Preparing for GenCon 2017

I just thought I’d take a moment for a brief update. I’ve been busy with all sorts of things lately–I’ve started graduate school in addition to continuing my writing, and that is eating up a lot of time. However, I’m also beginning plans for this year’s GenCon, so I wanted to put that news out now–I will be attending, and while it will be another busy con, I am happy to try and meet with anyone who wants network, discuss my past projects, or just kick back and chat about games. Comment on the blog or post to my Twitter to get in touch. I will probably be updating my Twitter with my con schedule again, like I did last year, so follow me @JordanGoldfarb for news.

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A New Sort of Project

IMPORTANT NOTE: SEE THE UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST

I’ve got some very exciting news to share, that I’ve been sitting on for a little bit now. It’s something I wanted to wait for the right moment to unveil, and I think now is as good a time as any.

The news is this: I am working on the lore and world-building for Chronicles, an upcoming miniatures game that will be hitting Kickstarter in 2017. The game is a pretty awesome fantasy miniatures experience with full army-building customization and a number of innovative twists. What’s more, the game is not just a miniatures project–Chronicles is designed to involve players both on and off the table through a new idea we call the OCRPG (Online Community Role-Playing Game). The OCRPG will have a living, breathing storyline that involves players at the table, but also ties in fan engagement, social media, and much more. Full details will be coming in the future, but I’m really excited to see people get involved.

We’re starting to spin up our outreach in preparation for the eventual crowdfunding drive, so if this sounds at all cool to you or at least something you would want to investigate further, check out the official website, comment on this blog post with questions, or contact me on Twitter using my handle of @JordanGoldfarb. And if this really gets your interest, be sure to tell your friends!

UPDATE

I have had to put aside work on Chronicles to focus on other priorities, unfortunately. It’s still an extremely cool and innovative project I remain enthused about, and hope people will give it a look once it hits Kickstarter–I know I’ll try to back it then!

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GenCon 2016: After Action Report

I just got back from this year’s GenCon yesterday, and am mostly recovered from the associated fatigue, so I wanted to share some thoughts while they were fresh in my mind.

First off, a shout out to everyone I saw, and to everyone who I didn’t. Both lists are incredibly long, and I will not bore any strangers who happen across the blog with the full enumeration, but to those I saw, thanks for the great times, and to those I did not, you were definitely missed. Hopefully I’ll catch more folks next year!

In terms of how the actual con played out for me, I was incredibly busy off in room 122 running demos of Age of Rebellion and Dark Heresy. Twenty four hours of RPG sessions is no joke! But my groups were all a lot of fun, and kept things going in a lot of different ways, keeping it an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I got a number of folks who hadn’t played the games before mixed in with various veteran players, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

I didn’t make it to the exhibit hall until Saturday afternoon, and only bumbled around in there for a short period, during which I forgot to visit a number of booths I had promised myself I would see. Regrettably, I was too brain-fried to remember to check out a cool new RPG that had been recommended to me earlier in the con (1879, by FASA–it sounded really cool), to stop by the ErfWorld booth after hearing they might not be in next year, or to make a number of other important stops. Still, I did acquire some nice loot and see a bunch of awesome displays, so there is that.

In terms of new releases I’m particularly hyped about, this year was actually more about expansions to me. There weren’t a lot of brand new products I was desperate to hear about (possibly related to the industry shifting towards more crowdfunding-based models in a lot of quarters), but there were a number of developments on existing ones I was interested in–new ships for X-Wing and Star Wars Armada, or the new Force Awakens Beginner Game. There’s also some stuff that fits somewhere in between those areas. I was very excited to hear about the Kickstarter for Scion 2nd edition coming from Onyx Path later this month, but I’ve been following Scion 2E for a while now, and it’s not quite a GenCon release. As GenCon news, though, it’s pretty good. I was also pleased to see Cavaliers of Mars, a creator-owned project also being published by Onyx Path, was up and running enough for demos, as I contributed a small bit of writing towards that game (more details on that at some point later).

Overall, my GenCon this year was more about the people than the games–old friends, present and absent, new acquaintances made, and keeping the demos fresh with the aid of the various groups for which I ran them. Still, that’s definitely not a bad thing, and it’s a credit to the social nature of the hobby that this is possible.

Hope to see you all at GenCon 2017!

 

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GenCon 2016 is coming up…

..and I’ll be there, running RPG demos for Fantasy Flight Games. I’m not 100% certain how much detail is acceptable to share at this stage, so I’ll err on the side of generalities for now, but if you are attending, follow me on Twitter (@JordanGoldfarb) for updates as I find myself available to provide them. I’m happy to meet with fans, fellow professionals, or anyone else who wants to say hi, talk shop, or whatever. I’ll be pretty busy with the demos during the relevant hours, of course, but I should have time to network, mingle, or what have you if you’re at the con.

Some other exciting news on the horizon, but nothing I can talk about just yet. For now, I hope you have the opportunity to share in my excitement for an awesome convention!

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Bonus Content: Siwiss the Howler

Hello all, and welcome back with another piece of custom game content from my own table. In this installment, we have one of my first pieces for the new edition of Exalted from Onyx Path. I’ve recently done a few sessions of the new edition, and have been having a blast, although I’m still acclimatizing to all the changes (largely for the better).

My players recently overcame a storm spirit named Siwiss the Howler, and as he won’t be showing up in my campaign any more, what with having been devoured by a player’s Ghost-Eating Technique, I thought I’d see if anyone else could get use out of my work. If you are playing or interested in playing Exalted, feel free to take a look and use as much of it as you like for your games.

Description

When materialized, Siwiss appears as an angry, fanged mask of white and blue porcelain, trailed by several dozen clawed armed of mist and lightning. (Think a big kabuki demon mask being followed around by a thundercloud).

Intimacies (from my game, feel free to adjust for context in yours)

“The fury of the storm is my greatest pleasure,” Defining principle
The Sky Axes* (ownership) Major Tie
“My children must serve their father,” Major Principle
Flows-With-Wisdom** (resentment) Minor Tie

*A barbarian tribe over which Siwiss ruled. He populated them with his God-blooded children, and used them to enforce his will.

**A river-spirit of some significance to the area in which Siwiss dwelled.

Quick Character Stats

Willpower 5, Essence 3, Join Battle 9 dice
Personal Motes: 80
Health Levels: -0/-1×3/-2×3/-4/Incap
Appearance 3 (Hideous), Resolve 3, Guile 3

Actions
Local Knowledge: 6 dice
Feats of Strength: 8 dice (May attempt strength 4 feats)
Resist Poison/Sickness: 8 dice
Senses: 9 dice
Threaten: 8 dice
Read Intentions: 6 dice
Social Influence: 6 dice

Combat
Attack (Raking winds): 13 dice (Damage 14, minimum 2)
Attack (Grapple) 8 dice (7 dice to control)
Combat Movement: 9 dice
Evasion 5, Parry 4
Soak/Hardness: 10/3

Merits
Cult 2

Offensive Charms
Chilling Mist Breath (10m; Simple; Instant; Withering-only) Siwiss breathes a freezing mist as a withering attack that affects all other characters within close range. The attack roll is 12 dice, and cannot be defended against with Parry. Compare the attack roll against all applicable Defense values separately. Those hit suffer damage as if struck by Siwiss’s Raking Winds. Siwiss gains initiaitve for the single highest amount of damage dealt only.
Howling Winds Offensive (9m; 1 wp; Instant; Decisive-only) Siwiss batters his enemies with a tempest of blows, splitting his initiative between (Essence+1) decisive attacks agaist the same target. The initiative must be split as evenly as possible, although Siwiss may assign any leftover initiative as he sees fit. Each attack may add a number of extra success on the attack roll to the attack’s raw damage equal to the number of previous attacks generated by this charm that have already hit.

Defensive Charms
Cage-the-Wind Futility (3m; Reflexive; Instant; Uniform) By dissipating into the winds around him, Siwiss may avoid attacks or attempts to trap him. By invoking this charm, he either adds 2 to his Evasion, or reduces the rounds of control possessed by an opponent holding him in a grapple by 2. At the GM’s discretion, this charm may allow a similar level of defense against other means of holding Siwiss in place.
Into Mists Escape (25m; Reflexive; Instant; Decisive-only) Siwss may abandon his material form in response to a decisive attack, negating all damage unless the attack can affect immaterial targets. Using this charm leaves Siwiss dematerialized for the remainder of the scene, and he cannot voluntarily rematerialize after using it.

Miscellaneous Charms
Storm-Summoning Howl (10+m, 0+ wp; Simple; One scene or longer) Siwiss howls a storm into being, causing the weather in a designated region no greater than [Essence] miles across to suddenly turn for the worse. For every 10m Siwiss spends on this charm, the fierce weather imposes -1 penalty to all actions due to pouring rain, crashing thunder, and other distractions, to a maximum penalty equal to Siwiss’ Essence. Siwiss himself is immune to this penalty, as are any individuals he has granted protection with All-Weathers Fortitude. By default, the charm lasts for a single scene, but by spending one temporary willpower, it lasts for a day, plus one day for each additional willpower spent. If Siwiss uses this charm too freely, he risks drawing attention from the authorities of Heaven.
All-Weathers Fortitude (3m, or 4m per point of Size; Simple; One week) Siwiss blesses a target with protection from storms and other hazards of the weather. The target gains immunity to penalties imposed by inclement weather, and gains double 9s on rolls to resist cold, heat, or other ill effects of the local climate. Siwiss may bless a battlegroup with this charm for an increased cost of 4m per point of Size.
Hurry Home (10m, 1 wp; Simple; Instant) Siwss vanishes into the wind on his next turn, drawn instantly back to his sanctum.
Materialize (40m, 1 wp; Simple; Instant) A sudden gust of wind passes, leaving Siwiss formed in its wake.
Measure the Wind (5m; Simple; Instant) Siwiss may take the measure of someone currently standing in a storm.

 

 

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Bonus Content: Tereus the Soulsmith

Hello again! I’ve been busy of late, but I don’t like leaving the blog to lie fallow for too long, so I’m finally fulfilling an idea from an older article, and detailing the ultimate bad guy and endboss of my Deathwatch campaign from a few years ago–Tereus the Soulsmith, an ancient Chaos Space Marine from the Iron Warriors legion. I’ve detailed some of the material I created for that campaign in previous Bonus Content articles, but this guy is something else.

As the final challenge of a decent-length campaign and the closing note of some adventures I was very fond of, I wanted the conflict involving Tereus to be impactful. Some of that was the setup over the course of the adventure in terms of new stakes and characters tying into his plans. Some of it was in the scope of the forces at his command–Tereus did not face my players alone, both because it would have been implausible for a powerful and influential warleader not to have some sort of retinue, and because my players would probably have shredder any single enemy they faced by that point in the campaign. And some of it was in new rules and concepts I put together specifically to make Tereus feel like a unique and unusual enemy. I did what I had previously mentioned with his lieutenant, Gervhardt Ironmaster, and gave him some rules out of the Black Crusade game line, plus a number of other custom features.

As a result of all this content being added in to his character write-up, the stat block I made for him is rather dense. Players and GMs who are not fond of rules-heavy approaches should probably skip this one, unfortunately. However, if you like tinkering with the guts of such creations, especially for Deathwatch or Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay in general, there’s probably some stuff in here you might find interesting. This is the profile exactly as I wrote it up back in that campaign, so if there’s something that looks wonky currently, it is probably the result of an old oversight of something from the original context.

Tereus of the Iron Warriors Traitor Legion, Favored of Perturabo, the Soulsmith, the Hatehammer, Ruin-carver

WS BS S T Ag Int Per WP Fel Inf
60 58 64 (15) 57 (15) 40 75 51 66 43 75

Movement: 5/10/15/30

Wounds: 55

Skills: Awareness (Per) +10, Climb (S), Command (Fel) +20, Forbidden Lore (Int) (Archaeotech, Daemononoly, Traitor Legions, the Warp) +20, Forbidden Lore (Int) (Adeptus Mechanicus, Mutants, Psykers), Intimidate (S) +20, Literacy (Int), Scrutiny +10 (Per), Speak Language (Int) (Low Gothic, High Gothic, Unholy Tongue, Assorted Xenos Tongues), Survival (Int), Swim (S), Tech-Use +20, Trade (Armorer, Daemoncraft) +20

Talents: Astartes Weapon Training, Cleanse and Purify, Combat Master, Die Hard, Fearless, Hatred (Loyalist Space Marines), Heightened Senses (Sight, Sound, Smell), Jaded, Killing Strike, Lightning Attack, Quick Draw, Rapid Reload, Swift Attack, True Grit

Traits: Dark Sight, Fear 1 (Disturbing), Size (Hulking)†, Unnatural Strength (x2), Unnatural Toughness (x3), Regeneration (3)

Weapons:

            The Doom of Flesh: (Melee; 1d10+24 E; Pen 10; Balanced, Power

Field, Toxic*, Flesh-Eating**)

Perdition Torch (Mounted; 25m; S/–/–; 1d10+10 E; Pen 6; Clip 20; Reload 3

Full; Felling (1), Flame, Volatile)

Howl of Iron†† (Mounted; 150m; –/–/6; 2d10+15 I; Pen 5; Clip 240; Reload 3

Full; Storm, Tearing)

Armor: Maledictus-Pattern Terminator Armor (All 15) †††

 

*The Toxic Quality here represents a plague of flesh-scourging daemonic energy. Any resistance to toxins possessed by creatures without the Machine (4+) or Daemonic Traits does not apply.

**Those wounded by Haar’gadneth suffer one point of Toughness damage for each Wound lost.

 

†Tereus’ interface with his armor is unmatched, allowing him to deny opponents the benefits they would normally receive to hit him due to Size.

††Howl of Iron is a Daemon Weapon of unique construction, containing half a dozen Daemonic entities bound within one weapon. A target wounded by this weapon must make a Willpower Test after resolving all the hits for that round, at -5% for each hit that inflicted one or more Wounds. Failure inflicts 1d5 Insanity Points, and an equal number of Wounds that ignore Armor, Toughness, and Force Fields. After any target has suffered this effect, Tereus must make a Challenging (+0) Willpower test or lose the ability to fire Howl of Iron for the rest of the battle.

†††: Follows all the rules for Terminator Armor, except as listed here: A Maledictus Suit is not restricted in the weapons it may bear, and has a Force Field value of 40, representing the malign warding runes carved over its surface. It still does not Overload. Maledictus suits do not receive a Power Armor History, their machine spirits being alien and untrustworthy things.

 

–The Doom of Flesh is a Legion Power Sword infused with the bound spirit of a Daemonsmith from the Forge of Souls.

–The Perdition Torch is a unique flame weapon mounted on the vambrace behind the Hand.

–Howl of Iron is a prototype of the weapon that would become the Assault Cannon, bound with the spirits of a flock of Chaos Furies in the barrels.

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Thoughts on (and a preview of!) The Worlds of Android

It’s time for a particularly exciting blog post—a discussion of my first major foray into pure fiction, without game rules, which happened to be one of my most exciting projects yet. The work in question was just recently announced—Fantasy Flight Games’ The Worlds of Android, a setting book chock full of fiction and art detailing their Android IP (used in Android: Netrunner, among other sources).

 

nad06_main

There were a lot of reasons this project was cool, but the big one for me was getting in on the ground floor of the setting. FFG had, of course, previously detailed stuff from the setting in novels and games, but this was the first really comprehensive piece on the setting itself—and I was getting to create all sorts of cool details for it. I’m used to working on heavily established IPs like Star Wars or Warhammer, so the level of freedom I was able to exercise was breathtaking, especially given how big a deal this was going to be for such a cool IP. If I’m gushing a little bit right now, it’s because I still haven’t gotten over how much it meant to me to be able to do this.

As a bit of a primer on the Android setting for the unfamiliar, it’s a near-future, cyberpunk-ish setting that focuses on introspective themes. Stuff like how technology doesn’t solve problems where people are unwilling to do so. I like lasers, swords, and the various intersections thereof as much as the next guy (which you can probably tell from my previous output), but people are always going to be the key to driving a setting or a story forward.

Android is a setting with a bunch of cool tech, from braintapes and AI to the Beanstalk, a commercial space elevator, but it never loses focus on the human element. In fact, that’s one of the key struggles of the setting—as the name suggests, androids are kind of a big part of the landscape, and their status and people’s perspectives on their personhood can get pretty complicated—but also compelling, especially when you consider that the real world may be approaching very similar issues soon enough. The applicability and thought-provoking detail doesn’t stop at artificial intelligence, either. The questions of how information technology, media and the Net change the world are big topics as well, and I’ve been consistently impressed with the thought put into addressing them by the writers who have worked on those areas of the setting.

But that’s enough of my promises about how cool the book is. Thanks to the wonderful folks at FFG, especially Katrina Ostrander, the Fiction Editor and one of the key people on this whole thing, I’ve been given permission to straight-up preview some of The Worlds of Android! First off, I’d like to talk about what I worked on within the book. There were a few different topics involved, but they were all heavily linked together by means of one of the major recent events of the Android setting’s internal history—the Worlds War. This topic (and yes, that’s an extra “s” there—this wasn’t a World War, but a conflict between Mars, Luna, and Earth) has been a part of the setting since the original Android board game, and major figures in the setting from the novels and other sources are linked by how it shaped them, but The Worlds of Android is the first time it has been discussed at length

My focus was on some of the elements of the War that occurred on Luna and Earth—battles now infamous across the Net and meatspace alike, such as assaults on the Beanstalk (mentioned above) and Starport Kaguya (the moon’s primary point of contact with Mars and Earth).In addition, I got to detail the Lunar colony of Heinlein, which was a site of great import throughout the War, including hosting the peace talks that ended it. There’s a few other bits and pieces of my work elsewhere, but mostly I worked on Luna and the War. The elements match up quite nicely, as the War shaped the modern face of Lunar colonization. One of the earliest such events was a precursor to the struggles of the War proper, a series of populist uprisings and protests transformed by an unexpected assault. The following text is an excerpt from the book, detailing some of the events that led to the Lunar Insurrection, and by extension, the Worlds War:

 

“At the height of the helium-3 boom on the Moon, almost all of the major world powers had their own mining concern operating on the Lunar surface. Crescent Co., Héliobras, Melange Mining, Pestroka Technika, Rajanipati Limited, and Xiangong Inc. all maintained significant mining facilities and colonies to support them. Each company was driven by its bottom line; the corps took every shortcut and seized every available advantage. They were determined to wring every last credit they could from the regolith, the machines, and their employees.

Competition between the corps was fierce, and eventually they turned their sights on each other. In the months preceding the War, industrial sabotage was nearly as common as actual mining, and it wasn’t always equipment that was targeted. Many workers were injured in the destruction, and the death toll began to mount. Private security forces were stationed to protect corp facilities, but this only seemed to increase the bloodshed. Certain Lunar mining facilities developed reputations so bloody that no one would work for them, leading to the importation of some proto-android labor forces that relied on weak AI.

An Alliance between workers from numerous corporations petitioned the Earth countries to reign in their corps. They wanted reparation for the lives and livelihoods lost and the immediate apprehension and trial of the corporate executives and mining overseers responsible for the whole situation.

The rival powers of Earth began negotiating a solution through backdoor diplomatic channels, but in the meantime, the corporations on the Moon continued to escalate the number and intensity of attacks on one another. Not long after the miners first broadcast their grievances, Prosperity Mining Depot, the primary dock belonging to Melange Mining was bombed by unmarked prisec forces. Life support failed, suffocating hundreds of innocent miners.

The brutal events at the Prosperity Mining Depot outraged the Lunar population. They demanded an immediate apology from Earth and swift action to sanction the corps and prevent any further casualties. But the political situation on Earth remained delicate, and the negotiation tables had many complex issues to discuss, which would take more time than the miners would tolerate. To the Loonies, as they were derisively called by Netcasters on Earth, the message from the United States and China and other countries seemed clear: Luna’s concerns—and lives—were not as important as Earth’s appetite for He-3.”

The outrage of the Lunar population might have hit its peak after the events at Prosperity Mining Depot, but they eventually found they had plenty of other troubles. These concerns, the losses they brought with them, and the resolutions that were reached over and even after the Worlds War, played a big part in shaping Lunar culture and geography, from the gardens now planted in Prosperity Memorial Park, to the rough-and-tumble culture pervading the Docklands where He-3 is processed and shipped to Earth. As my second preview, I have a spread from the book that details some of that very Lunar geography, and some of the secrets buried beneath the surface.

Android Lunar Map.png

If you guys are as excited about this book as I am, you should be aware that it is set to release before the end of 2015. For the official rundown on the book, including details beyond my sections, visit the product page at the Fantasy Flight Games website.

 

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