Tag Archive for: fantasy age

Bonds: An AGE Mechanic Evolved

Bonds form the basis of many relationships and effects of Alienation

Art by Tentacles and Teeth

If you’re familiar with Blue Rose or Modern AGE, you’ve come across Relationships: a system that provides mechanical benefits based on your character’s powerful feelings for another person, whether it’s love, friendship, professional admiration—or deadly enmity. Relationships form the seeds of Bonds, a generalized mechanic used in Cthulhu Awakens that among other things, is used for the Alienation systems we’ve discussed elsewhere. I’ve been experimenting with expanding the basic concept of Relationships ever since developing Modern AGE and notably, used it as the basic for a divine influence system in the Fantasy AGE Trojan War supplement for sibling game Fantasy AGE.

In Cthulhu Awakens, Bonds are covered in the character creation chapter, as they are essential to the game. A Bond can represent things other than a relationship with a person, and can represent the following:

Enlightenment: This is a Bond of strange, mind-warping insights gained from contact with the Mythos.

Ideology: A belief system to which you’re strongly committed. This could be a religion, a political theory, or some code of honor.

Material: Your Bond connects you to an object, structure, or location. This is the kind of Bond possessed by a character who treats their car like a pet or child, or who would rather die than give up their home.

Melancholy: This Bond attaches itself to characters who abruptly leave the Dreamlands and are deprived of its wonders by our gray, heavy world.

Organization: This Bond either represents an organization’s hold on you or your feelings for it.

Relationship: This is the most common Bond. It represents your feelings about another person or the hold they have over you. A Personal Relationship Bond need not represent affection; you can have a Bond with an enemy.

Terror: This is a Bond given to thoughts cracked by the unnatural, and like Enlightenment, is produced through Alienation.

Each Bond has a rating and descriptor, such as the ideology Bond I will stand up for workers against the bosses because an injury to one is an injury to all (3). This tells you its strength and purview.

Unlike previous AGE system Relationships, Bonds are also split into Personal and External types. Personal Bonds are a source of strength when it comes to addressing the subject of the bond, and you choose when to draw on them. In practical terms, you can spend it on bonus stunt points to make an action more effective, even if you didn’t roll doubles on the dice, the usual way to gain SP. External Bonds represent an involuntary attachment, either because it represents how someone or something else treats you, or it’s a mental and emotional association you can’t consciously control. These are used aversively, such as to add stunt points to tests used against you. Once a loyal member of a group, you’re vulnerable when your former comrades act against you, for instance.

Bonds permeate the Alienation mechanic and several other places in the game, and I look forward to seeing the full rules out in the wild.

Rules Tinkering

Folks who know me know that I am a tinkerer when it comes to rules and game design: I love to play around with different ideas for how something can get done in the context of a game, and I have notebooks and digital files full of ideas and random thoughts jotted down about particular rules and system concepts to try out or experiment with at some point. There are two particular Green Ronin areas of interest with my rules tinkering manifested recently.

Modern AGE Powers! Coming Soon!

Modern AGE Powers! Coming Soon!

The first is in getting to work on sub-systems for extraordinary powers for the AGE System, particularly Modern AGE. Anyone who knows my work gets that super-powers of various sorts are a particular interest, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to work on power systems for AGE, starting right from the design of the Fantasy AGE and Modern AGE Basic Rulebooks. I wrote the Powers chapter of Modern AGE game, adapting the magic system of Fantasy AGE to present systems of spellcasting and psionic in the core game. Then I got to expand on those systems for the Modern AGE Companion and particularly the Threefold setting, which offered setting-specific examples of magic and psychic powers, along with expanding upon extraordinary powers.

From there, I got to build-out both psychic and extraordinary powers even further for the forthcoming Modern AGE Powers sourcebook, and adapt extraordinary powers and the augmentations sub-system from Threefold for a more general cyberpunk style. That material, it turned out, was useful for The Expanse as well, since we know there are some cybernetics and body augmentations in the setting, so we were able to adapt the core of that material for another AGE System game as well! Most of this development and tinkering went on with manuscripts that haven’t yet seen print, so there were also opportunities to go back and apply later developments to some of the earlier stuff. If you’re going to be working under pandemic conditions where product releases are delayed, at least take advantage of the longer development times!

Similarly, our conversations on Mutants & Masterminds Mondays sometimes inspire the desire to tinker with particular aspects of the game rules. That’s where an article on what I called “Challenge Points” came from for the M&M Patreon: We discussed the concept of first edition’s “Villain Points” and some similar mechanics introduced in more recent M&M adventures to provide Gamemasters with different balancing tools to make encounters sufficiently challenging and interesting. I summed-up a lot of what we discussed in writing, added a few extra details, and presented it to our patrons for their feedback and use. Seems to have gone over well, so chances are we’ll look to share some other rules-tinkering ideas on the Patreon in the future. Who knows? Maybe some of those ideas will find their way into official game releases at some point. I know that both M&M Developer Crystal Frasier and I have already written additional articles along those lines and have some ideas for others.

Do you like to tinker with the rules of your favorite RPGs? Do you enjoy designer speculation and ideas for variant rules or optional systems? Drop us a line at letsplay@greenronin.com and let us know about it or about the sorts of things you’d like to see. You might well inspire us to go in and tinker with something new!

Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook Cover Reveal

New Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook!

As Fantasy AGE fans know, we’ve been working on a Core Rulebook for the game for a while now. We decided it was time to bring together Fantasy AGE and Freeport, our signature fantasy city since 2000. More than that, we’ll be exploring many new lands in the world of Freeport through a setting concept called Stranger Shores. Once we had decided to put Freeport in the mix, there could be no other choice for the cover artist: Wayne Reynolds!

Tales of Freeport from the 3rd edition eraDenizens of Freeport from the 3rd edition era

Wayne has been the signature cover artist for Freeport since 2003, when he painted the covers for both Tales of Freeport and Denizens of Freeport. Wayne just gets the look of Freeport and his previous covers helped to define it. We wanted the Core Rulebook cover to illustrate that Fantasy AGE and Freeport were coming together. My idea: take characters from both and have them fighting side by side in the city. Art director Hal Mangold worked with Wayne to make it a reality.

Freeport: The City of Adventure for Pathfinder 1eFantasy AGE Campaign Builder's Guide

 

All the Fantasy AGE covers have featured a trio of iconic characters in perilous encounters. I suggested we take our iconic warrior and team her up with the pirate captain Wayne painted for the cover of Freeport: The City of Adventure. The foes had to be serpent people, a major element of the Freeport setting. You can see the results for yourself. As always, Wayne knocked it out the park. This is a cover worthy of our new Core Rulebook!

The Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook is scheduled to release in May of 2022. If you’d like to learn more about how it has been developed, check out episodes of ThursdAGE (also available on Youtube and Twitch). Each week the disembodied voice of Troy Hewitt chats with Fantasy AGE developer Owen K.C. Stephens, who gives advice about the game, the Adventure Game Engine that powers it, and answers your questions. Leading up to May, we’ll also have a series of articles exploring the Core Rulebook, so stay tuned.

The AGE of Wonderful (and Misfit) Toys

So, backstage, we developers have been talking about the different properties of AGE as a system, and how they might be tweaked, expanded, streamlined, and generally fooled around with. This is a conversation that builds up when it interests us, or when various projects demand it, and it’s responsible for a lot of the work we do with the Adventure Game Engine in its various forms: Fantasy AGE, Modern AGE, The Expanse, and Blue Rose—and of course these evolved from concepts devised by Chris Pramas for the Dragon Age roleplaying game.

Modding AGE games is half the fun!

If at first you don’t get the gameplay you want, mod, mod again. From the upcoming Modern AGE Mastery Guide

The wonderful thing about this process is that everybody has their own interpretations of how and why the rules work, and this sometimes helps with creative logjams. I may have talked about how it happens before, but hey, I forgot if I did, so why not talk about it anyway in the perishable blogging medium?

Churning Collaboration

Take the example of the Churn, devised for The Expanse—sort of. When I was working on the Modern AGE Companion, I got a look at the initial draft of the Churn. I liked it a whole lot, but I was also aware that as a game without a setting intended to serve a broad set of players, my “Churn” needed to generate more specific challenges from a rules perspective, because the GM couldn’t necessarily pull something from a well-defined setting. I renamed it Complications and added a bit of specificity in terms of the adversity it generates, and associated game systems like target numbers.

Then, of course, it turned out that Steve Kenson wanted to nail down the Churn a bit more. Handily, I had my draft in hand and sent it to him. So that’s how the Churn bounced between two games and came out with a redesign in both.

Another example of this is the invention of what we call breaching tests in Modern AGE and challenge tests in The Expanse: advanced tests that may have specific requirements and can impose special consequences for failure. As breaching tests, these were originally invented by Crystal Frasier for the World of Lazarus supplement, not the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook (both were written and developed at the same time). But the rules were so great I asked for them to be ported into core game systems. Steve Kenson picked it up for The Expanse, renamed it, and integrated it with the chase rules sourced from Modern AGE to streamline the latter.

Dubious Notions

However, not everything we produce makes it all the way to print or public pixels, for assorted reasons. The first is that the idea doesn’t really have a home in a new or upcoming game or supplement. They’re just free-floating notions. For example, at the time of writing we’ve just bandied about ideas for utilizing breaching/challenge tests where characters accumulate degrees of success with the ordinary combat system. Is there a place for it? Not yet, but much of the time we’ll keep these ideas in our back pockets, so to speak, until the right occasion comes up.

Then you have ideas which are great on paper but would just be too weird or dismal looking for people to get into. Here’s one I came up with. Hard Mode Stunts.

Hard Mode Stunts: Instead of setting the Stunt Die apart with a distinctive design or color than the other two of your 3d6, the Stunt Die is always the lowest die you roll. If you tie where two dice have the same number as a die with a higher result, it doesn’t matter which die you pick as your Stunt Die, since they’ll have the same value.

(Don’t know AGE? In our system we roll 3d6 + bonuses against a target number. One die is distinctive, and if any two dice have the same number on the face, that special die—called the Stunt Die or Drama Die—generates the number on its face in stunt points, which can be used to buy special effects like knocking an enemy down or getting your way with a particularly clever quip in social interactions.)

Now this seems like a logical rule. Stunt point totals tend to be high because matches happen in the set of rolls that are successes, and successful rolls will naturally be higher. With Hard Mode Stunts, you’re more likely to get fewer stunt points unless your entire roll is high—in fact, since you can’t get 6 stunt points unless 6 is the lowest die, you can only get that when you roll a natural 18 on 3d6. So logically, scales consistently, and…is no fun. In Modern AGE you might use it for the grittiest of Gritty Mode games. But AGE thrives on stunts! So, no—with one exception.

If there was a version of the AGE system that provided powerful tools to alter dice rolls or generate stunt points without relying on doubles, Hard Mode Stunts might work, with the understanding that you’ll usually be buying the big stunts, perhaps with something like The Expanse’s Fortune system. There’s a thought—but is there a place for it? Hmmm….

Book Mashup: Apocalypse Freeport

Andrzej was getting tired. He swept his greatsword in a figure 8, pausing to lean slightly to let a crossbow bolt pass him by and bury itself in the shooter’s friend, coming up the other side. He hated killing but the briefing said these people, filthy doublets, poor dentistry, and all, might destroy several universes. He hated killing, but something had hollowed their souls out, and it seemed merciful to dispatch what remained.

He wasn’t fighting alone. A vicious, pointy-eared, green-skinned little man covered his blind side with some quick knife-work. He didn’t know the fellow, who’d apparently been burgling the lair, shrine, or whatever Andrzej chased the cultists back to, barreling through the ramshackle streets of Freeport (crisis point of the plane designated NG-05522).

Andrzej parried an incoming cutlass, but an adjacent burly cultist sent him staggering with a belaying pin to the face, of all things. The little green man hid behind Andrzej as the cultist with the fanciest hat stepped forward and snapped a finger, wreathing her hand in green flame.

Comforted by training, Andrzej was ready for death.

“Let me show you glories to boil your eyes,” said the woman with the fiery hand.

“Hey!” Was that Mei’s voice? “Come get me first!”

Mei was an Aethon agent seconded to their group. She could keep Earth technology working on the weirdest planes. Mei appeared to be unarmed, on the other side of the doorway, with nothing but a tiny box on legs between her and the cultists.

Andrzej looked, gasped, grabbed the little green man, and hurled them both behind a sturdy pillar. The fire-handed woman took the bait and led the charge toward Mei, paying no mind to the box and its to-her exotic lettering, which said FRONT TOWARD ENEMY.

Yes, It’s time for another book and setting mashup, coming on the heels of Lost Ilium and Vaporwave Rose (Part 1 here, Part 2 here). This time around we’re doing an epic one, combining Modern AGE’s Threefold setting and the Freeport setting (through a Fantasy AGE lens) for world-shattering adventure! And because it’s a big tapestry, it’s a big article—no split this time. Drink it all in.

Freeport Apocalypse! Freeport meets Threefold

Apocalypse Freeport Campaign Setting

Ingredients: You need the Modern AGE and Fantasy AGE core rulebooks, as well as the Threefold setting book and the Pirate’s Guide to Freeport. The Fantasy AGE version of Death in Freeport and other Freeport books will also be useful.

(Links to print or PDF as available in our online store. Titles also available in PDF at DrivethruRPG.)

Genre: Portal fantasy and cosmic horror.

The Setup

Freeport. There are many cities by that name, but the Sodality, who explore the infinite planes, tracks legends about one of them with special care. The Divine Empire’s demigod-tyrants keep secret files on it too because It’s no mere legend to them. Where the Sodality suspects, highly placed imperial Optimates know: Freeport is where the fate of the Metacosm will be decided.

The plane Freeport stands in appears to be an Otherworld, where sorcery and wonders abound, but it’s really a “hell,” or Netherworld, and had an Alastor: what the less educated call a “demon prince.” This being, the Great Serpent Yig, might have been unique among its kind: amoral, but lacking the instinct to torture the inhabitants of its realm.

This made its plane vulnerable to attacks from enemy Alastors, and even the primal energies of the Netherworlds, where reality unravels unless bulwarked by sacrificed souls. Yig sought sanctuary by pushing even deeper into the outer dark, further than even rival demons typically went. To prevent reality erosion, Yig reshaped its plane, giving it the power to seize parts of planes which possessed stronger natural laws. Freeport now exists on a patchwork plane at the furthest edge of the Metacosm.

A being imprisoned in this final darkness saw the lonely light of the plane. All this Unspeakable One needed to do was to whisper certain ceremonies in the dreams of Yig’s mortal children, the serpent people. They had become mighty sorcerers, and rulers of the Valossan Empire, claimed from a continent said to be Yig’s body. But the whispers taught the powers of the Yellow Sign, and its students founded a cult whose grand ritual destroyed Valossa, the empire, and perhaps Yig along with it (though death is always different for gods). Even so, the ritual was incomplete, because it failed to bring the Unspeakable One to the plane. But with Yig fallen, the intruder gained partial, weakened control of the plane’s ability to tear pieces from other realms.

This was enough to slowly tear away part of the Otherworld called Kalakuth, but in the process, the Unspeakable One abducted the Ghul, a Prefect of the Divine Empire and demigod of death, and the Herald, his shapeshifting consort. After determining no nearby gates survived the transition, and that he couldn’t return home, the Ghul set about conquering the plane’s largest landmass, simply called “the Continent.” The Herald could transport themselves to other planes, but no one else, and the Ghul bade them to stay, and keep the conquest a secret. Thus, the Ghul founded the Empire of Ashes as a personal dominion.

By ravaging the Continent, the Ghul unwittingly fed souls to the Unspeakable One, and improved the state of sorcery, which had fallen since the destruction of Valossa. This revived the Cult of the Yellow Sign, which set about undermining the necromancer’s empire. Eventually, the Empire of Ashes was as dead as the shambling legions that served it.

The new pirate city of Freeport profited from raids in the vulnerable, lawless Continent. It grew on A’Val, an island remnant of old Valossa. The Cult of the Yellow Sign followed wealth and the possibility of serpent people lore there—but the long-lived Herald, who survived the fall of the Empire of Ashes, followed. The Herald learned the truth: The Cult’s ultimate goal was to summon the Unspeakable One, who would then gain full control of the plane’s world-eating powers. Freeport’s plane would become a cosmic predator.

The Herald used their powers to flee to Alatum, capital of the Divine Empire, but its rulers were too consumed with politics and rivalries to listen. So, the Herald traveled to many other planes, leaving rumors and clues—nothing firm enough to mark them as a traitor to the Empire—about Freeport, the Unspeakable One, and the world that eats worlds.

And sometimes, people listened.

As rollicking life in the City of Adventure continues, factions on other worlds plan infiltrations and invasions. Ambitious Nighthost captains see another Netherworld to conquer, and a weapon that could further their mission to liberate them all. A few fringe war-furies in the Divine Empire see the key to conquering the Otherworlds, even arrogant Earth, and claiming the throne. A circle of Sodality wardens wants to preserve Freeport’s unique plane, standing up for its people, an eliminate the threat. On Earth, a highly placed member of Aethon reads secret reports, and inspects locked cryochambers containing apocalyptic living weapons.

So far, these groups have only been able to plan. Freeport’s plane has no known gates, and if there are any, it is extremely likely they pass through multiple Netherworld hells. The Herald cannot transport others, and the Ferrymen, a faction who can, doubt the tale. But it is only a matter of time until the status quo changes. These groups will either find a way, or the cult of the Yellow Sign will make further progress, and the Unspeakable one will reach out to feed.

The Campaign

There are two was to run this one. The first is as a Fantasy AGE campaign set in Freeport that undergoes a sudden turn when people from other worlds appear, eager to stop the Cult of the Yellow Sign. You can use this to shift your game from traditional fantasy adventure into plane-traveling portal fantasy, and you can even introduce elements like modern technology. The key to defeating the Unspeakable One may lie in a distant realm, whether it’s an artifact, spell, or the consciousness of Yig, flung to some distant world. Note that the Freeport setting here isn’t “canon” Freeport, since it redefines and tweaks several things, such as by saying the Ghul was a renegade Optimate from the Divine Empire.

On the flipside, you can use Modern AGE and Threefold to send a Mission or other group of plane-travelers to Freeport, to soak up its rough charms and mind-searing dangers. It’s hard to get in or out of Freeport’s plane, so there’s plenty of time to enjoy the rum-soaked ambiance while hunting followers of the Unspeakable One.

Modern AGE and Fantasy AGE are largely compatible, though if you use Toughness and Modes, they should apply to characters from both games. Focuses, talents, and specializations are largely cross-compatible, though the GM should consider carefully before allowing Fantasy AGE characters to take Modern AGE talents that mimic class abilities, such as pinpoint attack. Weapon proficiency doesn’t exist in Modern AGE either, so assume characters made with that game are proficient in weapons that inflict up to 1d6 (plus inherent weapon bonuses) per point in the abilities they are used with, so a Fighting of 2 permits proficient use of Fighting-based weapons that roll 2d6 (such as a long sword) for damage before other bonuses. A few other minor tweaks may be required, but nothing too onerous.

The Herald is intentionally designed to be an easy NPC to insert into the game, because they can go or be anyone—even a longtime NPC contact, if the GM wants. But even though they can travel the planes without a gate, they can’t take anyone with them, to preserve the plane travel rules that bind other characters, as mentioned here and in Threefold.

Finally, Freeport’s plane has the following profile in the Apocalypse Freeport campaign.

NG-05522— “Freeport’s Plane” (Provisional Name)

Incessance: +5 versus technology, +1 versus the occult. Technology developed within the plane by natives is unaffected, as seen in the emerging use of firearms.

Library Summary: Analysts estimate an 86% chance “Freeport’s Plane” exists due to the reliability and consistency of accounts. According to these accounts, the plane can absorb regions from other planes and is contested by multiple divine entities. A gate chain has yet to be defined. Technology generally does not exceed Earth’s 17th century, and local variants of known human types, with examples such as “dwarves” (and confusingly “humans,” used solely for the local jana subtype) are commonplace. Governments tend to be unstable, and magic use is common. Extreme caution is urged.

Book Mashup: Lost Ilium

Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion CodexSo, I was going to talk a little more about my Threefold setting Modern AGE campaign, but, uh, I didn’t feel like it. Instead, I got a sudden notion to take a few different things I worked on and combine them. I’m going to call this Book Mashup, because these are books, and you can mash them up. Will this be a series? Don’t know. This one is going to merge historical fantasy with our 5e setting, The Lost Citadel. I have to admit, this isn’t wholly original, as Steve Kenson was cool enough to explore using the world in the Mists of a certain well-known 5e setting.

Anyway, here we go:

Lost Ilium Campaign Setting

Ingredients: You need Fantasy AGE, Fantasy AGE Trojan War, The Lost Citadel Roleplaying, and The Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion Codex.

(Links to print or PDF as available in our online store. Titles also available in PDF at DrivethruRPG. You can also get The Lost Citadel Roleplaying 5e setting book and the Lost Citadel Fantasy AGE Conversion Codex in a discounted bundle in our store or at DriveThru.)

Genre: Greek mythology survival horror-fantasy!

The Setup

Offended by Helen and Paris’ flight to Troy, the greatest force of vessels in the world launch for that great walled city. Bronze-clad heroes—nascent demigods and mortals doomed to gloomy afterlives—come for blood and treasure, but fruitlessly smash against the walls, or must turn from Trojan arrows and blades, over and over, until…

…what Fate commanded did not come to pass.

Achilles was the key to Troy’s gates. His wrath at the death of his lover, Patroclus, was supposed to turn the greatest Greek’s sword and spear against Hector; his death was supposed to be a link in the chain of fate leading to the Trojan Horse, Greek victory, a legend.

But Achilles’ arrogance exceeds even his sorrow. He doesn’t come for Hector. Hector didn’t take Patroclus away. Death did.

Achilles hunts Death.Fantasy AGE Trojan War

He’s the son of a goddess, tutored by Chiron. He knows the blood ritual, the secret ways. He descends, god-forged panoply blazing, and assaults Hades, the realm and the god. Hades is immortal. He can’t be destroyed but he can be distracted, even frustrated. Hades is one of three brothers who rule the layers of the world. The ichor of a thousand mutilated Titan-born demons floods his palace hall, as Achilles cuts his way forward…and Hades lets go of his responsibilities. Thanatos sits idle, forgotten.

Death fails. Corpses reject stillness.

A thousand years later. Fate is a ragged, tangled string. Woe, the morose anger of Hades—the message I reject you as you rejected me—haunts all the world, except Troy, whose people Hades find blameless. Now the Greeks attack Troy for this special status. They do it for centuries—long enough for iron and steel to supplant bronze. Long enough for the half-immortals hidden in the world, such as the elven and dwarven descendants of petty deities, also shielded from Woe, to seek refuge. Even strange jackal-people from Egypt come. Troy expands in all directions, becoming a true sanctuary city for the living. Outside, on the plain of battle, the Dead eventually conquer the living. Greek corpses howl and assail the walls. Forays for resources grow ever more dangerous. Finally, the half-immortals agree to seek out the gods, and send an expedition of their kind to sacred places.

The elves return with broken spirits. The dwarves attempt to take over Troy but fail. They do not speak of what they found when they looked for the gods, but say They are angry. They wear different faces now. They are coming back.

The first manifestations of Woe blight Troy, and over decades, it adapts to this final threat. They dispose of corpses, build stronger, higher, and deeper, and await the terrible coming of the gods. They must. Troy is the last city.

The Campaign

The undead aren’t really part of Greek mythology, but what if they were? This setting takes the basic scenario of The Lost Citadel—an undead apocalypse against the last city in the world—and changes the final bastion of the living from dwarven Redoubt to a Troy that has stood long enough to adopt medieval technology. Elves and dwarves are descendants of demigods, nymphs, and other lesser or partial immortals, and have stumbled into the social positions they have in The Lost Citadel. The rising threat behind the Dead isn’t a mystery, and isn’t directly related, however. It’s the Greek gods, capable of manifestations as per Fantasy AGE Trojan War, unhinged by the breaking of Fate, and desperate to fix it.

Hades may be an exception. In this campaign, Woe is his anger, cursing mortals to restless (and as far as anyone can tell, mindless) death outside the proper land of shades. Is it possible to seek out and plead with the maker of Woe, and succeed where they other gods have failed?

The other point of Greek mythology to consider is strong immortality. Some heroes and monsters are not truly subject to death. Was Achilles reborn immortal? Does he walk the world he destroyed? What ageless monsters remain? Do they have mortal communities still? Without new inmates, does the kingdom of Hades still contain its shades and monsters, or have they wandered up?

Use Fantasy AGE Lost Citadel rules as a base, and add Trojan War elements, especially those related to the gods, to taste.

The Wrap-Up

I think this is a great Fantasy AGE option for running darker adventures using well-known mythology. Let me know if you want more of these, and maybe I’ll get to it?

Putting Your Fantasy AGE Adventures in the Trojan War

Fantasy AGE Trojan War, out now (and at DriveThruRPG) is a condensed guide to running Fantasy AGE adventures in the Homeric Age, a mythic-historical period where ancient events inspired grand myths. The events around Troy can be thought of as one of the first popular fantasy series and shared universes, though to ancient Greeks and people who feel deeply connected to it today, they also represent the founding stories of a people. But let’s step back from profound musings to ask: How do I run adventures in it? The Trojan War has different participants, rewards, and challenges than mainstream fantasy RPG adventures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t convert various adventures to fit the period. Let’s get into tips on how to do just that.

Use other Adventures for Fantasy AGE Trojan War!

“The “tainted fey” Mallorsa should be framed as a renegade Nymph, corrupted by the valley.”

Use Greek Mythology

It’s common sense but needs to be said: Frame everything within Greek mythology! That means looking to the gods, titans, heroes, and their struggles for the origins of everything you use. Since Greek mythology is so influential, this often requires less effort than you might think. Monsters are the children or creations of immortals, or spring from their shed blood. Dungeons are the ruins of fallen heroes, secret temples, or built to house accursed creatures.

The Trojan War Isn’t All About Troy

As we note in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, it takes years for the Achaeans just to get to Troy, and they face plenty of challenges on the way. The Achaeans attack multiple islands, and raid Troy’s allies in Asia Minor, so there’s much more to do than simply make another run at the walls of Troy. Any island or rival kingdom can send an enemy force, rouse a divinely created enemy, or own a fortress that must be taken to reach a greater military objective. On the Trojan side, adventurers can ride out to aid allies against the Achaeans, or seek their help—and of course, these friends will want help in return, to retake land and fortifications seized by the Achaeans.

Heroes Are Monsters…Sometimes

The Trojan War is ultimately about heroes, and how the gods love or hate them, and meddle with their destinies. In Greek myths, heroes are not necessarily good or bad, but possess forms of excellence tied to their ultimate fates that attract the notice of the gods. Sometimes heroes act monstrously and can easily replace actual monsters. For example, when the Telamonian Ajax ravages Thrace, he even kills their animals, in a foreshadowing of the madness that would eventually seal his fate. With a small detachment of spear carriers, Ajax, a ruthless, spoils-hoarding killer, can fill the same role in an adventure as a dragon.

Monsters Sometimes, As a Divine Treat

Of course, in addition to using heroes as monsters, you can use, uh monster as monsters. In a Trojan War campaign, monsters are usually related to immortals such as gods and titans. In most cases, only the intelligent offspring of immortals are truly immortal, and even lesser immortals can be defeated, as they lack true divinity and access to the nectar and ambrosia the gods use to maintain their endless health. Animal and bestial creatures usually have an even more limited form of immortality, which is why killing the cattle of Helios is possible, but still a terrible idea. Other monsters are the result of divine curses. The Greeks created monsters as part of their stories, and when you create new stories, you can use them to justify monsters from other fantasy worlds, giving them an origin fitting the Homeric Age.

Example: Valley of the Whispering Titans…er Giants

As an example of converting a mainstream fantasy scenario, let’s look at Valley of the Whispering Titans from Fantasy AGE Lairs. First step: Rename the valley! That’s because while titans come from Greek mythology, the ones in this scenario left behind their skulls, which the immortal titans wouldn’t do. Instead, make the lair a remnant of the war between the Olympian gods and the giants. In fact, we can say that this is a place where Uranus’ blood fell, giving birth to giants and numerous other twisted creations.

The valley is the lair of a corrupt druid—except there are no druids in the Homeric Age (at least, none near Troy) so instead we should make main antagonist Callem Ressmil a pharmakeus: a sorcerer who manipulates divine power without the leave of the gods, as detailed in Fantasy AGE Trojan War. He’s probably a hero with an immortal ancestor who committed an act of hubris by claiming the valley and harvesting its power.

The “tainted fey” Mallorsa should be framed as a renegade Nymph, corrupted by the valley. The Valley Huntsman requires the most changes, turning from a corpse possessing ghost (Hades usually prevents that sort of thing) to a phenomenon specific to the valley, where the blood of Uranus animates dead creatures to face the characters once again—perhaps under the control of the resident witch. The Hanging Vine is another creature made or changed by Uranus’ blood. The “titans’ skulls” should belong to giants but can be used as-is; Greek myths include stories of the Aegis, made from a fallen monster, and it is fitting that other semi-immortal remains should retain special powers.

Plus of course, you need to change the names!

You can set the valley in an obscure peninsula or large island if this challenge is for Achaean heroes, or within the territory of Troy but outside the city for heroes from all sides. Apollo may demand the Trojans do something about the cursed valley before helping them. Artemis may be offended by the phenomena in the valley, and demand the Achaeans deal with it, since they already offended her on the way to Troy.

Fantasy AGE Trojan War: Now Available!

Fantasy AGE Trojan War

Available Now! In the Green Ronin Online Store, and DrivethruRPG!

Cross the Wine-Dark Sea and Storm the Walls of Troy Again!

Fantasy AGE Trojan War, which is available now, revives the classic 3rd Era historical fantasy supplement in streamlined form for Fantasy AGE. This book explores the Homeric Age: a period that’s half history, half myth, and all about dramatic action, where gods and heroes battle each other…and the inescapable judgment of destiny. Enter the Iliad and other ancient tales in Fantasy AGE, using a host of new options:

  • Play Achaean Greeks, Trojans, and other ancient peoples, from Amazons to the divine offspring, with new backgrounds appropriate to the era.
  • Five new talents and six new specializations, from the Swift-Footed fighting style to Amazon ferocity and the strange magic of the Pharmakeus.
  • Three new magical Arcana, over 30 new magic items, and discussions of the role of magic in Homeric mythology.
  • Weapons, armor, and other gear appropriate to the Homeric Age, including rules for hit locations and partial armor in combat.
  • Chariots and ships of the Homeric Age, and how to use them.
  • Rules for divine intervention which let gods and heroes meaningfully interact without compromising divine immortality. Fall under the eye of a deity through a Divine Bond, or feel the wrath of their manifestations.
  • Advice for Game Mastering the Homeric Age, from changing mythology to suit you to interpreting Fantasy AGE monsters through the lens of Greek Mythology.

Inspired by the original d20 release, Fantasy AGE Trojan War takes a “Fantasy AGE native” design approach, where instead of a formulaic subject by subject conversion, we substantially designed for Fantasy AGE from the ground up, from specializations to divine intervention. This includes updating research to support a wider range of interpretations, from stricter Mycenaean technology to the ahistorical blend that made up the Iliad itself, and discussions of how to bring increased diversity to the legends.

Return to the Battlefields of Troy

Available in PDF and Print On Demand at DrivethruRPG, Fantasy AGE Trojan War requires the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook to play, and while it refers to the Fantasy AGE Companion, that book is not required. With minimal adaptation, it can be converted for use with other Adventure Game Engine roleplaying games.

Fantasy AGE Trojan War: Sing, O Muse, of the Rage of Achilles

Fantasy AGE Trojan War is a compact adaptation of its D20 System predecessor. Instead of just doing item for item conversions, we worked on this as a shorter Fantasy AGE work, with most design happening from the ground up. Over the course of doing this we omitted a few things—most notably, game statistics for Troy’s heroes. We figured GMs might prefer their own interpretations, and in any event, the focus is on Player Characters, who in most games will be the true heroes.

Nevertheless, I’m sure some of you are curious about how we would do it! So here are Fantasy AGE statistics for Aristos Achaion, greatest of the Greeks: Achilles, son of Peleus and the goddess Thetis. Achilles represents the apex of power possible for Fantasy AGE Trojan War Heroes—and the raw might of this hero at the apex of his power. These game statistics represent Achilles after the death of Patroclus, but before he slays Hector.


Achilles, 20th Level Divine Offspring Warrior

Achilles, son of Peleus and the goddess ThetisAbilities (Focuses)

Accuracy 8 (Brawling, Bows, Light Blades, Throwing +3), Communication 5 (Leadership), Constitution 6 (Running), Dexterity 6 (Initiative +3), Fighting 8 (Bludgeons, Heavy Blades +3, Spears +3), Intelligence 2 (Military Lore), Perception 5, Strength 6 (Driving +3, Intimidation +3), Will 5 (Courage +3, Morale +3)

Speed: 20, Health: 230, Defense: 18, Armor Rating: 10

Talents: Arete (Master), Athletics (Expert), Berserker (Specialization; Master), Charioteer (Specialization; Master), Swift-Footed Style (Master), Thrown Weapon Style (Expert), Weapon and Shield Style (Master)

Attacks

Spear of Peleus: +13 to attack rolls, 1d6 + 9 damage

Special Qualities

Special qualities are in addition to class abilities, talents, and specializations, though they may note the specifics of these traits.

Advanced Focuses: Achilles has several focuses with +3 listed, indicating they provide a +3 focus bonus instead of the usual +2.

Arms of Peleus: Achilles carries a bronze-headed spear and ornate shield, each from his father, Peleus. The spear adds +2 to attack and damage rolls and the shield adds +2 to Defense.

Arete: Due to the Arete talent, Achilles can use his choice of the Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack, or Seize the Initiative Stunts for 0 SP on any successful attack, even if it doesn’t score doubles.

Athletics: Due to the Athletics talent in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, Achilles can re-roll a failed Constitution (Running) and Strength (Jumping) test, but he must keep the results of the second roll.

Balius and Xanthus: These are Achilles’ divine horses, which he employs (sometimes along with a third, mortal horse) to pull his chariot. These are horses (Fantasy AGE Bestiary, p. 129) with the Epic template for beefing up adversaries found in the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook and Bestiary. Each also has an Intelligence of 1 and the Bestial Immortality quality: If reduced to 0 Health, they appear dead, but spring to full Health if left undisturbed until the next sunrise. If burned, dismembered, or eaten, however, they remain dead.

Epic Warrior: As per Fantasy AGE’s Level 20 Warrior benefit, Achilles gains +1 SP to spend on combat stunts when scoring doubles.

Golden Chariot: A gift from Peleus to Achilles, this gilded kingly chariot has a Hull Rating of 3 and grants a +3 to Strength (Driving) tests.

Second Armor of Achilles: This version of Achilles wears the armor he was given after his previous panoply was taken from the body of his lover, Patroclus. It provides an Armor Rating of 10 with no Armor Penalty, and when fighting under the sun, its shine imposes a -2 penalty to enemies’ ranged attack rolls.

Swift-Footed: Achilles’ mastery of the Swift-Footed Style (detailed in Fantasy AGE Trojan War) gives him +2 to Speed in combat, included in his statistics along with a further bonus for his divine offspring ancestry.

Stygian Armor (Optional): The Iliad doesn’t include the later legend that Thetis dipped Achilles into the River Styx as a baby to make him nearly invulnerable. If the legend is true in your campaign Achilles suffers a permanent -2 to all Communication tests, but adds +4 to his Armor Rating, even when unarmored (increasing it to 14 in the statistics above). However, attacks to Achilles’ left ankle inflict penetrating damage. To hit it, an attacker must roll a 5 when determining hit location using the rules in Fantasy AGE Trojan War, or deliberately aim for it by attacking with a -3 penalty. In either case, the attacker only strikes true if they roll 6 on the Stunt Die. All other attacks that reduce the effectiveness of armor do not reduce the Armor Rating given by this quality. The Stygian salve item in Fantasy AGE Trojan War represents a lessened form of this ability; the GM may decide Achilles simply has access to it instead of this quality.

Divine Bonds

Zeus 5 (Ambiguous): As Achilles sets out to kill Hector, his doom may be predestined but he has not yet demonstrated the combination of arrogance, cruelty, and impiety that will seal his fate—that happens after he kills Hector. This Bond is assigned to Zeus as the king of the gods and arbiter of Fate, but he represents the attitudes of the Olympians in general.

Thetis 3 (Favorable): Achilles’ mother Thetis supports her son through such acts as providing him with new armor, made by Hephaestus, after his previous armor is taken from Patroclus’ corpse by Hector.


Fantasy AGE: Trojan War will be available for purchase in PDF and Print On Demand, next Thursday May 13th!

Coming May 13: Fantasy AGE Trojan War

Read the title! On May 13, we’ll be releasing a Fantasy AGE supplement for Homeric Age adventures. Inspired by the classic 3rd Era Trojan War book by Aaron Rosenberg, this 65-page supplement, coming in PDF and print-on-demand, adds numerous new character options, magic items, and special rules for Fantasy AGE.Fantasy AGE: Trojan War!

Note that this isn’t a straight D20 to Fantasy AGE conversion, for the following reasons:

  • Timing and Size: We wanted to make sure we could get this done on time, to get in a Fantasy AGE supplement for mid-2021 before the release of the new Fantasy AGE core rulebook, currently in development. We also wanted to make this a smaller book so people would feel they can spend their money on it without feeling like they have to have a full-on Homeric campaign ready. This means we’ve omitted game statistics for Trojan heroes. This also fits Fantasy AGE, whose smaller number of classes combined with talents and specializations mean there are many ways to interpret these heroes.
  • The Internet: The internet, and the resources it can bring to your table, have expanded since 2005. This means, for example, it would be redundant to describe history and mythology in ways better served by resources such as Wikipedia and other Web resources.
  • 16 Years of Context: We’ve added new context and guidance about how to adapt an era rife with discrimination for contemporary play. For centuries, people have made these legends their own, and by doing the same you don’t violate any kind of “canon,” but follow in the steps of storytellers who changed things to fit their times. We’ve also given much of the original a tune-up to bring forth some of the distinctive elements of the time. For instance, did you know the Trojan War predates the invention of coins? We talk about it.
  • Fantasy AGE First: Fantasy AGE is its own distinct system and handles everything from character creation to armor differently than 3e and its successors do. We wanted to make sure this fit Fantasy AGE’s rules as closely as possible.

Okay, But What’s in It?

Here’s a chapter breakdown:

Introduction: A 101 on the material ahead and an overview of the Trojan War.

Chapter 1: Homeric Character Creation: This section includes rules for characters of human (Trojan, Achaean, and others, including Amazons) and divine heritage, before going into a full set of backgrounds and professions for the Homeric period, and new and modified focuses for such characters. Then we talk about using existing Fantasy AGE talents and specializations before introducing five new talents (Arete, Athletics, Primal Weapon Style, Shield Formation Style, and Swift-Footed Style) and six new specializations of (Amazon, Charioteer, Dedicated Warrior, Demigod, Pharmakeus, and Priest). We finish things off with Divine Bonds, a new system inspired by the Relationships rules in other AGE games, which measure whether the gods love or hate you—and how they might meddle in your life.

Chapter 2: Homeric Magic: After talking about the place of magic in Homeric tales, we introduce the new Charm, Cursing, and Poison Arcana. After that? Magic items—32 of them, to be precise, from the useful herb moly to the head of Medusa—yes, it doesn’t appear in Homer, but the book wouldn’t be complete without it!

Chapter 3: Homeric Equipment: This chapter covers Bronze Age equipment for a Homeric campaign, including how precious metals were counted and spent before the invention of coins. Bare-legged Homeric warriors need special consideration, so this chapter includes new rules for partial armor and hit locations. We also provide a streamlined version of the vehicle rules in the Fantasy AGE Companion tailored for the ships and chariots presented here.

Chapter 4: Religion & The Gods: After providing an overview of divine actions during the Trojan War, this chapter provides complete rules for divine intervention, from the gods spiriting away favored heroes to reckoning with them when they take to the field. New rules let you face down belligerent gods without compromising on their immortality. Finally, for Game Masters looking for a detailed system to track divine favor, we include rules for Piety adapted from the D20 original.

Chapter 5: The Homeric Campaign: This updated Game Mastering chapter not only talks about how to use the Iliad as the basis for a campaign but presents it in the context of a larger body of mythology you can convert to adventures. In the myths, just getting to Troy was an epic in of itself! We also discuss how to change the myths for inclusivity and other play-friendly purposes before talking about which Fantasy AGE monsters fit the period, and how to modify them if they have immortal parentage.

Compatibility Across the AGEs

Fantasy AGE Trojan War was designed alongside the new Fantasy AGE core rulebook, due to come out later this year. Trojan War introduces some concepts from the new rules but is designed with the published Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook in mind. In practice, Fantasy AGE Trojan War should be mostly compatible with the new rules. This is a bridge supplement for both old and new Fantasy AGE players alike.

Watch this space—we’ll announce when it’s out and tell you where to find it at the Green Ronin Online Store and at DriveThruRPG!