The Origin of the Book of Fiends (Ronin Roundtable)

This morning we have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a new 5E edition of the Book of Fiends on Game On Tabletop. It’s a great book and we hope you go check out the campaign. If you weren’t gaming in the early 2000s, you may be wondering what the Book of Fiends is exactly and why its return is exciting? Conveniently enough, my last post about the history of the company segues nicely into this, so pull up a chair by the fire and let me tell you a story.

Book of Fiends for 5th Edition. NOW FUNDING!


Legions of Hell

Our first monster book for 3rd Edition. Published in 2001!

Last time I told the tale of Green Ronin’s big launch as a company in the summer of 2000. With the success of Death in Freeport, the immediate course was clear: more Freeport adventures! So we commissioned Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport from Rob Toth and Bill Simoni respectively. I would develop those books, but I also wanted to design something else. Since I had written the AD&D Guide to Hell, I decided something infernal would be a great (albeit unofficial) follow-up. And hey, I still had all my research books and notes from the Guide to Hell so even better. The result was Legions of Hell, Green Ronin’s first monster book. It included a bunch of new devils, and my take on the Lords of the Nine Hells. A subtitle on the cover pointed towards the future. It said, “Book of Fiends, Volume One.”

Armies of the Abyss

Published in 2002, and written by Erik Mona

Legions of Hell was another huge hit for us, so it didn’t take me long commission Volume Two. Demons were the obvious choice, so I hired my co-worker Erik Mona to write Armies of the Abyss, which came out in 2002. Erik would, of course, go on to great heights as the publisher at Paizo, but at the time he helped run the RPGA at WotC and Armies of the Abyss was his first RPG title credit. He had fun creating new demon lords and added a new type of demon called the qlippoth that would later migrate to Pathfinder via the Open Game License. Erik did a great job and the book was another solid hit for us. So on to Gehenna, right?

Well, yes, eventually but it was a bumpy road to get there. The first person I hired to write Hordes of Gehenna dropped the ball on the project and had to be replaced. That delay proved fateful because in 2003 WotC announced a 3.5 edition of the D&D core rulebooks. 3.0 books were still mostly usable but there were so many small changes in the rules that it became inconvenient to do so. I decided therefore that Hordes of Gehenna would no longer be a stand-alone book. Instead, it would become part of the Book of Fiends, alongside 3.5 updated versions of Legions of Hell and Armies of the Abyss. Those original books had been modest 64-page softbacks. Book of Fiends would be a hearty 224-page hardback.

Book of the Righteous for 3rd Edition

The Original Book of the Righteous by Aaron Loeb, published in 2002

Three people were key to making the Book of Fiends a reality. First, there was Aaron Loeb, who had written the Book of the Righteous for us in 2002. This is a great book (already updated to 5E a few years back) that presents a complete cosmology, mythology, pantheon, and attendant churches. As part of that Aaron re-concepted Gehenna and that became the basis on which we built Hordes of Gehenna. Aaron’s partner in that was Robert J. Schwalb, who had begun freelancing for us in 2002 with the Unholy Warriors Handbook and would soon come onboard as our d20 line developer. Last but not least, there was Jeremy Crawford, who in addition to editing did much of the 3.5 updating the book required. Jeremy was very good with the rules, and—surprising no one who has worked with him over the years—he went on to work at WotC and is now the Leader Rules Designer for Dungeons & Dragons.

The Book of Fiends for 3.5

The original Book of Fiends, published in 2003!

Book of Fiends came out in 2003 to critical acclaim and great sales. Turns out GMs really love a book chock full of evil outsiders! The following year the Book of Fiends won an ENnie Award.

Today the Book of Fiends returns on Game On Tabletop! Rob Schwalb, who was on the D&D 5E design team, updated and expanded the book. It’s getting the full color treatment this time with all new art. And if we unlock enough Level Ups (what Game On calls stretch goals) we can add fun PC options, an adventure, and tie-in short stories from Nisaba Press (our fiction imprint). Are you ready for some evil? Because we’re bringing the evil.

 

What is Lost Citadel Roleplaying, Anyway? (Ronin Roundtable)

The release of The Lost Citadel Roleplaying is probably cause for curiosity if you didn’t back the original Kickstarter. In essence, The Lost Citadel is about a fantasy world, Zileska, that has been transformed from something very similar to many traditional fantasy worlds (though with a greater emphasis on non-Western influences than most) by the rise of the undead—simply called the Dead in the setting—to an urban survival horror setting. And just as the world has transformed, so too have our heroes. Even though this is a setting for Fifth Edition, races, classes, magic, and more have been changed by the Dead. Here’s how.

The Lost Citadel, The Dead rise!

Urban Intrigue

The classic theme of survival horror is that it isn’t about the evil of the creatures coming after you, but that locked within survivors. Will you turn on your friends to live another day? Unfortunately, that kind of messes with the dynamics of traditional fantasy games, where we want the party to cooperate. The Lost Citadel’s solution is Redoubt: the last city in the world, where survivors banded together to hold off the Dead. The city is mostly cramped and filled with political chaos, as communities from many cultures protect their traditions and advance their interests. In effect, this takes the classic theme and makes it a slow burn, taking place across multiple enclaves instead of a single group of survivors. That way, the PCs can feel the desperation and threat of betrayal without having to watch for—or plant—knives in each other’s backs.

Magic and Woe

This is not to say there’s no room for personal conflict. Evil is pervasive in The Lost Citadel. It infects the land. It causes people’s sins to poison the earth. It corrupts magic itself. This manifests in the form of the Woe mechanic. Woe may give a living person an unnatural pallor, or cause natural animals to hate the sufferer. In can come from many sources. Evil acts concentrate Woe within someone, but it doesn’t provide an easy way to “detect evil,” because Woe also springs from the spiritual damage caused by contact with certain undead, and from casting magic without using a careful ritual. Woe strikes the good and bad alike, and if too much of it gets in you…death isn’t the end. Consequently, the book presents a variety of original magic-using classes, and even a variant of the monk class, that have adapted to a world claimed by Woe.

Wilderness Adventure Horror

Nevertheless, there’s still room for more of a classic 5e experience. Dungeons? Redoubt was built by dwarves—it’s full of tunnels and fissures. The new masters of the city don’t know all its secrets, and often need adventurers to clear and map lost storehouses, secret foundries, and even cursed tombs. But the bigger, more dangerous quests lie outside the city proper. That’s where the Foresters go. Even with its walled farms, Redoubt isn’t quite self-sufficient. The city needs to do logging, find rare materials left behind during the great exodus from the old nations, and patrol to see if the Dead are gathering in significant numbers. The Forester faction does that job, and needs more than rangers to help. The wilderness can be hauntingly empty or teeming with the Dead, and it’s hard to know which is which until you venture forth. Besides, every other city has fallen, to every building outside the city’s a dungeon, too.

The Last Brass Tacks

Like an absolute genius then, I’ll actually put the vital info last. The Lost Citadel Roleplaying is compatible with and requires the 5e PHB, DMG, and MM. Here’s what you get:

  • The fallen world of Zileska and its last city, Redoubt, described faction by faction and area by area
  • Four new character classes in the Penitent, Beguiler, Sage, and Warrior Monk, and unique variants of the Barbarian, Fighter, Rangers, Paladin, Rogue, and Warlock
  • Zileskan dwarf, elf, and human cultures, and a new race, the ghul
  • 10 new backgrounds
  • A new system for martial arts available to all characters, but especially good for fighters and warrior monks
  • Zileskan magic and its interactions with Woe, the forces of corruption
  • And of course, the Dead: 14 undead monsters in all their rotting glory

You can get it from our online store (GM screen PDF from our store here) or DrivethruRPG (GM screen on DrivethruRPG) now.

Book of Fiends 5E Crowdfunder on Game On Tabletop May 19

Book of Fiends 2003

The original Book of Fiends from 2003, using the 3.5 rules!

We’ve got an exciting crowdfunder coming up later this month and I wanted to tell you a bit about the project and also how it’s different from our previous campaigns. The project itself is a new edition of our classic Book of Fiends monster book for Fifth Edition. The original Book of Fiends came out in 2003 for the 3.5 rules and it was a huge hit for us. We’ve had Robert J. Schwalb, who was on the D&D 5E design team, write all the new stats and rules and you know that the Demon Lord delivers. Book of Fiends will be a stylish full-color hardback with over 130 daemons, demons, devils, and other creatures of the Lower Planes, all beautifully illustrated with brand new art. Got evil? Yes, yes, we do.

The Book of Fiends for 5th Edition

Coming soon to Game On Tabletop! Book of Fiends for 5th Edition

What’s different about this project is that we are doing it on Game On Tabletop. This is a newer crowdfunding platform and we are excited to launch our first campaign there. Game On was created by our long-time partners in France, Black Book Editions. Their vision was to create a crowdfunding platform designed with tabletop games in mind and they’ve done that and more. Game On Tabletop launched in 2017 and has hosted many successful projects since then. Paizo’s highly successful Kingmaker campaign was run there.

Game On Tabletop logo

Game On Tabletop has a lot of great tools, most of which will be invisible to you but are hugely useful to us. The best thing about it is that it’s a crowdfunding platform and a pledge manager rolled into one. This means you’ll be able to take care of everything at one site. You can back the project, buy add-ons, and pay shipping all in one place. If you haven’t backed a project there before, we think you’re really going to like it.

Book of Fiends is coming to Game On Tabletop on May 19 and Hell is coming with it! Also, the Abyss and Gehenna because we’re generous like that. See you there!

The Lost Citadel Live-Stream!

The Lost Citadel RPG on sale now!It’s Humpday, and today we’re taking another shot at the Green Ronin Live-Stream! Join Green Ronin Publishing today at 2:00 pm Pacific/5:00 pm Eastern for another test-run of our live-streaming capabilities, and this time it’s all about the Lost Citadel. Join Green Ronin Publishing Developer Malcolm Sheppard, and General Manager Nicole Lindroos as they cover the latest PDF release and barring any unforeseen technical challenges, they’ll take your questions, too! So come hang out with us as we continue our headlong jump into Facebook live streaming. You can register for this event by visiting our Facebook events page here!

See you at 2:00 pm Pacific/5:00 pm Eastern, today!

The Lost Citadel: 5e Heroes Against the Dead, at the End of the World

Seven decades ago, there were cities upon cities; kingdoms and nations, the remains of ancient empire. Cultures at war, cultures at trade. Races with varying degrees of alliance and distrust. Humans, elves, dwarves, and others; magic and monsters, rare but real. Regions of desolation, certainly, but also regions of plenty; forests, farmlands, and fields. And so it was for millennia, through two dynamic ages the lorekeepers and scribes called Ascensions.

Until the world ended. Most call it the Fall, but whatever term a given people choose to use, it marked the point where everything—everything—changed.

The Lost Citadel RPG for 5th edition, available now!

Art by Todd Lockwood

Today, we present The Lost Citadel Roleplaying Game, a supplement for Fifth Edition that takes you to Zileska, a world claimed by the undead—or simply the Dead, as they’re called in Redoubt, the last city in the world, where the survivors of the Dead’s rise, and of the corruption of magic, wall themselves away from the tide of the damned. But in the world of the Lost Citadel, anyone may rise again, as their own Woe, or spiritual corruption, reanimates their expired flesh.

Although it requires the DMG and PHB (the MM is also helpful), The Lost Citadel  is more than a bolt-on undead apocalypse setting for 5e. We present a tailor-made world and experience within the 5e engine, with its own distinct rules for character types, magic and more, including the following:

  • Original character races, and new takes on traditional races for 5e, from the flesh-eating ghul to elves whose souls have been ravaged by the fall of magic.
  • New and modified character classes for the world of Zileska, including the Penitent, whose powers eradicate corpse-animating Woe, the Sage who rediscovers secrets from the fallen world, and the Warrior Monk, a spiritual street fighter who abjures the internal magic of their ancestors for the pragmatic arts of war.
  • A new system for martial arts that allows practitioners to exploit opportunities in combat for devastating effects—and which goes beyond traditional fighting arts stereotypes. Confound your foes with the Beggar’s Crook style, or become the ultimate armored combatant by mastering the Jewelled Cannon.
  • The magic of Zileska, where practitioners must choose between slow, safe rituals, or swift spells that summon Woe, a pervasive force of corruption that rose with the Dead.
  • A detailed urban setting featuring numerous cultures, faiths, and customs which adventurers must navigate as carefully as any dungeon.
  • And of course, the Dead, from rotting Ramblers to the secret intelligences behind hordes and infiltrators.
  • New magic items, equipment and more—it’s a full color 304 page book. Take a look at the table of contents here.

The Lost Citadel is the offspring of a successful Kickstarter, and in turn is based on the successful shared world fiction project, also available through Green Ronin. You can get it at the Green Ronin Online Store or through DrivethruRPG now!

NOTE: While we are absolutely producing full color, traditionally printed hardcovers, due to COVID-19 industry issues (see this post) we cannot guarantee a specific printing or shipping date for physical editions of this book. Therefore, we’re only offering the PDF at this time.

Kickstarter Backers: Assuming your backer tier entitled you to it, you should have already received a pre-release link to download The Lost Citadel. If you can’t find it, contact custserv@greenronin.com.

Green Ronin 20 For 20 Sale

Green Ronin 20 For 20 Sale

20 For 20 Sale

2020 is Green Ronin’s 20th anniversary, and to celebrate we’re having a site wide sale of all our games and accessories. Everything in the Green Ronin Online Store is for sale for 20% off through April 20, 2020, except for active pre-orders like Lairs for Fantasy AGE and Enemies & Allies for Modern AGE. We really appreciate all the support you’ve given us over the years, so please enjoy some great games at a great price!

20 Years of Green Ronin! (Ronin Roundtable 2020 preview)

This time every January I write a message about our plans for the coming year. This is a special occasion though because 2020 is Green Ronin’s 20th year in business! We’ll be talking a lot more about that all year, looking back at our history and how we got here. I can say that when I started the company, it was a side project to my day job as a Creative Director at Wizards of the Coast. I couldn’t have imagined Green Ronin would still be around in 2020! So what do we have cooking for our big year? Let’s take a look!

20 Years of Green Ronin! 2020 is Green Ronin's 20th year in business.


Green Ronin’s very first release was a beer and pretzels RPG called Ork! in July, 2000. That game got a new edition worthy of Krom last year if you want to check it out. A month later, at GenCon 2000, we released Death in Freeport, the book that really put us on the map. It was an adventure for the just released third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and it introduced the world to Freeport: The City of Adventure, a setting that mixed classic fantasy elements with pirates and Lovecraftian horror. Since this year is also Freeport’s 20th anniversary, you know we had to do something to celebrate. And what brings people together like a marriage? This year we will finally wed Freeport and Fantasy AGE! Freeport is a setting I created, and Fantasy AGE is a game I designed, so it’s long past due that these two get hitched. This will begin at GenCon with the release of the Fantasy AGE Starter Set, a boxed introduction to both the game and Freeport. After that we’ll publish the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook, a bigger, better rulebook for the game that features Freeport as its example setting. Further books exploring the city and the larger world of Freeport will follow. In the shorter term, the Lairs sourcebook for Fantasy AGE is almost ready to go to print, just waiting on a few pieces of art, so look for a PDF release and the beginning of the pre-order soon.

 

Nisaba Press, our fiction imprint, will also be supporting Freeport with both short story anthologies and novels. The first novel, I Am Gitch by Lucien Soulban, feature’s Freeport’s most famous goblin! Speaking of Nisaba, we are really ramping up our fiction in 2020, exploring the settings of our Mutants & Masterminds, Blue Rose, and Threefold properties in addition to Freeport. Last year we released two novels and one anthology (Aaron Rosenberg’s Mutants & Masterminds novel Height of the Storm, Joseph Carriker’s Blue Rose novel Shadowtide, and the brand new Sovereigns of the Blue Rose anthology). Our next Mutants & Masterminds novel, Roadtrip to Ruin by Skyler Graye, is at print now so look for that release soon. Later in the year you will see new anthologies for all our properties, the first novel for our Threefold setting, and the release of Joseph Carriker’s Sacred Band, which we announced last year. It’s going to be an exciting year for Nisaba Press!

 

Abzu's Bounty: An adventure path for The Expanse RPGOn the topic of awesome fiction, let’s talk about The Expanse! We launched the game, based on James S.A. Corey’s modern scifi classics, last year, releasing both the core rulebook and Game Master’s Kit. We also brought on Ian Lemke as the developer and he’s already putting his stamp on the line. We are kicking off the year with Abzu’s Bounty, the game’s first big adventure. It’s brand new this month so you can grab it right now. We’re following that up later in the year with two more books: Ships of the Expanse and Beyond the Ring. Ships of the Expanse is exactly what it sounds like: a big book about spaceships, with stats, deck plans, and more. Beyond the Ring is the first sourcebook to advance the timeline. The core rulebook was set between the events of the first and second novel. Beyond the Ring takes things through the third and fourth (Abaddon’s Gate and Cibola Burn). With the ring gates open, there are huge numbers of new star systems to explore, many littered with the ancient relics of dead civilizations. Beyond the Ring opens up a whole new style of adventure for The Expanse RPG and gives GMs all the info and tools they need to support it. Something else you will see this year: Expanse dice! We are working with Q Workshop (who did our dice for Dragon Age and Blue Rose) to make three different sets of the dice. Earthers, Martians, and Belters can all represent!

 

Modern AGE, under the stalwart leadership of developer Malcolm Sheppard, is going from strength to strength. Last year we launched Threefold, the first original setting for the game, and it is a stunner. We are starting this year off with Enemies and Allies (at print now), the adversary book for Modern AGE. It details NPCs and creatures, covering genres such as modern fantasy, horror, near future SF, technothrillers, and crime dramas, and provides new mechanics to support them. We’re following that up with Five and Infinity, a collection of adventures for Threefold that cover all levels of play. It also introduces the Infinity Engine, a tool for using random chance and choice to generate both original adventures and new planes of existence to stage them in. Then we have the Mastery Guide, the last of what one might consider the “core books” of Modern AGE (the others being the Basic Rulebook, Companion, and Enemies and Allies). While you might think of the Mastery Guide as a GM’s guide, that’s only half the story. It also provides advice and support for players, so everyone can up their game.

 

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of the Blue Rose continues to thrive under the benevolent rulership of developer Joseph Carriker. The next book in the line is Envoys to the Mount, an epic adventure that spans five years of game time and all four tiers of Blue Rose play. This is a full campaign that will keep your group busy for some time. If you want a smaller commitment, Six of Cups is there for you. It’s an anthology of six shorter adventures, along the lines of Six of Swords from a couple of years back. After that comes Touching the Wild, which is a dual-purpose sourcebook. Half of it is a bestiary about the shadowspawn. The other half is a player’s guide to the rhydan, the psychic animals of the Blue Rose setting. This does include the option of an all rhydan party!

We are keeping Joe very busy this year because he’s also working with co-developer Tanya DePass on Fifth Season Roleplaying, licensed from N.K. Jemisin’s fantastic Broken Earth trilogy. We announced the game at GenCon and it will release towards the end of the year. The game will use a revised and updated version of our Chronicle System, the engine that powered our Song of Ice and Fire RPG. We’ll have a lot more to say about Fifth Season Roleplaying as we get closer to release so stay tuned!

Image shows the three novel covers from N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth trilogy. The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky.

 

All that is great, but don’t you want to get super sometimes? Well, Mutants & Masterminds has got you covered! Superdev Crystal Frasier (who is by the way, doing the graphic design of the whole line in addition to game development) has a lot of comic book goodness coming your way. First up is the Time Traveler’s Codex, a sourcebook that covers the myriad of ways you can use time travel in your campaign and explores some popular eras for such shenanigans. After that is the Vigilante’s Handbook, which is all about running street level campaigns. If you want a break from four-color heroics, this book provides a grittier option for lower level characters. Then there is Danger Zones, a sourcebook that provides 30 different urban backdrops for superheroic action, each of which includes a map, special features, and adventure ideas. This book will be super handy for time-pressed GMs. Pick a danger zone and some villains and you’re ready to rock. Something else we know Mutants & Masterminds GMs have been wanting is more adventures. Last week we started a new PDF series called Astonishing Adventures. This will provide a regular stream of new adventures, which should make things a whole lot easier for M&M GMs.

That ends our whirlwind tour of 2020! There’s even more to come, like The Lost Citadel and the Book of Fiends for 5E, and our Sentinels of Earth-Prime card game, but we will talk about those a little later. Thanks for all your support these past 20 years. It means the world to us that so many of you love and play our games. See you on the convention circuit!

Chris Pramas

Green Ronin Publishing

Happy Holidays from Green Ronin Publishing!

Everyone at Green Ronin would like to wish you the very best this Holiday Season, and we’ll see you soon in the new year!

Green Ronin Publishing will be closed from today, December 22nd and will return on January 6th.

Green Ronin Is At PAX Unplugged

PAX Unplugged logoGreen Ronin is at PAX Unplugged this weekend, exhibiting in booth 3649 in the Expo Hall and running games all weekend (with the able assistance of our Freebooters) in the Tabletop Freeplay hall. We will have copies of Abzu’s Bounty (the soon-to-be-released adventure path for The Expanse RPG), Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting, Threefold, Superteam Handbook, the novels Height of the Storm and Shadowtide, and more!

PAX Unplugged and Freebooting

Green Ronin is very excited to be attending PAX Unplugged again this year. PAX Unplugged is Penny Arcade’s completely analog convention. It’s become known as the convention where people actually play games – a lot of them! Crazy, right? So, if you are in Philadelphia the weekend of December 6 – 8, please come join us and play some games.

You will be able to find us at Exhibitor’s Hall Booth 3649. Even better is that this year we will also have a table within the free play hall in an area designated for exhibitor demos. We will have our own dedicated table throughout the entire weekend!

Speaking of the demo table – we could really use a few more people to help us run games. Does this sound like fun to you? In addition to the fun of running games, Green Ronin will reimburse your badge and give you a t-shirt. Win-win for all of us!

If you’re already a Freebooter and interested, please contact me to discuss details.

Not a Freebooter but still want to run games for us? No problem! Becoming a Freebooter is fun, easy, and packed with perks. The first step is to fill out this form. If you want to help with PAX Unplugged, please also send me an email at freebooters@greenronin.com to make sure I expedite your application.

The Expanse RPG – Gen Con 2019

Finally, if you’re attending PAX Unplugged, please feel free to drop by our booth and say hello. Happy gaming!