Bonds: An AGE Mechanic Evolved

Bonds form the basis of many relationships and effects of Alienation

Art by Tentacles and Teeth

If you’re familiar with Blue Rose or Modern AGE, you’ve come across Relationships: a system that provides mechanical benefits based on your character’s powerful feelings for another person, whether it’s love, friendship, professional admiration—or deadly enmity. Relationships form the seeds of Bonds, a generalized mechanic used in Cthulhu Awakens that among other things, is used for the Alienation systems we’ve discussed elsewhere. I’ve been experimenting with expanding the basic concept of Relationships ever since developing Modern AGE and notably, used it as the basic for a divine influence system in the Fantasy AGE Trojan War supplement for sibling game Fantasy AGE.

In Cthulhu Awakens, Bonds are covered in the character creation chapter, as they are essential to the game. A Bond can represent things other than a relationship with a person, and can represent the following:

Enlightenment: This is a Bond of strange, mind-warping insights gained from contact with the Mythos.

Ideology: A belief system to which you’re strongly committed. This could be a religion, a political theory, or some code of honor.

Material: Your Bond connects you to an object, structure, or location. This is the kind of Bond possessed by a character who treats their car like a pet or child, or who would rather die than give up their home.

Melancholy: This Bond attaches itself to characters who abruptly leave the Dreamlands and are deprived of its wonders by our gray, heavy world.

Organization: This Bond either represents an organization’s hold on you or your feelings for it.

Relationship: This is the most common Bond. It represents your feelings about another person or the hold they have over you. A Personal Relationship Bond need not represent affection; you can have a Bond with an enemy.

Terror: This is a Bond given to thoughts cracked by the unnatural, and like Enlightenment, is produced through Alienation.

Each Bond has a rating and descriptor, such as the ideology Bond I will stand up for workers against the bosses because an injury to one is an injury to all (3). This tells you its strength and purview.

Unlike previous AGE system Relationships, Bonds are also split into Personal and External types. Personal Bonds are a source of strength when it comes to addressing the subject of the bond, and you choose when to draw on them. In practical terms, you can spend it on bonus stunt points to make an action more effective, even if you didn’t roll doubles on the dice, the usual way to gain SP. External Bonds represent an involuntary attachment, either because it represents how someone or something else treats you, or it’s a mental and emotional association you can’t consciously control. These are used aversively, such as to add stunt points to tests used against you. Once a loyal member of a group, you’re vulnerable when your former comrades act against you, for instance.

Bonds permeate the Alienation mechanic and several other places in the game, and I look forward to seeing the full rules out in the wild.

Alienation: A Mind Adapted to the Unknown

Contrary to popular belief, encountering Mythos entities, reading texts that convincingly upend the supposed laws of reality, confronting the dark miracles of sorcery, or witnessing the dark miracles of alien gods do not drive you mad—at least, not in the conventional sense.

Alienation in Cthulhu Awakens

“Madness” is used as a casual term for mental illness, a phenomenon that is partly neurological, partly social, and entirely within the realm of ordinary human experience. Sometimes the word is used as a tool of discrimination. But in Cthulhu Awakens, encounters with the unnatural do not have any special power to cause mental illness beyond the ordinary effects of stress. The Mythos inflicts psychic harm because you start to understand it—comprehend a cosmos beyond what your fat-and-blood brain is adapted to as it muddles through the four dimensions of spacetime. There is an order to the unnatural in its unresolved paradoxes, the unearthly biology of its beings, and the implications of its symbols, which is incompatible with human life and thought—and it is in the nature of the Mythos to embed such paradoxes in witnesses, so that they know what should be impossible to know, perceiving impossible colors, principles, and dimensions beyond our cage of spacetime. We call this phenomenon Alienation.

The game systems for Alienation divide Mythos phenomena into four categories:

Entities (test Willpower (Courage))

Monsters combine a terror coded into our genes from ancient predation with an alienness for which our ancestral memory offers no counsel. Mythos creatures are evidence of alternate lines of evolution inimical to human life, or of anti-ecologies, incompatible with all Earthly life, yet horribly entwined with it.

Visitations (test Willpower (Faith))

Your gods mean nothing when the other gods come, breaking your faith with their undeniable, terrible reality. Even secular pillars of understanding melt before the Outsiders, who are bound to a science and metaphysics where all human thought is an error, and our existence a fragile, temporary outlier in cosmic probabilities.

Phenomena (test Willpower (Morale))

When you see something rotate across five or more dimensions; when sorcery opens doors in the Void; when you stand at the Cyclopean gates of a citadel made when we were microbes, hinting of a civilization we will never match; when you see the curves of time blister into its angles—all are evidence of a universe where everything we know is a provincial exception to a callous, life-destroying rule.

Revelations (test Willpower (Self-Discipline))

The Necronomicon is the most famous source of Alienating revelations, but many other texts, artworks, oral traditions, scientific papers, and even the masterworks of corrupted geniuses can contain seeds of toxic wisdom that, when studied, flower into knowledge that leaves no room for the human condition.

Failing a test provides Enlightenment and Terror: special Bonds (we’ll cover these in future updates) that fuel special effects. Enlightenment in a source of Alienation provides useful insights as your mind filters the strange into the pragmatic. Terror is used against you when your spirit strains against the threatening truth. Accumulating Enlightenment and Terror may eventually lead to distortions, habits of thought that are rational within the context of your extraordinary experiences but interfere with more prosaic matters.

Cthulhu Awakens Game Master’s Kit!

Game Master's Kit

Available now as an Add-on during our Kickstarter campaign!

This morning we are pleased to announce that we will be making a Game Master’s Kit for Cthulhu Awakens!

The Cthulhu Awakens Game Master’s Kit is a collection of resources that help you smoothly deliver terror and adventure to your players. It provides a sturdy Game Master’s screen that displays stunts and other essential Cthulhu Awakens information at a glance–and it keeps players from stealing a look at the dangers you have in store for them, too. 4 quick reference cards provide further assistance with commonly used rules, and a dry-erase friendly combat tracker helps you follow violent moments of triumph, or doom. But the true power of this offering may lie in Unexpurgated Texts, a booklet detailing a dozen fell grimoires and their modern counterparts, each in an expanded, 2-page format listing the eldritch workings and other strange secrets each of them contains.

You can now select the Cthulhu Awakens Game Master’s Kit as an additional add-on for the discounted price of $25 by clicking on the “Manage Your Pledge” button in the upper right of the campaign page. It will also be available in the Backerkit pledge manager after the campaign, but adding it now helps us unlock additional stretch goals, and will automatically add it to your rewards when it comes time to pay for shipping.

The Cthulhu Awakens Menagerie

Cthulhu Awakens Monsters
Cthulhu Awakens
is a game of fear and weirdness, and that includes the people you meet, from mortal conspirators to otherworldly monsters. I thought folks might like to see all the listings with full game statistics provided in Chapter 9 of the book.

Mundane Creatures: Entries that might exist even in a world without the Mythos

  • Assassin
  • Burglar
  • Clever Crook
  • Enforcer
  • Guard Dog
  • Hooligan
  • Police Detective
  • Police Officer (Uniformed)
  • Security Guard
  • Socialite
  • Soldier
  • Veteran Private Eye

Touched by the Mythos: Individuals who’ve been radically affected by the Cthulhu Mythos, as resisters, victims, or pawns.

  • Angry Civilian
  • Cult Adept
  • Cult High Priest
  • Eldritch Scholar
  • Minion
  • Witch
  • Yithian Operative

Mythos Entities: The monsters and aliens of Cthulhu Awakens. These have expanded entries including extended descriptions and story hooks.

  • Blended
  • Deep One
  • Deep One Hybrid
  • Dimensional Shambler
  • Ghoul
  • Ghast
  • Gnoph-Keh
  • Godspawn, Major
  • Godspawn, Minor
  • Gregarian
  • Gug
  • Mi-Go
  • Night-Gaunt
  • Primordial
  • Shoggoth
  • Skotomorph
  • Tendril From Beyond

In addition, you can use creatures from Modern AGE, especially the Enemies & Allies book, in Cthulhu Awakens with minimal adjustments. Use Gritty Health in default games or convert Cinematic Health to Fortune if you’re using Fortune. Assign combat stunts using the packages in Cthulhu Awakens—something new to how AGE describes creatures we introduced in this game.

Cthulhu Awakens With Modern AGE

Cthulhu Awakens in Modern AGE

Art by Natalie Bernard

As part of the AGE System family of games, Cthulhu Awakens is substantially compatible with Modern AGE, our multi-genre modern era RPG. In fact, Cthulhu Awakens was originally designed as a Modern AGE supplement, but eventually merited being broken out into a dedicated game. Nevertheless, the two games are similar enough that we’ve offered Modern AGE books as part of the campaign, because it’s relatively easy to use them together. Here are some notes about doing just that.

Mode: Modern AGE includes special rules for three modes. “Realistic” Gritty Mode, the low-key enhanced reality of Pulpy Mode, and the larger than life Cinematic Mode. Cthulhu Awakens notes that in Modern AGE terms, it is pre-set to Gritty Health (it doesn’t improve with level) but Pulpy Toughness (your character can absorb blows from things like edged weapons as well as fists, but not bullets).

Enemies & Allies: The core Modern AGE book and its supplement Enemies & Allies provide a whole bunch of pre-generated NPCs and strange beings for your use beside Cthulhu Awakens Mythos-based counterparts. Use the Cinematic Mode stats if you use Fortune in Cthulhu Awakens (and covert their Health to Fortune) and Gritty stats otherwise (but Cthulhu Awakens’ rules for Toughness) and the entries are usable as-is. Enemies & Allies in particular includes game statistics for criminals, government agents, renegade scientists, strange psychics, and various mythic and weird creatures.

Powers: Magical Arcana from Modern AGE provide a more traditional version of magic compared to the dangerous eldritch workings of Cthulhu Awakens, while eldritch workings can be used in Modern AGE with no special rules. Modern AGE psychic powers convert to Cthulhu Awakens counterparts easily. The extraordinary items and other options for powers in Modern AGE supplements allow you to add superhumans, cyberpunk augmentations, and other genre variations to Cthulhu Awakens.

Stunts: Cthulhu Awakens and Modern AGE take different approaches to stunts. Cthulhu Awakens uses a small, tightly curated list of streamlined stunts, while Modern AGE takes an expansive approach. You can swap approaches or mix and match for the stunt options you prefer.

Adventures and Settings: Cthulhu Awakens could be just one world in the Modern AGE Threefold setting, and various adventures for Modern AGE would be suitable for Cthulhu Awakens with minimal conversion.

AGE games intended to be hacked and customized! Do what you like, using the common framework of AGE to find your way, and you’ll find immediate support for Cthulhu Awakens through Modern AGE.

The Expanse Meets Cthulhu Awakens!

Expanse meets Cthulhu!

Art by Tentacles and Teeth

The Kickstarter for Cthulhu Awakens, which brings cosmic horror from the unimaginable past, through the 1920s, and into the 21st Century, is now live! Both The Expanse RPG and Cthulhu Awakens are powered by AGE: the Adventure Game Engine, which opens new realms of possibility for both universes.

Cthulhu Awakens: On Kickstarter Now

Live on Kickstarter now!

The stars have truly aligned….

Part of the appeal of The Expanse are the elements of horror carefully blended within a science fiction setting. Certainly, some chapters are as chilling and terrifying as any horror novel. The changes that the protomolecule causes in humans are ghastly and reflections of Frankenstein’s monster can be seen in Project Caliban. And, of course, the entities beyond ring space could step right from the pages of the Cthulhu Mythos. By now, I suspect you know where I’m going with this: how can Cthulhu Awakens be used with your Expanse game? Even if you don’t want to bring the eldritch horrors into the Expanse universe, Cthulhu Awakens offers both players and narrators some intriguing new possibilities.

Alienation

Let’s start with the good stuff. In Cthulhu Awakens, alienation represents the influence of eldritch forces on the psyche. Through Holden’s eyes, we see throughout the Expanse series how much effect close encounters with the protomolecule can have on an individual, particularly through his ability to communicate with “ghost” Miller. A protomolecule connection like Holden’s could easily be replicated by the use of Enlightenment stunts which give Cthulhu Awakens characters insight into the Mythos. The other aspect of alienation—terror—could also be implemented to manifest the primal fear and horror resulting from many encounters with the protomolecule.

Bonds

Cthulhu Awakens has Bonds that are very similar to Relationships in The Expanse, but they are greatly expanded in both concept and utilization. Personal Bonds, which are much the same as Relationship Bonds in The Expanse RPG, are broadened to include a character’s ideals, oaths, or beliefs. There is also a completely new kind of Bond called External Bonds. These represent involuntary influences on characters and can be used by the GM to generate Stunt Points that put characters at a disadvantage. Interestingly, External Bonds may appear on the surface to be advantageous (membership in an OPA faction, a close relationship with a friend or sibling), but the GM controls them. Examples of External Bonds might be ties and obligations to organizations (the OPA, religious group, or employer), or individuals(someone you care about so much that it can become a detriment to you). And as with personal bonds, they could also be personal ideals, beliefs, or oaths. Alienation is also a form of External Bonds.

Talents

The talents in The Expanse are tightly focused and allowing some of the new talents from Cthulhu Awakens could offer some diversity that could make for interesting character development. Talents such as Bootlegger, Emergency Care, Esthete, and Hard Case could all fit quite comfortably into an Expanse campaign.

The Mythos

Finally, Cthulhu Awakens contains an enormous amount of information about the Mythos that has been adapted for the Adventure Game Engine. The two games are compatible and require very little tinkering to tell Mythos stories beyond the Weird Century. Or perhaps you want to take your Expanse campaign in a completely different direction and surprise your players with true cosmic horror. Perhaps the entities beyond the gate are something other than described in the novels and are, in fact, the Outer Gods, now awakened after untold millennia of slumber. Or maybe the Ring builders were the Mi-Go or the Elder Things. The possibilities are endless. The universe is yours to make as you will.

Weirdness Overflowing: Cults of the Mythos

Strange Cults exist in the Mythos

Art by John Anthony Di Giovanni

 

As mentioned in our last update on the subjectWeirdness Overflowing is a PDF supplement that grows with the campaign, adding new chapters as we go. The first chapter, which qualified backers will be receiving, since we have unlocked the first Weirdness Overflowing stretch goal, is Cults of the Mythos. This is exactly the kind of thing suited for an expansion because the core books mention the following cults and other groups:

· Carter-West Agency

· Children of R’lyeh

· Church of Starry Wisdom

· Court of the Dead

· Enfants du Prêtre

· Face of the Sphinx

· Esoteric Order of Dagon—and its later manifestation, Thalassology

· Illuminated Fraternity of Azathoth

· Implicit Cartography Group

· LOCK

· Mass Cult

· Pickman’s Shelter

· Red Mask

· Society For a Brighter Tomorrow

· Society of the Silver Key

· Society of the Yellow Sign

· Sons of Arkham

· Temple of the Faceless and Unnamed

· Three-Lobed Burning Eye

· Unnamed Conspiracy of the Reanimated

· Unnumbered Directorate

While each group gets varying degrees of coverage in the core book, Cults of the Mythos will describe these groups, and possibly others (we had to cut some from the core, and this would be a decent time to bring them back!) using a common format for reference. Furthermore, we’ll add systems for running cults and other organizations so you can chronicle how cults and conspiracies rise, prosper, fight, and fall.

And now that we have  funded this? Keep going, because next up is the Demimondes Gazetteer, a guide to alternate universes reachable through the mysterious Corridor. We’ll have more to say when it approaches closer!

The Gregarian – Cthulhu Awakens Entity Preview

The Gregarian!

Check out the Cthulhu Awakens Kickstarter for more details!

When insects and worms feast on the remains of certain psychics, sorcerers, and certain strong-willed individuals, they sometimes copy the residue of that individual’s personality, and a Gregarian is born. These flesh-eaters develop a collective will, and even acquire some of the deceased’s knowledge. Here are the Cthulhu Awakens statistics for these entities.

Gregarian

Abilities (Focuses)

Accuracy 1, Communication 3 (Deception, Disguise), Constitution 4 (Tolerance), Dexterity 0 (Forgery, Stealth), Fighting 1, Intelligence 5 (Occultism, Research, Theology), Perception 2, Strength 1 (Climbing, Intimidation), Willpower 3 (Self-Discipline)

SpeedFortuneHealthDefenseArmor RatingTough-ness
10424210015
WeaponAttack RollDamage
Ritual Blade+01d6 + 2 IW

 

Qualities

Combat Stunts: Trickster

Alienating: When it reveals its true nature to an individual or establishes a hive contact (see below), the Gregarian provokes a TN 11 Entities Alienation Test. It usually hides its true nature with a mask, and although this might be discomforting, a masked Gregarian doesn’t provoke Alienation.

Absorbed Occultism: A Gregarian knows one eldritch working, but no praxes, after absorbing this information from whoever it devoured, or from whatever eldritch lore it instinctively hoards.

Hive Contact: By concentrating on an individual within 20 yards, the Gregarian can use the Activate action to contact that person’s mind. The target can resist contact with a TN 15 Willpower (Self-Discipline) test. If they succeed, they shut out contact for the rest of the encounter. If the Gregarian makes contact, they can communicate with the target through projected images and other sensory perceptions, though not words. This exposes the Gregarian’s true nature to the target, activating its alienating quality if the target hasn’t already witnessed its undisguised form.

Living on the Fringe: Gregarians are practiced at covering their tracks. Other characters suffer a penalty of -2 to any tests to find information about Gregarians or their activities.

Swarm: As they comprise of a swarm of insects, worms, and other small vermin, a Gregarian is impervious to bullets taking no damage, and takes half damage, after applying Toughness, from all other forms of damage except for fire, electricity, and attacks or hazards that target an area, such as grenades or sudden flooding. Area-effect hazards and damage sources inflict double damage after applying Toughness.

Equipment: Dagger, Fragments of Occult Lore, Tattered Robes, Wax Tablet and Stylus. Notepad and Pen, or Smartphone.

Threat: Moderate

Blue Rose Meets Cthulhu Awakens!


What does Cthulhu Awakens have to offer players and Narrators of Blue Rose? A great deal, as it turns out, even if you don’t want Outer Gods and Great Old Ones threatening the world of Aldea. Let’s look at some of the possibilities:

Bonds

While Blue Rose has Relationships, Cthulhu Awakens has Bonds, a development and expansion of the basic concept of Relationships to “represent your character’s special ties to other characters, ideals, obsessions, and more.” In particular, there are Personal Bonds, which are much like Relationships, but can also include your ties to ideals and beliefs. There are also External Bonds, which are largely involuntary and can be detrimental to your character.

If you want to expand upon the basic system of Relationships in Blue Rose, then Cthulhu Awakens has done some of the work for you.

Cthulhu Awakens on Kickstarter now!

Live on Kickstarter now!

Talents

Cthulhu Awakens has talents spanning the Weird Century (from 1920 to the 2020s) and some of them would be right at home in a Blue Rose game, such as Dreamer, Esthete, Improvisation, Strange Inheritance, or even Inhuman Legacy (for those affected by the work of the Sorcerer Kings).

Conditions

Cthulhu Awakens includes various character conditions, shorthand for packages of game mechanics to describe things from being blinded, defenseless, or at a disadvantage, to name a few. These would be easy to import into a Blue Rose game to use for similar quick-use and -reference in play.

Alienation

Whereas Blue Rose has Corruption, Cthulhu Awakens has Alienation, the bending of the human mind towards the inhuman and the alien. It offers inspiration for modifying the Corruption system, or introducing a whole new risk associated with the eldritch arts of sorcery (or other forbidden practices). Both Enlightenment and Terror Stunts offer inspiration for similar sorts of stunts for Blue Rose characters wrestling with the temptations of Corruption and Shadow.

Fortune

Cthulhu Awakens offers an optional version of the Fortune system (which originally appeared in The Expanse RPG) as a replacement for Health, representing more the characters’ ability to evade damage than withstand it. Fortune may suit the often swashbuckling and daring style of Blue Rose and offer a more cinematic and fictionalized approach, wherein it is a character’s importance to the story that determines their survival.

Eldritch Workings

This whole chapter of Cthulhu Awakens offers riches for a Blue Rose game: strange rites that some call “magic” (or “arcana” or “sorcery,” perhaps) with far-reaching effects. Eldritch Workings can greatly expand the strange sciences of sorcery in the game and well suit the practices of the Sorcerer Kings. Some Eldritch Workings might see use even among heroes, although they must beware when learning and using them, just as with sorcery.

The Dreamlands

Material on the Dreamlands literally opens up a whole new world for Blue Rose characters to explore, well suited to the kind of psychic talents much of them possess. Even if you don’t want to use the Mythos Dreamlands wholesale, the rules and guidelines for them can easily be adapted for an Aldean version or similar “psychic plane” where characters can travel and adventure.

Artifacts

“The Mythos is rife with strange artifacts, arcane symbolism, dead languages, incomprehensible geometries, and objects beyond human reckoning.” So Cthulhu Awakens offers numerous strange treasures you can use in your Blue Rose game, many of them suited as artifacts of the Old Kingdom or the Empire of Thorns. Envoys may be dispatched to deal with one or more of these artifacts resurfacing, in the possession of a cult leader, or for-sale in one of the Night Markets of the Silence. The material on dangerous texts well suits treatises on sorcery left behind by corrupt adepts to tempt the unwary.

Entities

Cthulhu Awakens offers a chapter of strange, otherworldy, and hybrid entities easily adapted for use in a Blue Rose game as darkfiends, shadowspawn, or even stranger creatures arrived through a shadowgate from … elsewhere. It also includes numerous people as allies or adversaries, including cultists and eldritch scholars.

The Mythos

Last, but certainly not least, Cthulhu Awakens contains a wealth of information about the Mythos adapted for the Adventure Game Engine, allowing you to include pulp-era, eldritch fantasy elements in your Blue Rose game. Perhaps the Mythos has always been a part of the world of Aldea, or perhaps the shadowgates of the Old Kingdom opened onto … something, something that seeped into the awareness and understanding of those ancient adepts, brought about the rise of the Sorcerer Kings and the Empire of Thorns. Something (or somethings) that slumber still, just waiting for the stars to be right and shadowgates to re-open.

Added Ancestries for the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

BRAG and 5E AncestryOther Fantasy Folk for Aldea

The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide describes the romantic fantasy world of Aldea for Fifth Edition fantasy roleplaying. Aldea is a bit different from some fantasy settings, including the ancestry of its people: the Adventurer’s Guide describes the humans, night people, sea-folk, vata, and the rhydan (psychic awakened animals) of the setting.

Other fantasy folk common to Fifth Edition settings are not found on Aldea, at least by default. A sidebar in the Adventurer’s Guide talks about adding other ancestries to the setting, if you want them, and this Ronin Round Table takes a closer look at how those folk might fit into the world of Blue Rose.

Dwarf

Dwarves are people of the deep earth, their holds often found in the high mountains or deep underground. In Aldea this means ranges like the Ice-Binder Mountains separating Aldis from Kern or perhaps the Golgan Badlands of the mountains near Jarzon. Their elemental associations and the presence of giants might connect with hidden dwarf-holds there as well. Perhaps dwarves once trafficked with the peoples of the surface world, but the rise of the Shadow Lords and their long reign drove the dwarf clans to close and seal the gates of their holds. Only now, centuries later, do they consider returning to the surface, and some dwarves may have changed during their long exile.

Elf

Elves have some similarities to the arcane Vata: both inherently magical and long-lived folk. Perhaps the elves of Aldea are closely related to the Fey described in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide. Since Aldean fey are elemental spirits (not possessed of souls from the Eternal Dance), elves might be something different: fey who are possessed of souls! If souls of the Dance have incarnated as folk with fey heritage, perhaps this indicates some change within the Fey, or a “bridge” of sorts between their Courts and the peoples of Aldea. It would certainly be a momentous development of interest (and concern) to many.

Halfling

Homey and pastoral halflings would find themselves well-suited for life in Aldis. Perhaps there are halfling communities scattered through the fertile hills and valleys of the Sovereignty of the Blue Rose, with other halflings mixed-in with the people dwelling in the great cities and larger towns. Halflings may have always dwelled alongside the different folk of Aldea, or they may have been created by the experiments of the Shadow Lords, similar to night people or vata’sha. In the latter case, halflings may have originally founded their settlements as refugees, giving them a tendency to keep to themselves and an understandable wariness concerning “big-uns” and larger folk. Regardless of their origins, halflings might also dwell in the other lands of Aldea: They make hardy and devout farm-folk for Jarzon, particularly with their own focus on family, and interesting dwellers on the Rezean plains, either as members of the clans or part of their own wandering bands.

Dragonborn

Although Aldea has no (known) true dragons, it does have draconic and reptilian creatures. Aldean dragonborn might be flesh-crafted creations of the Shadow Lords, intended as arcane warriors, now liberated from their rule. They could be descended from otherworldly visitors who arrived through a shadow gate, who have long since lost the world of their birth, or they might be folk of Aldea, arising from the elemental forces of the Golgan Badlands, the Shadow Barrens, or some land far beyond the shores of Aldis and its neighbors. Whatever the case, dragonborn are likely fairly rare and an unusual sight on Aldea. While they might experience some polite curiosity in Aldis, dragonborn are likely to have a more difficult time in Jarzon, where they’re likely to be mistaken for shadowspawn, or in Kern, where they’re likely to be forced into the service of the Regents or simply killed out of hand as a potential threat.

Gnome

Like dwarves, gnomes might have hidden themselves underground for some time following the rise of the Shadow Lords, such that they have become only legends by the modern age of Aldea. With their talents for artifice and illusion, gnomes could easily remain hidden, only now returning to deal with the other folk of the world. Gnomes fit right in to both the pastoral and urban aspects of Aldis and of Jarzon. Their ability to communicate with certain animals may make them friends and allies of the rhydan, at least of the small and burrowing sort, and they might dwell alongside them in their communities.

Half-Orc

Half-orcs imply the existence of orcs, which also don’t exist on Aldea. Their role in the world is largely assumed by the night people, the occult creations of the Shadow Lords. True half-orcs on Aldea might be visitors from other planes (via shadow gate) or descendants of other experiments or cross-breeding programs initiated by the Shadow Lords, with similar reactions from the nations and peoples of Aldea as to the night people.

Alternately, half-orcs on Aldea might not be “half” anything, but a unique people unto themselves. They might easily have come into being in the rugged mountains, the haunted lands of Drunac, the Shadow Barrens, or the Plains of Rezea, to name a few, and be as populous as you wish in your own setting.

Half-Elf

If there are elves on Aldea, then there may also be half-elves, or at least folk of mixed human and Fey ancestry. In some regards, half-elves would be much like the vata, descendants of human and vatasin ancestors. If there are no Fey with souls (as described under Elves, previously) then it is possible all elves have a mix of human and fey ancestry, with half-elves more equally in-between the two and elves favoring their fey heritage, along with a few of mixed ancestry who have the abilities of humans (perhaps variant humans with a particular feat or other unusual “talent”).

Tiefling

Tieflings are certain to be an oddity on Aldea. The only fiends known there are the darkfiends of Shadow, and any ensouled folk who can claim ancestry to them will be a test of Aldin inclusiveness indeed! Given the long reign of the Shadow Lords, it may well be that tieflings are descendants of ancestors who practiced the occult or otherwise trafficked with darkfiends and the powers of Shadow, now manifest in their heritage. Of course, tieflings are ensouled beings with free will, so they can choose their alignment and their behavior. That won’t stop some from considering them inherently corrupted by Shadow, however, just like night people, vata’sha, and others, perhaps even more so. Tieflings are likely to be persecuted and openly killed in Jarzon, feared and sought in Kern, but treated fairly for the most part in Aldis and Rezea, in spite of the ignorant few who mistrust them because of their heritage.

…and Beyond!

Who knows what other folk might dwell on Aldea, housing the souls of the Eternal Dance in endless varieties of form? You can bring almost any ancestry you wish to your Blue Rose setting, keeping in mind the following avenues:

  • An ancestry might have arrived on Aldea via shadow-gate from a far-off land or other plane. Depending on how long ago that was, they might be populous and well-integrated into the present day lands or relative newcomers.
  • Many ancestries might have arisen as experiments of the Shadow Lords during their rule, now free of their occult overlords to determine their own destinies. Such folk may find others prejudiced against their origins, but enlightened and fair-minded people in the world know better.
  • Finally, you can simply decide any added ancestries have always existed on Aldea, created by the gods alongside all of the other peoples to preserve the souls of the Eternal Dance. In this case, you may want to consider the roles the ancestry has played in this history of Aldea, where they are most commonly found, and what other folk tend to think about them.

And while we’re at it, hey did you know that Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide already has two adventures you can run for the game?
Be sure to check out Flight of the Snow Pearl and The Night Market in our online store, or on DrivethruRPG!