Monday, 6 January 2020

State of the Press 2020

Its the beginning of a new year, and decade, so time to reveal how things currently stand with Utherwald Press. There are some changes ahead, though I'm going to have to be a little personal here in order to give context and explain my decisions behind the changes. Though I will also be setting out my goals for what I want to achieve this year, something which I am hopeful I will achieve.


Less Is More

OK, lets start with the change.

From this point forward I'll be reducing my post rate on the blog down to once a month.

Part of this stems from a burnout and part of it stems from more personal reasons, both kinda overlap with one another. I feel that the writing of my blog posts have suffered over the past few months, some of this has been down to bit of a burnout as I've increasingly struggled to think of stuff to write and accordingly my posts have suffered.

There have also been changes to my personal circumstances in the past few months, less than ideal changes. Others already know alot of the details, though I'm only going to briefly summarize here; Recently gained the tenancy of where I live from a relative, this has brought a sudden increase in my monthly outgoings and has resulted in having to claim state benefits to help cover the rent and bills (with all the 'joy' that entails).

Never been flushed with cash, even working a 36+ hours a week retail job, and so my available funds for Utherwald related projects have effectively dwindled to nothing. So this is a less than ideal situation I find myself in, thankfully I do have a plan to improve things; I've currently started doing a bookkeeping course in an attempt to change careers and get a job with better hours and pay. If I can do this it'll mean more time and thus funds to put towards getting my various RPG stuff done.

So the burnout couple with needing to get this course done has resulted in me deciding to cut down on the blog posts. This would give me plenty of time to work on the course and hopefully get it down quicker, additionally it may help me improve the quality of my posts as I'll have more time to think them over and work on them.

Hopefully that gives people a clear idea of what is currently happening and why I've decided to make changes.

Goals

Right at the start of the blog post I mentioned there are some goals planned for this year, I have a couple.

My main goal is to finish getting Frozen Skies updated for SWADE and thus a new version released, lack of funds here means this one is going to be delayed and I'm in two minds in trying to crowd fund what I need. That said, things are set up ready for when I've finished the updates and rewrites in addition to having the cash needed to get it done....just very dependent on that last bit.

My second, more modest, goal is getting the blog updated and rethinking my approach to both Social Media and Patreon.

So thank you all for your support and I wish everyone good fortunes in the year/decade ahead!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Frozen Skies: The Duskfall Run

So 2019 is drawing to a close and we head into the festive season, typically a time of giving. As this is going to be the final post of the year, heres a gift in the form of a new adventure that is also themed for this time of year. This adventure is set at the start of a period known as the Shrouded Days, a time of polar night in the far north of Alyeska marked by the Exodus as a large number of people head south.

Until the New Year, Happy Holidays!


The Duskfall Run

The adventure sees the characters flying the last aircraft out of a remote northern settlement just before the polar night engulfs the land in darkness. With a short window of opportunity to fly before both the dark, and weather, close in the characters very much have the odds stacked against them. Worse, an outfit of sky pirates have spotted the characters' plane and are giving chase when the adventure begins.

Adventure Setup

The adventure uses the Chase Rules from Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, primarily using the Range Increment for an airplane. It is suggested that 15-20 Chase Cards are used, though feel to free to adjust.

Opponents wise there are 5 Sky Pirate Extras and 1 or 2 Sky Pirate Aces, though for the purpose of this adventure the Extras' aircraft only take one wound whilst those flown by the Aces have the normal number of wounds. The Extras have d8 in Shooting and Piloting, in addition to the Rock and Roll! and Steady Hands Edges. The Aces have d10 in their respective skills and the Ace Edge. It is suggested to use the Trodai Fighter for the Sky Pirates, but again feel free to change this.

The characters own aircraft is an armed, fast light cargo plane.

Top Speed: 300 MPH; Toughness: 14 (2); Crew: 5; Climb: 15; Handling: -1; Size: 8 (Large)
Weapons: 2x Linked .30-cal Medium MGs (Pintle-Mounted Front), 2x Linked .30-cal Medium MGs (Turret, top)

Characters' goal is to outrun the Sky Pirates, whilst the Sky Pirate have to stop them.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Operation Thule: After Action Report

Recently got to run my Operation Thule adventure that I released for SWAG, a Weird Wars style adventure set in the early '80s. It was also my first proper adventure that I've run under SWADE, which despite the changes from SWD felt like coming back to an old friend. Certainly made a nice change from the Rogue Trader game I've been running for the past few months.


The South Atlantic Conflict

Our adventure begins on the 22nd May 1982, not long after the British Taskforce managed to put troops ashore at San Carlos. The characters get called together by a Colonel Mcguire who explains that an enemy commando team has been spotted some miles to the east and intel suggests that this team may be looking for something, London fears it may be a weapon like mustard gas. The characters were given the chance to ask questions, assigned a Land Rover and told to prepare their kit before heading out.

The Squad

'Jock' - The 'not quite' Scottish sniper.

'Jones 79' - Mild mannered Welsh machine gunner.

'Lofty' - The short Cockney scout.

'Sparky' - The Royal Engineer sapper from the Midlands (though didn't come into play until later).

'Wings' - The commander with childhood dreams of being a pilot.

As the characters prepared to head out, they were interrupted by an air raid as a couple of enemy jets come in low overhead. Thankfully the jets were more interested in the ships off-shore and brave the hail of gunfire from the ground to do a couple of passes before withdrawing to the west. Once things had quietened down, the characters set off but they only had a couple of hours of daylight left and the sun was already quite low to the horizon.

The boggy and rocky terrain made the going slow, often forcing them to drive little more than five miles per hour. Though they ended up making better time than expected and civilians in a lone farmhouse gave the characters some pointers on what route to take along with some intel on enemy forces. Cheerfully sent on their way by the civilians, the characters reached the Wickham Heights mountain range not long after nightfall and set up a biovuac in a crevice in the rockface to use it to provide some shelter from the worsening weather conditions. Wings detailed a watch rota and they then settled down for the night.

 Wings and Jock took first watch, though had an uneventful few hours until they warily handed over to Jones 79 and Lofty. An hour or so later Lofty spots a creature moving around like a kangaroo and growling, though the noise sounded unlike a dog and no predators were known to be on the islands. Lofty informed Jones that he'd spotted something and that he was going to investigate, leaving Jones to rouse the others. The Cockney scout soon found some strange looking tracks, but had difficulty trying to actually spot the creature which slipped through the darkness unseen.

Suddenly Loft found himself being barrelled over by a creature only slightly smaller than he was, but was ferocious as any wild animal as it madly trashed and clawed at him. Hearing Lofty call out, Jones told the other two and hurried out to find his comrade with torch in hand. Seeing Lofty on the ground wrestling with some...creature, the Welshman calmly sets up his Bren Gun and blasts the creature off the Cockney with a hail of gunfire. Despite being dead, the creature was a disconcerting sight from what they could see from the light of their torches. Daylight didn't bring any reassurances and the squad decided to load the creature into the back of their Land Rover for specialists to take a look at.

After a new day had dawned, the characters set off again and only managed to travel a couple of miles down the track until a rock slide blocked their path. Wings ordered the squad to proceed on foot with Lofty scouting ahead, the scout soon topped a rise and spotted a couple of civilian looking Land Rovers along with a couple of enemy commandos outside of a cave entrance. Quietly slipping back, Lofty informed the rest of the squad what he'd seen. The squad moved up with Jock taking up an over-watch position on the rise whilst the others tried sneaking closer to the cave, though the enemy spotted them and opened fire. Wings was cut down in a blast of gunfire, though Jock got some revenge by taking down one of the enemy with a headshot. The second soldier was cut down with a hail of machine gun fire from Jones whilst Lofty tried taking out the Land Rovers with a grenade.

More enemy soldiers charged out of the cave, though a sergeant was downed by Jock who scored another headshot. Jones' Bren counted for some more enemy soldiers, whilst Sparky (played the person who'd been playing Wings) counted for another. There were two soldiers left in the entrance of the cave, Lofty tried throwing a grenade at them but was shot and killed for his efforts even as the grenade flew true and took out the two soldiers. With Jock remaining outside, Sparky and an injured Jones charged into the cave. Jones got cut down by a burst of gunfire from an enemy officer who'd been in the cave, though Sparky took the officer out with a shot from his SLR. Then a German, who'd been leading the enemy team, attacked by throwing a ball of energy at Sparky which narrowly missed. Realising the intelligence value, Sparky acted quickly and knocked the German out with the stock of his SLR.

All that was left was for the two survivors, Jock and Sparky, to stock of their situation, secure their prisoner and gather their dead comrades before radioing for an evac via helicopter. Inside the cave was a stone idol, one that curiously resembled a squid....

Monday, 9 December 2019

The Iron Collective Revisited

This week it is the turn of the Iron Collective to receive the 'Revisited' treatment. Again this is another nation that I'm largely happy with how it currently stands, save perhaps for tweaks and refinements here and there. Though I do have an idea for a possibly big addition to the lore of the Iron Collective.


Mind Over Matter

The Order of the Great Machine has virtual control over all aspects of life within the Iron Collective, having completely rebuilt Sodkan society after assuming power in the wake of the Holy Sodkan Empire's collapse. The radical changes made by the Order are unheard of in other nations and strangely the Collective's citizens seemingly accepted them without question soon after the Collective was formed.

How, and why?

The secret of the Order's total control pre-dates the founding of the Collective, technically even the Great Darmonican War and possibly even the founding of the Holy Sodkan Empire. At some point in the Order's early existence one its members stumbled across data about the Ancient Terrans' methods of maintaining control over its slave labour force, something that was brought to the attention of the Order's hierarchy. It was revealed that the Ancients used a special chemical in the labourers' food coupled with a combination of radio signal based mind control and subliminal messaging.

It took a series of experiment before the Order managed to replicate the Ancients' technique and a plan was hatched to put the technique into action. By this point the Holy Sodkan Empire was embroiled in the Great Darmonican War and rationing was widespread, being particularly harsh for the Empire's working classes. The Order decided to take advantage of this situation by opening up soup kitchens in various towns and cities, the special control chemical being implanted in the food given out by the kitchens. Once the Order was confident enough that even people had eaten the tainted food, the next phase of the plan was put into action.

Radio transmitters and broadcasts were set up by the Order, gradually increasing in coverage as the soup kitchens were expanded. Soon enough those who'd eaten the tainted food were slowly being brainwashed by the Order, this was helped by widespread disgruntlement of the way the war was going and was something seized upon by the Order. Fuelled by the Order's efforts, unrest began to grow across the Empire as the Order sought to weaken the Imperial Government before seizing control.

The Blast and resultant death of Empress Polinia Serlov came as a surprise to the Order, though it wasted no time in taking over. With much of the citizenry under its control, the Order quickly instituted the Classification system to help realise its ambitions. Though it became apparent that some people were resistant to the Order's mind control techniques, prompting them being called the Unclassified. Whilst those who end up being Declassified stop receiving the tainted food that aids the Order's control over the person in question, usually resulting in people slowly been 'weaned' and thus breaking free of the Order's control. This is typically why the Declassified are either killed on sight or deported to a prison camp to prevent them from openly rebelling against the system.

Even foreigners eating the food within the Collective and staying within range of the many control transmitters are at risk of falling victim to the Order's control, giving rise to a number of so-called 'converts' within the past few years. There are rumours that the Order may be expanding its control outside of the Collective's borders, quietly subverting the populace of neighbouring countries.

Monday, 2 December 2019

New Aircraft: Iolar Light Bomber

Another new aircraft, though this week I set myself bit of a challenge to recreate the de Havilland Mosquito or get as close as possible. Though its ended up being a slightly faster version of the Argentine I.Ae.24 Calquin Light Bomber, apparently an aircraft patterned after and is a 'look-alike' for the Mosquito.

I.Ae.24 Calquin

The Iolar 'Eagle' Light Bomber

The Iolar, or 'Eagle', Light Bomber came about as part of a Royal Aero-Fleet requirement for a fast, light bomber to conduct strike raids against enemy targets. It has a speed to match most fighters and decent armaments, though it has a pitiful payload by bomber standards. As a result the Eagle tends to be used for pinpoint strike missions in flights of at least four to six aircraft.

There is a degree of discontentment amongst the Air Ministry over the future of the aircraft; it entered service just over a decade or so before the Great Darmonican War and thus is still seen as an 'untried' aircraft despite its 20 years of service. There are those who thus consider it to be a worthless aircraft and are trying to have it scrapped without a replacement, though there are others who are championing the aircraft and are pushing for a more modern version.

Top Speed: 300 MPH; Toughness: 14 (2); Crew: 2; Climb: 15; Handling: -1; Size: 8 (Large)
Weapons: 4x Linked .50-cal Heavy MGs (Fixed Front)
1x pair of rockets, or
Bombs (8x Small or, 4x Medium or, 2x Large)

Monday, 25 November 2019

Keep The Home Fires Burning: Mortuary Troubles

This week we dip back into Keep The Home Fires Burning, a setting that we've only infrequently looked at. Trying my hand at an adventure in the KTHFB setting, something thats been kicking around in my head for a while. The basis overview is that the characters have been sent to a hospital where corpses have been stolen from the hospital's morgue, though the truth behind the thief is more horrible than the characters realise.


A Grave Matter

The characters are tasked by their superiors at the Home Office to investigate a spite of thievery of bodies from the Albion Hospital on Burke Street in London's East End. The Metropolitan Police has had little luck in solving the case and the authorities, fearing dark means being involved, dispatch the characters to try and get to the bottom of things.

At the hospital the morgue attendant, a teenage lad by the name of Robert O'Hare who'd lucked on being conscripted by turning 18 as the war ended. O'Hare appears to be nervous round the characters, he'll claim his anxiety is due to fear of losing his job and that his family had originally come from Dublin. His uncle is a respected surgeon at the hospital and had gotten Robert the position of morgue attendant in hopes of giving the lad some practical experience and encouragement to enter medical school. Robert is also the one who raised the alarm about the missing bodies, something which is confirmed by the police report.

The hospital is short staffed due to a mixture of wartime conscription and the flu epidemic causing the hospital to loose staff. What staff remain are overworked dealing with flu victims, whilst O'Hare is the sole morgue attendant but has to help out the other staff. The police suspected that the bodies may have illegally be taken for use as cadavers, but thus far enquiries at medical schools in the London area failed to support this claim. Though the police remain suspicious of O'Hare.

When the characters investigate the morgue, they won't find much unless they look real closely. Either by spotting wheel marks on the floor (possibly via a raise on a Notice roll) or exploring the rest of the basement area in which the morgue is located, the characters will find morgue trolleys being left in another part of the basement. O'Hare, if questioned, will state that these trolleys are broken and he'd put them there until they could be fixed or replaced. Investigating further will reveal no report has been made about these trolleys being broken and there doesn't seem to be an actual fault with any of them.

Searching the room with the trolleys will reveal some curious marks on the floor leading to a false floor covering a hole leading down to an unlit tunnel. The tunnel appears to be very old, perhaps medieval or even Roman in origin. The tunnel is also partially collapsed and cramped, barely big enough for a single person to crawl along. After a few hundred feet the tunnel opens up into a large cavern, here an overpowering rotten smell greets the characters. As they quickly discover, the cavern is home to a warren of ghouls along with what remains of the bodies they took from the morgue.

The ghouls had been stealing from the morgue for some time, though they were caught in the act by O'Hare one night. The lad, scared out of his wits by the encounter, pleaded for his life and managed to strike a deal where he would leave bodies by the false floor where the ghouls could get to them without fear of getting caught. Somebody higher up got suspicious when bodies started going unaccounted for, something O'Hare pass off as a simple matter of thievery but he is now scared of being found out.

Adventure Rules

Refer to the Setting Rules for KTHFB, count the morgue and basement area of the hospital as being Infection Rating 4. The characters' Immunity bonus (+1 per Rank) and a Germ Mask (+2) will help off-set the worse of the penalty on the Contraction Roll.

Weapons wise, it is suggested that the characters have access to pistols, revolvers and small melee weapons suitable for the period. Weird War One is highly recommended for weapon stats.

No full stats for O'Hare, though he's considered to have d6 for Attributes and Core Skills.

A Fear Check at -1 will be needed when the characters encounter the ghouls, likewise there will be 1d4+1 ghouls per character.

Ghoul

Ghouls are vile scavengers, feasting off carrion and unfortunate victims who cross their path.
Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d8, Survival d8, Stealth d10
Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 8
Special Abilities
• Claws: Str+d4.
• Infravision: Ghouls halve penalties (round down) for bad lighting when attacking living targets.
• Keen Senses (Smell): Ghouls get +2 to Notice and Tracking rolls against living targets.
• Paralysis: Victims of a ghoul's claw attacks must make a Vigor roll at -2 or be paralyzed for 1d6 rounds.
• Undead: +2 Toughness; +2 to recover from being Shaken; No additional damage from called shots; Immune to disease and poison.

Thanks to Richard Woolcock for the Ghoul stats.

Monday, 18 November 2019

The Airman's Gazetteer: Colony of Orduesh

Little bit of a chance of pace, a return to the Airman's Gazetteer series to expand the world of Darmonica. This week is a look at something that has been mentioned previously; the Commonwealth Colony of Orduesh. This desert outpost is surrounded by hostile lands and border skirmishes are a way of life, yet the Commonwealth still holds onto it.

Source: RAF Museum

Desert Days

The Colony of Orduesh is centered round the city of the same name, originally part of the Holy Sodkan Empire but later acquired via treaty by the Commonwealth following a past conflict. It lies at the eastern end of the Mammut Sea, the Commonwealth's only port on that body of water. With the sea to the west, it is bordered on its three other sides by the desolute deserts of the Sultanate of Taramate has grown increasingly hostile to the Commonwealth in recent years.

So why does the Commonwealth maintains this outpost?

The answer is complex.

First and foremost is that Orduesh is a major source of Aerothium for the Commonwealth, providing lift gas for the aero-vessels of the Royal Aero-Fleet and Commonwealth aligned trade consortiums. There are a number of mines were the raw mineral is extracted before being shipped to the refinery in Orduesh City and processed into its gas form. Since it is of such a great strategic importance, elements of the Commonwealth's military guard both related facilities and shipments.

Orduesh is also strategically located, not only on the eastern end of the Mammut Sea but also for its proximity to the Union of Sodkan Republics. This enables the Commonwealth to better maintain relations and even trade with the Republics, in addition to providing a route for Commonwealth agents to get in and out of the Iron Collective. Though it does make the colony vulnerable to sky pirates operating out of the Republics.

Use In Games

Orduesh could provide an interesting alternative to Alyeska, there are more major factions at play and their respective interests clash with one another. There is conflict between the Commonwealth and Taramate, as well as occasional clashes with the Republics and sky pirates. There is also the chance of doing dangerous, but highly profitable, smuggling runs into both the Sultanate and the Iron Collective. Orduesh could also serve as the base for a campaign revolving round Commonwealth operatives taking action against the Collective or getting involved in the politics of the Republics.

Monday, 11 November 2019

New Aircraft: The Raven Fighter

Another week where I've found myself short on time to do a longer post, so instead its another new aircraft. This is suppose to be on the other end of the scale to the Trodaí Fighter that got featured last week, a new design in the setting that hasn't even reached the production stage. Hopefully it represents a more radical design that fits firmly in the Dieselpunk theme.

Source: Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces

The Raven


With the end of the Great Darmonican War there were many who saw an opportunity to try out radical new designs over tried and tested ones, though many of these valiant attempts were shot down with the drastically reduced post-war budgets available. The Raven was destined to suffer a similar fate, at least until the appointment of a certain Cathal Mulcahy to a senior position within the Air Ministry. Clan Mucahy had a controlling interest in the company developing the Raven, namely Whytemoor Aero-Engineering, and with one of their scions in the right position they were able to thus influence the Commonwealth's aircraft development and acquisition programmes.

Now suddenly made a priority and benefiting from increased funding, the Raven has reached the prototype stage with a number of models built for flight testing by the Aero-Fleet. Though the Commonwealth hasn't publicized its latest fighter design, others have most certainly gotten wind of it and have tried to get their hands on it. There are rumours of at least one model being stolen whilst in transit.

The Raven is a pusher-prop design with a pair of nose mounted 30mm autocannons. It packs a higher punch than the Hornet and is faster than the Kestrel, something that Whytemoor Aero-Engineering hopes will see the Raven being adopted as the Commonwealth's main fighter.

Top Speed: 300 MPH; Toughness: 11 (2); Crew: 1; Climb: 20; Handling: +2; Size: 6 (Large)
Weapons: 2x Linked 30mm Autocannons (Fixed Front)

Monday, 4 November 2019

New Aircraft: The Trodaí Fighter

Bit of a short post and a minor treat this week, though little bit of a challenge for myself. So this week's post features a new aircraft, one that sits between the Hornet and Kestral in terms of capability. This is deliberately intended to be an 'inferior' aircraft, a design long since chucked onto the scrap heap and thus more likely to be found in the hands of sky pirates than the Commonwealth's frontline fighters.

Source: World of Warplanes - Bristol Type 133

The Trodaí 'Warrior' Fighter


The Trodaí, or Warrior, Fighter is a Commonwealth design that pre-dates the Great Darmonican War and has long since been withdrawn from service as newer and better designs were introduced. Many ended up in scrapyards where they were sold to, or stolen by, private groups such as merc outfits or sky pirates. The Warrior appeals to many a small outfit as it is a simpler design compared to modern fighters and it was built in large numbers, thus spare parts are still easy to come by.

Top Speed: 320 MPH; Toughness: 11 (2); Crew: 1; Climb: 15; Handling: +1; Size: 6 (Large)
Weapons: 4x Linked Medium MGs (Fixed Front)
Notes: Improved Gunsight

Monday, 28 October 2019

Frozen Skies Update

This week is an update on the current status of Frozen Skies and its update to SWADE. Been posting ideas about some changes to the setting, haven't haven't covered the mechanics side of things all that much. So taking the opportunity to bring everyone up to speed on how things currently sit.





Status Report


Progress has been a bit on the slow side; a combination of SWADE finally being released, stuff going on with family life and the dayjob means updating Frozen Skies has ended up sliding onto the backburner. Though writing blog posts has helped to get some ideas down, least I forget them. Presently I can only say that the SWADE version of Frozen Skies will be out some point next year.

Either way, here is the current version of the updates though these will still change; https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H3Hrg-YoFCNUOTmNwmuWy36gRyySpM4h/view?usp=sharing

On a related note here, the Frozen Skies Jumpstart for SWADE will be updated soon as changes were needed to update some stats to bring them in line with the release version of SWADE.

What Else?


So folk should, hopefully, be aware that I've been going over and revising aspects of the setting. Changes include updating some Edges in addition to removing others and adding new ones. The Wulftouched Hindrance has been completely overhauled and now functions similarly to the Harrowed in Deadlands, which should make it more interesting to take.

Another big change is going to be Weird Science, chiefly how Ancient Tech devices will work now. Somebody suggested to run them like Ultra Tech in the SciFi Companion; effectively a -2 penalty for minor devices and -4 for major ones along with completely redoing related Edges. It got me thinking whether to include some sort of card based system to determine what sort of Ancient device the players come across, like Spades for Weapons, Hearts for Protection and so forth. This should help GMs create Ancient devices on the fly and make things exciting with the random factor and chance.

Least thats a few ideas I have, but I'm welcome to suggestions.