Threefold and the Future of Modern AGE

Threefold is in stores now, though you can of course get it from us, too. I’ve used a lot of words to, frankly, sell you on this setting, for my selfish advantage and because I think you’ll really like it. I like to think it has a thematic core that comparable wide-open settings lack. Threefold is about the power of souls—sapient thought—to steer history, in spite of various catastrophes and other mighty forces that stand in the way. We are more powerful than we think.

Where you go next is entirely up to you. We’ve just given you a map.

As you can tell, I’m invested in this setting. What does that mean for Modern AGE? Is it all Threefold, all the time now? No—and yes! It’s a complicated answer based on how I plan to structure Modern AGE releases.

Threefold is our “flagship” setting, where we’ll provide multi-book support. That starts with Five and Infinity, an adventure book coming in 2020 that is currently awaiting final drafts. Further support will follow, including books providing deeper detail into the setting’s main factions.

Our very next Modern AGE book, Enemies & Allies, isn’t strongly tied to any particular setting. It’s a book of Non-Player Characters and creatures divided into modern fantasy, horror, modern thriller, crime, and near future science fiction categories. However, it is designed to be completely compatible with Threefold, and one of that setting’s elements, the hidden nation of Invindara, was originally devised for Enemies & Allies by author (and now, Fifth Season Roleplaying Game developer) Tanya DePass, and appears in both books. You can enjoy Enemies & Allies without needing Threefold at all. It’s currently in layout.

Future Modern AGE books that aren’t tied to any setting may or may not have a special connection to Threefold. The Modern AGE Mastery Guide, due next year (and currently going through first drafts) won’t. In any event, we remain committed to offering you tools to build and customize your own settings. This is what books like the Mastery Guide and the already-released Modern AGE Companion are all about.

Furthermore, we’ll be doing more settings ourselves. Ideally, I’d like to have three additional original settings besides Threefold. These will not get Threefold’s “flagship” support (well, unless one really takes off!), but will provide comprehensive treatment in a single book. And we are definitely not averse to doing more licensed projects like The World of Lazarus. Modern AGE will never be tied down to a specific setting, and while Threefold provides a focus to the game, it will never be the only universe we explore.

As you can see, Modern AGE’s support plans are expansive, and follow a more aggressive schedule than you may have anticipated. But like all statements about the future, sales, the state of the industry, and what I’m doing can all change how it’s going to go. But this is the way it looks right now, and I feel pretty good about it. There’s more coming for Threefold but there’s more coming beyond it, too. And next time I step up to talk about a book, it’s probably going to be Enemies & Allies. Until then, play well, and talk about what you’re doing with Modern AGE on all the platforms you like. In our setting or yours, I love to see you play. Cheers!

GMing Threefold with Speculative Fantasy

Not too long ago I said I’d talk about Threefold’s speculative fantasy concept. What is it? While you can play any genre in this vast Modern AGE setting, we wanted to create a distinct default way to run the game.

More planes, more problems—if interesting ones.

 

Speculative fantasy describes Threefold’s ability to ask, “What if?”—what if Earth were just one of many worlds? What if the multiverse theory was demonstrably true? Threefold explores experiences radically different from our own and encourages players to dig into a vast playground of discovery. It brings real world mythology and folklore to life, blending legends together and giving them unique twists to keep them fresh and alive with possibility.

What If?

The heart of a speculative fantasy scenario involves taking that “What if?” and making it the central problem of a scenario. Threefold creates speculative fantasy set pieces through its various planes and factions. For instance, in my current game, characters passed through a plane filled with ruins, where each scattered band of survivors thought the others, and any visitors, were the enemies who’d destroyed its former civilization. While my players were just passing through, they had to deal with this problem by making it clear they were newcomers. If they’d dug deeper, they’d have to figure out how to build trust between these communities and investigate where their perceptions of each other came from. Was it a psychic weapon? An ancient betrayal? Answering these questions and putting the information to use would resolve the conflict.

Threefold comes with an introductory adventure: “Identity,” by Jamie Wood. It’s meant to demonstrate this approach in action, as heroes untangle questions of rights and personhood. It’s the sort of scenario we often find in classic episodic science fiction. In some cases, this means you can use allegory to explore real world issues. Whether you do so, however, is entirely up to you.

Classic but Strange

One of the great things about speculative fantasy is that strange problems are often variations of normal ones, by allegory, as above, or through other extensions on more common stories. For example, Romeo and Juliet is a classic story, but it turns bigger and weirder when the lovers from rival houses are Optimates: aristocratic demigods who rule the Divine Empire. Not only must characters deal with superpowered relatives but ask themselves what it means in the context of the Empire, a tyranny reigning over multiple planes. Does healing the breach between two houses risk making the Empire harder to oppose? Can they persuade the lovers to rebel against the source of their own privilege?

Such dilemmas are part and parcel of speculative fantasy play. Should Aethon agents comply with requests to delete an alternate Earth developing apocalyptic weapons, if most of the population has no idea what’s going on? Who is most entitled to a geomantic place of power on Earth? If a god returns to rule their people, should characters stand by while the population rejects the fairer institutions they’ve built for themselves?

Of course, characters need ideological and moral stances to work from. This is why Threefold provides two factions with different belief systems for characters to work with, in agreement or defiance. The explorers of the Sodality represent idealism and have set policies about what their organization considers right and wrong. Aethon’s spies and paramilitary forces represent a more pragmatic point of view. In the end, of course Modern AGE character drives and personal beliefs decide the course of action.

Get Speculating Now

Threefold is out now, for order in our store, at your local gaming establishment, or at DriveThruRPG. Chapter 9 digs into the speculative fantasy concept further, and of course this is just one facet of a very big setting. Later this year, we’ll provide further Modern AGE support with Enemies & Allies, a book of creatures, Non-Player Characters and guidance for making your own friends and foes. Enemies & Allies is suitable for all Modern AGE games, but was designed to not contradict Threefold, making it fully compatible with this flagship setting.

Until next time? Play well in any world you choose.

Pit of Vipers: A Blue Rose Novella by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.

Pit of Vipers, a Blue Rose novella by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.Today we are pleased to present a new Blue Rose novella, Pit of Vipers by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.

Following the events of Shadowtide, Pit of Vipers returns to the mud-choked streets of Serpent’s Haven, where power struggles and betrayal are more common than clean water. Spry Robin returns home to fulfill a promise, but finds himself in the middle of a dark conspiracy. He and Ydah will need all their cunning and connections to get out of this pit alive.

Your Pit of Vipers download will include epub, mobi, and pdf formats, all for just $4.95.

Ronin Round Table: Pit of Vipers

Sometimes, stories don’t tie up as neatly as we might like.

In February, we released Shadowtide, the first novel from Nisaba Press set in Green Ronin’s Blue Rose game setting. Shadowtide’s story focuses on a trio of the Sovereign’s Finest who are far from home in the hive of scum and smugglers known as Serpent’s Haven. The story follows this trio as well as the various friends, lovers, and family they meet along the way. Though Shadowtide’s narrative is complete within the novel, there are threads aplenty to be picked up by future novels, as well.

While working on my edits, Jaym Gates pointed out a certain element of the story that felt unfinished. Without going into spoilers, our heroes promised to help some new friends to get out of the dangerous Serpent’s Haven. Unfortunately, with the way things worked out, it was impossible for them to do that. Our heroes returned home to Aldis to lick their wounds and grieve their losses, forced to leave those friends behind—but in the Kingdom of the Blue Rose, our heroes keep their promises and don’t leave their friends behind, at least not without doing something about it.

And that is how Pit of Vipers came to be. Releasing this week, Pit of Vipers is an e-book only novella featuring the night woman envoy Ydah and her return (with her new apprentice envoy) to Serpent’s Haven in order to set things right…though they learn that not all has been quiescent in their time away.

 

Pit of Vipers will be available later this week, but you can order your own copy of Shadowtide: A Blue Rose novel, right here! (also available in digital formats.)

Also be sure to check out A Guide to Shadowtide, a free PDF supplement for the Blue Rose AGE RPG, and Shadowtide: Recipes from Aldea by Jess Hartley!

Threefold, a setting for Modern AGE: Available Now!

If you pre-ordered Threefold, the brand new setting for Modern AGE, your order is on it’s way! You can also find Threefold in the finest of friendly local gaming stores everywhere this week!

Curious about what this new setting entails? Check out our series of articles by Modern AGE developer, Malcolm Sheppard.

Threefold

Beyond the modern world, with its magical and technological secrets, other planes of existence beckon. Gates connect alternate Earths to mystic Otherworlds and demon-ruled Netherworlds. Will their threefold secrets bring hope or horror? That’s for your heroes to decide. Threefold is a new original setting for the Modern AGE roleplaying game, designed to support adventures using virtually any genre or character type all within the same grand Metacosm. Explore and protect countless worlds as a member of the interplanar Sodality, or manipulate bizarre alternate histories as a cyborg agent of Aethon. Heroes contend with everything from soul-stealing criminals, to transplanar empires. Threefold requires the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook.

 

 

 

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

Threefold: Rivals in the Metacosm

Over a number of Threefold articles, we looked at the Sodality, who explore this Modern AGE setting’s countless planes, and Aethon, who deal with threats to the progress of Earth’s history. These groups are especially suitable for Player Characters but aren’t the only possibilities. More to the point, they don’t operate without opposition. While potential adversary groups can come in many sizes, today we’ll look at rivals who rule great clusters of planes: the tyrannical Divine Empire, and the warlike Nighthost.

The Nighthost gathers. Composed of many peoples, the Nighthost discriminates only on the basis of martial strength, and unites to liberate Netherworlds, and conquer Otherworlds.

The Divine Empire

At the end of the great Fellwar for the Metacosm’s souls, most of the Hierarchs, gods who’d instigated the war, went into exile, while mortal survivors founded the Vitane, an interplanar government. Many members of the Vitane were Optimates: half mortal children of the Hierarchs, akin to demigods and legendary heroes. Under the old order they were used to privileges and formed the Imperial Party to argue for their renewal. Meeting with little success within the Vitane, Dyraza, a thunder and sky Optimate and leader of the Imperial Party, masterminded coups on over a dozen planes, declaring herself the Empress of the new Divine Empire. Under her direction, the Empire built an Optimate aristocracy of Prefects, a ruling council called the Pantheon, a Curia of worshipful mortals, and other institutions over 199 years of rule. This period of rapid expansion was significantly slowed by her death. In apparent retribution for campaigns ranging into the Netherworlds, Dyraza was assassinated by Avakim, Alastor Lord of Dust, in an incursion into the Empire’s capital plane of Alatum.

Now entrenched by the following centuries, Divine Empire is ruled with an iron hand by Optimate aristocrats. These include the planar Dominii who populate the Pantheon, and regional Prefects and Subprefects. The Empire demands mortal worship of the Optimates and their Emanate ancestors. This is overseen by the Curia, an assembly of priests and anointed arcanists. Where they fail to sway the commoners, a vast network of spies informs the authorities of disloyalty and intimidates everyone they might report for impiety or treason. The mass of mortal commoners is divided among true believers who tolerate their inferior position in the Empire, and small revolutionary cells. The Sodality is often assumed to support an anti-Imperial insurgency, but few are can verify or deny these allegations.

The Nighthost

Born to fight and blooded in the endless battles of the Fellwar, the predecessors of the Nighthost were the terror of the planes. As the Fellwar ended, many Netherworld warriors fled their masters, conquered Otherworlds, and founded an alliance of warlords and mercenaries ruled by thanes who can only be overthrown by sufficiently honorable challengers. As the Nighthost, these rebels founded a new home plane. This is the Fetter, a liberated Netherworld, where they built tribes, cities, and nations under the leadership of the Unchallenged, elders renowned for their deeds. Some say the Nighthost is secretly ruled their old demonic gods, who are marshaling their forces for a final war. But as their forbears were twisted and tormented by these Alastors, the Nighthost bears no love for their ancestral masters. Their ethos is founded in freedom through strength.

The Nighthost has never forgotten how in the aftermath of the Fellwar, the Otherworlds’ inhabitants branded their kind beasts, monsters, and craven slaves of horrific gods. Former soldiers of the Alastors were outcasts on nearly every plane. Only the Nighthost accepted and trusted them. And once given, trust should never be betrayed. To a warrior of the Nighthost, honor is everything, instilled from the moment of birth to their dying breath. Therefore, even as their armies conquer plane after plane and install thanes to rule the defeated natives, they moderate their cruelty with an ethos that grants power to the deserving.

Sodality members most often encounter the Nighthost’s warbands: small groups of soldiers who fill the same strategic niche as the Sodality’s Missions. Warbands have primarily military aims but are neither ignorant nor aimlessly violent. Their members are often as learned and clever as their Sodality counterparts.

Speculative Fantasy?

Oh right! Last time I said I’d talk about that. Well, I changed my mind; it’s coming next time. You can preorder Threefold now with the PDF add-on or get it in PDF to read about the concept in detail yourself or wait for its street date: September 3rd!

Sacred Band: Nisaba Press Acquires “Kirkus’s Best Indie Debuts, 2017” Series

Nisaba Press Acquires “Kirkus’s Best Indie Debuts, 2017” Series, Sacred Band

The alchemy between the characters’ chemistry, the story’s action, and the world’s pressing—and sometimes painful—similarities to our own make the book nearly impossible to put down.

An engaging story that punches, kicks, and takes flight, just like its heroes. – Kirkus Reviews (https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/joseph-d-carriker-jr/sacred-band2/)

Author Joseph Carriker’s LGBTQ+ superhero series has been acquired for 2020 rerelease by Nisaba Press. Originally published through Lethe Press, Sacred Band received much critical acclaim and named one of the “Best Indie Debuts” of 2017 by Kirkus Review, and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.

Sacred Band tells the story of a team of LGBTQ+ superpowered individuals set in a post-superheroic world. When no one in charge is taking the disappearance of queer and other marginalized folk from around the world seriously, this team bands together to do it themselves. They find themselves facing down official scrutiny even while racing against the sinister conspiracy that is steps ahead of them and closing in on their goal.

Sacred Band will be released with a new cover, and will be followed by its sequel, Twilight Venture, in 2021. After the very public revelation of the Band’s existence the year before, they’ve found themselves watched carefully, both by suspicious governments and by adoring fans. Struggling with both sides of this scrutiny, the team is about to discover the sinister means that have kept other superhero teams from forming in the past. Are they up to the challenge, and does anyone have their back?

“Nisaba’s dedication to exploring worlds that are not only full of adventure, but also very diverse, makes them an incredible fit for Sacred Band,” author Joseph Carriker said. “I’m very grateful for the faith Nisaba has expressed in Sacred Band, and look forward to working with them to bring these stories of a team of queer superheroes to readers.”

About the Author

Joseph Carriker has been playing roleplaying games for over thirty years now, and making them professionally for almost twenty. He has also written Shadowtide, a tie-in fiction novel set in the world of Green Ronin’s Blue Rose, which follows a band of adventurers rooting out the evil threatening their homeland. Joseph lives in Portland, Oregon with his poly constellation family, and likes to think he does his part in helping to Keep Portland Weird.

https://www.patreon.com/oakthorne

About Nisaba

Nisaba Press is the fiction imprint of industry veteran Green Ronin Publishing. Founded to bring to life fiction set in the vibrant worlds of Green Ronin’s original and licensed IPs, Sacred Band is Nisaba’s debut into non-IP fiction. Current Nisaba titles include Shadowtide, Height of the Storm, Tales of the Lost Citadel, and the short fiction digital quarterly, Nisaba Journal.

Sacred Band Lethe Press edition cover. Right-click to download larger version. [Image Description: Stylized words SACRED BAND above two men, one in blue and silver skin-tight superhero suit, the other in red and black superhero suit with round lens, red glass welding goggles on forehead and spinning small, glowing red spheres around upraised left hand.]

Sacred Band Lethe Press edition cover. Right-click to download larger version. [Image Description: Stylized words SACRED BAND above two men, one in blue and silver skin-tight superhero suit, the other in red and black superhero suit with round lens, red glass welding goggles on forehead and spinning small, glowing red spheres around upraised left hand.]

Nisaba Journal Issue 3 (PDF, mobi, epub)

Nisaba Journal Issue 3Nisaba Journal Issue 3 is now available for purchase and download. For $6.99 you get three formats: PDF, epub, and mobi.

Nisaba Journal

Open the Nisaba Journal and immerse yourself in original fiction gathered from your favorite worlds. Issue 3 collects five tales from two of Green Ronin’s most popular settings—Blue Rose and Mutants & Masterminds—and offers ideas for incorporating the heroes, villains, and adventures from the stories into the ones you tell in your own campaigns.

Featured Stories 

Blue Rose:

“Nearly Perfect,” by F. Wesley Schneider

Whoever said your lover should never change you might not have had flesh-shaping arcana at their fingertips.

“Those Who Wait, Part 4,” by Rhiannon Louve

Marn and Kiyn continue trying to unravel the corruption spreading through Aldis while dealing with their feelings for each other.

“The Price of Mercy, Part 2,” by Clio Yun-Su Davis

Family and obligation continue to clash even beyond death and freedom.

“The Rhy-Horse,” by A. B. Neilly

A lonely young rhydan, burdened by the expectations of his herd, finds his bonded companion, but deadly trouble is brewing.

Mutants & Masterminds:

“A Great Day for Trepidation,” by Eytan Bernstein

Kevin’s built a team, and now the bad guys are coming for them.

Pick up Nisaba Journal Issue 3 today!

Height of the Storm, A New Mutants & Masterminds Novel

Height of the Storm cover imageHeight of the Storm by Aaron Rosenberg is a new Mutants & Masterminds novel from Nisaba Press, available for preorder and in three formats of ebook (epub, mobi, and PDF), in our Green Ronin Online Store.

Lindsey’s life changed the night she saw her beloved grandfather in his superhero guise for the first time. It changed again the day she got caught in a strange storm, and she took up her grandfather’s mantle as a protector. Diagnosed at a young age with a rare chronic illness, she must balance her family’s protectiveness against her desire to carry on their legacy and prevent a bitter genius from taking revenge on those who slighted him.

Height of the Storm is the first novel to explore Earth-Prime, the setting of the hit superhero RPG Mutants & Masterminds.

 

About the Author

Aaron Rosenberg, authorAaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob SF comedy series, the Dread Remora space-opera series, the Relicant epic fantasy series with Steve Savile, and the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series with David Niall Wilson. Aaron’s tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, World of WarCraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Shadowrun, Eureka, and more. He has written children’s books (including the original series STEM Squad and Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles, the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books on a variety of topics, and over seventy roleplaying games (such as the original games Asylum, Spookshow, and Chosen, work for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, and many others, and both the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets and the Gold ENnie-winning Lure of the Lich Lord). He is the co-creator of the ReDeus series, and a founding member of Crazy 8 Press. Aaron lives in New York with his family. You can follow him online at gryphonrose. com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.

Nisaba Press

Nisaba Press is the fiction imprint of Green Ronin Publishing, under the leadership of Editorial Director Jaym Gates. Nisaba publishes novels, anthologies, and nonfiction tied to the rich and varied worlds of Green Ronin’s tabletop roleplaying properties and the larger world of tabletop gaming. With the release of Joseph D. Carriker’s Shadowtide and Aaron Rosenberg’s Height of the Storm, Nisaba Press brings a new facet to Green Ronin’s award-winning worlds.