yes, this means we’re making a Modern AGE game. We said so in a sort of soft, sneaky way, but today, we’re going to dig into what that means.

 

 

Modern AGE?

Modern AGE uses the Adventure Game Engine to power stories set in the “modern era,” a period we’ve designated as running from the 18th or 19th century, through the present day, and into the near future. That means guns and computers, transoceanic empires and raucous democracies, and the Cold War and beyond, into the great geopolitical realignments of our time. But it also means urban fantasy, psychic powers, conspiracies and all the speculative and strange sources that fuel modern stories.

The Adventure Game Engine is the system you first saw in the Dragon Age roleplaying game. You witnessed its evolution into Fantasy AGE with Wil Wheaton’s Titansgrave setting, and into Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy. Modern AGE might be thought of as a counterpart to Fantasy AGE, but if you’re familiar with one of these games, the rest will come easily. Modern AGE adds some new things to the system, and revises a few solid concepts to make them easier to use.

Developing the game, it’s been important to me to stick with the A.G.E. system’s core concepts: ease of play, strong tools for character development, and most of all, stunts.

Stunts and Areas of Interest

Stunts are the system’s “killer app;” where other games often struggle to integrate special actions and exceptional results, the A.G.E. system uses stunts to make them emerge during play. Modern AGE introduces some new stunts, but we also recognize the decision paralysis that can happen when doubles hit the table. That’s why we’ve designated go-to core stunts and places stunts into shorter, focused lists.

Putting stunts into categories means thinking about what characters do during the game. Accordingly, we’ve mapped out three core areas of interest: action, exploration and social play. Action encompasses combat, chases and other physical challenges. Exploration combines its counterpart in Fantasy AGE with investigation. Social play develops the “roleplaying” category, acknowledging that modern games often require heroes to present themselves properly in all the scenarios thrown up by complex contemporary cultures.

The three areas of interest act as a focus throughout Modern AGE’s design, not just stunts. Heroes with abilities covering all three can take on nearly any challenge the GM cares to throw at them.

Character and Genre Modes

Fantasy AGE presents broad classes, archetypes in that genre, and provides advancement options that allow you to lock in more specific elements over time. Modern era games don’t have the same archetypes, however, and don’t need the same niche protection vital to the feel of fantasy adventure gaming. So, we’ve gone classless. After developing a background, a profession and a drive that pushes your hero out of obscurity and into the story, you’ll select ability advancements, talents and specializations freely.

In some games, a private eye is someone who uses a car, camera and laptop to find evidence for divorces and lawsuits, while in others, they’re a two-fisted, iron-chinned stalwart with a talent for getting tangled in murders. The difference? Genre. Not all modern games feature the same degree of realism, so we’ve included specific rules modes to fit the stories you want to play through. The three basic modes are gritty, for stories where violence is unforgiving, pulp, where a battered hero can, say, claw their way out of danger, and cinematic, where protagonists achieve the competence often reserves for fantasy heroes and the most outrageous action games. These modes affect character toughness and stunt access, and guide advice you’ll read throughout the book.

And Beyond

In upcoming columns, I’ll talk more about Modern AGE’s design foundations, and the details that make them work. Until then, let me ask you something: What clicks for you about the Adventure Game Engine RPGs you’ve played? What do you want to see down the line? I’m developing it even as we speak, and things are getting locked in, but I’d love to read your conversations–and ever so sneakily, have you spread the word that Modern AGE is coming . . .

And in a Further Manipulative Move

. . . oh wait. It’s not all about me. While you should indeed talk about Modern AGE until it’s a breakfast cereal, I have been reminded that our Kickstarter for The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying is in full swing. I was actually one of the authors in the short story collection that inaugurated this shared world, which we’re transforming into a setting for 5th Edition roleplaying. But if you’re an Adventure Game Engine fan, know this: If we hit $32,500, we’ll unlock the A.G.E System Hack, which converts the Dead-bound Zileska setting to A.G.E family games.

And if you’re curious about the setting and stories of The Lost Citadel, we have a sample short story available for FREE on our website. Check out Requiem, In Bells, by Ari Marmell.

Jack Norris

A writer and game designer since the mid 1990s, Jack Norris has worked on numerous award winning and critically acclaimed publications over the last two decades, including products for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, DC Adventures, Scion, Mutants and Masterminds, and Feng Shui.He is currently working at Green Ronin developing Dragon Age, as well as co-developing other projects such as Blue Rose. Outside of his work for Green Ronin and others, Jack also designs and writes Tianxia, his own line of wu xia/kung fu action rpg products published through Vigilance Press. When not writing and designing, Jack is an attorney and consultant at the Vidar Law Group, a small Chicago-based litigation firm.

Jack also hates writing bios...

Ronin Roundtable: Examining Specializations

As I am working to finish the Specializations chapter for the upcoming Fantasy AGE Companion, I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about specializations.  Namely I wanted to take a look at how specializations are generally built and why they are built that way.

First and foremost it’s important to realize that specializations aren’t prestige classes or sub-classes you see in some other games.  There simply isn’t enough mechanical “oomph” in a single three tiered ability tree to cover various character elements the way a multi-level class overlay or substitution used in games like Pathfinder or D&D does.

And really? That’s okay. Because what Fantasy AGE specializations allow players to do is to combine them with talents, focuses, and other specializations to create highly customized characters.

So a specialization that makes you an expert axe-fighter, no matter how cool it is, won’t substitute for having the Axes focus. Or various talents to better swing, throw, and fight with your chosen weapon in various ways.  You will still want all of those things. And as the character advances if you decide you want to be an expert axe-fighter who is also adept at hunting down renegade sorcerers and evil mages? Well, you’re going to want to invest in the Mage Hunter specialization when you get a chance—likely customized to use Axes instead of Black Powder Weapons with its Novice rank.  Such combinations are how you build your “prestige class” for your character in Fantasy AGE, often making particular combinations of character abilities that are very distinctive and unique to most other characters around.

With these limitations and advantages to the system in mind, when designing specializations, it’s important to add mechanical elements that push a character upwards or sideways from other talents, class abilities, and the like, avoiding those things which simply replace an existing ability.  Don’t add a Novice specialization rank that takes another talent and makes it useless. On the other hand, don’t create an ability so overpowered when combined with another talent that it becomes a singular optimal build.  Neither one is particularly satisfying, and will result in specializations that are either too weak or too inflexible to be useful beyond a specific type of character.  So to use our axe-fighter example again, it’s cool to add a rank that lets you do certain stunts easier if you’re using an axe.  But don’t offer discounts on stunts that are already made easier by other talents.  That’s not a unique cool ability, its redundancy.  Likewise, don’t make an ability that’s pretty useless unless your character is dual-wielding axes, as this shuts out the character who uses two-handed, single weapon and shield, or single weapons.  This forces everyone with the specialization into basically the same or very similar builds.

Of course sometimes these rules are broken.  A specialization might be crafted with only single weapon fighting in mind or a talent ability might combine to make an expensive stunt cheap as part of a specialization’s core concept.  But in most cases, you’re better off with diverse powers and abilities that complement each other and provide neat options, instead of mere substitutions and numerical upgrades.

Also, when designing your own specializations as GMs or as players (with GM approval and aid), remember to treat specializations generally. Designing a specialization just for your PC might seem like a great idea, but it’s actually a really easy way to unbalance your character and not always in your favor!  For example, it might seem like a great idea to craft a warrior specialization that requires every strength and aptitude your PC already possesses and stacks potent abilities on top of talents and class abilities you’re already using.  But what happens if in a few levels you realize that more powerful monsters, more cunning foes, and more dangerous threats don’t fall to your “killer combos” as easily as their lower-level predecessors did.  Often, designing for more general utility within a theme is more useful and its certainly easier to apply to multiple characters in a campaign.

Azadrumoda

So with all that said, let’s look at how to build a specialization.  We talked about the Axe-fighter, so let’s give them a try.  I’m envisioning a specialized warrior, perhaps hailing from particular cultures, who are devoted to mastery of the axe in its various forms.

First this new specialization needs requirements.  These are usually relatively easy to reach, but not a foregone conclusion.  They also tend to include at least one ability score that best reflects a natural aptitude or particular physical or mental training.  In this case a few requirements are obvious. Given the concept and weapon involved, it seems like this would be a warrior-based specialization.  Also Weapon Group Axes would be required.  A focus with axes is so useful it’s hard to imagine most pursuing this specialization without it, but I’m leaving it off since it isn’t strictly required…just recommended.  To these obvious requirements I add a Strength of 2 or greater—it takes a lot of power to get and keep this sort of weapon moving effectively, especially the bigger ones.

With requirements out of the way, you need a Novice, Journeyman, and Master rank abilities.  These should match up roughly with talents or other specializations already in existence in Fantasy AGE.  For example, an ability that allowed a reduction in the cost of a stunt is roughly the same as many other talents.  A stunt cost reduction that only works in certain conditions might be a bit weak by itself, suggesting such abilities should allow for reductions in multiple stunts.  Balancing these is a bit of art and science, but with some practice it becomes fairly easy.

In the case of the axe-fighter specialization, it makes sense that even Novices would learn to always ready an axe with a free action.  However, this makes the novice level Quick Reflexes talent and Journeyman rank Thrown Weapon Style talents less useful.  So instead, let’s design an ability that reflects the ability of the fighter to throw an opponent off guard and seize an opportunity with a flurry of axe strikes.  Thus let’s say that as long as they’re using an axe on an attack, a novice rank axe-fighter can use the Seize Initiative stunt for 2 SP instead of 4.  Note: This is identical to the Scouting Journeyman talent.  But that’s a rogue talent…so it’s not rendered redundant by this warrior-only specialization.  Also, since it only works with axe attacks, it’s a bit weaker than the Scouting talent, which means making it novice rank specialization seems appropriate.

Now for the Journeyman rank.  It seems that axes are often considered to be scary because they can be used to deliver nasty blows and even glancing blows can be serious. Nobody wants to get hit by an axe and those skilled in its use are aware of this. So how to translate that into a Journeyman ability? You could give a discount on the Threaten stunt but we’ve already done a SP reduction so let’s consider an alternative tact. A Defense bonus might work, but that’s very similar to the Single-Weapon Style Talent. So instead let’s take this another way: the reason people are scared of axes is because getting hit by one is freaking horrible. Even if you armor stops most of it? It still hurts. So it makes sense Axe-Fighters can do serious damage with their axes. Again we might do a discount on Mighty Blow here that’s a Two-Handed Style rank. So instead let’s step sideways from those talents and provide a non SP discount bonus to Mighty (and Lethal) Blow and give an extra 1d6 damage when using Mighty Blow with an axe. Nasty to be sure, but it requires a particular weapon and a stunt at full cost, balancing out the effect.

Finally we have Master. Master rank Specialization qualities are at the core of the Specialization and can be quite nasty. So what’s the core of an expert axe-fighter? Striking hard and fast, keeping a foe on the defensive, and battering past armor and shields all apply here and what does that suggest? It suggests opening up a foe and finishing them off.  So what Master ability represents this? There are many options, but I’m going to go with two “lesser” abilities. First is the ability to use variant of the Disarm stunt to “hook” or bash aside a shield. This eliminates the shield bonus of a character until they take a Ready action to restore it.  The shield isn’t tossed aside like a Disarm against a weapon, but it is rendered useless for a time.   That’s pretty cool, but it only affects shields, so we should add something else. Let’s examine that against opponents who don’t have a shield to hide behind? A skilled axe fighter is very dangerous to attack as they’ve got a heavy, sharp weapon swinging about. So against unshielded foes? Axe-Fighters gain a Defense bonus, let’s say +2 because of the Master rank and limited use.

So there we have it. Your very own Axe-Fighter Specialization:

Requirements: Strength 2, Axes Weapons Focus Group

Novice: You may use the Seize the Initiative stunt for 2 SP instead of 4 when wielding an axe.

Journeyman: When using the Mighty or Lethal Blow stunts with an axe, add an additional d6 damage.

Master: You can use Disarm to “hook” shields, removing the shield bonus until the shield-user takes a ready action. You also gain +2 to your own Defense when fighting unshielded opponents.

Nasty, scary, tough, and yet pretty much useless without its chosen weapon, which provides some nice balance.

That’s just an example, but it shows the process of creating new Specializations in Fantasy AGE and is a preview of the process and types of things you’ll see in the upcoming Fantasy AGE Companion.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

Latest posts by Steve Kenson (see all)

Ronin Roundtable: Rhydan of Unusual Size

 

After some shipping snafus, the Blue Rose Romantic Fantasy Roleplaying game has made its way into the hands of Kickstarter backers and will likewise be finding its way to a game store near you (especially if you ask your friendly local game store to stock it…).

One element of the Blue Rose setting that differs from “vanilla” fantasy worlds is the rhydan: “awakened” intelligent animals with psychic abilities. Indeed, the name “rhydan” in Aldea (the world of Blue Rose) essentially means “thinking beast or animal”. Rhydan are based on the various—often psychically-linked—animal companions found in romantic fantasy fiction, psychic “catalyst creatures” and companions from science fiction (from Andre Norton’s Star Man’s Son to Alan Dean Foster’s For Love of Mother Not), as well as the talking animals of various faerie and folk tales.

Rhydan “awaken” from otherwise ordinary animal species, and Blue Rose presents a handful of the most widely known rhydan, along with a table for “create your own rhydan” options. Early readers of the book particularly noted that rhy-cats (one of the most common rhydan) typically look like siamese cats, but are the size of mountain lions and wondered: Are all rhydan of such unusual size?

No, or at least, not necessarily. Rhy-cats were some of the very first rhydan in the earliest drafts of Blue Rose (before we were calling them “rhydan,” in fact) and they were conceived of as a specific species, unique to Aldea. That status carried over into the final draft of the original edition of Blue Rose, which had fewer rhydan options than the current edition. Nevertheless, when we updated how rhydan were conceived of in the new edition, we kept rhy-cats largely as they were as a nod to the game’s legacy. It could well be that ordinary house-cats, or even great cats like lions, tigers, or panthers (oh my!) could have rhydan members.

 

It’s likewise possible, given how rhydan already differ from their “parent” species, for rhydan characters in Blue Rose to be quite different in terms of size or even morphology from their mundane cousins, if you and the Narrator wish. For example, while the Blue Rose book doesn’t offer options for extremely small animals like mice as rhydan, it would be possible, or the Narrator could even offer the option of using an existing animal template, such as the raccoon, as a basis for a two-foot tall rhy-mouse with manipulative paws (and, a penchant for swashbuckling, perhaps?). The same might go for rhy-rats as well as others such as rabbits. Similarly, while there’s no rhy-elephant (rhylephant?) option in the game, perhaps a small awakened elephant from a distant clime, based on the horse template with a lower base speed and the addition of a tusk attack and manipulative trunk, is an option. Extrapolate outward from existing templates for similar creatures and variants.

Each rhydan is already unusual amongst its own species, so there’s no reason you can’t further tweak their unusual nature to better suit a concept a player might enjoy. Spin out interesting new characters and companions for your own Blue Rose series!

Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

Pre-Orders Closing Soon

We have several products pre-ordering currently, but time is running out!

Through the end of May, 2017, when you pre-order the print version of Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy, Blue Rose Narrator’s Kit, and the Freeport Bestiary (which is for the Pathfinder RPG) through our Green Ronin Online Store, we’ll offer you the PDF version of the relevant title(s) for just $5 during checkout. Just click the Add to Cart button on the popup to get the deal.

The Blue Rose Dice Set is also pre-ordering right now through the end of the month, but it doesn’t have a digital counterpart.

Other recent releases you may have missed are Love 2 Hate Politics and Love 2 Hate Comics, expansions for Love 2 Hate: The Party Game for Inappropriate People.

Nicole Lindroos

Nicole Lindroos

Nicole Lindroos entered the game industry in 1989. In that time, she co-founded Adventures Unlimited magazine, served on the board of the Game Manufacturers Association and as the chair of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Art and Design, volunteered both on the advisory committee and as the head of the Origins Awards, and has been an active freelancer for large and small companies alike. Since the year 2000 she has been co-owner and General Manager of Green Ronin Publishing. Her recent projects include contributions to the Dragon Age Tabletop Roleplaying Game and Titansgrave: Ashes of Valakana.

She's also the sweetest person you never want to piss off.
Nicole Lindroos

Press Release: Green Ronin to Publish Lazarus RPG Book

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GREEN RONIN TO PUBLISH LAZARUS RPG BOOK
World of Lazarus Brings Greg Rucka’s Comic to Roleplaying Games

May 1, 2017—SEATTLE, WA: Green Ronin Publishing announced today that it has signed a licensing agreement with Greg Rucka to adapt his critically-acclaimed Lazarus series from Image Comics as a setting for its forthcoming Modern AGE Roleplaying Game.

“We are huge fans of Greg’s work and of Lazarus in particular,” said Green Ronin President Chris Pramas. “The comic’s vision of a world dominated by corporate families and featuring staggering levels of income inequality becomes more relevant by the day. Lazarus tells a powerful story and soon you’ll be able to add your own chapters to that around the table.”

“I’ve been a gamer since I was ten years old,” said Greg Rucka. “RPGs, in particular, have been an important part of my life in so many ways—as recreation, of course; as entertainment, as a means of escape, yes; and, honestly, as an enormously vital part of my development as a writer, and, I would hazard, as a human being. My best friends were made long ago around the gaming table. To have been part of creating something with Michael Lark, and to have that creation standing strong enough that Green Ronin sees its potential as a gaming world, might just possibly be the greatest compliment I could ever receive. It sounds hokey, I suppose, but it’s true—as someone who has spent days, weeks, months, exploring the worlds of others at the gaming table, to add to that is a big deal.

“That I get to do so with Green Ronin makes it all the more of a joy for me. Chris and company know their stuff inside and out, and more, they know where the mechanics end and the story needs to begin. I couldn’t be happier to be working with them on bringing Lazarus to RPGs.”

Green Ronin will publish the World of Lazarus this Fall. The book will present Lazarus as a setting for the Modern AGE RPG, which will be released concurrently. Modern AGE takes Green Ronin’s popular Adventure Game Engine—as seen in the Dragon Age, Blue Rose, and Fantasy AGE RPGs—and adapts it to the modern action genre.

More information and previews for the World of Lazarus and Modern AGE will appear on www.greenronin.com in the coming months.

About Green Ronin Publishing
Green Ronin Publishing is a Seattle based company dedicated to the art of great games. Since the year 2000 Green Ronin has established a reputation for quality and innovation that is second to none, publishing such roleplaying game hits as Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds, and winning over 40 awards for excellence. For an unprecedented three years running Green Ronin won the prestigious GenCon & EnWorld Award for Best Publisher.

About Greg Rucka
Greg Rucka is the New York Times bestselling author of over a thousand comics and at least two dozen novels. He currently writes LAZARUS, co-created with artist Michael Lark, and BLACK MAGICK, with artist Nicola Scott, both from Image Comics, as well as STUMPTOWN, with artist Justin Greenwood, published by Oni Press. He has recently completed a critically-acclaimed run on WONDER WOMAN for DC Comics, and is currently writing the screen adaptation of his series, THE OLD GUARD, co-created with Leandro Fernandez, for Skybound Entertainment. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, two children, and a large and overly enthusiastic dog named Marlowe.

Contact Green Ronin Publishing

Nicole Lindroos
General Manager
nicole@greenronin.com

Jack Norris

A writer and game designer since the mid 1990s, Jack Norris has worked on numerous award winning and critically acclaimed publications over the last two decades, including products for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, DC Adventures, Scion, Mutants and Masterminds, and Feng Shui.He is currently working at Green Ronin developing Dragon Age, as well as co-developing other projects such as Blue Rose. Outside of his work for Green Ronin and others, Jack also designs and writes Tianxia, his own line of wu xia/kung fu action rpg products published through Vigilance Press. When not writing and designing, Jack is an attorney and consultant at the Vidar Law Group, a small Chicago-based litigation firm.

Jack also hates writing bios...

Ronin Roundtable: Wim (Fantasy AGE iconics 2)

Hey Fantasy AGE fans, Jack again. Some time ago we introduced you to Aza, our iconic warrior as featured on various images and in our warrior entry in the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook. This time we’re turning to the mystical side of things and taking a look at Wim, our mage.

 

Meet Wim

Pale-skinned, well-dressed, and bearded, Wim Iakabal fits many people’s idea of a wealthy dwarven merchant or scholar. The scion from a family of famed academics, Wim studied classic architecture and engineering at several esteemed universities until his natural aptitude for the mystic arts was discovered. Enrolling in the elite King’s College of Magicians (see Fantasy AGE Bestiary, p. 50), he excelled in his studies.

Unlike his many cousins and siblings, Wim was ultimately not content to merely study in the safety of the library or laboratory. In his fortieth year of study, he left the university seeking more dynamic and exciting opportunities. As an expert in ancient structures, complex machinery, and magic he found his particular eclectic skillset was in high demand on various expeditions to explore lost tombs, ruined cities, and ancient temples.  Nearly dying on an early expedition to a trapped temple rumored to hold vast treasures, he was rescued by and fell in with his current companions and has been traveling with them ever since.

Wim tends to spend a lot of time thinking, theorizing, and planning. In fact, his companions often tell him he thinks “too much”, especially since it is their skills in battle that must save him when his magical talents fail to protect him from his own curiosity and tendency to distraction.  However, his knowledge often comes in handy in a variety of situations, as does his quick wit. Wim is surprisingly hardy for a scholar, a fact owed to a realization of the importance of physical fitness and his dwarven constitution.  He isn’t much in a stand-up fight, but can use his magic to great effect in battle.  He is rarely without his magical Staff of Channeling, a souvenir from an early adventure.  He’s been considering taking up explosives, but so far his companions have convinced him that’s probably more trouble than its worth…

 

Wim

Dwarf Student Mage, Level 5

Abilities (Focuses)

1 Accuracy (Arcane Blast)

2 Communication

4 Constitution (Running)

3 Dexterity (Traps)

0 Fighting

4 Intelligence (Arcane Lore, Engineering, Evaluation, Historical Lore, Lightning Arcana, Research)

1 Perception

0 Strength

4 Willpower

Speed          Health         Defense        Armor Rating

11                     52                        13                          0    

Weapon                 Attack Roll           Damage

Arcane Blast            +3                           1d6+4

Staff                        +1                            1d6+1

Unarmed                  +1                            1d3

Special Qualities

Favored Stunts: Skillful Casting (2 MP), Magic Shield (3 SP), Split Spell (4 SP), and That Makes Me Wonder (3 SP)

Specialization: Arcane Scholar (Novice)

Class and Race Powers: Arcane Blast, Arcane Focus, Darksight

Arcana: Healing (Novice), Lightning (Journeyman), Power (Novice)

Spellpower: 14 (16 for Lightning Arcana)     Magic Points: 50

Spells: Arcane Awareness, Jolt, Healing Touch, Revival, Shock Blast, Spell Ward

Talents: Lore (Journeyman)

Weapons Group: Brawling, Staves

Equipment: Staff of Channeling (Take a minor Activate Action to reduce the MP cost of the next spell you cast by 2 and grant a -1 SP to any spell stunts), spyglass, compass, books and notes on various theories and discoveries.

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph D. Carriker

Joseph Carriker is developer for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and the Chronicle System. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2000, and intends to keep doing that for the foreseeable future. He's an avid proponent of diversity in gaming spaces, and regularly runs LGBT-oriented panels at gaming conventions, including GenCon's "Queer as a Three-Sided Die." He recently sold a novel, Sacred Band, available this winter from Lethe Press.
Joseph D. Carriker

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New Character Options in Valkana (pt 1)

The forthcoming Titansgrave: World of Valkana setting book has lots and lots of the sort of setting detail one expects from an expansive world book. Details on settlements, geography, culture, and history all about, sprinkled liberally with inspiration for years worth of gaming in this world.

 

But one of the challenges of any good setting book is to provide new and interesting traits and resources to player characters. The goal is always to provide new material that isn’t just fun but also highlights the setting quite distinctly. They should be materials that feel like a part of the setting come alive, because they are directly relevant to the player characters.

 

In this week’s RRT discussing these new options, we’re going to look at some of the detail on the races in this setting book. Here is some of the new material available in Titansgrave: World of Valkana.

Races

Though Valkana’s setting uses the core races presented in the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook, this sourcebook casts a closer eye on them, examining them by their cultures and history as well. Those races capable of crossbreeding with others in the world of Valkana are included in this description. Some of the races even include strange offshoots with distinct differences from their main kin. These subraces – called the nhazera – are detailed as well, including entirely new Benefits charts to reflect their differing lifestyles, cultures, and temperaments.

 

Below, we include a sample sidebar detailing those characters who are born of the mixing of dwarven blood with other races.

 

 

Mixed Race Dwarves

Dwarves rarely breed with those outside their own race, though this is mainly due to societal pressures of the past. These days, dwarves and humans produce handsome, hearty offspring named rockborn. Dwarf and gnome artificers treasure the fey gnome-dwarf children known as daylins. Rumors hold of dwarves mating with elves, orcs, and halflings, but their offspring always resembles one parent’s race, or the other.

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at www.stevekenson.com.
Steve Kenson

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Out of Context

If you’re familiar with Green Ronin’s Blue Rose Romantic Fantasy Roleplaying at all (and, if you’re not, you should visit its page on our site) you know the game features strong themes of inclusion, both from a design perspective and in terms of the culture and history of Aldis, the primary civilization of the setting, often in contrast to Aldis’s neighbors. This includes diversity in terms of race, gender, romantic interest, and more.

However, Aldea (the world of Blue Rose) is not Earth, and does not have the same history as our own world, so the diversity in Aldis and elsewhere in the setting exists out of context with certain realities of marginalized peoples here in our world and in our own cultures, particularly (North) American culture. How does this affect our portrayals of different people in Blue Rose? In a number of often broad and subtle ways.

 

Race

Much of Blue Rose’s racial diversity owes to two things, one history, and one mythic. In the history of the region, there was once a Great Kingdom with connections to far-flung places of the world (perhaps even other worlds) via fantastic airships and arcane gateways, creating a cosmopolitan society that was a melting pot of cultures and peoples. It was succeeded by an Empire which forcibly relocated and intermingled vast populations, such that modern Aldis is quite racially diverse. The mythic element is that the gods of Aldea appear themselves in a wide range of human (and even non-human) races, and it may well be that the gods—who fashioned mortal, material bodies for people at the dawn of time—made humanity as diverse and different as them. So Aldin religious belief tends towards racial diversity and plurality rather than any sense of “racial purity”.

Where racial conflict does come into Aldin culture is in terms of the non-human night people, created by the Sorcerer Kings using arcane means. Once, they were a soldier and slave race of the Empire. Now many of them are free and able to choose their own path, but there are some who consider them inherently corrupt due to their origins. Night people and their allies struggle against these preconceptions to win and maintain fair treatment.

Gender

Aldin myth says that the bodiless spirits that descended into the material world were without and beyond gender, but that the bodies fashioned for them by the gods possessed sexual characteristics, leading to the creation of male, female, and those who were some measure of both, neither, or transitioning between the two—the laevvel. Aldean religion also believes in reincarnation of those bodiless spirits, so everyone has been (or will be) every sex, gender, and race at some point. Male and female are not “normal” in Aldin culture, merely common.

Some societies have gendered roles, such as the Matriarchy of Lar’tya, an Aldin trading-partner and ally, whereas in Aldis the notion of differentiating people’s social roles based on gender seems a strange and foreign practice. Although it only merits a brief mention in Blue Rose, it’s made clear there are widespread, easy, and effective natural means of controlling conception for all responsible adults, a significant factor in gender equality in Aldin society. Similarly, it’s made clear there are effective natural, alchemical, and arcane means of gender transition on Aldea, significant to laevvel characters.

Orientation

Sexual and romantic orientation is likewise influenced by Aldean myth and spirituality: There are deities with same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, as well as polyamorous relationships among the gods, all reflected in the cultures of mortals as well. In particular, Aldin sexuality is less stigmatized, and far more openly mapped on a kind of bell curve, with the majority of people attracted to persons of either or any gender, and minorities as either end of the spectrum who are only attracted to either their own or another gender. Again, bisexuality (or even pansexuality) isn’t “normal” in Aldis in that there is a value judgment attached it it, it’s merely so common that there isn’t a particular name for it, whereas those with primarily same sex attractions are caria daunen (lovers of the dawn) and those with different sex attractions are cepia luath (keepers of the flame).

Similarly, various forms of polyamory are quite common in Aldis, although there are also “twilights” (literally “two lights”) who prefer monogamous coupling. Some cultures favor polyamorous relationships, star marriages and heath marriages, while others favor monogamy, or at least some form of pair-bonding. There are cultures which attach moral or practical judgements to certain family arrangements, and others that do not.

Ability

Aldin culture recognizes differently-abled people as having their own unique strengths and roles, particularly in a fantastic world where there are threats based on the things one might see or hear, for example, and heroes lacking in normal sight or hearing can overcome these threats more easily.

There are also means for compensating for differences in ability in a setting where arcane powers of the mind and spirit can move or perceive things with the talents of the mind alone; indeed, with the existence of the rhydan (intelligent awakened animals) there are entire species of differently abled people on Aldea, living in bodies quite different from humanoids, with their own unique abilities and challenges, and the need to recognize these people as precisely that: people, and not “beasts” or “creatures”.

Blue Rose is an example of a fantasy setting that takes many of the “what if?” questions we use to create fantastic worlds and applies them to diversity, presenting different and accepted ways of being in world that is both unlike and similar to our own. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to visit and tell your own stories there.