Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – Asked and Answered

Hey folks, Jack here. As we are getting ready to release the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide literally any day now, I thought I’d take a moment to answer three of the more common questions I’ve gotten leading up to the release. Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on the book’s content.

Epic Play! Art by Mirco Paganessi.

Q: You said the book has a chapter on epic play, you mean high level play?

A: Well yes and no. I mean epic play. Big sweeping threats, plots, and other elements. Deadly artifacts and beings with godlike powers. Dogs and cats, living together. You know, mass hysteria.

That often is high level stuff. When heroes hit the upper levels of the game, they start to run into more dragons, demon lords, and similar nasty threats. These threats tend towards big ambitions and can often affect things on a national if not global scale. But on the other hand? One of the most famous stories in fantasy is about a short little gentleman farmer and his gardener taking a magic artifact to the most dangerous place in the world so they can destroy it and in doing so basically kill an evil god. Epic as all hell, but the heroes weren’t necessarily Level 20 badasses.  So the book will talk about both high level and just generally epic play, including how to make campaigns where heroes are godlings and divinely powered superhumans from Level 1 if desired—mechanically its simpler than many think.

Q: What kind of Alternate Rules Does the Book Have?

A: There are several optional and alternate rules for GMs wishing to give their campaign a certain flavor or feel. These generally combine very well with similar rules in the Fantasy AGE Companion. For example, in a dark fantasy game a GM might take the new Grave Wounds optional rule and combine it with rules from the Fantasy Age Companion for increased lethality for a very dangerous and gritty campaign. On the other hand, another GM might use action points and other similar rules from the Companion and add in the Cinematic Acrobatics rules for a Wu Xia-style fantasy campaign. And so on.

Some of these rules are brand new. Some others are adapted from other AGE system games, though usually with noteworthy changes. Which brings us to…

Q: Wait, Haven’t I seen this Stuff Before?

Maybe. While the majority of the book is new content, in a few cases rules from Dragon Age, Blue Rose, and Modern AGE were adapted for a particular element of campaign building. This was done so that customers didn’t need to buy books outside the Fantasy AGE line to get an appropriate rule. In most cases these rules were altered or adapted, such as with the Investigation Stunts included in the book—these are similar but not identical to those found in Modern AGE.

Also, in a couple rare instances an older rule or concept from Fantasy AGE itself was revisited to preserve the step by step flow of the book’s chapters on campaign building. The prime example of this is the inclusion of a summary of the Companion/Follower rules, as well as briefly revisiting Honorifics, Memberships, and Titles in the chapter on building campaign rewards.

These concepts are revisited because the discussion in the Campaign Builders Guide is about how the GM can design, use, and incorporate these elements as rewards as part of a larger campaign building strategy. As an important part of campaign development? We came back to them for a brief section to avoid the distraction their absence would cause—especially in readers who haven’t yet picked up the Fantasy AGE Companion.

I hope that clears up a few common inquiries and shows how the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builders Guide combines campaign building advice, new content, and the occasional revisiting of established AGE elements to help GMs form and shape their own settings and campaigns.

Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – Necessary Tools and Hard Sells

Hey folks, Jack here. Today we’re talking about our soon to be released Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide. So what is it? Well, its not a traditional rulebook or adventure…

And right there is where I’ve lost some of you. That’s okay. Let’s see if I can bring you back.

There’s both a definite need and strange reaction to how-to guides, toolkits, and other books in various game lines. While they are appreciated by many, there is a rather vocal minority that not only is sure they don’t need these books but tells others they don’t and even sometimes goes so far as to declare such releases a waste of…something. Time, resources, money, you name it. I see this sometimes when I’m haunting various corners of the internet looking for an idea about what products to propose or what to include in them.

However, if you haunt the messages boards and gaming discussions of the internet, you also see one of the biggest roadblocks to people playing a particular game is “that’s cool, but what do I do with it?” Without a clear guide for how campaigns start, run, and continue, sometimes its hard to get started. This has increased with the influx of newer gamers recently, mostly brought in by streaming and other media treatments of RPGs. We also see a lot of “Man I want to run this, but I am just not sure how. Especially a campaign, how do you even do that?”

It doesn’t stop there, either. Large discussions about “how do I hack this game for this genre?” or “How do I design monsters for this?” are very common. These are also questions sometimes we writers and designers get directly. And these questions aren’t just from new gamers, but anyone who finds that despite their considerable gaming abilities, some parts of conceiving, creating, and running a campaign either elude them or are just kind of a slog.

That’s where, at least for Fantasy AGE, the Campaign Builder’s Guide comes in. It’s a filled with examples, advice, random tables, and various other tools to build campaigns—in whole or in part. And while its undeniably true that veteran GMs will get less out of this book than the rookies, it was written and designed with everyone in mind.

Because if you’re like me? You have your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to preparation, design, campaign building, etc… Maybe you make killer monsters and adventures, but how to really capture epic play eludes you. Maybe you’re a wonderful encounter builder and everyone loves your NPCs, but when you tried to design a religion for that religious order, you don’t feel you managed it well. The Campaign Builder’s Guide covers enough topics and concepts it has a little something for everyone, and a lot of something for many people.

So what’s covered? Well there are advice and examples for:

  • Campaign concepts and frameworks.
  • Encounter building
  • Adventure building
  • Building rewards
  • Character building 
  • Location creation
  • Designing divinities and religions.
  • Sub-genres and genre specific campaign changes
  • Running epic campaigns
  • Monster building

Plus, random tables to help GMs generate ideas on the fly. 

So there’s a lot in there. I daresay something for everyone. I’m going to wrap up with a little preview—a look at an example of Campaign Framework design, the Mean Streets of Kavask.

Threefold: What’s in a Name?

Some of you were lucky enough to get the Free RPG Day Threefold Quickstart, and may have learned a bit about this, our first original Modern AGE setting. If not, you can learn a bit more by reading my last article about Threefold, written before the new Quickstart (which we’ll be able to make available to a wider audience in July) dropped.

But what’s in a name? Specifically, what’s in the name Threefold. This got attached to the project early, as a way of acknowledging the three elements I wanted to bind together: modern fantasy, contemporary horror, and near future, Singularity-sensitive SF. As we put it together, nothing else fit better, and in fact, it became even more suitable as we invented more of the Metacosm.

Three members of the Sodality, a branch of the Vitane, survey a new plane.

The Threefold Metacosm

Gates connect most of Threefold’s innumerable planes, allowing passage for those initiated into the Metacosm’s nature. Each plan is unique, but an informed traveler knows they belong to three primary categories.

Earths: Earths consist of the primeline (which connects via gates to Otherworlds) and Alts, branched-off histories (also called worldlines) which rarely have gates, so that they must be reached through Earth via extraordinary technologies. Magic functions poorly on Earth, but natural laws work with such reliable potency that it is the birthplace of the most sophisticated feats of science and engineering. Beings of order and information called Machinors mind the many Earths.

Otherworlds: Otherworlds shimmer with kanna, the creative energy that makes magic possible. Things which are legends on Earth are very real in the Otherworlds, though every myth is inaccurate, incomplete, or out of date. Most of the “gods,” or Hierarchs, have been driven away or gone into hiding, and new societies have sprung from ancient kingdoms. High technology functions less reliably, but magic often replaces it.

Netherworlds: Where Earth’s humans might regard Otherworlds as realms of Golden Age legend, they’d see their Glooms, Infernos, and demonic incarnations in the Netherworlds. Alastor demon-monarchs rule each Netherworld; their personalities influence their domains, and vice versa. Rivers of green fire and bleeding trees are not unusual. Natural laws bend as if influenced by a sadistic intelligence.

A few planes called Heterarchies defy the three categories, as their histories confer unique properties.

The Three Great Powers

Threefold takes place in the present, which is also the waning of the Third Age, which began at the end of the Fellwar: a prehistoric conflict for control of the Metacosm’s souls. Humans of all kinds, from the rough dreygur to the elemental huldra, defied gods and demon lords to bring peace. In that peace, three great powers arose, and now stand at the threshold of a new war, or perhaps some other, unexpected transformation. The powers are:

The Vitane: Risen from refugees of the Fellwar, the Vitane follow a doctrine called the Code of Wisdom which orients its society toward learning, democracy, and respect for the rights of numerous peoples, including the right to be left alone. The Vitane hides itself on worlds where planar travel isn’t common knowledge, including Earth. The Vitane has no true military, but its exploratory arm, the Sodality, includes fighting Protectors alongside its Emissaries and Searchers.

The Divine Empire: The end of the Fellwar threw most of the Hierarchs, the old god-rulers of the Otherworlds, into exile, but their children, the Optimate demigods, still felt they were due certain entitlements. Attempts to acquire these through Vitane democracy failed and eventually, many planes followed a splinter faction under Dyraza, self-proclaimed First (and only) Empress of the Divine Empire. Dyraza was slain by the Alastor, Avakim, and no successor has replaced her, but the Empire’s theocracy, where Optimates rule mortals across dozens of planes, abides.

The Nighthost: During the Fellwar, one host of soldiers commanded by the Netherworlds rebelled, inspiring others to do the same, until they became a mighty warrior society, the Nighthost. Nighthost warbands are raiders and warlords, who respect strength and relish a fair fight—or a properly framed unfair one. They’re a scourge of the planes, but greeted as liberators when they attack Netherworlds, and free their tortured inhabitants.

Okay, there is one more faction, but it’s not transplanar in the usual sense. The Peridexion is Earth’s secret government, under the rule of a collective of transcendental intelligences who monitor multiple spacetime continua. Allied with the Vitane, the Peridexion sends certain agents on missions with Vitane counterparts. We’ll talk more about these organizations next time. As for Threefold, we expect to have it at Gencon—watch for it!

Modern AGE: From the Companion to Threefold

I’m leaving for Origins tomorrow and over there, Green Ronin may well have copies of the Modern AGE Companion available (though at this time of writing, pre-order is still a possibility). Yet it also happens that Origins will fall across Free RPG Day. Due to the rules of Free RPG Day, which put the spotlight on retailers, we won’t have our offering, the Threefold Quickstart, at the booth (862), but I’d love to see in in the wild if you find it nearby!

The new Quickstart is all about the upcoming Threefold setting. Let me tease it a bit here, with the very first worlds you’ll read from the full Threefold hardcover, which is on target for Q3 of this year.

 

 

Introduction

What if you could go anywhere?

Let’s unpack that. By “go,” we mean through gates between worlds: magical portals arrayed in routes called chains. We mean using the quantum ark, which threads our waveforms through the needle’s eye of marginal possibilities to other configurations of time.

By “anywhere,” we mean blinding heavens, fiery hells, machine worlds a century ahead of our own, impossibly sharp mountain tops whose residents are sorcerer-hermits. They don’t want you to visit, but they might be the only ones able to answer some esoteric question, which might even lead you to another world: perhaps via Vigrith, plane of a thousand gates, or Alatum, where the children of lost gods rule an empire, or one of the countless planes where the Nighthost, warriors who defeated their demon generals before recorded history, pillage and conquer.

And by “anywhere,” we also mean parts of our world you thought of as legends, old and new. We mean the rotting mansions of psychic secret societies, the secret labs that make soldiers and spies, the Gray Hand where the secret world government they always warned you about meets.

We mean places that never were, or could have been, or places we fear might exist through superstition or some future dystopian twist, and places we hope exist and are sending their extraordinary agents to help us find the better path.

There are too many possibilities to count, but we’ve settled on some rough classifications. Three of them—and three secret forces behind them. But in the end, you’re the one who might determine the ultimate form of everything that was, is, and shall be. That’s Threefold.

Andrzej, a Sodalt of the Protector branch, as is obvious from his scarab badge. What does that all mean? Oh, we’ll get to that.

Welcome to the Metacosm

Threefold is the first original setting for Modern AGE and, as such, requires the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook for use with the new game systems herein. Threefold is cross-genre, embracing fantasy, horror, and science fiction, and it’s designed to make maximum use of Modern AGE’s possibilities. This means players can potentially use any option in Modern AGE to make their characters, including those that give them extraordinary powers. It means characters can come from a staggering array of backgrounds, from worlds where magic and travel between the planes of existence is commonplace, to the most ordinary lives here on Earth—though in the latter case, those lives are unlikely to stay normal. Using the rules in this book, you can play a demon-haunted occultist, a wizard from a magical college, or a tactical cyborg—and all three of these characters could play in the same campaign.

The backbone of Threefold that allows this is the Metacosm: the universe of universes. There are countless realities, or planes of existence, belonging to three basic categories: Earth and its alternate timelines; the Otherworlds, where magic is a powerful force; and the harsh Netherworlds, where malefic forces reign. In most cases, these planes are connected by gates. Gates are hard to create, destroy, or block, so their presence creates routes through many planes, spawning trade, empires, and warfare. Our Earth is one of thousands of these planes, though our unique physical laws and no small amount of conspiratorial effort hide the greater Metacosm from us.

And?

Here and there I’ll be talking about the Threefold setting, releasing further information before it drops later this year. See you then!

Remembering Alejandro Melchor

This week was supposed to be set aside for me to talk about the Modern AGE Companion a little more, but I want to talk about Alejandro (aka Alex, or Al-X) Melchor instead. Alex passed away last week, due to the extended complications of a stroke he suffered in March.

Alex worked on every Modern AGE book currently at any stage of completion. In the core, he wrote rules, focuses, talents and part of the extensive Game Master advice in that book. He brought his talents to the World of Lazarus, the Modern AGE Companion, and the upcoming Threefold and Enemies & Allies, too. I’m currently looking for writers for a new book. It has an Alex-shaped hole in it now.

I first got to know him through a semiprivate community we shared, in 2001. I’d just been invited, as responses to my early professional work for White Wolf had been good. Alex did some work for them as well before taking an intensive gig with Mongoose Publishing in the early 2000s. I drifted away and he was busy, though I knew him through the Open Game License credits I bumped into while designing my own stuff. In the interim he developed an enormous list of credits, tending toward mechanically intensive work. I’d say one great thing about him is he could work on rules that reinforce stories and atmosphere, because getting game systems down was quick work for him.

Steve Kenson got to know Alex well, and took the lead in doing what we could to help when he fell ill. He reintroduced me to Alex, and Alex became a bedrock contributor for Modern AGE. He did so much more, in his own communities, on other games, and with other creative people, but I don’t want to presume to talk about any of that. We worked hard. We made some good ideas playable together. And he was unfailingly nice to everyone, a born collaborator, but didn’t hesitate to point out what he thought would be bad ideas.

According to family and friends, Alex liked proactive, resourceful, tough woman protagonists. Modern AGE uses a loose set of iconic characters created by the writers. Alex created Indra Winchester, the technically-inclined punk, who you can see on the cover of the Modern AGE Companion and inside the books of the line. In examples, he’s her player. I plan to keep it that way.

It seems so inane to go through his qualities as a creative guy, when of course there was more, but he was my comrade in making games. That’s what I’ve got to work with, even though it’s not enough to give the man his due. He was a visual artist, and beloved by various communities. And more, always more. In and out of this industry, I won’t be missing him alone, and won’t be the only one feeling new gaps in what might be possible, in work and life. I’m going to miss him.

 

Ronin Roundtable: Expansive Future

The Expanse Roleplaying Game, along with The Expanse Quickstart and GM’s Kit, are just the beginning of the game products for the popular sci-fi series. Green Ronin has more in the works, including two follow-up products that will round out and complete the stretch goals of the successful Kickstarter, and then some. Let’s peer into the future of The Expanse RPG with a look at those.

Abzu’s Bounty

One stretch goal of The Expanse RPG Kickstarter was a campaign series of adventures to supplement adventure material in the core book, GM’s Kit, and Quickstart. That series is Abzu’s Bounty, a complete Expanse campaign with a linked series of six adventures. It is designed as a “starter” game, although it contains advice on moving from one or more of the already published adventures into the series, and has links to the background of the “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” adventure from the core book. The player characters in Abzu’s Bounty go from relative nobodies to potentially deciding the future of the System by the end of the campaign.

No spoilers as to the plot, but Abzu’s Bounty ventures across the System, from the Outer to the Inner Planets and back, and includes a means of supplying the crew with a ship of their own. There is also plenty of Expanse-style skullduggery and intrigue along the way. By the end of the series, characters should be in the mid-level range, starting at 2nd and ending up 7th or 8th level, leaving plenty of room to grow as The Expanse RPG does.

Abzu’s Bounty is written and developed, and in the editing and art phase of production.

Ships of the Expanse

The other major stretch goal of the Kickstarter was deck plans for a number of ship classes from The Expanse setting. Those will feature as part of the forthcoming Ships of the Expanse sourcebook; backers will get downloads of all of the stretch goal deck plans, but the sourcebook will include those and much more. In particular, Ships will take the basic chapter on ship-building and in-game use of ships from the core rules and build upon it, offering expanded details, options, and ways of creating and using ships in your own game.

Plus there will be those deck plans and details, closer looks at even more types of ships found in The Expanse, what they look like and how they’re laid out. This will make Ships of the Expanse a popular book with fans of the series and gamers alike.

Ships of the Expanse is in the design phase, with authors just completing their first drafts, as it moves into development.

Further Out

As players of The Expanse RPG know, the core book focuses on the period between the first two novels (Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War) with a lot of Expanse history waiting to unfold in the future. We’ve identified several distinct eras to Expanse game play, and the next one takes the setting and the series “further out” than ever before—far further than most of humanity ever imagined—once the protomolecule’s mysterious work on Venus is complete.

Modern Monday: The Companion and Beyond

Last time I was here I gave you a rundown of the Modern AGE Companion, currently at press and available for preorder or just PDF (in our store or at DrivethruRPG). Some of you were surprised our fourth Modern AGE release was already here, but believe me, we’re just getting started.

The world and the game are both bigger than you think.

Using the Modern AGE Companion

My last post provided a rundown of the Modern AGE Companion’s contents. It’s a big book of optional rules, and Modern AGE will generally not assume you have the book when it comes to understanding others down the line, though we may use some of its principles for “back end” design guidance. Thus, a power in a new book might be consistent with the Companion’s rules for extraordinary abilities, but you won’t need both books to understand it.

Some rules in the Companion are integrated with each other (such as the connection between the Demolitions Training talent and the new rules for, uh, demolitions) but in most cases, options exist to disconnect them. Incidentally, here’s a preview of the new rules for blowing things up.

Get a taste of Threefold on June 15th for Free RPG Day.

Burning Brighter on Free RPG Day

Next up, Modern AGE represents on Free RPG Day, with a Quickstart in the new Threefold setting, presenting the adventure Burning Brighter. Think of the old Quickstart as a prototype; this one sends characters across multiple strange worlds, to contend with transdimensional mobsters, the demonic invaders of a subterranean realm, and an unhinged clone—and the baby griffon’s still there, too.

The Threefold Quickstart drops on Saturday June 15 and will be available from participating retailers. While Green Ronin will be at Origins Game Fair this release is a retailer exclusive, so you won’t find it at our booth. However, I would be happy to see any you acquire that you see fit to bring by. I’ll be at the convention all week and would love to see it!

Open the Gates to Threefold in Q3

Threefold is the first original in-house Adventure Game Engine setting since the re-release of Blue Rose for the system. Unlike Blue Rose, which is an entire game, Threefold is a supplement to the Modern AGE core, similar to our licensed setting, World of Lazarus.

Threefold is big.

By “big,” I mean expansive in its ambitions, structure and possibilities for play. I wanted a setting where you could play virtually any character type in any genre, with the three “poles” being transhumanist SF, young-adult style fantasy, and dark fantasy, bound together by the concept of “speculative fantasy,” where weird things have rational underpinnings, and provide dilemmas that can be solved with a mix of clear thinking and idealism. I outlined Threefold as the kind of setting that might last through 20 years and 100 support products, and while I don’t expect that, you don’t get its spirit without wanting that.

“Big” expresses itself in the setting’s worlds—plural. Threefold is a setting of interdimensional travel through alternate Earths, fantasy lands, flame-tossed underworlds, and places that defy easy categories. Connected by gates, the countless planes are more than a mix of possibilities. Transplanar empires commanded by demigods, liberated members of the armies of the damned, and idealistic mystics struggle with each other, while enhanced operatives on Earth “hold the fort,” manipulate alternate histories, and deal with bizarre problems in their own backyards.

I want to tell you more, about the Sodality’s vows, the scarab badges members carry, and the conflict between the AI Lucifer and the counterparts who control organized crime, trading in things like souls and magic swords. But I have to let it drip out slowly. Get the Quickstart for Free RPG Day for more—for now. The hardcover is currently in art and layout, and due for release in the 3rd quarter of this year.

Encounter Enemies & Allies in Q4

Enemies & Allies is a book of strange creatures, useful Non-Player Characters, and optional rules to fit your game to their implied genres. The entries in this book cover modern fantasy, horror, technothrillers, crimes dramas, and near future or secret world science fiction. An appendix rounds things out with options to build creatures and NPCs from scratch, along with guidelines for converting creatures from other Adventure Game Engine games, such as the book’s Fantasy AGE counterpart, the Fantasy AGE Bestiary.

Enemies and Allies is fully written, in pre-production, and scheduled for release at the end of this year.

Get the Word Out

So, this is what’s coming, and when—at least, in terms of things I can talk about. I’ve talked about these books before, but sometimes people miss these messages and default to what they imagine might be happening. I develop most of Modern AGE’s books and follow each of them from conception to publication. I know what’s happening. So, if people are wondering what’s happening with the game, tell them what I’ve told you—or share this article.

The Expanse: Expansive Content

We’ve had a lot to say about The Expanse Roleplaying Game during the game’s development and successful Kickstarter, so we thought it would be helpful to provide a quick and helpful guide to all things Expanse from Green Ronin Publishing here on our site and elsewhere.

First and foremost, the link greenronin.com/blog/category/the-expanse-rpg/ is your key to Expanse-related posts on the GR.com site. You can download The Expanse Quickstart from here to check out the game and give it a try with a complete starter adventure and pre-generated crew of characters.

 

The Expanse Kickstarter

The Expanse RPG Kickstarter is where it all begins

Where you can see all of the promotional materials of the Kickstarter and, more importantly, view all of the public updates

 

The updates include a number of excerpts and previews from the game as “Expanse Extras”:

Expanse Extra: Spaceship Combat Example

Expanse Extra: Qualities & Flaws

Expanse Extra: Interludes

Expanse Extra: The Churn

Ronin Roundtables

Next, you can check out the previous Ronin Roundtable articles on The Expanse, looking at different previews and aspects of the game to supplement the information found in the Expanse Quickstart.

The Expanse: Questions of Canon

The Expanse: Doors and Corners

The Expanse: Starting Points

The Expanse: Space Combat

The Expanse: Power Armor

The Expanse: Character Creation

The Expanse vs. Modern AGE

Expanse Transmissions

Even with only the Expanse Quickstart and the PDF edition of The Expanse Roleplaying Game core book available, a number of groups have already launched their own Expanse games. If you’re curious to see the game in action and want to check out some actual play games on The Expanse online, here are some good places to start:

Happy Jacks offers an actual play of The Expanse RPG from ShadowCon

Jowzam’s Den ran a stream of the Expanse Quickstart adventure “Cupbearer” live on Twitch. Available for viewing on YouTube

Mosaic Gaming Network’s “Rolling with the Regulars” offers their “Phoenix Rising” vidcast and podcast of The Expanse, starting with Episode 0

The Spice Must Roll is a live broadcast of sci-fi tabletop RPGs. Season 1 focuses on The Expanse RPG, starting with Episode 0

Ronin Roundtable: Death Has Many Faces

The final season of Game of Thrones has special significance to those of us at Green Ronin Publishing, since we worked with George R.R. Martin on A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying when the successful show was just a concept. If you haven’t checked out the RPG—or even if you have, but your collection is incomplete—don’t miss out on the current offering from Bundle of Holding, available for the next week or so, where you can get all of the PDFs of the game line, including some Chronicle System supplements, for one bargain price.

Of course, a number of things about the world of Westeros and the saga of A Song of Ice and Fire have been revealed since the RPG core book was published, and Game Masters might want to add some new elements to their SIFRP games. In honor of one of our favorite Game of Thrones characters and the final season of the show, we offer a small additional quality.

 


Faceless Man (Fate Quality)

You are no one.

Requires Face in the Crowd, Furtive or Talented (Stealth), Treacherous, one or more Fighting quality, and sponsorship and training at the Temple of the Many-Faced God

You have mastered the arcane art of face-changing. If you kill a target, you can take their face and wear it, effectively becoming that person in appearance and voice. Under ordinary circumstances, this gives you a flawless disguise. Even those with reason to be suspicious of you can only detect something is amiss with Hard (15) Awareness (Empathy) test and even then may not realize the extent of your deception until it is too late. You automatically surprise anyone unaware of your true nature and gain bonus dice equal to your Cunning, in addition to the usual +1D.

You can save faces you have added to your collection, storing them for later use. It takes about a minute to don a face and assume its form, but you can remove a face you are wearing (ending the guise) as a lesser action, if you wish.


 

Superteam Handbook: They Grow Up So Fast

Last week we took a look at the meat of the upcoming SuperTeam Handbook: The team outlines. We took a look at how each team is provided with plenty of material for GMs and players alike to build a campaign around them, using either their own custom characters or the sample characters provided for each team. This week, let’s take a look at one of those sample character. Keeping with last week’s preview of AEGIS: Red Group and go with the team analyst, Jessie Baker!


Jessie Baker

From a young age, Jessie Baker was better acquainted with books than with people. People confused her and set off her anxiety, but books were all about facts and evidence; no body language to misread, no missed cues, no laughing behind her back, no irrational emotional reactions, no lies. What she understood clearly of the human condition, however, was desire. She understood what people wanted and what they’d do to get it. It was a simple math problem, and those were easy enough. That was cause and effect, and it helped her navigate relationships with her family and the friends she made. It was ultimately the reason she loved political science and politics so much…what was the desire and what would someone do to get it? Sometimes people didn’t know themselves, but Jesse invariably did.

Her insight helped Baker find a place in AEGIS despite her poor communication skills and general disregard for hierarchy and protocol. Her rocky career was due to end after she penned a scathing report on her superior’s incompetence and nepotism, when Chief Administrator Bonham took personal interest in her skillset.

Jessie joined Red Group as its first member, but Bonham refused to make her cell lead—not until she learned how to lead people and not abuse them. It stung a bit, but she appreciated his candor and his willingness to recruit from outside the agency. She still personally thinks of herself as the group’s leader—she does, after all, see the leads that take them into any given mission—but no one else in Red Group agrees with her self-assessment.


 

Jessie is the “I’m not very likable, but I am very, very good at what I do” character that pops up in so many TV procedural dramas, reflected by plenty of well-spent skill ranks and carefully chosen Advantages. With a keen eye for patterns, she’s a natural tactician as well, letting her use Inspire to improve her teammates’ abilities despite her rough exterior. And her specialization is more defined with a pair of talent-style powers. “I Know a Place” lets her provide the team with rotating headquarters and specialty vehicles thanks to her extraordinary research and organizational skills, while “Watch for Patterns” lets her guess where and how trouble will pop up thanks to her study of criminal psychology. Neither of these abilities is a super power, per se, but help set Jessie apart from the rest of her team. She’s the fact-finder and resources mastermind, with just enough gunplay to hold her own if a fight starts (and clearly a fight wouldn’t be starting right now if everyone had just listened to her in the first place!).

Here’s Jessie’s full spread, with background and character sheet:

 

A New Look

Keen-eyed reads will notice that Jessie’s character sheet looks a little different than how we’ve presented NPC character sheets in the past in products like Rogues Gallery and Freedom City, 3rd edition. One of the big goals in putting together the SuperTeam Handbook was to have a product any group could crack open and start playing within fifteen minutes, regardless of the flavor of campaign they wanted to run with. So in addition to making sure every team included guidelines for the kinds of adventures they have and a list of likely opponents they’d face, we also took some time to re-organize the character sheet to be fast and user-friendly for players. The hope is that everyone at the table can print a single sheet, front and back, and have everything they need to begin their adventures.

If you like our existing format for NPCs, no worries; the new character sheet designs presented in the SuperTeam Handbook is intended for player-facing material and takes up a lot more space than the traditional layout, so most NPCs in future products will still be presented in the traditional style, with the revised style mostly saved for player handouts.

Tune in two weeks from now when we take a look at the bonus NPCs the SuperTeam Handbook provides in the form of Mentors and Nemeses!