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

art by Stephanie Pui Mun Law

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fantasy AGE: Shaking the Pillars of Heaven

Well, it’s been an interesting run, but it’s time to move on.

Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook

Starting in October I’m going to be leaving my position as Fantasy AGE developer and thus my regular position at Green Ronin. This has been awhile in coming—I’ve known for several months I needed to make a change.

Why? Well, it’s complicated. But mostly? I’m tired. After several years of personal tragedy, heavy workloads, financial and health issues, the occasional resurfacing of past harassment, and so on? I feel a bit like Egg Shen at the end of Big Trouble in Little China:

My work is done. Lo-Pan is dead, the evil spell has been lifted, years ago I promised myself a long vacation…and it’s time to collect.

That’s not entirely accurate of course, but metaphorically? It’s appropriate. For the past several years I’ve been keeping everything going as best I can. Maybe not always as well as I could in a perfect world, but keeping things moving forward as best I could.  I’m proud of the work done; I’m especially proud of the talented folks I worked with making the various books in the Fantasy AGE and Dragon Age lines, as well as the Blue Rose core book.

However, the Fantasy AGE line needs someone who really wants to work on it. Which, despite my aforementioned pride in the work done? That just isn’t me anymore. I’ve walked this road about as long as I can or want to. Again, that’s not a slam on the work, the people involved, fantasy, gaming, or anything else the line intersects with. It’s just where I am now.

I’ll always be happy I took this gig. It was the right thing to do at the time. I’ll always be proud of the work done. And it’s possible you’ll see me again on various Green Ronin projects, either as a freelance writer or maybe even a developer if the right specific project comes along.

Never can tell with me.

And I’m not going to be a hermit or anything. I have four more books for my wu xia/kung fu game, Tianxia, to finish, there are three more John Carter of Mars books in the pipeline and even

Fantasy AGE Bestiary

some other work past that.

But damn, I am worn out. And since I still have a lot of things I want to design, write, create, and so on in the future? I needed to let something go so I can recharge, rest, repair, and then do those things. After a lot of consideration, this was the thing to let go.

Sometimes it’s that simple.

So, I wanted to end by saying thanks to the fans and customers for their support and enthusiasm. To Green Ronin, I want to say thanks for the opportunities to put my stamp on not one but three of the company’s lines (and that’s not even counting the various Mutants and Masterminds projects I was able to contribute to). To Fantasy AGE’s new developer, Owen K.C. Stephens, I want to express my heartfelt enthusiasm and well wishes. I know you’re going to do great. To my various collaborators I want to give my love and appreciation; literally couldn’t do it without you. In particular, I want to give a shout out to Jamie Wood and Matt Miller, two fine freelancers who started on Dragon Age with me and kept working to the current Fantasy AGE projects. While there were so many great folks on various books, you two were always there when I needed you, and that’s appreciated.

And to my fellow Ronins, while it wasn’t always easy or smooth…we really shook the pillars of heaven, didn’t we?

Later,

Jack.


Fantasy AGE Companion

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Michael Corleone. The Godfather, Part III

Okay, that quote makes it sound like I’m unhappy to be back at Green Ronin, and nothing could be further from the truth! But let’s be honest, how often do I get to use an Al Pacino quote? I may not even be the Gamefather, much less the Godfather, but I know a good quote when I steal one!

Fans of Green Ronin as a company may recognize my name from my time as the Freeport/Pathfinder Developer, or my various freelance contributions to d20 game books Green Ronin has been so kind to include me in over the past two decades, but folks who are primarily fans of Fantasy AGE are likely to have no idea who I am, and I’d like to take a chance to introduce myself.

I have just a couple of small AGE credits, dating back to some GM advice of mine that got used in Dragon Age. But to be entirely up-front, my professional expertise has primarily been in things adjacent to D&D and Pathfinder, so taking the role of Fantasy AGE developer takes me into new territory professionally and I’m extremely excited about that.

Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide

I think Fantasy AGE is one of the most dynamic and exciting RPGs to come along in the past decade, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved with its evolution going forward. Jack’s done a tremendous job shepherding from his first involvement with it to this point, and I want to take a moment to thank him for his hard work on the line, which is in great shape as he and I arrange for the hand-off of projects currently underway.

I don’t officially take the reins until October, but Jack and I (and the rest of the awesome Ronins) are already working at making sure things transition smoothly. We’ll have exciting new things to announce eventually, but for now I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, and give people time to get used to the news.

Owen K.C. Stephens

September 2019

Prepare for Gen Con 2019: A Green Ronin Guide

It’s almost time for the Best Four Days in Gaming and the first sign of the end of summer, and we’re scrambling to see what new games we’ll be playing in September – but we couldn’t find anything! Every year tons of new games being released at Gen Con, or at least that’s how it’s been in the past, so we figured we’d give you a quick run down of what Green Ronin has to offer that’s new this year – each of these will be available in limited quantities at booth 929, and released later into your friendly local game store!

Also, be sure to check out our seminars and scheduled games!

Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide

The first is the new Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide. The original third edition Gamemaster’s Guide has been out of print for a while now, and the Deluxe guide is a hardcover version with 32-pages of brand-new material and is the best resource for new GMs right after the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook or Basic Hero’s Handbook.

Crystal Frasier had a look at the table of contents and even free preview PDF of a new archetype in Bigger. Stronger. Better. The Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide

If you’re not at Gen Con 2019 you can Deluxe your Gamemastering skills on September 10th.

Mutants & Masterminds Superteam Handbook

We also have the new Mutants & Masterminds Superteam Handbook which brings the focus on super teams. This book includes eight pre-made super teams with details and rules for both players and gamemasters to add more team dynamics to your game. This has been a long-awaited addition to the Mutants & Masterminds game – and retailers will have it on August 6th through their preferred distributors.

If you’re looking for more information about Superteam Handbook you can check out what SuperDev Crystal has to say about it in these links;

Fantasy AGE Campaign Builders Guide

Fantasy AGE has come a long way since its release, and now we’re proud to bring the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builders Guide! Whether you’re looking to make your own fantasy pantheon, advice on interesting locations, how to make effective of entertaining encounters, this book has advice, mechanics, and examples that are ready to plop into your game! 

This will be available in retail on August 20th. Jack Norris has more to say about what to expect in his blog posts

Threefold: A Campaign Setting for Modern AGE

Last year we released Modern AGE Basic Rulebook and seen lots of feedback and released supplements including the successful Modern AGE Companion which we sold out of in the first two days at Origins earlier this year. Now we’re releasing the original setting Threefold, a full campaign setting with secret organizations, multiple worlds, and the ability to change your setting and theme while maintaining the same tone and characters. Threefold aims to be the flagship setting for Modern AGE going forward and will have plenty of books in the future.

Threefold will be available in distribution September 3rd. Does that sound up your alley? Malcolm can tell you all about what to expect in his original setting in these past Roundtables;

Nisaba Press: Height of the Storm – A Mutants & Masterminds novel

Height of the Storm: The first Mutants & Masterminds novel, by Aaron Rosenberg!!Height of the Storm is the tale of a young woman who takes over her grandfather’s role as the protector of her town, working with his old rival to learn to harness the powers she so recently discovered. But not all enemies are as evil as they may seem, and Lindsay finds herself weighing the safety of the city against the redemption of a man caught in events out of his control.

Just check out what Nisaba Press line manager, Jaym Gates had to say about the book, in Nisaba Press Update Height of the Storm

2019 is shaping up to be quite the exciting year for us and Gen Con will be a blast! Keep your eyes locked here during the convention for a special announcement. If you’re at the show, swing by and grab your new favorite book and meet the team.

Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide: Art, Process, and Inspiration

Hey folks, Jack back again to talk about the our new Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide. This time I want to talk a bit about the art in the book, how it comes to be, and its utility beyond just looking great.

So, with a book like the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide, where the focus is inspiring and guiding GMs with their own campaigns, art isn’t just cool, its potentially inspirational. Maybe that cool picture is just the spark someone needs to figure out the tone, style, or some element of a campaign that’s been eluding them. Inclusivity is also a concern; we want books that show a range of characters that will appeal to a diverse player base—not every dwarf looks like a short-bearded Scotsman and not every shining knight is a handsome European looking dude.

So how does the art get selected? Well, basically after the text is written and edited, it gets passed along to layout and art direction, which then tells the developer (me) what sort of art we need and where. This is generally both vague from a creative standpoint and precise from a technical one. So stuff like “We need a half page illo for this section” or “We need something for the start of each chapter in these dimensions” and so on.

Once I get those, I look at the text around where the art is to be placed and write up art descriptions like:

A trio of heroes are standing before a gigantic egg that sits in a nest of bones, vines, bits of smashed buildings, and other materials that present a feeling of menace. The egg is obviously thick shelled, mottled, and dark. It is cracking and something is beginning to emerge. Only parts of the creature inside can be seen, a glaring yellow eye, a scaly claw with some wet feathers along its length, and some tendrils or tentacles coming through certain cracks. The image here is very much that of a the birth of an alien and terrible thing. The heroes are very small compared to the vast egg and as such are mostly for scale, though one can be seen to be an armed warrior, one an archer, and another a spellcaster of some sort with a glowing rod. The scene is some vast underground chamber of which only some of it can be seen in the light of a mage’s rod and some glowing fungus around the cavern.

Often these descriptions have themes or tones I want captured. For example, a piece for a chapter about building monsters might have a scholar teaching monster anatomy. Or perhaps I want to capture the feeling of some comic cover, book illustration, or other inspiration from my own youth. You can see this in stuff like the M&M Cosmic Sourcebook, which I helped write some art descriptions for—several of the pieces in one chapter are homages to classic comic covers using Earth Prime heroes instead of Marvel and DC ones. I do this because I think this sort of influence, depth…call it what you will, shines through in the presentation of the art with the text of the book. And while I can’t make the art or lay it out? This is the part I can contribute—the initial set up for the artist to work their magic, so to speak.

Sometimes these descriptions reference other characters, books, etc… from Green Ronin itself, often mixed with some other piece of media I was enjoying or thinking about at the time:

A hero fights against a swam of vampire thralls. The area around is blasted and twisted, a place that resembles a post-apocalyptic version of a late medieval or early Renaissance Eastern European village, with some faces seen from those hiding inside crumbling buildings. The hero is the red headed swordswoman from page 17 of the FAGE Companion. She still has her massive sword, which she is swinging to catch a thrall or two as they try to leap on her. She has been scratched up a bit from the thrall’s claws, but seems to be holding her own. In the sky a faint red sun can be seen through layers of a cloudy gray sky–the idea is that something here or perhaps across the whole world obscures the sun enough to mute its effects on the creatures, meaning there is no true safe time in this world from such horrors.

I’ve become fond of that red-headed swordswoman in the Fantasy AGE Companion, something about the piece she appears in made me want to revisit her.  And then I watched Netflix’s Castlevania series and I decided she needed to fight vampires in this Campaign Builder’s Guide. Sometimes that’s just how it goes.

So then these descriptions are sent off to a freelancer artist who gives us a number of rough sketches to review. The art director and I (and often other folks) discuss which versions we prefer, often saying stuff like “Totally C instead of A or B but we need to work that charging velociraptor riding cavalryman from A in.” Sometimes this process is very quick, sometimes we go back and forth more, but in either case that’s just the process. Some of the best pieces in Fantasy AGE—in my opinion—were fast and easy from a feedback perspective. Others were long and hard, and just as amazing. In any event, the artists also add their own ideas, style, and embellishments. Sometimes an artist will present a piece that’s “wrong” from what we asked for in terms of an angle or action and yet its completely perfect and we love it. Other times great pieces get tweaked because they need to invoke something important from the book.

Anyway, once the sketches are approved and artist knows just what we want? They make the piece. Sometimes they share steps along the way, other times not. In any event, they eventually turn in a piece for approval and any final tweaks and adjustments are made. 

So after all is said and done, the monster egg piece becomes:

Art by Bryan Syme

While our red-haired swordswoman fighting vamps is presented as:

Art by Pedro Sena

And that’s essentially how it works. Just for dozens of pieces of various sizes and dimensions. It’s at times a complex process, but I truly enjoy it.  Hopefully those of you checking out the Campaign Builder’s Guide will find pieces to inspire and delight you as well.

Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide Pre-Order and PDF

Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder's Guide: Pre-Order and PDFThe Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide is now available for pre-ordering and in PDF format. As usual, when you pre-order the physical book, you can add the PDF version to your order for just $5, to download right away. If you prefer to shop from your local store, make sure they know about Green Ronin Pre-Order Plus, so you can get the same $5 PDF deal by pre-ordering through them.

Build Worlds of High Adventure!

Welcome to the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide, a book of advice, examples, and in-depth discussion of various elements of tabletop fantasy roleplaying campaigns aimed specifically at Fantasy AGE. Included within you’ll find:

  • In-depth analysis of campaign structure, set-up, and play frameworks
  • Step-by-step advice on designing challenging encounters and interesting adventures
  • Monster and character design assistance to help GMs make convincing, compelling, and challenging adversaries and foils for their campaigns
  • Information on designing religions and divinities
  • Notes on taking your campaigns beyond ordinary power levels and into the realms of truly epic adventure
  • Modifying and adjusting your campaigns to embrace various fantasy subgenres such as fantasy horror, historical fantasy, or post-apocalyptic horror
  • An assortment of helpful tables throughout the book to help generate everything from businesses and criminal organizations, to cults and religions

Each chapter includes detailed examples of the advice and guidelines within, showing how to directly implement the tools and advice of the Campaign Builder’s Guide. The Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide requires the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, and users will find the Fantasy AGE Companion and Fantasy AGE Bestiary exceptionally useful when using this book.

Step up your game with the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide!

Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – Asked and Answered

Hey folks, Jack here. As we are getting ready to release the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide literally any day now, I thought I’d take a moment to answer three of the more common questions I’ve gotten leading up to the release. Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on the book’s content.

Epic Play! Art by Mirco Paganessi.

Q: You said the book has a chapter on epic play, you mean high level play?

A: Well yes and no. I mean epic play. Big sweeping threats, plots, and other elements. Deadly artifacts and beings with godlike powers. Dogs and cats, living together. You know, mass hysteria.

That often is high level stuff. When heroes hit the upper levels of the game, they start to run into more dragons, demon lords, and similar nasty threats. These threats tend towards big ambitions and can often affect things on a national if not global scale. But on the other hand? One of the most famous stories in fantasy is about a short little gentleman farmer and his gardener taking a magic artifact to the most dangerous place in the world so they can destroy it and in doing so basically kill an evil god. Epic as all hell, but the heroes weren’t necessarily Level 20 badasses.  So the book will talk about both high level and just generally epic play, including how to make campaigns where heroes are godlings and divinely powered superhumans from Level 1 if desired—mechanically its simpler than many think.

Q: What kind of Alternate Rules Does the Book Have?

A: There are several optional and alternate rules for GMs wishing to give their campaign a certain flavor or feel. These generally combine very well with similar rules in the Fantasy AGE Companion. For example, in a dark fantasy game a GM might take the new Grave Wounds optional rule and combine it with rules from the Fantasy Age Companion for increased lethality for a very dangerous and gritty campaign. On the other hand, another GM might use action points and other similar rules from the Companion and add in the Cinematic Acrobatics rules for a Wu Xia-style fantasy campaign. And so on.

Some of these rules are brand new. Some others are adapted from other AGE system games, though usually with noteworthy changes. Which brings us to…

Q: Wait, Haven’t I seen this Stuff Before?

Maybe. While the majority of the book is new content, in a few cases rules from Dragon Age, Blue Rose, and Modern AGE were adapted for a particular element of campaign building. This was done so that customers didn’t need to buy books outside the Fantasy AGE line to get an appropriate rule. In most cases these rules were altered or adapted, such as with the Investigation Stunts included in the book—these are similar but not identical to those found in Modern AGE.

Also, in a couple rare instances an older rule or concept from Fantasy AGE itself was revisited to preserve the step by step flow of the book’s chapters on campaign building. The prime example of this is the inclusion of a summary of the Companion/Follower rules, as well as briefly revisiting Honorifics, Memberships, and Titles in the chapter on building campaign rewards.

These concepts are revisited because the discussion in the Campaign Builders Guide is about how the GM can design, use, and incorporate these elements as rewards as part of a larger campaign building strategy. As an important part of campaign development? We came back to them for a brief section to avoid the distraction their absence would cause—especially in readers who haven’t yet picked up the Fantasy AGE Companion.

I hope that clears up a few common inquiries and shows how the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builders Guide combines campaign building advice, new content, and the occasional revisiting of established AGE elements to help GMs form and shape their own settings and campaigns.

Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – Necessary Tools and Hard Sells

Hey folks, Jack here. Today we’re talking about our soon to be released Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide. So what is it? Well, its not a traditional rulebook or adventure…

And right there is where I’ve lost some of you. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can bring you back.

There’s both a definite need and strange reaction to how-to guides, toolkits, and other books in various game lines. While they are appreciated by many, there is a rather vocal minority that not only is sure they don’t need these books but tells others they don’t and even sometimes goes so far as to declare such releases a waste of…something. Time, resources, money, you name it. I see this sometimes when I’m haunting various corners of the internet looking for an idea about what products to propose or what to include in them.

However, if you haunt the messages boards and gaming discussions of the internet, you also see one of the biggest roadblocks to people playing a particular game is “that’s cool, but what do I do with it?” Without a clear guide for how campaigns start, run, and continue, sometimes its hard to get started. This has increased with the influx of newer gamers recently, mostly brought in by streaming and other media treatments of RPGs. We also see a lot of “Man I want to run this, but I am just not sure how. Especially a campaign, how do you even do that?”

It doesn’t stop there, either. Large discussions about “how do I hack this game for this genre?” or “How do I design monsters for this?” are very common. These are also questions sometimes we writers and designers get directly. And these questions aren’t just from new gamers, but anyone who finds that despite their considerable gaming abilities, some parts of conceiving, creating, and running a campaign either elude them or are just kind of a slog.

That’s where, at least for Fantasy AGE, the Campaign Builder’s Guide comes in. It’s a filled with examples, advice, random tables, and various other tools to build campaigns—in whole or in part. And while its undeniably true that veteran GMs will get less out of this book than the rookies, it was written and designed with everyone in mind.

Because if you’re like me? You have your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to preparation, design, campaign building, etc… Maybe you make killer monsters and adventures, but how to really capture epic play eludes you. Maybe you’re a wonderful encounter builder and everyone loves your NPCs, but when you tried to design a religion for that religious order, you don’t feel you managed it well. The Campaign Builder’s Guide covers enough topics and concepts it has a little something for everyone, and a lot of something for many people.

So what’s covered? Well there are advice and examples for:

  • Campaign concepts and frameworks.
  • Encounter building
  • Adventure building
  • Building rewards
  • Character building 
  • Location creation
  • Designing divinities and religions.
  • Sub-genres and genre specific campaign changes
  • Running epic campaigns
  • Monster building

Plus, random tables to help GMs generate ideas on the fly. 

So there’s a lot in there. I daresay something for everyone. I’m going to wrap up with a little preview—a look at an example of Campaign Framework design, the Mean Streets of Kavask.

Remembering Alejandro Melchor

This week was supposed to be set aside for me to talk about the Modern AGE Companion a little more, but I want to talk about Alejandro (aka Alex, or Al-X) Melchor instead. Alex passed away last week, due to the extended complications of a stroke he suffered in March.

Alex worked on every Modern AGE book currently at any stage of completion. In the core, he wrote rules, focuses, talents and part of the extensive Game Master advice in that book. He brought his talents to the World of Lazarus, the Modern AGE Companion, and the upcoming Threefold and Enemies & Allies, too. I’m currently looking for writers for a new book. It has an Alex-shaped hole in it now.

I first got to know him through a semiprivate community we shared, in 2001. I’d just been invited, as responses to my early professional work for White Wolf had been good. Alex did some work for them as well before taking an intensive gig with Mongoose Publishing in the early 2000s. I drifted away and he was busy, though I knew him through the Open Game License credits I bumped into while designing my own stuff. In the interim he developed an enormous list of credits, tending toward mechanically intensive work. I’d say one great thing about him is he could work on rules that reinforce stories and atmosphere, because getting game systems down was quick work for him.

Steve Kenson got to know Alex well, and took the lead in doing what we could to help when he fell ill. He reintroduced me to Alex, and Alex became a bedrock contributor for Modern AGE. He did so much more, in his own communities, on other games, and with other creative people, but I don’t want to presume to talk about any of that. We worked hard. We made some good ideas playable together. And he was unfailingly nice to everyone, a born collaborator, but didn’t hesitate to point out what he thought would be bad ideas.

According to family and friends, Alex liked proactive, resourceful, tough woman protagonists. Modern AGE uses a loose set of iconic characters created by the writers. Alex created Indra Winchester, the technically-inclined punk, who you can see on the cover of the Modern AGE Companion and inside the books of the line. In examples, he’s her player. I plan to keep it that way.

It seems so inane to go through his qualities as a creative guy, when of course there was more, but he was my comrade in making games. That’s what I’ve got to work with, even though it’s not enough to give the man his due. He was a visual artist, and beloved by various communities. And more, always more. In and out of this industry, I won’t be missing him alone, and won’t be the only one feeling new gaps in what might be possible, in work and life. I’m going to miss him.

 

Green Ronin in 2019! Part 3: Dragon Age, Fantasy AGE, and Modern AGE

Welcome back to our look at Green Ronin’s 2019 plans. If you missed the first two entries, you can check them out here and here. In this final installment, I’ll be talking about Modern AGE, Fantasy AGE, and Dragon Age.

Dragon Age

All three of these games are powered by the Adventure Game Engine (AGE), which has become something of a house system for us over the past five years. Blue Rose and our upcoming Expanse RPG also use AGE, so if you play any of these games, you’re learning the core rules of a growing group of RPGs that cover a variety of genres. I originally designed the Adventure Game Engine for the Dragon Age RPG, and it took off from there. I’m thus happy to report that Faces of Thedas, the long-awaited sourcebook for Dragon Age, is nearly here. Once we get the final green light, we’ll put the PDF up for sale and launch the pre-order. The hour is nigh!

Fantasy AGE

Last year we released the Fantasy AGE Companion, the first real rules expansion for the game. We are following that up this year with two books to make running Fantasy AGE even easier. First up is the Campaign Builders Guide, which is designed to help Game Masters create, build, maintain, and run campaigns. It is filled with advice on crafting encounters and adventures, creating interesting monsters and locations, running epic-style campaigns, and more. It also includes tables to help generate campaign elements when a bit of spontaneity and randomness is desired.

After that we have a book called Lairs, which provides a series of detailed challenges you can adapt to your Fantasy AGE campaign. Each chapter presents a terrifying or formidable adversary, their servants and followers, and their headquarters, base, or lair. Also included are rules for lair and scene specific stunts to step up location-based action in your game. Between Lairs and the Campaign Builders Guide, Game Masters will have many new tools to work with.

Later in the year we should have a setting book for Fantasy AGE. Jack Norris and Jaym Gates have been working on a new setting and you’ll hear more about that as the year progresses. We do also still hope to release the Titansgrave world book, but that depends on some things beyond our control getting sorted out. Can’t say any more than that but fingers crossed.

Modern AGE

Last year we launched the Modern AGE RPG, releasing its Basic Rulebook and GM’s Kit. As its name indicates, this takes the AGE rules into a contemporary context. You can use it to run anything from the Industrial Revolution to the near future. Optional rules for extraordinary powers mean Modern AGE easily handles things like urban fantasy or fighting occult Nazis as well. Just last week we released The World of Lazarus, the first campaign setting for the game. It’s a dystopian near future setting based on the Lazarus comics by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark and it’s a great way to get your Modern AGE campaign going. If you’d like to know more about The World of Lazarus, developer Crystal Frasier did a series of Ronin Round Tables about it that you can find here.

Next up after The World of Lazarus is the Modern AGE Companion. This sourcebook expands the Basic Rulebook in a bunch of fun ways. There are new backgrounds, professions, and talents, plus new rules for extraordinary powers, technologies, and organizations. It’s also got a very useful chapter on adapting the rules to various genres, such as gothic horror, alien invasion, and Cold War spies. Summertime will then see the Enemies & Allies sourcebook. If you’re looking for adversaries and NPCs for your campaign, look no further! Since Modern AGE covers many different genres, Enemies & Allies ranges far afield, from elite operatives and scientists to horrors and arcane beings.

Later in the year we are going big with our first original setting for Modern AGE, Malcolm Sheppard’s Threefold. It’s an epic modern fantasy setting where characters explore countless planes of existence. In it, our Earth is only one of many alternate worlds. Beyond them, the Otherworlds contain dimension-spanning empires of godlings and sorcerers, and Netherworlds ruled by demon-gods raise armies of the damned. Characters might travel between planes as agents of the Sodality, an organization devoted to peacekeeping and exploration, defend Earth as cyborg agents of Aethon the conspiracy which patrols multiple timelines, or serve other groups. Threefold is big by design, and broad enough to contain all of Modern AGE’s genre possibilities. Stay tuned for more info and teasers about Threefold throughout the year.

A Banner Year

All in all, 2019 is shaping up to be a great year and there’s more to come. Look for an announcement about our community content program for Fantasy AGE and Modern AGE soon. As always you can keep us with us on this website, Twitter, or Facebook. We’ve got more fun stuff to reveal as the months go by. Here’s hoping 2019 is better for everyone!

Ronin Round Table: Using the Fantasy AGE Bestiary in Blue Rose

Part III

One of the tremendous benefits of the Adventure Game Engine (or AGE) system is how quickly we’ve developed a diversity of applications for it. Not only does this give us a bunch of great games to play, but allows us to mix-and-match them to get ourselves a breadth of options beyond that of any single game.

Today, we’re concluding a series that shows this off a little. The Fantasy AGE Bestiary is an excellent book full of great monsters, horrors, and adversaries for your Fantasy AGE heroes. But its utility isn’t limited to Fantasy AGE campaigns – we’re going to talk a little about how these monsters might fit into the romantic fantasy setting of Blue Rose.

This is the last of three articles taking these critters, one at a time, and discussing where they might fit into Blue Rose’s setting, and what (if any) mechanical adjustments need to be made to make room for them. See the first part here, and the second part here.

Brian Hagan

 

 

Ocean Worm: Though Aldinfolk have legends of dragons, they do not consider these titanic ocean-going terrors to be dragons, per se. Still, the sailor jargon referring to them as “worms” has stuck. Many sages also refer to them as leviathans, and to the Lar’tyans, they are the Great Enemy, one of the few things that threaten their mighty warships. None of these with breath weapons have ever been reported in Aldean history to date. (See also the Shadow-Touched Serpent, on p100 of the Six of Swords adventure anthology.)

 

Ooze: Though strange, ravenous creatures with gelatinous bodies have existed for a long time, it is only recently that Aldin scholars discovered a strange fact: all of them are the remains of sorcerous work. Though it’s likely the Sorcerer Kings deliberately created some of them, the truth is far stranger: most of them used to be other creatures, or other sorcerous creations entirely, and all collapsed and devolved into these protoplasmic horrors, held together literally with sorcerous malice and little else.

 

Penanggalan: Old, blasphemous rites are responsible for the creation of the penanggalan. Similar to those which create liches, these sorcerous rituals are remnants of the ancient sorcerous traditions in what is now Drunac. The witches of the Rezean people are some of the few who recognize the signs of penanggalan among today’s adepts.

 

Rat King: According to certain rhydan sages, the conjoined intelligence of these strange horrors is a blasphemous mimicry of rhydan intelligence, the closest that Shadow can manage to the gift of a living soul. Whatever causes it, they are dangers in places where rats are plentiful and have many places to hide, which includes most cities. Rhy-rats (see Aldis: City of the Blue Rose) are best aware of the dangers of the rise of rat kings, and consider the careful monitoring of non-rhydan rat populations as part of their wardenship against Shadow.

 

Reaper: The priesthood of Selene teach that the reapers first appeared with the sorcerous rite that created the first of the unliving (different legends identify this unliving differently, but most tellings suggest it was a vampire or lich). Whatever their genesis, reapers now come hunting among all of the people of Aldea, living or otherwise. Many who find themselves stalked by a reaper flee immediately to adepts of the Selenite priesthood, who specialize in discovering what it is that has gained the ire of a reaper, and help a victim put it to rights, though sometimes this means seeing a murderer pay for the deaths they’ve caused.

 

Sea Devil: Sea devils rise up from the dark and cold depths that the sea-folk avoid descending into, for Shadow dwells in the deep oceans as well. Some sea-folk legends claim that sea devils are Shadow-corrupted members of their people from ages past; others seem to suggest that they are predators on sea-folk who rose to power by dwelling in the pelagic abysses. Regardless of where they came from, sea devils are a threat to all ocean-going folk: they are capable raiders of both subaquatic and above-water targets, swarming out of the ocean to attack sea-folk coves, seaside villages, and ships alike.

 

Shadow Person: Neither darkfiend nor unliving, elemental or fey, the exact nature of the shadow person is largely unknown. They are rare enough that only studied scholars are likely to recognize the signs of their predation without extensive research. They are known to torment the people of Kern most regularly, likely because Kernish folk are denied the means of defending themselves against them by their dark masters. Shadow people are considered darkfiends in Jarzon, and the witches of Rezea are said to know specialized wards to keep them from creeping into tents among the tribes.

 

Shard Lord: Records in the Vault of Censure – that collection of works considered too dangerous to permit general dissemination by the Crown in Aldis – claim that shard lords are a true abomination: the results of an infusion of arcanely sensitive shas crystals with the emanations of Shadow. This is why they are sometimes referred to as “shas lords.” The fact that shard lords are found most often in the Shadow Barrens upholds this origin story, as all of the shas deposits of that dark land are known to be utterly corrupted by Shadow, suitable only for works that aid sorcery.

 

Soul Harvester: For as long as Aldean folk have recorded their knowledge of monsters, they have spoken of soul harvesters. But these monstrosities were relatively uncommon for most of that history, until the actions of one of the Sorcerer Kings, the tyrant Yngalandis. Experimenting with uses for souls, Yngalandis constructed a sorcerous device that acted as a beacon and lure for soul harvesters, drawing them into this realm and forcing them to his service. Unfortunately, machinations by a rival not only destroyed the device, but scattered its power across Aldea, acting as a lure without an attached trap. Though these emanations have long faded, whatever culture exists among the soul harvesters has established this dimension as a place attractive for hunting, and they continue to stalk its folk.

 

Thin Man: Some of those who served in the wretched halls and palaces of the Sorcerer Kings mentioned the thin men afterwards, describing them as strange entities that came through shadowgates at the behest of the Sorcerer Kings. Whether ambassadors from a strange people known only to the Sorcerer Kings, or otherworldly mercenaries paid in some terrible coin, no one knows. It is sufficient that these things yet stalk the peoples of Aldea. Some scholars suggest this means that the thin men have either developed their own means of passage into this world, or that there yet remains at least one shadowgate that they have access to.

 

Treeman: It is said by some that the deeps of Wyss are home to entire communities of the treefolk, living trees who shepherd trees the way mortal shepherd sheep and cattle. Whether this is true of Wyss or not, treefolk occasionally appear solitarily in other deep forests. They are usually hesitant to speak to any folk, although a few rhydan enclaves have managed to establish alliances with them, and actually consider them kin in some capacity, plants given minds and souls the same way they are animals who were given such. Treefolk mystics are all incredible masters of the Nature Reading and Plant Shaping arcana.

 

Troll: Though they were once the terrors that haunted the high mountain passes, trolls are almost exclusively found in the Golgan Badlands, the Veran Marsh, the Shadow Barrens, and the wastelands of Drunac.

 

Werebeasts: Almost unheard of in Aldea, the exact origins of werebeasts are by and large a mystery. Some rhydan enclaves warn their members that werebeasts are what happen when rhydan are lost to Shadow, while some scholars think it is a curse inflicted on those who have mastered shapeshifting arcana who become corrupted. However it happens, it does so rarely, so much so that most Aldeans have never heard of werebeasts, though their existence is recorded among the Rolls of the Damned in Jarzon, and in the lore of Selenite mystery cults.