Hey folks, Jack here. I wanted to take a bit of time and talk about a series of upcoming PDFs for Fantasy AGE that be coming in the next few months. These are a series of short encounter-based scenarios that GMs can use to jumpstart a session or use to fill in between major adventures. They aren’t full adventures, but most can easily lead to them.
Originally this product was envisioned for Dragon Age. However, the realities of needing to send Dragon Age content to approvals with Bioware makes an even semiregular PDF series very difficult. So instead, we’re taking the basic idea and doing it in Fantasy AGE, where the approvals step is absent from design and production.
Each encounter is designed to give GMs a setup section to get the PCs involved, some optional or random occurrences that can make each longer, shorter, more dangerous, and so forth. Also included are suggestions of how this single encounter can spin off into a large part of a campaign. Each PDF usually details an initial encounter and then one or two logical follow up encounters that will resolve the problems or challenge presented.
So maybe while traveling through a war-torn region, the PCs come across a band of refugee children pursued by a cult of religious extremists. The cult wants the refugees, believing them dangerous heretics possessed by dark powers. The children were being smuggled out of the war zone, but their protectors have been slain. What do the PCs do? Do they transport the children to safety? Find a place that will take them in? Turn them in for a reward? What random occurrences may happen while the kids are in their charge? These are the sorts of scenarios this series covers.
When possible, monsters and other items from Fantasy AGE are used, keeping these products concise and inexpensive. They’re meant to be affordable supplementary material for GMs to use as needed and we wanted to keep to that idea as much as possible. However, all of them have one or two “new cool things” that the encounter required. This might be a statblock for an enemy or monster, a magic item, or possibly even a new spell or ability.
The first three Encounters are currently in production (two edited and with layout, one in editing). I have two or three more already written which just need some small changes before they move down the line. So while we’re not ready to announce the exact release date for this series yet (or even commit to its exact title), they are pretty far along and the first will be arriving shortly.
Also, we aren’t committing to a particular number of encounters—we’d like to see how it does and make adjustments as necessary. We’d like it to be a popular series that grows into a sizable library of releases. However, first we just want to get some new content out to all the fine folks who have already picked up and are enjoying Fantasy AGE.
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GRR6001_2001.jpg260200Jack Norrishttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngJack Norris2015-11-16 00:01:042015-11-15 20:23:12Ronin Round Table: AGE Encounters PDFs
One of the most common questions we got after the release of Fantasy AGE was, “Are you going to do a GM screen?” At the same time our screens for other games had been going out of the print over the past couple of years. We have not had GM’s Kits for Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds in stock for some time. We’ve been waiting for the right time to get these going again, and happily that time is now!
In the first quarter of next year, we’ll be releasing Game Master’s Kits for Fantasy AGE, Mutants & Masterminds, Dragon Age, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying. They have some common features. Namely, all have a sturdy, hardback GM screen, four double-sided rules reference cards, and a combat tracker. The latter is a card for keeping track of initiative and other combat considerations, and you can write on it with dry or wet erase markers. The Fantasy AGE one (which has only the above contents) is brand new, of course, but the other three are revisions of our previous GM’s Kits.
The original Mutants & Masterminds GM’s Kit included a 48-page booklet featuring the Quickstart Character Generator. This proved so popular and useful that we put it in the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook. It didn’t make sense to include the booklet when that info is in the game’s core rulebook, so the reference cards and combat tracker replace it.
The Dragon Age GM’s Kit also needed a revision. The original was done when only Set 1 had been released, so the screen was out of date. We’ve revised it to reflect Dragon Age Core Rulebook, and we’re also replacing “A Bann Too Many” with a brand new adventure.
A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying’s GM’s Kit will have the same basic content (short adventure, map of Westeros) plus the reference cards and combat tracker. We may replace the screen art (that isn’t nailed down yet). The adventure is the same, but we are going to duotone the art and print the booklet in color this time, just to snazz it up.
The GM’s Kits for Fantasy AGE and Mutants & Masterminds are at print now and should release in January. Those for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and Dragon Age are scheduled for March. Since both of those are licensed games, I’ll just issue my usual caveat that an approvals process is involved and this sometimes affects release dates. This is less an issue with the SIFRP screen, as it’s a largely a reprint, but the Dragon Age screen has a brand new adventure and associated art, which need a sign off from BioWare.
It is thanks to Dragon Age that all the new GM’s Kits are getting handy reference cards. That game was originally released as a series of boxed sets, which allowed us to easily include such things. Now that the Dragon Age Core Rulebook is out, we needed a new way to get reference cards for stunts and other things into people’s hands. The GM’s Kits proved the perfect place for the reference cards and the new combat trackers. Look for them all in the new year!
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/FA_Basic_Cov-450.jpg582450Chris Pramashttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngChris Pramas2015-11-02 05:00:302015-11-02 13:29:10Ronin Round Table: Game Master’s Kits Are Coming!
Heya folks, Jack here. I wanted to take a break from working on AGE and Dragon AGE content to talk to you a bit about making your own content for the Adventure Game Engine. Specifically, let’s talk about making monsters.
Since the recent launch of Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave: Ashes of Valkana, I get asked a lot of questions, from “When will they be in stores,” to “What the hell is Interlligence?!” People have a lot of questions about these books.
However, by far one of the most common questions I get asked is “so, any advice on making our own monsters?” Which makes sense. While both Titansgrave and Fantasy AGE contain some cool beasties, there’s plenty of room for more monsters, demons, and beasties. So for today’s Ronin Round Table, I’d like to talk a bit about some things to consider when building your own monsters.
Generally, it’s easy to make your own monsters in Fantasy AGE. Come up with a concept or borrow one from your favorite stories, myths, legends, books, etc… Assign statistics that match up to the rough idea of what your monster can do and then tailor it so that you’re not making it too tough or too easy on your PCs when they face such threats. Speaking of…
You might find that despite having a solid idea and being sure everything will work out, you accidentally made a monster that’s far too strong or weak for the PCs. There are several ways to do this, but some common mistakes to avoid are:
Making monsters who hit all the time or not at all. A really high Accuracy or Fighting is going to mean even very agile and defensive PCs will get nailed a lot. Remember the average dice roll with 3d6 is 11 and starting PCs usually have between 10 and 15 defense. Also, these numbers are slow to increase, so even more experienced PCs won’t become so much harder to hit without serious Ability increases, special items, and other advancements. So you don’t need to give most monsters Fighting or Accuracy of 5 or higher to hit often, and those with scores of 7 or above will hit very often, especially with appropriate focuses. Even a Fighting or Accuracy 1 monster with a focus for their main attack will hit a Defense 14 PC about half the time. Conversely, making monsters with very low Fighting and Accuracy can also be a problem, though it’s admittedly harder to do.
However, if you’re giving a monster -2 Accuracy or some similarly low Ability, consider if that will make them miss often enough they seem more like a joke than a threat.
Making monsters who do ridiculous damage or almost nothing. Sometimes you want a big scary creature who does tons of damage. A giant, dragon, and other big scary monsters should be scary and hit very hard. On the other hand, a swarm of rats might do only a bit of damage and serve to weaken PCs without seriously endangering their lives. Also, remember that damage is a combination of both the dice rolled and the Ability added in and how often you hit affects the damage monsters will do over time.
So a high Accuracy “minor” monster with a 1d6+3 damage attack and 4 Strength will being doing at least 8 damage every hit (1 on the die, plus 3 and then 4 more for Strength). That might be just want you want. Or you might find you accidentally made a minor creature than can kill a player’s unarmored low-defense mage far too quickly for what you had in mind. Likewise, a big scary beast with 3d6 damage and Strength 9 is likely really nasty (doing around 20 damage a hit). Just make sure that’s the effect you want for your monsters.
Ignoring or Overdoing Armor. Armor is both damage mitigating and a pacing mechanism. It often won’t stop a PC or monster from ever taking damage, but it increases the time it takes to damage and defeat a target in combat. So if you give a monster no or very low armor, you’re opening it up to every hit, no matter how small. This might be fine, but it means that anyone who can survive the creature’s attacks and damage can take it down reliably. This might not be what you want for certain monsters. On the other hand, very high armor can get frustrating. It might be tempting to give a heavily armored creature 10 armor rating (or even higher) but realize that without the right stunts or very high damage you’re setting up combats to be many rounds of “I hit and…nothing.”
Not Balancing Health with Other Factors. High defense or armor can make a monster a challenging foe. If combined with really high health, it can make them annoying. On the other hand, too little Health creates “paper tigers.” Again, if intended? That’s cool, but realize that many players expect to only encounter easily dispatched or incredibly tough monsters rarely and at specific times appropriate to the campaign. If your Lizardman lieutenant in a moderately difficult encounter has 150 health and Armor Rating 8 and Defense 17? Your PCs will get bored, frustrated, or discouraged long before they defeat this “mid boss” encounter.
Forgetting Powers and Special Abilities or Overdoing Them. A few cool special abilities, powers, and unique stunts goes a long way. Too many and you risk bogging down encounters. But having none of them makes monsters just collections of basic attacks and statistics. Also, don’t be shy about converting or borrowing powers from existing creatures. If you want a horde of dog-sized flesh-eating beetles to assault your PCs? Adapting Swarm Tactics from the Walking Dead entry in the Fantasy AGE Bestiary will work well and save you design time.
Ignoring the Utility of Reskinning. Sometimes a monster is just an existing one with minor changes and a new look. This isn’t “cheating”; it’s expediency. A terrifying battle-beast created by an evil sorcerer might just be a Demon Soldier with Wings, Blending, or other special abilities already detailed in the Bestiary chapter of Fantasy AGE. A flesh-eating giant “deep one” style humanoid might just be an Ogre with Aquatic and perhaps Bite and Claw attacks adapted from the Manticore entry. These extra abilities will make monsters tougher and you’ll want to consider than when balancing encounters, but it makes it fairly easy to come up with terrifying new threats for PCs to face in a relatively short time.
Also in general, it’s usually better to make weaker monsters than overpowering ones. If a monster is too weak in an encounter? Simply increase it the next time a similar creature is encountered and if anyone wonders, it was a young, inexperienced, or immature monster they faced before—this is the real deal. That’s not even a lie, as the first attempt was not as refined or evolved in many cases. It’s okay if the first demon bear-thing your PCs fight turns out to be a juvenile version of a much scarier threat. In fact, this can allow monsters to grow and evolve alongside your PCs as the campaign progresses.
So those are some of the basics. We’ll be presenting new monsters in the future, but we realize many GMs want to start hacking away at their basic Bestiary entries in the meantime. Hopefully this discussion will help them do exactly that.
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/medusa-crop.png616658Jack Norrishttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngJack Norris2015-10-05 00:09:302015-10-05 12:17:19Ronin Round Table: The Care and Feeding of Monster Design
We’ve been getting variants of this question a lot, so we thought we’d put a comprehensive answer in a single place. For Dragon Age, the answer is easy: it’s in stores now and you can also order it from our webstore.
For Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave, the answer is a bit more complicated. Basically, the demand for these books outstripped their availability. We had a LOT Of pre-orders (which are in the process of shipping) and sold a LOT at GenCon. We have sold what remains of the first print run to game distributors so retail stores can get some in. They will arrive at distributors on September 8 and start showing up in stores on September 10. This is not a huge number of books, so if you want one I suggest talking to your local store.
Meanwhile, we have a (larger!) reprint of Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave underway. If all goes smoothly with the printer, we should have both books back in stock and available for stores in early October. You can’t order them in our online store at the moment, but we will turn them back on in mid-September if you want to pre-order the reprints.
Usually our first print runs are big enough to last for at least three months, but Fantasy AGE and Titansgrave went gangbusters. It’s a good problem for us to have in the long run (people want our games, hooray!) but having them unavailable for a month is obviously not ideal. More books are coming soon though. Thanks for your patience!
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GRR6002_200.jpg260200Evan Sasshttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngEvan Sass2015-08-24 11:11:042015-08-24 11:53:28“When Can I Get Fantasy AGE, Titansgrave, and Dragon Age Books?”
We are running a Pre-Order Plus special on the book for a limited time, meaning when you pre-order Titansgrave, we’ll offer you the PDF version for just $5 at Checkout. The same deal is in effect for Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, which you also need to run your own Titansgrave campaign.
You watched the show; now play the game! Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is Wil Wheaton’s new tabletop RPG show on Geek & Sundry. It introduces an original science fantasy setting that mixes high magic and hi-tech. Written by a stellar team of award-winning designers, this companion book for the Fantasy AGE RPG gives you background info on Titansgrave, and all the adventures you saw on the show. The adventures include new encounters and options that will let you make the story your own. So grab your blaster and ready your spells. Titansgrave needs heroes!
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GRR6002_200.jpg260200Evan Sasshttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngEvan Sass2015-07-30 07:00:332015-07-30 08:33:09Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana Pre-Order and PDF
Titansgrave is coming to Gen Con! Make sure to login to your Gen Con account and look for SEM1582558 to reserve your spot! Presented by Green Ronin Publishing and Geek and Sundry.
This year is going to be an exceptionally strange and exciting time for us at Gen Con. Not only is Team Ronin headed out in force, but we’re sharing space with Geek & Sundry, highlighting Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana! We’re so excited to have such great games for Gen Con.
Before I get into the fun things happening, I want to kindly let you know what our Customer Service & Sales responses will be slow, as we’ll be dependent on whatever internet we can find while traveling and while we’re all working the show. Online orders for in-stock items (or PDFs of course) will continue to go out on the usual schedule.
For those of you lucky enough to be attending Gen Con, stop on by and say hello at Booth #1509! We’ll be running demos of Walk the Plank, Love 2 Hate, Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Mutants & Masterminds, Ork!, and of course, Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Geek & Sundry will be featuring a photo booth, along with some great merchandise and surprises!
We also have volunteers running games at Gen Con, and we have some Seminars you don’t want to miss. If you didn’t get into a game, be sure to bring Generic Tickets to see if a spot opens up! There are quite a few sessions of games run by various GMs & Gaming Groups, and we have a list of the officially submitted games run by myself or our Freebooter Volunteer GMs! For the Seminars, there are currently spaces, but you’ll definitely need to pick up free tickets to attend!
RPG1575877 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
RPG1575473 An Arl’s Ransom – Dragon Age RPG (at ConTessa!)
RPG1573267 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
RPG1576447 Fate in Freeport; The 1000 Year Storm – Fate System
RPG1575933 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
RPG1576439 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1576440 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
SEM1578318 News & Updates on Green Ronin Publishing’s AGE System
RPG1575878 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
RPG1573275 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
RPG1576446 The Truth of the Fifth Blight – Dragon Age RPG
RPG1576441 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1576442 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1578320 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
SEM1578319 What’s New With Green Ronin Publishing!
SEM1582558 Titansgrave Q&A with Wil!
RPG1575905 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
RPG1573282 Hell Comes to Squishy Man – Town!Ork! 2.0
RPG1575934 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
RPG1576443 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1576445 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1578321 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
RPG1575906 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at Gen Con!
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/gencontitansgrave.png340340Donna Priorhttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngDonna Prior2015-07-27 05:59:242015-07-27 14:25:49Ronin Round Table: Green Ronin at Gen Con 2015
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/GRR6001_2001.jpg260200Evan Sasshttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngEvan Sass2015-07-15 11:30:082015-07-15 22:52:45Now Pre-Ordering: Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook will be releasing in PDF format and going up for pre-order soon. We will debut the game at GenCon, alongside Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. The most frequently asked question I’ve been getting is, “How is Fantasy AGE different than Dragon Age?” Both games feature the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) so this is a natural question to ask and the one I’m going to delve into today.
The first thing I’d like to talk about is backgrounds. In Dragon Age a background is basically a mix of culture, social class, and race. You might be a Fereldan Freeman, High-born Dwarf, or Qunari Beresaad, for example. That works because Dragon Age is set in a specific place: Thedas. Fantasy AGE, on the other hand, has no attached world. Its rules are meant to be used with a campaign setting that you choose or create. I thus did not want to assume too much about the culture of the setting.
Therefore Fantasy AGE breaks out backgrounds into three parts. First you choose a race. To make the game as broadly useful to gamers as possible, we went with the “fantasy classics” here: dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, human, and orc (and Titansgrave adds saurians to the mix). You roll for your social class (outsider, lower class, middle class, or upper class), then you generate a background based on the class. This is meant to represent the career you trained for or engaged in before you became an adventure. Examples include hermit, laborer, merchant, and pirate. Your race, social class, and background modify your starting character in various ways: ability increases, focuses, and other benefits.
The heart of any AGE game is the ability test. When you try to do something, you roll 3d6 and add the relevant ability (Communication, Dexterity, etc.). If your total meets or beats the Target Number, you succeed. If you roll doubles on the test, you get to do something cool as a stunt. Easy enough!
Dragon Age features 8 abilities inspired by the video game Dragon Age: Origins. They are:
In Fantasy AGE there are 9 abilities instead of 8. They are:
So you can see that in Fantasy AGE two abilities were added (Accuracy and Fighting), one was removed (Magic), and one simply had its name changed (Cunning to Intelligence). The latter is the easiest to explain. I simply thought Intelligence was a better name for the ability and conveyed its nature more clearly than Cunning. But why the other changes?
In Dragon Age Dexterity and Strength both do a couple of things. Dexterity adds to your Defense (making your harder to hit) and adds to your attack rolls with light melee weapons and missile weapons. Strength adds to your attack rolls with heavy melee weapons and damage to all melee and thrown weapons. All this has certain implications. First, it makes big monsters that hit hard but strike inaccurately harder to model. A + 8 Strength, for example, means +8 on the attack roll and damage. Fantasy AGE breaks this out into separate abilities: Fighting and Strength. Now it’s easier to represent something like an ogre, who might have a Fighting 3 and Strength 7. Second, Dexterity in Dragon Age is something of a superstat for rogues. In Fantasy AGE I thus decided to break it out into Accuracy and Dexterity. Now it’s Accuracy that adds to your attack rolls with light melee and missile weapons and Dexterity that adds to your Defense. The net result these changes means you have some real choices to make when you level up and get to increase an ability. As a warrior, do you want to hit harder or more often? As a rogue do you want to dodge more often or hit enemies more frequently?
As for the Magic ability, I cut it for a couple of reasons. First, to keep the overall number of abilities down. Second, because I felt everything it did could be modeled with other abilities: namely, Intelligence and Willpower. In Fantasy AGE your casting roll is based on Intelligence but your Spellpower is based on Willpower. In Dragon Age both of these are based on your Magic ability.
Speaking of magic, that’s perhaps the biggest change from Dragon Age. The basics remain the same. Mages have a pool of Magic Points (MPs) that they spend to cast spells. You can keep casting until you run out of MPs, and you can cast the same spell over and over if you want to. What is different is how you acquire spells. In Fantasy AGE there are magic talents, each of which corresponds to a themed group of four spells known as an arcana (Earth Arcana, Divination Arcana, and Fire Arcana, for example). When you get the novice degree of a magic talent, you learn the first two spells of its arcana. You get another at the journeyman degree and the final one at the master degree (as well as some other benefits). A level 1 mage starts with two magic talents at novice degree, which translates to four spells. Mages then acquire more spells as they go up in level by learning new arcana or mastering the ones they have.
In Dragon Age you can customize your character with a specialization like Blood Mage, Spirit Healer, or Templar. You get one specialization at level 6 and another at level 14. Fantasy AGE retains the basic concept of the specialization but gives you access to them earlier. You get your first at level 4 and second at level 12. Since you can take your first specialization at level 4, I eased up on the requirements somewhat so it shouldn’t be hard to pick the specialization you want. There are four for each class, twelve in total. The specializations are Arcane Scholar, Assassin, Berserker, Duelist, Elementalist, Guardian, Knight, Mage Hunter, Miracle Worker, Sharpshooter, Swashbuckler, and Sword Mage.
And those are the biggest differences between Fantasy AGE and Dragon Age. As you can see, the games have the same core, but some slightly different expressions. If you’ve played Dragon Age, you’ll find Fantasy AGE a breeze to pick up. If you haven’t played Dragon Age or indeed any other RPG before, that’s OK too. Fantasy AGE is designed with new players in mind.
https://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/FA_Basic_Cov-450.jpg582450Chris Pramashttps://greenronin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/RoninBanner_2022_72.pngChris Pramas2015-06-29 14:29:572016-08-18 14:10:33[Ronin Round Table] Fantasy AGE: What’s Different from Dragon Age?