Orktoberfest: Magic of the Orks!

One of the new things about Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition is the role of magic. Ork!’s mastermind, Todd Miller, requested that this edition include better rules for magic. Previously, magic was mostly left to the Orkmaster, who used it as an excuse to have village warlocks (then called shamans—we changed the terminology to something less problematic for the new edition) relentlessly bully players’ orks. In those rules, warlocks could do anything, and orks just had to suck it up! Plus, there were some magic trinkets available.

Not everyone benefits from “material components”

 

Go Ahead and Try! Heh, Heh.

The new edition has really taken it to the next level. Does this mean a new limit on the warlock’s ork-oppressing mystic might? Nope! Warlocks can still do whatever the Orkmaster thinks they can. This is because Krom, the fearsome god of the orks, trusts warlocks enough to let them reshape the cosmic energy he left around. What’s new is that now, any ork can try to cast spells by following a few simple steps and making a Magic roll.

As you might guess, orks aren’t the most studious creatures around, even if a place with the words “hog” and “wort” in it sounds like somewhere orks should go, to admire architecture, eat centaurs, and possibly vape something called a “huff-a-puff,” which for litigation related reasons I may be misremembering the name for. So, all ork magic is improvised. The prospective spell-ork needs ingredients, such as something he must do, a place he must cast at, or an item he needs to have. The number of ingredients is one per rank of the spell, going from Minor to Moderate and Major. Describe what the spell does, let the Orkmaster assign its rank get the right ingredients for it, and roll some dice!

Krom’s Curse!

There’s just one problem: Krom does not trust orks with magic. While Krom vomited up the whole universe, not all of it is under his complete control. (Even whispering this is blasphemy, and a warlock will turn you into a pine cone for mentioning it!) Magic’s the errant lint, dust, goo, and forgotten crowdfunding rewards which clutter up the cosmos. Krom’s too busy tormenting orks and looking impressive to clean it all up, but he doesn’t want orks rummaging through it either. Thus, when an ork tries to use magic, he suffers Krom’s Curse! Manifestations of the curse rage from growing an unwanted beard to being crushed by an enormous foot green foot tattooed with the cryptic rune, ™. The more powerful the spell, the bigger the curse, and failed spellcasting rolls get the worst curses of all! Fortunately, ork points can be used to partially reduce the effects of Krom’s Curse.

As noted, warlocks can still do whatever they want. Warlocks aren’t subject to Krom’s Curse because they’re loyal and have been taught Things Most Orks Are Am Not Meant to Know. The Orkmaster decided what they can and can’t do, though some things, like making magic items, is a special warlock ability, not available to spell-slinging common orks. Plus, other beings—disgusting non-orks!—seem to be able to make items, and even use magic without drawing Krom’s Curse. Orks don’t know what this is. Could it be the human god, Cromus, who of course has nothing to do with Krom, so shut up, making a different deal with his people? Who knows?

Prizes

On the topic of magic items, Ork! has plenty of them, from the magic tattoo of the Iron Bird to autogyros and dread magic spears. Activating some of these items also requires a Magic roll, and sometimes draws Krom’s Curse, but this is milder and less frequent, in exchange for potent but limited benefits—and the constant risk another ork will hit the owner over the head and take it. Items are daily (meaning they can be used a listed number of times per day), munchies (they get used up, like cookies and your good friend’s beers), futzy (these work every 2d4 hours) and always (lo and behold, these work all the time!).

Sample Magic Item: Grovel Stick

Daily (3×) • Krom Dice: 3d6

This short staff is carved with strange warlocky symbols and has mojo written all over it. It can be used as a club with a damage rating of 1, but that’s not its main function. No, the grovel stick is not an ordinary weapon of war. It reminds upstart orks who the boss is. The fact that its ability also works on squishy and sour men is a big plus. If the wielder of the grovel stick hits an opponent in hand-to-hand combat, he can choose to activate the magic rather than inflict damage. If the magic works, the victim falls to the ground and grovels uncontrollably for 1d4 rounds. Even if attacked, the victim continues to grovel. Never mind that orks can’t understand squishy men; groveling transcends language.

 

Next Time!

Ork!: The Roleplaying Game is shipping now! Next week we’ll be in November, and I’ll put a capstone on this series, giving you a full rundown of the contents. Happy Halloween—it’s an ork-worthy affair!

 

Orktoberfest: Pleasing Krom—and Cheating Him!

This past couple of Orktoberfest weeks we’ve talked about the basics of Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition (Pre-Order Link!), starting with Frequent Ork Questions (the FOrkQ) and moving to the core system, where you battle a god, and combat, glorious combat! Now in this and previous Ork! articles we’ve tried to get across a certain vibe, where the game is supposed to be goofy, fun, and open-ended, but some of you will still want to ask dumb questions like, “How does the system address the narrative premise?” Smart things like this sound like science, which in Ork! is traditionally punished by murderous, anti-science trolls. (In the rough and tumble World of Orkness, only trolls, with their entirely fictional ability to regenerate, can get away with anti-science beliefs that keep them from vaccinating their troll-cubs. The rest of you, vaccinate your kids!)

HE KNOWS

Nevertheless, this question has a two-pronged (two-tusked?) answer! We have ork points, the carrots, and Cheats, the sticks that look like carrots. Let’s talk about how these rules work.

Ork Points

Krom is almost always watching! Remember, the god of the Orks treats his creations with amused animosity. He wants orks to get into trouble, but also roots for them if they solve problems in the most orky ways possible, with brute force, ignorance and a bit of barbaric panache. The criteria are simple in description yet vast in creative depth, for the Orkmaster (the Game Master of Ork!) represents Krom at the table, and if they’re amused, Krom is amused! Thus, to represent Krom’s fleeting favor, the Orkmaster hands out ork points.

Ork points have several applications. They can make actions more effective, heal damage, and be spent to avoid Krom’s Curse when orks dabble in magic. The Orkmaster should grant ork points frequently, and players should spend them almost as frequently—and we say almost, because there may be a catch. You can also use ork points to add permanent improvements to your ork, but in the meanest, most classically orkish Ork! games you must choose between spending them on the spot and saving them to advance. This simulates the instant gratification temptations felt by all orks, and how it leads to bad decisions. However, we know this is just too much for some groups, so this hardcore option is presented alongside another, where you can still use ork points you spent in advancement. The Orkmaster picks which option they want for their campaign.

Cheats

One of the new things in this edition is character Cheats. In Ork! a Cheat can be seen in part as a counterpart to the specializations characters in other RPGs develop, but let’s face it: No ork ever learned the Quivering Palm after dedicated training. Orks are not studious but boy, are they ever stubborn—so stubborn, in fact, that in one subject dear to their hearts, they will themselves to overcome Krom’s opposition. In fact, they steal power from Krom!

To make a Cheat, you take a skill and define one subcategory of what it can do, such as swinging one type of weapon or using the Jock skill to climb. When it’s time to use that subcategory, your Cheat lets you steal dice from Krom to make things easier. When the opponent is Krom himself, via environmental hazards, you take dice from the number you’re rolling against and add them to your own. Against enemies, you grab Krom dice from thin air to add to the number you roll. Defiance and might! YEARGH!

Is there a catch. Oh yeah. You see, if you Cheat, Krom eventually notices the discrepancy and takes those dice back, to add to roll opposing yours later. The Orkmaster is encouraged to build a little pile of these dice in front of each player. When it amuses Krom, the Orkmaster grabs those dice and rolls them alongside them normal difficulty dice, so rolling against 4d6 can turn into rolling against 9d6, if a foolish player accumulated five Cheat dice. Cheating creates natural comeuppances, which is also very much in keeping with Ork!

You Am Do Anything

Next week: Magic!

Orktoberfest: Combat!

Let’s talk about the most important system in all roleplaying games: Combat! Okay, maybe not all roleplaying games. Maybe you play games where it’s all Angsty Debate Team or you roll for self-actualization. Ork! The Roleplaying Game (Like goes to pre-order: KROM DEMANDS PRE-ORDER) brings you back to your senses, filling them with a red haze and the ripping meat sounds of glorious battle.

Combat in Ork! is simple but atmospheric. Because it’s easy and game designers are lazy, fighting is an extension of the core rules, which I covered last week. Ork! uses opposed rolls for everything. Your ork’s basic attribute (like Meat, measuring general physical ability) gets a die type—the bigger the die the better—and your skill rating determines how many dice you roll. If the challenge is environmental, you roll against Krom, the merciless ork god who vomited up the world. If the challenge is another creature, you roll against it.

Thus, combat is a series of opposed rolls against whoever you want to wallop. You do as much damage as the points by which your roll exceeded your target’s. Add bonus damage for a weapon. The enemy’s armor reduces damage. One roll and it’s all done!

GLORIOUS!

Things You Am Do in Combat

Ork! isn’t particularly tactical, because orks aren’t tactical. They’re creatures of high aggression, low cunning, and constant hunger. This means many of the tactically oriented stuff found in other games works differently.

Movement: Ork! uses rough distances, ranging from Right Here (you can hit someone because they’re Right Here) to Over There (you have to hustle over, then hit them) to Far Away (it takes a round to get to them), Too Far (it would take more time) and Way Too Far (throw something instead!). These have real feet-based measurements, but the point is that the Orkmaster can use natural language instead of getting out a ruler.

Ranged Combat: Roll Aim (used for missile weapons and winning bets about who can hit a roosting pterosaur with a thrown pine cone) against the opponent’s Duck (the skill of being sneaky and getting out of the way). If the opponent is past the weapon’s short range, has a shield, or is hard to see, they get bonus die to their Duck roll. Easy!

Other Stuff: Combat includes rules for Attacks of Orkitunity (hitting cowards who try to get away!), sneak attacking and riding dinosaurs into battle. It has rules for Crunchies—pathetic enemies with just 1 Wound to make you feel mighty—and mobs, which is what happens when Crunchies gang up.

Big Hits!

“Critical hits” sounds too technical for a game where your character dreams of killing the stupid sun. Ork! has big hits instead. You score a big hit when you don’t need all your dice to succeed. If you rolled a 7, 8, and 3 on 3d10 against your opponent total of 14, the 7+8 you rolled, making 15, is enough. You didn’t need the 3—and you can use that to pick a big hit. The Orkmaster can make big hits up, but the game as a decent list.

Example Big Hit—Dis’Arm: Orks have heard the term “disarm” and assume it refers to their favored tactic of depriving an enemy of the use of a limb: twisting until it snaps, crackles, and pops; hitting it with a blade, bludgeon, or thrown rock; or biting it really hard. Your enemy can’t use of the limb until they succeed at an Endure roll versus 3d6 Krom dice. Roll this once per round immediately after the victim’s turn until they succeed. It doesn’t use up the victim’s action.

If the Dis’Arm happens as part of an attack that drops the enemy to 0 Wounds, the Orkmaster may allow you to chop or rip the target limb clean off! Now you have a gross club.

(Yes, there are rules for reattaching severed limbs. Got a nail gun?)

Defeat!

Characters in Ork! have a Wounds score, which works like the classic get-hit-lose-points-yeah-basically-hit-points system you know from other games. Unlike other games though, Wounds represent a general resistance to being physically defeated. This is a cheap trick that gets us out of designing stupid rules for “grappling,” “overbearing,” and so forth. How you beat up the enemy is entirely descriptive, and these descriptions are frequently vague, and full of yelling. What matters is how you intend to crush your enemy!

Therefore, dropping to 0 Wounds brings about the option of death, but it can also be used to indicate capture, maiming or just getting knocked out. As a side effect, the Orkmaster can refrain from killing orks outright until it would be really, really funny. This often happens sooner than you think, so beware anyway!

Me Am Not Die. Me Am Cheat!

Cheating Krom is a special system orks have to stave off doom in exchange for bigger doom. It and ork points are the high-falutin’ tone-reinforcin’ meta-systems of the game, and we’ll talk about them next week. Aaaargh!

Orktoberfest: Ork’s System!

Naturally, one of the biggest chapters in Ork! The Roleplaying Game is combat. We’re not going to pretend otherwise. Ork! is a game that unflinchingly tells you the truth: Combat is the most important system in roleplaying games! ARRRRRGH!

Accurate representation of Ork!’s game system in action.

Accurate representation of Ork!’s game system in action.

Ahem. Yet we understand you might want to identify stupid plants or sneak up on people (hopefully, to beat them up, leading to combat) or even—and this is not a good idea if you’re an ork—use magic. So, this week we’ll look at Ork!’s core rules.

The Core Rules: You Am Fight Krom!

For the lowly ork, each day is a struggle against other orks, squishy men, and, in a larger sense, Krom—wrathful, easily bored god of the orks—himself. This constant state of conflict is reflected in the following golden rule:

All dice checks in Ork! are opposed!

Many roleplaying games use what’s called a “target number” system where the benevolent game master decides the objective difficulty of a given task, and the player only needs to meet or exceed this target number to complete the task. Such sys­tems are for the weak. In Ork!, the Orkmaster represents Krom himself, and even the simplest task requires the player to dice off with Krom to get his way!

Orks roll a number of dice equal to their skill rating, which is usually between 1 (ork sucks) and 5 (ork rocks!). The better the attribute linked to the skill (attributes are Meat, Bones, Twitch, and Mojo) the bigger the dice (d4 to d12). So, a strong but callow young ork might roll 1d10 (skill 1, Meat d10) to whack somebody, while his smaller but more experienced counterpart rolls 3d8 (skill 3, Meat d8).

If the ork is going against a live opponent—somebody to beat up or outrun—that roll is opposed by the enemy’s roll. Against environmental and other stuff, the enemy is the world—and the god who made it, Krom! The number of dice you roll for Krom depends on how much he approves of what the ork is about to do, or how much failure would amuse him, and therefore the Orkmaster. This difficulty rating is Krom’s Favor, rated in the accompanying table.

Krom’s Favor

Krom’s Attitude Type of Action Krom Dice
Krom Am Resting His Eye Very Easy 1d6
Krom Approves Easy 2d6
Krom Am Not Care Average 3d6
Krom Am Annoyed Difficult 4d6
Krom Dislikes You Very Difficult 5d6
Krom Am Want You Dead! Extremely Difficult 6d6 and up!

We recommend d6 for Krom dice, though you can change the die type if Krom is feeling particularly nasty or uninterested. A mean Orkmaster might use d10s, while a complete weakling who smells like flowers after a spring rain would use d4s.

In the event of a tie, the aggressor wins! You always want to be the one acting in Ork!, not the wimpy defender! If you’re not sure who that is, the Orkmaster decides.

Beyond Stupid Basics!

Beyond the framing (ork versus Krom!), Ork!’s core system favors intuitive ease over showing off our game design chops. Yet, we do have an assortment of the stupid game system tricks you, the discerning consumer, have come to expect from modern roleplaying games. These include:

Cheats: When Krom isn’t paying attention, you can steal dice from him and add them to your own! Unfortunately, Krom is a god, and eventually figures it out, punishing you accordingly.

Ork Points: You get these when you act in an especially orky way, such as eating a face or engaging in axe-based art criticism. These give you ork points, which you can use for a bunch of benefits, from healing to cool tricks in combat.

Combat: Ork’s Combat chapter is the most important thing in the book! It has extra rules for everything from severing limbs to impromptu combat-oriented dinosaur taming. Lots to talk about, so we’ll get to it next week.

You Am Buy Ork When?

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition is currently doing the warehouse to warehouse dance and gets into stores this month. You can still pre-order here and get the PDF right away as a $5 add on (or just get the PDF—see the link in the link above). See you next week!

Orktoberfest Begins with: The FOrkQ

We’re known for many, many different games, from Mutants and Masterminds to Adventure Game Engine system releases like Fantasy AGE, Blue Rose, and Modern AGE, but the oldest game in the lot got submerged beneath it all—until now. I’m talking about Ork! The Roleplaying Game, which ships a new edition into retail channels this month! As last-leg developer of the game I’ve blogged about it from time to time. It’s taken 18 years to get around to releasing a new edition, so this month we’re going to celebrate by talking your Krom-damned ears off (in text, so also, eyes off) about it! This week, we’ll be getting you up to speed by answering some Frequent Ork Questions. Read on as we give a FOrkQ about informing you!

What is Ork! The Roleplaying Game?

It’s a “beer and pretzels” comedy-focused game where you play orks: the pig-biting mad, green-skinned, snaggle-toothed warriors who take the fall in many, many other games. Ork! has a relaxed, easy system that emulates orks’ struggles in a world where everything is against them: humans (or “sour men”), fire-breathing dinosaurs (of which there are many) and, well, God Himself, or precisely: Krom, cruel deity of the orks!

What’s That System?

Dice pools, man. This game was designed at the tail end of the 90s. Seriously though, in Ork! you roll some dice and add them up against an opposed roll, because in this game, the world isn’t a set of objective challenges. It’s not even a “narrativist” setup where we like it when you try to beat people up for love. In Ork! you get opposed rolls because Krom, in the form of the Orkmaster, hates you! He’s rolling dice against orks who are trying to succeed. Your prospects depend on whether you entertain or annoy him! It’s unfair. It’s Ork!

Sometimes you can cheat Krom, though. Your obsessions and obstinacy let you steal dice from Krom and add them to your own, but he always gets wise to this eventually, and you end up trading success for his wrath later! Fortunately, orks are short-sighted, and don’t suffer from a rising dread of cosmic payback.

Oh yeah: The game has a combat system that lets you hack off limbs, because that is obviously essential.

What are Orks in This Game, Exactly?

Orks are big, green, rough, and boar-snouted. Orks like to fight, eat and drink. Orks live in villages with nameless young gunks, warriors who’ve earned a name, and the warlock, a leader who manages to use magic without exploding. (Krom hates magic.) Orks aren’t necessarily stupid, but do tend to, uh, excessively live in the moment. Orks don’t work for dark lords unless they’ve been conned. (Note: orks are easily conned.) Only the wisest of orks know strange, mystical secrets, like the fact that seasons pass and there’s not just arbitrary stupid weather.

What Do They Want?

Food. Revenge! Food. For the sun to go out. To impress Krom, who hates them! To overthrow the warlock, who hates them! The warlock is pretty tough though and serves as the Orkmaster’s (GM’s) mouthpiece and mission-giver.

Where Do They Live?

You want a setting? Orks barely know anything about the world around them, so if there was a mighty prophecy with a ring or soul-stealing sword or something, they wouldn’t notice! But we’ve still got you covered, with the World of Orkness. What’s in it? Magic. Sour men. Lots of types of shameless parodies of fantasy mainstays, like those cute folks who don’t wear shoes. Note, however, one point of originality: Dwarves don’t sound Scottish—goblins do! I swear, if we tossed Cthulhu and some panoramic art in there, the world alone would be an Ennies shoe-in.

What you need to know is there was a magical catastrophe which opened gates to many other worlds. Therefore, orks run into giant robots, airships, dinosaurs (which, as noted, breathe fire, which may be original paleontological research on our part), spray cans of cheese, and road signs from Lake Geneva, WI.

What’s in This Game I Am Increasingly Convinced I Should Purchase?

Great question, hypothetical querent! Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition includes:

  • Complete rules for creating ork characters.
  • Rules for skull-cracking combat and other, lesser systems.
  • Magic! It’s a bad idea, but it’s there! Also, cool magic junk to steal from the cooling bodies of your foes!
  • Everything you need to get into the ork mindset, from their villages and warlocks to the faith of Krom, easily-annoyed god of the orks!
  • Things to Kill, an extensive bestiary of monsters, from shambling bone men to science-hating trolls.
  • A series of adventures that can be used to run a complex campaign, from ignominious gunkhood to a level of badassitude worthy of the tunnels in Horserat Mountain!

What Else?

Next week I’ll talk more about the game. For now, bother yon game merchant!

Charitable Giving Sale: The Innocence Project

Each month, Green Ronin selects a worthy cause to support through raised awareness and financial donation. For a limited time, we’ve placed Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and Fantasy AGE Companion on sale for 20% off, with 20% of proceeds to be donated to help the amazing work being done by the Innocence Project.

Support the Cause. Shop the Sale.


About The Innocence Project

Founded in 1992, the Innocence Project exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and spurs reform of the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. After more than 25 years of tireless efforts, it now serves as the core of a worldwide network of similar organizations, all dedicated to assisting and seeking justice for the wrongly convicted.

A noticeable majority of the cases successfully challenged by the Innocence Project has involved innocent men of color, accused of rape or murder, who were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. By reopening these cases and introducing DNA evidence (that could have acquitted these men at the time of their original trials) the Innocence Project was able to exonerate them.

 

Race, religion, and ethnicity have all been shown to affect arrest and conviction rates. But the one factor that determines a person’s ability to fight a wrongful conviction is wealth. Lack of financial resources denies so many innocent people access to the legal resources necessary to secure an exoneration.

Poverty should not doom an innocent person to years of incarceration and/or execution. That’s why the Innocence Project, and its partner organizations, provide their services and support pro bono—to help bring justice to those wrongly convicted without the means to fight back.

 

If you’re interested in learning or doing more for this noble cause, please visit the Innocence Project’s website, where you’ll find a wealth of information about their efforts, along with a list of other local and regional organizations working to help address the issue of justice for those wrongly incarcerated.

We also recommend picking up the book Just Mercy by Bryan Stevens, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative—another organization which does similar work with a focus on mass incarceration, children in prison, and death penalty cases.

Ronin Roundtable: THE ARCHETYPES: SOLAR RAY

With the arrival of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook, the world of Earth Prime has a few new heroes illustrating the eight heroic archetypes presented in the books. Four of these characters also appear in the upcoming Mutants & Masterminds Quickstart as pregenerated player character sheets, and so they needed names, personalities, and origins of their own. We turned to RPG industry legend and giant comics nerd, Amber Scott to help flesh out the new Crimefighter, Energy Controller, Gadgeteer, and Paragon of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Heroes Handbook!

———————-

Art by Alberto Foche

Ray Montoya was the kind of guy who could make Mount Rushmore crack a smile. Making others laugh, especially with a little self-deprecating humor or a harmless prank, felt like the one thing in the world he couldn’t screw up, and he leaned into it hard. Ray wasn’t trying to develop superpowers on the day of the eclipse. He was trying to show off to his friends. But with all the warnings on TV about not looking directly at the eclipse—as if anyone could be that stupid—he couldn’t resist the opportunity to play a little prank.

He met up with his friends on a rooftop patio for the viewing and prerequisite party. When the time came, and everyone pulled out their eclipse glasses, Ray simply whipped out a pair of designer shades. “These should be enough for me. I’m already a star.” He pushed the shades up his nose and turned his face innocently to the sky.

He grinned as his friends started freaking out, shouting at him not to look. None of them could see his eyes were closed behind the sunglasses. Ray was dying of laughter on the inside, right up until a server with a tray full of glasses tripped and crashed into him.

Ray’s eyes popped open. Without meaning to, he stared directly into the glorious eclipse, and it burned him. As if entranced, he reached up and removed his sunglasses, staring fixedly at the stunning astronomical event. A few seconds later, one of his friends spun him around, yelling for Ray to not be an idiot.

To everyone’s shock, Ray’s irises had turned pitch black, surrounded by metallic gold sclera. It was if the eclipse was burned into Ray’s own eyes. The sun still glowed bright in his vision, and then in his chest.

Since that day, the power of the sun shined within Ray’s body. He learned to control the bright yellow-white light that shot from his fingertips, and he also developed the ability to fly. Sometimes Ray still wonders how he gained superhuman powers from a solar eclipse, especially after news reports began mentioning other people who looked into the celestial event and only walked away with retinal damage. Some days he feels like the luckiest guy in the world, but other days beats himself up as a fraud, sure that his powers were intended for someone else who could’ve used them better. That lingering doubt drives him to better master his powers as his body continues to change.

What didn’t change was Ray’s showoff nature and desire to impress people. He loves being the first on the scene and taking out bad guys in the flashiest way possible. When the news vans show up, Ray’s always willing to linger for an interview. Given his ego, Ray couldn’t abandon his real name entirely. Instead he adapted it to create his superhero identity: Solar Ray.

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

PART II

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

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

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

 

Fomoiri: Among the terrors dwelling in the rainy, wet moors of Drunac are the fomoiri, having inherited their worship of darkfiends from the ancient warlock lords who once ruled that blasted landscape. Rezean guardians watch the boundary between the horselands and those high moors, watchful for raiding parties of these terrors.

 

Gargoyle: During the attack on Kern and its Lich King, the valiant warriors of Aldis learned to their sorrow that the masters of Kern had long ago subverted the natural tendencies of the strange, stony gargoyles, impelling them through subterfuge and magic to defend the fortresses and bulwarks of Kern. Though they are not overtly evil, they have been made to serve evil over the years, and it is said that the Shadowed Seven continue this practice. In contrast, however, Queen Jaellin and her consort Kalyran refused to slay the gargoyle defenders of the Lich King’s own demesnes, showing them compassion. In return, the small clutch of gargoyles swore to defend the Lady of the Hart, and even now have taken up residence in the highest places of the Palace in the city of Aldis.

Art by Brian Hagan

Gatorkin: Bloodthirsty and violent, the gatorkin of the Veran Marsh are a terrible danger to all who come across them. Despite this, some of the smugglers of Basketh Bay have struck deals with the voracious predator-folk, recruiting them in their criminal activities in exchange for certain delicacies the gatorkin find intoxicating and otherwise unavailable. The smugglers are also fond of delivering those they want to disappear to the gatorkin clans as “gift meals.”

 

Slumbering Eaters, or Sleeping Ghouls (Ghoul): Though sometimes called ghouls, these horrors are not the undead things typically named such. An ancient creation of sorcerers, the szalychta (or “locust-eaters”) have a cycle of existence in Aldea. For decades, they hibernate in torporous stasis, unaware and seemingly dead. Then, something triggers and they awaken, ravenous. They swarm up out of their subterranean expanses, sometimes even digging up from beneath graveyards, causing strange sinkholes where graves used to be. There, they feast on the dead, but these are inevitably insufficient to sate the creatures, who then come boiling up out of the sinkholes to feast on the living. Different “clusters” of ghouls have different cycles, ranging in ten to fifty year increments.

 

Groi: Found naturally throughout the Golgan Badlands, and domesticated as guardians and consumers of offal throughout Kern, some merchants have tried to sell them outside of those areas. Given that domestication of grois is less a matter of actually taming them and more about keeping them so well-fed that they are largely quiescent, these attempts almost always end in tragedy.

 

Grootslang: Largely thought to be a bit of folklore, the Royal College in Aldis has a stuffed specimen (which many cynics claim can’t be real). Unfortunately, the beast is altogether too genuine, although found almost exclusively throughout the expanses of Wyss. Some Finest patrols, however, report seeing something that greatly resembles a grootslang around one of the ancient Shadow-haunted ruins of the Veran Marsh.

 

Iron Maiden: If there is anything that is proof of the horrors the ancient Sorcerer Kings were capable of, it is surely the iron maiden. Occasional excavations still unearth these horrors today in places around Aldis and neighboring lands, and the Shadowed Seven of Kern are known to have several that they trade amongst themselves like favors. It is also said that Jarzon’s masters have used these in the past, though the modern Church forbids them as the work of Shadow…although no one is exactly sure what happened to those horrors.

 

Knifehound: Though largely wiped out in Aldis, Jarzon, and Kern, wild packs of knifehounds still roam many other places in Aldea. They are rarer in the horselands of Rezea, though still a problem sometimes. They are far denser in places like Drunac, the Golgan Badlands, and the Shadow Barrens.

 

Living Doll: Though named for children’s playthings, the possession of inanimate bodies by the anguished dead is neither jest nor firelight tale. Though there are scholars with their own ideas why it happens, in truth no one really understands exactly why it is some undead spirits take the bodies of dolls, mannequins, and even statuary.

 

Man-o-War: One of the bits of lore recovered from Jarek’s lore hoards was the creation of these monstrosities, and the Shadowed Seven – lacking the old Lich King’s arcane might – have seen the benefit of creating them. In recent years, Kernish resistance speak of the “armory wagons,” tarpaulin-covered wagons that seem to merely contain piles of armaments. Attempting to raid them to arm their insurgencies, the resistance fighters tell tales of those very armaments rising of their own accord into these horrid, shambling shapes, and reaping the lives of the rebels.

 

Merfolk: Denizens of the deepest watery abysses where even the sea folk cannot live, merfolk are strange. Sea folk scholars claim that like night people, they were the creations of sorcerers in ages past. While many of them are indeed vicious, bloodthirsty predators fond of the flesh of other folk who are capable of battling the largest of sharks, others are more peaceable and curious about settlements. They are clearly a nomadic folk, with bands traveling in wide circuits that usually hug the sea floors.

 

Minotaur: The few known clans of minotaurs make their homes in the Golgan Badlands, but even these claim that they hail from a land of mountain peaks far to the east of the Badlands. Indeed, the profusion of confusing labyrinths and mazes hewn out of the stone canyons of the Badlands speak to the long occupation of these bull-folk tribes, who frequently send out raiding parties into Jarzon, Aldis, and (with the death of the Lich King Jarek) into Kern as well.

 

Morlock: The actual origins of the morlocks is unknown. Though they were among the strange terrors employed by the Sorcerer Kings, it is clear they predate even that corrupt magocracy. With the fall of the Sorcerer Kings, morlocks fled once more into the under-kingdom warrens they’d always occupied, and are still discovered occasionally, in the wake of earthquakes and mining cave-ins, and one thing is clear: their hunger and viciousness has not abated in the least.

 

Mothman: Found throughout the Veran Marsh, southeast Aldis, and the forests of eastern Jarzon, these strange nocturnal predators are crafty, accustomed to hiding the traces of their hunting. Many strange and inexplicable disappearances are the results of a successful mothman on the hunt, and even the best investigators of the Finest have trouble ascertaining their work.

 

Nymph: Unlike many of the other fey that adept summoners are familiar with, nymphs lie in close communion with the natural world. Many of them remain within wild spaces entirely, eschewing the otherworldly gathering spots of their fey kin. Their revelries lure mortals in and change lives…or sometimes end them in wild bacchanals.

 

Night Terror: Mainlanders often doubt the existence of such things, even when warned outright by sailors and the folk of the islands and archipelagos in the Western Ocean. But there are other legends attached to these horrors, such as the claims that certain sorceresses in Lar’tya know how to curse someone so that they attract night terrors within dozens of miles of them, enraging them as surely as blood in the water enrages their mundane kin.

Ronin Roundtable: Ronin Ramblings!

With summer beginning to fade, I thAldis: City of the Blue Roseought this would be a good time to give you all a general update about goings on at Green Ronin. These last couple of months

have been a whirlwind. We had a great GenCon and released Aldis: City of the Blue Rose, Modern 

AGE and its GM’s Kit, as well as the Basic Hero’s Handbook and Rogues Gallery for Mutants & Masterminds. We also ran a hugely successful Kickstarter for The Expanse Roleplaying Game. We were literally on the edge of our seats in the final hour, wondering if we’d hit $400,000 and thus secure a new James S.A. Corey

Modern AGE Basic Rulebook

short story to go in the game. With 10 minutes left to go, we crossed the threshold. It was exciting! Huge thanks to all the backers of the Kickstarter, and of course to Daniel Abraham and Try Franck (together, James S.A. Corey) for not only creating a fantastic scifi universe but also doing so much to help us promote the RPG. If you missed the Kickstarter, never fear. You’ll have more chances to hop onboard.

After a brief pause to catch our breath, it was back into the breach. I was PAX West last weekend doing some panels, one of which (Designing Worlds: Experiences Creating Tabletop RPGs) you can see here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/304840481?t=

Hal meanwhile has been working on laying out our next several books. Ork: The Roleplaying Game (the new edition of Green Ronin’s very first RPG!) is at print

Pre-Order and PDF: Basic Hero's Handbook for Mutants & Masterminds

now and is available as a PDF and for pre-order. Hal is currently working on World of Lazarus, the first setting for Modern AGE (based on Greg Rucka’s awesome comic) and the long-awaited Faces of Thedas for Dragon Age. You should see PDFs and pre-orders for both of those books in the near future. Meanwhile, Hal is also working with James Dawsey on the artwork for Sentinels of Earth-Prime, a Mutants & Masterminds card game using the Sentinels of the Multiverse rules we’ll be releasing next year. Jaym Gates has also been working hard to get our fiction imprint, Nisaba Press, up to cruising speed. Our first novel, a Blue Rose tale called Shadowtide by our own Joe Carriker, has just gone to print. More Nisaba news coming soon.

Next weekend is our annual Green Ronin Summit. While we have a cluster of people in Seattle, much of our staff is scattered across the country working

remotely. We thus find it valuable to fly everyone here once a year, so we can get together in a non-convention environment and talk over our plans for the next 18 odd months. We’ll be considering various proposals, deciding on the schedules for our game lines, and doing some long-term strategizing. Oh, and eating an

ungodly amount of cheese. Can’t have a summit without cheese! Or webmaster Evan’s famous ice cream.

Later this fall we’re back on the convention circuit. Nicole and I are hugely excited to go to Australia for the first time for PAX Aus in Melbourne. We’ll have a booth there (and a cool unique pin through the Pinny Arcade program) and we look forward to

meeting Aussie gamers face to face. A week later I am a guest at Week End Geek in New Caledonia. If you had told young me that gaming would one day get me to the other side of the world, I would not have believed you! Certainly, South Pacific sun in November sounds better than Seattle rain. Once we’re back home, we’ll close out the year at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia.

Stay tuned for more news and updates. Fun stuff always comes out of the Summit!

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition

 

 

Ronin Round Table: Minions!

Hey folks, Jack here. Long time no Round Table, but we’ve been busy on wrapping the Campaign Builder’s Guide and preparing for the push to finish Lairs, our next book after that for Fantasy AGE.

Now originally I had intended to do the third Iconic character from our “core three” heroes featured on our covers and such. And I will do that. However, a discussion with Vigilance Press head James Dawsey about his FAGE campaign got me thinking about a particularly utilitarian entry utilizing the Fantasy AGE Companion and Fantasy AGE Bestiary. In particular I wanted to discuss Minion rules and how they work with various creatures, but the decisions and analysis here are similar to the thought processes for other parts of the Play Options chapter of the Companion, such as the mob rules.

The Companion has Minion rules for disposing of some creatures as a minor threat. This is represented by a Minion Rating, which is the amount of stunt points (SPs) you can use to automatically defeat an adversary. You can even use this to dispose of multiple minions if you have the points, making it possible for skilled heroes to slaughter lesser foes.  The rules are discussed in more detail in the Companion, but that’s how they basically work.

Now the idea behind those rules is that GMs would assign a Minion Rating based on their needs. For example, goblins might be rated 1 or 2, based on how little a threat they are in a campaign. A high-powered game might give Minion Ratings to giants or other powerful foes, while they are never given those in lower-powered games. However, its also true there are certainly general niches and impressions many Minion type adversaries fall into in most campaigns while other adversaries might use these rules in very particular and unusual—but still valid—ways.

With that said, let’s look at some Fantasy AGE Bestiary creatures and look at how they interact with Minion rules.  I hope this is helpful to those seeking to use these rules in their campaigns.

Beastkin Art by Mirco Paganessi

Bakwanee, Beastkin, and Bouda

These adversaries all fill the “dangerous in large groups, makes great minions for boss monsters” category.  That makes them good candidates for Minion Rating 2. They can be disposed of with some strong attacks, but with some luck you can take down some extras along the way. In high powered campaigns? Drop these down to 1 and watch them fall. Or perhaps make them Mobs and then give the Mobs a Minion Rating—you heard it here first—for games of heroes who can cut down armies like a Fantasy AGE version of the Dynasty Warriors video game franchise.

Chimera

So Chimera don’t usually have Minion Ratings. They’re singular threats and tough. However, you could give their various heads a Minion Rating and then link some of their special qualities to these heads. Hit a “Minion” on the Chimera and they lose their dragon head and its breath or some other part. Other multi-limbed or headed adversaries could be similarly handled. These heads would likely be hard to hit, akin to a Lethal Blow stunt (5 SPs). Thus it would make sense to have these heads be Minion Rating 5.

Gatorkin and Fomoiri

A bit tougher than the above Bouda and company, they usually have Minion Rating 3, meaning a truly epic Stunt can take out two, but they’re still a threat.

Gargoyles

Gargoyle Minion Ratings should be set at around 4. This would be the equivalent of using a Mighty Blow and Pierce Armor to bash through their stone-hard skin with a disabling blow.  Sometimes the adversary suggests a stunt or combination of them which would “finish them”. This makes a good model for a Minion Rating.  In these cases, GMs will to do a bit more bookkeeping might offer a discount to a character who has one of the stunts that go into such calculations, making it easier for them to cut down certain Minions. However, this is another thing to keep track of, so its not for everyone.

Sea Devils and Merfolk

Its worth noting these adversaries are more dangerous in water. Mostly this is because they are at home in this environment where most characters suffer penalties. However, if you’re making aquatic minions? Consider making them with two Minion Ratings, one for out of water and one for in. In this case of these foes? 2 out of the water and 3 in the water makes sense, though you could remove the rating entirely underwater if you want to reinforce how important it is to face these foes on your own terms to ensure success.

Reaper

Reapers generally shouldn’t have Minion Ratings. But what if their ability to mark others for death allowed them to give someone else a Minion Rating? Thus a character marked by a Reaper could be cut down by the creature more easily.  This would also be a way to simulate a “death curse”.  However, be extremely careful using this concept on PCs and if you do make sure they are taken to 0 health and in danger of death by this, allowing them some way to survive.

Vampire Thralls

Vampire Thralls might be Minions, representing how they are sometimes disposed of easily in fiction even as the Vampire Lord is a major threat. This is somewhat represented already with its Hard to Kill special quality, requiring a Lethal Blow stunt to stake or behead them once they have reached 0 Health. However, making these creatures Minions makes them more fragile, doing away with the requirement to reduce their health. In this case, a Minion Rating of 5 is appropriate, the same SPs you’d need to use a Lethal Blow to finish them in their non-Minion state.

That’s just a few examples, but it shows the variety of ways the Play Options rules from the Fantasy AGE Companion can intersect with other books in the line.