Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order & PDF

Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order and PDF

Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting Pre-Order and PDF

Pre-ordering is now active for the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting!

Important! You have three choices of where to start, so please make sure you choose the one you want:

  • Pre-Order for Shipping
    This is the option to get the physical book shipped to you once they are done printing. You’ll receive an offer to get the PDF version right away for just $5, but you must choose “Add to Cart” in the pop-up window to get the offer.
  • Pre-Order for Gen Con Pick-Up:
    This is the option to choose if you are going to be at Gen Con 50 this August in Indianapolis and can come by the Green Ronin Publishing booth (#1321 in the Exhibit Hall) to pick up your book in person, with photo ID. When you check out you’ll be offered the PDF version for just $5, but you must choose “Add to Cart” in the pop-up window to get the offer.
  • PDF:
    Don’t like lugging books around with you as you search for adventure in Tal’Dorei? This is the option for you.

Questions?

We have a FAQ set up just for you. If you’re still not sure about something, you can write our Customer Service Templar at custserv@greenronin.com. But please do read the FAQ first.

GenCon Memories

GenCon is coming up next month and it’s a big one: the 50th anniversary! We will, of course, have a booth (#1321) and we’ll be debuting the Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting there (pre-orders for which started today). GenCon is doing a lot of cool stuff to celebrate the anniversary, including a recreation of Lake Geneva’s Horticultural Hall, site of the very first GenCon. There will also be a museum with all sorts of artifacts from the history of the hobby, including a couple of Green Ronin books. I already wish I was going to have more time to check all that stuff out!

The anniversary has, of course, made me think about my own history with the show. I first went to GenCon in 1989, when I was in college. I didn’t know anyone there. I went out by myself, had an amazing time, and convinced some friends to come back with me the following year. I’ve never missed a GenCon since. In 1993 it started to turn into work, as I began to pursue a career as a freelance game designer that eventually lead to me becoming a publisher. For a long time now the focus of the con has been work and I wouldn’t give up that up, but I do look back on those first five GenCons with much fondness.

Playing Warhammer Fantasy Battle at GenCon, 1990

In those days I came to play and I did not mess around. I would usually play in three 4-hour events per day. I would try to have one block free so I could get food and hit the dealers hall, but sometimes the events would line up so that I’d play for 12 hours straight. Some of the bigger miniatures game I played would be 8 hours by themselves! I didn’t mind. Quite the opposite! I was hungry for it, and I developed strategies to maximize my fun. At the time, I worked at an old school Italian coffee store in New York City. To save money and also time, I began bringing ground coffee, filters, and an electric kettle with me from home. I’d make a big thermos of coffee in the morning and drink it all day. One year, when I could barely afford a plane ticket, I brought a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter and that was most of my meals that week.

I hear folks complain about the various online registration systems in use at conventions today and all I can think about is fax machines. Back then you’d get a program book in the mail ahead of time and a sheet where you’d fill in your requested games and some alternates. On a specified day, you would fax it to TSR’s headquarters. Or try to anyway because thousands of other people were jamming up the fax lines at the same time. I was working a different job one year and one my regular duties was faxing various documents. Come registration day, I took my sign-up sheet, told my boss I had to make a fax for our department, and then spent an hour and a half in the basement trying to get it to go through! I pity the poor TSR staffers who had to hand collate all those sheets and fill the games. Closer to the con you’d get an envelope with printed tickets for your events. You often didn’t get all the games you wanted, so they’d fill out your order with generic tickets. On site, they had a giant board where the tickets would hang from rows and rows of hooks. You could wait in line and try to get into more events there. As you got the front, you could actually figure out which events still had tickets left by looking at the code numbers under the hooks that weren’t empty.

In this era GenCon was in Milwaukee. I don’t know if this is still the case but the downtown often smelled like chocolate because there was a factory there. Fun fact, it’s where noted cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer used to work! Every year there was a rush on the Hotel Wisconsin because it was cheap (like $64 a night) and close to the convention center. There was a diner on the ground floor where we’d get breakfast some mornings. I remember tying to order a bagel there and the staff had no idea what I was talking about. This was a confusing experience for a New Yorker. It did not help that was a vegetarian at the time. Let’s just say the options for non-meat eaters in Milwaukee in the early 90s were not plentiful. There was a terrible sports bar called Major Goolsby’s across from the convention center and I once ordered what they called a Wisconsin cheese sandwich there. Seemed safe enough. Wisconsin! Cheese! Why, there’s even a cheese museum on the highway between Chicago and Milwaukee. I get my food and it is a hamburger bun with one slice of American cheese, one piece of lettuce, and one slice of tomato. Sad vegetarian was sad.

But hey, no one goes to GenCon for the cuisine. I was playing tons of games and meeting new people every year. I loved the dealers hall then because the internet was barely a thing and there was so much gaming stuff I’d never see anywhere else but there. Finding that game I’d only heard about or scoring something long out of print felt like victories. The auction was great for that and I spent a lot of time between games there.

After my first GenCon experiences, I decided I wanted to start running games myself. Ars Magica was my favorite RPG then, so I began to run a two round ArM tournament. The characters and their covenant persisted year to year and I built on stories that played out in the finals. I did that for four years and it was a useful bridge between just being a fan and starting a career as a game designer. The things I learned playing and running games, and the people I met and the contacts I made, all played a role in me taking that leap. For these reasons and so many more, GenCon will always be special to me. So thanks, GenCon! Happy 50th and here’s to 50 more!

ENnie Awards Voting Open and ENnie Awards Sale

We are pleased and humbled to be nominated for eight ENnie Awards this year. We’ve included a list of our nominations at the bottom of this post.

2017 ENnies voting is now open

In our excitement about the ENnies we placed several products on sale in our Green Ronin Online Store. Please check out our 2017 ENnie Awards Sale.

Our nominations are for:

Best Adventure:
Dragon’s Hoard
Best Art, Cover:
Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy
Best Monster/Adversary:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Fantasy AGE Bestiary
Best RPG Related Product:
Cinema and Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film
Best Setting:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Best Supplement:
Cosmic Handbook
Product of the Year:
Atlas of Earth-Prime

As always, sincere congratulations to our fellow nominees, and thank you to all who worked on these products, all who vote, and everyone else we may have forgotten to list.

The Lost Citadel Countdown

The clock is counting down on Kickstarter for The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying. Thanks to our amazing backers, we fully funded in 24 hours, and have been knocking down stretch goal after stretch goal.

Ronin Roundtable: The Lost Citadel: Creating the First Map

Today’s RRT is by guest artist Andrew Law, who decided to share some insight into the process of creating his incredible map artwork for The Lost Citadel! Our Kickstarter has just one week left, if you’re a fan of 5th edition, you should really do yourself a favor and check it out now!

 


 

I’ve created hundreds of images during my professional career as a cartographer, but none excite and terrify more than the opening act: drafting the first map for a new setting.

Y’see, the first map is special. It sets the tone and mood for everything that comes after. It will be referenced, and re-referenced many times over by both the creators of the setting and the consumers, so it stands as an oft-trod gateway into the new world that many will come to know and love.

In short, I’m not just creating a map, I’m also introducing an entire setting with a single image.

No pressure, then.

Fortunately for me, The Lost Citadel has a wonderfully detailed writers’ bible that brings the setting, for all the Dead haunt its every corner, alive. So, there was already a wealth of detail to inspire me. All I had to do was draw it.

With all that in mind, I prepared to draft the first map. To begin, I referred to the design brief and did my best to conceive of something that would fully represent as much of The Lost Citadel as possible.

So, what did I have to create?

 

The Brief

My brief boiled down to three basic requirements:

1) Create a vertical/portrait map with the same dimensions as the Freeport city poster.

2) Depict the outer city of Redoubt, some buildings of the inner city, and point to other important locations off-map.

3) The style should draw from various Middle Ages to Renaissance sources from East to West, but match none exactly, to best represent the artistic style of the current inhabitants of Redoubt.

That all sounded good. In addition, I worked with a fourth design goal of my own in mind, to help channel my creativity:

4) The map will illustrate some of the setting’s core concepts and historical details, in order support the existing world-building and introduce readers to The Lost Citadel.

And, now knowing what was required, I set to work.

Composition

To begin, I first sketched the area to be mapped. It was immediately obvious the city, plus the volcano behind it, would fill a broadly squarish area. This being the case, I’d need extra material to fill the top and bottom of the final image.

The bottom section was easy to resolve — a nice big title plate emblazoned with something like ‘THE CITY OF REDOUBT’ would likely do, perhaps illuminated with some in-game detail — but the top was a little more problematic. What should go there?

 

To answer, I had a good think about the setting, and what would allow me to add some of the details from the writers’ bible directly to the map. Eventually, I went with what I felt was the obvious answer: I decided to continue the map up into the sky, providing an opportunity to draw some of the setting’s celestial details as well as its terrestrial.

So, with that decided, I sketched it all out then began work on the detail.

Map in the Middle

After completing the preliminary sketches, I developed the central area of the image: the map of the city, the volcano, and the extras surrounding these.

The map itself was created in a simple style reminiscent of many Middle Age maps from the East and West, but without some of the goofier attempts at perspective or scaling often on display in such older cartography.  As a nod to these medieval sources, I presented almost all towers and buildings as front elevations, hinting at a simplicity of artistic capability, but drew the surrounding city walls with a little more sophistication to ensure the image didn’t look too abstract. I then set about filling in all the details between, making space for all the outer city’s fields and primary districts. I then drew the inner city, which I presented as a crowded pile, with a small proportion of the many buildings on display. More information concerning the Inner City will come with the next map for The Lost Citadel, one that was unlocked as a poster when the Kickstarter reached its 29K stretch goal, so I wasn’t concerned about the lack of precise detail here.

 

Outside the city walls, it’s all ‘no-man’s land’ and ‘here be dragons’ (well, the Dead). All manner of dead things are drawn beyond the walls, mirroring the sea beasts of ancient ocean maps, and the dragons/monsters from similar land maps. They demonstrate the ignorance of the artist in question as to what actually lies beyond the walls, and the ignorance of people as a whole concerning the Dead and what they are. This ignorance is reinforced by the map depicting nothing beyond the eyesight of those who walk the walls; i.e.: this is a map of all that is left of the known world to the inhabitants of Redoubt, which is pretty bleak given the small area shown.

In addition to these semi-mythical undead creatures, some ruins and basic geographical detail was added. Also, five hands were then depicted pointing to distant locations (at the four corners of the central map and another at the bottom of the image below the title plate).

That all done, it was time to turn to what lay above the city and the volcano: the heavens.

Heavens Above

Drawing the heavens provided an opportunity to depict the two moons of the setting — that’s the moons that are used in the ‘O’ of The Lost Citadel’s logo, if you hadn’t noticed, so I felt it was an important addition. Also, to support one of the central conceits of The Lost Citadel, I associated both moons with the Dead and drew them as skulls. This made sense as the moons are most visible at night, a time of danger, when it’s harder to see the Dead creeping around.

Contrasting with this, I drew the sun rising over the central volcano — and, in turn, the city itself — as a symbol of life and hope, with golden rays reaching out in all directions. This sun hints to the new dawn of civilisation that Redoubt could be should it survive. To strengthen this imagery, I gave the sun a human face as humanity is currently in control of Redoubt, suggesting any potential ‘dawn’ is largely in the hands of the city’s human rulers. Also, for those looking for a bleaker reading here, the sun rising over the volcano also winks at a possible future eruption, which would be cataclysmic in so many ways…

To frame the sun and moons, I drew the heavens as a great arc filled with stars, implying the in-setting artist who created the map knows the world is a globe — or, at the very least, has copied this detail from an earlier source. I chose to do this to show that for all the old civilization has come to an end with the rising of the Dead, some of the high knowledge it gathered still, in some form or another, endures – after all, the time before the Dead rose is still within living memory of some of the city’s eldest inhabitants. So, for all the truth of the world as a sphere surrounded by celestial objects is undoubtedly unimportant to the shoulder-to-shoulder common folk scraping out the barest of survivals within Redoubt’s high walls, older truths are still present in the city’s few examples of art, and such lore is possibly not lost to all scholars.

That done, I added some clouds to the top corners and was ready to move on. Next up, the bottom of the image, and the titles.

Title Below

The title plate was both the easiest and hardest section to create. First, it’s just a few words bunched together, so what could be simpler? But I wanted it to be more than that – to recall the illuminated letters of many Middle Age documents – so I decided to go a little farther. After some thought, I figured depicting one of the key events in the history of Redoubt – when the Dwarfs who built the city were enslaved – was essential, and I also thought it important to weave the Dead directly into the lettering in some fashion. So, I set to work drawing the capital ‘R’ of Redoubt with a whole bunch of extra details.

If you take a look in the hollow of the ‘R’ you will find a small illumination. There I drew a collared Ghûl (the dog-like creature), a crowned Human in purple robes, a servile brown-clad Elf, and a defeated Dwarf being chained. This is an illustration of the aforementioned enslavement of the Dwarfs, and also stands as a quick guide to the four, sentient species inhabiting the city. I then turned to the letter itself, and drew a skeleton turning its back on the life illustrated within the R (and the word Redoubt as a whole), showing how the Dead were antagonistic to the city and life as a whole. Further, I cut the skeleton off at the legs to stand as a metaphor for the city’s ability to stop the Dead in its tracks (no legs, no ability to progress), but not defeat it, for the skeleton’s back is still strong and its ‘eyes’ sharp. Further, the skeleton is incorporated directly into the capital letter to hint the city itself has the Dead within, which is a very real danger that all fear.

 

 

Beneath the text, a brief note to the renaming of the city to ‘Redoubt’ is also marked with the following: ‘Named by the Accord of the Last Redoubt’. This provides a reference to another key historical event for the city, when the old Dwarf name for Redoubt – Elldimek – was abandoned by its new human rulers. Lastly concerning the title, the continent name is also marked for the reader’s information: ‘Last Citadel of Zileska’.

Finishing Touches

That all done, it was time to turn to the image as a whole and finish it off.

Firstly, I drew a border to compliment the central map, and then set to work scuffing it up a little, to give the impression of use and age.

I did this because I presumed the map’s original creator drafted the image a few decades in the past. This allowed the map to be worn, reflecting the recycling of all things in Redoubt, a fact of life in the over-crowded city where every resource is precious. So, I spent some time creating a tired, worn, bloodied, folded-up on itself finish for the whole image, all standing as a metaphor for the people of Redoubt themselves, who are not in the best of shape.

Then I added clouds and skulls to the four corners. These represent the four winds blowing death at the city, reinforcing the idea that the Dead come from all sides, and that the curse of the Dead is everywhere, nicely subverting more typical Breath of Life imagery.

I then revisited the entire map and added extra labels where required. To do this, I used three languages (at least) to show the multiculturalism of the depicted city.

The first language I used was English. This stands in for the most common language in the city, a tongue of Venmir origin (the Venmir are one of the Human tribes). This is used for the title plate, all the important labels, and the very simple poetry concerning the winds I added to the four corners.

The next language on the map also uses Latin letters, and is presented as a higher/older version of Venmir (from Angati origin – another Human tribe). It is used to show the sunrise at the top of the map – Svitanus: ‘Sunrise’ – and to drop a reference to Elldimek, the old name for Redoubt, at the bottom of the image – Malnova Elldimek ripozas kun la Mortin: ‘Old Elldimek lies with the Dead’.

Lastly, one or more languages are deployed with characters with a strong Eastern influence (Tibetan and similar), with two paragraphs at the bottom of the map beneath the title plate, and several labels elsewhere. The exact meaning of these is left to others to decide.

And, then, after a tweak or two more, it was finished, and I sent the final image over to Green Ronin.

 

Done.

So, after all that, I dearly hope you like the end result. It was a joy to create.

Now I’m looking forward to later in the year, as I’m enormously excited to be drafting the detailed plan map of the inner city of Redoubt.

Until then,

Andrew Law, June 26th, 2017

 

Six of Swords Blue Rose Adventure Anthology Pre-Order and PDF

We have opened up pre-ordering for Six of Swords, an adventure anthology for Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy. Pre-order the physical book through our Green Ronin Online Store, and we’ll offer you the PDF version for just $5 during checkout.

If you’d rather support your local retailer, you can ask them to sign up for our GR Pre-Order Plus program. When you pre-order through a participating brick-and-mortar retailer, they will give you a coupon code so you can get the PDF from us for just $5.

Six of Swords is an adventure anthology for Blue Rose. Set in the fantastic world of Aldea, these six adventures provide Narrators with ready-to-go scenarios for characters of various levels. They include ruined mansions, masquerade balls, vampiric curses, mysterious masks, sorcerous secrets, ghostly hauntings, lost loves, looming threats, and tragic quests where heroes are called upon to make the right choices. Six of Swords has hours of adventure, excitement, and entertainment for your Blue Rose game. The Kingdom of the Blue Rose needs heroes. Will you answer the call?

Ronin Roundtable: Freedom City as You’ve Never Seen It!

One of my many duties as a developer for Green Ronin is seeing the 3rd edition of the Freedom City campaign setting safely off to print, like a loving mother. And as it turns out, this has been the easiest part of my job, because the book was almost entirely finished when I joined the team. So, like a loving mother who slept through most of her child’s life only to wake up in time to see them leave for college, I feel so proud of this enormous task I had virtually nothing to do with!

Freedom City 3rd Edition is almost entirely Jon Leitheusser’s legacy, following a similar format as the Emerald City campaign setting of several years earlier and building on the setting bones established in books like the Cosmic Handbook and Hero High. Freedom City has grown up and adapted to the turbulent events of the world. Some of your favorite heroes have retired as their years start to catch up with them, while new heroes have appeared to fill important roles. My only real contributions have been some light editing (Jon’s work is, as always, solid, and didn’t need much improving), and arguing with our esteemed production designer (chief art guy) Hal Mangold about the art.

Oh, and such art do we have! FC3E is a treasure trove of new art, bringing the city to life in detail we could only dream of in the past. Hal tracked down some amazing scenery artists to help flesh out the most recognizable city of Earth Prime, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed to see the city’s superhero museum and the Champions sports bar franchise brought to life!

Just check out a few quick previews:

 

Domenico Neziti

Brian Hagan

Brian Hagan

Domenico Neziti

There’s a lot more to come, giving a reality to the creepily delightful Ocean Heights Amusement Park, the slums of the Fens, and the Hanover Institute of Technology cloaked in its mantle of mid-century modernism. Fans can finally SEE Freedom City as well as imagine it, and Gamemasters now have images to share when the heroes arrive, itching for a fight, so instead of screaming “I punch Dr. Simian,” they can yell “I punch Dr. Simian into the reflecting pool!”

And really, isn’t that what superhero games are all about? Punching apes into landmarks?

The Lost Citadel Q&A Video

Jaym Gates, Nicole Lindroos, and CA Suleiman sat down together at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, and talked about The Lost Citadel, answering some questions backers have posted to the Kickstarter project page while they were at it. Hal Mangold caught it all on video, so we can all watch and enjoy.

In other news from the City of Redoubt, we have unlocked the Double-Sided Poster Map stretch goal, and are on our way to achieving System Hack: AGE, in which we hire Gary Astleford to create a system conversion document so you can adventure in The Lost Citadel using our Adventure Game Engine as featured in Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Titansgrave, and more!

If you’d like to learn more about The Lost Citadel before (or after) backing, check out these free previews!

As always, thank you so much to all our backers (and future backers)!

The Lost Citadel—Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying

Charitable Giving: Support the NRDC, Save Money!

A Song of Ice and Fire RPG: Game of Thrones EditionMost people in Westeros are more concerned about not dying than they are concerned about the planet not dying. Samwell Tarly cares about everything. And there’s also… Well, maybe nobody else in Westeros, but the planet has you!

For a limited time, you can get A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, A Game of Thrones Edition for just $35 as a full-color hardback, and just $15 in full-color PDF format, through our Green Ronin Online Store. For each of these two products sold at this discount, Green Ronin Publishing will donate $10 to the Natural Resource Defense Council.

NRDC “combine[s] the power of more than two million members and online activists with the expertise of some 500 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.”

Sam Tarly likes nice people, and books, and the world. Be nice like Sam, get books at a discount, and help NRDC save the world!