Book Mashup: Apocalypse Freeport

Andrzej was getting tired. He swept his greatsword in a figure 8, pausing to lean slightly to let a crossbow bolt pass him by and bury itself in the shooter’s friend, coming up the other side. He hated killing but the briefing said these people, filthy doublets, poor dentistry, and all, might destroy several universes. He hated killing, but something had hollowed their souls out, and it seemed merciful to dispatch what remained.

He wasn’t fighting alone. A vicious, pointy-eared, green-skinned little man covered his blind side with some quick knife-work. He didn’t know the fellow, who’d apparently been burgling the lair, shrine, or whatever Andrzej chased the cultists back to, barreling through the ramshackle streets of Freeport (crisis point of the plane designated NG-05522).

Andrzej parried an incoming cutlass, but an adjacent burly cultist sent him staggering with a belaying pin to the face, of all things. The little green man hid behind Andrzej as the cultist with the fanciest hat stepped forward and snapped a finger, wreathing her hand in green flame.

Comforted by training, Andrzej was ready for death.

“Let me show you glories to boil your eyes,” said the woman with the fiery hand.

“Hey!” Was that Mei’s voice? “Come get me first!”

Mei was an Aethon agent seconded to their group. She could keep Earth technology working on the weirdest planes. Mei appeared to be unarmed, on the other side of the doorway, with nothing but a tiny box on legs between her and the cultists.

Andrzej looked, gasped, grabbed the little green man, and hurled them both behind a sturdy pillar. The fire-handed woman took the bait and led the charge toward Mei, paying no mind to the box and its to-her exotic lettering, which said FRONT TOWARD ENEMY.

Yes, It’s time for another book and setting mashup, coming on the heels of Lost Ilium and Vaporwave Rose (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). This time around we’re doing an epic one, combining Modern AGE’s Threefold setting and the Freeport setting (through a Fantasy AGE lens) for world-shattering adventure! And because it’s a big tapestry, it’s a big article—no split this time. Drink it all in.

Freeport Apocalypse! Freeport meets Threefold

Apocalypse Freeport Campaign Setting

Ingredients: You need the Modern AGE and Fantasy AGE core rulebooks, as well as the Threefold setting book and the Pirate’s Guide to Freeport. The Fantasy AGE version of Death in Freeport and other Freeport books will also be useful.

(Links to print or PDF as available in our online store. Titles also available in PDF at DrivethruRPG.)

Genre: Portal fantasy and cosmic horror.

The Setup

Freeport. There are many cities by that name, but the Sodality, who explore the infinite planes, tracks legends about one of them with special care. The Divine Empire’s demigod-tyrants keep secret files on it too because It’s no mere legend to them. Where the Sodality suspects, highly placed imperial Optimates know: Freeport is where the fate of the Metacosm will be decided.

The plane Freeport stands in appears to be an Otherworld, where sorcery and wonders abound, but it’s really a “hell,” or Netherworld, and had an Alastor: what the less educated call a “demon prince.” This being, the Great Serpent Yig, might have been unique among its kind: amoral, but lacking the instinct to torture the inhabitants of its realm.

This made its plane vulnerable to attacks from enemy Alastors, and even the primal energies of the Netherworlds, where reality unravels unless bulwarked by sacrificed souls. Yig sought sanctuary by pushing even deeper into the outer dark, further than even rival demons typically went. To prevent reality erosion, Yig reshaped its plane, giving it the power to seize parts of planes which possessed stronger natural laws. Freeport now exists on a patchwork plane at the furthest edge of the Metacosm.

A being imprisoned in this final darkness saw the lonely light of the plane. All this Unspeakable One needed to do was to whisper certain ceremonies in the dreams of Yig’s mortal children, the serpent people. They had become mighty sorcerers, and rulers of the Valossan Empire, claimed from a continent said to be Yig’s body. But the whispers taught the powers of the Yellow Sign, and its students founded a cult whose grand ritual destroyed Valossa, the empire, and perhaps Yig along with it (though death is always different for gods). Even so, the ritual was incomplete, because it failed to bring the Unspeakable One to the plane. But with Yig fallen, the intruder gained partial, weakened control of the plane’s ability to tear pieces from other realms.

This was enough to slowly tear away part of the Otherworld called Kalakuth, but in the process, the Unspeakable One abducted the Ghul, a Prefect of the Divine Empire and demigod of death, and the Herald, his shapeshifting consort. After determining no nearby gates survived the transition, and that he couldn’t return home, the Ghul set about conquering the plane’s largest landmass, simply called “the Continent.” The Herald could transport themselves to other planes, but no one else, and the Ghul bade them to stay, and keep the conquest a secret. Thus, the Ghul founded the Empire of Ashes as a personal dominion.

By ravaging the Continent, the Ghul unwittingly fed souls to the Unspeakable One, and improved the state of sorcery, which had fallen since the destruction of Valossa. This revived the Cult of the Yellow Sign, which set about undermining the necromancer’s empire. Eventually, the Empire of Ashes was as dead as the shambling legions that served it.

The new pirate city of Freeport profited from raids in the vulnerable, lawless Continent. It grew on A’Val, an island remnant of old Valossa. The Cult of the Yellow Sign followed wealth and the possibility of serpent people lore there—but the long-lived Herald, who survived the fall of the Empire of Ashes, followed. The Herald learned the truth: The Cult’s ultimate goal was to summon the Unspeakable One, who would then gain full control of the plane’s world-eating powers. Freeport’s plane would become a cosmic predator.

The Herald used their powers to flee to Alatum, capital of the Divine Empire, but its rulers were too consumed with politics and rivalries to listen. So, the Herald traveled to many other planes, leaving rumors and clues—nothing firm enough to mark them as a traitor to the Empire—about Freeport, the Unspeakable One, and the world that eats worlds.

And sometimes, people listened.

As rollicking life in the City of Adventure continues, factions on other worlds plan infiltrations and invasions. Ambitious Nighthost captains see another Netherworld to conquer, and a weapon that could further their mission to liberate them all. A few fringe war-furies in the Divine Empire see the key to conquering the Otherworlds, even arrogant Earth, and claiming the throne. A circle of Sodality wardens wants to preserve Freeport’s unique plane, standing up for its people, an eliminate the threat. On Earth, a highly placed member of Aethon reads secret reports, and inspects locked cryochambers containing apocalyptic living weapons.

So far, these groups have only been able to plan. Freeport’s plane has no known gates, and if there are any, it is extremely likely they pass through multiple Netherworld hells. The Herald cannot transport others, and the Ferrymen, a faction who can, doubt the tale. But it is only a matter of time until the status quo changes. These groups will either find a way, or the cult of the Yellow Sign will make further progress, and the Unspeakable one will reach out to feed.

The Campaign

There are two was to run this one. The first is as a Fantasy AGE campaign set in Freeport that undergoes a sudden turn when people from other worlds appear, eager to stop the Cult of the Yellow Sign. You can use this to shift your game from traditional fantasy adventure into plane-traveling portal fantasy, and you can even introduce elements like modern technology. The key to defeating the Unspeakable One may lie in a distant realm, whether it’s an artifact, spell, or the consciousness of Yig, flung to some distant world. Note that the Freeport setting here isn’t “canon” Freeport, since it redefines and tweaks several things, such as by saying the Ghul was a renegade Optimate from the Divine Empire.

On the flipside, you can use Modern AGE and Threefold to send a Mission or other group of plane-travelers to Freeport, to soak up its rough charms and mind-searing dangers. It’s hard to get in or out of Freeport’s plane, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the rum-soaked ambiance while hunting followers of the Unspeakable One.

Modern AGE and Fantasy AGE are largely compatible, though if you use Toughness and Modes, they should apply to characters from both games. Focuses, talents, and specializations are largely cross-compatible, though the GM should consider carefully before allowing Fantasy AGE characters to take Modern AGE talents that mimic class abilities, such as pinpoint attack. Weapon proficiency doesn’t exist in Modern AGE either, so assume characters made with that game are proficient in weapons that inflict up to 1d6 (plus inherent weapon bonuses) per point in the abilities they are used with, so a Fighting of 2 permits proficient use of Fighting-based weapons that roll 2d6 (such as a long sword) for damage before other bonuses. A few other minor tweaks may be required, but nothing too onerous.

The Herald is intentionally designed to be an easy NPC to insert into the game, because they can go or be anyone—even a longtime NPC contact, if the GM wants. But even though they can travel the planes without a gate, they can’t take anyone with them, to preserve the plane travel rules that bind other characters, as mentioned here and in Threefold.

Finally, Freeport’s plane has the following profile in the Apocalypse Freeport campaign.

NG-05522— “Freeport’s Plane” (Provisional Name)

Incessance: +5 versus technology, +1 versus the occult. Technology developed within the plane by natives is unaffected, as seen in the emerging use of firearms.

Library Summary: Analysts estimate an 86% chance “Freeport’s Plane” exists due to the reliability and consistency of accounts. According to these accounts, the plane can absorb regions from other planes and is contested by multiple divine entities. A gate chain has yet to be defined. Technology generally does not exceed Earth’s 17th century, and local variants of known human types, with examples such as “dwarves” (and confusingly “humans,” used solely for the local jana subtype) are commonplace. Governments tend to be unstable, and magic use is common. Extreme caution is urged.

Book Mashup: Lost Ilium

Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion CodexSo, I was going to talk a little more about my Threefold setting Modern AGE campaign, but, uh, I didn’t feel like it. Instead, I got a sudden notion to take a few different things I worked on and combine them. I’m going to call this Book Mashup, because these are books, and you can mash them up. Will this be a series? Don’t know. This one is going to merge historical fantasy with our 5e setting, The Lost Citadel. I have to admit, this isn’t wholly original, as Steve Kenson was cool enough to explore using the world in the Mists of a certain well-known 5e setting.

Anyway, here we go:

Lost Ilium Campaign Setting

Ingredients: You need Fantasy AGE, Fantasy AGE Trojan War, The Lost Citadel Roleplaying, and The Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion Codex.

(Links to print or PDF as available in our online store. Titles also available in PDF at DrivethruRPG. You can also get The Lost Citadel Roleplaying 5e setting book and the Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion Codex in a discounted bundle in our store or at DriveThru.)

Genre: Greek mythology survival horror-fantasy!

The Setup

Offended by Helen and Paris’ flight to Troy, the greatest force of vessels in the world launch for that great walled city. Bronze-clad heroes—nascent demigods and mortals doomed to gloomy afterlives—come for blood and treasure, but fruitlessly smash against the walls, or must turn from Trojan arrows and blades, over and over, until…

…what Fate commanded did not come to pass.

Achilles was the key to Troy’s gates. His wrath at the death of his lover, Patroclus, was supposed to turn the greatest Greek’s sword and spear against Hector; his death was supposed to be a link in the chain of fate leading to the Trojan Horse, Greek victory, a legend.

But Achilles’ arrogance exceeds even his sorrow. He doesn’t come for Hector. Hector didn’t take Patroclus away. Death did.

Achilles hunts Death.Fantasy AGE Trojan War

He’s the son of a goddess, tutored by Chiron. He knows the blood ritual, the secret ways. He descends, god-forged panoply blazing, and assaults Hades, the realm and the god. Hades is immortal. He can’t be destroyed but he can be distracted, even frustrated. Hades is one of three brothers who rule the layers of the world. The ichor of a thousand mutilated Titan-born demons floods his palace hall, as Achilles cuts his way forward…and Hades lets go of his responsibilities. Thanatos sits idle, forgotten.

Death fails. Corpses reject stillness.

A thousand years later. Fate is a ragged, tangled string. Woe, the morose anger of Hades—the message I reject you as you rejected me—haunts all the world, except Troy, whose people Hades find blameless. Now the Greeks attack Troy for this special status. They do it for centuries—long enough for iron and steel to supplant bronze. Long enough for the half-immortals hidden in the world, such as the elven and dwarven descendants of petty deities, also shielded from Woe, to seek refuge. Even strange jackal-people from Egypt come. Troy expands in all directions, becoming a true sanctuary city for the living. Outside, on the plain of battle, the Dead eventually conquer the living. Greek corpses howl and assail the walls. Forays for resources grow ever more dangerous. Finally, the half-immortals agree to seek out the gods, and send an expedition of their kind to sacred places.

The elves return with broken spirits. The dwarves attempt to take over Troy but fail. They do not speak of what they found when they looked for the gods, but say They are angry. They wear different faces now. They are coming back.

The first manifestations of Woe blight Troy, and over decades, it adapts to this final threat. They dispose of corpses, build stronger, higher, and deeper, and await the terrible coming of the gods. They must. Troy is the last city.

The Campaign

The undead aren’t really part of Greek mythology, but what if they were? This setting takes the basic scenario of The Lost Citadel—an undead apocalypse against the last city in the world—and changes the final bastion of the living from dwarven Redoubt to a Troy that has stood long enough to adopt medieval technology. Elves and dwarves are descendants of demigods, nymphs, and other lesser or partial immortals, and have stumbled into the social positions they have in The Lost Citadel. The rising threat behind the Dead isn’t a mystery, and isn’t directly related, however. It’s the Greek gods, capable of manifestations as per Fantasy AGE Trojan War, unhinged by the breaking of Fate, and desperate to fix it.

Hades may be an exception. In this campaign, Woe is his anger, cursing mortals to restless (and as far as anyone can tell, mindless) death outside the proper land of shades. Is it possible to seek out and plead with the maker of Woe, and succeed where they other gods have failed?

The other point of Greek mythology to consider is strong immortality. Some heroes and monsters are not truly subject to death. Was Achilles reborn immortal? Does he walk the world he destroyed? What ageless monsters remain? Do they have mortal communities still? Without new inmates, does the kingdom of Hades still contain its shades and monsters, or have they wandered up?

Use Fantasy AGE Lost Citadel rules as a base, and add Trojan War elements, especially those related to the gods, to taste.

The Wrap-Up

I think this is a great Fantasy AGE option for running darker adventures using well-known mythology. Let me know if you want more of these, and maybe I’ll get to it?

Putting Your Fantasy AGE Adventures in the Trojan War

Fantasy AGE Trojan War, out now (and at DriveThruRPG) is a condensed guide to running Fantasy AGE adventures in the Homeric Age, a mythic-historical period where ancient events inspired grand myths. The events around Troy can be thought of as one of the first popular fantasy series and shared universes, though to ancient Greeks and people who feel deeply connected to it today, they also represent the founding stories of a people. But let’s step back from profound musings to ask: How do I run adventures in it? The Trojan War has different participants, rewards, and challenges than mainstream fantasy RPG adventures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t convert various adventures to fit the period. Let’s get into tips on how to do just that.

Use other Adventures for Fantasy AGE Trojan War!

“The “tainted fey” Mallorsa should be framed as a renegade Nymph, corrupted by the valley.”

Use Greek Mythology

It’s common sense but needs to be said: Frame everything within Greek mythology! That means looking to the gods, titans, heroes, and their struggles for the origins of everything you use. Since Greek mythology is so influential, this often requires less effort than you might think. Monsters are the children or creations of immortals, or spring from their shed blood. Dungeons are the ruins of fallen heroes, secret temples, or built to house accursed creatures.

The Trojan War Isn’t All About Troy

As we note in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, it takes years for the Achaeans just to get to Troy, and they face plenty of challenges on the way. The Achaeans attack multiple islands, and raid Troy’s allies in Asia Minor, so there’s much more to do than simply make another run at the walls of Troy. Any island or rival kingdom can send an enemy force, rouse a divinely created enemy, or own a fortress that must be taken to reach a greater military objective. On the Trojan side, adventurers can ride out to aid allies against the Achaeans, or seek their help—and of course, these friends will want help in return, to retake land and fortifications seized by the Achaeans.

Heroes Are Monsters…Sometimes

The Trojan War is ultimately about heroes, and how the gods love or hate them, and meddle with their destinies. In Greek myths, heroes are not necessarily good or bad, but possess forms of excellence tied to their ultimate fates that attract the notice of the gods. Sometimes heroes act monstrously and can easily replace actual monsters. For example, when the Telamonian Ajax ravages Thrace, he even kills their animals, in a foreshadowing of the madness that would eventually seal his fate. With a small detachment of spear carriers, Ajax, a ruthless, spoils-hoarding killer, can fill the same role in an adventure as a dragon.

Monsters Sometimes, As a Divine Treat

Of course, in addition to using heroes as monsters, you can use, uh monster as monsters. In a Trojan War campaign, monsters are usually related to immortals such as gods and titans. In most cases, only the intelligent offspring of immortals are truly immortal, and even lesser immortals can be defeated, as they lack true divinity and access to the nectar and ambrosia the gods use to maintain their endless health. Animal and bestial creatures usually have an even more limited form of immortality, which is why killing the cattle of Helios is possible, but still a terrible idea. Other monsters are the result of divine curses. The Greeks created monsters as part of their stories, and when you create new stories, you can use them to justify monsters from other fantasy worlds, giving them an origin fitting the Homeric Age.

Example: Valley of the Whispering Titans…er Giants

As an example of converting a mainstream fantasy scenario, let’s look at Valley of the Whispering Titans from Fantasy AGE Lairs. First step: Rename the valley! That’s because while titans come from Greek mythology, the ones in this scenario left behind their skulls, which the immortal titans wouldn’t do. Instead, make the lair a remnant of the war between the Olympian gods and the giants. In fact, we can say that this is a place where Uranus’ blood fell, giving birth to giants and numerous other twisted creations.

The valley is the lair of a corrupt druid—except there are no druids in the Homeric Age (at least, none near Troy) so instead we should make main antagonist Callem Ressmil a pharmakeus: a sorcerer who manipulates divine power without the leave of the gods, as detailed in Fantasy AGE Trojan War. He’s probably a hero with an immortal ancestor who committed an act of hubris by claiming the valley and harvesting its power.

The “tainted fey” Mallorsa should be framed as a renegade Nymph, corrupted by the valley. The Valley Huntsman requires the most changes, turning from a corpse possessing ghost (Hades usually prevents that sort of thing) to a phenomenon specific to the valley, where the blood of Uranus animates dead creatures to face the characters once again—perhaps under the control of the resident witch. The Hanging Vine is another creature made or changed by Uranus’ blood. The “titans’ skulls” should belong to giants but can be used as-is; Greek myths include stories of the Aegis, made from a fallen monster, and it is fitting that other semi-immortal remains should retain special powers.

Plus of course, you need to change the names!

You can set the valley in an obscure peninsula or large island if this challenge is for Achaean heroes, or within the territory of Troy but outside the city for heroes from all sides. Apollo may demand the Trojans do something about the cursed valley before helping them. Artemis may be offended by the phenomena in the valley, and demand the Achaeans deal with it, since they already offended her on the way to Troy.

Fantasy AGE Trojan War: Now Available!

Fantasy AGE Trojan War

Available Now! In the Green Ronin Online Store, and DrivethruRPG!

Cross the Wine-Dark Sea and Storm the Walls of Troy Again!

Fantasy AGE Trojan War, which is available now, revives the classic 3rd Era historical fantasy supplement in streamlined form for Fantasy AGE. This book explores the Homeric Age: a period that’s half history, half myth, and all about dramatic action, where gods and heroes battle each other…and the inescapable judgment of destiny. Enter the Iliad and other ancient tales in Fantasy AGE, using a host of new options:

  • Play Achaean Greeks, Trojans, and other ancient peoples, from Amazons to the divine offspring, with new backgrounds appropriate to the era.
  • Five new talents and six new specializations, from the Swift-Footed fighting style to Amazon ferocity and the strange magic of the Pharmakeus.
  • Three new magical Arcana, over 30 new magic items, and discussions of the role of magic in Homeric mythology.
  • Weapons, armor, and other gear appropriate to the Homeric Age, including rules for hit locations and partial armor in combat.
  • Chariots and ships of the Homeric Age, and how to use them.
  • Rules for divine intervention which let gods and heroes meaningfully interact without compromising divine immortality. Fall under the eye of a deity through a Divine Bond, or feel the wrath of their manifestations.
  • Advice for Game Mastering the Homeric Age, from changing mythology to suit you to interpreting Fantasy AGE monsters through the lens of Greek Mythology.

Inspired by the original d20 release, Fantasy AGE Trojan War takes a “Fantasy AGE native” design approach, where instead of a formulaic subject by subject conversion, we substantially designed for Fantasy AGE from the ground up, from specializations to divine intervention. This includes updating research to support a wider range of interpretations, from stricter Mycenaean technology to the ahistorical blend that made up the Iliad itself, and discussions of how to bring increased diversity to the legends.

Return to the Battlefields of Troy

Available in PDF and Print On Demand at DrivethruRPG, Fantasy AGE Trojan War requires the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook to play, and while it refers to the Fantasy AGE Companion, that book is not required. With minimal adaptation, it can be converted for use with other Adventure Game Engine roleplaying games.

Fantasy AGE Trojan War: Sing, O Muse, of the Rage of Achilles

Fantasy AGE Trojan War is a compact adaptation of its D20 System predecessor. Instead of just doing item for item conversions, we worked on this as a shorter Fantasy AGE work, with most design happening from the ground up. Over the course of doing this we omitted a few things—most notably, game statistics for Troy’s heroes. We figured GMs might prefer their own interpretations, and in any event, the focus is on Player Characters, who in most games will be the true heroes.

Nevertheless, I’m sure some of you are curious about how we would do it! So here are Fantasy AGE statistics for Aristos Achaion, greatest of the Greeks: Achilles, son of Peleus and the goddess Thetis. Achilles represents the apex of power possible for Fantasy AGE Trojan War Heroes—and the raw might of this hero at the apex of his power. These game statistics represent Achilles after the death of Patroclus, but before he slays Hector.


Achilles, 20th Level Divine Offspring Warrior

Achilles, son of Peleus and the goddess ThetisAbilities (Focuses)

Accuracy 8 (Brawling, Bows, Light Blades, Throwing +3), Communication 5 (Leadership), Constitution 6 (Running), Dexterity 6 (Initiative +3), Fighting 8 (Bludgeons, Heavy Blades +3, Spears +3), Intelligence 2 (Military Lore), Perception 5, Strength 6 (Driving +3, Intimidation +3), Will 5 (Courage +3, Morale +3)

Speed: 20, Health: 230, Defense: 18, Armor Rating: 10

Talents: Arete (Master), Athletics (Expert), Berserker (Specialization; Master), Charioteer (Specialization; Master), Swift-Footed Style (Master), Thrown Weapon Style (Expert), Weapon and Shield Style (Master)

Attacks

Spear of Peleus: +13 to attack rolls, 1d6 + 9 damage

Special Qualities

Special qualities are in addition to class abilities, talents, and specializations, though they may note the specifics of these traits.

Advanced Focuses: Achilles has several focuses with +3 listed, indicating they provide a +3 focus bonus instead of the usual +2.

Arms of Peleus: Achilles carries a bronze-headed spear and ornate shield, each from his father, Peleus. The spear adds +2 to attack and damage rolls and the shield adds +2 to Defense.

Arete: Due to the Arete talent, Achilles can use his choice of the Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack, or Seize the Initiative Stunts for 0 SP on any successful attack, even if it doesn’t score doubles.

Athletics: Due to the Athletics talent in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, Achilles can re-roll a failed Constitution (Running) and Strength (Jumping) test, but he must keep the results of the second roll.

Balius and Xanthus: These are Achilles’ divine horses, which he employs (sometimes along with a third, mortal horse) to pull his chariot. These are horses (Fantasy AGE Bestiary, p. 129) with the Epic template for beefing up adversaries found in the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and Bestiary. Each also has an Intelligence of 1 and the Bestial Immortality quality: If reduced to 0 Health, they appear dead, but spring to full Health if left undisturbed until the next sunrise. If burned, dismembered, or eaten, however, they remain dead.

Epic Warrior: As per Fantasy AGE’s Level 20 Warrior benefit, Achilles gains +1 SP to spend on combat stunts when scoring doubles.

Golden Chariot: A gift from Peleus to Achilles, this gilded kingly chariot has a Hull Rating of 3 and grants a +3 to Strength (Driving) tests.

Second Armor of Achilles: This version of Achilles wears the armor he was given after his previous panoply was taken from the body of his lover, Patroclus. It provides an Armor Rating of 10 with no Armor Penalty, and when fighting under the sun, its shine imposes a -2 penalty to enemies’ ranged attack rolls.

Swift-Footed: Achilles’ mastery of the Swift-Footed Style (detailed in Fantasy AGE Trojan War) gives him +2 to Speed in combat, included in his statistics along with a further bonus for his divine offspring ancestry.

Stygian Armor (Optional): The Iliad doesn’t include the later legend that Thetis dipped Achilles into the River Styx as a baby to make him nearly invulnerable. If the legend is true in your campaign Achilles suffers a permanent -2 to all Communication tests, but adds +4 to his Armor Rating, even when unarmored (increasing it to 14 in the statistics above). However, attacks to Achilles’ left ankle inflict penetrating damage. To hit it, an attacker must roll a 5 when determining hit location using the rules in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, or deliberately aim for it by attacking with a -3 penalty. In either case, the attacker only strikes true if they roll 6 on the Stunt Die. All other attacks that reduce the effectiveness of armor do not reduce the Armor Rating given by this quality. The Stygian salve item in Fantasy AGE Trojan War represents a lessened form of this ability; the GM may decide Achilles simply has access to it instead of this quality.

Divine Bonds

Zeus 5 (Ambiguous): As Achilles sets out to kill Hector, his doom may be predestined but he has not yet demonstrated the combination of arrogance, cruelty, and impiety that will seal his fate—that happens after he kills Hector. This Bond is assigned to Zeus as the king of the gods and arbiter of Fate, but he represents the attitudes of the Olympians in general.

Thetis 3 (Favorable): Achilles’ mother Thetis supports her son through such acts as providing him with new armor, made by Hephaestus, after his previous armor is taken from Patroclus’ corpse by Hector.


Fantasy AGE: Trojan War will be available for purchase in PDF and Print On Demand, next Thursday May 13th!

Coming May 13: Fantasy AGE Trojan War

Read the title! On May 13, we’ll be releasing a Fantasy AGE supplement for Homeric Age adventures. Inspired by the classic 3rd Era Trojan War book by Aaron Rosenberg, this 65-page supplement, coming in PDF and print-on-demand, adds numerous new character options, magic items, and special rules for Fantasy AGE.Fantasy AGE: Trojan War!

Note that this isn’t a straight D20 to Fantasy AGE conversion, for the following reasons:

  • Timing and Size: We wanted to make sure we could get this done on time, to get in a Fantasy AGE supplement for mid-2021 before the release of the new Fantasy AGE core rulebook, currently in development. We also wanted to make this a smaller book so people would feel they can spend their money on it without feeling like they have to have a full-on Homeric campaign ready. This means we’ve omitted game statistics for Trojan heroes. This also fits Fantasy AGE, whose smaller number of classes combined with talents and specializations mean there are many ways to interpret these heroes.
  • The Internet: The internet, and the resources it can bring to your table, have expanded since 2005. This means, for example, it would be redundant to describe history and mythology in ways better served by resources such as Wikipedia and other Web resources.
  • 16 Years of Context: We’ve added new context and guidance about how to adapt an era rife with discrimination for contemporary play. For centuries, people have made these legends their own, and by doing the same you don’t violate any kind of “canon,” but follow in the steps of storytellers who changed things to fit their times. We’ve also given much of the original a tune-up to bring forth some of the distinctive elements of the time. For instance, did you know the Trojan War predates the invention of coins? We talk about it.
  • Fantasy AGE First: Fantasy AGE is its own distinct system and handles everything from character creation to armor differently than 3e and its successors do. We wanted to make sure this fit Fantasy AGE’s rules as closely as possible.

Okay, But What’s in It?

Here’s a chapter breakdown:

Introduction: A 101 on the material ahead and an overview of the Trojan War.

Chapter 1: Homeric Character Creation: This section includes rules for characters of human (Trojan, Achaean, and others, including Amazons) and divine heritage, before going into a full set of backgrounds and professions for the Homeric period, and new and modified focuses for such characters. Then we talk about using existing Fantasy AGE talents and specializations before introducing five new talents (Arete, Athletics, Primal Weapon Style, Shield Formation Style, and Swift-Footed Style) and six new specializations of (Amazon, Charioteer, Dedicated Warrior, Demigod, Pharmakeus, and Priest). We finish things off with Divine Bonds, a new system inspired by the Relationships rules in other AGE games, which measure whether the gods love or hate you—and how they might meddle in your life.

Chapter 2: Homeric Magic: After talking about the place of magic in Homeric tales, we introduce the new Charm, Cursing, and Poison Arcana. After that? Magic items—32 of them, to be precise, from the useful herb moly to the head of Medusa—yes, it doesn’t appear in Homer, but the book wouldn’t be complete without it!

Chapter 3: Homeric Equipment: This chapter covers Bronze Age equipment for a Homeric campaign, including how precious metals were counted and spent before the invention of coins. Bare-legged Homeric warriors need special consideration, so this chapter includes new rules for partial armor and hit locations. We also provide a streamlined version of the vehicle rules in the Fantasy AGE Companion tailored for the ships and chariots presented here.

Chapter 4: Religion & The Gods: After providing an overview of divine actions during the Trojan War, this chapter provides complete rules for divine intervention, from the gods spiriting away favored heroes to reckoning with them when they take to the field. New rules let you face down belligerent gods without compromising on their immortality. Finally, for Game Masters looking for a detailed system to track divine favor, we include rules for Piety adapted from the D20 original.

Chapter 5: The Homeric Campaign: This updated Game Mastering chapter not only talks about how to use the Iliad as the basis for a campaign but presents it in the context of a larger body of mythology you can convert to adventures. In the myths, just getting to Troy was an epic in of itself! We also discuss how to change the myths for inclusivity and other play-friendly purposes before talking about which Fantasy AGE monsters fit the period, and how to modify them if they have immortal parentage.

Compatibility Across the AGEs

Fantasy AGE Trojan War was designed alongside the new Fantasy AGE core rulebook, due to come out later this year. Trojan War introduces some concepts from the new rules but is designed with the published Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook in mind. In practice, Fantasy AGE Trojan War should be mostly compatible with the new rules. This is a bridge supplement for both old and new Fantasy AGE players alike.

Watch this space—we’ll announce when it’s out and tell you where to find it at the Green Ronin Online Store and at DriveThruRPG!

Living in Dev-Time

Dev-Time is a lot like Time Travel

Dev-Time is a lot like Time Travel!

“When is that book going to be done? When?”

It can be strange living in what I call “dev-time” (or “development time”) because eagerly-awaited projects are often not just yesterday’s news for me as a writer but most likely last year’s news at times. The development cycle of a book, much less an entire game, is a fairly long one, and getting all of the words written is among the very first steps. Typically, I may get to see a project at the concept stage, getting in on discussion of whether or not to do it at all, along with what it might look like, contain, and so forth. More often, I get involved at or after the outline stage, when the overall concept of the book is pretty well established, and the developer is looking for someone to write stuff. That’s me.

Now, these days, I don’t write too many entire books for RPG publishers, including Green Ronin. While product development time for a book is long, actual writing time is relatively short. So unless I’m publishing a book myself (as I do with Icons Superpowered Roleplaying) and can take 4 to 6 months to write it all, or I’m working with an extended publisher timeline that allows me to write sixty to eighty thousand words or more, chances are I’m only writing a part of a book, a chapter or two (maybe three). Solo projects tend to be short: adventures, Patreon write-ups, articles, and the like, and many of those also get incorporated into larger books or collections.

I get my assignment, write it, and (ideally) hand it off at the appointed deadline. There’s feedback, development, revisions, new drafts, and then I hand over a final version of the text. Typically, that’s where my involvement ends. Sure, an editor might have the occasional “what were you thinking here?” question (tinged with varying degrees of frustration) or an art director might need notes or “does it look like this?” confirmation but, for the most part, my text sails off to those other shores to continue the rest of its journey towards becoming a finished book without me. That can sometimes be a long journey, even under the best of conditions. When conditions look like they have over the past year or so … even longer.

Thus the eagerly-awaited book someone is looking forward to is already in my rear-view mirror, often several exits back behind other recent projects I have handed off, some of which the public hasn’t even heard about yet. There’s a running joke in the freelance business that sometimes the only answer to a polite inquiry of “So what are you working on these days?” is “Upholding my non-disclosure agreement.” Dev-time is such that many projects aren’t even announced publicly at the time when people are writing them, although there may be rumors (the tabletop game industry being quite small and tight-knit).

While I have moved-on to other projects, the words I’ve already written are sailing through development, editing, layout, illustration, and proofreading. If they’re destined to see print, there will also be preflight checks, print buying and quotes, print proofs, and more before the book is finally handed-off to the printer. Even then, there’s printing, binding, shipping, warehousing, and distribution before it finds its way to a game store or gets shipped off to the buyer. In every one of those steps there is both margin for error and the potential for things to go wrong. I mentioned before about “ideally” handing off my text by the agreed-upon deadline. I pride myself on getting my work in on time, but life happens. This past summer, I took a fall off my bicycle and fractured my hip. While my recuperation didn’t overly impact my ability to work, allowances still needed to be made. Multiply that times all of the people who touch a project before it sees print and you magnify those allowances accordingly. People get injured, sick, divorced, married, pregnant, quit or take on new jobs, lose loved ones, run into financial problems, and all of life’s other challenges, to say nothing of encountering global pandemics, political upheavals, and more—all in the same year!

So if anyone involved in the publishing process of a book or product ever looks vaguely bewildered concerning its eagerly-anticipated release, it is quite possible that they exist in “dev-time.” From their perspective, that project has been “done” for some time, and it’s not that they’re not eager to see the finished products (believe me, there are several of my projects I’m looking forward to actually holding in my hands), it’s just that they’ve had to move on to other things in the meanwhile. Patience and understanding that there is more going on behind the scenes than you know will always get you a kinder response.

Our Live streams are back in the new year!

Hello friends!

Troy Hewitt here, community nerd for Green Ronin Publishing and the disembodied voice for our two live streams, Mutants & Masterminds Monday with Crystal Frasier and Steve Kenson, and the Fantasy AGE live stream ThursdAGE! With Owen KC Stephens.

Mutants & Masterminds Monday! ThusdAGE!

We’re entering the new year with our tech dialed in (sort of?), our content planned (definitely), and an excitement for our 2021 streaming plans that is off the charts (Absolutely)! With some crucial dev milestones around the corner for some of your favorite Green Ronin Titles, it becomes increasingly important for us to connect with the people playing our games directly. Truth be told, our streaming efforts are really a chance for us to reserve time each week dedicated to direct conversations, to hear your feedback, share our progress, and most of all, have some fun.

With Mutants & Masterminds Monday, Crystal Frasier, (lead developer of M&M) and Steve Kenson (creator of M&M) get together to suffer my ridiculousness every Monday at 2:00 PM Pacific. It’s as fun as you would imagine it to be- hanging out with Crystal and Steve is a pretty phenomenal way to spend your Monday, no lie, and with the addition of today’s announcement of our Mutants & Masterminds Patreon things are heating up like wow.

For those of you that have been keeping track of our weekly program, now 30 episodes strong, you’ll no doubt remember Crystal Frasier’s note-taking as a regular theme and why is that important? Well, she listens. She listens, and she cares deeply about the M&M developing story, and even more so about the people who are playing. While the Patreon will be a welcome boost to Green Ronin’s bottom line, it also comes at the request of so many Mutants & Masterminds enthusiasts, that considering the months of content Crystal has already planned, well, let’s just say you are going to want to watch today’s stream for all the details.

And you can do exactly that- you can get a front-row seat to our live streams, always free, always on Monday, always at 2p Pacific, on FacebookYouTube, and if that weren’t enough? Today we’re giving Twitch a shot!

What’s next? 60 second adventures on TikTok?! Not likely. Or is it?

Who can say! Now listen, I’ve got to get things ready for the inevitable tech hardship I’ll bring to today’s livestream. Come and check it out for yourself, but only if you like fun, useful M&M tutorials and advice, and listening to Crystal and Steve, two world-class fantasy world-building, hero slinging, funny joke-making, super storytellers in this universe and SEVERAL others.

And me! Your disembodied boy, Troy. We look forward to the next 30 episodes, one hour, one Monday at a time, but only if we can spend it with you. See you there?

Will we see you there?

As always, questions, comments, and compliments about our streaming efforts can be emailed directly to us: Letsplay@greenronin.com

Malcolm Sheppard’s Top 5 Green Ronin Picks!

What’s good? Taste is subjective, though I think everybody feels there are certain exceptions, such as the terribleness of the Star Wars Holiday Special, which transcends cultures and times as an object of derision, albeit sometimes affectionately so. So, this list of “Malcolm Sheppard’s Top Five” is just my opinion, though there may be hidden objective excellence rattling around in there, somewhere. This list isn’t in any particular order.

Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero's Handbook coverMutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook

Supers, and generally, point-build systems, aren’t my strong suit as a designer, but I love the genre. The Basic Hero’s Handbook is a masterful introduction to Mutants & Masterminds that communicates everything you need with remarkable brevity and straightforwardness. I especially like the streamlined character creation system, and how after using it, and not having to sweat points too much, you still end up with a character fully compatible with the rest of the M&M line, including characters made using the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook. Plus, it has all the rules you need to run it!

Fantasy AGE LairsFantasy AGE Lairs

This supplement for Fantasy AGE does a great job of mixing function and atmosphere. Each lair presents a creature, location, and situation. None of these are hard-coded adventures, but contain plenty of hooks and suggestions, and can be run sandbox style. My favorite lair in the book is the Lair of the Ghoul Prince, which I’ve talked about before, in a pervious article. Go read it!

 

 

Trojaqn War for the D20 system!Trojan War (d20)

Maybe I’m doing this wrong and I’m supposed to stick to current releases, but I love Homeric mythology, and really enjoy Trojan War’s particular adaptation. It covers all the major elements of this mythic-historic event, from gods and heroes to how it all works for original characters using the d20 System. I think it’s still valuable now because of the way it’s structured for games and the fact that d20’s design has been influential enough to seed itself in many other games, making conversion pretty easy. I miss these kinds of treatments of real-world mythology in games, and while there are new ones around, I want more! Maybe I have to do it myself….

 

The Lost Citadel Roleplaying (5th Edition)The Lost Citadel Roleplaying for 5th edition

Here comes the bias! I worked on the Tales of the Lost Citadel anthology, The Lost Citadel Roleplaying, and The Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion Codex—but there’s plenty I didn’t work on, in fiction, rules, and concepts, that’s just fantastic. The Lost Citadel is set in the last, desperate, walled city of the living, who struggle with each other while battling for survival against the risen Dead. One thing I love about the setting is it takes the basic conflict in the zombie apocalypse genre—that your living companions are as much a problem as the undead—and renders them on a social scale, in conflicts between the city’s factions.

Threefold A Campaign Setting for Modern AGEThreefold (Modern AGE)

Where The Lost Citadel is a choice tinged by my bias as a designer, well, uh, I’m the principal designer of Threefold. I made up the broad strokes and developed other writers’ work to get what I wanted: a setting for Modern AGE that would use the conceit of planar travel to permit virtually any kind of character, but wouldn’t seem generic, unfocused, or lacking strong story structures. Whether you explore the planes as a member of the Sodality or defend the Earth (sometimes from other Earths) with Aethon, there are always things to do, rivals to deal with, and secrets to uncover. One reviewer said the game felt like its setting had already been established for years. That’s the feel I wanted, and I hope you like it.

End of Year Sale and GR Gift Guide

Happy holidays from all of us at Green Ronin! I don’t think 2020 was the year any of us hoped for but on the upside, it’s almost over! Right now, we’ve got our Year End Sale going on, which offers 20% off most of our titles through January 3. Get gifts for your friends and family, or just treat yourself. If you survived 2020, you deserve it! Two important notes. First, we do offer gift certificates in our online store, so if you don’t know what to get for the gamers in your life, that’s always an option. Second, shipping is particularly slow this year, so if you want things in time for Xmas, get your orders in early. If you aren’t sure what to get, I’ve put together a gift guide that may help. Let’s get to it!

Death In Freeport for Fantasy AGEAs you may heard, 2020 was Green Ronin’s 20th anniversary. One way we celebrated that was with new editions of one of our earliest releases. I wrote Death in Freeport 20 years ago, and now it’s available in two formats: Fantasy AGE and 5th Edition. Pick your system and then set sale for Freeport, the City of Adventure! Fantasy AGE fans will also enjoy Lairs, another new book for this year that features a host of ready to use encounters. 5E fans should check out The Lost Citadel Roleplaying, where players are survivors of an undead apocalypse in the last city standing.

 

Enemies and Allies for Modern AGE

If you want a flexible RPG that can handle just about every sub-genre of action adventure, check out Modern AGE. It got its character/adversary book this year with Enemies & Allies. If you want a kickass setting, also check out Threefold. It got some adventure support with Five and Infinity, which we serialized over the course of the year. We also launched Modern AGE Missions for even more PDF adventure support. We’re certain you need 30-50 feral hogs in your Modern AGE campaign, so make sure to check that out!

 

Envoys to the Mount for Blue RoseBlue Rose, our Romantic Fantasy RPG, is also getting (and giving) a lot of love right now. If you’ve never checked it out before, there’s a new Quickstart that gives you a complete adventure with rules and pre-generated characters. For more experienced players, we’ve just put Envoys to the Mount up for pre-order. This is a complete campaign for Blue Rose that takes characters through all four tiers of play. There’s also a tie-in fiction anthology called Tales from the Mount that’s available now. You can get a bundle with both Envoys and Tales too!

 

Sacred Band 2nd editionSpeaking of fiction, our imprint Nisaba Press has some great titles for holiday reading. Blue Rose fans will definitely want to check out Sovereigns of the Blue Rose, an anthology of stories about the fourteen rulers of Aldis. We’ve also just released Sacred Band, Joe Carriker’s critically-acclaimed LGBTQ+ superhero novel. Supers will also enjoy Roadtrip to Ruin, the latest Mutants & Masterminds novel. If short stories are your jam, we’ve released three anthologies this year: For Hart and Queen for Blue Rose, Powered Up for Mutants & Masterminds, and Under a Black Flag for Freeport.

 

 

Time Traveler's Codex for Mutants & MastermindsSuperhero fans should look no further than Mutants & Masterminds. If you haven’t tried it before, jump right in with the Basic Hero’s Handbook. We’ve just release the Time Traveler’s Codex (now available in print!), which is a whole book about timeline hopping shenanigans. If you’ve been wanting adventure support, we’ve really leaned into that this year with the Astonishing Adventures PDF series. These include stand-alone adventures and the five-part series NetherWar. Danger Zones is another new series. Each entry details a new location for superheroic action. And, by popular demand, we’ve also just released a deck of Condition Cards!

 

Ships of the ExpanseBut what if you want to go to outer spaaaaccceeee? That’s where The Expanse RPG—based on the terrific novels by James S.A. Corey­—comes in. There’s a free Quickstart if you haven’t dived in yet. This year we released Abzu’s Bounty, a series of six linked adventures for the game. Salvage Op offers a one shot for an evening or two of play. We’ve also just put Ships of the Expanse up for pre-order. This is the long-awaited book full of deck plans and details about the spaceships of the setting.

 

Sword Chronicle RoleplayingLast but by no means least, we launched the Sword Chronicle RPG this year. This takes the system we designed for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and spins it off into as an independent fantasy system. This has been available as a PDF for several months but just this week we’ve made it available as a Print on Demand title on DriveThruRPG.

 

Happy holidays, everyone! See you in 2021!