Feral Hogs and Memes in Modern AGE

Not every Modern AGE adventure has to be deadly serious, and last year I was charmed when the streamers of DicePriori ran a one-shot based on the infamous “30-50 Feral Hogs” meme. It looked like so much fun that I asked DicePriori members Chase Schneider and Matthew Foreman to write the adventure out for me as a Modern AGE Mission:  next in a series of unconventional and/or setting-neutral PDF adventures for the line. The first in the series, Warflower (also available at DriveThruRPG) was a choose-your-own secret romp through medieval-style sword fighters, drug-dealing alchemists, and corporate perfidy. Feral Hogs’ claim to fame is that it was ripped from the headlines of…well, 2019 (stupid COVID-19 delays) and set in a post-apocalyptic fever dream of big trucks, guns, distribution centers turned fortresses, and nuclear reactors. If it had a genre, it would be “memesploitation.” Look for Feral Hogs this week!

Feral Hogs!

But speaking of memesploitation, how do characters in Modern AGE use memes? In a past Threefold campaign one of the PCs got their Twitter account verified, so I know from experience social media plays a part in contemporary campaigns. In most games the Click “Share” stunt in the core rules works well, The Modern AGE Companion’s Influencer talent and Communicator specialization are the power duo for social media, but anybody can make a meme (or grow one from an opportunity, like the original Feral Hogs Twitter blow up), and this being Modern AGE, the ability to make a meme naturally implies Meme Stunts!

Making Modern AGE Memes

A meme is an idea expressed in some rough form (an image, or a video, or…well, it’s 2020, we know what memes are) that people feel compelled to share. To make a meme on purpose requires a Communication (Expression) test, with a TN determined by the reach you want it to achieve:

Sympathy Likes—TN 10: You want to amuse your social media connections who will at least pretend to think the meme is clever.

Community Appreciation—TN 14: You want that meme to spread across a significant scene of people, like backpackers or miniatures gamers.

Mass Culture—TN 18: You want the meme to be known to a vast section of people.

You can also strategically share a meme (with good timing, a good venue, and maybe a witty addition or two) but this puts you on the periphery of its hottest social media action. Generally, sharing an existing meme has the TN and effects of creating a meme of one rank less, so piggybacking on a Mass Culture meme has the TN and effects of an original Community Appreciation Meme. Sharing a meme worthy of Sympathy Likes is useless. Sorry.

A meme’s main practical effect is to strengthen your social media reach by amusing and increasing the number of followers you have. This provides a one-step Attitude shift in the direction of your choosing about the target or subject of your choosing among the audience you aimed for, though this is short-lived, lasting just 3d6 days. Furthermore, you can use the following Meme Stunts!

Meme Stunts

1-3          Meme Economy: You’ve got a good format or idea. You can spend up to 3 SP on this stunt, with each SP adding +1 to your next meme.

2/4/6     Viral AF: Your meme’s effects last longer. Double its duration for 2 SP, then double it again at 4 (4x) and 6 (8x) SP.

3              Actual LOL: Your meme is sweet enough to provoke a real reaction. You shift your targets’ Attitudes an additional step up or down.

4              Cash Me: Your improved social media reach translates into money from a hustle you promote, or a simple appeal for money. You gain +1 Resources for 1 week for Sympathy Likes, 1 month for Community Appreciation, and 2d6 months for Mass Culture memes.

5              I AM the Senate: 1d6 weeks after your meme launches, an online community forms to talk about it and make related memes. If you contact this community it automatically confers 1 rank of Membership on you. The community is one size smaller that the scope of your meme, unless it’s a Sympathy Likes meme, in which case it’s just a handful of people.

Fantasy AGE Freeport

Death In Freeport for Fantasy AGELast month, in “Return to Freeport,” we talked a bit about the classic adventure Death in Freeport, which helped to launch Green Ronin Publishing twenty years ago, and the forthcoming anniversary edition of that adventure. Not only is Death in Freeport being offered for the fifth edition of the world’s most widely-played fantasy roleplaying game, we are also offering a Fantasy AGE edition for AGE System players who would like to experience the City of Adventure for themselves!

Just like the 5e version, the Fantasy AGE edition of Death in Freeport will be full-color and available in electronic (PDF) and print-on-demand (POD) formats, with the same exciting adventure, but designed for Fantasy AGE game-play. Since both Freeport and Fantasy AGE were designed by Green Ronin’s own Chris Pramas, their aesthetics fit together like they were made for each other! That includes some fun AGE System style touches, such as:

  • Roleplaying stunts while interacting with the various low-lifes and scoundrels of the city.
  • Exploration stunts while delving into the mysterious dungeons beneath Freeport.
  • Mechanics for the hazards of some classic fantasy traps found in the adventure.
  • The unique stunts of serpent people, skeletons, and other monsters the characters may encounter.

Death in Freeport introduces the player characters to the free city and pirate haven of Freeport, and entangles them in the mystery of a scholar who has gone missing, leading them to a much deeper threat, both figuratively and literally!

The adventure also includes Fantasy AGE versions of the four pre-generated player characters who were a part of the original Death in Freeport: Rollo (gnome warrior), Malevir (half-elf mage), Alaina (human rogue), and Thorgrim (dwarf mage and healer).

From Freeport to Lairs

Fantasy AGE Game Masters looking to expand things beyond the events of Death in Freeport can find inspiration in Lairs for Fantasy AGE, many of which can easily be situated on the islands of the Serpent’s Teeth:

  • Shifted to a jungle locale,The Valley of the Titans could be on one of the islands, possibly connected to Lost Valossa or another ancient, mythic civilization.
  • The Temple of the Stone Oath could be hidden on the slopes of the volcano at the heart of A’Val or in mountainous terrain on another island.
  • Madness Under the Sea suits Freeport quite well, with Coral Scar’s Island hidden amidst the Serpent’s Teeth.
  • The Night Market can appear anywhere, even just outside the walls of Freeport itself.

Other Lairs or published Fantasy AGE adventures can also be placed in and around the city of Freeport or on the islands of the Serpent’s Teeth, mixing-and-matching to create a fantastic setting for your swashbuckling AGE adventures!

Death in Freeport for Fantasy AGE, is now available in the Green Ronin Online Store, or on DrivethruRPG

Possession is Nine-Tenths of the Law

Mind Control and Psychic Combat!

With last week’s release of Bound by Gold, Malador the Mystic once again seizes a mortal body with which to threaten the world. But this newest Astonishing Adventure adds a rub: The heroes are brought into the investigation to help rescue the young man Malador is currently inhabiting. Bodily possession and mind control are common elements in superhero media; they make for emotionally wrenching resolutions as the hero overcomes the domination or tearful reunions as the hero draws out the original host’s spirit to help fight the possessing villain through heartfelt pleas.

Mutants & Masterminds, 3rd Edition uses the same rules for mind control and possession, revolving mostly around the Compelled and Controlled conditions applied via the Affliction power. A Compelled character’s Standard Action and Free Actions each round are determined by someone else, with their Move Action lost to the struggle for dominance. A Gamemaster might allow them to shout out warnings to those around them, but otherwise their only role in the action is to slow the force controlling them. Controlled overrides a character’s free will entirely, leaving all their actions each round up to the controlling force with the original mind a helpless passenger. Because Compelled is a 2nd degree condition, a hero overcome by it can attempt a new resistance check at the end of each round to shake the effect and regain full control of themselves, but Controlled—being a 3rd degree condition—can only be resisted once every minute.

While mechanically appropriate, the Compelled and Controlled conditions sidestep the narrative drama that mind control and possession can offer, so let’s look at some other ways to handle these effects in ways at the table to get everything you want from this classic trope.

Narrative Mind Control

Not all mind control needs to be equal. As an alternative to short-term “combat” mind control, narrative mind control make influence over a character as total and long-lasting as you need, particularly with villains like Malador or Knightfire who take mortal bodies as hosts. In these cases, it’s assumed the host’s mind is overwhelmed either by one of the most powerful wills in the cosmos or by an evil they invited in willingly. But beyond even these exceptional cases, narrative mind control means that villains with a focus on mental domination can keep a cadre of loyally brainwashed agents around without re-applying their Affliction power every ten rounds.

While the example of Malador is very overt, narrative mind control may be subtle instead, barely changing a character’s behavior or only causing them to act strangely when no one might notice. In this situation, a controlled character may only act in the middle of the night—sleepwalking for all they or anyone else knows—or they might think they’re going through their daily work tasks while unwittingly funneling information, security codes, or resources to the villain. The controlled character doesn’t fight the unnatural control because they aren’t aware of any unnatural control; everything seems perfectly normal from their point of view.

Narrative mind control is effectively permanent until deliberately ended by an outside force: a mystic dispels the control spell, the heroes defeat the psychic villain, or a hacker purges the corrupted software from the android’s brain. In some cases, a character under subtle narrative mind control might be able to fight the effects once they’re aware of it, transitioning from this model to the traditional Compelled and Controlled conditions once a character is presented with obvious proof or the villain makes their control overt and clearly opposed to the character’s morals. Especially subtle mind control may even linger after the obvious “fix” as psychics leave post-hypnotic suggestions that won’t trigger for weeks or a possessing spirit leaves just enough of their essence behind to reach out to the victim in their dreams.

Narrative mind control works best when applied to NPCs because it takes agency away from a character indefinitely, sometimes overwriting them entirely with a new character in the case of possessing entities. Some players might find the role of double-agent fun, however, so be willing to ask if a perfect story opportunity arises. In this case, the control becomes a temporary Complication, allowing the GM to occasionally dictate or forbid a course of action for the hero in exchange for a Hero Point.

Fighting Mind Control from the Outside

Mind-controlling afflictions come with a built-in mechanical solution: the target gets a new resistance check regularly to throw off the effect. But that solution isn’t necessarily satisfying in an emotional confrontation between a hero and a friend forced to do evil. Here are a few suggestions for ways the heroes can help an ally compelled against their will:

Aid

Heroes’ words of encouragement and love can help the target find their inner strength and throw off outside control. This functions like most Aid actions, with any heroes who help making appropriate PRE-based skill checks against a DC 10. A successful check grants the target a +2 bonus on their next resistance check against the control, while three or more degrees of Success bumps the bonus up to +5. Heroes will generally make Presence checks, but Deception, Expertise, or even Intimidate checks might be appropriate in different situations.

The Psychic Beatdown

Most mind controlling or possessing villains maintain a strong mental link to their target, so a hero with attack effects resisted by Will, such as a Mental Blast, might be able to target the controlling mind rather than the target themselves. At the Gamemaster’s discretion, this might require enough psychic sensitivity to tell the two minds apart (with a Sense like Psychic Awareness or Acute Detect Minds), count of a use of Extra Effort, or be a default ability of a Will-based attack.

An Incapacitated result immediately ends the villain’s mind control. A Dazed or Stunned result doesn’t, but allows the target a resistance check against the control if they haven’t already made one this round (making this tactic more useful against fully-controlled victims).

Challenge Sequence

For groups without a psychic warrior, appealing to the target’s human decency and compassion might help break them free as part of an optional challenge sequence. This option can be satisfying for roleplay-focused players who want evocative or dramatic resolutions to fights rather than just throwing bolts of energy. As with the Aid action, heroes can opt to make a skill check or appropriate power check as a Standard Action toward a challenge sequence to help the victim shake free of their unwanted control. The target DC is either the control effect rank +10 (more appropriate for mind control) or the villain’s Will rank +10 (more appropriate for villains possessing a physical host). The total successes needed varies, with a base of 1, plus 1 for every 5 ranks of the controlling power; shaking the mind control effect imposed by Affliction 10, for example, requires a total of 3 Degrees of Success. Increase the necessary successes by +1 or +2 if mind control is the villain’s primary power or somehow core to their existence (such as Malador’s psychic bonus to a host body), so ejecting Malador the Mystic (Will +14, possessing targets is key to his existence) from a host via a challenge sequence would require 5 Degrees of Success on DC 24 checks.

This avenue is strictly optional and not always appropriate, so check with your Gamemaster if its appropriate to an encounter before you begin investing time into the attempt. Some villains might simply need to be defeated before they can be excised from an someone’s mind. As a compromise, heroes might need to know intimate details about a character to try appealing to them, and may need to reveal personal information about themselves such as their secret identity.

Talking Points

Similar to the challenge sequence, a talking points solution to mind control of possession can be very satisfying and emotional, but turns the encounter into a roleplay scene rather than a challenge sequence. In this case a hero doesn’t need to roll dice at all; they must simply recall enough important details about the character to reach their mind and force out the unnatural control. Make a list of 5–10 important details abut the character and decide how many of them a hero must bring (generally half as many) up before finally breaking through the control to reach the target. This might include their name, their family, beloved pets, ambitions, favorite music, career, or fears—whatever feels relevant to a character and their life. Especially important talking points may even count as two points, creating a few vital elements to a character or a “power of love” moment. This solution obviously works best for freeing NPCs who are already close to the hero rather than strangers or random victims, but it can still work as the climax at the end of a long investigation where the heroes have to learn many details about the victim’s life. Heroes are limited to bringing up one talking point each per turn, but once they bring up enough, the target can automatically shake off the mind control.

Rather than a solution, talking points might instead buy the heroes some breathing room. In this case, each talking point isn’t a step toward freedom, but bringing one up imposes the Dazed condition on the victim for one round. Talking points that would count double instead leave the victim Stunned for one round.

Like the challenge sequence, talking points are strictly options, so consult your Gamemaster if you like the idea.

Fighting Mind Control from the Inside

the Mindscape where psychic battle becomes physical

One of the biggest criticisms against mind control at the game table is that it essentially takes on player out of the game until their character can shake the effect. Many players feel like they might as well run and grab a pizza or boot up a video game because they know it will be a while before they need to pay attention again. Much of the advantage of a mind control power is that it limits the heroes’ action economy—how often they are allowed to act in a round—while usually adding to the villain’s

Giving a mind-controlled player something active to do can help salvage their night and make the encounter more memorable for everyone.

Play Along

Some players relish an excuse to go toe-to-toe with their fellow gamers, pitting their build against their friends’. Others love the dramatic tension of their hero turning on their allies and unleashing both physical and psychological punishment. For these players, simply being told “You’re mind-controlled now. You have to attack you allies, but you can decide how,” is the start of a great scene. Let the player decide how they unleash their abilities against their friends and don’t underestimate the pathos of a player choosing story-based conflicts in this occasion, saying hurtful things or exposing their friends’ secrets rather than attacking physically.

As with all player-versus-player approaches, be careful pitting a mind-controlled hero directly against their friends, as it can lead to hurt feelings away from the table. It might be a better idea to turn a mind-controlled player character loose against the police or military or a rival villain, while the remaining heroes battle the villain while shorthanded.

Ghosted

In some cases, overt mind control or possession may force a character’s mind or soul out of their body while the villain maintains control, leaving the hero a bodiless ghost floating over the battle. The character gains Permanent Insubstantial 4 and Permanent Concealment 10 (All Senses), but may still be able to interact with the physical world using mental effects, abilities with the Affects Substantial extra, or by using Extra Effort. A hero in the midst of an “out of body” experience like this might instead explore nearby rooms to gather information or be ejected close to someone close to them, like a kidnapped lover whom they can comfort or try to learn the whereabouts of.

Mindscape Battle

Many superhero stories handle a psychic battle of wills as literal combat inside a mindscape or the Astral Plane, with the hero’s psyche donning idealized armor and battling the invader’s mind or hallucinations. In this case, a hero being mind controlled doesn’t remove their player from the action, it only relocates the action to the psychic plane. The hero must fight alone against a psychic copy of the villain (replacing their mental powers with more overt Damage or Affliction effects) or face off against hordes of minions that reflect the villain’s psychic control, such as the Tulpa (Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide, page 149). Alternatively, the villain’s psychic avatar might translate their mental mastery in the real world to be martial mastery in the mental worlds—use the same personality and description, but select a physically-oriented statblock like the Powerhouse or Weapon Master hero archetypes. If the hero succeeds in their struggle, they knock the villain’s control over them down by one stage—Controlled becomes Compelled, Compelled becomes Dazed, and Dazed becomes unaffected.

If you want to add more details to the mindscape battle, check out the War of the Minds sample scene from Chapter 6 of the Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide.

 

However you choose to apply mind control and possession to your superhero games, the key is to provide fun and options to your players, not take options away. Be creative and willing to adapt, and encourage new ideas or unorthodox strategies. The end result might be different, but it’s likely to be an experience everyone remembers.

Bound By Gold: NetherWar part 4, Available Now!

Bound By GoldIn the latest installment of the NetherWar, Bound By Gold, the heroes efforts to stop Toy Boy’s rampage have inadvertently released the former Master Mage: Malador the Mystic, and now the dread Atlantean intends to bind the spirit of his dead rival, Adrian Eldritch, into an undead servant to aid his conquest of the world! With so much at stake, the heroes find an unlikely ally who has an agenda all her own. But the mysterious Dark Lady still works behind the scenes. It’s a three-way magic free-for-all of diabolical villains, with the heroes—and all of Freedom City—caught in the middle!

He’s Baaaaaaack…

Written by Kate Baker, Bound by Gold is a mystical adventure series for a team of four heroes of PL 10. The adventure continues the NetherWar campaign arc for Mutants & Masterminds, Third Edition.

Astonishing Adventures bring exciting new adventures for Mutants & Masterminds, Third Edition to you every single month, complete with all the action and villains you need to bring the story to life!

Get Astonishing Adventures, NetherWar part 4: Bound by Gold at theGreen Ronin Online Store or DriveThruRPG 

Be sure to check out the rest of the NetherWar series, including the free Series Guide!

And finally, tune in to our Facebook Page each week for Mutants & Masterminds Monday! LIVE. Videos will also be made available after they air on our Youtube channel.

Midnight Gold Now Available: Five and Infinity Chapter 4

Midnight GoldDemetrius Bassei came to the Netherworld of Mar Saothair to win back his son’s lost soul at the Midnight Gold, the plane’s foremost casino. He never returned. Now it’s up to your heroes to dare this hell dimension of endless cities and spirit-flensing factories, where demons gamble over the souls of the damned and the merely unlucky alike. In Mar Saothair, bodies and minds crumble before the demands of endless urban toil, but debt is eternal. Who will you save, what will you win, and who do you owe?

Industrial Damnation and Infernal Fortune

Written by Crystal Frasier, Midnight Gold is an adventure for Modern AGE characters levels 9 to 12 in the Threefold setting, though with some adaptation it can be used for other Modern AGE campaigns. This adventure takes us to one of the Threefold Metacosm’s Netherworlds: hellish dimensions ruled by infernal overlords

For full use of the adventure, the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook and Threefold campaign book are required.

This adventure can stand alone, but it’s also the fourth part of Five and Infinity adventure series, which takes your Modern AGE Threefold characters from levels 1 to 16.

Save the Damned, If You Can Afford It

Get Five and Infinity Chapter 4: Midnight Gold at the Green Ronin Online Store or DriveThruRPG 

Previous Five and Infinity Installments

(Not So) Secret Identities

I don’t know exactly when or how I became an introvert—we don’t have the kind of space in this column necessary to go into that—but, sufficient to say, I am what many might refer to as “a private person.” I often feel like I missed the era of the “reclusive writer” who nobody ever saw and who interacted with the world through their agent. What do they even look like? Do they even really exist? In this interconnected age of social media streaming, where everyone carries a camera, that kind of anonymity is increasingly no longer an option.

That’s especially true for those of us who: 1) Have some sort of marginalized identity and feel it is important that we be visible for the benefit of those who might see us, and; 2) Are creatives who need to promote our work by connecting with our audience as directly as possible (which is the say, most of us who don’t have a corporate marketing department behind us). All of which is a long lead-up to the moment that I kind of knew was coming, but dreaded anyway, that moment when Green Ronin’s Community Manager Troy Hewitt said “We’re all stuck in isolation! We’re going to start streaming on Monday!”Crystal and Steve streaming on Facebook live

Extraordinary times, right? You see, Green Ronin is a great company for many reasons, but one of them (for me) is that there are a lot of reclusive introverts on-staff. Many of us are perfectly happy working in our own corners of the world, communicating via text, and making the experience of seeing each other in person special by only doing it a few times a year. Fortunately, the (roughly two-thirds introverted) ownership recognized that was not the best way for us to work with our wonderful community of players of our games, however. So they made sure to include some ambiverts and extroverts, who have done things like drag the rest of us into the digital streaming world. Here’s what I have learned thus far from the experience:

Perfect is the enemy of ever doing anything. “We’ll figure it out as we go! We start in three days!” Three days! But…but, the research! The preparation! Nope. We had been stalling doing videos and streams for a long time and were getting no closer to starting. What we really needed to do was start. So we did. Waiting around until you’re “ready” can often mean you never will be.

Creativity is spontaneous. I like to plan and outline with the best of ‘em, but some of the best parts of the Mutants & Masterminds Monday streams have been spontaneous, off-the-cuff things from just interacting, which remind me of the best parts of my tabletop game-play experiences; not written into the adventure per se, but appearing out of the interaction.

It’s okay to be seen. By that I mean it’s not necessarily self-indulgent to want to be in front of the camera, and it’s all right to promote, not just your work, but yourself as a creator and as a person. It’s okay to be seen for you and not just as a representative of something else. I’m still working on this one, to be honest, as I’ve never been a particularly good self-promoter, but I think I’m learning.

Striking sparks ignites flames. I often feel social situations are draining, but at the same time, it’s a helpful reminder that certain social interactions, especially with my peers and co-workers, can really help to get us all excited about the things we’re doing and working on. Our interaction creates “good energy.” I find I really enjoy that handful of aforementioned yearly in-person get-togethers, and our online meet-ups—whether streaming or just having a company-wide meeting—can do the same. I feel more recharged and ready to do more work for the rest of the week.

It’s okay to fail. Mind you, it’s not fun, but messing up, having things go wrong, technical difficulties and all of that is a part of life and how we learn. Doing live video streams offers plenty of “learning opportunities.” Good friends and colleagues help us get back up and get back in the game, and we do better the next time. This reminds me a lot of my reckless courage as a young Game Master: I was so excited by the prospect of running each new game I got that I rushed right in. I definitely had some Game Master-disasters (again, we don’t have that kind of space) but I survived, learned from them, and kept on going.M&M Monday streaming every week!So, if you feel you’re too shy, too introverted, not enough (or too much), or just not ready to do something like streaming, online gaming, Game Mastering, or the like, take a risk in the company of friends, and you can start by joining us. We’re learning in real time, and the people who watch are active participants in what we’re creating. Joining in means you get to have some low-risk fun while seeing how we do it, and figuring out how you might when the time comes for you to step into the spotlight.

I hope you’ll join us for an episode of Mutants & Masterminds Monday sometime!

Green Ronin Publishing’s videos can also be found on our YouTube channel.

Sword Chronicle: Post Release Follow Up and Warfare Wednesday

Sword Chronicle has been out for a week, and it’s doing well! Thank you to those who have purchased it through both the Green Ronin Online Store and DriveThruRPG. This is just a quick follow up about our post-release plans.

Check Out the Warfare Wednesday Stream

Last week we tried out a so-called “Warfare Wednesday” live stream to talk about the game, with some side conversations into history, the nomenclature of medieval weapons, and Star Trek. Missed it? Well, you can watch it here (Coming soon to our YouTube Channel as well!).

Warfare Wednesday!

Of POD and Discounts

Several people have asked us whether we’re going to release Sword Chronicle as a print on demand offering from DriveThruRPG, and when. They’ve also asked if we’re going to offer a coupon on the POD version to people who bought the PDF.

Are We Doing POD? Yes. We’re not exactly sure when because we want to polish the file a bit more, and we need to look over proofs (early hard copies) of the POD version before making it available for sale.

Will You Get a Coupon? Yes, if you bought the PDF before the POD came out. After that, a bundle price will be built directly into the entry on DriveThruRPG. Purchasers from both the Green Ronin Online store and DriveThruRPG will get this offer, but only if they have opted to receive email from us. This isn’t a devious marketing funnel ploy, but the simple fact that we need to be able to email you the coupon.  We’re also figuring out exactly what the coupon’s value is going to be, but we want to make it worth your while—we like seeing our stuff in print!

Supplements and Support

We have a number of ideas for future work on Sword Chronicle but as this is something of an experimental release for us, nothing has been set in stone—we want to see how the game does. However, all generic Chronicle supplements, which you can find at the Green Ronin Online Store or at DriveThruRPG, are compatible with Sword Chronicle. Note that while Chronicle of Sorcery remains compatible with Sword Chronicle, the Sword Chronicle core uses a streamlined version of the Chronicle of Sorcery system. You can use one or the other, but the “official” system is in the core.

If you want to look further afield, check out our community content, the Chronicle System Guild.

Otherwise, if you have anything you’d like to see, tell us about it through social media and post in GRAAD, our most excellent fan-run Discord, where we’ve been known to pop in our heads from time to time. Also be sure to check out future installments of Warfare Wednesday!

 

Adventures, Mastery, and Powers: What’s Coming For Modern AGE

It’s been as tricky a time for Modern AGE as it has for other games during the pandemic, but we’ve still been busy. I’m writing to tell you where we’re at with the line, what’s just come out, and what’s coming.

Enemies & Allies

First of all, COVID-19 put a bit of a dampener on our first hardcover release of the year, Enemies & Allies, so I’d like to give it another mention! Enemies & Allies is a “core” release for Modern AGE, detailing a few dozen possible friends and foes for your campaign. Enemies & Allies provides entities and optional rules split into modern fantasy, horror, crime-focused genres, military and technothriller, and science fiction focused chapters. The book includes appendices for creating your own NPCs, introducing ordinary animals, and converting creatures to and from other Adventure Game Engine books.

PDF Adventures: Modern AGE Missions and Five and Infinity

Modern AGE has two adventure series. The first, Modern AGE Missions, is a series of PDF releases mostly unconnected to any particular setting. The first, Warflower, is available through our webstore or DriveThruRPG. The next adventure, Feral Hogs, is due out later this quarter.

The second series, Five and Infinity, is a series of semi-connected adventures in the Threefold setting that can take characters from level 1 to 16. Five and Infinity was originally going to be released as a hardcover, and it still will be, but has been pushed back. For now, we’re releasing the adventures chapter by chapter, along with Chapter 0: The Adventure Generator, a table-based tool for producing plots for Threefold games that’ll set you back just 99 cents. Like Modern AGE Missions, they’re available at our webstore or DriveThruRPG.

Coming Hardcover Releases: Mastery and Powers

Coming soon! Modern AGE Mastery Guide

Finally, we have two hardcover books at various stages of development and production. First up is the Modern AGE Mastery Guide. The Mastery Guide is a book for both Game Masters and Players which includes advanced advice on how to play and run the game. It also includes new optional rules covering everything from equipment to extraordinary powers, and insights gleaned from a few years of Modern AGE being in the wild. If you want to assemble a “core rulebook” series, the Mastery Guide accompanies the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook and Modern AGE Companion, along with Enemies and Allies and the other book I’d like to talk about, Modern AGE Powers. The Modern AGE Mastery Guide is currently text-complete, and due for release in the fourth quarter of this year.

Modern AGE Powers is what you think it is: a guide to using extraordinary powers in Modern AGE. This book collects rules for powers found in prior releases, adds new rules, and does a deep dive into the story elements of magic, psychic disciplines, extraordinary abilities and items, and even a roster of strange beings suitable for games that revolve around the existence of powers. Modern AGE Powers is currently awaiting second drafts and is due to release in 2021.

And More…

Not counting Five and Infinity’s eventual hardcover release, Modern AGE currently has two more books in various stages of development, and casual discussion about everything from licenses (World of Lazarus has done well, and we’re interested in similar good fits) to rules innovations. Stick around, play the game, and tell me what you’re doing with it, and what you’d like to see, though our various social media channels.

Now Available: Sword Chronicle, the Feudal Fantasy Roleplaying Game

Sword Chronicle available now!You belong to a noble house, and its fortunes rise and fall with your actions. You’re a lord, a knight, a servant in the shadows, or perhaps a sorcerer-sage, bound to a dynasty of rulers. A vassal’s honor binds you to obey those above your station, and the responsibilities of privilege make you well aware that your lessers prosper or suffer according to your will—or if you fail, in spite of it. Your people are yours to protect, but the world is yours to conquer. You’ve committed your house to the Sword Chronicle, which is available to buy today!

Sword Chronicle is fantasy roleplaying in Green Ronin’s Chronicle System, now customized for you to bring in your own worlds of intrigue-laden fantasy. Within this book you’ll find the following:

  • A classless gritty fantasy roleplaying game, where words can be as powerful as weapons—and weapons enforce your words.
  • Character creation that gives players’ characters specific positions in a noble house of their own design.
  • Rules for the fantasy ancestries of elves, dwarves, and ogres, and frictionless game systems for playing a character of multiple ancestries.
  • Grim, dramatic combat where death is a risk, but profit comes from ransoming your noble enemies.
  • Revised and reorganized intrigue rules for the Chronicle System, to give socially oriented characters real power.
  • Mass combat rules fit for sieges and conquests.
  • Subtle, powerful magic for the Chronicle System.
  • Introducing the Shattered Era setting.

Read more about Sword Chronicle and the Chronicle System in previous Ronin Roundtables.

Buy Sword Chronicle Now

Buy Sword Chronicle: Feudal Fantasy Roleplaying, now available in PDF:

Enhance Your Sword Chronicle Game with compatible Chronicle System supplements (You can also find the Chronicle System supplements on DrivethruRPG here).

Visit the Chronicle System Guild

With the launch of Sword Chronicle comes the Chronicle System Guild, the community content program for the Chronicle System. Using Sword Chronicle as a reference, partners devise new characters, houses, settings, rules, and more.

I’LL TAKE YOU RIGHT INTO THE DANGER ZONES

If you’ve been following Mutants & Masterminds news the last few months, you’ve probably heard me talk way too much about Danger Zones. I refuse to apologize for my weird love of maps, but this time around, as the products finally take their first steps into the world, I’m not just going to blather on yet again about how much fun it can be to add set piece elements to your superhero fights based on where they happen and how they can really mix up and add interest to your adventures.

Instead, let’s talk about how you can mine cool maps for adventure ideas.

Danger Zones: Bank Map!

So here’s our Danger Zones: Bank map, a pretty standard savings & loan based loosely on a few real locations. Like any good comic book bank, you’ve got a large lobby full of pillars for a superhero fight, some safety deposit boxes for secret documents, and a comedically oversized vault in the basement, no doubt leftover from a bygone era when banks were required to keep more cash and valuables on-hand. Villains could be after valuables, but we also have elements like a large bookkeeping office, so maybe your villain isn’t attacking the bank itself but some hapless accountant. Like a lot of sturdily built old buildings, it also has a forgotten fallout shelter in the basement, which could serve as a villains lair or the hiding place or some clue lost in 1952. I, like most people, hear “supervillains attacking a bank” and immediately think “oh, they’re after the cash,” but with something physical to work with, you can start thinking about what else goes on at a bank and how to subvert people’s expectations.

Danger Zones: BankEach Danger Zone entry comes with a few suggested Capers set in that location (in this case, provided by the creative Katherine Schuttler), but here are some of my own ideas that come just from checking out the map:

Assault on the Credit Union

The heroes are caught inside the bank just as a major criminal organization begins an all-out assault. One of the bank employees has been feeding the FBI information on a major player’s white collar crime, and now all the syndicates resources—including several villains—are coming down hard hoping to wipe out the witness, the evidence, and maybe the entire building in one bloody night. The heroes can use the map and a list of the personnel and equipment in the building to come up with defense strategies and fallback locations and keep patrolling the building to make sure no one’s coming in through the windows or the loading ramp in the basement (if one of the hired villains is has stretchy powers, shrinking, or can turn into fluid, they might also have to deal with a nightmarish night deposit to kick things off). How do a band of superheroes keep a small army at bay and keep everyone trapped inside alive long enough for help to arrive?

With a map, I can track where the heroes are, where the NPCs are, and where the crooks are and decide how well each entryway is holding up to the siege, and the players can decide where they fall back to as the enemies progress.

Banking and Entry

A legendary mystical archaeologist has passed away after an improbably long life, leaving many of his greatest discoveries concealed in forgotten safe deposit boxes across the United States. The heroes need one to solve a crisis, or need to keep one out of the hands of a diabolical cult, who have already begun infiltrating the bank’s management. The heroes might stage the bank robbery themselves under temporary “villain” identities and have a confrontation with the local police or local heroes, or they might stage a quiet break-in after hours. Either way, with a detailed map, I can play up their B&E more strategically and add some drama, like a regular guard patrol or figure out where the lines of sight for police snipers might be. This could be the start to, or culmination of, a “hunted by the authorities” plotline!

A solo break-in might be better for a one-on-one session with the team’s sneakiest member, but also lets you break out all the rules for security systems in the Danger Zones text itself.

Gilded Cage

The fallout shelter in the basement looks like a great place for a villain’s lair, especially if some trash-tier bad guys move in and retreat here every time the cops or heroes start to get involved, lying low until the authorities get bored. Pack Rat and Junkpile from Threat Report are the obvious candidates, but it would be a lot more fun if there was a second layer of villainy obfuscating them. Maybe Dollface (again, see Threat Report) has an identity working in the bank and is deliberately hiding the villains’ trail and keeping them safe in exchange for retrieving parts she needs, or the Grandmaster (see Emerald City) has been manipulating the duo as unwitting knights in one of his obtuse schemes, placing obsessions into the impressionable villains then hiding them behind a respectable facade. Once the heroes discover WHO is performing these robberies, they must still track them back to their lair and decide how to approach the bank—a business unwilling to simply grant free access to strange people in masks.

There are several Danger Zones releasing this week. You can find them all in our Green Ronin Online Store RIGHT HERE, as well as on DrivethruRPG. Check back later this week and in the coming weeks, for additional Zones!