Aldean Arcana in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

While The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide makes use of the core Fifth Edition spells and spellcasting classes, it does make a few adjustments to reflect the nature of magic and the Arcane on Aldea.

Blue Rose Adventurer's GuideAldea is a highly magical world, where adepts not only wield considerable power, but have transformed the world through its application, making life better and easier for people. Unfortunately, that same power has been misused by the corrupt, nearly destroying the world as well.

Adepts

Aldeans commonly use the term “adept” to refer to those awakened souls able to use magic, although technically the term is for those who have mastered such abilities; in the Old Kingdom, adept was a title similar to “master” in a craft, the achievement after apprenticeship as a student and graduation to independent practice. Now, among the uninitiated, the term is often confused for those who simply possess arcane talent, even if they lack training and skill. “Adept” often refers to anyone able to cast spells.

Arcane Limits

Aldea’s plane is particularly isolated from other planes of existence, so much so that the shadow-gates were the only known means of breaching the barriers between planes. Thus magic and spells reliant on contacting other planes or summoning creatures from them either work differently or do not work at all on Aldea without the use of a shadow-gate. The following spells are non-functional on Aldea without the use of a shadow-gate: conjure celestial, contact other plane, gate, planar ally, plane shift, teleport, and teleportation circle.

The Occult

Arcane Adept

Art by Aaron Riley

Aldean philosophers and scholars theorize that arcane power ultimately flows from the soul, and that the Souls of the Eternal Dance all possess at least the potential power wielded by the gods themselves, who created and shaped the world from the Sea of Possibility. Of course, those selfsame souls are now embodied and have forgotten much of their divine nature, but a spark of that still remains within every soul, and some find and draw upon it to wield magic in the world.

Also like the god Anwaren, the souls of the Dance are vulnerable to the lure and temptation of Shadow, particularly when wielding the power to influence and transform. When the arcane arts are used to usurp the sovereignty of another soul, there is resistance, a backlash from that soul’s divine nature. In essence, when the arcane is used to alter another person’s body, mind, or soul without their consent, it can corrupt the soul of the adept. Aldeans refer to magic that does these things as occult, for such things are obscured by Shadow.

The following spells are considered occult when cast on an unwilling person: antipathy/sympathy, calm emotions, command, compulsion, confusion, detect thoughts, dominate person, enlarge/reduce, enthrall, eyebite, fear, feeblemind, geas, hideous laughter, hypnotic pattern, imprisonment, irresistible dance, magic jar, modify memory, phantasmal killer, polymorph, suggestion, symbol, true polymorph, vampiric touch, and weird.

Note that a few of these spells are not considered occult if they are used on a willing subject, such as calm emotions, modify memory, or polymorph, for examples. Others are always occult, because they cannot have a willing subject by definition. Likewise, many of these spells are not considered occult if they are used on creatures other than people: dominate monster, for example, is not occult.

Also spells that summon fiends or undead creatures, or that create undead creatures, are occult by definition including animate dead and create undead, and planar ally and gate (involving fiends).

Arcane Items

Old Aldis created many arcane wonders long ago, and the Shadow Lords who followed it often used their powers to create terrible and powerful items, some of them cursed. Some of these objects from both eras of Aldean history still exist, although the secrets of their making have been lost. The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide describes more than three dozen unique magic items found on Aldea, including seven artifacts.

Aldean Classes – Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

Last week we took a look at Ancestries in Aldea, so this week we thought we’d focus on Aldean Classes. All of the core 5e classes exist in the world of Aldea, and The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide looks at each, how they fit into the various nations and lands, and offer new class-feature options unique to Aldea and the Western Lands:

Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide for 5e: Pre-Order Today!


Barbarians – The Path of the Wasteland: Fit for surviving in the most Shadow-tainted wastelands and desolate places, these barbarians literally live off their own fury and determination and possess tremendous survival instincts.

Aldean Fighter ClassBards – The College of the Roads: Also known as the College of Fate, these bards learn the secrets of the Roamers, including how to perceive and tug at the weave of fate and to perform the sacred Sel-Shanna, the Moon Dance.

Clerics – The Radiant Domain: More than just mundane light, clerics of radiance are devoted to the Light, the essence and wellspring of creation, which opposes the power of Shadow. Any of the Gods of Light can claim this domain, along with clerics of the Eternal Dance itself. Clerics of radiance are found in all of the lands of Aldea, but particularly Aldis and Jarzon, although they often differ in their views of how best to shed their light to banish Shadow.

Druids – The Circle of the Clans: The most common druids on Aldea, by far, are the Circle of the Clans, who serve the clans of Rezea. They are commonly known as witches, or the wise-ones, adept keepers of lore, wisdom, and power. They gather on the plains at night under the stars and the light of the moon to work their magic.

Fighters – The Peacekeeper: It is said “let those who desire peace prepare for war” and those who emulate the Peacekeeper do just that. They are prepared, able, and willing to fight, if they must, for a cause they believe in, but a Peacekeeper’s goal is to prevent fights, when and where possible, and to end them as quickly, and with as little harm, as they can.

Monks – The Way of the Spirit Dance: A reflection of the Eternal Dance within the material world, the tradition of the Spirit Dance is thought to be one of the oldest spiritual practices in Aldea, passed down from master to student since time immemorial, and granting those who learn and master its rhythms and steps great spiritual and magical insight.

Paladins – The Oath of the Rose: Rose Knights are sworn to the cause of Aldis and the Blue Rose, to be the champions of the Sovereignty. The power of oaths and dedication is palpable to an awakened soul, and paladins are found among all of the cultures of Aldea. They include the Knights of Purity in Jarzon and the dreaded Knights of the Skull in Kern.

Rangers – The Shadow Hunter: Some rangers following the Hunter archetype on Aldea stalk the forces of Shadow itself. These Shadow Hunters gain access to additional traits concerning their particular foes.

Rogues – The Rebel: The rebel is an infiltrator and an inciter of change, sometimes through stealth, cunning, and persuasion, other times through violence. They may be a lone figure, inspiringAldean Wizard Class people to take action, the leader of a cell or network, or even hidden within the very power structure they seek to overthrow.

Sorcerers – Primal Sorcery: There are sorcerers who wield the primal magic of the elements, forged by the gods at the dawn of the world. These sorcerers often hail from particularly ancient families, although bloodlines and inheritance are often obscured by the chaos of the Shadow Wars and all that followed.

Warlocks – The Autumn King and the Winter Queen: Although it is said that all souls of the Eternal Dance have the potential for the arcane arts, the truth is that not all souls awaken to that potential in each life, and most will not do so in this life. Still there are some who hunger and thirst for arcana and seek some means to slake it. Warlocks on Aldea turn to two additional particular patrons for their arcane arts: the Primordials, particularly those of Autumn and Winter, of earth and air, and of madness and the Moon.

Wizards – The School of Psyche: The School of the Psyche explores the true source of magic on Aldea: the awakened souls of the Eternal Dance, and the vast Sea of Possibility, the pure power of the mind and soul working in concert. Some psychic wizards refer to their work as the “grand unity of the arts,” seeking a deeper understanding of all arcana through this lens.

Aldean Ancestries in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide

The Blue RoseBlue Rose Adventurer's Guide for 5th edition Adventurer’s Guide talks, not about “race” but ancestry, as the Aldeans consider “personhood” a matter of the mind and soul, the souls of the Eternal Dance, given physical form by the gods to save them from being lost to the hunger of the Exarchs of Shadow. Ancestry is a matter of the physical form a particular soul is reborn into from the Wheel of Rebirth. The various ancestries of Aldea—human, night person, sea-folk, vata, and rhydan—are described in “Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer.” Here we look at what ancestry means in 5e game terms:

Abilities

Ancestries in Blue Rose do not apply ability score adjustments. Instead, all characters receive a +2 bonus to one ability, and a +1 bonus to another, both of the player’s choice. Likewise, ancestry doesn’t determine the languages a character knows or speaks, and there are no “racial languages,” that’s a function of the culture the character was raised in. Of course, some people in Aldea are telepathic, so language is often not a concern.

Traits

Ancestries in Blue Rose

art by Aaron Riley

Ancestries do have their own particular traits, whether the adaptability and innate talents of humans, the darkvision and relentless endurance of the night people, the amphibious nature of the sea-folk, or the arcane talents and rapid recovery of the vata. Rhydan in particular have their own traits, given their animal forms, their innate psychic abilities, and their ability to rhy-bond with a particular companion. The Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide gives full traits for rhy-cats, rhy-fen (dolphins), horses, and wolves, but also guidelines to create rhydan traits for any beast with a Challenge Rating of 1/4 or less.

Cultures

The various Western Lands of Aldea described in “Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer” have their own cultures and languages, and it is these that influence the backgrounds of different characters. Humans are by far the majority ancestry, with other peoples fitting in and around human communities, but humans and vata in the Theocracy of Jarzon, for example, have more in common with each other than they have with their human and vata kin from the Plains of Rezea on the far side of Aldis, for example.

Backgrounds

Aldean characters choose a background like any other character, and the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide provides local interpretations of various classic backgrounds within Aldean cultures, along with new options, like Reawakened, Refugee, and Shadow-Scarred, and all of their associated traits.

Welcome to Aldea: A Blue Rose Primer

Blue Rose Adventurer's GuideWhether it is the announcement of the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide, the release of some recent Blue Rose products, or just general curiosity, if you are unfamiliar with the setting for Blue Rose, you may be wondering: What is this “Aldea” place and what is it like for playing games and telling stories?

Walk across its meadows, under the branches of its forests, or along its shores, and you would find the world of Aldea much like our own: with a day and night, a sun and moon, a cycle of seasons over a similar year, with much flora and fauna that would be familiar.

That said, you would also encounter magic and mystery under those forest boughs and in the watery depths. The sun, moon, and stars were placed in the sky by primordial powers worshipped during that cycle of seasons, and some flora and fauna are quite different indeed, from tree-spirits to faeries to beasts with minds as aware as our own. What’s more, you would find places, and creatures, touched by forces of corruption and evil, which have twisted them, making them inimical to life.

The Western Lands

Aldea is a world in many ways like our own several centuries ago, in others very different. The Blue Rose setting focuses on a region of the overall world of Aldea less than a thousand miles across, centered on the nation of Aldis, the Sovereignty of the Blue Rose. They are collectively known as the Western Lands, or the Old Kingdom Lands, although both terms are not in widespread use, since these lands don’t think of themselves collectively, for the most part. They have emerged only a few centuries ago from a vast dark age of corrupt rule, and parts of the world still remain touched by the power known to Aldeans as Shadow.

  • Aldis: Central to the Western Land is the Sovereignty of Aldis, once the heart of the Old Kingdom. Aldis is ruled by nobles who are trained and tested for their roles, including the magical test of the Blue Rose Scepter to verify their good intentions. It is ruled by a Sovereign chosen by the divine Golden Hart from among its people, and the current sovereign is Queen Jaellin. Aldis harnesses arcane power and potential to improve the lives of its people and to promote a culture of tolerance and prosperity for all.
  • Rezea: West of Aldis, across the broad Rezean Gulf, lie the plains of Rezea, hundreds of miles of open grasslands, fed by rivers flowing from the high northern mountains towards the ocean. These lands are claimed by the Clans of Rezea, semi-nomadic horse-riders descended from humans who escaped servitude in Drunac to the north and west and found their way onto the vast plains, led by the great hero Jessa. The Rezean clans are largely independent, and often competitive, united by their culture and their respect for the Khana, the wisest of their witches.
  • Jarzon: To the east of Aldis, across the expanse of the Veran Marsh, is the Theocracy of Jarzon. Jarzon’s history of struggle in throwing off tyranny and surviving in a corrupted world has shaped their culture and views. A deeply religious nation, Jarzon’s salvation was in the Church of Pure Light. The church preaches a strict life of vigilance against corruption. The practice of the occult is punishable by death, and the arcane arts may only be practiced by the church’s priesthood and those specifically under their supervision. Jarzon mistrusts neighboring Aldis for the Sovereignty’s embrace of arcana and the forces which the Theocracy feels corrupted the world—and have the potential to do so again.
  • Kern: To the north of Aldis, beyond the peaks of the Ice-Binder Mountains, lies the foreboding Thaumarchy of Kern, the last of the domains of Shadow. The Lich King Jarek ruled here for centuries until Queen Jaellin and the forces of Aldis brought his rule—and his dark tower—crashing down three years ago. A loose alliance of seven of Jarek’s lieutenants stepped quickly into the power vacuum, taking up the reins of power as a “Regency Council” until the succession could be settled. The so-called “Shadowed Seven” plot and scheme and maneuver for advantage in the inevitable conflict that will settle which of them sits upon Kern’s throne.
  • Lar’tya: A sea voyage to the south and west of Aldis lie the volcanic isles of the Matriarchy of Lar’tya. It is a prosperous, tropical nation with a trading partnership with the Western Lands, particularly Aldis. As its name suggests, Lar’tya consolidates political and social power in the hands of women, considering them more naturally suited to administration, business, and leadership. The nation also has a strict caste system, with limited social mobility and interaction between castes.
  • The Roamers: The traveling folk known as Roamers trace their lineage back to the lost nation of Faenaria, what is now the Shadow Barrens. The Roamers travel from place to place in small caravans of brightly colored wagons, trading goods and offering services, often visionary readings or small arcane works. They’re known for their love of music and dance, but also for a somewhat mischievous nature and a gift for stirring things up in places they visit.

The Western Kingdoms of Aldea

The Peoples of Aldea

On Aldea, their term for “person” generally refers to any embodied soul: a living being born of the world, capable of thought and self-awareness. That said, not all cultures agree as to precisely who

Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy

Blue Rose (Fantasy AGE)

is or isn’t a “person.” In particular some nations, like Jarzon, question whether or not rhydan are truly people, or whether the night people are deserving of the name, being creations of the occult, and therefore shadowspawn in their eyes. In Aldis and much of the world, however, the following five peoples are recognized:

  • Humans: The vast majority of people in the world are humans, who would be quite familiar to us. Aldean humans exist in all of the vast variety they do on our world, and then some.
  • Night People: Creations of arcana, the night people were made as brute laborers and soldiers. Many fought for and won their freedom and they are now found in many lands, although fully-accepted only in Aldis, as many others are suspicious of the night people’s origins.
  • Rhydan: The rhydan have the bodies of beasts, but possess souls just like any people, making them intelligent, self-aware, and gifted with arcane (particularly psychic) talents. Most rhydan arise—or “awaken” as they call it—from amongst mundane animals of their kind, and many in Aldis believe rhydan are proof of the Wheel of Rebirth: placing enlightened souls into animal forms close to nature.
  • Sea-folk: Sea-folk are an amphibious people, who can swim with great skill and hold their breath as long as a dolphin. They have green- or blue-tinted skin and hair and eyes of a similar shade. Sea-folk are androgynous and often gender-fluid. Because they depend on water more than land-dwellers, sea-folk live near rivers, streams, lakes, or the sea.
  • Vata: Descendants of the ancient and arcane vatazin, their heritage mixed with human ancestry, the vata are a long-lived people of arcane gifts and insights, but one that has been fading from the world for generations.

Before the souls of Aldea were embodied, they were timeless beings beyond physicality. Now in diverse forms, they retain some sense of their previous oneness. While men and women are the most common genders of Aldea, more exist beyond these two. While people in Aldis have no overriding romantic or sexual preference, placing the importance of the soul over the body, there are those primarily or solely drawn to their own gender, or to a different gender, as well as those not drawn to sex or romance in particular, or even at all. There are many sorts of families, based on many sorts of relationships between people, with love as the most common element.

A New World Awaits

This summary is just the barest taste of the magical world of Aldea. So much more awaits in both Blue Rose, the AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy (for the AGE System) and in the Blue Rose Adventurer’s Guide (for Fifth Edition fantasy roleplaying), as well as fiction set in the world of Aldea from Nisaba Press, such as the novel Shadowtide. Whatever venue appeals to you, welcome to the world of Aldea! Take the time to visit and experience its stories, and then create some of your own.

Fantasy AGE Freeport

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

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

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

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

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

From Freeport to Lairs

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

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

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

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

(Not So) Secret Identities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sword Chronicle: Post Release Follow Up and Warfare Wednesday

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

Check Out the Warfare Wednesday Stream

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

Warfare Wednesday!

Of POD and Discounts

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

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

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

Supplements and Support

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

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

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

 

I’LL TAKE YOU RIGHT INTO THE DANGER ZONES

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

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

Danger Zones: Bank Map!

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

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

Assault on the Credit Union

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

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

Banking and Entry

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

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

Gilded Cage

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

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

Sword Chronicle: Questions Answered, Plus the Chronicle System Guild

As Sword Chronicle undergoes the final sprint toward release we’ve fielded questions from social media, the GRAAD fan Discord server (we don’t run GRAAD, but we support it) and our online Gen Con panel. You’d like to know about our immediate and future plans, and to respond to some rumors. So, without further ado, here are some answers.

When is Sword Chronicle Coming Out, Exactly?

Our target is August 17. If it doesn’t come out that day for some reason, we’ll immediately announce the new day.

How is Sword Chronicle Coming Out?

Sword Chronicle was originally devised under the assumption that traditional printers and distributors would be unavailable. We also assumed we’d be able to budget far less than usual for Sword Chronicle compared to typical releases of this sort—and even supplements for our core books. Green Ronin President Chris Pramas has talked about how COVID-19 affected the company. We had to use a leaner, more agile process.

This means Sword Chronicle is an electronic first release, available in PDF first, with the intention of setting up print on demand at DriveThruRPG on or around that time. Furthermore, we’re going back to a classic style in RPG production by using a black-and-white or two-color interior, to cut costs for both people printing it out, and possible POD orders.

What Kind of Chronicle System?

We’ve also fielded questions about what iteration of the Chronicle System Sword Chronicle represents. The answer is straightforward: The game uses what is substantially the same as the system seen in the original A Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying game, minus the setting of Westeros, as our license for that intellectual property has concluded. Beyond our ability to swiftly make the game happen, one of the attractions of this is the fact that virtually every setting-neutral Chronicle System supplement remains compatible with Sword Chronicle, so the game automatically drops with additional support. And if you’re still playing Chronicle games using earlier books, you can use Sword Chronicle as an alternative core with few adjustments required. The major differences are:

  • In response to long time feedback from Chronicle players, armor no longer penalizes Combat Defense. Some slight changes to other rules support this shift.
  • Rules for fantasy ancestries are integrated into character creation.
  • Intrigue has been revised both for clarity and to bring some of the systems into line with more rigorous player safety standards.
  • Sorcery is part of the core rules. These rules are a streamlined version of the rules originally introduced in Chronicle of Sorcery.
  • Our new setting is the Shattered Era, though the rules themselves are largely setting neutral.

The Chronicle System Guild

The biggest new information comes last. At Gen Con we revealed something we’ve only mentioned in small conversations: the Chronicle System Guild. The Guild is a community content program for creators who want to use the Chronicle System to publish adventures, rules, and settings. If you’re a publisher working through DriveThruRPG, you’ll be able to publish Chronicle-compatible products by following the rules and license we lay out. Sword Chronicle will be the rulebook publishers reference.

We’ve been working on the Chronicle System Guild in a sort of intensive stealth mode since June, helping new and established DriveThruRPG publishers prepare their products to launch when the program premieres. We expect additional supplements to follow from our partners. The terms are very close to those of other community content programs, and we’ve tried to keep the restrictions minimal.

The Chronicle System Guild launches at or around when Sword Chronicle does. The goal is a simultaneous premiere, but dates are often shifting targets. Once it starts, you’ll be able to find all the details on DriveThruRPG.

Chronicle System Guild! For all your Sword Chronicle needs

Return to Freeport

Twenty years ago, at Gen Con in August of 2000, Green Ronin Publishing released one of the very first adventures for the brand-new third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, also one of the first published under the new Open Game License. Death in Freeport was the first experience many had in playing the new edition, both that weekend and in the months and even years that followed. As part of celebrating Green Ronin’s 20th anniversary this year, we’re pleased to offer players both old and new the opportunity to return to the swashbuckling “City of Adventure” with a re-release of Death in Freeport, updated for the fifth edition of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game!

Death in Freeport for 5th edition!Of course, along with editions, a number of things have changed in the past twenty years, not the least of which is a worldwide pandemic that has placed some limits on printing, publication, and distribution. That means this new edition of the adventure will be available only in electronic (PDF) and print-on-demand (Coming Soon!) formats. On the other hand, we’ve come a long way from producing black-and-white saddle-stitched booklets with line art: The new edition of Death in Freeport is in full color, with plenty of color illustrations, the style of our other 5e products like Book of the Righteous and Book of Fiends.

What about the adventure itself? Here, we largely stick to tradition and the original work of Freeport creator Chris Pramas. Death in Freeport introduces the player characters to the free city and pirate haven known as Freeport, and entangles them in the mystery of a scholar who has gone missing, leading them to a much deeper threat, both figuratively and literally!

Of course, all of the adventure’s mechanics, encounters, and characters have been updated for Fifth Edition, and that includes the four pre-generated player characters who were a part of the original Death in Freeport: Rollo (gnome fighter), Malevir (half-elf sorcerer), Alaina (human rogue), and Thorgrim (dwarf cleric). As an added bonus, we’ve created three unique backgrounds and four original sub-classes for these characters, included in an appendix in the adventure. They feature the backgrounds of Privateer, Historian, and Street Knife, and the sub-classes of:

  • Valor Domain: A cleric domain to stoke bravery, cast off fear, and serve as a beacon of courage to your allies.
  • Buccaneer: A martial archetype for sea-faring fighters who rely on striking fear into the hearts of their foes, and using that fear to make themselves all the more deadly!
  • Alley-rat: A rogue archetype that rules the streets and alleyways, turning terrain into deadly traps and even developing Lair Actions for your turf!
  • Serpentkin: A sorcerous origin drawing upon the ophidian power well known to long-time fans of Freeport, summoning spirits and forces with a serpentine bite.

So whether you are looking for a fun 1st-level adventure to introduce players to the City of Adventure (or to Fifth Edition or even tabletop gaming) or just some characters, encounters, ideas, and traits you can loot and plunder for your own 5e games, join us for our return to Freeport!

Now available in the Green Ronin Online Store

or check it out on DrivethruRPG