Ronin Round Table: 10 Years of Freedom (City)

By Steve Kenson

In the midst of marking the 10th anniversary of Mutants & Masterminds with a new Deluxe Hero’s Handbook (along with the exclusive limited Anniversary Edition), you might think we’ve forgotten the passage of the 10th anniversary of M&M‘s signature setting: Freedom City. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that city.

I always knew my first visit to Freedom City was going to be a temporary one. Still, I got to stay a good deal longer than I had planned, several years, in fact, almost enough time to put down roots. But then it was time to move on: to places both new and familiar, from Thedas and Westeros to Metropolis and Gotham, with short side-visits to Golarion, post-Awakening Seattle, and Stark City, to name a few, before a long assignment on Earth-Prime’s West Coast, an up-and-coming town called Emerald City, and everything that followed the Silver Storm.

But Freedom City has always been there during my travels, a place of old friends and fond remembrances and, this coming year, it will be time for a return visit. I’m sure some things have changed in my absence. In fact, if what I’ve heard so far is any indication, I know that Freedom City will be a different place than the one I remember.

The Freedom League has moved on, I’ve heard. Operating from their orbital headquarters, the days when they called Freedom City "home" are largely behind them. The old Freedom Hall is now just a local branch for a hero team gone global—maybe some new local heroes will take up residence there as part of the League’s franchise? I hope so.

The Atom Family is still around, of course. The Goodman Building isn’t just their headquarters, after all. It’s their home. Chase Atom is in his 20s now, and his elder brother Max is starting a whole new generation of Atoms. Speaking of generations, word is that Michael O’Connor has gone from several successive terms as mayor to serving Freedom City in Washington. The mayor’s office has seen better days but, if the rumors about Callie Summers running for office are true, things might be about to change.

I’m looking forward to some old familiar haunts. Pyramid Plaza and the Sentry Statue still dominate the city skyline, and Liberty Park is a lovely place to spend a day, even if Heroes’ Knoll has a new statue or two. It would be nice sit out at a Starbase Coffee near the FCU campus and try to spot any figures flying overhead. I’m thinking of staying in a place further east, however. Maybe Riverside, close to the park and the ferry to Bayview. Claremont Academy is going to be a must-see, even if most of the kids I knew have moved on. In fact, I hear Whoop-Ant is celebrating his 21st birthday soon. (Heaven help us all…) Some property vacancies have opened up in Riverside, like that old brownstone that seemed to appear out of nowhere.

Freedom City still sees more than its share of the fantastic. The interstellar refugees crowding Star Island may have largely moved on to Starhaven on Jupiter’s moon, Europa, thanks to Daedalus, but some of their influence remains behind (along with a few “illegal aliens,” if you believe the rumors). Indeed, with all the upheaval in the galaxy, it’s no wonder Star Knight has left Earth largely behind to focus on events in space.

Although I’ve been away from the familiar sights, sounds, and streets of Freedom for a while, I’m looking forward to them again. It’ll make a great home base for the travel I’ll be doing for the rest of the year, exploring some exotic locales with some friends and sending notes home about what we find there. Whether you’re a former resident of Freedom City, like me, a newcomer, tourist, or someone who has been there all along, I hope that I’ll be seeing you in the City of Heroes sometime next year!

Ronin Round Table: Introducing the New Ronin

By Owen K.C. Stephens

Hi folks, I’m Owen K.C. Stephens, the new Pathfinder developer here at Green Ronin. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, tell you where I am coming from as a gamer and writer, and talk a little bit about our immediate Pathfinder plans.

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Ronin Round Table: Fate in Freeport

By Jack Norris

Hello all, Jack here. I wanted to talk to you a bit about one of our recent products I’ve been looking over recently. It’s not one I worked on, but rather one I picked up and have been reading and enjoying myself both as gamer and designer. It’s the Fate Freeport Companion, and it’s pretty darned spiffy. I’ve been looking at a lot at Fate products while writing, designing, and currently Kickstarting my own kung fu/wu xia game using the Fate system, Tianxia (oh hey look, a link to my game, how did that get there?). I’ve seen some really great products using the FATE system but I wanted to take some time and give shout out to this one especially. Okay, now that introductions and my shameless plug are out of the way, let’s talk about FATE and Freeport.

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Ronin Round Table: Downloads Ahoy!

By Evan Sass

This past June we switched our Green Ronin Online Store from Miva Merchant to Shopify. As you discovered if you purchased electronic products through the previous incarnation of our store and then tried to redownload them after we switched software, those older links are no longer present on your Account page. Finally, we now have a solution in place for you.

TL;DR: To access your old downloads, visit https://www.greenronin.com/downloads/ and follow the instructions.

The problem was that Shopify, for Perfectly Reasonable Reasons, allows us to import customer data and product data, but not past order data. Thus, we were able to get the new store up and running and switch all online ordering over to http://greenroninstore.com/, long before I was able to put together a solution for downloading past purchases.

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Ronin Round Table: The Name Game

By Steve Kenson

"Would you … mind signing my book?"

I’m pretty sure I looked behind me the first time somebody asked me that.

It was at the FASA Corporation booth at GenCon, back when I was freelancing for Shadowrun and the Awakenings sourcebook (my first project with cover credit) was brand new. I figured they had to be talking to somebody else at the (relatively busy) booth but, no, it was me. Truth be told, I’m still almost as surprised and flattered these days when people ask me to sign books I’ve written as I was then, well over a decade ago.

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Ronin Round Table: Modern Medicine

By Nicole Lindroos

Note: Nicole wrote and posted this yesterday to various social media sites, but it seemed fitting to re-post it here, today, for any who might have missed it.

Modern medicine, like whoa.

This morning in the pre-dawn hours I got up and took Pramas to the hospital for surgery on his neck. The neurosurgeon was scheduled to “excavate” a couple of the vertebrae in his neck, trimming back bone spurs that were compressing a nerve, scraping away matter to make room for a shim of cadaver bone to be wedged in place and secured with a titanium plate.

Walking through this experience with Chris, I felt very much like the surgeon in the Star Trek clip (really, no need to watch past 0:53 to get my point). All day I was thinking "What’s going on? Who are you people?" because this experience was unlike any medical experience I’ve had in my life. (Possibly because there’s never been a time when I’ve needed, much less been able to avail myself of, medical care with price tag in the many tens of thousands of dollars.)

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Ronin Round Table: Missing Gen Con

Imagine, if you will, that today is Friday, August 16, 2013. Some of us are busy on the floor at Gen Con, and some of us are wishing, a lot or a little, that we were at the show. And Steve Kenson is waiting in a security line or is strapped into a tube blasting across the ocean. And while you’re imagining that today is that day, please imagine that we remembered to post this for Steve…

I am not at GenCon as you read this. In fact, I’m not at GenCon this August for the first time since 1990. Although my first big game convention was GenCon/Origins in 1988, I skipped ’89 (a pity, too, as it was a banner year, with the release of both Shadowrun and the fourth edition of Champions). Since ’90, however, I haven’t missed a GenCon until now: Twenty-three consecutive GenCons (twenty-four in total) and it looks like I’m not going to make that consecutive silver anniversary (although I no doubt will make it to twenty-five total GenCons).

Where am I right now? At Logan Airport about to board a flight to the UK, most likely, or on-board said flight. You see, it had to happen eventually that the difficulties of scheduling would catch up with me and, sooner or later, something would conflict with going to GenCon. This year it’s a once-in-a-lifetime weeklong trip to Wales to visit a series of sites with my pagan spiritual community. It necessitated leaving in the midst of GenCon weekend, so only one could happen. While I certainly don’t regret the decision, I know that I will miss "The Best Four Days in Gaming!™" that has been such a big part of my life.

I appreciate the understanding Green Ronin (my GenCon "home base" for nearly half the time I’ve been attending) has extended over this. It seems like circumstances have conspired to leave them short-handed this year, so please be kind and patient when you drop by their booth. I apologize to all those whom I won’t be able to see to sign your books, answer questions, or run games. I’ll miss seeing and chatting with you, but I hope to see many (if not all) of you next year!

I’ll miss the fledgling "Queer as a Three-Sided Die" seminar and get-together I helped start last year. It was such a rousing success and a heartwarming part of my convention, and I feel responsible to help keep it going. I know it is in very good hands with Wes Schneider, Jeremy Crawford, and new panelists Judy Bauer and Renee Knipe, I just wish I could be there to join in the discussion! Hopefully, a YouTube video of it will be awaiting me upon my return.

I’ll miss rooting with my coworkers and colleagues at the EN World Awards, mingling and talking before and after. There are a lot of worthy nominees this year, and I wish the best to all of them.

Most of all, I’ll miss spending time with my colleagues: Green Ronin is a far-flung company, the game industry even more so. For those of us who don’t live in Seattle, events like GenCon are rare opportunities to meet face-to-face, catch up, chat over drinks or dinner and, yes, play some games. I’m kind of glad I’ll be largely out of touch with my Facebook and Twitter feeds on the UK trip, since I’d rather read all the "live from GenCon" posts after the fact, rather than while they’re happening.

Still, one of the things about GenCon is its dependable place at the heart of the gaming calendar each year. Although I’ll miss it (and I like to think parts of GenCon will miss me), summer is almost over, then Fall will be upon us (and I’ll get to visit Green Ronin and Seattle in October), then the holidays, the New Year … and, before we know it, that time will draw near once again when we’ll all converge on Indianapolis for the four days of games and geekery that is GenCon.

I don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to it.

Steve Kenson

Ronin Round Table: Freebooter Update and Gen Con Plans!

By Donna Prior

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about the Freebooter program. With Gen Con fast approaching (too fast), I figured I’d throw you an update! One of my favorite aspects of the Freebooter program is that it’s so accessible to the casual volunteer, but there are plenty of upcoming rewards for the more hard core. We’ve had many event demos at game stores and conventions both. We’ve had demo sessions run on the east coast and all the way down under for PAX Australia. While most of our Freebooters are from the USA, we have a few spread out in other countries such as England, Canada, and Spain. And of course, the aforementioned Australia.

Dragon Age RPG: Arl's Ransom at PAX Australia

Anestis ran the first ever Green Ronin Freebooter Demo at PAX Australia!

The Freebooter membership shows an equal balance of experienced and newbie Game Masters, with a variety of different demo styles. It’s been quite exciting to read the reports! Of course, they’re not all 100% positive. There can be many challenges to face as a volunteer, especially when LGS owners & convention runners aren’t familiar with your company or products. Luckily, we’ve got some pretty friendly volunteers and it’s a pleasure to work with them.

Gen Con will be the first time I’ll be meeting many Green Ronin fans and Freebooters. We have a good amount of games on the schedule, which all filled up pretty fast. Alas, we couldn’t have as many games as we’d like, especially for the huge amount of requests for some Song of Ice & Fire! Some of the games are being run by fans we know; some are people who didn’t go through us at all! If you find yourself at a table, you’ll know an official Freebooter as they’ll be wearing THIS spiffy shirt!

freebooter_shirt.jpg

If you’re sitting at a table with a Green Ronin game, mention our program! We’ve been working to get the word out, but every little bit helps. The more volunteers we have, the bigger we can be for next year’s Gen Con.

We’re very thankful for all the folks who signed up to run games this year. Thanks to James & Aaron from Vigilance Press, Mark & Tim from Evil Fleet Productions, Neall Price, Steven Jones, Jamie Wood, Ken Hammerle, James Baize, Glenn Loos-Austin, Kerry Connell, and Mark Bannon for getting Green Ronin games on the schedule!

Even if you didn’t manage to get into a game, please drop by and see us at Booth #1703, right inside the exhibit hall doors! We’d also love your support at the ENnies!

Can’t make it to Gen Con? You can watch the award show live!

Have a safe and wonderful Gen Con!

Ronin Round Table: The Silverado Effect

Tailoring Adventures to Player Characters

by Jack Norris

Adventure design is a funny thing. Published adventures need to appeal to the widest possible group of PCs. Whether the PCs are bandits, knights, businessmen, or criminals an adventure included in a publication needs to do the best job they can to motivate and include those characters in the action. This is why published adventures based around classic plots like the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven are a good model; anyone who needs money, is a halfway decent person, or has some useful skills can be hired to defend a village from bandits or monsters.

Designing adventures for a particular group is a different beast. You can tailor an adventure to the PCs you actually have, not those you might have. This allows GMs to populate the adventure and the setting with plots, characters, and twists that speak directly to the PCs, their motivations, and skills. I call this the Silverado Effect, from the Lawrence Kasdan western film of the same name.

In Silverado, four "PCs" find themselves on the wrong side of some bad people. One of them used to ride with the main bad guy, now a corrupt sheriff and boss of the town of Silverado. Now he seeks some peace but still ends up coming against his old "friends." Two other characters, brothers, find themselves the target of the evil sheriff’s business partner, the son of a robber baron the eldest son killed to save his kid brother. They come into town to see their sister, and end up getting revenge when the bad guys take a run at their family. The final character arrives in town to find his father beset by the sheriff and robber baron who want their land and that his sister has abandoned the homestead to work as a saloon girl. Throughout the film these four characters alternate between friendship and suspicion until they finally come together to take on the bad guys and clean up the town.

It’s a great film and a classic of the modern western, but perhaps more importantly for the topic at hand it’s a story that only works with those characters. You can’t throw in a different main character without changing the whole dynamic. That’s because every bad guy, sympathetic character, and event is designed to motivate those characters in ways that wouldn’t work on someone else the same.

Have a PC whose parents were killed by bandits? Put in a bandit chief antagonist. Another PC loves kids? Add a needy waif who will meet a bad end without their help. Another is a politician and schemer? Then maybe the bandit chief is working with a corrupt lord or worse, maybe the lord hires the chief and his men as his personal magistrates to help him execute a complex scheme. By making these adjustments, you can even tailor a published adventure to your group and make it a very personal affair for the PCs.

This is the great advantage of designing adventures directly for your gaming table and while it can be some work, it can lead to truly fantastic games. It might not always be easy, but it is often worth it.

Ronin Round Table: Nobody’s Perfect…

… and that most certainly includes those of us working in publishing. "Mistakes happne," as they say. To err is human, etc., etc. As much as we try to put out flawless products free of the stain of human fallibility… well, we’re human.

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