Fantasy AGE Companion Pre-Order & PDF

We are pleased to let you know that you can now pre-order the Fantasy AGE Companion in our Green Ronin Online Store, and when you add the pre-order to your cart, you’ll be offered the PDF version for just $5, for immediate download. (Please make sure to click “Add To Cart” on the popup/overlay once you add the pre-order to your cart.)

The Fantasy AGE Companion provides a plethora of new rules and play options for your Fantasy AGE roleplaying game campaign. This book expands upon the core Fantasy AGE rules and provides alternative game systems so that you can build rules and characters which fit any setting and genre you desire.

Tales of Blue Rose: The Cutpurse With His Trousers Down

The Cutpurse With His Trousers DownIt’s story time for this week, but there’s no need to gather ’round. You can purchase this Blue Rose tale and read it at your leisure, in your choice of PDF, mobi, and epub formats, for just $1.99!

In “The Cutpurse With His Trousers Down,” a master thief sees the perfect opportunity to frame his rival, and learns that best laid plans are often the first to go awry.

Author Brandon O’Brien is a poet and writer from Trinidad and Tobago whose work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing and the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and appears in Strange Horizons, Uncanny, Reckoning, Arsenika, New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, and other outlets. He is also a performer with The 2 Cents Movement, and the poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.

 

Ronin Roundtable: Driven and Motivated

One of the new elements in Modern AGE is Drive, a trait which sets your character’s emotional motivation. You pick Drive at character creation, where it provides a small capstone benefit. If you use the Conviction rules (you’ll recognize these from Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy, though they’re optional in Modern AGE) Drive also influences how it works.

But I’ll let you in on a secret: The best thing about Drive isn’t mechanical. It’s the principle of the thing.

I think virtually everyone has played a game where getting the characters involved in the story is a challenge. Roleplaying games have taken several stabs at pushing characters to act. The first tactic is no tactic at all. The game sort of assumes the GM’s job to convince the characters unfolding events are worth their time. When I was playing games as a teenager, this was virtually the only method. Combined with teenage defiance, this led to a lot of glaring and nonsense until everyone settled down. Another tactic is to weave characters into the setting, with responsibilities and problems which force them to get things done. More recent games have suggested ways to signal the GM about a thing your character might go for due to an obsession, goal or personality trait. This is a more focused version of the first, GM-as-salesperson method. Then we have background-driven motivations, ranging in length from one-liners to long backstories which are supposed to kick characters into action.

Drive is similar to all of these but isn’t quite the same. It’s a lot like “alignment” in some ways, and it absolutely is a personality trait, but its function is more than a description of the character’s psyche. Now when you get the book, this will probably read as overselling it, since Drive is not a mechanic designed to dazzle with innovation, and in nuts-and-bolts fashion, is fairly conventional. Here’s a Drive from the upcoming Modern AGE Basic Rulebook. It’ll look totally familiar to folks who’ve played a lot of RPGs.

Protector

There are a lot of threats out in the world, and you guard against them. Exactly what you consider a threat, and who or what you are protecting from it might vary, but the most important thing is you are not going to stand idly by when you could act.

Your quality is devotion to those under your protection and to your ideals, no matter what challenges lie in your path. Your downfall is recklessness when it comes to putting yourself (and others) in harm’s way to protect your charges.

Talent: Misdirection or Protect

Improvement: Health, Membership, or Reputation

What’s her motivation?

So why am I going on like this? I want to make its purpose clear. Drive is a personality trait that always answers the question: “Why are you getting involved?” Always. Because in Modern AGE, character creation assumes the question, “Are you getting involved?” is always answered in the affirmative. This is a subtle but important difference from games where the GM is supposed to sell you something, and games where the facts of the world (“I’m in the Secret Service,” or “They killed my master and I want revenge?”) dictate involvement. Drive is a personality trait which explains why your character is emotionally invested in the story.

Is this rhetorical sleight of hand? Absolutely. But it has a fine pedigree. Drive has a precedent in improv, where performers are urged not to block ideas that come out of the on-stage, brainstorming-while-acting process. So, when you crack the book open and pick a Drive, keep in mind that this isn’t a general blueprint of your attitude as much as the part of you that compels your commitment.

Drives are emotional, not factual, for a simple reason: Campaigns feature ever-changing conditions. Modern AGE also tells you to write down character Goals. Goals transform over time, but your Drive usually doesn’t. (Here’s an optional rule: If you want to change your Drive later, that’s fine, but you don’t get the benefits that come at character creation, except for how your new Drive affects Conviction, if you use it.)

Drive is primarily a way for you to develop your character’s emotional connection to the story. We can map it as a Mad Lib, as follows:

My inclination to be a [DRIVE] makes me want to get involved with [SITUATION] because [MOTIVATION], so I’ll [ACTION].

[DRIVE] is the Drive trait on your sheet.

[SITUATION] is what’s happening in the story.

[MOTIVATION] is an account of how your feelings about the situation inform your actions.

[ACTION] is what you will do.

To demonstrate how this works, I’m going to take the sample Drive, Protector, and hit the “Situation” random generator button at http://writingexercises.co.uk/plotgenerator.php. I get

A political demonstration turns into chaos.

Therefore:

My inclination to be a Protector makes me want to get involved with a political demonstration which has turned into chaos because I’m afraid of my friends getting hurt, so I’ll find them and lead them to safety.

In this model, a character goal is a situation that’s always happening—at least until you completely accomplish it.

Breaking this down makes it seem more complicated than it really is. The process is intuitive. As long as you exclude blocking the situation (by refusing to deal with it in an interesting fashion) it comes down to: “This is how my emotions push me to deal with what’s ahead.”

Drive is really a principle with an incidental game mechanic, adaptable to pretty much any game. It’s an attitude shift where getting into the story is your character’s premise, not their problem. In a fantasy game, instead of saying, “As a True Neutral character, I don’t care about this battle between good and evil,” say “As a True Neutral character, I need to accompany my friends to this struggle between the Moral Powers to test the strength of my convictions. Can I maintain detachment amidst all this struggle and suffering?”

Awkward Segue to Factual Update!

So, what’s going on with Modern AGE? The Basic Rulebook text is going through the production cycle right now. Its first setting, Lazarus (based on Greg Rucka’s comic of the same name, developed for Modern AGE by Crystal Frasier) has also entered production. The text for two small pieces of support for the game (to be announced) are also finished, and first drafts of an upcoming book are coming in.

I can’t wait to share it all with you. I’m driven—and I’ll say more about it all another time.

Tales of Freeport: In the Shadows

Freeport Fiction: Into the ShadowsThis week’s fiction offering from Nisaba Press is “In the Shadows,” a new short story set in the City of Adventure, written by Richard C. White.

A crew docks in the City of Adventure, ready to carouse with their newly-won booty. But one swabby has a much darker purpose…

For just $1.99, you can download this rollicking tale in your choice of PDF, ePub, or mobi (Amazon Kindle). Or all three! We’re not the captain of your ship.

About Nisaba Press

Nisaba Press is the fiction imprint of Green Ronin Publishing. Nisaba will be publishing novels, anthologies, and short fiction tied to the rich and varied worlds of Green Ronin’s tabletop roleplaying properties. Current plans include stories of swashbuckling horror in the fantasy world of Freeport: City of Adventure, tales set in the romantic fantasy world of Aldea from the Blue Rose Roleplaying Game, superheroic adventures set in the world of Earth-Prime from Mutants & Masterminds, and chronicles of fantasy survival-horror in the world of The Lost Citadel.

Chronicle System PDF: Desert Threats

Desert ThreatsToday we present Desert Threats, all-new bestiary content for the Chronicle System that powers our A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game.

The desert feasts on the bones of those who venture into those forbidding wastes. Baking heat and scouring winds are only the most obvious of those threats; the wise know other, more bloodthirsty dangers await hidden from view. From the voracious djinn-hound to the whispered legends of the golden kraken, explore what lurks in these treacherous lands!

 

Green Ronin Charitable Giving: Thurgood Marshall College Fund Sale

Our previous sale, benefiting the Trevor Project, ran a while longer than we intended, but generated a nice amount to donate to them. Our new sale in our Charitable Giving Initiative benefits the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

While the sale runs, both the print and PDF versions of three Mutants & Masterminds books, Deluxe Hero’s Handbook, Atlas of Earth-Prime, and Freedom City, are on sale for $5 off, and for each sale item sold we will donate $10 to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund: Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). Publicly-supported HBCUs enroll over 80% of all students attending HBCUs. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also a source for top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

 

 

Ronin Roundtable: ROGUES, INDIVIDUALLY

Mothers, lock up your sons: Rogues Gallery is coming. This hardback collects the 40+ Rogues Gallery PDFs in one collection, along with a dozen new villains and antiheroes to terrorize your campaign. Your heroes could fight one a week and still not finish by New Year!

Villain books are a classic installment in superhero RPGs, going back to classics like Champion’s Enemies supplements or Heroes Unlimited’s Villains Unlimited. They provide opponents to fight, sure, but they also flesh out a side of the setting that heroes rarely get to see, and that hero-facing books rarely delve into. If superhero games, at their core, are about optimism and what one determined individual can do to help others, then villain books show the pessimism of those same worlds: What happens when someone, despite all their power, can’t or won’t use it to help others, or even themselves. Mutants & Masterminds has always been about nuance and complexity—every bit as much it tries to be about being your best self—and I think the incredible diversity of characters presented in Rogues Gallery showcases some of the best that Earth-Prime has to offer: Classic throwbacks to the Silver Age like Amalgam, Elzaya, and Tun; villains that seem to painfully mirror our real world like Drive-By and the newly returned House of Usher; cold professionals like Chakram and IGT-92; off-the-wall weirdos like the Candy Crew, Newt, and Explodo, and more than a few characters who came so close to being one of the good guys like Arctic Fox, Eminence, Freestyle, and Red Mist. This last category are probably the most vital, holding a mirror up to reflect the ugly failings of the world, and all the things the heroes, through luck or perseverance, have escaped. “There, but for the grace of God,” is a popular and heart wrenching theme in a lot of comic books; it provides a moment of introspection in a medium that is all too often about jumping between spectacular fight scenes.

To round out the collected edition of Rogues Gallery and the setting of Earth-Prime, we collected a dozen new antagonists from some of the brightest Mutants & Masterminds writers. With the book following on the heels of Freedom City, 3rd Edition, most of these new villains operate out of Freedom City, or at least mention it briefly, but the ultimate goal was to round out the villain list for several of our newest books, including the Cosmic Handbook and Hero High. Some are classics, many are brand new, but we tried to tie all the new villains into the advancing timeline of Earth-Prime, and the recent changes described in Freedom City. Here’s what’s in store:

  • Alien-Gator II: This time, it’s personal! An alien from the alligator-like race known as the Jereid, Ssellessk’thaa was trapped on Earth as part of Freedom City’s recent refugee crisis. More aggressive than her 60s-era counterpart, and in full possession of her wits, she sees humanity as the corrupt, selfish, and brutal creatures they are, and has turned to crime against this unjust system in order to acquire what she needs to escape Earth and return home.
  • Empress Sola: One of the many Dark Lords held in check by the now-deposed Una, Sola rules a dimension deprived of its magical core, forever cursed to siphon the life force from other worlds to survive. Now Sola has set her eyes upon the magic-rich world of Earth-Prime.
  • Johnny Frostbite & Ice Princess: This daddy-daughter duo share the same ice powers, but radically different instincts for using it. Johnny hopes to shield his beloved daughter from the life of crime he fell into, but they remain on the run from a vindictive ex-wife.
  • Lady Guillotine: The new Lady Liberty has her own arch-nemesis after only a few months on the job, and her rival wants more than just Sonia’s powers: She wants her head!
  • Maestro II: With the original Maestro vanished, a handsome young inheritor has claimed the Master of Music’s legacy and wields similar powers.
  • MegaStar: Included by popular demand! Christopher Beck was a member of the original Next-Gen some 15 years ago, but never seemed to find his place in Freedom City’s hero community after graduation. A disillusioned man desperate to find something to belong to, he has a whole new team as one of the Argents!
  • Mother Moonlight: Heroism isn’t without its casualties, and loss drives people to terrible ends. When so-called heroes slaughtered her children, Anna-Marie Delgado gave herself over the goddess of rebirth in order to gain the power to take the children—literal and metaphorical—from every monster who wears the mantle of hero.
  • The Orphean: Trevor Cushing led his ideal life once upon a time. Studying music and magic alongside his wife, the pair could easily have shared the role of Earth’s next Master Mage as readily as they shared a life and soul. Now that his wife has been maliciously ripped away, though, the Orphean focuses on nothing but tearing down the boundaries between life and death to restore her to his side, no matter who else must suffer.
  • Prince Rokkar: The Star Khan’s campaign of conquest rolls over other stellar empires large and small, and when it conquered the Kash’rodan Empire, Khanate governors banished the juvenile prince to the backwater planet Earth. Though young, Rokkar wields the strength, fury, and firepower of a true Kash’rodan warrior, thanks to a little support from his loyal nanny-boy, MC-1.
  • Princess Silverwing: Power don’t make someone a hero, as Alison Middleton insists on demonstrating. Afraid of being mundane, she convinced herself that her mutant ability to generate gravitons is actually “fey magic,” proving her “true” heritage as an exiled princess from a magical world. Now Princess Silverwing is hellbent on returning to a time and place that doesn’t exist, or else making her life on Earth-Prime a little more magical.
  • The Starblights: Magical girls gone bad, the Starblights wield their magical power from another dimension to defend their turf and rumble with other supers.
  • Vathek the Appeaser: One of history’s greatest scholars and romantics, Caliph Vathek of the Abassides’s ego doomed him when he thought to get the better of the infamous strange he summoned to grant his every wish. Instead the scholar found himself bound as the devil’s apprentice, doomed to servitude until he sends his master enough souls to buy off his own cosmic debt.

And because you’ve all been waiting so patiently for this volume, here’s one of the new heroes to get you started: Princess Silverwing!

RG_PrincessSilverwing

Earth-Prime Fiction: “Night of the Witch”

Earth-Prime Fiction: Night of the Witch“Night of the Witch” is a short story set on Earth-Prime, the core setting of Mutants & Masterminds and Sentinels of Earth-Prime.

It’s Halloween Past, and Seven finds herself wrapped up in an eldritch conspiracy that will force her to team up with Lantern Jack to save the city.

For just $1.99, you can download this 16-page short story in your choice of PDF, ePub, or mobi (Amazon Kindle). Or all three!

About Nisaba Press

Nisaba Press is the fiction imprint of Green Ronin Publishing. Nisaba will be publishing novels, anthologies, and short fiction tied to the rich and varied worlds of Green Ronin’s tabletop roleplaying properties. Current plans include stories of swashbuckling horror in the fantasy world of Freeport: City of Adventure, tales set in the romantic fantasy world of Aldea from the Blue Rose Roleplaying Game, superheroic adventures set in the world of Earth-Prime from Mutants & Masterminds, and chronicles of fantasy survival-horror in the world of The Lost Citadel.

Ronin Roundtable: Walking the Royal Road III: Encounters in Aldis Preview

One of the resources I wanted to include in the upcoming Aldis: City of the Blue Rose when development began on that book was a simple “random encounters” system. Rather than monsters to fight, though, I wanted this system to be iconic “day in the life” scenes for the mighty capital city of the Kingdom of the Blue Rose.

Aldis: City of the Blue Rose book cover is a work in progress and may not reflect the final version. Art by Alayna Danner!

The Encounters in the City of Aldis appendix works simply: draw anywhere between one to three cards from the Royal Road (depending on how much detail you want to pepper the scene with), interpret as appropriate for the scene in question, and present to the players. It can also be interesting to have players draw their own cards for their scenes, and to even have them construct the scene as they or another player encounter it.

 

Below are two examples of how we’re using the system.

Example I: A Busy Square in the Middle Ward

For this example, painting the scene for player characters who’ve arrived in a busy neighborhood square, the Narrator chooses a three-card draw, having each of the players who are present for the scene draw one card. The cards drawn (and the interpretation from the appendix) are:

  • Nine of Chalices*: A small group of people gather about an old city well. Some people in the group solemnly lower their heads and whisper something into its dark waters. Turning around, they decisively march across the square. Others, barely able to hold back their giggles, run up to the well, squeak out a quick word or two, and then excitedly run off.
  • The Hierophant*: You cannot help but pick up on small conversations that buzz about your ears. Turing to see one of the sources of these spirited conversations, you happen to see a small group engaged in polite, but animated conversation. At the center of this small group, a noble is enraptured by the storytelling abilities of his companions. The noble, dressed in clothing that seems to set them apart from the more obvious locals, soaks up the conversations eagerly, only interjecting to ask clarifying questions about the various tales and descriptions the seasoned locals provide.
  • Queen of Swords*: You see an older citizen carrying scrolls and assorted books, one with a marking reminiscent of Queen Allia’s heraldry. They are soon met by other, similarly dressed citizens who begin discussing various aspects of Aldin history. Their voices remain calm and clear, each waiting for the other to finish their point before interjecting.

Using This Draw: All of these cards are set up fairly well for scenes of the sort being played through here; one of them even makes mention of a square! The Narrator describes the scene:

  • “The square is bustling with people both lingering and passing through the square. In one corner stands an old city well around which people gather. Some solemnly, and other excitedly, some of the locals seem to be whispering to one another…wait, no, they’re whispering to the well itself! In the middle of the square stands an old tree, under which a small group of people are picnicking. One seems to be noble by dress, and she is listening intently to the stories of her companions, all of whom seem to be trying to outdo the others with delightful stories and anecdotes. Nearby, a man of advancing years wearing the heraldry of one of the former Sovereigns of Aldis walks past you, carrying a tall, teetering stack of books and rolled scrolls. He makes his way past you, walking carefully to avoid overbalancing his burden. You can see two others crossing the square, wearing a similar sigil. When they see him, they quicken their pace so that they can help relieve him of some of the books he carries. They pause to one side of the square, greeting one another and discussing the contents of the books in delight.”

Example II: A Subdued High Ward Tavern at Midnight

For this example, one of the player characters is meeting a contact in a familiar tavern in the deeps of the night. The setting is one where not much is going on, but the Narrator wants to inject a little color into the scene, just to keep the player character (a spy always on the lookout for enemy operatives) on their toes, so the Narrator draws a single card:

  • Five of Pentacles*: A wounded citizen walks the streets ringing a small bell. They are accompanied by four others in distinctive clothing that marks them as priests of the Primordials. As the group slowly traverses the streets, they call out for charity, not for themselves, but for others. Onlookers seem moved by the procession and begin to speak with one another about how they too can help.

Using This Draw: Now, this card obviously isn’t entirely well-suited on its face for this scene. But the Narrator makes some alterations, adapting it for the quiet of the night-time tavern, thus:

  • “As you enter the tavern, your contact waves to you from the back of the room. The only others in the taproom are a quartet of folk who all wear the vestments of priests of the four Primordials. At the edge of their table is a hand bell and a begging bowl. They have split the coins from the bowl up in the middle of their table, and they are discussing to whom the various small piles of coins ought to go, sliding coins around as they illustrate their points. As you pass them by, you hear quiet but passionate discussion regarding a recently widowed mother of three, while another champions the work of a healer that seeks out the sickly poor in the Lower Ward.”

 

* Note that all the quoted text is as yet unedited, and may change in the final product.

New Blue Rose Fiction

Of Shadows and Light: Blue Rose fictionToday we have a new short fiction piece up for sale, set in the World of Aldea from our Blue Rose RPG! Rhiannon Louve brings us “Of Shadow and Light,” Part 1 of a series titled “Those Who Wait.”

Marn the Rose Knight is used to saving the world, but can Kiyn help her learn to save herself?

 

For other Blue Rose fiction, see:

Or view our entire Nisaba Press fiction catalog here.