Ronin Roundtable: GenCon GMing for Green Ronin

GR-Gameroom1If you are a publisher, you of course want people to have the opportunity to play your games at GenCon. You can run demos at your booth but the exhibit hall is no place for long form RPG adventures (it’s super loud and booth space is limited). Those are better handled as scheduled events. Finding good and reliable game masters for your RPGs can be challenging though. In past years we’ve had mixed success with our GenCon events. What I really wanted was a dedicated area filled with Green Ronin games. To get that, you have to have a certain number of events. Coordinating that is a job in itself.

Enter Donna Prior, Green Ronin’s events manager. I told her what I wanted and wow, did she deliver. We had over 90 scheduled events this year and GenCon gave us a dedicated room for them on the second floor of the convention center. Going into that room and seeing tables full of gamers playing Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying was amazing. Read more

[Ronin Round Table] Fantasy AGE: What’s Different from Dragon Age?

Fantasy AGEThe Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook will be releasing in PDF format and going up for pre-order soon. We will debut the game at GenCon, alongside Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. The most frequently asked question I’ve been getting is, “How is Fantasy AGE different than Dragon Age?” Both games feature the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) so this is a natural question to ask and the one I’m going to delve into today.

Backgrounds

The first thing I’d like to talk about is backgrounds. In Dragon Age a background is basically a mix of culture, social class, and race. You might be a Fereldan Freeman, High-born Dwarf, or Qunari Beresaad, for example. That works because Dragon Age is set in a specific place: Thedas. Fantasy AGE, on the other hand, has no attached world. Its rules are meant to be used with a campaign setting that you choose or create. I thus did not want to assume too much about the culture of the setting.

Therefore Fantasy AGE breaks out backgrounds into three parts. First you choose a race. To make the game as broadly useful to gamers as possible, we went with the “fantasy classics” here: dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, human, and orc (and Titansgrave adds saurians to the mix). You roll for your social class (outsider, lower class, middle class, or upper class), then you generate a background based on the class. This is meant to represent the career you trained for or engaged in before you became an adventure. Examples include hermit, laborer, merchant, and pirate. Your race, social class, and background modify your starting character in various ways: ability increases, focuses, and other benefits.

Abilities

The heart of any AGE game is the ability test. When you try to do something, you roll 3d6 and add the relevant ability (Communication, Dexterity, etc.). If your total meets or beats the Target Number, you succeed. If you roll doubles on the test, you get to do something cool as a stunt. Easy enough!

Dragon Age features 8 abilities inspired by the video game Dragon Age: Origins. They are:

Communication

Constitution

Cunning

Dexterity

Magic

Perception

Strength

Willpower

 

In Fantasy AGE there are 9 abilities instead of 8. They are:

Accuracy

Communication

Constitution

Dexterity

Fighting

Intelligence

Perception

Strength

Willpower

So you can see that in Fantasy AGE two abilities were added (Accuracy and Fighting), one was removed (Magic), and one simply had its name changed (Cunning to Intelligence). The latter is the easiest to explain. I simply thought Intelligence was a better name for the ability and conveyed its nature more clearly than Cunning. But why the other changes?

In Dragon Age Dexterity and Strength both do a couple of things. Dexterity adds to your Defense (making your harder to hit) and adds to your attack rolls with light melee weapons and missile weapons. Strength adds to your attack rolls with heavy melee weapons and damage to all melee and thrown weapons. All this has certain implications. First, it makes big monsters that hit hard but strike inaccurately harder to model. A + 8 Strength, for example, means +8 on the attack roll and damage. Fantasy AGE breaks this out into separate abilities: Fighting and Strength. Now it’s easier to represent something like an ogre, who might have a Fighting 3 and Strength 7. Second, Dexterity in Dragon Age is something of a superstat for rogues. In Fantasy AGE I thus decided to break it out into Accuracy and Dexterity. Now it’s Accuracy that adds to your attack rolls with light melee and missile weapons and Dexterity that adds to your Defense. The net result these changes means you have some real choices to make when you level up and get to increase an ability. As a warrior, do you want to hit harder or more often? As a rogue do you want to dodge more often or hit enemies more frequently?

As for the Magic ability, I cut it for a couple of reasons. First, to keep the overall number of abilities down. Second, because I felt everything it did could be modeled with other abilities: namely, Intelligence and Willpower. In Fantasy AGE your casting roll is based on Intelligence but your Spellpower is based on Willpower. In Dragon Age both of these are based on your Magic ability.

Magic

Speaking of magic, that’s perhaps the biggest change from Dragon Age. The basics remain the same. Mages have a pool of Magic Points (MPs) that they spend to cast spells. You can keep casting until you run out of MPs, and you can cast the same spell over and over if you want to. What is different is how you acquire spells. In Fantasy AGE there are magic talents, each of which corresponds to a themed group of four spells known as an arcana (Earth Arcana, Divination Arcana, and Fire Arcana, for example). When you get the novice degree of a magic talent, you learn the first two spells of its arcana. You get another at the journeyman degree and the final one at the master degree (as well as some other benefits). A level 1 mage starts with two magic talents at novice degree, which translates to four spells. Mages then acquire more spells as they go up in level by learning new arcana or mastering the ones they have.

Specializations

In Dragon Age you can customize your character with a specialization like Blood Mage, Spirit Healer, or Templar. You get one specialization at level 6 and another at level 14. Fantasy AGE retains the basic concept of the specialization but gives you access to them earlier. You get your first at level 4 and second at level 12. Since you can take your first specialization at level 4, I eased up on the requirements somewhat so it shouldn’t be hard to pick the specialization you want. There are four for each class, twelve in total. The specializations are Arcane Scholar, Assassin, Berserker, Duelist, Elementalist, Guardian, Knight, Mage Hunter, Miracle Worker, Sharpshooter, Swashbuckler, and Sword Mage.

And those are the biggest differences between Fantasy AGE and Dragon Age. As you can see, the games have the same core, but some slightly different expressions. If you’ve played Dragon Age, you’ll find Fantasy AGE a breeze to pick up. If you haven’t played Dragon Age or indeed any other RPG before, that’s OK too. Fantasy AGE is designed with new players in mind.

Press Release: Geek & Sundry and Green Ronin to Create Critical Role RPG Books

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GEEK & SUNDRY PARTNERS WITH GREEN RONIN TO CREATE RPG BOOKS BASED ON ITS GROUNDBREAKING SHOW – CRITICAL ROLE

New Line of Sourcebooks To Be Written By The Show’s Creator and Star Matthew Mercer

August 8, 2016—SEATTLE, WA: Green Ronin Publishing announced today that it has signed a licensing agreement with Geek & Sundry to release roleplaying game sourcebooks based on Critical Role, the weekly web series in which eight renowned voice actors come together for an ongoing Dungeons & Dragons game. The books, which will be written by Critical Role creator and Game Master Matthew Mercer, will bring readers into his world of Exandria. The announcement was made by Chris Pramas, president of Green Ronin and Ryan Copple, General Manager of Geek & Sundry.

Critical Role has excited many new fans about the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Each week, the show attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers, who watch it both live and recorded. Overall, Critical Role has garnered over 50 million views since its launch in March 2015. The cast includes Mercer, Travis Willingham, Marisha Ray, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson (Blindspot), Sam Riegel, Liam O’Brien, and Laura Bailey. Additionally, the show has attracted quite a few celebrities who have joined the cast as special guests including Chris Hardwick, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, and Phil Lamarr, to name a few.

“Watch even one episode of Critical Role and you can see that Matthew has developed a rich setting for his campaign,” said Green Ronin President Chris Pramas. “We are delighted to be able to bring the world of Exandria to RPG fans and doubly so that he will be writing the books himself.”

“The request I get most often is if I’d be interested in releasing my world to everyone, allowing them to set their own home games in a detailed Exandria,” said Mercer. “I am so happy to be able to finally say yes! I’ve put so much of myself into Exandra and Tal’Dorei these past years, and am so excited and proud to be working with Green Ronin to bring Exandria to our community and the gaming community at large!”

Work has already begun on the first book, Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting, which explores the main featured continent of the world of Exandria. It is scheduled for release in Spring of 2017. All books in the series will use the Fifth Edition rules.

“Green Ronin Publishing has been an incredible collaborator with Geek & Sundry,” said Felicia Day, actress, writer, producer, and founder of Geek & Sundry. “Last year, we worked together to bring Wil and Ryan Wheaton’s world to life in both the series and adventure book of Titansgrave. With the growing demand for fans to explore the world of Critical Role we knew they were the perfect partner. With only one question left in our minds, to borrow from the Critter community, ‘Is it Spring Yet?’”

More information and previews for the Critical Role RPG sourcebooks will appear on www.greenronin.com in the coming months.

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 Geek & Sundry

Geek & Sundry is a digital entertainment company recognized for providing the best in award-winning Internet television content featuring leading voices in geek culture and lifestyle. Founded in 2012 by Felicia Day, the company offers a diverse content lineup of video games and tabletop gaming, such as Wil Wheaton’s TableTop, and explores the verticals of comics, music, literature, comedy and beyond. The network has also recently launched GnSLive on Twitch that provides of 30 hours of live content every week. Geek & Sundry is owned by Legendary Entertainment and is part of the Legendary Digital Networks which also includes Nerdist and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.