Tag Archive for: RPG

Revelations of the Bacchae, the GM’s Kit, and DREADCRAWLS: New(ish) Releases for Cthulhu Awakens!

Cthulhu Awakens, the AGE RPG of confronting Mythos horror across the Weird Century, entered electronic release last October—but since then, we’ve released more for the game, with ambitious plans for 2024! Here we go:

Revelations of the Bacchae for Cthulhu Awakens

Revelations of the Bacchae (PDF, Roll20)

Revelations of the Bacchae presents expanded notes on the Cthulhu Awakens actual play session of the same name, run by Ian Lemke during the Cthulhu Awakens Kickstarter campaign. Note that this is not a full scenario—well, not completely. Instead, the basic notes used to run the game have been cleaned up a bit and presented for your perusal or use, as you see fit. This development process means it may vary from the adventure as presented, as elements of improvisation are “set into stone.”

Revelations of the Bacchae is set in the modern day, but with adjustments can be situated earlier. The latest time-dependent element is from 1996, but the exact date isn’t important.

PDF GM's Kit for Cthulhu Awakens


Cthulhu Awakens Game Master’s Kit (PDF)

The Cthulhu Awakens Game Master’s Kit is a collection of resources that helps you smoothly deliver terror and adventure to your players. It provides a PDF with 3 Game Master’s screen panels that displays stunts and other essential information. The quick reference card PDF provides further assistance with commonly used rules, and the combat tracker helps you organize the action.

The true secrets of the Game Master’s Kit are revealed in Unexpurgated Texts, a PDF booklet detailing a dozen fell grimoires and their modern counterparts, each in an expanded, 2-page format listing the eldritch workings and other strange secrets each of them contains.

Dreadcrawls PDF 'zine for Cthulhu Awakens

DREADCRAWLS #0: Strange Places (PDF)

Mountains of madness, cave complexes inhabited since before history, and secret temples under moldering ruins are all part of the Mythos horror genre. With DREADCRAWLS #0: Strange Places, you can generate these bizarre, haunted locations with a few dice rolls and simple decisions. From underground complexes to hyper-dimensional locales folded into non-Euclidean shapes, create haunted lairs for the Mythos with a tried-and-true old school, table-based method.

DREADCRAWLS is the official zine for Cthulhu Awakens, the AGE roleplaying game of Mythos horror, across the Weird Century.

More Horror?

Some of these have been mentioned before, specifically for the Roll20 edition, as Jonesy talks about here. Read about Cthulhu Awakens’ full-featured Roll20 version.

Furthermore, we have four more supplements in various stages of development, so rest assured, there’s support here, and support coming. We’ll tell you when!

Taking Advantage


Advantages with Valiant Heroes

Advantages are traits in the Mutants & Masterminds system that fall in-between Skills and Powers, particular edges or resources characters have, often letting them bend the rules in specific ways under particular circumstances. Valiant Adventures includes many familiar Advantages from the M&M core rules, along with some that have been updated in various ways, and a few new advantages as well.

When we provided pre-generated characters for the Valiant Quickstart, we included descriptions of all of their Advantages. However, when we offered previews of some of the signature Valiant heroes, there wasn’t space on their character sheets to provide descriptions of all of their Advantages: For characters like Ninjak, it would have taken an extra couple of pages!

So here is a quick summary of the new Advantages the sample Valiant heroes have. The rest can be found in the Mutants & Masterminds Hero’s Handbook or Basic Hero’s Handbook. Please note that this is not final text, but a behind-the-scenes look at just a sample of what is in store in the Valiant Adventures manuscript!

Counterattack: If an opponent hits you with a Close Attack, you can use your Reaction to make an immediate Attack against them, before your Resistance Check against their attack’s Effect, if any.

Exploit Momentum: If an opponent misses you with a Close Attack, you can use your Reaction to immediately attempt a Trip Attack against them, and they do not get an opportunity to try and trip you.

Fallen Inspiration: When you are Incapacitated (including Dying or even Dead) you immediately gain a Hero Point and can then divide your current total Hero Points as you wish among any allies able to see or hear you. 

Gadgets: You have access to one (or more) Gadgets, temporary Devices. Each Rank in this Advantage lets you produce one Gadget per adventure. The Gadget can have total Effect Ranks no greater than the series Power Level and any Extras count as additional Ranks equal to the base Effect Rank. Each Gadget is good for one Scene, after which it is no longer usable, unless you expend an additional use of this Advantage. All of your uses of Gadgets reset at the start of each adventure.

Menacing Attack: If you render an opponent Incapacitated (including Dying or Dead, at the GM’s discretion) you can use your Reaction for an immediate Overwhelm Action against all Minion opponents able to see and hear you.

Opportunity Attack: When an opponent within range of your Close Attack moves, and their movement would take them out of your Close Attack range, you can use your Reaction to make an immediate Close Attack against them before they leave your range.

Power Stunt: Each Rank in this Advantage lets you perform a Power Stunt without suffering any Fatigue. All of your uses of Power Stunt reset at the start of each adventure.

Ripose: If an opponent misses you with a Close Attack, you can use your Reaction to make an immediate Close Attack against them.

Sleeper Hold: You can put a target into a hold to knock them out. Make a Close Attack Check against a target’s Parry Defense as a Standard Action. If you hit, the target must make a Fortitude Resistance Check against a DC of (10 + your Strength Rank):

  • Success: No effect.
  • Failure (one degree): The target is Dazed.
  • Failure (two degrees): The target is Stunned.
  • Failure (three degrees): The target is Asleep.

On your Turn, you can take the Concentrate Action to maintain the sleeper hold, requiring a new Resistance Check from the target. Success removes the condition imposed by the sleeper hold and the target escapes. Failure means the Effect increases by one degree until the target is asleep. Sleeping targets get a Fortitude Resistance Check each minute to wake up unless they’re deliberately awakened.

Split Attack: When you take the Attack Action, you can divide your attack between two different targets. This usually represents rapid, but less forceful, attacks in order to hit more than one target. Divide the Effect’s Rank between the two targets as you wish and make an Attack Check for each target. The attack works on each target normally at its reduced Rank.

Tactical Advance: When you impose the Dazed or Stunned Condition on an opponent, allies able to hear you can use their Reaction to move their Speed towards that opponent.

We have less than 30 hours to go, so be sure to get in on the Kickstarter Campaign before it ends tomorrow!

Valiant Views: X-O Manowar

Valiant Views: X-O Manowar

While the Valiant Adventures Quickstart gives you a feel for what it is like to play a tabletop RPG set in the Valiant Universe, due to space limits it doesn’t provide character creation info or a deeper look at some of the signature Valiant characters. In this preview, we look at Valiant’s armored powerhouse, X-O Manowar!

Aric of Dacia was a Visigoth warrior, abducted by the alien Vine, who led a slave revolt and bonded with the sacred Armor Shanhara, a Vine relic. So it’s no surprise that Aric is above-average in his physical Abilities and has formidable Fighting, having mastered most forms of close combat in his time.

His Powers are all tied up in the Shanhara armor, granting him Enhanced Strength and Toughness. The armor is Impervious to low-Rank attacks, including most common earthly weapons like guns. It takes a heavy weapon to even scratch X-O, as Earth’s armed forces learned. Even then, the armor helps Aric recover from lethal damage in minutes. X-O can fly at high speeds and even cross interstellar distances outside of an atmosphere, plus Shanhara grants him a suite of sensors and the ability to understand earthly and alien languages alike.

While Aric can be deprived of his armor, when he takes it off, Shanhara is bonded to him and comes at his call, if possible. It takes great effort to separate X-O from his armor, as many foes have learned.

X-O doesn’t have a lot of skills: Aric was and is a warrior first and foremost, relying on his Fighting more than anything else. He has knowledge of History and Military tactics and operations, he’s athletic, perceptive, and intimidating, and not much else. He has learned some leadership skills, reflected in his Advantages, but still falls back on mostly untrained Presence Checks when it comes to social skills beyond threatening people.

Speaking of Advantages, no surprise that most of the Manowar’s are combat-related. His Counterattack makes it potentially dangerous for a foe to face him in close combat (if you come for the king, you’d best not miss!), the same with his Opportunity Attack. Takedown and Menacing Attack are an effective combo to take out minions and cow the rest with an Overwhelm reaction. His Tactical Advance Advantage makes X-O dangerous as the leader of a force, since his success can allow them to move more quickly to attack their foes at his command.

Shanhara’s occasional comments and advice tend to be limited to X-O’s Senses Powers and spending a Hero Point for Insight, in which case the GM might use Shanhara as a means to offer the Manowar suggestions. Aric’s Complications note that he is a man of honor, but one from an archaic time long past, still trying to do what he sees as good with the tremendous power he has been given.

Check out the Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game on Kickstarter now!

Valiant Views: Faith!

While the
Valiant Adventures Quickstart gives you a feel for what it is like to play a tabletop RPG set in the Valiant Universe, due to space limits it doesn’t provide character creation info or a deeper look at some of the signature Valiant characters. For some additional previews, we’re looking to do just that. This Valiant View is of the high-flyiong Faith.

Faith is our first psiot character, a definite archetype in Valiant Advenutures. Psiots are people with the potential for psionic powers, harbingers of the next stage of humanity. However, at this stage, few psiots “activate” and gain powers on their own, and the process of trying to force an activation is both difficult and dangerous, often ending in the subject’s death. Faith Herbert was one of the lucky ones, and she knows it.

So, Faith’s Abilities are overall decent, but not a major element of her character. She’s smart, determined, and personable, and has learned to defend herself a bit, but all-in-all, nothing outside of the normal human range of Ability Ranks.

It’s Faith’s Powers that are the focus of her character sheet. Her psiot ability is a psychokinetic “Companion Field” that allows Faith to levitate herself and other people or things in proximity. She has since learned to extend her Companion Field to both move more distant objects and to create a kind of repulsion field to block or deflect attacks and other sources of harm. Those uses go into an Array, based on what Faith is focusing on at any given moment; her Force Field protects her, while her Shield is a wider and stronger form of protection, but largely immobile since it requires more concentration.

Of particular note is Faith’s Boundless Optimism, giving her a Bonus Die on Will Resistance Checks against certain Effects, a version of the Resistance Power that models Faith’s ability to overcome personal obstacles, along with her Advantages.

Speaking of which, Faith has some Advantages involving the use of her powers in combat, particularly Evasion, Improved Disarm, Interpose (useful for her Force Field and Shield), and Redirect. She has a Benefit for her Secret Identity for the occasions when it has come in handy, such as when Faith was accused of a crime, and related Advantages like Connected and Well-Informed for both her journalist connections and her knowing a lot of other heroes. Lastly, Faith has some interpersonal Advantages: Extraordinary Effort for her unflagging determination, Leadership representing her ability to help other people overcome obstacles, Luck for her ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and a Second Chance Advantage that goes along with resisting attempts to manipulate her or get her to give up.

Faith’s Skills mostly involve her day-to-day training as a journalist and investigator, what she has learned as a hero in the field and, most of all, her boundless knowledge of pop culture and geek subjects, which the GM should find uses for in adventures much like Faith does in the comics. Her Complications mostly revolve around Faith being a good person who wants to do good and inspire other people to be better. She’s a true hero and ray of sunshine.

Check out the Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game on Kickstarter now!

Do you Want the Power in Fantasy AGE? Well, Have It!

It’s no secret that lots of gamers are, like me, remnants of the Generation cohort who got into it during the 80s roleplaying game trend. Ah, the 80s, an era of many bad things, a few good things, and admittedly morally ambiguous things—like Saturday morning cartoons. And toy-based cartoons. These vehicles to sell toys and sugary cereals represented advertisers preying on children in a low-key fashion, though it wasn’t always so low key for their parents when we kids dutifully screamed for consumer goods—but we’ve still got good memories of them, and even the most commercial pop culture has to be attractive, and therefore interesting. Toy designers recruited comic creators. They looked at inspirations from sword and sorcery fiction. Then they mashed it up to create playsets and dolls (called “action figures” for a gendered flair when they had swords and ray guns). And we pretended to be them, or used them as a playing piece in imaginative games.

Enter the Icon: a way to play such a character in Fantasy AGE, coming soon to an unannounced project.

YOU HAVE THE POWER! As a Fantasy AGE Icon character

New Specialization: Icon

Some say icons were born of experiments conducted in an ancient fortress, whose secrets were used to fuse magic and technology. Others say the icons are an order of spiritual knights who, in communing with the universe, found the discipline to bind science and sorcery behind a single mystical archetype. They might be from a lost world at the center of the universe, or the remnants of angelic beings, who are born again within the icon. Not all icons are heroes, however. In fact, evil icons are sometimes easy to identify, because of the way icon status influences appearance, so skull-tipped staves and blood-red cloaks set them apart.

Regardless of their origins, these figures of action are defined by a techno-mystical aspect solidified in the form of mysterious vestments: special clothing and gear laced with technology and sorcery. Only an icon can use the powers of their vestments to perform extraordinary feats. These abilities fit a theme that is usually apparent by appearance of individual vestments. Vestments consisting of a pectoral plate, loincloth and sword suggest an untamed warrior, while robes and an animal headdress might belong to a sorceress who channels the power of a god the animal represents.

Consequently, an icon is often best known by a name that refers to their powers and appearance. A demonic soldier with three horns might be known as “Tri-Horn,” for instance. It may seem to be a simple nickname, but that’s enough to earn the respect and fear of those who know the power of icons.

Class: Any

Requirements: 3 or higher in one of your class’s primary abilities.

You have the power to master the universe when you take on an alternate identity.

Novice: You initiate yourself into the path of the icon. You acquire techno-magical vestments. These only work for you, and while they can be stolen, you always know what direction to find them in, or even if they’ve been taken to another world. You may include up to 100 sp of non-perishable equipment with your vestments, including armor and weapons.

When you wear your vestments, you may use a minor action to prepare a stunt you select when you gain this power that normally costs you 2 SP, so that you can use for 0 SP on your next action (assuming it succeeds) without having to score doubles or spend stunt points, though you gain the normal benefits of both. This stunt must fit the theme and loose capabilities of your vestments, but it can be a basic stunt or class stunt. If the selected stunt proves to be a poor fit, you can swap it for another the next time you gain a level.

Expert: Your icon abilities grow. You may use the Novice benefit, under the same conditions, for another stunt that normally costs you 3 SP. You must use a separate minor action to activate each free stunt, however. You must also select an iconic name. This name acts as an honorific while you wear your vestments. Finally, when you’re wearing your vestments, you can choose to cause them to conceal your identity. As a free action that can only be rescinded by removing your vestments, you can make them a disguise with a TN of 10 + your Willpower to penetrate, allowing you to keep a secret identity.

Master: A lord among icons, your enemies tremble when they see you in your vestments. You may use the Novice benefit, under the same conditions, for an additional stunt that normally costs you 4 SP, though again, activating each free stunt is a separate minor action. Furthermore, you may summon from or dismiss your vestments to another dimension as a minor action. You choose whether to summon your vestments to appear on you, or adjacent to you. If they appear on you, anything that you could not wear with them is shunted to the alternate dimension until you dismiss your vestments again.


Robots, in Fantasy AGE? If only the Icon was here to save us!

But Wait, There’s More

Like I said, the icon is one of a number of brand-new specializations coming to an upcoming unannounced Fantasy AGE project—the second in a row I’ve been working on. If you checked out Fantasy AGE Trojan War you’ll have a sense of the probable format, but that’s all I can say for now. Let us know if you like these peeks at what we’re doing. Cheers!


Valiant Worlds for Mutants & Masterminds

 Valiant Adventures Roleplaying, Worlds of Valiant

When the DC Adventures RPG premiered with what would be the Third Edition of the Mutants & Masterminds game system, it was the only version of that edition available. The stand-alone Third Edition Hero’s Handbook wouldn’t come along until the following year. But with the Valiant Adventures RPG, using a modified version of the M&M system funding on Kickstarter now, long-time players of the Third Edition may ask themselves “Can I just use Worlds of Valiant as an M&M setting sourcebook? Do I really need the new rulebook, if all I want is the Valiant setting and characters?”

The simple answer is: You don’t need the Valiant Adventures Hero’s Handbook to get use out of the Worlds of Valiant as a setting sourcebook for your Third Edition M&M rulebook(s). Worlds will contain the bulk of the information on Valiant characters and their different corners of the universe. While Valiant does make some minor adjustments to the Third Edition rules to better suit the setting, the material in Worlds will still be quite usable. The notable areas of “translation” are:

Skills: Valiant breaks a few M&M skills into smaller sub-skills; Technology into Computers, Electronics, and Mechanics, for example, or Vehicles into Driving and Piloting. Still, the names of the skills are quite self-explanatory, and you can use them as-given in the Valiant write-ups, or translate them back to their M&M equivalents on-the-fly quite easily.

Advantages: The largest number of new character traits in Valiant Adventures are advantages, many of them based on the rules options introduced there. If a Valiant character write-up has an advantage not in the Third Edition Mutants & Masterminds Hero’s Handbook, you can just ignore it, but getting and using those advantages (in Valiant or in your regular M&M game) is one good reason to pick up the Valiant Hero’s Handbook.

Powers: A few powers—notably Healing and Regeneration—are a bit different in Valiant, to go with the adjustments to Damage and Damage Resistance to suit the Valiant Universe setting. That said, their Ranks remain essentially the same, and you can easily convert them to their M&M equivalents, if you want. We’re also looking at presenting powers in Valiant write-ups a bit differently, with more prose explanations of what a character’s powers are along with the game-system notation of their Effects. This is more a change in presentation than mechanics, however, so it doesn’t really affect the write-ups’ usability—if anything, we hope it increases it!

The other things about character stats: Abilities, Ranks, Defenses, and so forth are all the same in Valiant as in M&M Third Edition, as you can easily see by taking a look at the characters in the Valiant Adventures Quickstart. We’ll also be showing off some sample Valiant heroes soon so you can get a sense for what the Worlds book will offer and how useful it will be to you. Take a look and … Stay Valiant!

Valiant Adventures RPG: Playmat Breakdown

The Valiant Adventures Playmat!

Hello heroes! Of the new products coming for the Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game, I am most excited for the playmat! I conceived of this neoprene mat almost as a player-facing Gamemaster’s screen. I wanted a central location for players to find all of the reference material they needed at a glance. Things like what Hero Points and Extra Effort can be used for, a space for the new Condition Cards, somewhere to keep track of Hero Point tokens, the new Damage track, and a space to roll dice. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times now, one of my guiding design philosophies for this game was to make it accessible to new players.

I also wanted to take an opportunity to encourage mindfulness in gameplay. There are 4 Condition Card slots and 5 Hero Point slots on the mat, something I chose rather deliberately. I wanted GM’s to see those 5 Hero Point spots and think about filling them throughout the course of a game session. Hero Points are meant to be awarded often in this game. They play a substantial role in allowing PCs to contribute to the group storytelling at the heart of tabletop RPGs and enable PCs to pull off legendary shenanigans that will be the talk of your group for years to come. Gamemasters, please give out more during your games, I promise they will make things more fun for your players and for you.

I also wanted players to see the four Condition Card slots near the list of actions to encourage them to experiment in combat. Exchanging bruises until someone is unconscious is a perfectly great way to approach combat, but there are so many other options in Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game for standard actions and attacks. You can try to overwhelm an opponent to force them to do something you want them to, trip them to make it easier for people to attack them up close, inflict the Impaired Condition through an Affliction to make all of their rolls worse, the possibilities are endless!

There was a little bit of pushback about the mat. It’s not a traditional tabletop RPG product and conceptually it was hard to visualize. However, once people saw the final design it became a “I didn’t know I wanted that, but I definitely do now,” moment. I hope that is something many of you experienced as well and I can’t wait to see these mats in my home and con games!

Condition Cards Breakdown!

Condition Cards for Valiant Adventures Roleplaying

Hello Heroes! Now that we’re fully into the Kickstarter I wanted to write up some updates about all of the fun add-ons we’re including in this campaign. Mutants & Masterminds is a game that has a lot of moving parts and one of the things I really wanted to add to the game for Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game was a collection of physical items that help with keeping track of everything. I started with a deck of Condition Cards because we already had one of those for M&M, but I knew it was going to need to be updated to reflect the changes we’ve made to some of the Conditions. These are meant to streamline the process of debuffing heroes and villains alike without having to go to the rulebook every time you need to remember the penalties of Compelled or Defenseless.

I did divide the conditions into two categories: Common and Uncommon to reflect Conditions that come up a lot in a given combat and some that are a little more character specific. Here is the breakdown for the two lists:

Common Conditions

  • Fatigued
  • Exhausted
  • Dazed
  • Stunned
  • Surprised
  • Incapacitated
  • Dying
  • Wounded

Uncommon Conditions

  • Prone
  • Compelled
  • Restrained
  • Transformed
  • Hindered
  • Blind
  • Deaf
  • Disabled
  • Impaired
  • Immobile
  • Defenseless
  • Paralyzed
  • Asleep
  • Bound
  • Entranced
  • Debilitated
  • Vulnerable
  • Controlled
  • Weakened

We’ve come up with two versions of this deck, one for Gamemasters and one for players. The cards are sorted into two tiers: Common and Uncommon Conditions. Common Conditions have five copies of each card. Uncommon have two. Injuries and Bruises have their own category because theoretically heroes are going to be suffering a lot more of these with the new lethal and nonlethal Damage tracks.

We’ve included 15 Injuries and 15 Bruises, 40 Common Condition Cards, and 38 Uncommon Condition Cards in the GM Deck leading to a total of 108 cards in that deck. The player deck has 32 cards: 5 Injuries and Bruises and 1 of each other card.

These decks are going to make gameplay even faster for new and experienced players and I can’t wait to see them at game tables!

In our next update, we’ll take a closer look at the brand new Playmat.

And as always, Stay Valiant!

Valiant Adventures has Funded & Penny Arcade Livestream

Back Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game on Kickstarter today!

Back the Kickstarter in the first 72 hours, and receive Unity Vol 1 PDF, FREE!

I am so excited that we have finally released the Kickstarter for the Valiant Adventures Roleplaying Game! Steve and I have been working so hard for the past few years bringing this game to life and I’m so thrilled you’re excited to get your hands on it. There are so many exciting stories waiting to be told and I can’t wait for these dynamic new rules to hit your tables.

It’s been great hearing initial feedback for the Valiant Quickstart and seeing your speculation online about what our rule adaptations mean for combat, roleplaying, skills, advantages, and every other aspect of Mutants & Masterminds. I am particularly thrilled to see so many people saying that this iteration of the system will be new player friendly. One of our biggest design goals was to make the game seem more approachable, because M&M has some of the fastest, most cinematic gameplay in the industry and I see so many people never get to that point because of how intimidating character creation appears to be. The new design aesthetic for the book and the flow of information appears to be doing great work to ease some of that anxiety.

Now that we’ve funded, we need to keep pushing for those stretch goals! Steve and I have so many ideas for exciting content for this game and with your support we can see those goals realized. Please share the link around your friends and communities and let’s make this game the best that it can be!

Please remember to mention our 72 hour incentive, Unity Vol. 1 in PDF, to anyone you introduce the campaign to and tune in on today  at 1pm PST/4pm EST when I run a one shot for the amazing folks over at Penny Arcade!

Thank you everyone for your support so far and Stay Valiant!

Whatever Happened to the Next-Gen?

Whatever Happened to the Next-Gen?

Available now!

Hello heroes! I’m so excited to unveil our first Mutants & Masterminds release of 2024, an Astonishing Adventure titled Whatever Happened to the Next-Gen. We wanted to start off the new year with something that speaks to Earth-Prime’s extensive history and to finally answer a couple of questions about what the 2e Next-Gen have been up to as time has moved on. This adventure catches up with a ton of fan favorites: Sonic, Nereid, and the Alterniteens, and gives players a chance to bridge the gap between their Claremont Academy PCs and the alumni.

It also features the nefarious machinations of Dr. Sin, the villainous organization he has built, and the intense rivalry between him and Duncan Summers. I love how many classic elements of Earth-Prime’s history collide in this story. There is a classic hero versus ninja in a tea shop fight that feels like it’s pulled right out of the vigilante handbook—more on that soon. The Amalgam even gets to make an appearance, which never happens! It is a PL 8 adventure, intended for characters who attend the Claremont Academy, but can certainly be adapted to other street-level or teen heroes easily enough.

One of the things I’m most excited about however, is that this is the debut publication for a new writer to Mutants & Masterminds, Aaron Einhorn. I am always grateful for the chance to bring new writers into the Earth-Prime fold and I can’t wait to see what else he does going forward. You can pick up Whatever Happened to the Next-Gen at Roll20, Drivethrurpg, or our webstore today!