20 Years of Green Ronin! (Ronin Roundtable 2020 preview)

This time every January I write a message about our plans for the coming year. This is a special occasion though because 2020 is Green Ronin’s 20th year in business! We’ll be talking a lot more about that all year, looking back at our history and how we got here. I can say that when I started the company, it was a side project to my day job as a Creative Director at Wizards of the Coast. I couldn’t have imagined Green Ronin would still be around in 2020! So what do we have cooking for our big year? Let’s take a look!


Green Ronin’s very first release was a beer and pretzels RPG called Ork! in July, 2000. That game got a new edition worthy of Krom last year if you want to check it out. A month later, at GenCon 2000, we released Death in Freeport, the book that really put us on the map. It was an adventure for the just released third edition of Dungeons & Dragons and it introduced the world to Freeport: The City of Adventure, a setting that mixed classic fantasy elements with pirates and Lovecraftian horror. Since this year is also Freeport’s 20th anniversary, you know we had to do something to celebrate. And what brings people together like a marriage? This year we will finally wed Freeport and Fantasy AGE! Freeport is a setting I created, and Fantasy AGE is a game I designed, so it’s long past due that these two get hitched. This will begin at GenCon with the release of the Fantasy AGE Starter Set, a boxed introduction to both the game and Freeport. After that we’ll publish the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook, a bigger, better rulebook for the game that features Freeport as its example setting. Further books exploring the city and the larger world of Freeport will follow. In the shorter term, the Lairs sourcebook for Fantasy AGE is almost ready to go to print, just waiting on a few pieces of art, so look for a PDF release and the beginning of the pre-order soon.

 

Nisaba Press, our fiction imprint, will also be supporting Freeport with both short story anthologies and novels. The first novel, I Am Gitch by Lucien Soulban, feature’s Freeport’s most famous goblin! Speaking of Nisaba, we are really ramping up our fiction in 2020, exploring the settings of our Mutants & Masterminds, Blue Rose, and Threefold properties in addition to Freeport. Last year we released two novels and one anthology (Aaron Rosenberg’s Mutants & Masterminds novel Height of the Storm, Joseph Carriker’s Blue Rose novel Shadowtide, and the brand new Sovereigns of the Blue Rose anthology). Our next Mutants & Masterminds novel, Roadtrip to Ruin by Skyler Graye, is at print now so look for that release soon. Later in the year you will see new anthologies for all our properties, the first novel for our Threefold setting, and the release of Joseph Carriker’s Sacred Band, which we announced last year. It’s going to be an exciting year for Nisaba Press!

 

Abzu's Bounty: An adventure path for The Expanse RPGOn the topic of awesome fiction, let’s talk about The Expanse! We launched the game, based on James S.A. Corey’s modern scifi classics, last year, releasing both the core rulebook and Game Master’s Kit. We also brought on Ian Lemke as the developer and he’s already putting his stamp on the line. We are kicking off the year with Abzu’s Bounty, the game’s first big adventure. It’s brand new this month so you can grab it right now. We’re following that up later in the year with two more books: Ships of the Expanse and Beyond the Ring. Ships of the Expanse is exactly what it sounds like: a big book about spaceships, with stats, deck plans, and more. Beyond the Ring is the first sourcebook to advance the timeline. The core rulebook was set between the events of the first and second novel. Beyond the Ring takes things through the third and fourth (Abaddon’s Gate and Cibola Burn). With the ring gates open, there are huge numbers of new star systems to explore, many littered with the ancient relics of dead civilizations. Beyond the Ring opens up a whole new style of adventure for The Expanse RPG and gives GMs all the info and tools they need to support it. Something else you will see this year: Expanse dice! We are working with Q Workshop (who did our dice for Dragon Age and Blue Rose) to make three different sets of the dice. Earthers, Martians, and Belters can all represent!

 

Modern AGE, under the stalwart leadership of developer Malcolm Sheppard, is going from strength to strength. Last year we launched Threefold, the first original setting for the game, and it is a stunner. We are starting this year off with Enemies and Allies (at print now), the adversary book for Modern AGE. It details NPCs and creatures, covering genres such as modern fantasy, horror, near future SF, technothrillers, and crime dramas, and provides new mechanics to support them. We’re following that up with Five and Infinity, a collection of adventures for Threefold that cover all levels of play. It also introduces the Infinity Engine, a tool for using random chance and choice to generate both original adventures and new planes of existence to stage them in. Then we have the Mastery Guide, the last of what one might consider the “core books” of Modern AGE (the others being the Basic Rulebook, Companion, and Enemies and Allies). While you might think of the Mastery Guide as a GM’s guide, that’s only half the story. It also provides advice and support for players, so everyone can up their game.

 

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of the Blue Rose continues to thrive under the benevolent rulership of developer Joseph Carriker. The next book in the line is Envoys to the Mount, an epic adventure that spans five years of game time and all four tiers of Blue Rose play. This is a full campaign that will keep your group busy for some time. If you want a smaller commitment, Six of Cups is there for you. It’s an anthology of six shorter adventures, along the lines of Six of Swords from a couple of years back. After that comes Touching the Wild, which is a dual-purpose sourcebook. Half of it is a bestiary about the shadowspawn. The other half is a player’s guide to the rhydan, the psychic animals of the Blue Rose setting. This does include the option of an all rhydan party!

We are keeping Joe very busy this year because he’s also working with co-developer Tanya DePass on Fifth Season Roleplaying, licensed from N.K. Jemisin’s fantastic Broken Earth trilogy. We announced the game at GenCon and it will release towards the end of the year. The game will use a revised and updated version of our Chronicle System, the engine that powered our Song of Ice and Fire RPG. We’ll have a lot more to say about Fifth Season Roleplaying as we get closer to release so stay tuned!

Image shows the three novel covers from N.K. Jemisin's The Broken Earth trilogy. The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky.

 

All that is great, but don’t you want to get super sometimes? Well, Mutants & Masterminds has got you covered! Superdev Crystal Frasier (who is by the way, doing the graphic design of the whole line in addition to game development) has a lot of comic book goodness coming your way. First up is the Time Traveler’s Codex, a sourcebook that covers the myriad of ways you can use time travel in your campaign and explores some popular eras for such shenanigans. After that is the Vigilante’s Handbook, which is all about running street level campaigns. If you want a break from four-color heroics, this book provides a grittier option for lower level characters. Then there is Danger Zones, a sourcebook that provides 30 different urban backdrops for superheroic action, each of which includes a map, special features, and adventure ideas. This book will be super handy for time-pressed GMs. Pick a danger zone and some villains and you’re ready to rock. Something else we know Mutants & Masterminds GMs have been wanting is more adventures. Last week we started a new PDF series called Astonishing Adventures. This will provide a regular stream of new adventures, which should make things a whole lot easier for M&M GMs.

That ends our whirlwind tour of 2020! There’s even more to come, like The Lost Citadel and the Book of Fiends for 5E, and our Sentinels of Earth-Prime card game, but we will talk about those a little later. Thanks for all your support these past 20 years. It means the world to us that so many of you love and play our games. See you on the convention circuit!

Chris Pramas

Green Ronin Publishing

Explaining the Cover of Enemies & Allies (Ronin Roundtable)

Enemies & Allies is Modern AGE RPG’s next release, due to hit stores this first quarter of 2020. Enemies & Allies is one of three Modern AGE books besides the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook that can be considered “core” releases. The Modern AGE Companion is the big book of rules options, while the Modern AGE Mastery Guide, due to come out later this year, is the sourcebook for player and Game Master advice along with deeper options for customizing the game, including as rules for creating very simple characters or using Fantasy AGE style character classes.

Enemies & Allies sits between them. It’s the big book of Non-Player Characters and unusual creatures that can act as threats or allies. Its five chapters not only present various beings organized by genre but add optional rules to enhance their presence in your campaign, from the disturbing psychic impressions generated by horrific entities to the places of power that tend to attract fantastical creatures. Think of it as a significant expansion of the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook’s Chapter 9 adversaries, and more: rules to generate NPCs quickly, quick listings for a number of animals, and even guidelines for adapting creatures from other AGE system games.

However, one nasty antagonist is missing: the creature on the cover! When I wrote the cover description, I felt it was important to put the multi-genre nature of the book first, and the Cyberdemon represented that well, but I wanted individual authors to come up with their own ideas first instead of just reproducing my concepts. Still, for the completists out there, here are its game statistics. Note that the individual entries in Enemies & Allies itself are more detailed than what follows.

Cyberdemon

In certain secret labs, scientists and occultists join forces to create unusually potent computers and cybernetic enhancements. These synthetic limbs, brain implants, and crystal-processor super-servers are powerful because they don’t rely on Earthly energy. Instead, these ritually manufactured objects draw energy from the so-called Netherworlds, where Inimicals—beings the uneducated call “demons”—dwell. These implants are installed in secret operatives who are sent on the most dangerous missions, and scientists working on disturbing theories about the origins and ends of all things. These individuals don’t know that if they die, their souls are claimed through the devices they used. When enough of these sacrifices provide their souls as sustenance, the Cyberdemon is born, ready to be summoned by a knowledgeable occult technologist.

Cyberdemons are potent servants, whose formidable strength is enhanced by their abilities to influence technology. A Cyberdemon’s appearance is based on the technologies which were used to create it, combined with a form selected from the combined fears of those implants’ former owners.

Cyberdemon

Abilities (Focuses)

3              Accuracy (Inimical Cable)

1              Communication

5              Constitution

2              Dexterity

4              Fighting (Grappling, Inimical Cable, Talons)

3              Intelligence (Computers, Cryptography, Electronics, Medicine, Occultism)

4              Perception (Seeing)

6              Strength (Intimidation, Might)

2              Willpower (Morale)

Speed     Health                    Defense            Armor Rating + Toughness

12            35/85/115               12/12/13                          4I/4B +5/+7/+8

Note: Health, Defense, and Toughness are listed by Mode, in Gritty/Pulpy/Cinematic order.

Weapon Attack   Roll             Damage*

Inimical Cable         +5                    2d6+4

Talons                     +6                    2d6+6

*+2 to damage in Pulpy and Cinematic Modes

Special Qualities

Favored Stunts: Demonic Data (4 SP), Lightning Attack, Shock and Awe

Demonic Data (4 SP): By spending 4 SP in combat or while interacting with an electronic device, the Cyberdemon can transmit a burst of corrupt data to compromise or destroy anything capable of electronically processing data. Roll the demon’s Intelligence (Computers) against TN 15. On a success, the Cyberdemon either disables a number of devices in a 30-foot radius equal to the Stunt Die result or steals data from a single device in a 30-foot range. This data can be retransmitted using the interface special quality.

Inimical Cable: As a minor action, the Cyberdemon can shoot a spike-tipped segmented metal cable from its body at high speeds up to 30 feet from its body. The cable inflicts ballistic wound damage. After hitting its target once with the cable, the Cyberdemon can use it to engage in close combat as a minor or major action even when the demon itself is out of hand to hand range, for as long as the cable stays attached to it. This allows it to use grappling stunts, melee stunts, and other stunts and actions normally limited to close combat. To sever the cable, a combatant must inflict 20 points of Health damage. This damage is suffered by the Cyberdemon. The inimical cable has the same Armor and Toughness as the creature. The Cyberdemon can produce any number of Inimical cables, but its ability to control them are limited by its actions per round. Some Cyberdemons use clouds of destructive nanorobots, segmented armatures, and other visually distinct variations of the inimical cable, but most function the same.

Interface: The Cyberdemon can transmit data to an appropriate storage or computing device or connect to any network within 30 feet by spending a major action. The Cyberdemon can also act as a computer, wirelessly activating output devices whether or not these have wireless capabilities. The Cyberdemon’s processing powers are on par with the highest-end consumer-grade systems, and its storage capacity is prodigious, increasing as the technologies that spawn it become more sophisticated. Currently, a typical Cyberdemon can store a petabyte (1000 terabytes) of data.

Spectral Sight: Cyberdemons can see infrared, ultraviolet, and radio waves, along with electrical activity. A Cyberdemon cannot be blinded by environmental conditions—its eyes must be destroyed. Furthermore, it can see up to 10 feet through walls, but must succeed at a TN 15 Perception (Seeing) test to perceive anything more than the rough outlines of people and objects.

Talents: Hacking (Master), Overwhelm (Master). At the Game Master’s discretion, the Cyberdemon may also have technological augmentations using the rules in Enemies & Allies (Chapter 5: Science’s Edge), the Modern AGE Companion (Chapter 5: Extraordinary Abilities) or other books (such as Threefold or Lazarus) presenting such enhancements.

Equipment: None

Threat: Major

20 Years of Green Ronin, Over 2 Years of Modern AGE

Since this is 2020’s first Modern AGE-related post, I would be remiss if I didn’t note this was Green Ronin Publishing’s 20th Anniversary. I was fortunate enough to work on a new edition of Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Green Ronin’s very first RPG, and now, with Modern AGE, it’s been my privilege to oversee the birth and growth of one of its newest lines. As I said, 2020 should bring forth the remainder what I consider Modern AGE’s core rulebooks, but this year will be busy with even more material for the game: adventures, Threefold setting material, and one really exciting project we can’t wait to announce. Cheers!

HEED THE CALL TO ADVENTURE! (Ronin Roundtable)

Brave heroes stand up to stop super-powered opponents whose abilities place them beyond the reach of most law enforcement. But what’s the villains plot? How do they lay the groundwork? And how do they react once a band of meddling kids starts sniffing around their scheme? It’s not a secret that Mutants & Masterminds is a fun system but lacks much adventure support. Groups are still playing our introduction to 3e, Emerald City Knights a decade after its release because we’ve been falling down on providing more adventures for you.

One of the reasons Green Ronin asked me aboard to develop Mutants & Masterminds is for my experience developing fun adventures. And while a lot of my attention has gone into delivering on all the outstanding projects and sewing my costume for the last few years, we’ve all been tinkering away in the background to solve the greatest of M&M challenges: adventure!

 

Welcome to Astonishing Adventures

Astonishing Adventures is a new monthly PDF series of superhero adventures, written by some of the best minds in the RPG industry today, like Steve Kenson, John Polojac, Lyz Liddell, Amber Scott, and many more. Each adventure includes everything you need to play, including some suggestions for how to bring your superheroes into the excitement, how it might tie in to Earth-Prime, suggestions for expanding the adventure if you want more than just one or two nights’ entertainment, and all the statblocks you need, generally clocking in around 15-20 pages of excitement.

We’ve also played around with the statblock presentation so GMs can find the information they need at a glance, with a compact summary whenever a combatant is mentioned in the running text and more details in each adventure’s Cast section. As both a graphic design and a GM, I’m pretty happy with that development.

 

 

While most of the Astonishing Adventures will be designed with standard PL 10 “cape and cowl” heroes in mind, we’ll also be releasing support for cosmic teams, hero high adventures, and more as time goes on.

Our first round of releases drop next week. You’ll be seeing the urban adventure Power Play and the assault on a volcano fortress that is The Island of Dr. Sersei, the two new adventures included in the Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide, letting you run the adventures even if you still keep your original Gamemaster’s Guide! February will see Rise of the Tyrant as well as the lighthearted Reign of Cats and Dogs, and every month after will see the release of one or two new adventures. We’ve got text and art orders ready to carry us for the next 12 months, so let’s make 2020, and our own 20th Anniversary, the year of adventure!

 

Q&A

Are you going to be releasing Astonishing Adventures in print?

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition has produced several books from regular PDF series in the past, but we’re not currently planning to release any of these adventures in print. If there’s a lot of fan demand that might change, but for the time being, they’re PDF exclusive.

Will there be two adventures every month?

We plan to alternate. Some months will release a single adventure and other months will have two.

Will you make an Astonishing Adventure around my favorite M&M villain?

I don’t know. Hopefully. There are a lot of great Mutants & Masterminds villains, so I don’t know that we’ll get to all of them, but we’ll try to provide a good mix of classic fan favorite and new or niche weirdoes. Conundrum, Cerebrus Rex, and Medea are all coming soon, and even more villains are showcased in our Mutants & Masterminds fiction from Nisaba Press.

How much will each Astonishing Adventure cost?

Each Astonishing Adventure is $4.99 USD, less than the price of a foot-long sub!

Are you planning to do more multi-part adventures like Emerald City Knights?

The NetherWar is brewing. Stayed tuned for more information.

Happy Holidays from Green Ronin Publishing!

Everyone at Green Ronin would like to wish you the very best this Holiday Season, and we’ll see you soon in the new year!

Green Ronin Publishing will be closed from today, December 22nd and will return on January 6th.

Roadtrip to Ruin: a new Mutants & Masterminds novel (Ronin Roundtable)

I love working on book covers. It’s not my primary skill set, but I’ve done enough now to feel vaguely competent, and I’ve gotten to work with some incredible artists, so I’ve learned a lot.

But this is the first time I’ve written “The Pomeranian is the wrong shade of green. We need him to look more radioactive.”

Thankfully, the artist, Dale Ray Deforest, took it in stride and did, indeed, make the Pomeranian a more radioactive green.

 

This book has been quite a lot of fun to work on in general. I first met Skyler in Austin, Texas, during one of the most memorable weekends of my life – I was at World Horror Convention, got the worst food poisoning of my life, was breaking up with a boyfriend, and had my first book signing for my first anthology (I did that signing half a bottle of Jack Daniels in, because it turns out whiskey can help calm food poisoning). I loved her work, and when I needed an author to write a Mutants & Masterminds novel for Nisaba, she was an immediate choice.

She had a strong concept almost immediately, and turned over a draft that had me laughing as I read it. The basic premise is a familiar one: a girl entering adulthood, trying to find her way into her new responsibilities.

In Roadtrip to Ruin, there’s nothing normal about Hannah’s life. Going to school with a rich social media celebrity, breaking people out of the hospital, trying to make friends with a demon, and embarking on a road trip to find out where she came from, that’s all just Monday for Hannah.

And yes, the dog is green.

Pick up Roadtrip to Ruin¸ a Mutants & Masterminds novel by Skyler Graye, from Nisaba Press/Green Ronin Publishing soon!

Fantasy AGE: Campaign Builder’s Guide – More Than a GM Guide (Ronin Roundtable)

One of the fascinating things about jumping in as a game line developer after the game is pretty well established is that you have to go from a casual fan of the game (and it’s various products) to a real expert. That process takes time – I’m still not as expert as I’d like to be with Fantasy AGE just yet – but it can also be a really useful journey of discovery. When you are just reading up on RPG material as you need them for your own games you can miss some really neat, important, or clever bits of game design just because you don’t think they sound like something that appeals to you.

Art by Claudia Ianniciello

This brings me to the Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide.

Now, this book has been out for a while, and my predecessor Jack Norris did a really great job talking about the book’s role, why it’s a crucial tome that should not be overlooked, and previewing some of the excellent material in it. Back in July.

Which I did not read at all. And, as a result, I hadn’t taken a look at this book despite owning it and being a fan of the game system, until it became part of my job.

And, I suspect I’m not the only Fantasy AGE fan who just skipped over this. And that’s a shame.

So, in a combination mea culpa and apologia, I present:

The Top Ten Cool Things I Didn’t Know Were In The Fantasy AGE Campaign Builder’s Guide.

  1. Probability Charts.

I played a LOT of Champions back in the 1980s, which used a 3d6 roll low resolution system, so i have some instinctive feel for what the odds are I’ll roll a 9 or less on 3d6. But I am much less apt to know there’s a 44.44% chance to roll doubles on any given 3d6 roll, which is crucial knowledge when coming up with new stunts and wondering how often they’ll come into play. Some GMs will have no use for this, and that’s fine, but it saves the rest of us a LOT of math.

  1. Rules-Free Good GMing Advice

I really expected this book to mostly be rules, and rules about rules. But there’s a lot of solid, system-agnostic tips and techniques for being a fun, memorable GM in this book. The “Saying Yes to your Players” sidebar alone is worth its weight in gold.

  1. A Whole Discussion on Changing Frameworks

Sure, I expected lots of good advice and rules for creating various different campaign frameworks. But tips on when, how and why to change a campaign’s framework? Never considered it, and the utility of this book is greatly increased for its inclusion.

  1. Some Of The Best Advice I Have Ever Read On How To Create Your Own Adventures

Again, this is designed for Fantasy AGE, but transcends just this rule system. I’d happily recommend it to any GM who struggles with feeling comfortable designing adventures for their players, regardless of what RGP system they are using.

  1. Rules for Creating Honorifics and Memberships as Rewards

It’s much more common for a game to mention a player might end up being called a Dragon-Slayer by locals and bards than to go into any kind of detail about how that honorific may game-mechanically aid the character.

  1. A Random magical properties Table for Magic Items

This is really useful for helping GMs figure out what the heroes find in the troll-barrow.

  1. Guidance for Building a Pantheon

Most (though no, not all) RPGs either assume you’ll use their assumed campaign setting’s pre-determined deities (or real-world religious beliefs), or that you’ll largely ignore the divine. Making gods, and delving into questions like is there a difference between a god and an immensely powerful mage or monster, is a fairly specialized skill set that not everyone has much experience with. This is one of the places this book really fulfills its ‘Campaign Builder’ title better than a lot of “GM Guides” I have read, and again I’d encourage GMs building a campaign or any game system to read this.

The Random Religion tables, in particular, are genius.

  1. SubGenre Rules

It’s one thing to discuss potential campaign genres and subgenres. It’s something altogether different to offer subgenre-specific variant rules. Ranging from Cinematic Acrobatics to Investigation Stunts and Supply Ratings, with these rules you don’t just tell the players they are the wuxia police of a mystically-fueled train making a 1-year journey through a zombie-overrun wasteland (during which it must never dare stop or be overrun), the game rules actually change to support that specific concept.

  1. Random Charts of Business Details

Players wanting to know what merchant shops are visited by someone they are following in town is one of the things that can cause me to hem and haw for way too long. Being able to bounce some dice and tell them quickly it’s a Weaponsmith and Bookstore, but most of the staff seem busy preparing for someone’s wedding? That’s a fast and fun way to flesh out those unexpected trips into the merchant quarter.

  1. Location Stunts

I love Fantasy AGE’s stunt system, and to me this is the biggest gem of the book. The idea that in a city rich with magic, stunts that increase magic damage might cost 1 less stunt point? That’s gold, and it opens up a whole new realm of potential encounter and campaign design for Fantasy AGE.

That’s not to say there isn’t a LOT of other material in this book. These are just the things that most caused me to stop and say “huh” out loud! If you haven’t picked it up, give it a look. If you have, but like me have barely cracked the spine yet, I suggest you set some time aside to explore the book in greater depth.

Incoming transmission….

It’s almost here! Kickstarter backers of The Expanse Roleplaying Game should be on the lookout for the PDF of Abzu’s Bounty this coming week. Pre-orders and PDFs will be available on the Green Ronin website soon after that, and those of you at PAX Unplugged will have a chance to get your hands on physical copies. All of us at Green Ronin want to give a heartfelt thank you to everyone who backed The Expanse RPG and made this possible. As my first development project for Green Ronin, bringing Abzu’s Bounty to life has been an exciting ride, and I’m really proud of the work the writers and artists put into making this amazing book.

Art by Andrey Vasilchenko

I’ve discussed many of the details in previous posts, but for those of you who may have missed them, here’s a summary. Abzu’s Bounty is a six-part, system-spanning campaign for The Expanse Roleplaying Game. The campaign can take place during the early Expanse novels (Levianthan’s Wake and Caliban’s War). The story opens with characters onboard an ice hauler collecting ice from the rings of Saturn. The crew discovers a strange silicate in some of the ice. The characters soon find themselves enmeshed in a conspiracy that takes them from Prometheus (one of the moons of Saturn) to the inner planets of Earth and Mars and places like Titan and Luna in-between. The book is full of NPCs and locations that are important to the Abzu’s Bounty campaign but could just as easily show up in your own stories. The campaign is designed in such a way that you can play it straight through or pick and choose the parts you want to add your own stories as the characters untangle the mystery. For a more detailed look at what you’ll find inside, check out my earlier posts.

I wish I could say more, but I can’t give away all of the secrets. I look forward to hearing about the adventures of the crews of the Abzu’s Bounty. I hope you all have as much fun playing it as we’ve had creating it.

Fantasy AGE and You – Using Adventures from Other Games

So, here I am the Fantasy AGE developer with tons and tons of d20 adventures sitting on my shelves. A lot of them are really cool concepts, from a tour through the waters around Freeport to more than a hundred Adventure Path volumes from my former employer. I definitely want to run more Fantasy AGE games, but my time is limited and it seems a shame to just chuck all my older gaming products. That makes me wonder, naturally, how hard is it to adapt adventures and settings from other game systems to Fantasy AGE? And, is it worth the effort?

The answers are; not hard at all (though there’s an easy way and a hard way), and, of course, it depends.

Fantasy AGE

Let’s talk about the value of such an idea before we get into some tips on how to do it. The most obvious reason to convert materials for other games to Fantasy AGE is because you like the way Fantasy AGE plays as a game, but need ideas to fill your adventures. Especially for games built around having races, 20-level classes, and fantasy themes. The adaptation work isn’t particularly difficult, so you can easily treat multiple games’ worth of material as idea generators for your Fantasy AGE game.

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

This is especially helpful if you have multiple game editions of material for the same world, or want to mix elements from different system’s game worlds. So if you want to use the core world of one 20-level fantasy game, an adventure that uses a different game system, and a monster from a third, adapting all of these elements to Fantasy AGE may well be easier than picking any one of the three systems you are borrowing from to adjust everything to.

There is, of course, a secret to adapting other games to Fantasy AGE the “easy way,” and it is this: don’t even worry about trying to get it right.

Seriously, Fantasy AGE is not a game where you need to worry about a dozen tiny bonuses or have exactly the right balance of skills and special abilities. Yes, you CAN do things the ‘hard way’ and try to emulate every single special attack, creature type property, and tiny circumstantial bonuses… but mostly that’s not going to produce an end result that is any more fun and satisfying. As long as you use an appropriate equivalent, you can swap out a Fantasy AGE stat block for most things you might encounter in other game systems. If you tell players they are facing a band of 3-foot tall kobolds, they’ll never know you’re actually using the stat block for goblins. Or bandits. Or living dolls.

There are just a few things it’s useful to understand when working on your simple adaptation.

Adversary Threat Level

Fantasy AGE has guidelines covering what level PCs are expected to deal with what degree of adversary threat (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 104), and this is a good general guideline for adapting a Fantasy AGE stat block to represent a foe from another game system. If you have 7th level PCs, and you are running a d20 adventure for 12th level characters, it’s best for most of your adversaries be moderate threats. Yes, that means instead of making a 12th level d20 evil sorcerer a 12th level Fantasy AGE mage you may just want to pick a moderate threat monster with spells, and treat it as a sorcerer. A djinn or shadow person (Fantasy AGE Bestiary) can substitute for a fine spellcaster, and similar you can use any of the elementals from that book as element-themed mages.

Don’t do any more work than you have to. This is supposed to be fun for you too, after all.

Shuffle Special Qualities

Freeport Bestiary (Pathfinder 1st edition)

Anything that isn’t appropriate for your adapted foe? Just ignore. Don’t worry about fine details of balance—if you want a simple air-mage just grab the wind djinn, ignore the flight (or describe it as a spell) and strike out the bound special qualities, and go for it.

If it’s crucial your adapted monster have some special ability to fit the theme of an adventure or to have an encounter make sense, look at the Modifying Monsters rules (Fantasy AGE Bestiary, 133) and pick something close-enough. Again, the idea isn’t to exactly emulate every feature of your adapted adversary, but just to pick a few things that match its theme. If you really need to give a creature a new power to emulate some special ability the bestiary doesn’t give you any options for, consider just giving it a stunt that access a spell from an appropriate arcana.

It’s All Hazards And Tests

Nearly anything that does nasty things to the PCs and isn’t an adversary can be translated into Fantasy AGE as a hazard (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 101). Trapped chest? Hazard you can avoid with a Perception test, and bypass with a Dexterity (Traps) test. Poison cloud? Hazard you can reduce the damage of with a Constitution (Stamina) test. Barrier against good? Hazard you can ignore with a Willpower (Faith) test. Hazards don’t have to be restricted to damage (though it is the simplest option), so you can apply other effects (borrowed from arcana or adversary abilities, or that you make up on the spot). A tar pit can be a hazard that just prevents a character from moving until they pass a Strength (Might) test, a magic blinding rune can require a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test with failure causing the character to be unable to see for 10 minutes, resulting in a -3 to attack rolls and halving their movement rate.

Similarly you can translate most non-combat challenges into basic, opposed, or advanced tests as appropriate. If an adventure has special rules for a chariot race, finding the right book in a partially-flooded library, or building a rebellion within an occupied city, it’s rarely going to be worth it to try to emulate the details of those rules. Just pick the test type that seems closest, tell PCs how often they get to roll based on how long the goal should take, and move on.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When looking back on enjoyable RPG experiences, most players remember when they pulled off an amazing stunt, discovered the mayor was a vampire, swam across the River of Souls, slayed the dragon, or were the last defender standing at the Gate of Heroes. They don’t generally care as much if they had five +1 bonuses from different sources, managed to master the special rules for winning a senate debate, or got lucky on the 4-part drowning rules. The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook has all the tools you need to challenge the players and create memorable adventures, as well as advice on how to create new threats and encounters. When adapting material from other games, all you are doing is borrowing names, art, and general plots as blueprints for creating Fantasy AGE adventures.

If you keep things fast and fun, the players will never know if you didn’t give the half-dragon dire rat ghost from a d20 adventure all of its special defenses—they’ll just remember the dang thing kept running through walls and breathing fire on them until they skewered it for good.

PAX Unplugged and Freebooting

Green Ronin is very excited to be attending PAX Unplugged again this year. PAX Unplugged is Penny Arcade’s completely analog convention. It’s become known as the convention where people actually play games – a lot of them! Crazy, right? So, if you are in Philadelphia the weekend of December 6 – 8, please come join us and play some games.

You will be able to find us at Exhibitor’s Hall Booth 3649. Even better is that this year we will also have a table within the free play hall in an area designated for exhibitor demos. We will have our own dedicated table throughout the entire weekend!

Speaking of the demo table – we could really use a few more people to help us run games. Does this sound like fun to you? In addition to the fun of running games, Green Ronin will reimburse your badge and give you a t-shirt. Win-win for all of us!

If you’re already a Freebooter and interested, please contact me to discuss details.

Not a Freebooter but still want to run games for us? No problem! Becoming a Freebooter is fun, easy, and packed with perks. The first step is to fill out this form. If you want to help with PAX Unplugged, please also send me an email at freebooters@greenronin.com to make sure I expedite your application.

The Expanse RPG – Gen Con 2019

Finally, if you’re attending PAX Unplugged, please feel free to drop by our booth and say hello. Happy gaming!

Abzu’s Bounty is Coming Soon!

Abzu’s Bounty, the first campaign for The Expanse RPG, is almost ready to go. The layout is complete, and we’re waiting for a few final pieces from the artists. And speaking of art, I want to take a moment to say that the artwork in this book is gorgeous! It has everything you’d expect to see in an Expanse campaign: space battles, incredible planetary vistas, pirates, OPA terrorists, abandoned asteroid bases, and more. This book has it all!

As you’ve probably read, Abzu’s Bounty is a six-part, system-spanning campaign filled with action and adventure. We’ve given you the broad strokes, but today I want to delve further into the details without spoiling the plot. The story opens on board the ice hauler, Abzu’s Bounty, gathering ice in the rings of Saturn. The default setting has the characters as members of the Bounty’s crew. However, established characters can just as easily be on board for their own reasons. The crew of the Bounty discovers something unusual in the collected ice. The characters quickly find themselves swept up in conspiracies involving multiple factions from around the solar system. Not long into the campaign, the crew has the opportunity to claim a ship for themselves–an old pirate vessel called the Anne Bonny. With a ship of their own, they’re set to take on all of the challenges that await them: OPA terrorists, private security companies, space pirates, Martian secret agents, corporate masterminds, and more.

Abzu’s Bounty has a direct tie-in to the adventure To Sleep, Perchance to Dream in the core rulebook, but it is not necessary to have played that adventure. But for those who have played it, they finally get to meet Alexander Pope, the villain and mysterious entrepreneur who remains behind the scenes.  Players and GMs who have read the novels will also recognize several characters lifted right from those pages, and there are a quite few fun Easter eggs scattered throughout.

One of the aspects that I think is really cool about this book is that besides being a book full of adventures, it also provides a wealth of useful setting information. You’ll learn more about Luna, the pleasure domes of Titan, the tunnels of Mars, hidden and abandoned space stations, and even a pirate radio station–not to mention new organizations and factions and a shipload of NPCs. Lots of cool stuff that you can use in your own campaign or beyond the events in Abzu’s Bounty.

The campaign is designed so that you don’t necessarily have to run every adventure. You can easily skip those that don’t feel appropriate for your group. If you decide to tell this story, beginning to end, there is plenty of room for GMs to insert their own side stories or expand on the existing adventure. The campaign is designed for characters beginning at 2nd level and advance through 7th or possibly higher. A lot of flexibility is built into the story. The finale even provides an alternate ending for GMs who want to raise the stakes or offer the players a more challenging climax to the story. Be wary though, the odds of all the characters surviving this option are grim.

So, there you have it! I’ve endeavored to give you a more in-depth look into Abzu’s Bounty without giving away any of the secrets. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded. I look forward to hearing stories of how different groups tackle the challenges in Abzu’s Bounty–how they succeed and rise to the challenge.  Until next time!