Explaining the Cover of Enemies & Allies (Ronin Roundtable)

Enemies & Allies is Modern AGE RPG’s next release, due to hit stores this first quarter of 2020. Enemies & Allies is one of three Modern AGE books besides the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook that can be considered “core” releases. The Modern AGE Companion is the big book of rules options, while the Modern AGE Mastery Guide, due to come out later this year, is the sourcebook for player and Game Master advice along with deeper options for customizing the game, including as rules for creating very simple characters or using Fantasy AGE style character classes.

Enemies & Allies sits between them. It’s the big book of Non-Player Characters and unusual creatures that can act as threats or allies. Its five chapters not only present various beings organized by genre but add optional rules to enhance their presence in your campaign, from the disturbing psychic impressions generated by horrific entities to the places of power that tend to attract fantastical creatures. Think of it as a significant expansion of the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook’s Chapter 9 adversaries, and more: rules to generate NPCs quickly, quick listings for a number of animals, and even guidelines for adapting creatures from other AGE system games.

However, one nasty antagonist is missing: the creature on the cover! When I wrote the cover description, I felt it was important to put the multi-genre nature of the book first, and the Cyberdemon represented that well, but I wanted individual authors to come up with their own ideas first instead of just reproducing my concepts. Still, for the completists out there, here are its game statistics. Note that the individual entries in Enemies & Allies itself are more detailed than what follows.

Cyberdemon

In certain secret labs, scientists and occultists join forces to create unusually potent computers and cybernetic enhancements. These synthetic limbs, brain implants, and crystal-processor super-servers are powerful because they don’t rely on Earthly energy. Instead, these ritually manufactured objects draw energy from the so-called Netherworlds, where Inimicals—beings the uneducated call “demons”—dwell. These implants are installed in secret operatives who are sent on the most dangerous missions, and scientists working on disturbing theories about the origins and ends of all things. These individuals don’t know that if they die, their souls are claimed through the devices they used. When enough of these sacrifices provide their souls as sustenance, the Cyberdemon is born, ready to be summoned by a knowledgeable occult technologist.

Cyberdemons are potent servants, whose formidable strength is enhanced by their abilities to influence technology. A Cyberdemon’s appearance is based on the technologies which were used to create it, combined with a form selected from the combined fears of those implants’ former owners.

Cyberdemon

Abilities (Focuses)

3              Accuracy (Inimical Cable)

1              Communication

5              Constitution

2              Dexterity

4              Fighting (Grappling, Inimical Cable, Talons)

3              Intelligence (Computers, Cryptography, Electronics, Medicine, Occultism)

4              Perception (Seeing)

6              Strength (Intimidation, Might)

2              Willpower (Morale)

Speed     Health                    Defense            Armor Rating + Toughness

12            35/85/115               12/12/13                          4I/4B +5/+7/+8

Note: Health, Defense, and Toughness are listed by Mode, in Gritty/Pulpy/Cinematic order.

Weapon Attack   Roll             Damage*

Inimical Cable         +5                    2d6+4

Talons                     +6                    2d6+6

*+2 to damage in Pulpy and Cinematic Modes

Special Qualities

Favored Stunts: Demonic Data (4 SP), Lightning Attack, Shock and Awe

Demonic Data (4 SP): By spending 4 SP in combat or while interacting with an electronic device, the Cyberdemon can transmit a burst of corrupt data to compromise or destroy anything capable of electronically processing data. Roll the demon’s Intelligence (Computers) against TN 15. On a success, the Cyberdemon either disables a number of devices in a 30-foot radius equal to the Stunt Die result or steals data from a single device in a 30-foot range. This data can be retransmitted using the interface special quality.

Inimical Cable: As a minor action, the Cyberdemon can shoot a spike-tipped segmented metal cable from its body at high speeds up to 30 feet from its body. The cable inflicts ballistic wound damage. After hitting its target once with the cable, the Cyberdemon can use it to engage in close combat as a minor or major action even when the demon itself is out of hand to hand range, for as long as the cable stays attached to it. This allows it to use grappling stunts, melee stunts, and other stunts and actions normally limited to close combat. To sever the cable, a combatant must inflict 20 points of Health damage. This damage is suffered by the Cyberdemon. The inimical cable has the same Armor and Toughness as the creature. The Cyberdemon can produce any number of Inimical cables, but its ability to control them are limited by its actions per round. Some Cyberdemons use clouds of destructive nanorobots, segmented armatures, and other visually distinct variations of the inimical cable, but most function the same.

Interface: The Cyberdemon can transmit data to an appropriate storage or computing device or connect to any network within 30 feet by spending a major action. The Cyberdemon can also act as a computer, wirelessly activating output devices whether or not these have wireless capabilities. The Cyberdemon’s processing powers are on par with the highest-end consumer-grade systems, and its storage capacity is prodigious, increasing as the technologies that spawn it become more sophisticated. Currently, a typical Cyberdemon can store a petabyte (1000 terabytes) of data.

Spectral Sight: Cyberdemons can see infrared, ultraviolet, and radio waves, along with electrical activity. A Cyberdemon cannot be blinded by environmental conditions—its eyes must be destroyed. Furthermore, it can see up to 10 feet through walls, but must succeed at a TN 15 Perception (Seeing) test to perceive anything more than the rough outlines of people and objects.

Talents: Hacking (Master), Overwhelm (Master). At the Game Master’s discretion, the Cyberdemon may also have technological augmentations using the rules in Enemies & Allies (Chapter 5: Science’s Edge), the Modern AGE Companion (Chapter 5: Extraordinary Abilities) or other books (such as Threefold or Lazarus) presenting such enhancements.

Equipment: None

Threat: Major

20 Years of Green Ronin, Over 2 Years of Modern AGE

Since this is 2020’s first Modern AGE-related post, I would be remiss if I didn’t note this was Green Ronin Publishing’s 20th Anniversary. I was fortunate enough to work on a new edition of Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Green Ronin’s very first RPG, and now, with Modern AGE, it’s been my privilege to oversee the birth and growth of one of its newest lines. As I said, 2020 should bring forth the remainder what I consider Modern AGE’s core rulebooks, but this year will be busy with even more material for the game: adventures, Threefold setting material, and one really exciting project we can’t wait to announce. Cheers!

Happy Holidays from Green Ronin Publishing!

Everyone at Green Ronin would like to wish you the very best this Holiday Season, and we’ll see you soon in the new year!

Green Ronin Publishing will be closed from today, December 22nd and will return on January 6th.

Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – More Than a GM Guide (Ronin Roundtable)

One of the fascinating things about jumping in as a game line developer after the game is pretty well established is that you have to go from a casual fan of the game (and it’s various products) to a real expert. That process takes time – I’m still not as expert as I’d like to be with Fantasy AGE just yet – but it can also be a really useful journey of discovery. When you are just reading up on RPG material as you need them for your own games you can miss some really neat, important, or clever bits of game design just because you don’t think they sound like something that appeals to you.

Art by Claudia Ianniciello

This brings me to the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide.

Now, this book has been out for a while, and my predecessor Jack Norris did a really great job talking about the book’s role, why it’s a crucial tome that should not be overlooked, and previewing some of the excellent material in it. Back in July.

Which I did not read at all. And, as a result, I hadn’t taken a look at this book despite owning it and being a fan of the game system, until it became part of my job.

And, I suspect I’m not the only Fantasy AGE fan who just skipped over this. And that’s a shame.

So, in a combination mea culpa and apologia, I present:

The Top Ten Cool Things I Didn’t Know Were In The Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide.

  1. Probability Charts.

I played a LOT of Champions back in the 1980s, which used a 3d6 roll low resolution system, so i have some instinctive feel for what the odds are I’ll roll a 9 or less on 3d6. But I am much less apt to know there’s a 44.44% chance to roll doubles on any given 3d6 roll, which is crucial knowledge when coming up with new stunts and wondering how often they’ll come into play. Some GMs will have no use for this, and that’s fine, but it saves the rest of us a LOT of math.

  1. Rules-Free Good GMing Advice

I really expected this book to mostly be rules, and rules about rules. But there’s a lot of solid, system-agnostic tips and techniques for being a fun, memorable GM in this book. The “Saying Yes to your Players” sidebar alone is worth its weight in gold.

  1. A Whole Discussion on Changing Frameworks

Sure, I expected lots of good advice and rules for creating various different campaign frameworks. But tips on when, how and why to change a campaign’s framework? Never considered it, and the utility of this book is greatly increased for its inclusion.

  1. Some Of The Best Advice I Have Ever Read On How To Create Your Own Adventures

Again, this is designed for Fantasy AGE, but transcends just this rule system. I’d happily recommend it to any GM who struggles with feeling comfortable designing adventures for their players, regardless of what RGP system they are using.

  1. Rules for Creating Honorifics and Memberships as Rewards

It’s much more common for a game to mention a player might end up being called a Dragon-Slayer by locals and bards than to go into any kind of detail about how that honorific may game-mechanically aid the character.

  1. A Random magical properties Table for Magic Items

This is really useful for helping GMs figure out what the heroes find in the troll-barrow.

  1. Guidance for Building a Pantheon

Most (though no, not all) RPGs either assume you’ll use their assumed campaign setting’s pre-determined deities (or real-world religious beliefs), or that you’ll largely ignore the divine. Making gods, and delving into questions like is there a difference between a god and an immensely powerful mage or monster, is a fairly specialized skill set that not everyone has much experience with. This is one of the places this book really fulfills its ‘Campaign Builder’ title better than a lot of “GM Guides” I have read, and again I’d encourage GMs building a campaign or any game system to read this.

The Random Religion tables, in particular, are genius.

  1. SubGenre Rules

It’s one thing to discuss potential campaign genres and subgenres. It’s something altogether different to offer subgenre-specific variant rules. Ranging from Cinematic Acrobatics to Investigation Stunts and Supply Ratings, with these rules you don’t just tell the players they are the wuxia police of a mystically-fueled train making a 1-year journey through a zombie-overrun wasteland (during which it must never dare stop or be overrun), the game rules actually change to support that specific concept.

  1. Random Charts of Business Details

Players wanting to know what merchant shops are visited by someone they are following in town is one of the things that can cause me to hem and haw for way too long. Being able to bounce some dice and tell them quickly it’s a Weaponsmith and Bookstore, but most of the staff seem busy preparing for someone’s wedding? That’s a fast and fun way to flesh out those unexpected trips into the merchant quarter.

  1. Location Stunts

I love Fantasy AGE’s stunt system, and to me this is the biggest gem of the book. The idea that in a city rich with magic, stunts that increase magic damage might cost 1 less stunt point? That’s gold, and it opens up a whole new realm of potential encounter and campaign design for Fantasy AGE.

That’s not to say there isn’t a LOT of other material in this book. These are just the things that most caused me to stop and say “huh” out loud! If you haven’t picked it up, give it a look. If you have, but like me have barely cracked the spine yet, I suggest you set some time aside to explore the book in greater depth.

Incoming transmission….

It’s almost here! Kickstarter backers of The Expanse Roleplaying Game should be on the lookout for the PDF of Abzu’s Bounty this coming week. Pre-orders and PDFs will be available on the Green Ronin website soon after that, and those of you at PAX Unplugged will have a chance to get your hands on physical copies. All of us at Green Ronin want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who backed The Expanse RPG and made this possible. As my first development project for Green Ronin, bringing Abzu’s Bounty to life has been an exciting ride, and I’m really proud of the work the writers and artists put into making this amazing book.

Art by Andrey Vasilchenko

I’ve discussed many of the details in previous posts, but for those of you who may have missed them, here’s a summary. Abzu’s Bounty is a six-part, system-spanning campaign for The Expanse Roleplaying Game. The campaign can take place during the early Expanse novels (Levianthan’s Wake and Caliban’s War). The story opens with characters onboard an ice hauler collecting ice from the rings of Saturn. The crew discovers a strange silicate in some of the ice. The characters soon find themselves enmeshed in a conspiracy that takes them from Prometheus (one of the moons of Saturn) to the inner planets of Earth and Mars and places like Titan and Luna in-between. The book is full of NPCs and locations that are important to the Abzu’s Bounty campaign but could just as easily show up in your own stories. The campaign is designed in such a way that you can play it straight through or pick and choose the parts you want to add your own stories as the characters untangle the mystery. For a more detailed look at what you’ll find inside, check out my earlier posts.

I wish I could say more, but I can’t give away all of the secrets. I look forward to hearing about the adventures of the crews of the Abzu’s Bounty. I hope you all have as much fun playing it as we’ve had creating it.

Fantasy AGE and You – Using Adventures from Other Games

So, here I am the Fantasy AGE developer with tons and tons of d20 adventures sitting on my shelves. A lot of them are really cool concepts, from a tour through the waters around Freeport to more than a hundred Adventure Path volumes from my former employer. I definitely want to run more Fantasy AGE games, but my time is limited and it seems a shame to just chuck all my older gaming products. That makes me wonder, naturally, how hard is it to adapt adventures and settings from other game systems to Fantasy AGE? And, is it worth the effort?

The answers are; not hard at all (though there’s an easy way and a hard way), and, of course, it depends.

Fantasy AGE

Let’s talk about the value of such an idea before we get into some tips on how to do it. The most obvious reason to convert materials for other games to Fantasy AGE is because you like the way Fantasy AGE plays as a game, but need ideas to fill your adventures. Especially for games built around having races, 20-level classes, and fantasy themes. The adaptation work isn’t particularly difficult, so you can easily treat multiple games’ worth of material as idea generators for your Fantasy AGE game.

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

This is especially helpful if you have multiple game editions of material for the same world, or want to mix elements from different system’s game worlds. So if you want to use the core world of one 20-level fantasy game, an adventure that uses a different game system, and a monster from a third, adapting all of these elements to Fantasy AGE may well be easier than picking any one of the three systems you are borrowing from to adjust everything to.

There is, of course, a secret to adapting other games to Fantasy AGE the “easy way,” and it is this: don’t even worry about trying to get it right.

Seriously, Fantasy AGE is not a game where you need to worry about a dozen tiny bonuses or have exactly the right balance of skills and special abilities. Yes, you CAN do things the ‘hard way’ and try to emulate every single special attack, creature type property, and tiny circumstantial bonuses… but mostly that’s not going to produce an end result that is any more fun and satisfying. As long as you use an appropriate equivalent, you can swap out a Fantasy AGE stat block for most things you might encounter in other game systems. If you tell players they are facing a band of 3-foot tall kobolds, they’ll never know you’re actually using the stat block for goblins. Or bandits. Or living dolls.

There are just a few things it’s useful to understand when working on your simple adaptation.

Adversary Threat Level

Fantasy AGE has guidelines covering what level PCs are expected to deal with what degree of adversary threat (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 104), and this is a good general guideline for adapting a Fantasy AGE stat block to represent a foe from another game system. If you have 7th level PCs, and you are running a d20 adventure for 12th level characters, it’s best for most of your adversaries be moderate threats. Yes, that means instead of making a 12th level d20 evil sorcerer a 12th level Fantasy AGE mage you may just want to pick a moderate threat monster with spells, and treat it as a sorcerer. A djinn or shadow person (Fantasy AGE Bestiary) can substitute for a fine spellcaster, and similar you can use any of the elementals from that book as element-themed mages.

Don’t do any more work than you have to. This is supposed to be fun for you too, after all.

Shuffle Special Qualities

Freeport Bestiary (Pathfinder 1st edition)

Anything that isn’t appropriate for your adapted foe? Just ignore. Don’t worry about fine details of balance—if you want a simple air-mage just grab the wind djinn, ignore the flight (or describe it as a spell) and strike out the bound special qualities, and go for it.

If it’s crucial your adapted monster have some special ability to fit the theme of an adventure or to have an encounter make sense, look at the Modifying Monsters rules (Fantasy AGE Bestiary, 133) and pick something close-enough. Again, the idea isn’t to exactly emulate every feature of your adapted adversary, but just to pick a few things that match its theme. If you really need to give a creature a new power to emulate some special ability the bestiary doesn’t give you any options for, consider just giving it a stunt that access a spell from an appropriate arcana.

It’s All Hazards And Tests

Nearly anything that does nasty things to the PCs and isn’t an adversary can be translated into Fantasy AGE as a hazard (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 101). Trapped chest? Hazard you can avoid with a Perception test, and bypass with a Dexterity (Traps) test. Poison cloud? Hazard you can reduce the damage of with a Constitution (Stamina) test. Barrier against good? Hazard you can ignore with a Willpower (Faith) test. Hazards don’t have to be restricted to damage (though it is the simplest option), so you can apply other effects (borrowed from arcana or adversary abilities, or that you make up on the spot). A tar pit can be a hazard that just prevents a character from moving until they pass a Strength (Might) test, a magic blinding rune can require a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test with failure causing the character to be unable to see for 10 minutes, resulting in a -3 to attack rolls and halving their movement rate.

Similarly you can translate most non-combat challenges into basic, opposed, or advanced tests as appropriate. If an adventure has special rules for a chariot race, finding the right book in a partially-flooded library, or building a rebellion within an occupied city, it’s rarely going to be worth it to try to emulate the details of those rules. Just pick the test type that seems closest, tell PCs how often they get to roll based on how long the goal should take, and move on.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When looking back on enjoyable RPG experiences, most players remember when they pulled off an amazing stunt, discovered the mayor was a vampire, swam across the River of Souls, slayed the dragon, or were the last defender standing at the Gate of Heroes. They don’t generally care as much if they had five +1 bonuses from different sources, managed to master the special rules for winning a senate debate, or got lucky on the 4-part drowning rules. The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook has all the tools you need to challenge the players and create memorable adventures, as well as advice on how to create new threats and encounters. When adapting material from other games, all you are doing is borrowing names, art, and general plots as blueprints for creating Fantasy AGE adventures.

If you keep things fast and fun, the players will never know if you didn’t give the half-dragon dire rat ghost from a d20 adventure all of its special defenses—they’ll just remember the dang thing kept running through walls and breathing fire on them until they skewered it for good.

PAX Unplugged and Freebooting

Green Ronin is very excited to be attending PAX Unplugged again this year. PAX Unplugged is Penny Arcade’s completely analog convention. It’s become known as the convention where people actually play games – a lot of them! Crazy, right? So, if you are in Philadelphia the weekend of December 6 – 8, please come join us and play some games.

You will be able to find us at Exhibitor’s Hall Booth 3649. Even better is that this year we will also have a table within the free play hall in an area designated for exhibitor demos. We will have our own dedicated table throughout the entire weekend!

Speaking of the demo table – we could really use a few more people to help us run games. Does this sound like fun to you? In addition to the fun of running games, Green Ronin will reimburse your badge and give you a t-shirt. Win-win for all of us!

If you’re already a Freebooter and interested, please contact me to discuss details.

Not a Freebooter but still want to run games for us? No problem! Becoming a Freebooter is fun, easy, and packed with perks. The first step is to fill out this form. If you want to help with PAX Unplugged, please also send me an email at freebooters@greenronin.com to make sure I expedite your application.

The Expanse RPG – Gen Con 2019

Finally, if you’re attending PAX Unplugged, please feel free to drop by our booth and say hello. Happy gaming!

Abzu’s Bounty is Coming Soon!

Abzu’s Bounty, the first campaign for The Expanse RPG, is almost ready to go. The layout is complete, and we’re waiting for a few final pieces from the artists. And speaking of art, I want to take a moment to say that the artwork in this book is gorgeous! It has everything you’d expect to see in an Expanse campaign: space battles, incredible planetary vistas, pirates, OPA terrorists, abandoned asteroid bases, and more. This book has it all!

As you’ve probably read, Abzu’s Bounty is a six-part, system-spanning campaign filled with action and adventure. We’ve given you the broad strokes, but today I want to delve further into the details without spoiling the plot. The story opens on board the ice hauler, Abzu’s Bounty, gathering ice in the rings of Saturn. The default setting has the characters as members of the Bounty’s crew. However, established characters can just as easily be on board for their own reasons. The crew of the Bounty discovers something unusual in the collected ice. The characters quickly find themselves swept up in conspiracies involving multiple factions from around the solar system. Not long into the campaign, the crew has the opportunity to claim a ship for themselves–an old pirate vessel called the Anne Bonny. With a ship of their own, they’re set to take on all of the challenges that await them: OPA terrorists, private security companies, space pirates, Martian secret agents, corporate masterminds, and more.

Abzu’s Bounty has a direct tie-in to the adventure To Sleep, Perchance to Dream in the core rulebook, but it is not necessary to have played that adventure. But for those who have played it, they finally get to meet Alexander Pope, the villain and mysterious entrepreneur who remains behind the scenes.  Players and GMs who have read the novels will also recognize several characters lifted right from those pages, and there are a quite few fun Easter eggs scattered throughout.

One of the aspects that I think is really cool about this book is that besides being a book full of adventures, it also provides a wealth of useful setting information. You’ll learn more about Luna, the pleasure domes of Titan, the tunnels of Mars, hidden and abandoned space stations, and even a pirate radio station–not to mention new organizations and factions and a shipload of NPCs. Lots of cool stuff that you can use in your own campaign or beyond the events in Abzu’s Bounty.

The campaign is designed so that you don’t necessarily have to run every adventure. You can easily skip those that don’t feel appropriate for your group. If you decide to tell this story, beginning to end, there is plenty of room for GMs to insert their own side stories or expand on the existing adventure. The campaign is designed for characters beginning at 2nd level and advance through 7th or possibly higher. A lot of flexibility is built into the story. The finale even provides an alternate ending for GMs who want to raise the stakes or offer the players a more challenging climax to the story. Be wary though, the odds of all the characters surviving this option are grim.

So, there you have it! I’ve endeavored to give you a more in-depth look into Abzu’s Bounty without giving away any of the secrets. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded. I look forward to hearing stories of how different groups tackle the challenges in Abzu’s Bounty–how they succeed and rise to the challenge.  Until next time!

Abzu’s Bounty, a campaign for The Expanse Roleplaying Game

It all started a little over two years ago when Steve Kenson asked me if I’d be interested in writing for the forthcoming roleplaying game based on The Expanse novels by James S.A. Corey. I jumped at the opportunity not only because was I looking for freelance work, but I was a huge fan of both the novels and the TV series. I ended up writing The Expanse Series chapter for the core rulebook which covered the many types of stories and campaigns you can tell in the setting. I also wrote the adventure included in the core rulebook, To Sleep, Perchance to Dream. A year later, at Gen Con, Steve and I met to discuss the possibility of me writing for and developing the first major sourcebook for The Expanse RPG, a solar system spanning campaign called Abzu’s Bounty, which of course, I eagerly accepted.

 

art by Conceptopolis

Now, here we are a little over a year later and I’m honored to announce that I’ve been offered a position with Green Ronin Publishing as the developer for The Expanse RPG line. This is super exciting for me because not only do I love many Green Ronin games, but I respect them as a company. I’m looking forward to delving deeper into the lore of The Expanse and bringing you new and exciting source material to fuel imaginations and to help Game Masters tell stories of planets of the Sol system and beyond.

Today I’m happy to announce the upcoming release of Abzu’s Bounty. This massive, six-part campaign mirrors the events in the early Expanse novels and takes the player characters from the rings of Saturn to the surface of Luna and many places in-between. Over the course of the story they visit the asteroid base of Prometheus, the cities of Mars, the glamorous domes of Titan, and long-abandoned refineries on Luna. The campaign is designed so that Game Masters can run it exactly as written or use the parts they like and insert their own stories. Each chapter also provides a wealth of setting information and NPCs that could also be used in designing your own campaign.

Abzu’s Bounty will be available for pre-order soon, with an early release at PAXU this year! This campaign requires The Expanse Roleplaying Game.

What’s the “Deal” With Fantasy AGE Arcana Cards?

art by Stephanie Pui Mun Law

“The door of the Great Tower of Uln finally shatters inward, sending splinters flying. It turns out it’s been smashed by a Blade Troll, like the one you fought in the Polemarsh, but bigger, and better-armored. Okay Amanda, it’s your turn. Your mage Soidhe is still on top of the tower, though she can see down the central stairwell all the way to the bottom floor. What’s your mage going to do?”

 

“That troll is going to be a problem! Is Joe’s warrior Ironeye still guarding the bottom of the stairs?”

“Yeah, Joe never said he moved, so that’s where he still is.”

“Great! I’ll cast agent of fate. If Ironeye needs help dealing with that monster, I want to be ready to give him some stunt points.”

“Okay, but you are 20 yards up at the top of the tower. How far away can you use agent of fate?”

“Oh, it’s never come up! We’re always right next to each other. Lemme look. Hey, Joe, can I borrow the Basic Rulebook?”

“Er… sure Amanda. Just don’t lose my spot—I’m reading up on some alchemical stuff. But, hey, isn’t that spell in the Companion anyway?”

Okay, okay, it’s a contrived example. There aren’t that many things to look up during a Fantasy AGE game, and you can write down all the information you need about every Arcana you cast on your character sheet, to avoid having to look things up. And that’s by design, to be honest. If you have the Basic Rulebook and some dice, you have everything your group needs to play Fantasy AGE.

But, especially if you are the GM and have to have new arcana in play every time the players face an enemy mage or arcana-wielding monster.

So, we thought we’d make things easier! The Fantasy Age Arcana Cards have all the information you need for all the spells in the game (from both the Basic Rulebook and Companion) in easy-to reference individual cards. Instead of having to write down all the details for your spells, and update that as you gain higher degrees of mastery, you can just grab the arcana cards you need and have all the information available, without flipping through multiple books. For arcana with spells spread out over multiple books it’s especially useful for having all the spells in one place—no need to flip to the Basic Rulebook for Air Arcana’s protective winds, and then to the Companion for air bubble.

But of course this wouldn’t be a gaming article without suggesting some ways you can use arcana cards for even more than just fast access to fun facts! One of the fascinating things about cards is that they can be used to quickly and easily determine random results? So what can you do with randomly-selected arcana? Well, here are three ideas:

Build-A-Mage: While a player could decide to make a deal-an-arcana character, this is primarily useful for a GM who wants to be able to quickly create very-different feeling mages. Got a witch who knows three arcana? Deal three cards at random and see what you get. For extra style points, build a theme based on those random results. Deal yourself Air, Shadow, and Water arcana? You have created a servant of the Midnight Typhoon.

Chaos Magic: Okay, do NOT dip into this well too often. But in areas of chaos magic, no matter what spell a mage THINKS they are casting, a failed casting roll results in a spell of the same level of expertise from a randomly-selected arcana card.

Random Weakness Generator: Want to make a monster a little weirder? Give it a weakness by randomly assigning it an arcana it is vulnerable to. For example, if you randomly dealt the Fate Arcana card, you could decide the Blade Trolls of Arak-Uln are legendary monsters—each with its own legend that speaks of how they have destroyed the fate of great heroes. But those legends also suggest they have a weakness against Fate itself, and each troll takes 1d6 more damage when struck by an attack modified by a Fate Arcana spell.

Fantasy AGE Arcana Cards will be available as print-on-demand products via DrivethruRPG on October 30th!

Ronin Round Table: Sovereigns of the Blue Rose Introduction

From the very founding of the kingdom of Aldis, its Sovereigns have been beacons of hope, catalysts for change, and exemplars of Aldin ideals to the best of their ability.

Anyone who has played a game of Blue Rose can’t miss the importance and impact of the setting’s Sovereigns, even if they never make an appearance in the game. These people have shaped the setting of Blue Rose over the years. They are directly responsible for making Aldis the egalitarian meritocracy that has made it so unique and interesting, both within the Blue Rose setting, and as a piece of fantasy fiction.

As such, it shouldn’t have been surprising when a fan of Blue Rose contacted me over social media, asking for resources on the previous Sovereigns. They were doing a fan art project, wanting to depict all of the Sovereigns, and had hit a brick wall with some of them.

So, I dove into the project myself, collecting and collating lore about the various Sovereigns. As I did so, it became increasingly obvious to me just how fascinating these characters were. My research included not just what they looked like, but also their deeds (for completion sake, of course). Reading through that list made me want to read more about them. It made me want to get to know them better, and that sparked an idea.

I approached Nisaba editor Jaym Gates with the idea, and she backed me immediately, facilitating the anthology, helping me to round up authors who would be perfect for the project, and generally championing me the entire way.

I also asked Jess Hartley to come in and help me with the editing proper – I’ve edited game books for nearly two decades, and written fiction, but I am still a baby editor when it comes to fiction, so I was very grateful for the experienced help.

Together, fourteen authors and three editors have made Sovereigns of the Blue Rose an anthology that is filled with deep Blue Rose lore, and an absolute love letter to the diverse, egalitarian, romantic fantasy roots of the world as a whole.

I’ve included the Table of Contents for the upcoming Sovereigns of the Blue Rose anthology, in addition to the cover. Welcome, and enjoy!

 

Joseph D. Carriker, Jr.,

Editor