Ronin Roundtable: Nisaba Press!

Hi, I’m Jaym Gates, Line Manager for Green Ronin’s Nisaba Press. We’ll be publishing fiction tied in to the Green Ronin properties, both short fiction and novels. I was given three missions: make a great fiction line, make sure it was a great diverse fiction line, and find some great new voices for both fiction and RPGs. That’s pretty much the most exciting mission plan you could give me, for anything. Why? I got into editing because I discovered how amazing it was to find those incredible new voices that no one else has found yet. There is also something intensely rewarding about taking a good piece of fiction and refining it to its best form.

As we’re releasing our first batch of regular stories, I wanted to talk a little bit about tie-in fiction, and why Nisaba.

First off, one of the best things about tie-in fiction to me is that it gives fans new stories and elaborates on beloved settings. Flavor text in RPG books is great, but sometimes you really want to go on an adventure with characters. See the sights of Emerald City, smell the sweet reek of Freeport, maybe feel the wind on your face as Rezeans gallop across the plains. While we can’t LITERALLY give you all of that, fiction gives windows to the new and existing characters in our settings. Maybe they’ll inspire new adventures, show up in your existing adventures, or just be a brief excursion with a fictional friend, but any way it goes, we love giving fans the chance to interact at more length with our settings.

It’s also a great way to get your RPG fix if you don’t have time to game, are playing another game, or can’t get a good group. It’s like talking to an old friend you don’t get to see often enough.

Secondly, tie-in fiction is a great way for new fans to get involved. There are a lot of settings, a lot of rules, and a lot of history. It can be scary for someone to just jump in at the deep end with no idea what’s going on. A short story or novel takes away that overwhelming feeling of “SO MUCH STUFF” and gives the reader a gentle introduction to a new place.

And last but not least: because the world is made of stories, and stories allow the creators to develop things that might never come up in the RPGs, or that might just not have been thought of. Narrative is a unique thing that forces you to think of so many angles that you might not otherwise see. The scents and sounds of a world, the interplay between character and their religion, questions of morality and honor. A story fleshes out what the RPG has built to a level that flashes and flavor text can’t approach.

So that is “Why tie-in fiction.” I’m really thrilled with the stories I’ve already been working on. We have Anthony Pryor’s My Night in Freeport, Lindsay Adam’s tale of an Aldean agent and a Jarzoni priest-adept, Eytan Bernstein’s story of Kid Robot’s first day of school, and so much more. All of these are original fiction set canonically in the settings you know and love. My hope is that they bring another aspect of engagement and joy in the setting.

And keep an eye out, we’re planning to host an open submission period in a few months, so if you’re wanting to write fiction for Blue Rose, Freeport, or Mutants & Masterminds, get plotting now!

Ronin Roundtable: To Boldly Go…

Hard to resist the appeal of the world’s most famous split infinitive, given the topic of this column and the recent relaunch of a certain science-fiction television series, although this Ronin Roundtable has to do with far more earthly matters.

One question I get a lot on diversity panels and interviews about inclusion and such is: “As a queer creator, do you face a lot of censorship?” To which I’d say, as a cis-gendered white male American creator, not nearly as much as some, but from talking to a lot of my queer colleagues in the game industry, much of the censorship we have faced has been self-censorship, a tendency to second-guess ourselves, to flinch a bit away from including the kinds of things we’d like to read in a product, in the interest of appealing to a broader audience, or “not pushing” or, frankly, whatever bullshit excuse we could come up with to justify not putting ourselves “out there” too much.

In my own experience, RPG publishers have actually been quite supportive of my going out on a limb and it has been much more of a question of just how far out there I was willing to go. I’m sure that’s not necessarily everyone’s experience, but when I wanted to make the protagonist of my Shadowrun novels gay, and talk about his trauma involving the death of his mentor and lover when he was a teenager, or when I wanted to include an openly gay superhero in Freedom City, or to incorporate queer people into the mythology and society of a fantasy setting in Blue Rose, publishers supported me unconditionally. Any places where I didn’t push boundaries or challenge expectations I attribute to my own lack of imagination, courage, or willingness to take a risk.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not beating myself up over who and where I was back then. I did what I was able to do (rather than what I was “allowed” to do) and I had a lot to learn. I’m a strong believer in Maya Angelou’s ideal of “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” At least, I certainly try to do better. All creative work involves risk: You’re putting a part of yourself into your creation and then putting it out there for people to love or hate or criticize or simply ignore with a “meh” and shrug, for fellow professionals to edit, critique, and evaluate. When you’re also going against the current of the mainstream culture, you’re taking an even greater risk but, in my experience, the rewards of a creative work are commensurate with the risks that you take.

That’s what led us to talking at Green Ronin’s recent planning summit (and afterwards) about encouraging bold creation: opening opportunities for new voices, diversifying both our creators and our ideas, exploring paths not taken, and finding ways to support and encourage each other when we feel the urge to back away from a leap of faith that seems too far, too risky. To find ways instead to help each other and the creators who work with us by saying: “Be bold. Jump, and we’ll be there to help catch you.” Bold creativity and inclusivity—telling the stories that truly speak to you—is still a risk, it will always be a risk, but it’s not a risk you necessarily have to take alone. If this idea speaks to you, talk to us.

 

Green Ronin Freebooters – Run games for us!

Welcome to the Green Ronin Freebooter GM Information Hub!

Green Ronin Publishing is looking for some great new folks to run our games at select conventions. You may have seen us promoting our program at GaymerX and Gen Con, but for 2018, we’re expanding out to more shows. Here’s some information about various shows we’re looking for folks to submit games.

Gen Con 2018

Many of our games, especially Mutants & Masterminds, are on the list of Gen Con High Demand Games. Over the years, we have also received a lot of requests for more Dragon Age, plus we’re always happy for more Song of Ice & Fire. For 2018, we hope to expand that out more with lots of submissions for Blue Rose RPG, The Lost Citadel RPG, Fantasy Age, Titansgrave, Freeport, Critical Role Campaign Setting, Lazarus, Love 2 Hate, and more.

We’re looking for volunteers to run games, whether one session or 4-days of sessions. Here’s how it works:

  • Green Ronin arranges for a GM Badge in return for 12-hours worth of game time scheduled.
  • For 16+ hours of game time scheduled, we will reimburse your hotel based on ¼ of a regular rate.  As an example, if a room is $200 per night we’ll pick up your part, so $50 per night!
  • Green Ronin must submit your games to count towards the GM Badge reimbursement and hotel room reimbursement.
  • You are still welcome to submit games via your favorite game group or other game companies, but we will only pick up badges/hotel reimburse for our submitted games.

Don’t need a free badge or hotel reimbursement? We’d still love to feature your game! If you submit a game with your favorite gaming group, or on your own, let us know and we’ll promote your game via our social media and at the Green Ronin Publishing Booth.

Other shows:

We’ll also be looking for Freebooter GMs at the following shows in 2017 and 2018! We will update the info here when we know what we can offer folks who can do the shows. If you’re interested in any of these shows below, please submit on the form at the bottom!

2017

2018

If you’re interested in the Gen Con Volunteer GM Program for 2017, you can fill out this handy form so we can email you with information.  Thank you for your interest in running games for Green Ronin Publishing! Questions? Email Veronica at rubytemplar@greenronin.com

Happy Gaming!

 

Ronin Roundtable: Walking the Royal Road, Part One: Friends & Loved Ones

Hello and welcome to Walking the Royal Road, what I hope to be an ongoing series on using the Tarot (or Royal Road, in Aldean parlance) in Blue Rose AGE games.

The Tarot has been used in roleplaying games for quite a long time, in a variety of contexts, and with good reason. Reading and deciphering the Tarot is less a matter of divination as it is storytelling—each card carries an intrinsic meaning (and sometimes a second meaning when the card appears inverted) that can serve as a building block for a larger narrative. When multiple cards are laid out, with each card position also having a meaning, it is possible to use them to build a small story of some kind, through the language of symbolism and the very human act of pulling disparate elements into a larger narrative.

The Blue Rose AGE core book already suggests a use of the Royal Road: in the establishment of a character’s Calling, Destiny, and Fate. There are also some suggestions for using tarot in Chapter Ten (p. 313, in the section “Walking the Royal Road,” where the title for this series comes from). This series of articles is going to suggest some additional uses for them.

The cards we use in these articles are the Shadowscapes Tarot, with art by the amazing Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, whose art has graced the covers of Blue Rose books throughout the game’s history.

Friends & Loved Ones

Today’s article is going to offer some additional character building. Romantic fantasy, as a genre, focuses not just on magic and feats of derring-do, but also the relationships formed by the characters. Characters do amazing things for love, for friendship, and for hate, and these kinds of motivators should always play into games of romantic fantasy, to some degree.

In order to have these kinds of motivations, though, player characters need some relationships in place. This system is intended to augment the Relationships mechanics, as found on p. 60 of the Blue Rose core rulebook. Where that system helps define how strongly heroes feel about other characters, this one will help with the brainstorming of figuring out who they are.

 

The Spread

The spread for this method is a simple three-card spread for each character.

The Role Card indicates in what capacity the PC knows the character in question. Take a look at the suit (pentacles, cups, wands, swords, or Major Arcana).

  • Pentacles: The person is someone you know in a professional capacity.
  • Cups: The person is someone who know familially, either a member of your family, or someone you met through a family member.
  • Wands: The person is someone you met in a social capacity, at a party or festival, tavern or theater.
  • Swords: The person is someone you know from a training or learning endeavor: a fellow apprentice, or someone you met in schooling of some kind.
  • Major Arcana: You met this person in some extraordinary capacity. Use the card itself as an inspiration: perhaps you met the Chariot while traveling, or you met the Tower during a terrible disaster of some kind.

The Personality Card indicates what this person is like. Use the tables for Calling, Destiny, and Fate in the Blue Rose core rulebook as a starting place. Note that this card does not indicate this character’s Calling, Destiny, or Fate—it’s simply what their outward-facing personality is like. There are always depths beneath this surface.

The Relationship Card indicates what your relationship with this person is like. The meaning of the card should be applied to this in some capacity. A Six of Wands suggests recognition of success, so perhaps this person looks up to you for your heroism; in contrast, the Page of Swords is about having enthusiasm but needing more information, so this card in the Relationship space suggests that the person looks to you as a source of information, or is themselves such a source for you.

 



Example

In the image, we have laid out some cards in the Friends & Loved Ones Spread.

Role: The Magician. We know this person because of magic, clearly. They might be an adept of some kind, or if we’re playing an adept or other talented character, perhaps we aided them with our own arcane arts.

Personality: The Star. Consulting the Callings table on p. 57 of Blue Rose, we see that this card represents “Artistic Mastery.” This character seems to be an artist to everyone they know, and not just a dabbler, either, but someone who really works to master their craft and achieve their vision.

Relationship: Seven of Wands. One of the typical meanings for the Seven of Wands is both aggression and defiance. In the Relationships space, this suggest someone whose closeness to the player character is either defiance—or, it’s someone who maintains the relationship out of defiance.

Conclusion

Here is just one example of a Narrator character generated using the spread above. It’s far from the only one, to say nothing of the variety possible from other card results entirely!

Godia Tulry: The Wishful Scrivener. We met Godia in the way she tends to meet new people—when she barged right up to us to ask us about our experiences and theories about the arcane. The other adepts roll their eyes and make themselves scarce when she shows up, because she’ll take up every bit of your time, if you let her. Despite their warnings, though, we find her delightful. She’s a dedicated magical chronicler, and we’re good enough friends that she has shyly confided that she wants more than anything to wield magic herself some day, but she just doesn’t have the Talent for it. Still, she is very sweet, loves when we use magic around her, and whipcrack sharp when it comes to arcane theory and history.

In the above example, magic is at the center of the friendship between Godia and the player’s character, per the Role card showing the Magician. Her insistent personality around her craft we derive from the Personality card showing the Star, and we’ve interpreted the defiance in the relationship, per the Relationship card showing the Seven of Wands, as coming from others who don’t understand the friendship.

 

Thanks: To Stephanie Pui-Mun Law for her amazing Shadowscapes tarot, which we use in this article. Her deck can be purchased off of Amazon here.

Free Fiction Sampler: Offerings Anthology

Offerings: A Fiction AnthologyWe are pleased to present, for free download, “Offerings, a Fiction Anthology,” a sampler of fiction from three of our upcoming fiction releases. In case you missed it, we recently announced Nisaba Press, Green Ronin Publishing’s new fiction imprint, helmed by Managing Editor Jaym Gates.

Within the pages of “Offerings” you’ll find:

  • The Prologue from Shadowtide, our first romantic fantasy Blue Rose novel by Joseph Carriker.
  • “New Girls,” by Crystal Frasier, set in the super-heroic world of Earth-Prime from Mutants & Masterminds.
  • “Requiem, In Bells,” by Ari Marmell, set in the fantasy horror-survival world of The Lost Citadel.

We hope you enjoy this offering from our first few fiction titles. We can’t wait to share our worlds with you!

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.

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?

Ronin Roundtable: Rhydan of Unusual Size

 

After some shipping snafus, the Blue Rose Romantic Fantasy Roleplaying game has made its way into the hands of Kickstarter backers and will likewise be finding its way to a game store near you (especially if you ask your friendly local game store to stock it…).

One element of the Blue Rose setting that differs from “vanilla” fantasy worlds is the rhydan: “awakened” intelligent animals with psychic abilities. Indeed, the name “rhydan” in Aldea (the world of Blue Rose) essentially means “thinking beast or animal”. Rhydan are based on the various—often psychically-linked—animal companions found in romantic fantasy fiction, psychic “catalyst creatures” and companions from science fiction (from Andre Norton’s Star Man’s Son to Alan Dean Foster’s For Love of Mother Not), as well as the talking animals of various faerie and folk tales.

Rhydan “awaken” from otherwise ordinary animal species, and Blue Rose presents a handful of the most widely known rhydan, along with a table for “create your own rhydan” options. Early readers of the book particularly noted that rhy-cats (one of the most common rhydan) typically look like siamese cats, but are the size of mountain lions and wondered: Are all rhydan of such unusual size?

No, or at least, not necessarily. Rhy-cats were some of the very first rhydan in the earliest drafts of Blue Rose (before we were calling them “rhydan,” in fact) and they were conceived of as a specific species, unique to Aldea. That status carried over into the final draft of the original edition of Blue Rose, which had fewer rhydan options than the current edition. Nevertheless, when we updated how rhydan were conceived of in the new edition, we kept rhy-cats largely as they were as a nod to the game’s legacy. It could well be that ordinary house-cats, or even great cats like lions, tigers, or panthers (oh my!) could have rhydan members.

 

It’s likewise possible, given how rhydan already differ from their “parent” species, for rhydan characters in Blue Rose to be quite different in terms of size or even morphology from their mundane cousins, if you and the Narrator wish. For example, while the Blue Rose book doesn’t offer options for extremely small animals like mice as rhydan, it would be possible, or the Narrator could even offer the option of using an existing animal template, such as the raccoon, as a basis for a two-foot tall rhy-mouse with manipulative paws (and, a penchant for swashbuckling, perhaps?). The same might go for rhy-rats as well as others such as rabbits. Similarly, while there’s no rhy-elephant (rhylephant?) option in the game, perhaps a small awakened elephant from a distant clime, based on the horse template with a lower base speed and the addition of a tusk attack and manipulative trunk, is an option. Extrapolate outward from existing templates for similar creatures and variants.

Each rhydan is already unusual amongst its own species, so there’s no reason you can’t further tweak their unusual nature to better suit a concept a player might enjoy. Spin out interesting new characters and companions for your own Blue Rose series!

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.