Mastering Time Travel (Part 2)

Gamemastering Time TravelIn the second part of my Ronin Roundtable guest-spot on the Time Traveler’s Codex (part 1 is here, in case you missed it!), let’s look at how the sourcebook talks about Gamemastering time travel, the nature and use of time travel in the Earth-Prime omniverse, and a peek at the Silver Age time period and some familiar faces found there.

As Chapter 3 of the Time Traveler’s Codex points out, Gamemastering time travel stories can be a challenge. The chapter looks at a number of considerations, building on the intro material from Chapter 1, including deciding how changeable the timeline may be, what methods of time travel exist, the various hazards of time travel, and the important question…

Who Controls the Time Machine?

A major element of a time travel story or series is: Who is in control of the means of time travel? If it is the Gamemaster, then time travel can be largely a plot device for getting the player characters to a new era for the start of a new adventure. They might need to figure out exactly why they are there, but how they get there is taken care of. The same is largely true of time travel is under control of a non-player character, particularly some powerful patron who sends the heroes back and forth through time. The characters might occasionally be able to request some “bending” of the rules but, otherwise, the mechanics are out of their hands.

On the other hand, if the heroes are in control of their means of time travel, the Gamemaster will want clear rules as to how time travel works in the setting and the limits of the heroes’ means of travel are, if any. Be prepared for players to come up with unexpected uses of time travel and to test the limits of that ability. Having some type of limit in place, such as only being able to make so many “jumps” before having to recharge or refuel, or a need to avoid excessive stress on the space-time continuum by spacing out the use of time travel, can provide some boundaries.

The Omniverse

The Earth-Prime setting for M&M is not just one world or even one universe but a vast omniverse of parallel realities and alternate dimensions, of which your own series is a part. Whether it diverges only a little from what’s seen in sourcebook like Atlas of Earth-Prime and Emerald City, or diverges a lot, there’s room in the omniverse for everything! The Time Traveler’s Codex looks at time travel as a phenomenon in the context of the Earth-Prime setting, from cosmic beings like the Time Keepers and their Cosmic Clock, to characters like Doctor Tomorrow, Zeitgeist, and the notorious Tick-Tock Doc and his Counter-Clock Culture.

A Silver Age Retrospective

Since a guidebook to time travel requires times to visit, the Time Traveler’s Codex also looks at a wide range of historical eras, including the Golden Age, Silver Age, and Iron Age of the Earth-Prime setting, focusing on Emerald City, Freedom City, and New York City, respectively. Even if the only “time travel” that interests you is setting your M&M game in an earlier era, this part of the Codex has a wealth of material for you!

The Silver Age section looks at the heyday of the original Freedom League, from their founding after Hades’ attempts to invade Freedom City with an undead army in 1960 up through their first meeting with Pseudo during a secret invasion of the Grue in 1969. It also looks at the original Atom Family and their eventual “discovery” of Farside City, and important Silver Age villains like August Roman, Queen Khana, and Set the Destroyer (along with the slightly less important but still notable Red Death and Bee-Keeper).

And don’t forget, alongside the Time Traveler’s Codex, we also have the amazing bonus content PDF “All Time, No Space!” available FREE for download.

Sagas of Sword … and Sorcery!

For the release of Green Ronin’s Chronicle System as the Sword Chronicle fantasy RPG and setting, a lot from its earlier incarnation as Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying (SIFRP for short) was preserved, but a few things have also changed. One of those most notable things is the inclusion of sorcery.

Sorcery in the Chronicle System

Magic in SIFRP was a rare and mysterious thing, the province of a few unusual qualities and not much more than that. For Sword Chronicle we needed a more robust system of magic, suitable for everything from hedge-witches to scholarly thaumaturgists and the adepts of spiritual mystery cults. At the same time, the system needed to be more rooted in the kind of fantasy chronicles the system was designed to tell, rather than the notion of spell-caster as “mobile artillery.”

As the beginning of the Sorcery chapter of the book notes:

Sword Chronicle sorcery is not the overt, flashy spells of many roleplaying systems. It is a “lower” sort of magic, without the pyrotechnics, earth-shaking manifestations, or epic reality-altering of “high-magic” fantasy systems. In fact, many sorcerous Arts provide effects that could, to the skeptical eye, be regarded as coincidence, chicanery, or some combination of the two. Indeed, the price of many of these Arts is so high that even true sorcerers often resort to sleight of hand, tricks of chemistry, and taking credit for things that are genuinely coincidental, in order to avoid paying it.

Fortunately, we had a working basis to start from in the form of Joseph Carriker’s Chronicle of Sorcery release for the Chronicle System, which outlines the essentials for a system of sorcery. Sword Chronicle takes that concept and runs with it, expanding it out into an essential system for magic-workers of all kinds. The “price” mentioned in the introduction previously is Destiny, the Chronicle System “currency” of character potential. Sorcerers harness the power of Destiny to influence and change the world through their Arts, in both subtle and profound ways.

What are those Arts? Sword Chronicle outlines four, each with its own magical Works:

  • The Art of Benediction, which invests people, places, and things with magical blessings and power. Its Works include attunement, blessing, anointing, consecration, and investiture.
  • The Art of Divination, which draws aside the veils of space and time to grant sorcerers knowledge. Its Works include casting, dowsing, reading, and vision for the greatest of prophecies.
  • The Art of Malediction, which brings misfortune and harm to one’s enemies or to bind their wills. Its Works include Castigate, Curse, Ensorcell, Ruination
  • The Art of Warding, which turns away unwanted magic and guards against sorcery. Its Works include various types of wards and sorcerous protections.

Each Art has its Works, which range from quick-and-immediate spells to more complex and powerful rituals, from an immediate Castigate spell to wrack a target with pain to a more involved Rite of Cursing to destroy them from afar, from an immediate Blessing, to the Consecration of a great temple or Investiture of an enchanted blade, intended to last a lifetime or more.

Of course, in addition to Destiny, true mastery of sorcery requires a significant investment of a character’s qualities, and sorcerous qualities determine what Arts a character has learned, or mastered, much like fighting styles and other qualities that define characters in the Chronicle System. Indeed, there are also some qualities suitable for characters who have just a touch of magic, like the Beast-friend, the seer with Prophetic Dreams, or the chosen of Destiny with Prophetic Alignment.

So whether your concept for a Sword Chronicle character is a wise elder wizard, a cunning woods-witch, a zealous warrior of the faith, a rune-crafter, or the former member of a secretive cult, you can create them and their arcane Arts in the Chronicle System.

Even More Perilous! (Ronin Roundtable)

This week sees the release of NetherWar, Part 2: The Pentagram Peril, the segment of the mystic-themed campaign for M&M that I helped to write. I say “helped” because Pentagram Peril wasn’t originally planned as part of a series at all. It was a stand-alone adventure involving the Factor Four and Hellqueen going after some magical treasures when I originally wrote it. But when M&M Developer Crystal Frasier came up with the NetherWar series, the concept fit right into it, so Crystal worked her own particular magic upon my original adventure to make it suitable as a chapter in the series and … voila! The Hellqueen’s scheme now fits into a larger plot involving Earth’s magical power and legacy.

Pentagram of Peril!

Art by Alberto Foche

Peril Times Two!

Speaking of larger plots, Crystal and I were talking for a Mutants & Masterminds Monday broadcast a while back about other magical villains who could fit into the NetherWar series, and Pentagram Peril would be an interesting place to include Dr. Azoth and his Homunculi (from Threat Report, also featuring in the M&M novel Roadtrip to Ruin) as additional or substitute foes. While it would be possible to replace the Factor Four with the evil alchemist and his minions, an even more interesting option is to have Dr. Azoth after the Bloodstones of Vhoka as well!

Perhaps the confrontation at the museum with the Factor Four plays out as-written, but the earlier theft of the other bloodstone from Freedom City University was actually carried out by the Homunculi, leaving each faction with one bloodstone each to start.

This turns all of the middle scenes of the adventure into a three-way competition for the bloodstones between the Factor Four, the Homunculi, and the heroes:

  • The stealthy and shape-shifting Takwin is dispatched to Dakana to infiltrate and steal the bloodstone from the treasury there.
  • The mighty Man-Drake is sent to Agartha to contend with the Terra-King and take the bloodstone from the grasp of Granite and Pyre.
  • Petra is sent to the Antarctic to retrieve the remaining bloodstone from Nullatempus, as easily able to survive the bitter cold there as Sylph.

Do the heroes try to play the villains off each other? Do the villains cooperate to deal with the heroes first before they settle who gets the bloodstone?

Since it’s likely only some of the stones will end up with each faction, the final confrontation at the Maw of Vhoka is both for control of the artifacts and to cast them into the Maw to release and control their accumulated power. It’s possible for multiple villains to gain additional power from the bloodstones, or maybe it is a struggle just between Hellqueen and Dr. Azoth, each using their minions to run interference, as well as summoning bloodstone gargoyles to aid them.

You can also decide if Dr. Azoth is an interloper interfering in the larger scheme of NetherWar or just another part of the larger plan, perhaps a “back up” to ensure the scheme involving the bloodstones is successful, should the Hellqueen and the Factor Four not prove up to the challenge. Either way, the added villainy is sure to make Pentagram Peril even more perilous!

Sword Chronicle: Feudal Fantasy Roleplaying Returns

The fury of battle. Court intrigue. Games of blood and status. That’s Sword Chronicle, a complete roleplaying game for the Chronicle System. We’ve been working on it quietly, with no official announcements before now.

Sword Chronicle: Feudal Fantasy Roleplaying

(not final cover)

Where’s the Hype?

Well, this is the hype. Sword Chronicle was designed under the radar as a response to the COVID-19 situation, which we’ve discussed here. We took a hard look at what we could do in this emergency, and this not only fit the bill, it sent a message that we’re not going to just survive, but survive aggressively, by producing a core rulebook.

The Chronicle System Returns

Originally designed for the A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying game, the Chronicle System was devised to work on multiple scales and fields of conflict, from duels to battles to courtly intrigue. Green Ronin’s license to make the game has concluded, and we remain grateful for the opportunity to explore Westeros through the game. But we’ve always wanted to support other settings for the Chronicle System. We started that with setting-agnostic Chronicle System material available through our website and DriveThruRPG. Sword Chronicle is the next step: a core rulebook designed to bring the Chronicle System’s unique characteristics to classic fantasy gaming.

What’s The Same, What’s Changed 

Sword Chronicle uses the Chronicle System you’ve seen before, but adds new elements to support fantasy games, including the following: 

  • Rules for fantasy ancestries, including elves, dwarves, and ogres 
  • A revised version of the magic rules first presented in the Chronicle of Sorcery supplement, integrated into the core rules 
  • Revised and reorganized rules for intrigue: the art of victory in the social arena 
  • The Shattered Era, an optional fantasy setting featuring 19 houses, the nonhumanoid kurgulan people, and the Breachlands, a region fit for empire builders and uprisings

Furthermore, while you don’t need to purchase Chronicle of Sorcery for magic rules if you get Sword Chronicle, all other published generic Chronicle System supplements remain compatible, including creature supplements such as Desert Threats and rules expansions such as Out of Strife, Prosperity. Thus, Sword Chronicle comes with immediate support. You can play it with one book, but the options are there.

Beyond the Sword Chronicle

Sword Chronicle is an expression of the “classic” Chronicle System, but there’s more to come. Don’t forget that The Fifth Season Roleplaying Game, which will use a version of the system tailored to the world of N. K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy, is on the horizon. It’s a good time to be a Chronicle System fan. Stay in touch—we’ll tell you when.

What Even Is Time (Travel)? (Ronin Roundtable)

With the 20th anniversary of Green Ronin Publishing and the 18th anniversary of Mutants & Masterminds this year, we’ve been doing a lot of looking back at the past. But what about visiting the past or, for that matter, changing the past? Well, that’s where the Time Traveler’s Codex for M&M comes into play, arriving “just in time,” so to speak.

Time travel is a favorite sub-genre of mine, and the superhero genre is especially fertile ground for it, given the “anything goes” approach of my comic book universes. It’s not all that unusual for a character to be someone else’s potential offspring from an alternate future, or for one’s nemesis to be someone you haven’t even “met” yet, but who is trying to erase you from history! Naturally, when M&M Developer Crystal Frasier proposed the Time Traveler’s Codex, I was first in-line to write part of it!

Time Traveler's Codex on sale now!

 

The parts of the Codex I got to write include: The overview of time travel as a sub-genre, temporal mechanics and rules options, the role of time travel in a series, creating characters with time travel in mind, Gamemaster advice on handling time travel and running time travel adventures (or series), time travel in the Earth-Prime omniverse, and a revisit to the Silver Age of Freedom City as a time travel destination. Here on the Ronin Round-Table, in this installment and the next, let’s take a sneak-peek at a few of these in more detail.

Infinite Possibilities

Well, there wasn’t room in the sourcebook for infinite possibilities (if there is later, maybe I’ll jump back and revise). Still, the beginning Time Traveler’s Codex takes a good look at how time travel might work, and at the various staples of the sub-genre, including alternate timelines (and alternate selves), non-linear time, paradoxes, fixed points in time, and temporal enforcement agents (both natural and supernatural). Gamemasters can decide for themselves what time travel options exist in their own games, with some guidance as to the possibilities and repercussions.

Temporal Mechanics

The first chapter of the sourcebook also looks at optional rules systems for handling things like temporal navigation, temporal drift, temporal mishaps (complications specifically related to time travel), temporal transformations (either from revisions in history or exposure to chronal energies), and retroactive continuity. It’s a place where some of the M&M game systems get to shine, from transformative afflictions to time-related complications. I particularly like the following extension of the hero point mechanics for time travel:

Hero Points and Retcons

Temporal manipulations allow for an additional option for hero points, using the Edit Scene ability to “retcon” changes in history! Essentially, so long as the player can come up with a time travel scenario that explains it, they can spend a hero point to edit the scene to make it the case. For example, heroes might find themselves trapped and without their devices; a player suggests their hero will, at some point in the future, come back into the past and leave an extra set of equipment behind a false panel nearby! The GM approves, the player spends the hero point, and voila! The heroes open the panel to find the gear that they need.

In addition to the normal limit imposed by the number of hero points they have to spend, the GM may wish to impose temporal consequences for an excessive use of this option, perhaps causing a character to start to develop time sickness (following) with the DC of the resistance test based on 10 + the number of hero points spent retconning that game session (or over a certain number that session).

Next Up: Mastering time travel, time in the Omniverse, and a look back at the Silver Age!

ASSAULT ON THE NERIAN NEXUS: WEST COAST EDITION

Nerian Nexus in Emerald City!

Assault on the Nerian Nexus is out and ready to run your heroes through the gauntlet! And while it’s packed with excitement featuring your favorite Freedom City baddies, an observant fan of our weekly Mutants & Masterminds Monday livestreams raised an excellent question: How do you jump from our previous adventure series, Emerald City Knights, to the events of NetherWar if your group wants to keep the same lineup?

There’s nothing saying you can’t just transplant the personalities and histories of Freedom City directly to Emerald City. Like any comic book series, simply give your heroes a few “villain-of-the-week” style adventures as a palate cleanser, then you can lead right into the events of Assault on the Nerian Nexus. But Freedom City and Emerald City have very different themes and casts, and with the events of Emerald City Knights delving so deeply in the west coast city’s obscured history and establishing the new status quo, you might want to recast the events of NetherWar to fit the west coast flavor.

Re-inventing the NetherWar adventure series to fit Emerald City requires a little more legwork if you really want to lean into the charm and mood of the city established during Emerald City Knights:

Step 1: Pick a Theme

Freedom City’s is inspired heavily by the long comic book histories of major publishers. It’s a melting pot of silly and serious, combining many genres of superpowers and comics with an eye more toward earnest heroics as the unifying theme. Emerald City, with its deliberately concealed history and modern, tech-oriented power boom, is more rooted in modern film and television, drawing inspiration from television shows like Heroes and movies from the new cinematic takes on classic comic mythologies. These sources look for a common and scientific (or believably pseudo-scientific) origin to superpowers and often ignore magic or else describe it like a scientific force not yet entirely understood.

All this is to say: Magic isn’t a major force in Emerald City as depicted in Emerald City Knights, even if the city itself has several noteworthy magical villains.

You as the Gamemaster need to decide if you want to keep the original magical overtones of NetherWar, or convert it to one of the power archetypes more commonly seen in Emerald City, like aliens or psychic ability. Rather than use NetherWar’s existing big-bad, you could use a powerful psychic like Koschei or the Cosmic Mind—who has become disembodied and is now trying to merge with the collective human unconscious to rule the world! Alternatively, you might run NetherWar as an extension of Emerald City Knights, with many of the magical threats being replaced with technology and nanites unleashed by Tellax as the alien robot continues its quest to transmute the Earth into a cosmic weapon.

Step 2: Decide the Histories

The events of NetherWar turn heavily on the actions of Adrian Eldrich before his death, with his old foes re-emerging to threaten the world now that no Master Mage opposes them. If you stick with a magical theme to the series, you’ll need to decide if Adrian Eldrich operated out of Emerald City and left much of his legacy there . If not, you’ll need to cast a replacement. With the Fraternal Order of Evil deliberately concealing much of the city’s superheroic history, it’s entirely possible another powerful mage made their home in the city, and whose legacy was forgotten and stronghold lost upon their death. In this case, it isn’t wards keeping villains from plundering the Nerian Nexus (or whatever you decide to call it), but simple ignorance. The gold rush to reclaim the lost treasures might begin when a Silver Age villain like the original Mad Machinist might babble about the lost stronghold in their old age, or the rediscovery of another Silver Age lair like that of Guild of Justice headquarters in The Reign of Cats and Dogs might point heroes and villains alike to this lost trove of magic.

If you instead decided on a theme other than magic, you’ll need to pick histories and locations to replace the magical ones featured throughout the NetherWar series. The Nerian Nexus might instead be a secret Ghostworks of Majestic-20 lab or a Preserver ruin hidden in the Atlas Mountains or deep below the Pacific Ocean. Peruse the Emerald City sourcebook for inspiration and don’t be afraid to create your own lost legacies in Emerald City to explain the how and why of strange locations.

Step 3: Cast Your Villains

To round out your Emerald City remake of NetherWar, decide which villains from the original adventures you want to keep and who you might re-cast with Emerald City natives.

The menacing Madame Macabre makes an excellent substitute for Medea. While nowhere near as ancient and a good deal more sarcastic, Madame Macabre is still bitter at the world failing her and relies as much on trickery and manipulation as she does brute force to get what she wants. For more powerful magical opponents to replace Malador in later adventures, you might look at Doctor Azathoth or Professor Jackanapes, or the chaos goddess Eris might insert herself into events to complicate everything. The obsessive collector of secrets Arcanix might stand in for Warden, while Toy Boy’s role as the ever-loyal spy might be replaced by another terminally-ill villain like Doubletime or Mosquito.

You can round out your gallery of rogues with magical adjacent villains, such as the Looking Glass Gang and various magic-themed Stormers like Chain, Epiphany Jones, Ghostlight, Lord Etheric, and Silver Sorcerer.

In the end, Astonishing Adventures are tools to help you and your group have a good time. Take what you like, replace what you think will work better, and otherwise customize the adventure to fit your needs!

All the villains and organizations in this post can be found in the pages of the Emerald City and Threat Report sourcebooks.

Ronin Army forums update: All Good Things…

Hello Green Ronin fans,

Today we have guest post from our stalwart forum moderator Fildrigar, on the status of the Ronin Army forums that have been down for the last week.


Ronin Army Gamer Badge

Green Ronin Gamer Badge

Greetings!

I’m Barry Wilson. You might remember me from such internet places as That One Wargaming With Miniatures Forum and Esoteric Prog Rock Fans Online.

I have a long history with, and a deep and abiding love of internet forums. Since I first discovered them in the Nineties, I have whiled away many an hour reading and posting on them. I never had the patience for IRC, far preferring the slower, more thoughtful discourse (and formatting options) forums usually provided. I’ve been moderating Green Ronin’s forums for around eight years now. 

Unfortunately, the time has come to shut down the forums. While it wasn’t an easy decision, it was necessary once we discovered a rather serious security vulnerability that made continuing to support the forum software an untenable position. We have reached the tipping point where the security risks involved with maintaining the forums outweigh the benefits. We tried to find a solution that would allow us to maintain the existing forums in read-only mode, but just running the forum software on our servers would pose too great a security risk. 

Forums have in the past provided a place for people to discuss our games. Increasingly, those discussions have moved to places like Facebook, Reddit, and Discord (and many, many others.) Places like these are allowing us to reach more fans than our small forums did. Searching Facebook for the names of our games will direct you to groups available there. There is also a very robust and friendly Discord community called the Green Ronin AGE Appropriate Discord. You’ll find some of your favorite Green Ronin staff regularly hanging out there to talk about the latest Green Ronin happenings.  

In closing, remember that we love you, keep on gaming, and we’ll see you on the internet.

The Origin of the Book of Fiends (Ronin Roundtable)

This morning we have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a new 5E edition of the Book of Fiends on Game On Tabletop. It’s a great book and we hope you go check out the campaign. If you weren’t gaming in the early 2000s, you may be wondering what the Book of Fiends is exactly and why its return is exciting? Conveniently enough, my last post about the history of the company segues nicely into this, so pull up a chair by the fire and let me tell you a story.

Book of Fiends for 5th Edition. NOW FUNDING!


Legions of Hell

Our first monster book for 3rd Edition. Published in 2001!

Last time I told the tale of Green Ronin’s big launch as a company in the summer of 2000. With the success of Death in Freeport, the immediate course was clear: more Freeport adventures! So we commissioned Terror in Freeport and Madness in Freeport from Rob Toth and Bill Simoni respectively. I would develop those books, but I also wanted to design something else. Since I had written the AD&D Guide to Hell, I decided something infernal would be a great (albeit unofficial) follow-up. And hey, I still had all my research books and notes from the Guide to Hell so even better. The result was Legions of Hell, Green Ronin’s first monster book. It included a bunch of new devils, and my take on the Lords of the Nine Hells. A subtitle on the cover pointed towards the future. It said, “Book of Fiends, Volume One.”

Armies of the Abyss

Published in 2002, and written by Erik Mona

Legions of Hell was another huge hit for us, so it didn’t take me long commission Volume Two. Demons were the obvious choice, so I hired my co-worker Erik Mona to write Armies of the Abyss, which came out in 2002. Erik would, of course, go on to great heights as the publisher at Paizo, but at the time he helped run the RPGA at WotC and Armies of the Abyss was his first RPG title credit. He had fun creating new demon lords and added a new type of demon called the qlippoth that would later migrate to Pathfinder via the Open Game License. Erik did a great job and the book was another solid hit for us. So on to Gehenna, right?

Well, yes, eventually but it was a bumpy road to get there. The first person I hired to write Hordes of Gehenna dropped the ball on the project and had to be replaced. That delay proved fateful because in 2003 WotC announced a 3.5 edition of the D&D core rulebooks. 3.0 books were still mostly usable but there were so many small changes in the rules that it became inconvenient to do so. I decided therefore that Hordes of Gehenna would no longer be a stand-alone book. Instead, it would become part of the Book of Fiends, alongside 3.5 updated versions of Legions of Hell and Armies of the Abyss. Those original books had been modest 64-page softbacks. Book of Fiends would be a hearty 224-page hardback.

Book of the Righteous for 3rd Edition

The Original Book of the Righteous by Aaron Loeb, published in 2002

Three people were key to making the Book of Fiends a reality. First, there was Aaron Loeb, who had written the Book of the Righteous for us in 2002. This is a great book (already updated to 5E a few years back) that presents a complete cosmology, mythology, pantheon, and attendant churches. As part of that Aaron re-concepted Gehenna and that became the basis on which we built Hordes of Gehenna. Aaron’s partner in that was Robert J. Schwalb, who had begun freelancing for us in 2002 with the Unholy Warriors Handbook and would soon come onboard as our d20 line developer. Last but not least, there was Jeremy Crawford, who in addition to editing did much of the 3.5 updating the book required. Jeremy was very good with the rules, and—surprising no one who has worked with him over the years—he went on to work at WotC and is now the Leader Rules Designer for Dungeons & Dragons.

The Book of Fiends for 3.5

The original Book of Fiends, published in 2003!

Book of Fiends came out in 2003 to critical acclaim and great sales. Turns out GMs really love a book chock full of evil outsiders! The following year the Book of Fiends won an ENnie Award.

Today the Book of Fiends returns on Game On Tabletop! Rob Schwalb, who was on the D&D 5E design team, updated and expanded the book. It’s getting the full color treatment this time with all new art. And if we unlock enough Level Ups (what Game On calls stretch goals) we can add fun PC options, an adventure, and tie-in short stories from Nisaba Press (our fiction imprint). Are you ready for some evil? Because we’re bringing the evil.

 

Threefold’s Five and Infinity Goes Serial

So, if you’ve been following Modern AGE, and specifically the Threefold setting, you might be wondering if there’s more to come, given that we called it our “flagship setting.” The answer: Yes! We’re putting together Five and Infinity, a series of adventures and adventure generators for Threefold.

Fine and Infinity, an adventure anthology for the Threefold setting for Modern AGE(What! What’s Threefold? It’s the Modern AGE setting of innumerable planes of existence, each aligned to some combination of high magic, dark forces, and high technology. Heroes typically represent the Sodality, who explore the planes and protect the people they meet, or Aethon, a cabal of posthuman spies working to shape Earth and its alternate timelines. They must contend with strange worlds, interdimensional crime lords, mad scientists, warlocks, and alastors, demon-lords of the Netherworlds. Read more here.)

Five and Infinity was originally slated to be a print release, but this being the era of COVID-19, we’ve had to change that, for reasons discussed here. Instead, we’ll be presenting it as a PDF series with the following parts:

Chapter 0—Adventure Generator: Written by Jesse Heinig, this series of tables outlines adventures for you! This is a taster for the rest of the series, so it’ll cost around a buck, to grab you.

Chapter 1—Hunting Night: Ron Rummell’s adventure takes you after a fallen spider goddess and her brood as they unwittingly invade earth. For Characters of levels 1 to 4.

Chapter 2—The Dreaming Crown: Psychic renegades threaten to wreck diplomatic contact with a new plane. What’s their real agenda? It’s by Steve Kenson, so you know it’s good. For Characters of levels 1 to 4.

Chapter 3—The Soul Trade: Neall Raemonn Price spins an adventure about souls as drugs, multiple dystopias, and pilots who can’t tell which reality they belong to. For characters of levels 5 to 8.

Chapter 4—The Midnight Gold: Visit a demonic casino in a hell of industrial despair, where your debts are literal chains, to free the soul of a foolish gambler and interfere in the politics of Inimicals, the rules of the Netherworlds. Crystal Frasier’s imagination pops in this one. For characters of levels 9 to 12.

Chapter 5—Threshold of Apocalypse: Meghan Fitzgerald is one of the best writer-developers in her cohort so I’m grateful she wrote this adventure, where a time loop beings characters to the literally end of everything, where they must decide if what comes after the end is worth saving. For characters of levels 13 to 16.

These adventures aren’t a campaign per se, but have built-in connections to let you run them that way. In some ways it’s Threefold’s answer to Blue Rose’s Six of Swords (on this page as a collection or individual adventures), which happens to have been my first work for Green Ronin.

There’s some beautiful potential storytelling in Five and Infinity, and Chapter 0 will be available next week. Watch this space!

What is Lost Citadel Roleplaying, Anyway? (Ronin Roundtable)

The release of The Lost Citadel Roleplaying is probably cause for curiosity if you didn’t back the original Kickstarter. In essence, The Lost Citadel is about a fantasy world, Zileska, that has been transformed from something very similar to many traditional fantasy worlds (though with a greater emphasis on non-Western influences than most) by the rise of the undead—simply called the Dead in the setting—to an urban survival horror setting. And just as the world has transformed, so too have our heroes. Even though this is a setting for Fifth Edition, races, classes, magic, and more have been changed by the Dead. Here’s how.

The Lost Citadel, The Dead rise!

Urban Intrigue

The classic theme of survival horror is that it isn’t about the evil of the creatures coming after you, but that locked within survivors. Will you turn on your friends to live another day? Unfortunately, that kind of messes with the dynamics of traditional fantasy games, where we want the party to cooperate. The Lost Citadel’s solution is Redoubt: the last city in the world, where survivors banded together to hold off the Dead. The city is mostly cramped and filled with political chaos, as communities from many cultures protect their traditions and advance their interests. In effect, this takes the classic theme and makes it a slow burn, taking place across multiple enclaves instead of a single group of survivors. That way, the PCs can feel the desperation and threat of betrayal without having to watch for—or plant—knives in each other’s backs.

Magic and Woe

This is not to say there’s no room for personal conflict. Evil is pervasive in The Lost Citadel. It infects the land. It causes people’s sins to poison the earth. It corrupts magic itself. This manifests in the form of the Woe mechanic. Woe may give a living person an unnatural pallor, or cause natural animals to hate the sufferer. In can come from many sources. Evil acts concentrate Woe within someone, but it doesn’t provide an easy way to “detect evil,” because Woe also springs from the spiritual damage caused by contact with certain undead, and from casting magic without using a careful ritual. Woe strikes the good and bad alike, and if too much of it gets in you…death isn’t the end. Consequently, the book presents a variety of original magic-using classes, and even a variant of the monk class, that have adapted to a world claimed by Woe.

Wilderness Adventure Horror

Nevertheless, there’s still room for more of a classic 5e experience. Dungeons? Redoubt was built by dwarves—it’s full of tunnels and fissures. The new masters of the city don’t know all its secrets, and often need adventurers to clear and map lost storehouses, secret foundries, and even cursed tombs. But the bigger, more dangerous quests lie outside the city proper. That’s where the Foresters go. Even with its walled farms, Redoubt isn’t quite self-sufficient. The city needs to do logging, find rare materials left behind during the great exodus from the old nations, and patrol to see if the Dead are gathering in significant numbers. The Forester faction does that job, and needs more than rangers to help. The wilderness can be hauntingly empty or teeming with the Dead, and it’s hard to know which is which until you venture forth. Besides, every other city has fallen, to every building outside the city’s a dungeon, too.

The Last Brass Tacks

Like an absolute genius then, I’ll actually put the vital info last. The Lost Citadel Roleplaying is compatible with and requires the 5e PHB, DMG, and MM. Here’s what you get:

  • The fallen world of Zileska and its last city, Redoubt, described faction by faction and area by area
  • Four new character classes in the Penitent, Beguiler, Sage, and Warrior Monk, and unique variants of the Barbarian, Fighter, Rangers, Paladin, Rogue, and Warlock
  • Zileskan dwarf, elf, and human cultures, and a new race, the ghul
  • 10 new backgrounds
  • A new system for martial arts available to all characters, but especially good for fighters and warrior monks
  • Zileskan magic and its interactions with Woe, the forces of corruption
  • And of course, the Dead: 14 undead monsters in all their rotting glory

You can get it from our online store (GM screen PDF from our store here) or DrivethruRPG (GM screen on DrivethruRPG) now.