The Sovereign’s Finest

 

Sovereign's Finest in action!

The existence of the Sovereign’s Finest in the nation of Aldis has, from the beginning, been almost entirely for the benefit of player characters. It exists to give player characters not just a reason to go out and do “adventurer” things, but to do so with royal approval and as national heroes.

Since this chronicle focuses on the players all as envoys of the Finest, we decided that we needed to spend some space talking about the Sovereign’s Finest. Not just how they fit into the setting (as the Blue Rose core rulebook does a fantastic job of doing). But what it is like to be an envoy. We take a look at ranking systems and roles within the Finest, introduce you to some of the movers and shakers among the envoys, and examine play at every level of the organization (as the organizational chart in this article suggests).

Sovereign's Finest

Moreover, we explore the mechanics of the Finest as well. New Specialties and Talents, unique items, new Titles, and even a system that puts player character envoys in charge of defensive structures, outposts, and other strongholds – all in the name of the Sovereign, of course.

This single appendix is chock full of information for players and Narrators alike for playing envoys of the Finest, and is sure to see lots of play at the table even after you have enjoyed the chronicle in the main part of the book.

Envoys to the Mount is available to Pre-Order right now! If you’d like to own both the print and PDF versions of the book, you’ll see an offer for the digital files at checkout for just $5! We’ll even throw in a copy of Tales from the Mount for just $5 as well! And don’t forget that we have a free PDF of 8 pre-gen characters for you to use if you’d like to get playing right away.

Be sure to check out our previous articles on the Ronin Rountable blog!
Designing a Envoys to the Mount
Mounting Anticipation

 

Mounting Anticipation

Envoys to the Mount for Blue RoseIn the world of Blue Rose, the Kingdom of Aldis is normally where it’s at, but our newest releases, Envoys to the Mount and Tales from the Mount, are instead taking us on a journey to a very different destination, indeed: the Shadow Barrens, sorcery-defiled remnants of the once-thriving realm of Faenaria, where stands the quasi-mythical Mount Oritaun.

Envoys to the Mount is a campaign sourcebook for Blue Rose, spanning levels 2 to 17, which challenges a band of the Sovereign’s Finest to embrace their Destiny and defy Fate on an errand of mercy with repercussions to be felt throughout all of Aldea, now and for ages to come. While the quest begins innocuously enough—rendering aid to people in need across the kingdom—the adventure will lead these envoys to uncover ancient arcane secrets, pursue (and be pursued by!) deadly enemies, walk the streets of a metropolis long ago lost to Shadow, and ultimately stand against the earthly champion of the Exarchs in a battle both for the future of a lost people and for the soul of the world.

However, Envoys to the Mount is so much more than just a campaign. It also serves as a guide to the Sovereign’s Finest, outlining organization, operations, ranks and responsibilities, and all the other information needed to understand the inner workings of this revered Aldin fellowship. Within, you’ll learn what’s expected of an envoy, as well as the privileges and obligations of those who ascend the rank, and both a brief history of the Finest and a “who’s who” of its current leadership. Further, Envoys to the Mount explores the terrifying Shadow Barrens in detail—its vistas and many hazards, along with various points of interest for the bold… or the foolhardy—and provides new mechanics for use in this or any other Blue Rose campaign, such as the corrupt Shadow Dancer Talent and the exciting new system for challenge tests (a kind of advanced test with the potential for consequences every step of the way).Tales from the Mount from Nisaba Press

Of course, what’s a Blue Rose campaign without compelling player characters? Thus, we’re also releasing a free set of eight pregenerated 2nd level characters uniquely suited to the events of Envoys to the Mount, with built-in plot hooks intended to draw them directly into the action. While not necessary to enjoy Envoys to the Mount, these characters can jumpstart your adventure and get you right into the thick of things!

Last, but certainly not least, is Tales from the Mount, a nine-story anthology of nearly 300 pages of Blue Rose fiction centered upon the events, themes, moods, and settings of Envoys to the Mount. These stories shed a light on the dreaded Shadow Barrens and the terrible things that lurk within, through the exploits of those who defy Shadow with love and courage. Within its pages, you will accompany not just those braving the Barrens from without, but also travel alongside those from within that nightmarish land, to see that hope can bloom in even the most unlikely earth. Tales of bravery and sacrifice, of darkest sorcery and bittersweet triumph, await you!

What stories will you tell of Mount Oritaun?

A Blue Rose Chronicle, Designing Envoys to the Mount

Envoys to the Mount, a Blue Rose epic ChronicleHere at Green Ronin Publishing, we love us some epic campaigns. Long-term games that involve lots of play time, the opportunity to dig into the backgrounds, motivations, and growth of the characters, and a chance to change the setting? Purest catnip around here.

So when we set out to design our first full-length chronicle for Blue Rose, we set some pretty specific goals for the project.

It Has To Be Big. Though not all of our full-length adventure series will necessarily be as huge in scope as this chronicle, we wanted to start off big. So, we did that: the story in Envoys to the Mount involves the origins of the vata and the mystery of Mount Oritaun in the Shadow Barrens. A story like this demands no less a foe than the darkfiends and shadowspawn of the fallen capital of Faenaria, lost Austium, and the players are heroic Sovereign’s Finest trying to preserve what they can of the ancient legacy of lost Faenaria and Mount Oritaun.

And though Envoys to the Mount will not necessarily change the way “core” Blue Rose’s setting operates, it certainly has the potential to transform a group’s individual version of that setting – including some advice on how to handle what happens in the event of terrible tragedy in its conclusion.

It Has To Be Character-Focused. In a game like Blue Rose, the best parts of play are the parts that are about the player characters. In a published campaign, however, that’s hard to do without pre-generating the characters involved…and half the fun of an RPG is creating and playing your own character!

To address the conundrum, we are introducing Character Hooks: small “archetypes” that players can choose to “hook” their characters into the overall story. These Hooks will provide small benefits and drawbacks, as well as suggest some background elements for players to use when creating those characters.

But the real fun is that the various chapters all have sidebars that talk about the ways what is going on in the story affects or is affected by the presence of one of the Hooks. Will you play the Rhy-Bonded pair, or the mysterious Vata? Are you a Roamer with a familial interest in what is going on, or an aloof Historian there to record portentous events?

(We’ll talk a bit more about Character Hooks in an upcoming Ronin Roundtable, so keep an eye out for that!)

It Has To Span Time. Big things can happen all at once, but for the story we’re telling, we wanted some elbow room. One of the most fun parts of romantic fantasy fiction is seeing characters age and develop – not just as adventurers, but as people living their lives.

To that end, Envoys to the Mount takes place over a five year span. The player characters will begin as 2nd level characters in Chapter One, and by the time they reach Chapter Four, their careers in the Sovereign’s Finest will make them leaders in the nation of Aldis, and heroes in their own right.

This new epic chronicle for Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy, will go on pre-order later this week.

Blue Rose Quickstart available NOW!

Blue Rose QuickstartThis week sees the release of a Quickstart for our Blue Rose AGE roleplaying game. Green Ronin’s Quickstarts have always served to whet the appetite for a game, a compact and easy-to-use set of rules and an adventure scenario that needs nothing more than the Quickstart itself and some dice to get right down to playing.

The Blue Rose Quickstart is no different from other Quickstarts in that regard. But it also serves as an appetizer for another aspect of Blue Rose: its unique romantic fantasy setting. Blue Rose is one of several AGE games in our line of excellent offerings, but it is also an original setting, paying homage to the worlds of romantic fantasy fiction as it does.

To that end (without giving away any spoilers), we knew that we needed to highlight an important aspect of that genre: specifically, that while in much of traditional fantasy, the wilderness is a place of danger, in Blue Rose, the wilderness is much more than that. Certainly, there are risks for venturing out into it, but it is also a place of great beauty and serenity, a place aligned with the heartbeat of the setting’s spirit.

For this reason, the Blue Rose Quickstart’s adventure The Rhy-Wolf’s Woe takes place in the vast wildernesses of the Pavin Weald, a primordial old growth forest that is home to monsters and spirits and rhydan (the sapient psychic animals of the Blue Rose setting, who are among the player character types available for play!). This adventure was written by Stephen Michael DiPesa, and it captures so much of the spirit of Blue Rose perfectly.

Also important to the Blue Rose setting are its cast of diverse characters. To highlight those, we had April Douglas craft for us a set of nine pregenerated characters. Rather than a motley band of barely-connected adventurers, however, April gave us something distinctly Blue Rose-like: the Family Nightsong, an extended family of remarkable people. Though built around a constellation family (as a marriage between three or more folk is called), the Family Nightsong is more than that. The types of connections between its members range from spousal to parental to filial and more. The Nightsong folk may not all be related to one another, but there is no doubt: they are family, at day’s end.

So join us! If you’ve never played Blue Rose AGE before, download the Quickstart, get some friends together over Discord or Zoom, and give it a spin! And if you like what you read and play, you’ll find that the first adventure included in the Blue Rose AGE core rulebook is also in the Pavin Weald – so your next adventure is right next door!

 

Download the Blue Rose AGE Quickstart here!

 

See what else we have for Blue Rose here!

Shake Things Up – Adding Complications to Encounter Designs

Whether you are a veteran GM who crafts every campaign world and adventure from scratch, a newcomer to running games who is just trying to get through a published adventure, or someone preferring any of the hundreds of possible in-between styles of gamemastering, sometimes you realize your encounters are in a rut. It may not be your fault—many GMs run published adventures for lack of time to create all their own content, and even for GMs who make a lot of custom adventures, players can often get really good at determining how a specific game works, and cutting to the solution of any challenge much faster than expected. Even if neither of those issues is a problem, sometimes you realize a player has built a character to be good at something that never comes up in play… and they feel cheated for not getting to do the kind of adventure they are prepared for.

Regardless of why you think your existing adventure toolkit isn’t doing everything you need it to, and no matter the game system you are using, it may be time to shake things up with a complication. Or a dozen complications.

Complications

Art by Biagio D’allessandro

Simple Complications

There are a number of very simple complications you can use to change the feel and flow of the RPG sessions you run. Here’s three that don’t take much advance work or thought.

Add Restrictions: If the players have gotten good at killing foes, require them to drive off threats without seriously hurting anyone. If they are masters of out-talking competitors during negotiations, make them argue their case next to a waterfall so loud no one can hear anything. If a single character is the best hacker the world has ever seen, set up the need to get information during a complete blackout when no computers are running. If the players’ favorite tactic is setting everything on fire, make them fight underwater.

The advantages of adding a restriction is that it doesn’t change the core rules of the game, it just makes players tackle a problem with some of their options off the table. You shouldn’t do this often—then it’s just shutting down character abilities—but there’s nothing wrong with forcing players to be flexible now and again.

Add Hindrances: While a restriction is specifically something that takes away some of the players’ normal options, a hindrance is something that makes the challenge of the encounter more difficult by adding new elements that can cause problems. If the PCs can sneak into any secure site anywhere, make them do so with an angry songbird in a cage they can’t muffle. If they normally bully citizens into giving them what they want, make them carry out their investigations with a bigger bully the citizens already hate. If they are experts at ranged combat, have a fight in a corn maze, with strong winds and torrential rain reducing visibility.

Add A Twist: Don’t go all M. Night Shyamalan about it, but sometimes the situation not being exactly what is expected is a great complication to throw at players. Perhaps the “attacking” wolves are just running from even bigger monsters right behind them. The crime family not only capitulate to the PCs’ demands they lay off a neighborhood, they ask the PCs to help them go fully legit. The final lock on the dragon’s vault is a sleeping cat you have to move without waking.

Secondary Challenges

Rather than just adding complications to an encounter’s normal challenge, you can add an entire secondary challenge of another type. If the encounter is a fight with a band of highwaymen, perhaps a group of mercenaries wander by and the bandits try to recruit them as reinforcement while the fight is already underway. Now in addition to the initial challenge of the combat, the PCs must deal with the secondary challenge of a negotiating while the fighting is ongoing. If the PCs were trying to break into a vault before the next guard shift comes by, perhaps they discover previous thieves have already rigged the vault with a barrel of gunpowder on a lit fuse, and now both problems have to be handled at the same time.

A secondary challenge can be a great way to allow characters who aren’t good at the type of encounter as the main challenge (or players who just don’t care about that kind of encounter) to get some time in the spotlight of attention anyway. If you have a complex puzzle lock with riddles, and that kind of challenge bores one of your players who has a combat-focused character, adding a mini-secondary challenge can give them something to engage with while the other players tackle the puzzle lock. Perhaps the lock is also haunted, so ghosts of past (unsuccessful) lockpickers materialize and attack every few rounds

When adding secondary challenges and complications there is often a temptation to make sure the difficulty of overcoming them is tied to how crucial it is they be overcome. That’s pretty standard design for the main challenge of an encounter, but it can be needlessly difficult and complex for something you are adding as a complication. When an encounter already has a key challenge, it can be overwhelming for an additional challenge to require the same degree of focus, effort, and resources. If you’re going for a climactic, epic encounter, that may be exactly what you want. But if you are just adding a complication to increase variety and interest in the encounter, there’s no reason it has to be as challenging as the primary problem—in many ways it’s more interesting if it isn’t. If most of the characters are trying to evacuate children from the burning orphanage, and you only expect one or two to be dealing with the still-present arsonist, making him relatively easy to deal with keeps the encounter’s focus on the lifesaving, rather than a fight. The characters who are poorly equipped to help get kids out, or who can’t resist a chance for a brawl, can focus on just a few of them easily defeating the firebug, while the rest of the characters get the more important plot point of saving children.

But that doesn’t mean the secondary challenge can’t be just as important, even if it’s not just as hard. Obviously, the children in the burning building need to be saved, but stopping the arsonist is important as well. Not only does it keep him from starting more fires (possibly in the building just across the street), so resource efforts don’t have to expand, it’s also a potential opportunity to find out why he started the fire to begin with. Is it fire-for-hire, as a crimelord wants to make a point, or a developer needs the land to finish a new project? Or did one of the children see something the arsonist wants to make sure never gets reported?

Keep it Fun

No matter what elements of complications you add to spice up encounters, try to make sure you are creating things your players will see as challenges to be overcome, rather than efforts to punish them for having powerful or single-minded characters. Problems with how characters are built or players should be handled with a conversation out-of-character on what is bothering you, and how the players can help you have fun while still making sure they have a good time.

Complications and additional challenges are to make the game surprising and fun for everyone and, like seasoning in good cooking, a few sprinkles now and then often go a long way!

Aldean Arcana in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

While The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide makes use of the core Fifth Edition spells and spellcasting classes, it does make a few adjustments to reflect the nature of magic and the Arcane on Aldea.

Blue Rose Adventurer's GuideAldea is a highly magical world, where adepts not only wield considerable power, but have transformed the world through its application, making life better and easier for people. Unfortunately, that same power has been misused by the corrupt, nearly destroying the world as well.

Adepts

Aldeans commonly use the term “adept” to refer to those awakened souls able to use magic, although technically the term is for those who have mastered such abilities; in the Old Kingdom, adept was a title similar to “master” in a craft, the achievement after apprenticeship as a student and graduation to independent practice. Now, among the uninitiated, the term is often confused for those who simply possess arcane talent, even if they lack training and skill. “Adept” often refers to anyone able to cast spells.

Arcane Limits

Aldea’s plane is particularly isolated from other planes of existence, so much so that the shadow-gates were the only known means of breaching the barriers between planes. Thus magic and spells reliant on contacting other planes or summoning creatures from them either work differently or do not work at all on Aldea without the use of a shadow-gate. The following spells are non-functional on Aldea without the use of a shadow-gate: conjure celestial, contact other plane, gate, planar ally, plane shift, teleport, and teleportation circle.

The Occult

Arcane Adept

Art by Aaron Riley

Aldean philosophers and scholars theorize that arcane power ultimately flows from the soul, and that the Souls of the Eternal Dance all possess at least the potential power wielded by the gods themselves, who created and shaped the world from the Sea of Possibility. Of course, those selfsame souls are now embodied and have forgotten much of their divine nature, but a spark of that still remains within every soul, and some find and draw upon it to wield magic in the world.

Also like the god Anwaren, the souls of the Dance are vulnerable to the lure and temptation of Shadow, particularly when wielding the power to influence and transform. When the arcane arts are used to usurp the sovereignty of another soul, there is resistance, a backlash from that soul’s divine nature. In essence, when the arcane is used to alter another person’s body, mind, or soul without their consent, it can corrupt the soul of the adept. Aldeans refer to magic that does these things as occult, for such things are obscured by Shadow.

The following spells are considered occult when cast on an unwilling person: antipathy/sympathy, calm emotions, command, compulsion, confusion, detect thoughts, dominate person, enlarge/reduce, enthrall, eyebite, fear, feeblemind, geas, hideous laughter, hypnotic pattern, imprisonment, irresistible dance, magic jar, modify memory, phantasmal killer, polymorph, suggestion, symbol, true polymorph, vampiric touch, and weird.

Note that a few of these spells are not considered occult if they are used on a willing subject, such as calm emotions, modify memory, or polymorph, for examples. Others are always occult, because they cannot have a willing subject by definition. Likewise, many of these spells are not considered occult if they are used on creatures other than people: dominate monster, for example, is not occult.

Also spells that summon fiends or undead creatures, or that create undead creatures, are occult by definition including animate dead and create undead, and planar ally and gate (involving fiends).

Arcane Items

Old Aldis created many arcane wonders long ago, and the Shadow Lords who followed it often used their powers to create terrible and powerful items, some of them cursed. Some of these objects from both eras of Aldean history still exist, although the secrets of their making have been lost. The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide describes more than three dozen unique magic items found on Aldea, including seven artifacts.

Aldean Classes – Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

Last week we took a look at Ancestries in Aldea, so this week we thought we’d focus on Aldean Classes. All of the core 5e classes exist in the world of Aldea, and The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide looks at each, how they fit into the various nations and lands, and offer new class-feature options unique to Aldea and the Western Lands:

Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide for 5e: Pre-Order Today!


Barbarians – The Path of the Wasteland: Fit for surviving in the most Shadow-tainted wastelands and desolate places, these barbarians literally live off their own fury and determination and possess tremendous survival instincts.

Aldean Fighter ClassBards – The College of the Roads: Also known as the College of Fate, these bards learn the secrets of the Roamers, including how to perceive and tug at the weave of fate and to perform the sacred Sel-Shanna, the Moon Dance.

Clerics – The Radiant Domain: More than just mundane light, clerics of radiance are devoted to the Light, the essence and wellspring of creation, which opposes the power of Shadow. Any of the Gods of Light can claim this domain, along with clerics of the Eternal Dance itself. Clerics of radiance are found in all of the lands of Aldea, but particularly Aldis and Jarzon, although they often differ in their views of how best to shed their light to banish Shadow.

Druids – The Circle of the Clans: The most common druids on Aldea, by far, are the Circle of the Clans, who serve the clans of Rezea. They are commonly known as witches, or the wise-ones, adept keepers of lore, wisdom, and power. They gather on the plains at night under the stars and the light of the moon to work their magic.

Fighters – The Peacekeeper: It is said “let those who desire peace prepare for war” and those who emulate the Peacekeeper do just that. They are prepared, able, and willing to fight, if they must, for a cause they believe in, but a Peacekeeper’s goal is to prevent fights, when and where possible, and to end them as quickly, and with as little harm, as they can.

Monks – The Way of the Spirit Dance: A reflection of the Eternal Dance within the material world, the tradition of the Spirit Dance is thought to be one of the oldest spiritual practices in Aldea, passed down from master to student since time immemorial, and granting those who learn and master its rhythms and steps great spiritual and magical insight.

Paladins – The Oath of the Rose: Rose Knights are sworn to the cause of Aldis and the Blue Rose, to be the champions of the Sovereignty. The power of oaths and dedication is palpable to an awakened soul, and paladins are found among all of the cultures of Aldea. They include the Knights of Purity in Jarzon and the dreaded Knights of the Skull in Kern.

Rangers – The Shadow Hunter: Some rangers following the Hunter archetype on Aldea stalk the forces of Shadow itself. These Shadow Hunters gain access to additional traits concerning their particular foes.

Rogues – The Rebel: The rebel is an infiltrator and an inciter of change, sometimes through stealth, cunning, and persuasion, other times through violence. They may be a lone figure, inspiringAldean Wizard Class people to take action, the leader of a cell or network, or even hidden within the very power structure they seek to overthrow.

Sorcerers – Primal Sorcery: There are sorcerers who wield the primal magic of the elements, forged by the gods at the dawn of the world. These sorcerers often hail from particularly ancient families, although bloodlines and inheritance are often obscured by the chaos of the Shadow Wars and all that followed.

Warlocks – The Autumn King and the Winter Queen: Although it is said that all souls of the Eternal Dance have the potential for the arcane arts, the truth is that not all souls awaken to that potential in each life, and most will not do so in this life. Still there are some who hunger and thirst for arcana and seek some means to slake it. Warlocks on Aldea turn to two additional particular patrons for their arcane arts: the Primordials, particularly those of Autumn and Winter, of earth and air, and of madness and the Moon.

Wizards – The School of Psyche: The School of the Psyche explores the true source of magic on Aldea: the awakened souls of the Eternal Dance, and the vast Sea of Possibility, the pure power of the mind and soul working in concert. Some psychic wizards refer to their work as the “grand unity of the arts,” seeking a deeper understanding of all arcana through this lens.

Aldean Ancestries in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

The Blue RoseBlue Rose Adventurer's Guide for 5th edition Adventurer’s Guide talks, not about “race” but ancestry, as the Aldeans consider “personhood” a matter of the mind and soul, the souls of the Eternal Dance, given physical form by the gods to save them from being lost to the hunger of the Exarchs of Shadow. Ancestry is a matter of the physical form a particular soul is reborn into from the Wheel of Rebirth. The various ancestries of Aldea—human, night person, sea-folk, vata, and rhydan—are described in “Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer.” Here we look at what ancestry means in 5e game terms:

Abilities

Ancestries in Blue Rose do not apply ability score adjustments. Instead, all characters receive a +2 bonus to one ability, and a +1 bonus to another, both of the player’s choice. Likewise, ancestry doesn’t determine the languages a character knows or speaks, and there are no “racial languages,” that’s a function of the culture the character was raised in. Of course, some people in Aldea are telepathic, so language is often not a concern.

Traits

Ancestries in Blue Rose

art by Aaron Riley

Ancestries do have their own particular traits, whether the adaptability and innate talents of humans, the darkvision and relentless endurance of the night people, the amphibious nature of the sea-folk, or the arcane talents and rapid recovery of the vata. Rhydan in particular have their own traits, given their animal forms, their innate psychic abilities, and their ability to rhy-bond with a particular companion. The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide gives full traits for rhy-cats, rhy-fen (dolphins), horses, and wolves, but also guidelines to create rhydan traits for any beast with a Challenge Rating of 1/4 or less.

Cultures

The various Western Lands of Aldea described in “Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer” have their own cultures and languages, and it is these that influence the backgrounds of different characters. Humans are by far the majority ancestry, with other peoples fitting in and around human communities, but humans and vata in the Theocracy of Jarzon, for example, have more in common with each other than they have with their human and vata kin from the Plains of Rezea on the far side of Aldis, for example.

Backgrounds

Aldean characters choose a background like any other character, and the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide provides local interpretations of various classic backgrounds within Aldean cultures, along with new options, like Reawakened, Refugee, and Shadow-Scarred, and all of their associated traits.

Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer

Blue Rose Adventurer's GuideWhether it is the announcement of the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide, the release of some recent Blue Rose products, or just general curiosity, if you are unfamiliar with the setting for Blue Rose, you may be wondering: What is this “Aldea” place and what is it like for playing games and telling stories?

Walk across its meadows, under the branches of its forests, or along its shores, and you would find the world of Aldea much like our own: with a day and night, a sun and moon, a cycle of seasons over a similar year, with much flora and fauna that would be familiar.

That said, you would also encounter magic and mystery under those forest boughs and in the watery depths. The sun, moon, and stars were placed in the sky by primordial powers worshipped during that cycle of seasons, and some flora and fauna are quite different indeed, from tree-spirits to faeries to beasts with minds as aware as our own. What’s more, you would find places, and creatures, touched by forces of corruption and evil, which have twisted them, making them inimical to life.

The Western Lands

Aldea is a world in many ways like our own several centuries ago, in others very different. The Blue Rose setting focuses on a region of the overall world of Aldea less than a thousand miles across, centered on the nation of Aldis, the Sovereignty of the Blue Rose. They are collectively known as the Western Lands, or the Old Kingdom Lands, although both terms are not in widespread use, since these lands don’t think of themselves collectively, for the most part. They have emerged only a few centuries ago from a vast dark age of corrupt rule, and parts of the world still remain touched by the power known to Aldeans as Shadow.

  • Aldis: Central to the Western Land is the Sovereignty of Aldis, once the heart of the Old Kingdom. Aldis is ruled by nobles who are trained and tested for their roles, including the magical test of the Blue Rose Scepter to verify their good intentions. It is ruled by a Sovereign chosen by the divine Golden Hart from among its people, and the current sovereign is Queen Jaellin. Aldis harnesses arcane power and potential to improve the lives of its people and to promote a culture of tolerance and prosperity for all.
  • Rezea: West of Aldis, across the broad Rezean Gulf, lie the plains of Rezea, hundreds of miles of open grasslands, fed by rivers flowing from the high northern mountains towards the ocean. These lands are claimed by the Clans of Rezea, semi-nomadic horse-riders descended from humans who escaped servitude in Drunac to the north and west and found their way onto the vast plains, led by the great hero Jessa. The Rezean clans are largely independent, and often competitive, united by their culture and their respect for the Khana, the wisest of their witches.
  • Jarzon: To the east of Aldis, across the expanse of the Veran Marsh, is the Theocracy of Jarzon. Jarzon’s history of struggle in throwing off tyranny and surviving in a corrupted world has shaped their culture and views. A deeply religious nation, Jarzon’s salvation was in the Church of Pure Light. The church preaches a strict life of vigilance against corruption. The practice of the occult is punishable by death, and the arcane arts may only be practiced by the church’s priesthood and those specifically under their supervision. Jarzon mistrusts neighboring Aldis for the Sovereignty’s embrace of arcana and the forces which the Theocracy feels corrupted the world—and have the potential to do so again.
  • Kern: To the north of Aldis, beyond the peaks of the Ice-Binder Mountains, lies the foreboding Thaumarchy of Kern, the last of the domains of Shadow. The Lich King Jarek ruled here for centuries until Queen Jaellin and the forces of Aldis brought his rule—and his dark tower—crashing down three years ago. A loose alliance of seven of Jarek’s lieutenants stepped quickly into the power vacuum, taking up the reins of power as a “Regency Council” until the succession could be settled. The so-called “Shadowed Seven” plot and scheme and maneuver for advantage in the inevitable conflict that will settle which of them sits upon Kern’s throne.
  • Lar’tya: A sea voyage to the south and west of Aldis lie the volcanic isles of the Matriarchy of Lar’tya. It is a prosperous, tropical nation with a trading partnership with the Western Lands, particularly Aldis. As its name suggests, Lar’tya consolidates political and social power in the hands of women, considering them more naturally suited to administration, business, and leadership. The nation also has a strict caste system, with limited social mobility and interaction between castes.
  • The Roamers: The traveling folk known as Roamers trace their lineage back to the lost nation of Faenaria, what is now the Shadow Barrens. The Roamers travel from place to place in small caravans of brightly colored wagons, trading goods and offering services, often visionary readings or small arcane works. They’re known for their love of music and dance, but also for a somewhat mischievous nature and a gift for stirring things up in places they visit.

The Western Kingdoms of Aldea

The Peoples of Aldea

On Aldea, their term for “person” generally refers to any embodied soul: a living being born of the world, capable of thought and self-awareness. That said, not all cultures agree as to precisely who

Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy

Blue Rose (Fantasy AGE)

is or isn’t a “person.” In particular some nations, like Jarzon, question whether or not rhydan are truly people, or whether the night people are deserving of the name, being creations of the occult, and therefore shadowspawn in their eyes. In Aldis and much of the world, however, the following five peoples are recognized:

  • Humans: The vast majority of people in the world are humans, who would be quite familiar to us. Aldean humans exist in all of the vast variety they do on our world, and then some.
  • Night People: Creations of arcana, the night people were made as brute laborers and soldiers. Many fought for and won their freedom and they are now found in many lands, although fully-accepted only in Aldis, as many others are suspicious of the night people’s origins.
  • Rhydan: The rhydan have the bodies of beasts, but possess souls just like any people, making them intelligent, self-aware, and gifted with arcane (particularly psychic) talents. Most rhydan arise—or “awaken” as they call it—from amongst mundane animals of their kind, and many in Aldis believe rhydan are proof of the Wheel of Rebirth: placing enlightened souls into animal forms close to nature.
  • Sea-folk: Sea-folk are an amphibious people, who can swim with great skill and hold their breath as long as a dolphin. They have green- or blue-tinted skin and hair and eyes of a similar shade. Sea-folk are androgynous and often gender-fluid. Because they depend on water more than land-dwellers, sea-folk live near rivers, streams, lakes, or the sea.
  • Vata: Descendants of the ancient and arcane vatazin, their heritage mixed with human ancestry, the vata are a long-lived people of arcane gifts and insights, but one that has been fading from the world for generations.

Before the souls of Aldea were embodied, they were timeless beings beyond physicality. Now in diverse forms, they retain some sense of their previous oneness. While men and women are the most common genders of Aldea, more exist beyond these two. While people in Aldis have no overriding romantic or sexual preference, placing the importance of the soul over the body, there are those primarily or solely drawn to their own gender, or to a different gender, as well as those not drawn to sex or romance in particular, or even at all. There are many sorts of families, based on many sorts of relationships between people, with love as the most common element.

A New World Awaits

This summary is just the barest taste of the magical world of Aldea. So much more awaits in both Blue Rose, the AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy (for the AGE System) and in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide (for Fifth Edition fantasy roleplaying), as well as fiction set in the world of Aldea from Nisaba Press, such as the novel Shadowtide. Whatever venue appeals to you, welcome to the world of Aldea! Take the time to visit and experience its stories, and then create some of your own.

Blue Rose Blooms Again

Blue Rose Adventurer's GuideI seem to have a thing for writing Blue Rose announcements in June but, given it is Pride Month, and roses bloom in the early summer, that makes a certain amount of sense. I’m writing this one in June as well, although I don’t know exactly when you’ll see it, website and product scheduling being what they are.

The notion of returning Blue Rose to its d20-based roots in some form or another has been something we have discussed various times over the years, but it took a pandemic closing down printers, distributors, and game stores to prioritize it in the company’s busy schedule. Green Ronin is certainly no stranger to the Fifth Edition landscape, having designed and developed two official Dungeons & Dragons books (Out of the Abyss and The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) as well as publishing a Fifth Edition compatible edition of the Book of the Righteous and the hugely-popular Tal’dorei Campaign Setting sourcebook for the online streaming show Critical Role. With a Fifth Edition version of the Book of Fiends in the works, a large Fifth Edition audience and the opportunities available to us, it seemed that the Wheel of Rebirth had turned once again and it was time for the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide to find its way into your hands.

The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide is a complete setting sourcebook for Aldea, the romantic fantasy world of Blue Rose, for Fifth Edition fantasy roleplaying. It details Aldea, its history and cosmology, and the Sovereignty of Aldis and its surrounding lands, all of the essential information you need to know about this fantasy world. The remaining third of the book covers the game information you need to play your own Fifth Edition campaigns in Aldea: unique ancestries (including the awakened animal rhydan), backgrounds, character subclasses (including the Peacekeeper martial archetype, the Way of the Spirit Dance monastic path, the Oath of the Rose for paladins, the School of the Psyche for wizards, and much more), modifications to spellcasting, rules for the corrupting power of Shadow, and details on Aldean monsters and magic items. All of it, of course, beautifully presented and wrapped in the gorgeous art of cover artists Stephanie Pui-Min Law.

We’re excited to offer a way to experience the world of Blue Rose using the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game, and to introduce fans of Fifth Edition to a romantic fantasy world where connection, empathy, and kindness play important roles, and where a diverse nation of good people work together to uphold and protect their society against the forces arrayed against it.

For Aldis, and the Queen!