Tag Archive for: adventure

We’ve Been Secretly Making a Game

We've been secretly making, Swords of the Shadow Planet!That’s right, we have. Well, kind of. We mentioned it briefly in 2019, at Gen Con, but the reference was so short and sparse that it didn’t spread. This was a blessing in disguise because of course the very next year COVID-19 spread across the world, forcing us to change our plans.

We changed them back this year. We’re doing it.

Let me tell you about this game. In fact, let me get a little cute about it since it’s truly under the radar.

  • It uses a system we’ve used in RPGs before, but it isn’t the Adventure Game Engine, 5e, Pathfinder, M&M, or any form of D20. Well, sometimes it uses D20s, but it usually doesn’t.
  • It’s not going to be a big tome of a game. It’s simple and direct. In fact, the utilitarian straightforwardness of the system is what made me want to use it.
  • It’s not a Chronicle System game, either.
  • Some of the design ideas harken to the roots of RPGs. There’s definitely a flavor you might associate with what we call “OSR” games, but more on the weird and problem-solving procedural realm of things, and not so much nostalgia. For instance: no make-you-do-things social mechanics, so characters gather social information to apply while roleplaying instead.
  • We’re talking about how we might get innovative with the visual presentation of this one, from its format to its interior.
  • Freeform magic—for certain values of “magic”—that any character can use.
  • This isn’t an AGE game, but we still love stunts, so rules for exceptional feats—and disasters, and trying for the former by risking the latter, are part of the system.
  • This one is classless.
  • You can play a Neandertal, or someone made of rock. Or a dinosaur. You can even play yourself. Note that this is not a hint that it’s a generic game. I’ll have you know rock people, dinosaurs, Neandertals, and even people like you each have specific roles in the setting.
  • Yeah, it’s got a setting. An imaginary world aiming to be strange in its familiarity.
  • Where Cthulhu Awakens started from the premise, “What if we made a Cthulhu Mythos game setting in the modern day?” this one asks the same question about another subgenre well known for its roots in the past.
  • The game has a potential cover already. It’s the one you can see beside this article.

The game is called Swords of the Shadow Planet, and it’s coming…when it’s done!

Stay tuned.

Modern AGE, Post-Pandemic

Modern AGE Powers!One of the challenges of the pandemic was a “logjam” of content we couldn’t publish yet for a number of reasons. Printers were unavailable. Shipping was awful (and hasn’t improved as much as anyone would like, honestly—remember, we don’t set those prices!) and people got sick. Bad times, and we’re still emerging from them.

One of the effects of this has been that Modern AGE has had to deal with a number of delays, compounded by new delays as some priority items are earlier in the queue for publication. Modern AGE is my game and I love it, but we NEED Mutants & Masterminds in print over Modern AGE supplements, for instance.

Where We Were

We did manage to release a few things for the line over the pandemic, however, and just to refresh your memory, they are:

Enemies & Allies: Modern AGE’s book of friends, foes, and bizarre beings from the slipstream SF, procedural, technothriller, horror, and urban fantasy genres. Enemies & Allies dropped in 2020.

Modern AGE Missions Series: Did you know Modern AGE has adventure support? The electronic Missions series started in 2020, and now encompasses the following titles:

Five and Infinity: Threefold Adventure Series: This is the one that was probably the most affected by the pandemic. Originally intended to drop as a thin hardcover hot on the heels of the Threefold setting book, we had to make do when the printing, shipping, and timing opportunities to sell the thing dried up. This collection of five adventures for the dimension-hopping Threefold setting include some of the best work ever done for Modern AGE, in my opinion—and story and planar generators, too! After releasing the adventures one at a time we eventually opted for a collected softcover print release of Five and Infinity in 2022.

Modern AGE Mastery Guide: Released in 2021, the Mastery Guide is, at this time of writing in May 2023, the most recent hardcover release, covering official rules updates, tons of optional rules, and best practices for players and GMs.

Cyberpunk Slice: This one dropped last year, in 2022. Cyberpunk Slice (PDF link; POD at Drivethru here) was a half-unexpected hit—unexpected because we designed it to make sure there was fresh Modern AGE content, but only half so because fans had long asked for dedicated cyberpunk genre support.

All in all, not a bad roster for the Bad Years.

Where We’re Headed

I originally had a more aggressive schedule for Modern AGE planned for the past three years, but looking forward, timing and industry changes mean we’re not necessarily going to dump a glut of products we’ve had saved up out there.

One change that impacted the line was Cthulhu Awakens evolving from a Modern AGE supplement to an autonomous game still largely compatible Modern AGE but able to stand on its own.

Beyond that, here’s what’s coming. Well, some things are almost for sure, while others are more speculative—definitely versus maybe, below!

Definitely More Missions: We have a pair of Modern AGE Missions adventures working their way through the production process.

Definitely Modern AGE Powers: The big book of extraordinary powers, revised and expanded from the Modern AGE Companion to include superpowers, more magic, more psychic powers, strange ancestries, and a whole bunch of extraordinary items. This book is currently awaiting its turn for art and proofing.

Maybe More Slices: Cyberpunk Slice has raised the possibility of other short works that concentrate on a genre. Which ones would you buy? I’ve kicked around Modern Fantasy Slice, Apocalypse Slice, Horror Slice, and so on. Also, I mean “buy,” not “wish existed but would not necessarily buy,” which is why I didn’t list pulp or steampunk.

Maybe More Settings: I always wanted to do settings beyond World of Lazarus and Threefold but for various reasons this sort of thing has been delayed. Plus of course we have the challenge of settings for a base game line, where we can’t provide more support without further divvying up gamers by their level of interest in a given setting.

I look forward to resolving the “maybes,” and also really getting Modern AGE down as a solid body of work that stretches the possibilities of the Adventure Game Engine, especially as I explore potential new AGE games, iterating from the ideas we’ve worked on….

A Gathering of the AGEs: Consolidated Rules in Fantasy AGE 2e

Fantasy AGE Core RulebookHey folks, Malcolm here. I’m not the developer of the new edition of Fantasy AGE but I am one of the developers of the core rulebook. While I can’t give you a first-person perspective on the whole game, I can tell you a bit about the parts I helped work on. So, I thought I’d write a couple of pieces about that!

One of the goals of Fantasy AGE’s second edition was to consolidate various rules developments from multiple AGE games and supplements. If you’re an Adventure Game Engine completist you might recognize the following new and updated rules as familiar—with a few exceptions, because they’re from AGE works that haven’t come out yet but influenced development nonetheless! In any event, this is one of the factors that led us to eventually decide the new core rulebook was a true “Second Edition” of Fantasy AGE even though much of 1e remains compatible.

Challenge Tests: Challenge tests are advanced tests with certain special conditions, meant to emulate heists and other forms of dramatic extended tasks where characters need to apply multiple focuses, and fallout from failures can occur mid-test. Originally created by Crystal Frasier (and called “breaching tests”) for Modern AGE’s World of Lazarus supplement, it proved to be such a good idea we moved it to the core rulebook. The Expanse merged challenge tests and Modern AGE’s chase tests, and that final evolution is part of Fantasy AGE now.

Daring: Daring, an optional rule that promotes dramatic reversals in encounters, is an evolution of the rules for Serendipity, originally from the Modern AGE Companion.

Daring is one of the cool new optional rules in Fantasy AGE 2nd edition

Peril and Daring!

Defeat Conditions: Despite making their first appearance in Fantasy AGE 2E, Defeat Conditions were originally invented for Cthulhu Awakens, to provide alternatives to death as the result of dramatic combat.

Fortune: Fortune is an invention of Steve Kenson, originally devised for The Expanse roleplaying game, where escalating Health wasn’t appropriate but “script immunity” was a better fit. It was a great idea in that game, and it’s a cool option in Fantasy AGE, too.

Minor Arcana: These petty spells originally hail from the Threefold setting for Modern AGE.

Peril: Peril, where success lands you in deeper trouble, began as the Churn spiral in The Expanse. Interestingly, in the Modern AGE Companion it’s present and called Complications.

Relationships: Relationships, an optional rule to strengthen character connections in Fantasy AGE, was first introduced in Blue Rose.

Revised Spellcasting: In the new edition of Fantasy AGE spells only fail to be cast when a mage decides to abandon them or doesn’t have the magic points for them, because we determined spending MP on nothing happening wasn’t fun. Instead, if you fail a casting roll, the MP cost goes up. This is another option that was originally piloted in Modern AGE’s Threefold setting.

Simple Tests: A “test that doesn’t use stunts/SP” has existed in an ad hoc fashion since the beginning of the AGE system but the Simple Test concept, introduced in the Modern AGE Mastery Guide, gathers them all together as versions of simple tests and lets the GM use them at their discretion as well.

These nine examples aren’t the only ones, and notably, much of the Fantasy AGE Companion from the game’s first edition has been updated and added to the core of Fantasy AGE 2E.

Works Cited!

Want to know about the games that provided input for the new Fantasy AGE? Check them out:

Blue Rose: The AGE Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy

Cthulhu Awakens

The Expanse Roleplaying Game

Modern AGE

Modern AGE Companion

Threefold (Modern AGE)

World of Lazarus (Modern AGE)

Fantasy AGE 2nd Editon—Set Sail for Adventure!

Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook Prepare to set sail for adventure!With the core book behind us, one would think I might be taking a moment to relax. We’ve got the book out, right? No need to rush ahead. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’m already neck deep in the first few supplements, with lots more to come! So what can you expect to see in the coming months? Well, sit back and let me spin you a yarn of what we’ve got in store for you.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve seen about Fantasy AGE is that previously, there was not enough setting and adventure support. Many of us have busy lives these days, and having good adventure and setting material can be vital to keeping a campaign alive. I’m here to tell you that we’ve heard you.

Right out of the gate, you’ll see several adventures for the Breakwater Bay setting from the core rulebook. Set Sail for Breakwater Bay (in the core book) is a shipboard adventure full of horror and intrigue. If you are so inclined, this adventure is well suited for introducing the new Horror rules. Quickly following will be the Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Quickstart and the Fantasy AGE Game Master’s Kit. Both of these feature adventures written by the amazing Steve Kenson. The Breakwater Curse (included with the GM’s Kit) explores the dark history of Breakwater Bay, and Terror of the Ghost Ship (featured in the Quickstart) is an encounter with a derelict ship at sea. All three of these are designed to be used as part of the Breakwater Bay setting but could easily be moved to another location of your choosing. So, before you know it, you’ll have three adventures that can easily be linked together.

In case you thought that was all, hang tight—there’s much more! The first major supplement planned is a five-part adventure series called The Lost Isle of the Pirate Queen that begins in Breakwater Bay and explores much of Kassa Isle and beyond. This series is packed full of adventure, horror, and whimsy. There’s something in there for everyone. The series takes characters all the way to 11th or 12th level and should be enough to keep most groups busy for quite some time. The story and adventures are also easy to modify to suit your group’s style and provide a lot of additional background and setting material for Kassa Isle. There is also ample room for introducing your own adventures and encounters during the campaign. In fact, this is encouraged!

We’re up to eight adventures now, all of which could be strung into one campaign with little or no work on behalf of the GM. So what next, you ask? I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but I’ll give you a glimpse. A new, massive bestiary called Adversaries & Encounters is already well underway. This massive tome will feature monsters and other adversaries, both old and new. But even those you may have seen before have fresh new takes and variations. The book features story hooks for every monster and over a dozen encounters for monsters from Adversaries and the core rulebook. Each of these is a 2-page encounter with a map designed to be inserted into an existing adventure, either as a “random” encounter or to spice things up. Though, honestly, many of these could easily be fleshed out as full adventures in their own right.

Finally, we’ve got the book I’m most excited about—Stranger Shores. This book (slated for 2024) is going to provide the nautical-themed campaign setting for Fantasy AGE that you’ve always wanted (even if you didn’t know it). This book will be crammed full of details on new islands and continents made accessible with the Mystic Navigator talent. Most of these lands are completely new, but you’ll also find some old favorites, such as the ever-popular Freeport setting! It will also feature expanded rules for seafaring campaigns so you can live your pirate dreams!

All right, this is as far as I can go now without risking getting lost at sea. I hope this gives you a better idea of our current course heading and something to look forward to. I can’t offer you details on release dates at this time other than to say that all of these are in the works, and we want to get them to you as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, issues with shipping and printing are still a reality, so giving exact dates this far out isn’t a safe bet. Keep your eyes on the horizon. You’ll hear more from me soon enough.

Safe sailing!

Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Preview: Stunts!

Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook

Get the PDF for just $5 with a print copy preorder, and start reading today!

Stunts are a hallmark of the Adventure Game Engine, and something we looked at very carefully for Fantasy AGE’s new edition—one that’s available for preorder (with discount PDF option) and in PDF now, by the way! Look at the PDF and you’ll be able to see all the details for yourself, but this article will still serve you as a general review.

Where Stunts Have Been

Stunts have been part of the Adventure Game Engine since Dragon Age and have proven to be one of the most enjoyable, useful elements of the system. Dragon Age made more central use of stunts restricted to certain character types when it came to magic, to get into the flavor of its video game source material. The first edition of Fantasy AGE was designed in a more setting-neutral fashion with less of this kind of focus, but the rules were otherwise very similar.

The basic way to trigger a stunt remains the same: Roll matching results (doubles) on any two dice on your winning test, and consult the Stunt Die (called the Dragon Die in Dragon Age, and the Drama Die in The Expanse and the upcoming Fifth Season Roleplaying). You get as many stunt points (SP) as the result of that specially marked die. You can then spend the points on the stunt tables for various extraordinary effects, from extra damage to the ability to distract an enemy. Stunt lists for combat, exploration, and “roleplaying” (as social things were called) remained core to Fantasy AGE. Other AGE games, such as Modern AGE, used more and variant tables to hook the system to a particular flavor or expand what stunts could do. Modern AGE presented a large number of stunts in particular.

Stunts let you do all sorts of wild combat actions!

Stunts in the New Fantasy AGE

In looking at prior designs we wanted to better define what stunts are for, how to use them, and how to enhance Fantasy AGE as a distinct game with a (loose) class-based, heroic fantasy design. We also wanted to make stunts easier to pick, since while it usually just takes a session or two to select them on the fly with ease, some players found making that decision a bit flustering. With all that in mind, we kept the basics of stunts, but refined them, as follows:

More about story and function: We introduce stunts with an eye toward how they work in the story of the game, as well as its systems. A stunt has to tell a story that makes sense! Chapter 6 of Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition now makes that clear, along with the roles of stunts to represent exceptional performance and to cover a number of unusual situations (such as grappling and disarming opponents) other games might cover with special subsystems.

More ways to get stunt points: Fantasy AGE now includes the Stunt Attack option, where you can forego normal combat results to gain 2 stunt points for a special maneuver, such as when you want to restrain someone without hurting them. We’ve also introduced Daring, where you might gain extra stunt points in tough times, as failure accumulates and you’ve earned a truly stunning reversal of fortune; and Relationships, where powerful emotions about others can become a reserve of stunt points to call on when those bonds enter the story.

Basic and class stunts: Perhaps the biggest change is the introduction of a distinction between basic stunts, which anyone can use most of the time, and various forms of advanced stunts, including class stunts. Class stunts are earned as characters gain levels, letting them perform tasks supported by the class with true excellence. A few weeks ago we previewed an example Warrior class stunt. Here are a couple of others, from the Warrior and other classes. Be aware that class stunts are a little more potent than their basic counterparts by design, to support what each class is best at.


Envoy Stunt—Dominate Foe (4 SP): You compel an enemy to feel intense fear, confusion, or distraction. Select one target who can perceive you and has a Willpower no higher than your Communication. You impose one of the following conditions on them: Confused, Defenseless, or Frightened. You choose which condition affects your target. It lasts until the end of your next turn.

Mage Stunt—Battle Magic (2 SP; Spell):  You may follow up your spell with an Arcane Blast as an immediate free action, though the blast becomes a simple test that can’t generate or use SP.

Rogue Stunt—Evade (2 SP): You slip past your foes. Until your next turn, you gain +2 to Defense, and each time an attack misses you, you may move 4 yards without using an action.

Warrior Stunt—Limb Strike (3 SP): Your blow injures one of your foe’s appendages, and they take a –3 penalty to tests that use it until your next turn. Furthermore, a blow to a humanoid leg or equivalent levies a –5 penalty to Speed, while one inflicted on a shield arm deprives your opponent of its Defense bonus.


See For Yourself

As we’ve said, the game ready for preorder and out on PDF. Give it a look!

Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Core Rulebook – Available to pre-order now!

We are excited to announce that the day has come at last! The Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Core Rulebook pre-order is live!

You can get a copy of the PDF immediately with your pre-order by selecting the $5 add-on when you add the print book to your cart. And if the costs for shipping are a bit rough, be sure to ask your Friendly Local Game Store to pre-order the book. If they belong to our Pre-Order Plus program (all it takes is a quick email), you can get the $5 PDF through your local store too! We know international shipping has gotten a little extreme lately, so be sure to support your FLGS, skip the shipping fees, and take advantage of a great deal all at the same time!


Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook

Available to Pre-Order now!

Leap into sword & sorcery RPG adventures with the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook!

Powered by the popular Adventure Game Engine,Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition is easy to learn, fun to play, and welcoming to new roleplayers. The Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook includes these features:

  • Simple Character Creation: Pick an ancestry (such as draak, dwarf, goblin, and wildfolk), pick a class (envoy, mage, rogue, or warrior), pick a specialization (such as duelist, diplomat, pirate, and sword mage), and jump into the action.
  • Heroic Stunts: The heart of the game is the stunt system, which brings dynamism and drama to the table. Roll doubles on 3d6 to pull off unexpected moves in combat, cast more potent spells, perform amazing feats of physical and mental prowess, or even cut a rival down to size with a few clever words.
  • Mighty Magic: Spell casters learn arcana, which are themed groups of spells. Mixing and matching the 19 arcana gives the mage class a huge amount of flexibility. To get started, choose two arcana like Beast, Cold, Death, Earth, Fate, Fire, Healing, Protection, Mind, and Shadow.
  • Game Master Guidance: If you are new to RPGs or have never GMed before, the Core Rulebook breaks it all down for you. Not just GM advice but practicalities as well. There’s guidance for each of the GM’s four roles: Game Planner, Game Host, Game Runner, and Game Moderator.
  • Customizable Rules: The GM can use optional rules for the campaign to better reflect the setting. Choices include the twin systems of Peril and Daring, which allow for dramatic swings from disadvantage to advantage as the tension builds. Horror rules can give the campaign a sinister turn. The Fortune system is an alternate way to handle health and damage first introduced in The Expanse RPG.
  • The Stranger Shores: The Core Rulebook introduces a campaign setting of its own called Stranger Shores. Brave the Deeps, which have been the doom of many a ship. Sail with a Mystic Navigator to travel to distant lands.
  • Breakwater Bay: Enter the Stranger Shores with Breakwater Bay, a starting adventure area to kick off your campaign. The book includes Set Sails for Breakwater Bay, a complete adventure.
  • So Much More: You’ll also find character talents, challenging monsters, chase rules, magic items, relationships and bonds, and more. This is the complete package.
  • Part of the Family: Green Ronin publishes other RPGs powered by the Adventure Game Engine: The Expanse, Modern AGE, Blue Rose, Cthulhu Awakens, and Fifth Season. If you’ve played any AGE games, you already know the core of the system. Veteran gamers will be pleased to hear that Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition is largely compatible with all previous Fantasy AGE releases.

Swords, sorcery, stunts, and Stranger Shores—the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook is your portal to exciting new RPG adventures!

Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Preview: Magic

Fantasy AGE Core RulebookFantasy AGE’s magic system is getting a bit of a polish for the new edition. The fundamental rules are the same, but there are more spells and options for spellcasting characters. This preview is going to be a bit more straightforward, as we’ve made various adjustments across other AGE books, and took those efforts and adjusted them some more for the upcoming core rulebook. Many of these got their start in the old Fantasy AGE Companion¸ but in each case we’ve revisited the spells and other rules to examine game balance and clarity of writing.

Let’s take a tour.

More Spells and Arcana

The Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook includes 19 magic talents—seven more than the old Basic Rulebook: Air Arcana, Beast Arcana, Cold Arcana, Death Arcana, Divination Arcana, Earth Arcana, Enchantment Arcana, Fate Arcana, Fire Arcana, Healing Arcana, Heroic Arcana, Illusion Arcana, Lightning Arcana, Power Arcana, Protection Arcana, Mind Arcana, Shadow Arcana, Water Arcana, and Wood Arcana.

In addition, each Arcana has multiple spell possibilities, so two mages with the same Arcana can possess different spell selections.

Fantasy AGE Magic!


Example Spell: Tree Form

Requirements: Wood Arcana (Master)

Spell Type: Enhancement

MP Cost: 12

Casting Time: Major Action

Target Number: 15

Your body transforms, taking on the form of an animated tree.

This transformation lasts for the remainder of the encounter or until you choose to end the spell (a free action). You gain the following statistics as your body turns into that of a gnarl­walker (see Chapter 9).

Abilities: Constitution 6, Dexterity 0, Strength 6, even if this would reduce your ability ratings. All other abilities retain the caster’s usual ratings.

  • Focuses: Fighting (Branch Blows), Intelligence (Natural Lore).
  • Other Statistics: You gain an Armor Rating of 8 from the monstrously tough hide special quality. This doesn’t stack with worn armor, however.
  • Special Qualities: You gain the gnarlwalker special qual­ities of big, made of wood, many branches, mighty and lethal, monstrously tough hide, and voice of the green.
  • Your new body doesn’t impede your ability to cast other spells. However, your clothing and worn equipment are absorbed into your tree form, reappearing when you return to your usual form.

In this case, we not only included this spell in the core rules (there was an earlier version of it in the Fantasy AGE Companion) but made a dedicated creature for both the spell and the GM’s general use instead of reskinning the walking dead, as the precious version did.

Alternatives to Duds

In the last edition of Fantasy AGE if you failed a casting roll, you lost the magic points and got nothing in return, which leads to some dud results for mage characters. The new rules include an option to save a failed spell by spending more magic points, and a spell failure now costs less than a normal casting.

Minor Arcana

Introduced in prior AGE material, minor arcana join the core Fantasy AGE rules. These minor utility spells just cost 1 MP each, and they allow mages to do a number of convenient things outside the purview of action and high sorcery.


Example Minor Arcana: Mage’s Compass

Mage’s compass tells the mage unerringly where a cardinal direction (usually north) lies, and the time until the next sunrise or sunset. The direction cannot use as its reference point a specific geographical location beyond a cardinal direction or the equivalent in worlds that have unusual dimensions.


Divine Magic

The idea of “divine” versus “arcane” magic is an RPG neologism that was never especially prevalent in supernatural beliefs or fantasy fiction until popular RPGs conceived of the split. In some respect Fantasy AGE has always cleaved to an older tradition from sword and sorcery where gods and demons are simply part of the practice of magic. However, divine magic as a category is popular! That’s why we’ve added options for spellcasters who concentrate on magic from the gods, but these rules are optional. We’re Fantasy AGE, so we do things our own way.

Other Amazing Feats

We still haven’t talked about stunts, creatures, GMing material, and a number of other revised and new parts of the new Fantasy AGE core rulebook. Maybe next time!

Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition Preview: The Latest in AGE-ology

Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook 2nd EditionThis time around we’ll talk about some of the rules that are new to the 2nd edition of Fantasy AGE. As some of you may know, we’ve devised new rules across multiple Adventure Game Engine lines, including Modern AGE, Blue Rose, Cthulhu Awakens, and The Expanse. Many of these rules could be ported to Fantasy AGE with minimal adaptation, so, well, we did it! That’s the advantage of a common system.


New Core Systems

New-to-Fantasy AGE core rules include:

  • Rules for foot, riding, or vehicle chases—and crashes, too. These rules, evolved from Modern AGE, emphasize chases as dramatic events instead of counting map inches.
  • An investigation system which can run on high or low detail, depending on what fits the adventure.
  • A straightforward social system.
  • Challenge tests, for complicated extended tasks, such as heists—and Simple Tests when you need a straightforward answer without stunts. (Yes, it sounds weird, but once you see them, you’ll know why.)
  • Conditions and more defeat options. Falling to 0 Health isn’t automatically lethal anymore. Instead, the attacker or scenario determines whether you’ve been knocked out, killed, or simply beaten down for capture—though the rules provide an option for your foe to leave you with a scar you’ll never forget.

This is besides the various changes and expansions, such as talents and specializations. we’ve been talking about in other articles. There are also a number of other small tweaks here and there that help smooth play, and a couple of places where we’ve refined rules descriptions.

New Optional Systems

Fantasy AGE’s 2nd edition also includes a number of optional systems. These aren’t “default” Fantasy AGE, but what does that even mean? It’s your game.

Peril! You may have seen this system before, in The Expanse, where we call it the Churn, and in the Modern AGE Companion, where we call it Complications. Peril is Fantasy AGE’s version: a system where heroes who succeed frequently automatically generate further challenges, so that there are always dangers to face in adventures.

Daring! Of course, sometimes heroes in trouble need a dramatic reversal. The original version of this system from the Modern Age Companion, Serendipity, has been further refined into Daring, its Fantasy Age form. Daring offers special benefits to characters suffering from a run of bad luck, so that once fate smiles upon them once again, they can hit harder and do better than ever before.

Fortune! A popular option originally designed for The Expanse, Fortune is an optional replacement for Health that represents a hero’s ‘script immunity” beyond raw toughness. Characters spend Fortune to indicate that attacks and dangers just miss them, and provide a way to trade safety for excellence, as you spend Fortune to boost dice rolls.

Relationships! Originally introduced in the Blue Rose RPG, Relationships have become one of AGE system’s signature systems. Relationships provide Bonds heroes can draw upon when they support strong feelings about another PC or NPC—and sometimes, more abstract things. You can use it to represent powerful love, implacable hate, or even the kind of snarky friendships heroes tend to have.

More!

I wasn’t sure what I should put in this article and what I should save, but I’m at over 500 words now, so why get long-winded? I’ll tell you about things like divine magic another time. Cheers!

Fifth Season Preview: When Are We?

The Fifth Season Roleplaying GameReaders already familiar with the Broken Earth trilogy may wonder: When during the context of the novels is the Fifth Season RPG set?

As readers already know, the Broken Earth novels tell an in-depth story of their main characters and their story has significant effects on the world and its future. Therefore, the decision was made to set the Fifth Season RPG sometime prior to the key events of the first novel, The Fifth Season, although it’s entirely possible to set your Fifth Season campaign during the events of the novels, looking at how your comm deals with all that unfolds during them, if you wish.

The RPG looks at things on a much more local level than the novels, although you can decide to take the future of the world in an entirely different direction, if you want. One of the great things about roleplaying games is they place imaginary worlds into the hands of your game group, to spin out your own stories however you want. They also allow us to explore different aspects of a fictional setting in ways the source fiction did not, or only touched upon.

Deadciv Ruins are very mysterious

Wait… is that a Freeway?

Deadciv Ruins

One aspect of this for Fifth Season is the concept of “deadcivs,” long-dead civilizations and the ruins they have left behind. The history of the Stillness is tens of thousands of years, significantly longer than the entirety of recorded human history in our modern world. There have been many Seasons over that time, and untold numbers of comms and entire civilizations have come and gone, to say nothing of what may have existed in the time before stonelore was first recorded, in the lost annals of human history.

While most deadciv ruins have been buried, crushed, or otherwise destroyed by the churning, shaking, and thrashing of Father Earth, the potential for artifacts, remnants, or even some surviving locations of those lost civilizations is a rich field for Fifth Season Game Moderators. They can offer unusual places for characters to explore, filled with their own hazards. Unique items may intrigue and fascinate Innovators in the comm, while deadciv artifacts can be treasures to make a comm thrive — or lead other comms to covet what they have. With “sufficiently advanced technology” most deadciv artifacts can serve as the equivalent of “magic items” in a Fifth Season setting, although far more rare and more easily misunderstood than their fantasy RPG equivalents.

Fifth Season Preview: Game Play

The Fifth Season Roleplaying GameGame play in the Fifth Season RPG proceeds on two distinct scales. The story of the comm unfolds in seasons, each of which is a “turn” of part of the year, and features an event, a check of the comm’s prosperity, and an opportunity for the comm to work together on an activity to achieve a particular goal. Within the unfolding of the seasons are stories focusing on the individual characters from the comm. These adventures are often tied to the events of the season, but not necessarily, and the encounters the characters have during them may have impact on the comm as a whole. In some cases an adventure is meant to address a misfortune suffered by the comm during a seasonal event, and may be able to mitigate that misfortune or eliminate it altogether.

Comm Turns: Seasons

A comm “turn” is a “season.” Ordinarily there are four seasons in a year. During each season, the GM rolls for a seasonal event, the comm makes a prosperity test, and can initiate a comm activity.

Seasonal Events

Seasonal events represent the random fortunes of a comm surviving in the Stillness. They are not the only things to happen in the entire season, just particularly noteworthy events. The Game Master rolls on the Seasonal Events Table to determine what the key event will be for that season and integrates the event into the narrative of the campaign as desired.

Many seasonal events are misfortunes that can befall a comm. These are similar to hazards encountered by characters but on a comm-wide scale. Misfortunes can weaken a comm, reducing its Stability and, if severe enough, even bring about the comm’s eventual dissolution. Also like hazards, many misfortunes can be mitigated or avoided altogether. This usually involves a test using one of the comm’s traits, although in some cases the Game Moderator may substitute an adventure for the test if characters intervene in the event.

Everything changes in a Fifth Season

“Everything changes in a Fifth Season”

Intervention

The tests and outcomes for seasonal events assume the comm is bringing what resources it can to bear, but that the player’s characters are not doing anything in particular apart from assisting like any other members of the comm. However, in some cases, the GM may wish to set up an adventure either based on the season’s event, or in place of it. In these cases, the player characters are said to be intervening in the seasonal event, and their intervention may affect its outcome. Essentially, the adventure takes the place of the usual test or tests involving the event and the characters’ actions decide its outcome.

Comm Prosperity

Once the event of the season is determined, the comm’s prosperity is tested. This is a measure of the comm’s overall success and survivability. Failure means the comm suffers misfortune and loses Stability. If the test succeeds, the comm continues to do well, at least meeting its essential needs, perhaps even succeeding well enough to apply an advancement to the comm’s Cache score.

Comm Activity

Each season, a comm can also initiate an activity, similar to a character’s action, such as Conflict with another comm or group, Growth to build up the comm, Improvement of one of the comm’s traits, Innovation to add a new focus to a trait, Preparation to add a bonus to the comm’s next prosperity test, or Recovery to restore lost Stability to the comm.

Comm Conditions

Comms can take on certain conditions to deal with a loss of Stability, like characters do to mitigate damage. The comm then needs to recover from the condition using the recovery activity. Conditions are not as necessary for comms to avoid Stability loss, as they tend to be more resilient than individual characters.

The Fifth Season

“Everything changes in a Fifth Season” according to stonelore, and that is true of Seasonal play and events as well. The Game Moderator ultimately decides when a Fifth Season occurs in the context of the game, although there is a guideline for a Fifth Season to begin as a Seasonal Event. During a Fifth Season, the difficulty of a comm’s tests increase, seasonal events differ, and the comm relies upon its Cache for prosperity tests rather than its other traits, and Cache slowly diminishes over the course of the Season. A Fifth Season makes it more difficult for a comm to survive, and to recover from its misfortunes. A comm with a strong Cache score can last through a Fifth Season … if it is not too long.