Ronin Round Table: We Could Be Heroes…

If just for one game.

2523On January 10th, 2016 David Robert Jones, known to the world as David Bowie, passed away after a private and protracted battle with cancer. He was a singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and many many more things and his influence was felt far and wide.

He was not, to my knowledge, a gamer.

But he was totally a role player.

From his personas of Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke and various acting roles and constant innovation and re-invention, Bowie was great at making and playing characters. He communicated concepts and ideas not just with evocative music and lyrics, but with performance. Even his battle with cancer is depicted metaphorically through his last album, putting him it a category of unique works that range from Warren Zevon’s The Wind to John Wayne’s The Shootist.

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Green Ronin in 2016

By Chris Pramas

Happy New Year, gaming comrades! I hope you all had a good holiday, and got some quality gaming in with friends and family. As has become a tradition here at GR, I’m here to spill the beans on our plans for the coming year. Last year was a bit awkward because in January I could not yet announce Titansgrave or the fact that we were designing D&D books for Wizards of the Coast. This year will be much less cryptic! So what’s have we got in store for you? Rather a lot, actually!

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Ronin Round Table: Game Master’s Kits Are Coming!

One of the most common questions we got after the release of Fantasy AGE was, “Are you going to do a GM screen?” At the same time our screens for other games had been going out of the print over the past couple of years. We have not had GM’s Kits for Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds in stock for some time. We’ve been waiting for the right time to get these going again, and happily that time is now!

In the first quarter of next year, we’ll be releasing Game Master’s Kits for Fantasy AGE, Mutants & Masterminds, Dragon Age, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. They have some common features. Namely, all have a sturdy, hardback GM screen, four double-sided rules reference cards, and a combat tracker. The latter is a card for keeping track of initiative and other combat considerations, and you can write on it with dry or wet erase markers. The Fantasy AGE one (which has only the above contents) is brand new, of course, but the other three are revisions of our previous GM’s Kits.

The original Mutants & Masterminds GM’s Kit included a 48-page booklet featuring the Quickstart Character Generator. This proved so popular and useful that we put it in the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook. It didn’t make sense to include the booklet when that info is in the game’s core rulebook, so the reference cards and combat tracker replace it.

The Dragon Age GM’s Kit also needed a revision. The original was done when only Set 1 had been released, so the screen was out of date. We’ve revised it to reflect Dragon Age Core Rulebook, and we’re also replacing “A Bann Too Many” with a brand new adventure.

A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying’s GM’s Kit will have the same basic content (short adventure, map of Westeros) plus the reference cards and combat tracker. We may replace the screen art (that isn’t nailed down yet). The adventure is the same, but we are going to duotone the art and print the booklet in color this time, just to snazz it up.

The GM’s Kits for Fantasy AGE and Mutants & Masterminds are at print now and should release in January. Those for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and Dragon Age are scheduled for March. Since both of those are licensed games, I’ll just issue my usual caveat that an approvals process is involved and this sometimes affects release dates. This is less an issue with the SIFRP screen, as it’s a largely a reprint, but the Dragon Age screen has a brand new adventure and associated art, which need a sign off from BioWare.

It is thanks to Dragon Age that all the new GM’s Kits are getting handy reference cards. That game was originally released as a series of boxed sets, which allowed us to easily include such things. Now that the Dragon Age Core Rulebook is out, we needed a new way to get reference cards for stunts and other things into people’s hands. The GM’s Kits proved the perfect place for the reference cards and the new combat trackers. Look for them all in the new year!

Dragon Age RPG Ultimate Edition: Limited Number Available

Dragon Age RPG Ultimate Edition

Dragon Age RPG Ultimate Edition

The Dragon Age RPG Ultimate Edition is once more available in our Green Ronin Online Store, while supplies last.

This limited edition of the Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook, available exclusively through the Green Ronin and BioWare online stores, features a slipcase with a red leatherette bound book, silver foil stamped, with silver-gilded edges and a ribbon bookmark.

Order yours today!

Ronin Round Table: The Care and Feeding of Monster Design

MedusaHeya folks, Jack here. I wanted to take a break from working on AGE and Dragon AGE content to talk to you a bit about making your own content for the Adventure Game Engine. Specifically, let’s talk about making monsters.

Since the recent launch of Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana, I get asked a lot of questions, from “When will they be in stores,” to “What the hell is Interlligence?!” People have a lot of questions about these books.

However, by far one of the most common questions I get asked is “so, any advice on making our own monsters?” Which makes sense. While both Titansgrave and Fantasy AGE contain some cool beasties, there’s plenty of room for more monsters, demons, and beasties. So for today’s Ronin Round Table, I’d like to talk a bit about some things to consider when building your own monsters.

Generally, it’s easy to make your own monsters in Fantasy AGE. Come up with a concept or borrow one from your favorite stories, myths, legends, books, etc… Assign statistics that match up to the rough idea of what your monster can do and then tailor it so that you’re not making it too tough or too easy on your PCs when they face such threats. Speaking of…

You might find that despite having a solid idea and being sure everything will work out, you accidentally made a monster that’s far too strong or weak for the PCs. There are several ways to do this, but some common mistakes to avoid are:

Making monsters who hit all the time or not at all. A really high Accuracy or Fighting is going to mean even very agile and defensive PCs will get nailed a lot. Remember the average dice roll with 3d6 is 11 and starting PCs usually have between 10 and 15 defense. Also, these numbers are slow to increase, so even more experienced PCs won’t become so much harder to hit without serious Ability increases, special items, and other advancements. So you don’t need to give most monsters Fighting or Accuracy of 5 or higher to hit often, and those with scores of 7 or above will hit very often, especially with appropriate focuses. Even a Fighting or Accuracy 1 monster with a focus for their main attack will hit a Defense 14 PC about half the time. Conversely, making monsters with very low Fighting and Accuracy can also be a problem, though it’s admittedly harder to do.

However, if you’re giving a monster -2 Accuracy or some similarly low Ability, consider if that will make them miss often enough they seem more like a joke than a threat.

Making monsters who do ridiculous damage or almost nothing. Sometimes you want a big scary creature who does tons of damage. A giant, dragon, and other big scary monsters should be scary and hit very hard. On the other hand, a swarm of rats might do only a bit of damage and serve to weaken PCs without seriously endangering their lives. Also, remember that damage is a combination of both the dice rolled and the Ability added in and how often you hit affects the damage monsters will do over time.

So a high Accuracy “minor” monster with a 1d6+3 damage attack and 4 Strength will being doing at least 8 damage every hit (1 on the die, plus 3 and then 4 more for Strength). That might be just want you want. Or you might find you accidentally made a minor creature than can kill a player’s unarmored low-defense mage far too quickly for what you had in mind. Likewise, a big scary beast with 3d6 damage and Strength 9 is likely really nasty (doing around 20 damage a hit). Just make sure that’s the effect you want for your monsters.

Ignoring or Overdoing Armor. Armor is both damage mitigating and a pacing mechanism. It often won’t stop a PC or monster from ever taking damage, but it increases the time it takes to damage and defeat a target in combat. So if you give a monster no or very low armor, you’re opening it up to every hit, no matter how small. This might be fine, but it means that anyone who can survive the creature’s attacks and damage can take it down reliably. This might not be what you want for certain monsters. On the other hand, very high armor can get frustrating. It might be tempting to give a heavily armored creature 10 armor rating (or even higher) but realize that without the right stunts or very high damage you’re setting up combats to be many rounds of “I hit and…nothing.”

Not Balancing Health with Other Factors. High defense or armor can make a monster a challenging foe. If combined with really high health, it can make them annoying. On the other hand, too little Health creates “paper tigers.” Again, if intended? That’s cool, but realize that many players expect to only encounter easily dispatched or incredibly tough monsters rarely and at specific times appropriate to the campaign. If your Lizardman lieutenant in a moderately difficult encounter has 150 health and Armor Rating 8 and Defense 17? Your PCs will get bored, frustrated, or discouraged long before they defeat this “mid boss” encounter.

Forgetting Powers and Special Abilities or Overdoing Them. A few cool special abilities, powers, and unique stunts goes a long way. Too many and you risk bogging down encounters. But having none of them makes monsters just collections of basic attacks and statistics. Also, don’t be shy about converting or borrowing powers from existing creatures. If you want a horde of dog-sized flesh-eating beetles to assault your PCs? Adapting Swarm Tactics from the Walking Dead entry in the Fantasy AGE Bestiary will work well and save you design time.

Ignoring the Utility of Reskinning. Sometimes a monster is just an existing one with minor changes and a new look. This isn’t “cheating”; it’s expediency. A terrifying battle-beast created by an evil sorcerer might just be a Demon Soldier with Wings, Blending, or other special abilities already detailed in the Bestiary chapter of Fantasy AGE. A flesh-eating giant “deep one” style humanoid might just be an Ogre with Aquatic and perhaps Bite and Claw attacks adapted from the Manticore entry. These extra abilities will make monsters tougher and you’ll want to consider than when balancing encounters, but it makes it fairly easy to come up with terrifying new threats for PCs to face in a relatively short time.

Also in general, it’s usually better to make weaker monsters than overpowering ones. If a monster is too weak in an encounter? Simply increase it the next time a similar creature is encountered and if anyone wonders, it was a young, inexperienced, or immature monster they faced before—this is the real deal. That’s not even a lie, as the first attempt was not as refined or evolved in many cases. It’s okay if the first demon bear-thing your PCs fight turns out to be a juvenile version of a much scarier threat. In fact, this can allow monsters to grow and evolve alongside your PCs as the campaign progresses.

So those are some of the basics. We’ll be presenting new monsters in the future, but we realize many GMs want to start hacking away at their basic Bestiary entries in the meantime. Hopefully this discussion will help them do exactly that.

“When Can I Get Fantasy AGE, Titansgrave, and Dragon Age Books?”

We’ve been getting variants of this question a lot, so we thought we’d put a comprehensive answer in a single place. For Dragon Age, the answer is easy: it’s in stores now and you can also order it from our webstore.

For Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave, the answer is a bit more complicated. Basically, the demand for these books outstripped their availability. We had a LOT Of pre-orders (which are in the process of shipping) and sold a LOT at GenCon. We have sold what remains of the first print run to game distributors so retail stores can get some in. They will arrive at distributors on September 8 and start showing up in stores on September 10. This is not a huge number of books, so if you want one I suggest talking to your local store.

Meanwhile, we have a (larger!) reprint of Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave underway. If all goes smoothly with the printer, we should have both books back in stock and available for stores in early October. You can’t order them in our online store at the moment, but we will turn them back on in mid-September if you want to pre-order the reprints.

Usually our first print runs are big enough to last for at least three months, but Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave went gangbusters. It’s a good problem for us to have in the long run (people want our games, hooray!) but having them unavailable for a month is obviously not ideal. More books are coming soon though. Thanks for your patience!

Ronin Round Table: Green Ronin at Gen Con 2015

Titansgrave​ is coming to Gen Con! Make sure to login to your Gen Con account and look for SEM1582558 to reserve your spot! Presented by Green Ronin Publishing and Geek and Sundry

Titansgrave​ is coming to Gen Con! Make sure to login to your Gen Con account and look for SEM1582558 to reserve your spot! Presented by Green Ronin Publishing and Geek and Sundry.

 

This year is going to be an exceptionally strange and exciting time for us at Gen Con. Not only is Team Ronin headed out in force, but we’re sharing space with Geek & Sundry, highlighting Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana! We’re so excited to have such great games for Gen Con.

Before I get into the fun things happening, I want to kindly let you know what our Customer Service & Sales responses will be slow, as we’ll be dependent on whatever internet we can find while traveling and while we’re all working the show. Online orders for in-stock items (or PDFs of course) will continue to go out on the usual schedule.

For those of you lucky enough to be attending Gen Con, stop on by and say hello at Booth #1509! We’ll be running demos of Walk the Plank, Love 2 Hate, Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Mutants & Masterminds, Ork!, and of course, Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Geek & Sundry will be featuring a photo booth, along with some great merchandise and surprises!

We also have volunteers running games at Gen Con, and we have some Seminars you don’t want to miss. If you didn’t get into a game, be sure to bring Generic Tickets to see if a spot opens up! There are quite a few sessions of games run by various GMs & Gaming Groups, and we have a list of the officially submitted games run by myself or our Freebooter Volunteer GMs! For the Seminars, there are currently spaces, but you’ll definitely need to pick up free tickets to attend!

Thursday:

  • RPG1575877 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1575473 An Arl’s Ransom – Dragon Age RPG (at ConTessa!)
  • RPG1573267 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
  • RPG1576447 Fate in Freeport; The 1000 Year Storm – Fate System
  • RPG1575933 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
  • RPG1576439 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576440 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • SEM1578318 News & Updates on Green Ronin Publishing’s AGE System

Friday:

  • RPG1575878 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1573275 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
  • RPG1576446 The Truth of the Fifth Blight – Dragon Age RPG
  • RPG1576441 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576442 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1578320 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • SEM1578319 What’s New With Green Ronin Publishing!
  • SEM1582558 Titansgrave Q&A with Wil!

Saturday:

  • RPG1575905 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1573282 Hell Comes to Squishy Man – Town!Ork! 2.0
  • RPG1575934 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
  • RPG1576443 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576445 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1578321 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age

Sunday:

  • RPG1575906 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds

Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at Gen Con!

Blue Rose Kickstarter and Dragon Age Pre-Order Both Ending

Blue Rose RPG

Blue Rose on Kickstarter: Last Chance!

If you have been waiting to back Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy on Kickstarter, you’re almost out of time. We’ve been knocking down stretch goals left and right, and there are only about six hours left as of this post. The next stretch goal, unlocked at $82,500, is a second side on the poster map, which we really hope we get to do.

Please back Blue Rose while you can. (And thank you so much if you already did!)

In other time-sensitive news, on Tuesday at Midnight (the very end of day on Tuesday, Seattle Time) the Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook pre-order deal will end.

Note: After a very inconveniently-timed technical issue, the pre-order deals in our store (pre-order selected books, get a deal on the PDF version) are working again. We are sorry about the problems. If you pre-ordered and didn’t get the deal please write custserv@greenronin.com to report the problem. If you have already done so, we will get you sorted out as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!

Now Pre-Ordering: Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook

Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook (Pre-Order & PDF)

Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook (Pre-Order & PDF)

You can now Pre-Order the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and get the PDF version for just $5, or buy the PDF on its own. Fantasy AGE is the rules set that powers Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana, as well as the award-winning Dragon Age RPG and Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy (now Kickstarting).

Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook: Pre-Order and PDF

Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook

The Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook is ready to go to press, which means it’s now available for pre-ordering in our Green Ronin Online Store!

This new Core Rulebook combines the rules and background of the original game under one cover for the first time, and adds a brand new adventure as well. The game system is easy to learn and play, and the book is packed with lore from the world of Thedas. It is available in both hardback and PDF formats.

Customers who pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of this book will very soon receive a coupon for a free PDF of this book. People pre-ordering the Core Rulebook through our store will receive an offer during checkout to get the PDF for just $5.

Pre-Order the Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook