Modern Monday: What’s Up? And Your Cool Idea From Gen Con

Modern Monday isn’t as frequent as it used to be, because Modern AGE is out! Buy it, play it, talk about it online. Today I’m going to talk about what’s happening with the game before finishing off with a cool idea put forth by multiple gamers at Gen Con.

(Want to dip your toes in first? Try the free Quickstart out.)

It’s out. Spread the word with your phone, not, uh, the other tool.

What’s Coming Out?

The Modern AGE Basic Rulebook is winging its way through distribution chains (and if you click on the link, you can get it straight from us, too). Preorders were on the march before distribution. We had this at Gen Con and it sold well enough that we had to order more halfway through the convention. I’m not sure how many we got altogether, but we went home with one box of ten. As developer, this lightened my heart.

We had advance copies of the Modern AGE Game Master’s Kit at Gen Con, and it should be following shortly. That’s the GM’s screen and reference cards. Being a middle-aged man, I found it weird when people bought this without getting the core, but of course someone explained to me that many of you had the game on PDF and wanted a hardcopy table reference. My beard visibly grayed in response.

The World of Lazarus is the first Modern AGE setting, based on the acclaimed comic series by Greg Rucka. It’s currently finishing layout. This is Crystal Frasier’s project, though I covered a modest chunk of writing. I love the comic and am looking forward to this. We expect this one to drop in a matter of weeks.

The Modern AGE Companion has fully edited text and art notes. It’s due to come out in early 2019. This is a counterpart to the Fantasy AGE Companion, in that it includes many new optional rules, including advanced talents, duels, horror, fantasy and SF backgrounds (like elves . . . and aliens), powers, technology, fighting styles—lots and lots of stuff. As it gets close to release I’ll preview some of its content.

On the Horizon

We have a tentative plan for Modern AGE that covers future releases. As I’ve explained here and there, I usually only announce books when they’re text-complete, so this part’s going to be vague even though some of these are already in production. Note that anything on this list is subject to change, but it includes the following:

  • Adventure support.
  • Adversaries and other NPCs across a range of genres.
  • One original setting with a very broad scope. If it performs well, it will become Modern AGE’s flagship setting.
  • At least one other setting. Setting pitches have been very popular for this game.
  • A dedicated Game Master sourcebook.

Like I said, things in this list are subject to change. I don’t lock things in until they’re close to completion.

Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That: Shifting Mode

As mentioned, the Modern AGE Companion’s text is finalized. This is almost a pity, because I get new ideas all the time. However, there’s one thing I can’t take credit for, which three different people proposed at Gen Con: mode shifting.

Modern AGE has Gritty, Pulpy and Cinematic Modes to match your campaign’s style. These geniuses of Gen Con suggested being able to switch modes mid-campaign. This is a fantastic idea, meant to reflect things like the transition from a Gritty investigation to a Cinematic shootout. Of course, it can also be used to create games where, outside of set piece combat, characters can be effectively knocked out and captured. Here’s how I suggest you do it:

  • Calculate each character’s Health in all three modes. When the mode changes use the new Health score. Calculate the amount of damage accumulated separately from a character’s Health score. When your character’s base Health goes up due to a change in mode, recalculate their remaining Health by subtracting damage from the base. When your character’s base Health goes down due to a change in mode, use the lower of base Health or their remaining Health after injury, if any.
  • Use the Defense and Toughness scores of the most lenient mode the campaign will be shifting to. If you’re using all three modes, that’s Cinematic. Recalculating these really isn’t worth the effort.
  • Apply all other mode rules based on whichever one is in play, except the one for Resources. Pick one mode for that and stick to it. The main ones are how Toughness works, and which stunts you can access.

A Little Bit of Gratitude

Modern AGE seems to be a success. Before I go, I want to thank you for making it that way. Enjoy it, Play it. Talk about your campaigns. Have fun.

Ronin Roundtable: Expanse Kickstarter Flip ‘n’ Burn!

So, here’s hoping the Expanse RPG Kickstarter burns just as hard at the end as it did in the beginning, because we have lot of momentum to shed before it all comes to an end at 9:00 pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, August 22nd.

That doesn’t leave a lot of time for you to back the Kickstarter, if you’ve been on the fence thus far. So I wanted to highlight some of the great things you can get, along with some of the discussion and previews of the game to-date, so you have all of the information you need to make your own decision (I think James Holden would want it that way). First, what you can get:

At the $30 Drop Ship reward level, you’re getting PDFs of the Expanse RPG core rulebook, the Game Master’s Kit Screen, GM’s Kit Adventure, Reference Cards, Pregenerated Characters, and the six-part Abzu’s Bounty adventure series. With the starter adventure now included in the core book, that’s eight adventures for your Expanse game (nine, if you count the free adventure included in the Quickstart).

At the $70 Destroyer level, you’re getting the Expanse RPG core book and Expanse Game Master’s Kit in print: A 224-page, full color hardcover book, lavishly illustrated with a fold-out map of the Solar System, plus the hardcover stock GM screen, reference cards, and adventure and pregenerated character booklet. Plus you get all of the PDFs, including the six-part Abzu’s Bounty adventure series.

At the $100 Battleship level, you get the special edition of The Expanse RPG core book, with beautiful black leatherette cover with silver solar system graphics and dust jacket, in addition to the printed GM’s Kit and all of the PDF content.

We’ve also unlocked an exciting new pledge level: At $1000, James S.A. Corey will write flash fiction about your Expanse character! Based on the info you send, Daniel and Ty will write a one page (200-300 word) “flash-fiction” piece about your character. These will be shared as a PDF with all backers who pledge $30 or more. In addition to the story, you get copies of the Special Edition and the Standard Edition of The Expanse RPG corebook, a bookplate signed by James S.A. Corey, the Expanse GM’s Kit, and all of the PDF rewards as well!

That’s what you can get (and there are other backer levels to mix-and-match, including levels for retailers), but you wonder “Tell me more about the game…?” Glad you asked!

First and foremost, you can check out the Expanse RPG Quickstart for free: a 40-page PDF that includes essential rules, pregenerated characters, and an adventure you can play right away to give you a taste of the new game. You can also get the Expanse Quickstart in print while supplies last.

You can also take a look at all of the Expanse Extra previews we’ve posted on the Kickstarter. These add to the basic rules in the Quickstart, giving you even more to play around with in your first game in terms of trying things out. They include:

  • Fortune: More about how Fortune works in The Expanse in terms of modifying die rolls and how characters recover it over time.
  • The Churn: How The Expanse RPG keeps players guessing with a system to ramp up the stakes and provide for some exciting twists,
  • Interludes: The Expanse system for handling events that happen in-between the moment-by-moment encounters, providing a framework for long travel times, downtime, and other narrative elements.
  • Qualities & Flaws: Ways to modify technology and equipment in The Expanse to give it individual character and flavor with a minimum of complexity.
  • Space Combat! A look at how combat occurs between ships in space in The Expanse RPG, using a familiar encounter from the novels themselves.

Lastly, you can take a look at some of the media coverage The Expanse RPG has received. We’re incredibly appreciative of all of the excitement shown by fans of the series towards the forthcoming game!

The Expanse Roleplaying Game Kickstarter: Here Comes the Juice! (Initial Launch Announcement)

Starships and Steel blog (news and analysis of the Expanse RPG)

Talking the Expanse RPG With Steve Kenson (BAMF podcast)

Victory Condition Gaming podcast chats with Steve Kenson, Green Ronin Publishing – The Expanse RPG

Polyhedron podcast: Ep. 65 “The asteroid can dodge…?”

The Expanse Is Getting a New RPG, Thanks to a Wildly Successful Kickstarter (io9)

The Expanse Is Being Turned Into an RPG (The Verge)

“The Expanse, Once a Homebrew Tabletop RPG, Is Going Legit” (Polygon)

The Expanse Panel with James S.A. Corey and Green Ronin Publishing (GenCon – YouTube)

#randomworlds online Q&A: The Expanse RPG

Ronin Roundtable: The Expanse vs. Modern AGE by Malcolm Sheppard

It has certainly been a wild ride and we’re looking forward to passing the finish line and opening up the universe of The Expanse for countless new stories and adventures that you help to create!

The Expanse RPG Kickstarter News

1000% Funded! New Reward Tier! New Stretch Goals!

Today we crested $300,000 in The Expanse RPG Kickstarter, so we are now 1000% funded. Thank you, backers! We are beyond psyched at the response and we’ve still got 8 days to go. At $300,000 we unlocked the James S.A. Corey Flash Fiction stretch goal. As part of that, I’ve just added a new reward tier that you all get first crack at.

$1000: Tell James S.A. Corey About Your Character

James S.A. Corey will write flash fiction about YOUR Expanse character. Based on the info you send, Daniel and Ty will write a one page (200-300 word) short story about your character. These stories will be shared as a PDF with all backers who pledge $30 or more to the Kickstarter and will be copyright James S.A. Corey. In addition to the story, you get copies of the Special Edition AND the Standard Edition of the Expanse RPG, a bookplate signed by James S.A. Corey, the GM’s Kit, and all of the PDFs.

Up to 20 lucky people can have James S.A. Corey write a story based on their character and everyone who pledges $30 will get to enjoy the result.

New James S. A. Corey Short Story

Our $400,000 stretch goal is a new James S.A. Corey short story that will go into the game itself. That’s pretty exciting stuff but we’ve also added some intermediate stretch goals as well.

Spaceship Deck Plans!

In between 300K and 400K we’ve got bunch of new goals to unlock PDF deck plans for various ships of The Expanse. For starters we are concentrating on ships that players and GMs will find most useful in their campaigns. A light freighter may not be as sexy as a frigate but it will feature in a lot more RPG adventures. Naturally, as part of these stretch goals, we have the MCRN Corvette-class, the most famous of which is the Rocinante!

Thanks for making The Expanse RPG Kickstarter such a success already. Keep spreading the word and let’s see how far this ship will take us!

Ronin Roundtable: The Expanse Versus Modern AGE

I’ve been back from Gen Con for nearly a week, having carried back some great memories—and annoying microorganisms. I got “con crud” in whatever form managed to hit my throat, chest and sinuses, while mixing in a fever. I’m running hot right now. And yet, through the haze of my illness, I remember many, many questions related to our recently-released Modern AGE, and its still-in-Kickstarter cousin, The Expanse Roleplaying Game. The Expanse features some elements originally devised for Modern AGE but is its own game. To sort out the details—and remind you that Modern AGE is out, and we’d love you to crowdfund The Expanse! —read on.

Both Games Are Core Books

First off, many people wondered if you needed Modern AGE to run The Expanse. You do not. The Expanse Roleplaying Game is a complete game based on the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system. However, both games are compatible to various degrees. Modern AGE has a different selection of stunts which can easily be ported over, and has extraordinary powers such as psychic disciplines, which you might want to use in some personal variant of The Expanse. If your primary interest is Modern AGE, new rules for equipment and space travel are among some of the elements you can convert, along with Fortune, interludes, injury conditions and the Churn.

Both Games Are Classless

Not “classless” as in “something Amos might say or do,” but as in bereft of the character classes used in previous AGE games like Fantasy AGE and Blue Rose. In both Modern AGE and The Expanse, characters pick a background, profession and drive: Where they’re from, what they did, and why they get involved with the story. Where the games differ is that while Modern AGE presents a spread of options suited to a wide variety of contemporary settings, The Expanse’s counterparts come straight from the setting of the books, and incorporate the unusual environments of Earth, Mars and the Belt, leading to characters deeply embedded in its future history.

Each Game Has Its Own Take on AGE

While Modern AGE’s core systems were the basis for The Expanse’s design, we see the Adventure Game Engine as something which should be deeply customized for each setting. In Modern AGE, which has no core setting, this is accomplished through game modes (Gritty, Pulpy and Cinematic—see here for more on genres and modes) and other options. The Expanse novels present a defined reality for characters to operate in, however, so its rules have been tuned accordingly. Therefore, injuries are tracked using conditions in The Expanse, instead of Health, as they are in Modern AGE, with Fortune acting to moderate them according to a character’s dramatic arc.

Similarly, the narrative tone of The Expanse includes the optional Churn system, where luck is always answered by new challenges, because this is how the books play out. Modern AGE doesn’t have that system, though the upcoming Modern AGE Companion will include Dramatic Rhythm, which Game Masters can apply for similar effects.

Parallel Lines

I’m the developer of Modern AGE. Steve Kenson is The Expanse’s developer. We’re treating these as two independent lines for the sake of support and supplements, so that expansions such as the Abzu’s Bounty campaign don’t use a release “slot” (assuming there even is such a thing) earmarked for Modern AGE.

Plans for supplements for The Expanse beyond Abzu’s Bounty and The Expanse Game Master’s Kit have yet to be announced. Modern AGE’s core book is shipping now, with the Modern AGE Game Master’s Kit to follow (we had an early shipment come in for Gen Con, so those of you who bought a copy then got the jump on everyone else!). Next up for Modern AGE is The World of Lazarus (based on Greg Rucka’s comic of near future, posthuman feudalism, unrelated to The Expanse) and in early 2019, the Modern AGE Companion.

The Expanse is in mid-Kickstarter, but You Can Get Modern AGE Now

Since the Modern AGE developer is writing this column, he/I get to use the last bit to blatantly hawk that game. It’s for sale! It’s shipping! Get it from us or favorite supplier.

However, in fever-wracked visions (seriously, Gen Con made me unwell) I can see Steve frowning, so I will also mention The Expanse Roleplaying Game is in mid-Kickstarter. Back it so we can kick over final stretch goals, including new fiction by James S. A. Corey!

Press Release: Freeport Video Game Coming In 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FREEPORT VIDEO GAME COMING IN 2019

Drowning Monkeys Games to Bring Classic Tabletop Setting to CRPGs

August 2, 2018—SEATTLE, WA: Green Ronin Publishing and Drowning Monkeys Games are proud to announce the first Computer Role Playing Game (CRPG) based on Green Ronin’s original tabletop fantasy setting Freeport: The City of Adventure.

“How incredible would it be to have a magic table that comes to life as the Game Master describes what is happening? What if you could play a tabletop game with friends over the internet in VR?” said Drowning Monkeys Games’ Josh Chudnovsky. “These are the questions we ask to fans of computer and tabletop RPGs and these are the questions the Freeport Video Game will answer. This game is a wholly-new, fun, and unique approach on the CRPG experience. You play in a virtual room, hosted by a virtual Game Master (whose voice promises to be familiar to tabletop fans everywhere) on a virtual table. Everything that exists in real tabletop gaming; Dice throws, playing with friends, painting miniatures, dioramas, character sheets, etc. is represented in the play space.”

Freeport is setting well-known to tabletop roleplayers. First launched in 2000 with the award-winning Death in Freeport, the “City of Adventure” mixes classic fantasy elements with pirates and Lovecraftian horror. Over the years Green Ronin has supported the setting with a series of sourcebooks and adventures, including the Pirate’s Guide to Freeport and Freeport: The City of Adventure.

“When I created Freeport, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that it’d still be going 18 years later,” said Green Ronin president Chris Pramas. “To see the setting thrive for all these years has been amazing. Now I’m thrilled we have the opportunity to bring the City of Adventures to video games.”

Freeport: The City of Adventure will closely follow the recent adventure series Return to Freeport published by Green Ronin. It will also feature several hours of additional roleplaying side quests and offer a never-before-seen deep dive into learning more about the Lovecraftian world that Freeport inhabits.

Availability & Requirements: Freeport: The City of Adventure is slated for a Holiday 2019 release, and will require Windows 7/10, a 7th generation core-i5 processor, 16gb of RAM, and a DX11- capable graphics card.

Drowning Monkeys Games is an independent games developer of desktop and handheld games and is best known for its 2012 release Dungeon Crawlers, which is available on Steam & iOS. For more information about Freeport, including screenshots, teaser, and press kit, visit us at: http://www.drowningmonkeys.com/freeport

Green Ronin Publishing is a Seattle based company dedicated to the art of great games. Since the year 2000 Green Ronin has established a reputation for quality and innovation that is second to none, publishing such roleplaying game hits as Dragon Age, Blue Rose, and Mutants & Masterminds, and winning over 40 awards for excellence. For an unprecedented three years running Green Ronin won the prestigious GenCon & EnWorld Award for Best Publisher.

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Freeport Video Game Announcement Trailer

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition: Pre-Order and PDF

Longtime Green Ronin fans will recall that our very first product, released eighteen years ago, was Ork! The Roleplaying Game. This beer ‘n’ pretzels RPG was a blast to play. We’ve had a lot to do since then, however, and Ork! didn’t see additional releases. Until now!

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second EditionOrk! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition is now available to pre-order in our Green Ronin Online Store and through participating brick-and-mortar retailers. And, when you pre-order the physical book, you can get the PDF version right away for just $5! (If your favorite local game or book retailer doesn’t know about the pre-order deal, please point them at our Retailer Support page for details.)

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition

Shut up! You am Ork! Enter the bone-cracking World of Orkness with Ork! The Roleplaying Game. This new edition is the standalone, streamlined roleplaying game of orkish mayhem: a “beer and pretzels” game where monstrous, hilarious adventure matters more than rules and tables. Claw your way out of the Gunk Pit, earn your name with acts of spectacular violence, and bring terror to the Squishy Man villages in the name of Almighty Krom. Includes a blood-soaked combat system, other, lesser rules, and a complete series of adventures to take your orks from nameless youth to sharp-toothed, unholy terrors–if you can avoid the wrath of Krom. Being a monster has never been such fun!

Ronin Roundtable: Nisaba Press update!

So, by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the announcement about Nisaba Press’s first novel, Shadowtide, by Blue Rose’s own, beloved Joe Carriker. Joe turned the final manuscript over to me a couple of months ago, and I worked on the edits while I was in New Orleans for a convention. Readers, this book is lovely. It’s full of intrigue, adventure, and chosen family, led by a smart-talking rhy-crow and a grieving Night Woman.

Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.

The book is now in production’s hands, along with the interior art order. It’s going to be pretty amazing, and I couldn’t be happier with the first entry in Nisaba’s novel line.

But now that Joe’s novel is into production, let’s talk about what we can look forward to next. Nisaba’s fiction is currently focused on our three internal settings, Blue Rose, Freeport, and Mutants & Masterminds. With a Blue Rose novel out, what could possibly be next?

How about a Mutants & Masterminds novel, penned by Aaron Rosenberg? Aaron is an experienced novelist who is familiar with tie-in and game fiction, having written for properties including Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Star Wars, Warhammer, and Eureka. He’s written for a number of game properties, too, including several supplements for Green Ronin. His combination of game and novel experience made him a great fit for our next Nisaba novel.

Coming in fourth quarter 2018 from Nisaba Press, Height of the Storm is a novel about a teenager who gets caught in a storm, and wakes up with a big choice to make. We’ve been through the first round of edits, and the manuscript is back with Aaron for a final writing pass before the copyedit phase starts. Hal has the cover art notes, and we’re looking forward to initial sketches.

In the meantime, check out our short fiction, and keep an eye out for an announcement of the upcoming Nisaba Journal, our first collection of short fiction. The Journal will be produced bi-monthly, containing 4-6 short stories in the featured settings, and available in our web store. The August issue includes stories from Richard Lee Byers, Tiffany Trent, Michael Matheson, Dylan Birtolo, Rhiannon Louve, and a prequel to Height of the Storm from Aaron Rosenberg!

Thanks for reading, folks. I’m super excited to bring you the next round of fiction set in Green Ronin’s worlds.

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

Basic Hero's Handbook for Mutants & Masterminds: Pre-Order and PDFThe Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook is now available to pre-order in our Green Ronin Online Store and through participating brick-and-mortar retailers. And, when you pre-order the physical book, you can get the PDF version right away for just $5! (If your favorite local game or book retailer doesn’t know about the pre-order deal, please point them at our Retailer Support page for details.)

If you happen to be going to Gen Con this year, you can select the $0 Gen Con Pick-Up “shipping” option. For such orders, folks who bring their order confirmation email by our booth at Gen Con (Indianapolis, IN, August 2–5, 2018, booth #1321) can pick up their pre-ordered books. (Please only pick this shipping method if you can make it to our booth at Gen Con.)

Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook

Every hero needs an origin story and this can be yours! Written with new gamers in mind, the Basic Hero’s Handbook streamlines and clarifies the flexible, robust third edition rules of Mutants & Masterminds. With simplified character creation and a selection of ready-made adventures, the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook lets players jump right into the action. The book is fully compatible with the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook and the entire library of third edition Mutants & Masterminds supplements, instantly expanding your character options and adventure potential. Whether you’re just getting started, or want an extra player-friendly reference at the table, the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook is the choice for your world-saving needs!

The Expanse Roleplaying Game Kickstarter: Here Comes the Juice!

The Expanse Roleplaying Game coverSo, if you haven’t heard, on Monday, Green Ronin launched a Kickstarter for the new The Expanse Roleplaying Game using the Adventure Game Engine, and by “launched” we mean in true Expanse fashion, involving some massive acceleration and heavy Gs! The Kickstarter funded fully within the first hour, hit over 300% funding within ten hours, and is still going strong!

The Expanse, of course, is the hugely popular series of science fiction novels by James S.A. Corey, brought to television by SyFy. In fact, the series is so popular that when SyFy decided to stop producing The Expanse series, the online #SaveTheExpanse campaign helped to convince Amazon Prime Video to pick it up and begin producing a fourth season.

Green Ronin Publishing has a license with The Expanse creators (James S.A. Corey is the pen-name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) to publish a tabletop roleplaying game based on the books. This is familiar territory for the authors, since The Expanse started out as a concept for a massive multiplayer video game, and was used as a setting for a roleplaying campaign before the novels were written. Now it has come full-circle back to its RPG roots.

You can find lots more information about the forthcoming Expanse Roleplaying Game at the Kickstarter page, and you can also download The Expanse Quickstart: A complete set of scaled-down rules, pre-generated characters, and an initial adventure to get you playing in the universe of The Expanse right away. It’s a great opportunity to “test-drive” the game before you decide to back it.

To those who have already backed this project on Kickstarter…thank you! Everyone at Green Ronin is blown away by your show of support and your interest in the game, and we’re excited about taking the opportunity to come up with even more stretch goals to make The Expanse RPG the very best that it can be and to reward you for the confidence you have shown in us.

The Expanse Backer Badges!

Earth: I backed The Expanse RPG on Kickstarter Mars: I backed The Expanse RPG on Kickstarter Mars: I backed The Expanse RPG on Kickstarter

In the meanwhile, if you want to show your support and help to spread the word, we’ve come up with these backer badges. Choose the faction you most identify with: Earth, Mars, or the Belt, change your various profile pictures to show your support for the project, and hold on for some more juice as The Expanse Roleplaying Game Kickstarter continues to accelerate! This ride has just begun and there are a lot of adventures awaiting us.

Basic Hero’s Handbook preview: THE ARCHETYPES: ANANSI

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!

 

———————-

Morowa grew up in the nation of Dakana, a technologically advanced society hidden from the rest of the world. As a child, she always felt confident in her place in the world. With her clever mind and natural talent for athletics, she fit in perfectly as a member of the nation’s defense forces. As she advanced in school, she studied all the courses necessary for her to enter the all-female force comprising Dakana’s greatest defenders.

But her plans for the future derailed as Morowa began having strange dreams. At first, the dreams were  the same. She stood on the edge of a tall building, looking out over an unfamiliar city. It was night, and a moon shone brightly overhead. Below her, thousands of people went about their daily lives, unaware of her watchful presence. The city—like a heart—beat strong, but out beyond the heart poison crept through its veins.

Young and headstrong, she initially dismissed the dreams as a strange quirk of her mind. But the visions continued, and gradually Morowa found herself able to interact with them. She walked around the roof, glancing down from different angles and seeing slices of city life. She witnessed car accidents, assaults, and robberies, but she also saw good-hearted people stepping in to help when they could. And every time a good soul stepped in to help, the poison receded just a little.

Eventually, the young soldier began to notice a tiny spider crouched on the ledge. One night, as she descended again into the dream-city, the spider spoke to her.

“You are destined for more than a life of routine,” the spider said. “The heart you have trained your whole life to protect is strong; it drips with good souls and healthy blood. Your fate lies across the sea. You will help those who need it and strike down those who would harm the innocent. If you love the heart, how can you not love the body it feeds as well?”

After that, the dreams stopped. Morowa resisted, at first. She already had such a clear vision for her future, and it didn’t include traveling to another continent and living among the strange customs of the western world, with its crime and intolerance. But she couldn’t shake the spider’s words out of her head, and after discussing the matter with the shamans and soldiers, she decided to follow the path laid out by her dreams.

The first night in her new city, she dreamed again of the spider. “You have made a wise choice,” the spider said. “Fight with a fearless heart and trust those who come to your aid.”

Morowa fights with her acrobatic skills and with three weapons brought from her homeland. The most obvious are a collapsing staff and spider-shaped throwing disks, but the least obvious is the most deadly: a lifetime raised in a world uncorrupted by petty greed and hate, and the knowledge that such a place can exist where people flourish. Those who have fought her would also add Morowa’s sharp wit to her list of weapons. She calls herself Anansi, after the spider of folk-tales brought to Dakana from distant Ghana. She still knows little of the spider from her visions, but Morowa  knows who she is:  a trickster, and a spider whose bite draws out venom from the veins of the world.