Austium (Envoys to the Mount)

A Map of Austium

Map by Cartographer Liz Courts.

Envoys to the Mount is a full-length Blue Rose chronicle that takes players from origins as newly-graduated envoys of the Sovereign’s Finest to heroes of the kingdom of Aldis. The threats they face as part of that rise are dire and deadly, but perhaps none are more so than the wickedness of the lost city of Austium.

Once the capital of Faenaria, Austium was ground-zero for the Doom that destroyed the homeland of the folk who came to be called the Roamers.

Today, Austium is a Shadow-corrupted place, with four cabals of monstrous evil crouching in the ruins of the city. Above them sits arguably the most powerful darkfiend to ever slither out of Shadow into the world of mortals, the entity known only as the Lord of Austium.

Author Steven Jones did a spectacular job of detailing Austium, giving us a place that is not just a seemingly unending source of threats for Blue Rose heroes, but creating a place that seems to live, breathe, and positively bristle with potential threats. Because I do love me some hags and witches, I’m sharing the Coven of the Iron Cauldron here!

The Coven of the Iron Cauldron

The Queen’s Ward

The Coven of the Iron Cauldron is composed of sorcerers, hags, and other beings gifted in the arcane arts. It is immensely powerful and concentrates on uncovering the city’s lost lore with the intent of twisting it to the Shadow’s ends. While both the Guild of the Tarnished Coins and the Order of the Bloody Blades are larger, no other faction holds as much sway in the city with the Lord of Austium as the Coven of the Iron Cauldron.

Envoys to the Mount and Tales from the Mount bundle offer!

Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Tales from the Mount fiction anthology as well!

Since this faction’s focus is on lost lore and the secrets of sorcery, they give little thought to the activities of the other factions and do what they can to remain neutral in their political games. When the Coven does get pulled into these powerplays, it’s usually due to some Guild of the Tarnished Coins’ scheme; these political maneuvers have created some animosity from the Coven towards the Guild.

 

The Coven was formed and is led by the Inside-Out Lady (one of the Talons), and since its early days, the Coven’s power has grown greatly. It was instrumental in raising Austium from the wastes of the Shadow Barrens. Since the Inside-Out Lady is kept occupied in service to the Lord of Austium, most of the daily duties of running the Coven fall on the Inner Circle, which consists of the Coven’s other founding members who are still alive and in Austium. Three members of the Inner Circle—Cendis, Doromin, and Lady Viddia—can be found in Appendix 3; Narrators should feel free to add additional members as they see fit.

The remaining faction members are structured into lesser circles consisting of three or seven members, and it is common for these lesser circles to have a low ranking darkfiend in their service. Most of the lesser circles choose one of the exarchs as their patron. Among the lesser circles, there are rumors of former Inner Circle members who clashed with the Inside-Out Lady and were forced to flee Austium or be destroyed.

The Coven holds dominion over the eastern section of Austium (the Queen’s Ward), with the coven’s main rites taking place in a ring of standing stones on Cauldron Hill, located close to the Tempest Gate. The lesser circles all have their own ritual spaces throughout the twisted mockery of the city.

Be sure to check out our previous articles previewing what you’ll find in Envoys to the Mount! And while you’re at it, don’t forget about our Year End Sale! going on right now. There are quite a few books and adventures in the Blue Rose line available, just in case you have any gaps in your collection!

End of Year Sale and GR Gift Guide

Happy holidays from all of us at Green Ronin! I don’t think 2020 was the year any of us hoped for but on the upside, it’s almost over! Right now, we’ve got our Year End Sale going on, which offers 20% off most of our titles through January 3. Get gifts for your friends and family, or just treat yourself. If you survived 2020, you deserve it! Two important notes. First, we do offer gift certificates in our online store, so if you don’t know what to get for the gamers in your life, that’s always an option. Second, shipping is particularly slow this year, so if you want things in time for Xmas, get your orders in early. If you aren’t sure what to get, I’ve put together a gift guide that may help. Let’s get to it!

Death In Freeport for Fantasy AGEAs you may heard, 2020 was Green Ronin’s 20th anniversary. One way we celebrated that was with new editions of one of our earliest releases. I wrote Death in Freeport 20 years ago, and now it’s available in two formats: Fantasy AGE and 5th Edition. Pick your system and then set sale for Freeport, the City of Adventure! Fantasy AGE fans will also enjoy Lairs, another new book for this year that features a host of ready to use encounters. 5E fans should check out The Lost Citadel Roleplaying, where players are survivors of an undead apocalypse in the last city standing.

 

Enemies and Allies for Modern AGE

If you want a flexible RPG that can handle just about every sub-genre of action adventure, check out Modern AGE. It got its character/adversary book this year with Enemies & Allies. If you want a kickass setting, also check out Threefold. It got some adventure support with Five and Infinity, which we serialized over the course of the year. We also launched Modern AGE Missions for even more PDF adventure support. We’re certain you need 30-50 feral hogs in your Modern AGE campaign, so make sure to check that out!

 

Envoys to the Mount for Blue RoseBlue Rose, our Romantic Fantasy RPG, is also getting (and giving) a lot of love right now. If you’ve never checked it out before, there’s a new Quickstart that gives you a complete adventure with rules and pre-generated characters. For more experienced players, we’ve just put Envoys to the Mount up for pre-order. This is a complete campaign for Blue Rose that takes characters through all four tiers of play. There’s also a tie-in fiction anthology called Tales from the Mount that’s available now. You can get a bundle with both Envoys and Tales too!

 

Sacred Band 2nd editionSpeaking of fiction, our imprint Nisaba Press has some great titles for holiday reading. Blue Rose fans will definitely want to check out Sovereigns of the Blue Rose, an anthology of stories about the fourteen rulers of Aldis. We’ve also just released Sacred Band, Joe Carriker’s critically-acclaimed LGBTQ+ superhero novel. Supers will also enjoy Roadtrip to Ruin, the latest Mutants & Masterminds novel. If short stories are your jam, we’ve released three anthologies this year: For Hart and Queen for Blue Rose, Powered Up for Mutants & Masterminds, and Under a Black Flag for Freeport.

 

 

Time Traveler's Codex for Mutants & MastermindsSuperhero fans should look no further than Mutants & Masterminds. If you haven’t tried it before, jump right in with the Basic Hero’s Handbook. We’ve just release the Time Traveler’s Codex (now available in print!), which is a whole book about timeline hopping shenanigans. If you’ve been wanting adventure support, we’ve really leaned into that this year with the Astonishing Adventures PDF series. These include stand-alone adventures and the five-part series NetherWar. Danger Zones is another new series. Each entry details a new location for superheroic action. And, by popular demand, we’ve also just released a deck of Condition Cards!

 

Ships of the ExpanseBut what if you want to go to outer spaaaaccceeee? That’s where The Expanse RPG—based on the terrific novels by James S.A. Corey­—comes in. There’s a free Quickstart if you haven’t dived in yet. This year we released Abzu’s Bounty, a series of six linked adventures for the game. Salvage Op offers a one shot for an evening or two of play. We’ve also just put Ships of the Expanse up for pre-order. This is the long-awaited book full of deck plans and details about the spaceships of the setting.

 

Sword Chronicle RoleplayingLast but by no means least, we launched the Sword Chronicle RPG this year. This takes the system we designed for A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying and spins it off into as an independent fantasy system. This has been available as a PDF for several months but just this week we’ve made it available as a Print on Demand title on DriveThruRPG.

 

Happy holidays, everyone! See you in 2021!


Character Hooks in Envoys to the Mount

Envoys to the Mount for Blue RoseIn a previous Ronin Roundtable, we mentioned a little bit about the Character Hooks mechanic we developed for Envoys to the Mount. In this Ronin Roundtable, we’re going to introduce you to not only the Hooks themselves, but how players select and use them, along with a sample of one of them.

The Summary

At the beginning of game play, the Narrator will pass around a sheet that summarizes the Hooks used in the campaign. Players choose these Hooks based on the summaries, allowing them to focus on the role they want to play within the chronicle. This is an example of the Vata Hook summary:

The Vata

The arcane runs through your veins as surely as blood does. You might be one of the pale vata’an, graceful and ethereal. Or you might be one of the umbral vata’sha, whispered about by the ignorant and superstitious. Regardless, you are an inheritor of the ancient legacy of the lost vatazin people. You might have been born to entirely human parents, or perhaps one (or both) of your parents are vata themselves. No matter your origins, you have found a place among the Sovereign’s Finest.

Choose This Hook: If you want to play a vata character in this campaign, a character with a mystical heritage who will begin to uncover ancient secrets about their people.

 

A Vata character for Blue Rose

The HandoutsCharacter Hook Handout for the Vata

Once all of the players have chosen their Hooks, the Narrator then gives each a handout which contains the following information. We have included the Handout for the Vata Hook here as well, so you can see what it all looks like.

  • Flavor Text: A quick paragraph that summarizes the character’s relationship with the Sovereign’s Finest, and very loosely defines their motivations. Ultimately, it simply contains a few evocative suggestions, which players should use as many or as few of as they like to help round out their characters.
  • Bonus Traits: Each Hook includes one or more additional benefits the character receives for taking on this role. Many of them are mechanical in nature, a core conceit for the Hook. Because the hero basically has to have them to function in that Hook role, we’re giving it to them for free, so as not to unduly limit character creation choices elsewhere.
  • Character Creation: This section makes some suggestions for character creation, suggesting focuses, talents, and specializations that expand the theme of the Hook in interesting directions. None of these are requirements, although the suggestions are made with the Hook’s role in the campaign in mind.
  • Drawbacks: Of course, nothing comes for free, so each Hook also includes a Drawback. In many instances, this is a unique mechanic or even story limitation that isn’t so much to balance the additional benefits as it is to drive home the themes of the Hook and further enwrap the hero in the role the player has chosen.
  • Backstory: Finally, each Hook includes three bullet points that are events or details that should be folded into the player’s concept of the character’s past. In many cases, these are not only tied into the assumed history of the character in that role, but they will also impact events that occur within the campaign. They include questions meant to help the player customize these details for their hero. They don’t have to share these details with the other players but should discuss them with you, the Narrator.

Envoys to the Mount is available for pre-order now in our online store, and on DrivethruRPG!

Don’t forget, you can also pick up the Nisaba Press anthology Tales from the Mount along with your PDF (also available on Drivethru), or select the add-on offer with the print version of Envoys to the Mount, for just $5!

And did we mention there were free pre-generated characters for Envoys? Just in case you wanted to get playing right away! Shocking no one, they are on DrivethruRPG as well!

Boom with a Capital B – Rapid-Fire villains!

The Astonishing Adventures line blasts off into space this week with our very first cosmic adventure, Prodigal Sun by Larry Wilhelm. The heroes travel to a star system colonized by the Lor Republic shortly before its collapse to investigate why the sun has suddenly turned an ominous red hue. While there, they’ll need to navigate local politics, survive an angry space minotaur, and come head-to-head with a few fan favorite starfarers if they hope to survive and save the four worlds of the Flegere System!

One of the fun tropes in cosmic comics is the notion of lone heroes armed with nothing but their trusty power ring and cosmic skateboard tackling entire massive ships and fleets of fighters, and Prodigal Sun delivers. To capture the feel of facing a massive ship bristling with guns, the adventure gives these powerful vessels multiple attacks in a single round. While there aren’t any formal rules for this in Mutants & Masterminds—heroes and villains alike are limited to a single attack each round—you can borrow the same balancing system I used for your own villains.

Rapid-Fire Villains

Astonishing Adventures Prodigal Sun!

Available now!

The action economy—the ability for a character or monster to attack more than once in a round—is a key factor in balancing the power between villains and heroes. Heroes can break this balance by spending Hero Points, but Hero points are a limited resource and one that usually only comes from setbacks. Giving your villains the ability to attack more than once makes them more dangerous, but isn’t game-breaking because Staggering or Incapacitating them removes all the attacks they might inflict in a round.

Consider the following to make a rapid-fire villain:

  • A rapid-fire villain gets one primary attack each round, which must be their highest-power and/or most expensive attack ability.
  • A rapid-fire villain also gets one secondary attack each round, which must be the same PL or less than the primary attack and be built from fewer power points. The secondary attack cannot be an alternate effect of the primary attack. If the rapid-fire villain’s secondary attack is lower than their PL, they can use it twice each round instead of once.
  • On any round they use both their primary and secondary attacks, a rapid-fire villain can’t benefit from circumstance bonuses to their attack checks, and can’t modify their attacks with abilities like Power Attack, Accurate Attack, or Defensive Attack.
  • A rapid-fire villain still only receives one Move action each round, but they may move in between making their primary and secondary attack.
  • A rapid-fire villain can’t mix their multiple attacks with other Standard actions, such as using the Leadership advantage or contributing to a Team Attack. They may either attack with their primary and secondary attack or perform a different Standard action.
  • A rapid-fire villain counts as 2 PLs higher when deciding how to balance your encounter.

These rules are fairly simple and you can use them on the fly to make a single villain more challenging for a group, but be careful not to overuse them. These are best applied to weaker foes you want to keep the heroes busy, as a deluge of high-level attacks can easily overwhelm your team.

Rapid-Fire Talona

To set an example, you can turn the airborn villain Talona into a fast-moving and deadly (well, deadlier) opponent by giving her the ability to attack more than once a round.

Looking at her character sheet, Talona’s Flock of Raptors Affliction is her most powerful attack, and so becomes her primary attack. Her claw attacks are only the equivalent of PL 10—two lower than the power of her Affliction—so she can use them twice a round as her secondary attack. With the benefit of her Move-By attack, Talona can spread out the hurt among the heroes while keeping some of them off-balance with a hostile flock of angry hawks.

This rapid-fire Talona is the equivalent of a PL 14 threat—a beefy adversary and a fair fight for an average team of four PL 10 heroes.

Give the rapid-fire rules a try at your own game table and let us know what you think!

Mounting Anticipation

Envoys to the Mount for Blue RoseIn the world of Blue Rose, the Kingdom of Aldis is normally where it’s at, but our newest releases, Envoys to the Mount and Tales from the Mount, are instead taking us on a journey to a very different destination, indeed: the Shadow Barrens, sorcery-defiled remnants of the once-thriving realm of Faenaria, where stands the quasi-mythical Mount Oritaun.

Envoys to the Mount is a campaign sourcebook for Blue Rose, spanning levels 2 to 17, which challenges a band of the Sovereign’s Finest to embrace their Destiny and defy Fate on an errand of mercy with repercussions to be felt throughout all of Aldea, now and for ages to come. While the quest begins innocuously enough—rendering aid to people in need across the kingdom—the adventure will lead these envoys to uncover ancient arcane secrets, pursue (and be pursued by!) deadly enemies, walk the streets of a metropolis long ago lost to Shadow, and ultimately stand against the earthly champion of the Exarchs in a battle both for the future of a lost people and for the soul of the world.

However, Envoys to the Mount is so much more than just a campaign. It also serves as a guide to the Sovereign’s Finest, outlining organization, operations, ranks and responsibilities, and all the other information needed to understand the inner workings of this revered Aldin fellowship. Within, you’ll learn what’s expected of an envoy, as well as the privileges and obligations of those who ascend the rank, and both a brief history of the Finest and a “who’s who” of its current leadership. Further, Envoys to the Mount explores the terrifying Shadow Barrens in detail—its vistas and many hazards, along with various points of interest for the bold… or the foolhardy—and provides new mechanics for use in this or any other Blue Rose campaign, such as the corrupt Shadow Dancer Talent and the exciting new system for challenge tests (a kind of advanced test with the potential for consequences every step of the way).Tales from the Mount from Nisaba Press

Of course, what’s a Blue Rose campaign without compelling player characters? Thus, we’re also releasing a free set of eight pregenerated 2nd level characters uniquely suited to the events of Envoys to the Mount, with built-in plot hooks intended to draw them directly into the action. While not necessary to enjoy Envoys to the Mount, these characters can jumpstart your adventure and get you right into the thick of things!

Last, but certainly not least, is Tales from the Mount, a nine-story anthology of nearly 300 pages of Blue Rose fiction centered upon the events, themes, moods, and settings of Envoys to the Mount. These stories shed a light on the dreaded Shadow Barrens and the terrible things that lurk within, through the exploits of those who defy Shadow with love and courage. Within its pages, you will accompany not just those braving the Barrens from without, but also travel alongside those from within that nightmarish land, to see that hope can bloom in even the most unlikely earth. Tales of bravery and sacrifice, of darkest sorcery and bittersweet triumph, await you!

What stories will you tell of Mount Oritaun?

Shake Things Up – Adding Complications to Encounter Designs

Whether you are a veteran GM who crafts every campaign world and adventure from scratch, a newcomer to running games who is just trying to get through a published adventure, or someone preferring any of the hundreds of possible in-between styles of gamemastering, sometimes you realize your encounters are in a rut. It may not be your fault—many GMs run published adventures for lack of time to create all their own content, and even for GMs who make a lot of custom adventures, players can often get really good at determining how a specific game works, and cutting to the solution of any challenge much faster than expected. Even if neither of those issues is a problem, sometimes you realize a player has built a character to be good at something that never comes up in play… and they feel cheated for not getting to do the kind of adventure they are prepared for.

Regardless of why you think your existing adventure toolkit isn’t doing everything you need it to, and no matter the game system you are using, it may be time to shake things up with a complication. Or a dozen complications.

Complications

Art by Biagio D’allessandro

Simple Complications

There are a number of very simple complications you can use to change the feel and flow of the RPG sessions you run. Here’s three that don’t take much advance work or thought.

Add Restrictions: If the players have gotten good at killing foes, require them to drive off threats without seriously hurting anyone. If they are masters of out-talking competitors during negotiations, make them argue their case next to a waterfall so loud no one can hear anything. If a single character is the best hacker the world has ever seen, set up the need to get information during a complete blackout when no computers are running. If the players’ favorite tactic is setting everything on fire, make them fight underwater.

The advantages of adding a restriction is that it doesn’t change the core rules of the game, it just makes players tackle a problem with some of their options off the table. You shouldn’t do this often—then it’s just shutting down character abilities—but there’s nothing wrong with forcing players to be flexible now and again.

Add Hindrances: While a restriction is specifically something that takes away some of the players’ normal options, a hindrance is something that makes the challenge of the encounter more difficult by adding new elements that can cause problems. If the PCs can sneak into any secure site anywhere, make them do so with an angry songbird in a cage they can’t muffle. If they normally bully citizens into giving them what they want, make them carry out their investigations with a bigger bully the citizens already hate. If they are experts at ranged combat, have a fight in a corn maze, with strong winds and torrential rain reducing visibility.

Add A Twist: Don’t go all M. Night Shyamalan about it, but sometimes the situation not being exactly what is expected is a great complication to throw at players. Perhaps the “attacking” wolves are just running from even bigger monsters right behind them. The crime family not only capitulate to the PCs’ demands they lay off a neighborhood, they ask the PCs to help them go fully legit. The final lock on the dragon’s vault is a sleeping cat you have to move without waking.

Secondary Challenges

Rather than just adding complications to an encounter’s normal challenge, you can add an entire secondary challenge of another type. If the encounter is a fight with a band of highwaymen, perhaps a group of mercenaries wander by and the bandits try to recruit them as reinforcement while the fight is already underway. Now in addition to the initial challenge of the combat, the PCs must deal with the secondary challenge of a negotiating while the fighting is ongoing. If the PCs were trying to break into a vault before the next guard shift comes by, perhaps they discover previous thieves have already rigged the vault with a barrel of gunpowder on a lit fuse, and now both problems have to be handled at the same time.

A secondary challenge can be a great way to allow characters who aren’t good at the type of encounter as the main challenge (or players who just don’t care about that kind of encounter) to get some time in the spotlight of attention anyway. If you have a complex puzzle lock with riddles, and that kind of challenge bores one of your players who has a combat-focused character, adding a mini-secondary challenge can give them something to engage with while the other players tackle the puzzle lock. Perhaps the lock is also haunted, so ghosts of past (unsuccessful) lockpickers materialize and attack every few rounds

When adding secondary challenges and complications there is often a temptation to make sure the difficulty of overcoming them is tied to how crucial it is they be overcome. That’s pretty standard design for the main challenge of an encounter, but it can be needlessly difficult and complex for something you are adding as a complication. When an encounter already has a key challenge, it can be overwhelming for an additional challenge to require the same degree of focus, effort, and resources. If you’re going for a climactic, epic encounter, that may be exactly what you want. But if you are just adding a complication to increase variety and interest in the encounter, there’s no reason it has to be as challenging as the primary problem—in many ways it’s more interesting if it isn’t. If most of the characters are trying to evacuate children from the burning orphanage, and you only expect one or two to be dealing with the still-present arsonist, making him relatively easy to deal with keeps the encounter’s focus on the lifesaving, rather than a fight. The characters who are poorly equipped to help get kids out, or who can’t resist a chance for a brawl, can focus on just a few of them easily defeating the firebug, while the rest of the characters get the more important plot point of saving children.

But that doesn’t mean the secondary challenge can’t be just as important, even if it’s not just as hard. Obviously, the children in the burning building need to be saved, but stopping the arsonist is important as well. Not only does it keep him from starting more fires (possibly in the building just across the street), so resource efforts don’t have to expand, it’s also a potential opportunity to find out why he started the fire to begin with. Is it fire-for-hire, as a crimelord wants to make a point, or a developer needs the land to finish a new project? Or did one of the children see something the arsonist wants to make sure never gets reported?

Keep it Fun

No matter what elements of complications you add to spice up encounters, try to make sure you are creating things your players will see as challenges to be overcome, rather than efforts to punish them for having powerful or single-minded characters. Problems with how characters are built or players should be handled with a conversation out-of-character on what is bothering you, and how the players can help you have fun while still making sure they have a good time.

Complications and additional challenges are to make the game surprising and fun for everyone and, like seasoning in good cooking, a few sprinkles now and then often go a long way!

Bite Club – When High School Really Sucks

Astonishing Adventures: Bite ClubAstonishing Adventures: Bite Club, is available now!

High school – so many of us couldn’t wait to escape it, and yet, it’s one of the most popular settings for superhero adventures. Perhaps because the alienation and angst felt by a lot of teenagers matches up so well with the secret identities and soap-opera melodrama of comic books, or because the teens who were “art nerds” and “theater kids” in high school later go into creating comic books…and, ahem, roleplaying games.

Whatever the case, maybe the only thing better than the genre blend of high school and heroes is to add a dark touch of horror to the mix! Bite Club, the newest release for the Astonishing Adventures series, does just that, offering a perfect Mutants & Masterminds adventure for your Halloween happenings! The adventure is designed for a group of teen heroes attending the Claremont Academy, a secret school for the super-powered in Freedom City, but you can run Bite Club with other types of heroes as well, perhaps visitors to the campus, concerned mentors, or guest-teachers.

If you don’t have a regular Hero High game featuring teen heroes, it also makes for a fun change-of-pace adventure for your Halloween holiday: Have your players put together a group of power level 8 heroes, or grab the Next-Gen characters from the Hero High sourcebook, and they can play a session where they see the challenges faced by the teen set, where the stakes aren’t as high as saving the world, but may involve mending a broken heart or two—and speaking of stakes and hearts, we don’t want to give away too much about the adventure itself, but you can probably guess…

Bite Club is available in the Green Ronin Online Store, and on DrivethruRPG!

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.