Tag Archive for: Modern AGE

The Cthulhu Awakens BackerKit…Awakens. Metaphorically.

Cthulhu awakens literally, of course.

In what seems like years ago due to pandemic and post-pandemic time dilation effects, but was actually through this past March, we ran our Kickstarter for Cthulhu Awakens, an AGE system game covering Cthulhu Mythos horror from the early years of the last century to the present: a period we call the Weird Century. Cthulhu Awakens evolves the iteration of AGE first seen in Modern AGE, drawing upon innovations from newer and upcoming AGE system books, as well as special rules unique to it. Cthulhu Awakens was developed to cover an epic span of time according to an inclusive ethic, but that isn’t its point of distinction. I think what makes it special is really the broad range of periods and tones, and an interpretation of the Mythos that puts game-centered storytelling before literary homage. Cthulhu Awakens can be about lurking fear or dramatic action—it’s up to you.

Well, the Kickstarter is done…and the BackerKit is live! That’s where we manage pledges to order the game and its related, uh, game stuff. Go to:

Backerkit Pre-order Store!

If you pledged a token amount to get reminded of this, now’s the time to up your pledge. If you want to tweak your pledge, maybe adding on some last-minute books, do it there.

And if this is new to you? Well, go anyway. This is your second chance, like the kind you don’t get unless you’re a Yithian agent consulting future records of yourself to avoid mistakes…but I’ve said too much. Well, except for one thing: If you’re locking in any kind of pledge, thank you!

Cthulhu Awakens Pre-order store is live

A Few Words on Languages

Tabletop roleplaying games can give us some funny ideas about languages and linguistics. At least, I know they did for me in some regards. Starting with a certain Popular Fantasy Roleplaying Game comes the notion that player characters are all multi-lingual, speaking three, four—as many as seven or eight languages fluently! This is often compounded with the notion that entire species share the same language, or that there are special languages for fantastic creatures from dragons to elementals to the denizens of different planes of existence.

Later RPGs have taken a more nuanced, and certainly more detailed approach to languages, including various levels of fluency, and things like complex charts showing the relationships between “language families” of earthly or imaginary languages, which may grant some greater understanding or closely-related tongues.

understanding the Language can be very important

“I’m not sure what you just said, but I don’t care for your tone!” Art by James Ryman

The Modern AGE rules have a somewhat laissez-faire attitude about languages. The sidebar on page 16 of the Basic Rulebook says characters should “be able to speak, read, and write whatever languages” they “would pick up due to their cultural and social class” suggesting a limit of three. The Linguistic talent in the game handles learning additional languages and requires a fairly significant investment, since talent degrees aren’t easy to come by, and each degree in the talent grants only one additional language. It would take a new specialization to create the true polyglot character who speaks a dozen or more languages.

Fantasy AGE likewise offers a Linguistics talent, for characters truly dedicated to speaking other languages. The game’s ancestries follow the fantasy standard of an ancestral language (all elves speak Elvish, for example) along with a “Common tongue” used and understood by everyone, for the most part.

Mutants & Masterminds treats language fluency as an advantage, one rank grants an additional language the character can speak, but each additional rank doubles the number of languages, so it’s fairly cost effective to create someone who speaks a dozen or more of them. Of course, in M&M, the ability to speak and understand all languages is on the table for just 2 ranks of the Comprehend power, so there isn’t a lot of point in having more than a few ranks in the Languages advantage, other than to represent the character’s own skill and knowledge.

Individual Game Masters have to decide the role languages—particularly unknown languages—will play in their campaigns. In some cases, the language barrier can be an important element of adventures or the setting. Others prefer to generally ignore the problem in order to get on with things; the Threefold setting for Modern AGE, for example, includes magical “universal translators” for characters working for the world-spanning Sodality, so GMs don’t need to worry about whether or not the characters speak any of the local languages—at least not until their translators are lost or stolen! Likewise, the Cosmic Handbook for M&M recommends Comprehend as a “default” power for star-spanning campaigns, unless you want to institute some form of “Galactic Common” that all alien species speak and understand.

When building worlds of your own for RPGs, you might want to give some thought as to how people say things, and what languages they are saying them in.

Last Chance Warehouse Sale

Last Chance Warehouse Sale: 75% off select print books, while supplies last!

 

After 22 years in business, the Green Ronin warehouse is looking a little crowded. With reprints and new products incoming, it’s time to make more space! These deals are for print products only. With limited stock and priced to clear some pallets, this is a screaming deal (75% off!) you don’t want to miss. With that, we offer you the LAST CHANCE WAREHOUSE SALE!

Please note the sale does not extend to shipping, and shipping fees are determined by the carrier.

75% off on select titles

 

Modern AGE, Four Years On: Modern Adventures

In my last two articles I talked about where the Modern AGE line currently stands with its core, setting-agnostic books, used to customize the game as you please, and its published settings, from sketches to two full-blown game settings: The World of Lazarus and Threefold. However, I ran long on the second article and didn’t have a chance to talk about the adventures we have—and that’s what this one is for.

Modern Adventures await!

Two Versions of the Quickstart

Modern AGE: Threefold QuickstartOne weird thing that happened during Modern AGE line development is that we ended up with two quickstarts.

Original Quickstart (Burning Bright): Back in 2018, Modern AGE’s quickstart included an adventure about going to another dimension, Tannebrim. To inform you anew or refresh your memory, a “quickstart” contains cut down rules, pre-made characters, and an adventure to run them through, so you can get a taste of what the full game is like.

Expanded Threefold Quickstart (Burning Brighter): Fast forward a year, to when the Threefold game setting was on the cusp of release, and we wanted to participate in Free RPG Day. Well, Threefold was one of the inspirations for the original quickstart adventure anyway, so we produced an expanded, updated version with additional content and pregenerated characters that were fully integrated with the Threefold setting. We made that available in print for Free RPG Day, but you can still get it for free electronically.

Both versions are still available for download, but be aware that the latter version, with the adventure “Burning Brighter,” is an expansion of the original and its adventure, “Burning Bright.” You’ll have to run one or the other in any given campaign.

Backs of the Books

The Modern AGE Basic Rulebook comes with an adventure called “A Speculative Venture,” about bad things happening at a fancy party…and special options to let the Game Master decide what the central secrets of the adventure really are, to make it work with as wide a range of published or homebrew settings as possible. It’s for Level 1 characters.

Both setting books also include adventures for new characters, though these don’t have a choose-your-own premise option.

The World of Lazarus scenario “Taking the Stone,” is firmly set during the rule of the families, decades after Year X, but can be adjusted based on which of the setting’s campaign models you employ—and whether you’re a serf or one of the elite.

Threefold’s included adventure, “Identity,” takes characters across multiple planes of existence to deal with transdimensional political intrigue, bound in the question of what it means to have a soul.

Modern AGE Missions Modern AGE Missions: Feral Hogs

The Modern AGE Missions series presents a variety of adventures, some of which might appear in any modern setting, and some of which are more specific. These adventures are not necessarily connected, and can be dropped into your game, or used as the anchor for a campaign if you expand them. The first two were developed by me, while the rest come courtesy of Meghan Fitzgerald.

Warflower: Sudden, strange violence at an auction leads to the disappearance of a late medieval book on warfare and alchemy. Who took the Warflower, and why? And who gets killed with a sword nowadays? Like “A Speculative Venture,” Warflower lets the GM choose the ultimate secret behind it all. For characters levels 1 to 4.

Feral Hogs: A pop-culture infused apocalyptic ATV-riding, meshback-wearing fever dream. The end came with mutagenic chemicals, abundant energy drinks, pyramids of cardboard boxes, and of course, 30-50 mutant feral hogs, running into your yard. And what will you do when they come? Huh? HUH? For characters levels 1 to 4.

Flight 1701: A routine flight turns into humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial life—and first trip to an alien biosphere. The passengers and crew must work together to discover what happened, communicate with an alien species, and figure out a way to get back home. The decisions they make may alter the course of human civilization forever—and like Warflower, its central secrets are up to the GM. For characters levels 5 to 8.

Assault on the Aerie: A skilled strike team must find a way to breach the defenses of a nigh-impenetrable mountain fortress, rescue the hostages inside, stop a threat to humanity, and get out alive. That alone would be hard enough, but the mystical wards and magical creatures standing in their way makes the mission all the more dangerous. Assault on the Aerie is designed to be suitable for characters between levels 13-15, showcasing Modern AGE in the urban fantasy genre. It provides multiple paths for the Game Master to follow, allowing it to stand on its own or fit into a larger campaign.

Infinity and More

We’re expecting at least one more Modern AGE Missions adventure. Beyond that, we have the Five & Infinity adventure series for the Threefold setting. We’ve presented the individual adventures before, but at Gen Con we’ll be premiering the collected series alongside special tools to generate stories and even planes of existence. I’ll talk about that another time. If you’re headed to Gen Con, check it and the rest of Modern AGE out at Booth 101.

Modern AGE, Four Years On: Our Modern Worlds

In my last article, I talked about the state of the Modern AGE line as we move into its fifth year. I started out by dividing the line into two loose categories and exploring the first, of “core” book releases. While Modern AGE is completely playable with the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook, the other releases I placed into the core category assemble numerous tools and ideas to customize the system generally, and to suit the worlds you invent.

But Modern AGE has worlds of its own which you can use as-is, or to influence settings of your own creation. In fact, we have various degrees of setting material, ranging from loose outlines to entire setting books.
The Threefold worlds of Modern AGE

Core Inspiration

In Modern AGE, we try to provide concrete examples so that you have something to work from. The Modern AGE Basic Rulebook talks about settings and genres in general terms, but subsequent books get more detailed.

Chapter 9 of the Modern AGE Companion offers firmer outlines of the possible settings associated with various genres, including the age of sail, 1800s gothic horror tales, 1950s UFO sci-fi, 1960s spy-fi, and modern or near future cyberthrillers. These treatments include recommended rules, sketches of settings, and possible NPCs of interest. The rest of the book provides ways to customize the game for these and other settings.

Chapter 7 of the upcoming Modern AGE Powers book also features outlines for supernatural and other power-filled worlds, from the mystic martial arts of “Immortal Ring,” the modern sorcery of “Phoenix Band,” and more, all in a book that gives you the “crunch” of powers as well, and strong guidance on how to use them in your own worlds. I can’t wait to share it with you.

In addition, Modern AGE has two full-on setting books. Each requires nothing more than the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook.

World of Lazarus for Modern AGEWorld of Lazarus

Created by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, the Lazarus comic (with follow-ups including Lazarus X + 66 and Lazarus: Risen), World of Lazarus introduces the world after Year X, when governments have collapsed and the families behind the world’s mightiest corporations and political influence blocs take over, effectively reinstituting feudalism. These ruling families use various forms of human enhancement, from cybernetics to gene alteration, to create the Lazari, champions who settle disputes on their families’ behalf.

The World of Lazarus setting book isn’t just about Lazari, however, though the book provides in-depth rules for playing them. You can play wasteland renegades, desperate serfs, or privileged members of the Families, navigating a world with notes of cyberpunk, post-apocalyptic fiction, near-future military technothrillers, and feudal intrigue.

In addition to the setting book, individual issues of the Lazarus: Risen comic include expansions to the new rules in World of Lazarus, written by World of Lazarus developer Crystal Frasier.

Modern AGE: Threefold. Infinite worlds and possibilitiesThreefold

Intended to be the “flagship,” or exemplar setting for Modern AGE, Threefold is a vast setting designed to make use of the game’s full potential. Threefold contains notes of cyberpunk, cosmic horror, and portal fantasy, as it reveals Earth is one of many inhabited worlds in the Metacosm, an array of universes primarily linked by gates.

Threefold’s stories center on the exploits of the Sodality, explorers, diplomats, and agents of utopian democracy that spans multiple planes of existence, as well as the operations of Aethon, cybernetically enhanced operatives who shape alternate universes to, perhaps, produce a transcendental AI. These aren’t our only options, however. You might want to play a renegade psychic, defending their guild from families who treat psychic powers as a divine right. Maybe you want to be a plane-crossing mercenary, or a disoriented, semi-human wizard, stuck in our modern world. Threefold provides the greatest possible scope for characters in Modern AGE, including rules for cybernetics, the supernatural, and strange ancestries.

Characters explore Earths with alternate histories, Otherworlds, where magic reigns, and the Netherworlds, ruled by demonic forces. The planes are countless, and Threefold uses them to allow virtually any adventure and genre, but unlike many multiverse settings, there are strong core factions and influences that drive stories, such as the rebel hell-conquering soldiers of the Nighthost, or the tyrannical demigods of the Divine Empire. If you want a taste (and an introduction to Modern AGE generally), try the Threefold Quickstart for free!

In addition to the setting book, Threefold gains an adventure collection this summer, as the combined and expanded Five and Infinity adventure series is due to premiere at or around Gencon. Five adventures take characters through multiple worlds, and levels 1 to 16. A capstone chapter includes table-based tools to outline further adventures, and even generate new planes of existence in the Threefold Metacosm.

From Worlds to Stories

This article was originally going to talk about Modern AGE’s adventures as well, but as things are already running a little long, I’ll save it for next time. Until then? I’m going to recommend you check out Threefold in play (YouTube playlist) by the Fresh Out the Box (Twitch.tv) crew. Cheers!

Modern AGE, Four Years On: The Creative Core

Modern AGE is four years old! It was released back in June 2018, ahead of its formal debut at Gencon of that year. Building on the ideas of Fantasy AGE, Modern AGE was designed to work within the 200+ year span of the “modern era,” up to the near future. This was a bigger challenge than you might think. Especially in gaming, the fantasy genre has a lot of standard conventions and default assumptions. But there’s no “modern genre,” but several, from urban fantasy, and pulp adventure, to Noir, and espionage thrillers.

The core of Modern AGE includes several rulebooks to customize your games

The multiplicity of possible games shaped Modern AGE into the most customizable manifestation of the Adventure Game Engine, where we provide the most options to adjust fundamentals. Once you understand Modern AGE is this kind of creative platform, it should, I hope, make you feel bold enough to tweak it until it’s just right for your table—but if you want a more straightforward experience, we don’t demand you do it. Don’t worry, it still works straight from the store.

These features have driven the line’s development ever since. We can roughly split Modern AGE into “core” releases, designed as creative toolkits, and supplements that provide a more specific play experience in the form of settings and adventures. This time around, let’s talk about core Modern AGE.

Core Modern AGE

Modern AGE Basic Rulebook: This is the essential rulebook for the game and despite being in the “core” category, doesn’t require anything else except for your campaign ideas.

Modern AGE Game Master’s Kit: Screen and reference materials to accompany the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook

Modern AGE Companion: Expanded tools and options covering new character options, custom systems for numerous situations such as inventions and duels, campaign events, extraordinary powers—this should be your first pick when you want to tailor Modern AGE into a bespoke rules set. “Sibling” of the Modern AGE Mastery Guide.

Modern AGE Enemies & Allies: Friends and foes separated by genre, along with genre supporting systems, for modern fantasy, horror, action and espionage, crime dramas, and near future science fiction.

Modern AGE Mastery Guide: A guide for Game Masters and players, too, featuring advice for both sides of the GM’s screen before presenting a host of new rules options as a “sibling” to the Modern AGE Companion. This includes updates to rules from the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook that we developed after a few years of additional play.

Modern AGE Cyberpunk Slice: A distillation of reworked and new rules covering numerous aspects of the cyberpunk genre, from classic 80s stories to the latest takes on it. Artificial life, cybernetic enhancements, AI, automation, corporate branding, drones, powered armor—it’s here, in a compact, settingless rules supplement.

Modern AGE Powers cover!

Did you see this preview of the upcoming Modern AGE Powers cover!?

UPCOMING—Modern AGE Powers: This book has been written, and it is currently waiting its turn for release. While the Modern AGE Companion provides new options for extraordinary powers, Modern AGE Powers collects and expands that previous material, and adds new options for magic, psychic disciplines, inherent extraordinary powers, rituals, gifts from unusual ancestries, freeform thaumaturgy, and an enormous catalog of extraordinary items with supernatural, scientific, or just plain weird origins.

Beyond the Core

Next time, we’ll talk about the setting and adventure focused releases for Modern AGE, covering two settings and multiple adventures. But while we’re still talking about the core, let me ask you this: What would you like to see released as the next creative toolkit? A new genre done in the style of Cyberpunk Slice? A full-fledged hardcover on how to design a modern city to play in? I keep an eye on social media and will read what you have to say. For now, though, I hope you’re getting inspired and playing. Cheers!

Neon Shadows

Modern AGE Cyberpunk Slice

Available NOW!

TL;DR – So can I use Cyberpunk Slice with Modern AGE to (ahem) run an urban fantasy cyberpunk game? YES! Grab both books (and maybe Modern AGE Companion while you’re at it) and you’ll rock it!

With the release of Cyberpunk Slice for Modern AGE, AGE System players have a new resource for creating campaigns and finally have an answer to that oft-asked question: “Can I run a cyberpunk urban fantasy campaign using AGE?” To which the answer is very much “Yes! I’m glad you asked.”

Having had some experience with the notion of cyberpunk urban fantasy myself, I’ve given the notion some thought and wanted to share with you the key elements for your Modern AGE cyber-fantasy campaign, what I refer to here as Neon Shadows:

Backgrounds

You’re probably going to want to grab the optional backgrounds from Chapter 1 of the Modern AGE Companion, particularly the Dwarf, Elf, Human, and Orc, if your setting includes various fantasy heritages, or people manifesting the traits of fantasy beings. Feel free to add-on to this as you see fit for your setting: Shapeshifters, Spirit-Bloods…more? Why not? Take particular note of the sidebar in the book about adapting Fantasy AGE backgrounds to Modern AGE before you yank them wholesale out of your Fantasy AGE books, as there are some differences.

The ancestries from Threefold (Arvu, Dreygur, Huldra, and Jana) might be useful inspiration, but keep in mind that ancestries supplement backgrounds rather than replacing them per se: You can mix-and-match ancestry and background traits, and might want to allow the same for backgrounds in your Neon Shadows campaign, allowing for Bohemian Elves, Dwarf Laborers, or Urban Orcs, to name just a few examples.

Neon Shadows as Cyber Urban Fantasy

Professions

You are going to want to augment the options from Modern AGE with the professions in Cyberpunk Slice, particularly Hacker, Operator, Assassin, and Personality for your Neon Shadows game. Ditto the various cyberpunk-specific Drives and ability focuses, depending on the availability of tech in your game. Intelligence (Streetwise) is pretty much a must.

Talents

Cybercombat talent? (That’s combat using various cybernetic augmentations.) Virtual Combat talent? (That’s combat inside of a digital virtual reality.) Yes, please! You’re going to want some (if not all) of the talents in Cyberpunk Slice to go with the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook. There are many of them devoted to making your character badass. In particular, don’t overlook the Kinetic talent, what sometimes gets called a “street soldier” or “street samurai,” just in case you were wondering where that was under Professions previously.

Equipment

Ah, the gear. There’s plenty of stuff in Cyberpunk Slice before you even get to the implants and augmentations: guns (smart and otherwise), ammo, armor, drones, vehicles, grenades, and more. Everything you need to kit-out your characters. Monofilament whips? Of course! Are they dangerous to use? Of course!

Then (of course) there are the actual augmentations. Modern AGE players who have read Threefold have an inkling of what awaits in Chapter 3 of Cyberpunk Slice, but with quite a bit more. A medium augmentation campaign (with a starting capacity of 2) suits Neon Shadows pretty well, as most characters are going to have augmentations of some sort. Breakdown or some type of Complications tend to suit those who go over their capacity for augmentation.

There’s no strict rule in Modern AGE that says tech and magic don’t mix, so you can make the cyber-arcanist of your dreams, if you want. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer that augmentations weaken arcane power, pick one of the following options:

  • Arcanists add their total slots in augmentations to the Target Numbers of their arcana, to their cost, or both.
  • Arcanists subtract their total slots in augmentations from their Magic Points, and from the MP they gain each level, with a minimum of 1 or even 0 MP gained!
  • Augmented arcanists lose 1d6 MP per slot of augmentations per day and have to recover those lost MP normally, in addition to any they expend on their arcana.

Powers

Naturally, it’s not a cyber-fantasy campaign without some magic, so you can include any or all of the various arcana from the Modern AGE Basic Rulebook as well as Modern AGE Companion and Threefold as well, if you’d like. Decide how prevalent you want arcana to be in your campaign: Do lots of people sling spells or is it just a select few? How is the world dealing with these arcanists?

What’s more, decide if there are any other extraordinary powers available in your Neon Shadows campaign. Are there psychic adepts? If not, you can just ignore psychic powers, or else turn them into arcana also available to spell-casters. Perhaps psychics are occultists as described in Threefold, giving them a different flavor of magical power, rather than science-fiction psionics as such.

You can even use the enhancements from Modern AGE Companion, Threefold, and Cyberpunk Slice for more than just technological augmentations: Some people might be exceptionals with supernatural powers, essentially fantasy or mythic abilities. They might be “advancements” of their ancestry or magical birthrights or blessings or some kind. Perhaps there are “paragons” who focus their magical potential inward and develop the kinds of enhancements otherwise granted by implants and modifications, making them the fantasy equivalents of cybernetic street samurai and biotech stealth assassins, to name a few. There may even be a magical equivalent to capacity—and penalties for exceeding it—in the setting, distinct from the effects of augmentations. Just turn some of the augmentations in Cyberpunnk Slice into magical equivalents, either from focusing inherent magic inwards or even weirder implants using magically-animated materials or grafts of body parts or organs from fantasy creatures.

Modern AGE Cyberpunk Slice is also available on DrivethruRPG!

A Slice of Cyberpunk Temptation, Coming for Modern AGE

Cyberpunk Slice for Modern AGE

COMING VERY SOON!

Cyberpunk is one of the most popular genres in roleplaying games. Sitting as it does between the modern era and classic spaceships and aliens SF (though some cyberpunk, such as Schismatrix and Altered Carbon, incorporate those elements too), it’s a natural fit for Modern AGE. I was hesitant to add cyberpunk to Modern AGE because of its world-influencing history, and its shift from cutting-edge, to cliché, to parts of reality. How do I fit it all in?

I finally satisfied myself by realizing that I don’t have to. Cyberpunk is a pervasive enough genre that I don’t need to dig into all its historical, technological, and personal resonances, because you’re already confronting them yourself.

Therefore, we’re just putting the finishing touches on Modern AGE Cyberpunk Slice, a compressed, 50ish page PDF treatment of the genre’s essentials:

  • Futuristic technology, from exoskeletons to guided bullets
  • Cyberspace
  • Augmentation through cybernetics
  • Body swapping and consciousness transfer
  • Options for Player Character androids and other synthetic beings
  • New backgrounds and professions for a desperate, technology-drenched future
  • New character options, from the Virtual Combat focus to anti-technology Wrecker fighting style, and the street soldier called the Kinetic

Cyberpunk Slice uses some elements from previous cyberpunk-adjacent work in the Modern AGE Companion and Threefold, but significantly extends and customizes them for the genre. That way it remains interoperable with previous material without being redundant.

Is this all we’ll do in the genre? I don’t know, but I am certain that this supplement is what a vocal segment of Modern AGE gamers have wanted for a while. It’s coming very soon—I submitted proofing notes just recently—and we’ll make some noise when it happens.

Eldritch Workings and the Powers of Cthulhu Awakens

Eldritch Workings

Art by Maurice Risulmi

 

Cthulhu Awakens provides three options for characters seeking extraordinary powers. First, the Inhuman Legacy talent represents individuals who discover they’ve inherited certain strange characteristics. They might be related to ghouls, Deep Ones, or some other weird lineage.

Second, some humans and other entities possess psychic disciplines, giving them the ability to alter other minds or the environment through force of will. Those of you familiar with Modern AGE will find some aspects familiar, but not others. Some powers have been changed, and instead of spending points or rolling for fatigue, psychics make a Power Test and Price Test—and the latter can have unpredictable consequences. Still, it’s an option for characters seeking a straightforward taste of supernatural might.

But the strongest “magic” of all can be found in eldritch workings, though these straddle the boundaries between science, magic, and what might be considered a form of ritual worship, while truly being none of these, as each working represents reaching out into the unknowable for power. All eldritch workings are lengthier actions that utilize challenge tests, but they do not require characters to invest in them as abilities, though they can do so to make casting easier. Anyone can pick up a copy of the Necronomicon and if they can understand it well enough to follow instructions, they can absolutely attempt the workings within. Eldritch workings are, of course, horrendously powerful—balance takes a back seat to ripping apart the laws of nature for story reasons, as you’ll see in the following example, with annotations in italics.

Hyperbolic Rotation (Generic name of the working; it can have other specific names)

Geometry (Praxis, or category it belongs to)

This working envisions local spacetime as a hyperbolic manifold, a curved plane wrapped around itself so that the Unseen Dimensions act as a vessel for perceptible dimensions. Rotating this structure can distort the relationship between two points in space, putting them closer together or further apart.

Rote Test: Intelligence (Physics), Intelligence (Computers), Intelligence (Electronics), TN 15 (rolls for challenge tests)

Alienation Test: Phenomena, TN 16 (Alienation Rest required for casters)

Interval: Medium (one minute) (How long each roll in the challenge tests uses up)

Trappings: 1) Top of the line computer loaded with dedicated software 2) Electrically-powered gyroscope 3) Silver wire that must be placed and anchored around the target area in specific configurations (examples of components and conditions required, which may differ based on text and altered by skilled casters)

Effect: In an area with a radius of up to 50 yards per casting rank, the caster can designate a number of alternate spatial relationships equal to their Intelligence + casting rank, with points of intersection no larger than 4 square yards each, though several can be combined for a larger single intersection. This can cause a stretch of road to wrap around itself, or a door on one floor of a building to open to a room on a different floor—or in mid-air. All points must exist within the working’s radius. Within the duration, the caster can use an Activate minor action to shift one spatial relationship with range of their senses so that, for example, they can walk through a door to one destination, then ensure the next person who passes through it goes somewhere else.

This working’s effects last one hour per casting rank.

Magister Effect: It no longer requires an Activate action to shift a spatial relationship. Furthermore, at this rank the caster can fix one or more spatial relationships within the effect duration so that they become permanent, but they can no longer be shifted at will except by another casting of hyperbolic rotation. (When a character has special expertise in the working, they can accomplish this.)

Doom: The working’s area of effect vanishes from normal spacetime, with plausible environmental features filling in the gap. The area of effect now exists in a time and location of the Game Master’s choosing, such as 100 years ago, Antarctica, or Yuggoth, taking any occupants with it. (The potential result of a miscast working.)

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.