Ronin Roundtable: The Six of Swords

 

The Adventure Gaming Engine (AGE System) edition of Blue Rose: The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy is now in the hands of backers of the Kickstarter and available through distribution in fine game stores everywhere. As readers digest the contents of that sizable book, those looking to run a new Blue Rose game of their own need only one additional resource: Adventures! The Blue Rose book provides a sample adventure (“The Shadows of Tanglewood” by Steven Jones) and a wealth of adventure hooks and ideas, but for an ongoing series, Narrators are going to want additional adventure resources. Fortunately, we’ve anticipated their needs.

The new Six of Swords adventure anthology offers a set of six adventures for Blue Rose, complete stories including important characters, setting information, and all of the material a Narrator needs to run them.

  • The Mistress of Gloamhale Manor pits the heroes against the ghostly inhabitants of a haunted mansion in a search for the truth.
  • The Sixth Beast offers an opportunity to prevent war between factions in an outlying region of Aldis.
  • The Night Market sends the envoys into the dark depths of the Veran Marsh and the heart of the criminal underworld to recover a valuable arcane artifact.
  • A Harvest of Masks begins with mysterious abductions from Aldin villages near the wilderness of the Pavin Weald. Who are the masked abductors and what do they want?
  • Storms Over Kamala finds the heroes out on the wild Plains of Rezea to challenge the forces that have claimed a witch’s ancient homeland.
  • A Wanton Curse is set at a high society masked ball in a castle on Gravihain Eve, the Aldin equivalent of Halloween. What dark secrets are some of the guests concealing?

Most of the adventures are pitched toward low-level heroes, working from 1st level up through the upper low levels. The last couple adventures are intended for mid- and high-level heroes, both for Narrators who want to start out with a higher level game, and to offer examples of such adventures for a series as it grows and develops. Each adventure should be good for multiple sessions of game play, and most feature mysteries and character interaction alongside action and combat encounters.

The adventures cover a wide range of locations and styles, from the depths of the Veran Marsh to the open grasslands of the Plains of Rezea and the deep woodlands of northern Aldis. Adversaries range from criminal syndicates to corrupt sorcerers, vengeful spirits, and terrible unliving creatures like vampires.

We think this format provides a nice combination of adventures usable right out of the book and varied locations and plots. If Six of Swords does well, it may be a model for future Blue Rose adventure collections. We’re looking forward to offering other adventures and source material for the Romantic Fantasy role playing game and the fantastic world of Aldea.

ENnie Awards Voting Open and ENnie Awards Sale

We are pleased and humbled to be nominated for eight ENnie Awards this year. We’ve included a list of our nominations at the bottom of this post.

2017 ENnies voting is now open

In our excitement about the ENnies we placed several products on sale in our Green Ronin Online Store. Please check out our 2017 ENnie Awards Sale.

Our nominations are for:

Best Adventure:
Dragon’s Hoard
Best Art, Cover:
Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy
Best Monster/Adversary:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Fantasy AGE Bestiary
Best RPG Related Product:
Cinema and Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film
Best Setting:
Atlas of Earth-Prime
Best Supplement:
Cosmic Handbook
Product of the Year:
Atlas of Earth-Prime

As always, sincere congratulations to our fellow nominees, and thank you to all who worked on these products, all who vote, and everyone else we may have forgotten to list.

The Lost Citadel Countdown

The clock is counting down on Kickstarter for The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying. Thanks to our amazing backers, we fully funded in 24 hours, and have been knocking down stretch goal after stretch goal.

Six of Swords Blue Rose Adventure Anthology Pre-Order and PDF

We have opened up pre-ordering for Six of Swords, an adventure anthology for Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy. Pre-order the physical book through our Green Ronin Online Store, and we’ll offer you the PDF version for just $5 during checkout.

If you’d rather support your local retailer, you can ask them to sign up for our GR Pre-Order Plus program. When you pre-order through a participating brick-and-mortar retailer, they will give you a coupon code so you can get the PDF from us for just $5.

Six of Swords is an adventure anthology for Blue Rose. Set in the fantastic world of Aldea, these six adventures provide Narrators with ready-to-go scenarios for characters of various levels. They include ruined mansions, masquerade balls, vampiric curses, mysterious masks, sorcerous secrets, ghostly hauntings, lost loves, looming threats, and tragic quests where heroes are called upon to make the right choices. Six of Swords has hours of adventure, excitement, and entertainment for your Blue Rose game. The Kingdom of the Blue Rose needs heroes. Will you answer the call?

The Lost Citadel Q&A Video

Jaym Gates, Nicole Lindroos, and CA Suleiman sat down together at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio, and talked about The Lost Citadel, answering some questions backers have posted to the Kickstarter project page while they were at it. Hal Mangold caught it all on video, so we can all watch and enjoy.

In other news from the City of Redoubt, we have unlocked the Double-Sided Poster Map stretch goal, and are on our way to achieving System Hack: AGE, in which we hire Gary Astleford to create a system conversion document so you can adventure in The Lost Citadel using our Adventure Game Engine as featured in Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Titansgrave, and more!

If you’d like to learn more about The Lost Citadel before (or after) backing, check out these free previews!

As always, thank you so much to all our backers (and future backers)!

The Lost Citadel—Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying

Ronin Roundtable: Enter the Modern AGE!

So, at the beginning of May, we announced we’re going to produce the World of Lazarus, a guide to roleplaying in Greg Rucka’s SF-feudal Lazarus comic series. We noted it would be a setting for the Modern AGE roleplaying game.

Yes, this means we’re making a Modern AGE game. We said so in a sort of soft, sneaky way, but today, we’re going to dig into what that means.

 

 

Modern AGE?

Modern AGE uses the Adventure Game Engine to power stories set in the “modern era,” a period we’ve designated as running from the 18th or 19th century, through the present day, and into the near future. That means guns and computers, transoceanic empires and raucous democracies, and the Cold War and beyond, into the great geopolitical realignments of our time. But it also means urban fantasy, psychic powers, conspiracies and all the speculative and strange sources that fuel modern stories.

The Adventure Game Engine is the system you first saw in the Dragon Age roleplaying game. You witnessed its evolution into Fantasy AGE with Wil Wheaton’s Titansgrave setting, and into Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy. Modern AGE might be thought of as a counterpart to Fantasy AGE, but if you’re familiar with one of these games, the rest will come easily. Modern AGE adds some new things to the system, and revises a few solid concepts to make them easier to use.

Developing the game, it’s been important to me to stick with the A.G.E. system’s core concepts: ease of play, strong tools for character development, and most of all, stunts.

Stunts and Areas of Interest

Stunts are the system’s “killer app;” where other games often struggle to integrate special actions and exceptional results, the A.G.E. system uses stunts to make them emerge during play. Modern AGE introduces some new stunts, but we also recognize the decision paralysis that can happen when doubles hit the table. That’s why we’ve designated go-to core stunts and places stunts into shorter, focused lists.

Putting stunts into categories means thinking about what characters do during the game. Accordingly, we’ve mapped out three core areas of interest: action, exploration and social play. Action encompasses combat, chases and other physical challenges. Exploration combines its counterpart in Fantasy AGE with investigation. Social play develops the “roleplaying” category, acknowledging that modern games often require heroes to present themselves properly in all the scenarios thrown up by complex contemporary cultures.

The three areas of interest act as a focus throughout Modern AGE’s design, not just stunts. Heroes with abilities covering all three can take on nearly any challenge the GM cares to throw at them.

Character and Genre Modes

Fantasy AGE presents broad classes, archetypes in that genre, and provides advancement options that allow you to lock in more specific elements over time. Modern era games don’t have the same archetypes, however, and don’t need the same niche protection vital to the feel of fantasy adventure gaming. So, we’ve gone classless. After developing a background, a profession and a drive that pushes your hero out of obscurity and into the story, you’ll select ability advancements, talents and specializations freely.

In some games, a private eye is someone who uses a car, camera and laptop to find evidence for divorces and lawsuits, while in others, they’re a two-fisted, iron-chinned stalwart with a talent for getting tangled in murders. The difference? Genre. Not all modern games feature the same degree of realism, so we’ve included specific rules modes to fit the stories you want to play through. The three basic modes are gritty, for stories where violence is unforgiving, pulp, where a battered hero can, say, claw their way out of danger, and cinematic, where protagonists achieve the competence often reserves for fantasy heroes and the most outrageous action games. These modes affect character toughness and stunt access, and guide advice you’ll read throughout the book.

And Beyond

In upcoming columns, I’ll talk more about Modern AGE’s design foundations, and the details that make them work. Until then, let me ask you something: What clicks for you about the Adventure Game Engine RPGs you’ve played? What do you want to see down the line? I’m developing it even as we speak, and things are getting locked in, but I’d love to read your conversations–and ever so sneakily, have you spread the word that Modern AGE is coming . . .

And in a Further Manipulative Move

. . . oh wait. It’s not all about me. While you should indeed talk about Modern AGE until it’s a breakfast cereal, I have been reminded that our Kickstarter for The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying is in full swing. I was actually one of the authors in the short story collection that inaugurated this shared world, which we’re transforming into a setting for 5th Edition roleplaying. But if you’re an Adventure Game Engine fan, know this: If we hit $32,500, we’ll unlock the A.G.E System Hack, which converts the Dead-bound Zileska setting to A.G.E family games.

And if you’re curious about the setting and stories of The Lost Citadel, we have a sample short story available for FREE on our website. Check out Requiem, In Bells, by Ari Marmell.

Ronin Roundtable: Examining Specializations

As I am working to finish the Specializations chapter for the upcoming Fantasy AGE Companion, I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about specializations.  Namely I wanted to take a look at how specializations are generally built and why they are built that way.

First and foremost it’s important to realize that specializations aren’t prestige classes or sub-classes you see in some other games.  There simply isn’t enough mechanical “oomph” in a single three tiered ability tree to cover various character elements the way a multi-level class overlay or substitution used in games like Pathfinder or D&D does.

And really? That’s okay. Because what Fantasy AGE specializations allow players to do is to combine them with talents, focuses, and other specializations to create highly customized characters.

So a specialization that makes you an expert axe-fighter, no matter how cool it is, won’t substitute for having the Axes focus. Or various talents to better swing, throw, and fight with your chosen weapon in various ways.  You will still want all of those things. And as the character advances if you decide you want to be an expert axe-fighter who is also adept at hunting down renegade sorcerers and evil mages? Well, you’re going to want to invest in the Mage Hunter specialization when you get a chance—likely customized to use Axes instead of Black Powder Weapons with its Novice rank.  Such combinations are how you build your “prestige class” for your character in Fantasy AGE, often making particular combinations of character abilities that are very distinctive and unique to most other characters around.

With these limitations and advantages to the system in mind, when designing specializations, it’s important to add mechanical elements that push a character upwards or sideways from other talents, class abilities, and the like, avoiding those things which simply replace an existing ability.  Don’t add a Novice specialization rank that takes another talent and makes it useless. On the other hand, don’t create an ability so overpowered when combined with another talent that it becomes a singular optimal build.  Neither one is particularly satisfying, and will result in specializations that are either too weak or too inflexible to be useful beyond a specific type of character.  So to use our axe-fighter example again, it’s cool to add a rank that lets you do certain stunts easier if you’re using an axe.  But don’t offer discounts on stunts that are already made easier by other talents.  That’s not a unique cool ability, its redundancy.  Likewise, don’t make an ability that’s pretty useless unless your character is dual-wielding axes, as this shuts out the character who uses two-handed, single weapon and shield, or single weapons.  This forces everyone with the specialization into basically the same or very similar builds.

Of course sometimes these rules are broken.  A specialization might be crafted with only single weapon fighting in mind or a talent ability might combine to make an expensive stunt cheap as part of a specialization’s core concept.  But in most cases, you’re better off with diverse powers and abilities that complement each other and provide neat options, instead of mere substitutions and numerical upgrades.

Also, when designing your own specializations as GMs or as players (with GM approval and aid), remember to treat specializations generally. Designing a specialization just for your PC might seem like a great idea, but it’s actually a really easy way to unbalance your character and not always in your favor!  For example, it might seem like a great idea to craft a warrior specialization that requires every strength and aptitude your PC already possesses and stacks potent abilities on top of talents and class abilities you’re already using.  But what happens if in a few levels you realize that more powerful monsters, more cunning foes, and more dangerous threats don’t fall to your “killer combos” as easily as their lower-level predecessors did.  Often, designing for more general utility within a theme is more useful and its certainly easier to apply to multiple characters in a campaign.

Azadrumoda

So with all that said, let’s look at how to build a specialization.  We talked about the Axe-fighter, so let’s give them a try.  I’m envisioning a specialized warrior, perhaps hailing from particular cultures, who are devoted to mastery of the axe in its various forms.

First this new specialization needs requirements.  These are usually relatively easy to reach, but not a foregone conclusion.  They also tend to include at least one ability score that best reflects a natural aptitude or particular physical or mental training.  In this case a few requirements are obvious. Given the concept and weapon involved, it seems like this would be a warrior-based specialization.  Also Weapon Group Axes would be required.  A focus with axes is so useful it’s hard to imagine most pursuing this specialization without it, but I’m leaving it off since it isn’t strictly required…just recommended.  To these obvious requirements I add a Strength of 2 or greater—it takes a lot of power to get and keep this sort of weapon moving effectively, especially the bigger ones.

With requirements out of the way, you need a Novice, Journeyman, and Master rank abilities.  These should match up roughly with talents or other specializations already in existence in Fantasy AGE.  For example, an ability that allowed a reduction in the cost of a stunt is roughly the same as many other talents.  A stunt cost reduction that only works in certain conditions might be a bit weak by itself, suggesting such abilities should allow for reductions in multiple stunts.  Balancing these is a bit of art and science, but with some practice it becomes fairly easy.

In the case of the axe-fighter specialization, it makes sense that even Novices would learn to always ready an axe with a free action.  However, this makes the novice level Quick Reflexes talent and Journeyman rank Thrown Weapon Style talents less useful.  So instead, let’s design an ability that reflects the ability of the fighter to throw an opponent off guard and seize an opportunity with a flurry of axe strikes.  Thus let’s say that as long as they’re using an axe on an attack, a novice rank axe-fighter can use the Seize Initiative stunt for 2 SP instead of 4.  Note: This is identical to the Scouting Journeyman talent.  But that’s a rogue talent…so it’s not rendered redundant by this warrior-only specialization.  Also, since it only works with axe attacks, it’s a bit weaker than the Scouting talent, which means making it novice rank specialization seems appropriate.

Now for the Journeyman rank.  It seems that axes are often considered to be scary because they can be used to deliver nasty blows and even glancing blows can be serious. Nobody wants to get hit by an axe and those skilled in its use are aware of this. So how to translate that into a Journeyman ability? You could give a discount on the Threaten stunt but we’ve already done a SP reduction so let’s consider an alternative tact. A Defense bonus might work, but that’s very similar to the Single-Weapon Style Talent. So instead let’s take this another way: the reason people are scared of axes is because getting hit by one is freaking horrible. Even if you armor stops most of it? It still hurts. So it makes sense Axe-Fighters can do serious damage with their axes. Again we might do a discount on Mighty Blow here that’s a Two-Handed Style rank. So instead let’s step sideways from those talents and provide a non SP discount bonus to Mighty (and Lethal) Blow and give an extra 1d6 damage when using Mighty Blow with an axe. Nasty to be sure, but it requires a particular weapon and a stunt at full cost, balancing out the effect.

Finally we have Master. Master rank Specialization qualities are at the core of the Specialization and can be quite nasty. So what’s the core of an expert axe-fighter? Striking hard and fast, keeping a foe on the defensive, and battering past armor and shields all apply here and what does that suggest? It suggests opening up a foe and finishing them off.  So what Master ability represents this? There are many options, but I’m going to go with two “lesser” abilities. First is the ability to use variant of the Disarm stunt to “hook” or bash aside a shield. This eliminates the shield bonus of a character until they take a Ready action to restore it.  The shield isn’t tossed aside like a Disarm against a weapon, but it is rendered useless for a time.   That’s pretty cool, but it only affects shields, so we should add something else. Let’s examine that against opponents who don’t have a shield to hide behind? A skilled axe fighter is very dangerous to attack as they’ve got a heavy, sharp weapon swinging about. So against unshielded foes? Axe-Fighters gain a Defense bonus, let’s say +2 because of the Master rank and limited use.

So there we have it. Your very own Axe-Fighter Specialization:

Requirements: Strength 2, Axes Weapons Focus Group

Novice: You may use the Seize the Initiative stunt for 2 SP instead of 4 when wielding an axe.

Journeyman: When using the Mighty or Lethal Blow stunts with an axe, add an additional d6 damage.

Master: You can use Disarm to “hook” shields, removing the shield bonus until the shield-user takes a ready action. You also gain +2 to your own Defense when fighting unshielded opponents.

Nasty, scary, tough, and yet pretty much useless without its chosen weapon, which provides some nice balance.

That’s just an example, but it shows the process of creating new Specializations in Fantasy AGE and is a preview of the process and types of things you’ll see in the upcoming Fantasy AGE Companion.

Pre-Orders Closing Soon

We have several products pre-ordering currently, but time is running out!

Through the end of May, 2017, when you pre-order the print version of Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy, Blue Rose Narrator’s Kit, and the Freeport Bestiary (which is for the Pathfinder RPG) through our Green Ronin Online Store, we’ll offer you the PDF version of the relevant title(s) for just $5 during checkout. Just click the Add to Cart button on the popup to get the deal.

The Blue Rose Dice Set is also pre-ordering right now through the end of the month, but it doesn’t have a digital counterpart.

Other recent releases you may have missed are Love 2 Hate Politics and Love 2 Hate Comics, expansions for Love 2 Hate: The Party Game for Inappropriate People.

Press Release: Green Ronin Publishing to Launch Fiction Line

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

GREEN RONIN PUBLISHING TO LAUNCH FICTION LINE

Plans to release tie-in fiction in print and electronic formats

 

Seattle, WA (04/12/17): Green Ronin Publishing, best known as a publisher of award-winning tabletop roleplaying products such as Mutants & Masterminds and the Freeport fantasy setting, is pleased to announce the launch of a new fiction initiative in 2017.

Leading this effort as Fiction Line Managing Editor will be Jaym Gates, author and editor, whose guiding hand has recently been evident on projects such as the Strange California anthology and Eclipse Phase: After the Fall, among many others.

“I always said that if we started a fiction line, we needed to do it the right way, and that’s precisely why we’ve brought Jaym on board,” says Green Ronin President Chris Pramas. “She has the chops and the experience to make this line sing.”

“I’m excited and honored to work with the Green Ronin team,” says Gates. “I’ve been a fan of their stories for a long time, and look forward to the opportunity to help bring new stories to life in their worlds.”

Green Ronin aims to include novels, anthologies, and both stand-alone and serialized short fiction in their releases, tied to the rich and varied worlds of their many tabletop roleplaying properties. Early releases will include fiction set in the romantic fantasy world of Aldea from the Blue Rose Roleplaying Game and tales of superheroic adventures set in the world of Earth-Prime from Mutants & Masterminds.

As part of this fiction launch, Green Ronin has come to an agreement with author and editor C.A. Suleiman to publish and distribute his previously existing fiction anthology Tales of the Lost Citadel in electronic and deluxe print formats. Tales of the Lost Citadel will be the first release for the new fiction imprint.

 

About Green Ronin Publishing

Green Ronin Publishing is a Seattle-based company dedicated to the art of great games. Since the year 2000 Green Ronin has established a reputation for quality and innovation that is second to none, publishing such roleplaying game hits as Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds, and winning over 40 awards for excellence. For an unprecedented three years running, Green Ronin won the prestigious GenCon & ENWorld Award for Best Publisher.

 

About Jaym Gates

Jaym Gates is an editor, author, and communications manager who has worked for companies including The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Paizo Publishing, and Amazon. Her anthologies include War Stories, Genius Loci, Rigor Amortis, Eclipse Phase: After the Fall, Vampire the Masquerade: Endless Ages, and Strange California. She has also written setting and/or fiction for Blue Rose, Firefly: Smuggler’s Guide to the Rim, Shadowrun: Drawing Destiny, and Tianxia: Blood, Silk, and Jade, and was an initial developer on the Lost Citadel property.

In her copious spare time, Jaym trains horses, plays boardgames, and studies a martial art called Systema. You can find out more about her on Twitter as @JaymGates, or at jaymgates.com.

 

Contact Green Ronin Publishing

Nicole Lindroos
General Manager
nicole@greenronin.com

 

# # # # #

Tales of the Lost Citadel

Tales of the Lost Citadel

Ronin Roundtable: Wim (Fantasy AGE iconics 2)

Hey Fantasy AGE fans, Jack again. Some time ago we introduced you to Aza, our iconic warrior as featured on various images and in our warrior entry in the Fantasy AGE Core Rulebook. This time we’re turning to the mystical side of things and taking a look at Wim, our mage.

 

Meet Wim

Pale-skinned, well-dressed, and bearded, Wim Iakabal fits many people’s idea of a wealthy dwarven merchant or scholar. The scion from a family of famed academics, Wim studied classic architecture and engineering at several esteemed universities until his natural aptitude for the mystic arts was discovered. Enrolling in the elite King’s College of Magicians (see Fantasy AGE Bestiary, p. 50), he excelled in his studies.

Unlike his many cousins and siblings, Wim was ultimately not content to merely study in the safety of the library or laboratory. In his fortieth year of study, he left the university seeking more dynamic and exciting opportunities. As an expert in ancient structures, complex machinery, and magic he found his particular eclectic skillset was in high demand on various expeditions to explore lost tombs, ruined cities, and ancient temples.  Nearly dying on an early expedition to a trapped temple rumored to hold vast treasures, he was rescued by and fell in with his current companions and has been traveling with them ever since.

Wim tends to spend a lot of time thinking, theorizing, and planning. In fact, his companions often tell him he thinks “too much”, especially since it is their skills in battle that must save him when his magical talents fail to protect him from his own curiosity and tendency to distraction.  However, his knowledge often comes in handy in a variety of situations, as does his quick wit. Wim is surprisingly hardy for a scholar, a fact owed to a realization of the importance of physical fitness and his dwarven constitution.  He isn’t much in a stand-up fight, but can use his magic to great effect in battle.  He is rarely without his magical Staff of Channeling, a souvenir from an early adventure.  He’s been considering taking up explosives, but so far his companions have convinced him that’s probably more trouble than its worth…

 

Wim

Dwarf Student Mage, Level 5

Abilities (Focuses)

1 Accuracy (Arcane Blast)

2 Communication

4 Constitution (Running)

3 Dexterity (Traps)

0 Fighting

4 Intelligence (Arcane Lore, Engineering, Evaluation, Historical Lore, Lightning Arcana, Research)

1 Perception

0 Strength

4 Willpower

Speed          Health         Defense        Armor Rating

11                     52                        13                          0    

Weapon                 Attack Roll           Damage

Arcane Blast            +3                           1d6+4

Staff                        +1                            1d6+1

Unarmed                  +1                            1d3

Special Qualities

Favored Stunts: Skillful Casting (2 MP), Magic Shield (3 SP), Split Spell (4 SP), and That Makes Me Wonder (3 SP)

Specialization: Arcane Scholar (Novice)

Class and Race Powers: Arcane Blast, Arcane Focus, Darksight

Arcana: Healing (Novice), Lightning (Journeyman), Power (Novice)

Spellpower: 14 (16 for Lightning Arcana)     Magic Points: 50

Spells: Arcane Awareness, Jolt, Healing Touch, Revival, Shock Blast, Spell Ward

Talents: Lore (Journeyman)

Weapons Group: Brawling, Staves

Equipment: Staff of Channeling (Take a minor Activate Action to reduce the MP cost of the next spell you cast by 2 and grant a -1 SP to any spell stunts), spyglass, compass, books and notes on various theories and discoveries.