Ronin Roundtable: Nisaba Press!

Hi, I’m Jaym Gates, Line Manager for Green Ronin’s Nisaba Press. We’ll be publishing fiction tied in to the Green Ronin properties, both short fiction and novels. I was given three missions: make a great fiction line, make sure it was a great diverse fiction line, and find some great new voices for both fiction and RPGs. That’s pretty much the most exciting mission plan you could give me, for anything. Why? I got into editing because I discovered how amazing it was to find those incredible new voices that no one else has found yet. There is also something intensely rewarding about taking a good piece of fiction and refining it to its best form.

As we’re releasing our first batch of regular stories, I wanted to talk a little bit about tie-in fiction, and why Nisaba.

First off, one of the best things about tie-in fiction to me is that it gives fans new stories and elaborates on beloved settings. Flavor text in RPG books is great, but sometimes you really want to go on an adventure with characters. See the sights of Emerald City, smell the sweet reek of Freeport, maybe feel the wind on your face as Rezeans gallop across the plains. While we can’t LITERALLY give you all of that, fiction gives windows to the new and existing characters in our settings. Maybe they’ll inspire new adventures, show up in your existing adventures, or just be a brief excursion with a fictional friend, but any way it goes, we love giving fans the chance to interact at more length with our settings.

It’s also a great way to get your RPG fix if you don’t have time to game, are playing another game, or can’t get a good group. It’s like talking to an old friend you don’t get to see often enough.

Secondly, tie-in fiction is a great way for new fans to get involved. There are a lot of settings, a lot of rules, and a lot of history. It can be scary for someone to just jump in at the deep end with no idea what’s going on. A short story or novel takes away that overwhelming feeling of “SO MUCH STUFF” and gives the reader a gentle introduction to a new place.

And last but not least: because the world is made of stories, and stories allow the creators to develop things that might never come up in the RPGs, or that might just not have been thought of. Narrative is a unique thing that forces you to think of so many angles that you might not otherwise see. The scents and sounds of a world, the interplay between character and their religion, questions of morality and honor. A story fleshes out what the RPG has built to a level that flashes and flavor text can’t approach.

So that is “Why tie-in fiction.” I’m really thrilled with the stories I’ve already been working on. We have Anthony Pryor’s My Night in Freeport, Lindsay Adam’s tale of an Aldean agent and a Jarzoni priest-adept, Eytan Bernstein’s story of Kid Robot’s first day of school, and so much more. All of these are original fiction set canonically in the settings you know and love. My hope is that they bring another aspect of engagement and joy in the setting.

And keep an eye out, we’re planning to host an open submission period in a few months, so if you’re wanting to write fiction for Blue Rose, Freeport, or Mutants & Masterminds, get plotting now!

Ronin Roundtable: The Freedom to Change

One of the core features of Earth Prime is that it’s a dynamic setting. Just like your favorite comic books, the world constantly changes as new crises challenge heroes and villains alike, and the steady march of time means new heroes enter the picture as older heroes retire. In the Emerald City Knights adventure arc, we introduced a status quo on the west coast then tore it apart in the space of six months. In Hero High, we introduced the newest iteration of Next Gen (the first team having long since graduated to bigger and better things). In the Cosmic Handbook, we destroyed entire planets, destroyed an empire, and cranked up the danger as the Star-Khan conquers much of the Lor Republic and Blackstar forms his Blackguard to oppose the Star Knights.

The upcoming Freedom City introduces many changes of its own that have gripped the city since its last depiction over a decade ago. Popular Mayor Michael O’Conner has long since moved on, now representing the entire state as Senator O’Connel, with a dedicated familiar face taking his place. Crimelord August Roman is out of the picture, replaced entirely by his endlessly opportunistic daughter. Perhaps some of the most exciting changes are in the Freedom League’s roster. Several long-term members—including Captain Thunder and the Raven—have retired to make way for a new generation. Let’s take a sneak-peak at two of the newest members:

 

 

Thunderbolt is Ray Gardener, Jr, formerly of the teenage superteam Next-Gen. Hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps, he used the electrical powers he inherited to fight crime as the young hero Bolt. A little too eager to prove himself worthy of his father’s legacy and earn a place in the Freedom League, he fell right into the clutches of the fiendish Dr. Stratos, who used the young man as bait to lure Captain Thunder to his doom. The adventure that followed left Captain Thunder drained of his power and Ray Jr. infused with more elemental energy than his young body could handle. Now trapped inside a containment suit to stop his form from dissipating, Ray Jr tries to fill his father’s role on the Freedom League, but instead of youthful zeal he now finds his purpose in service, accepting the burden he struggled so hard to gain in his younger years.

 

 

Lady Liberty, by contrast, is one of the city’s newest heroes, and is still enthusiastically learning the lifestyle and the scope of her powers. Medical student Sonja Gutierrez sacrificed herself to save a stranger and found herself empowered by the Spirit of Liberty. Now inducted as a provisional member of the Freedom league thanks to her legacy status and tutelage under the previous Lady Liberty, Beth Walton-Wright, Sonja still struggles to balance her superheroics with her education and work. Unlike previous Lady Liberty’s, Sonja’s love for her native country is nuanced—she admires the spirit and potential of the United States against the terrible ways it treats immigrants like her parents and trans women like herself. Her frustrations are only amplified by a small by vocal group of conspiracy theorists who insist she somehow stole the mantle of Lady Liberty—including her nemesis, the murderous Madame Guillotine.

 

 

Ronin Roundtable: Upcoming Releases!

Well that was a GenCon for the books! Absolute mayhem at our booth, with folks lining up to grab our new releases. The announcement of the Expanse RPG license. New opportunities and incredible partnerships in the offing. It was amazing and we have you to thank for it. 17 years in business and we are stronger than ever before. Seriously, thank you!

We’ll be taking a couple of days to recover but then it’s back to work on our next batch of books. This seems an opportune time to update you on our releases for the next six months. We’ve got a lot going on so let’s get to it!

RPG Releases

Our next book will be the new edition of Freedom City for Mutants & Masterminds. We’ve been working on this for a long time and the hour is finally nigh! This is the original setting for the game, the metropolis that birthed the Earth-Prime setting. And at 320 pages it’s as mighty as Captain Thunder! Look for Freedom City in October.

November is a triple threat. We’ve got another Mutants & Masterminds book, Rogues Gallery. This was a PDF series we did for the last couple of years. The book collects all the villains from that and adds some new ones as well. If you are looking for foes for your PCs to tangle with, Rogue Gallery has you covered. Next up is the Fantasy AGE Companion, the first major rules expansion for the game. It adds new, fun material for almost every aspect of the game. There are new talents, specializations, arcana, and spells, as well as rules for chases, relationships, organizations, mass combat, and more! Finally in November we’ve got the second edition of Ork! The Roleplaying Game. This was Green Ronin’s very first release 17 years ago. Ork is a beer and pretzels RPG, great for one shots or when you want a lighter hearted game. Show those evil Squishymen who’s the boss!

 

We also hope to get Faces of Thedas, the next Dragon Age book, out before Xmas. The final text for that is up with BioWare for approval. Once we get that signed off on, we’ll be able to slot it into a month for release. Watch our social media feed for more on Faces of Thedas in the coming months.

 

As you can see, we’ve got quite a lot planned for the rest of 2017. For this reason we decided to move Modern AGE and the World of Lazarus from their original November release date to January. This gives us more time to develop the books, and lets us start 2018 with a bang. Modern AGE takes the Adventure Game Engine to Earth, letting you run games anytime from the Industrial Revolution to the near future. World of Lazarus, the game’s first support book, lets you play in the setting of Greg Rucka’s awesome comic. If you haven’t read Lazarus before, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s seriously great.

In February we’ve got two more releases: Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook and Return to Freeport. The Basic Hero’s Handbook is both an entry point for those new to Mutants & Masterminds and a useful table reference for anyone playing the game. If you’ve been interested in M&M but looking for an easier way to learn the game, the Basic Hero’s Handbook is for you. Return to Freeport is a six-part adventure for the City of Adventure. It’s the first new adventure content we’ve done for Freeport in some years, and it’s designed for a Pathfinder RPG campaign that’ll take you from levels 1-11. At nearly 200 pages in length, Return to Freeport packs in a lot of adventure!

Nisaba Press

A few months ago we announced that we were adding fiction to our lineup and that we had hired Jaym Gates to lead that effort. Our fiction imprint is called Nisaba Press and the Offerings sampler we released at GenCon and online last week gave you the first taste of what we’ve got cooking. We’ll be publishing short fiction monthly and novels and short story collections in print. In November we’ll be publishing Tales of the Lost Citadel, an anthology of stories set in the world of our upcoming Fifth Edition setting that we Kickstarted this summer. Then in January we’ll have our first Blue Rose novel, Shadowtide, by Joseph Carriker. Joe has also become line developer for the Blue Rose RPG, so he’s all up in Aldea!

More to Come

So that’s the overview of what’s coming in the next six months. We have our yearly planning summit next month and we’ll be making plans for the rest of 2018 and beyond. We’ve already got some awesome stuff in the works, like the Sentinels of Earth-Prime card game and the Expanse RPG. I’ll be back early next year to talk about more of our plans. Game on!

Ronin Roundtable: Freedom City as You’ve Never Seen It!

One of my many duties as a developer for Green Ronin is seeing the 3rd edition of the Freedom City campaign setting safely off to print, like a loving mother. And as it turns out, this has been the easiest part of my job, because the book was almost entirely finished when I joined the team. So, like a loving mother who slept through most of her child’s life only to wake up in time to see them leave for college, I feel so proud of this enormous task I had virtually nothing to do with!

Freedom City 3rd Edition is almost entirely Jon Leitheusser’s legacy, following a similar format as the Emerald City campaign setting of several years earlier and building on the setting bones established in books like the Cosmic Handbook and Hero High. Freedom City has grown up and adapted to the turbulent events of the world. Some of your favorite heroes have retired as their years start to catch up with them, while new heroes have appeared to fill important roles. My only real contributions have been some light editing (Jon’s work is, as always, solid, and didn’t need much improving), and arguing with our esteemed production designer (chief art guy) Hal Mangold about the art.

Oh, and such art do we have! FC3E is a treasure trove of new art, bringing the city to life in detail we could only dream of in the past. Hal tracked down some amazing scenery artists to help flesh out the most recognizable city of Earth Prime, and I don’t think anyone will be disappointed to see the city’s superhero museum and the Champions sports bar franchise brought to life!

Just check out a few quick previews:

 

Domenico Neziti

Brian Hagan

Brian Hagan

Domenico Neziti

There’s a lot more to come, giving a reality to the creepily delightful Ocean Heights Amusement Park, the slums of the Fens, and the Hanover Institute of Technology cloaked in its mantle of mid-century modernism. Fans can finally SEE Freedom City as well as imagine it, and Gamemasters now have images to share when the heroes arrive, itching for a fight, so instead of screaming “I punch Dr. Simian,” they can yell “I punch Dr. Simian into the reflecting pool!”

And really, isn’t that what superhero games are all about? Punching apes into landmarks?

Ronin Roundtable – Sentinels of Earth-Prime: The Big Picture

We’ve got one day left on our Sentinels of Earth-Prime Kickstarter. If you haven’t backed it yet, head over to Kickstarter and check it out. It’s a cooperative card game that takes place in the core setting of our Mutants & Masterminds RPG and uses the excellent Sentinels of the Multiverse rules by Greater Than Games. The great news is that the Kickstarter funded in nine hours and now has topped $135,000, so we will be making Sentinels of Earth-Prime for sure and we’ll have the resources to produce the first print run up front. That really is one of the best things about Kickstarter from a publisher’s point of view, so if you are a backer, thanks for making it possible. Today I thought I’d share our long-term plans for Sentinels of Earth-Prime because we aren’t just launching a game here, but a game line. Let’s talk about what that means and how it relates to Mutants & Masterminds.

 

The first step is, of course, making the core game and the mini-decks that are part of the Kickstarter. Those are scheduled to ship to backers in April of 2018. We’ll then release them into stores, as we value our partners in retail and distribution and want the game to reach the widest possible audience. This should get Sentinels of Earth-Prime out just before summer, which is convention season for the game industry. We can thus run demos and promote it at important conventions like Origins and GenCon. This should all make for a strong rollout and help establish Sentinels of Earth-Prime as a worthy successor to Sentinels of the Multiverse.

What’s the next step? Expansions, of course! The way we’re designing the core game, it tells the story of key events in the years 2002-2006 of Earth-Prime, most notably the Grue attack on earth and Omega’s invasion of Freedom City. From there we have two boxed expansions planned. The first will advance the timeline to 2012, covering the Silver Storm in Emerald City and related events. The third expansion will bring the timeline up the present day, and include elements from The Cosmic Handbook and the new edition of Freedom City. Our plan is to do one release a year for the line, so the core game in 2018, the first expansion in 2019, and the second expansion in 2020. We may do additional mini-decks along the way. Certainly, we have plenty of characters to work with! Over the past 15 years, we’ve published literally hundreds of heroes and villains from the Earth-Prime setting, and more are on the way.

Mutants & Masterminds, the roleplaying game that birthed the Earth-Prime setting, will of course be continuing its run concurrently with Sentinels of Earth-Prime. The long-awaited third edition of the Freedom City sourcebook is coming out next. It’s in layout now and should be going up for pre-order by the end of the month. After that is a new print collection of the Rogues Gallery series of villains, which will include some all-new content, because you can never have enough villains in a superhero RPG! We round out the year with the launch of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook. As the name indicates, this is a beginner friendly entry point into the Mutants & Masterminds RPG. If you’ve never played M&M before, it’ll be a great place to start.

That should give you a good idea where we are going with Sentinels of Earth-Prime and Mutants & Masterminds. If you want to get in on the Sentinels of Earth-Prime Kickstarter, there’s still time! There are some stretch goals we’d love to unlock before the campaign ends, so do check it out. We’re counting on you, heroes!

Add-On Decks for Sentinels of Earth-Prime!

As promised we’ve unveiled the add-ons for Sentinels of Earth-Prime today! The info is on the Kickstarter page but I’ll repeat it here for the sake of convenience.

We’ve got four additional decks for Sentinels of Earth-Prime: two heroes, one villain, and one environment. You can get them by simply increasing your pledge. They are $6 per deck or you can get all four decks for only $20! So if you wanted two decks, you’d increase your pledge by $12. If you want want all four, increase it by $20. You’ll be able to pick the decks you want after the campaign via BackerKit.

Sentinels of Earth-Prime Add-On Decks

Let’s take a look at each of the add-on decks!

Eldrich

Eldrich is the Master Mage of Freedom City. An adventuring archaeologist of the 1930s, he is the reincarnation of the Atlantean mage who imprisoned Malador the Mystic millennia ago. He defends Earth-Prime from mystical threats and is an ally of the Freedom League.

Lantern Jack

The mysterious guardian of Lantern Hill dates back to the Revolutionary War in Freedom City. Stories claim that Lantern Jack is the restless spirit of a colonial patriot slain by a British officer when he attempted to warn the people of the city of an attack. The truth is much darker…

Malador the Mystic

Malador is an ancient sorcerer from the sunken realm of Atlantis. Once a noble protector of humanity and a scholar of mystical lore, Malador has become mad with power-lust. He wants nothing more than to wield ultimate power and be acknowledged as the supreme master of the mystic arts!

Sub-Terra

Sub-Terra is the strange realm deep beneath the surface of Earth-Prime, where the Serpent People and Morlocks engaged in a long and brutal war. It is a place of monsters, myth, and menaces spawned from both science and sorcery.

These decks have a decidedly mystical spin and will add a lot to the core game. Consider adding them to your pledge today!

Now On Kickstarter: Sentinels of Earth-Prime

In case you missed it on social media, our Sentinels of Earth-Prime cooperative card game Kickstarter campaign is funded and has vanquished several stretch goals with the able assistance of its many stalwart backers! We are closing in on another stretch goal, and would love your assistance as a backer and promoter. Back it today, and save the world!

Sentinels of Earth-Prime is set in the world of Mutants & Masterminds. Fully compatible with the popular Sentinels of the Multiverse game, and made in conjunction with our friends at Greater Than Games, Sentinels of Earth-Prime is a cooperative card game that lets you have exciting comic book adventures with your friends!