Monday, 21 May 2018

Frozen Skies: Expanded Airship Rules Ideas

So running a Frozen Skies campaign gives me the opportunity to try stuff out beyond the typical scope of a one shot adventure. One of the ideas that I wish to develop and playtest is expanded rules for airships and combat involving them. This will of course feed into Skies of Crimson, the next book that is planned for Frozen Skies.






Aircraft vs Airship

Mentioned under the Airship Combat rules is that weapons over a certain size are able to hurt airships, meaning the options of an aircraft are pretty limited. Have a few ideas to address this as discussed below.

Called Shots - Basically works the same as normal ranged combat; characters can target specific parts of the airship. This would incur a -4 penalty on the Shooting roll and can target the following locations; Engines, Controls and Weapon Mount. This attack inflicts the effects described on the Airship Critical Hit Table in Frozen Skies for the locations, but it doesn't actually inflict a wound on the airship.

The idea here is that the aircraft would be disabling the airship rather than killing it outright.

Gas Cells - Another idea I'm toying with is something that could allow aircraft to actually hurt an airship; targeting its gas cells.

Targeting the gas cells would grant the attacking aircraft a +2 on its Shooting rolls, though I am toying with the idea of halving the airship's Toughness for these type of attacks. Gas cells would then suffer wounds as per the normal damage rules, additionally the airship will begin losing height at a rate of 1d10" per wound. Also, gas cell wounds inflict a -1 penalty on Piloting skill rolls like normal wounds and this will be cumulative with the airship's regular wounds and other modifiers. The fourth and each successive wound thereafter should be considered as wounds on the airship itself, potentially meaning that the airship will be losing altitude at a rate of 6d10" per round.

This method means its easier for an attacking aircraft to do but it requires a greater effort.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Frozen Skies Session Zero: Taking Flight

Some back I mentioned about running a Frozen Skies campaign, recently had a character creation session or 'Session Zero' if you will. Partially because we had a new player and partial because it had been a while since we last played anything Savage Worlds related, we did a short combat to get to grips with how everything works. So this week's post will be a rundown of the characters and an after action report of the brief combat. Going forward, I'll be alternating between campaign posts and Utherwald Press related posts.


Cast of Scoundrels

We have a crew of five characters who are to brave the frozen skies of Alyeska, complete with their own airship (more on that in a bit). They all hail from a diverse range of different backgrounds and, in one particular case, different countries.

Alex Sondheim - Petty street thug, grew up picking pockets and extorting shopkeepers.

Herbert Schilling - Former doctor's apprentice from Lindun, recently finished national service posting at Calharrow.

George Page -  Served in the Royal Aero-Marines, now heavy weapons specialist and secondary pilot for the group.

Jack "Tag" Rollews - Mercenary pilot and mechanic, originates from the Coalition.

Sebastion Jones - Sharpshooter.

As stated earlier, they have an airship; The Waylander

She's an old Rover-class scout airship that saw service during the Great Darmonican War and got sold off after the armistice. It sports hooks to mount a pair of fighter-reconnaissance aircraft to extend its patrol radius and for self-defence. Additionally, it boasts a pair of gun turrets armed with twin 50-cal machine guns. 

At present they have a single escort aircraft; A Blackforge Marauder that's been named "Gilias".

Smoke Street Shootout

After character creation was done and the players had sorted out their airship, we had a bit of time to run through a bit of combat. This was partially to get used to the rules again, partially to show how the system works for Herbert's player since he's new to the group and to tabletop RPGs.

The scenario was pretty straight forwards; the group ran afoul of a street gang that outnumbered them two-to-one.

Jack's player got lucky and received a Joker in the first round of combat, but elected to hold their action. Herbert's player ended up going first, got into cover behind a truck and fired off a shot from their rifle. George was next, firing a burst from his machine gun whilst Alex edged closer to the thugs and fired his revolver. Jack and Sebastion broke into a nearby building with the intent of using the upper floor as a sniping point. By the time the thugs went, one of them had been Shaken (and would remain so). The return exchange of fire from the thugs was terrible, so a good bunch of them decided to leap-frog through some cover in order to get to George and Herbert. The thug leader fired his weapon, which produced a beam of light rather than a bullet, at Alex.

Round two saw Herbert getting a Joker and going first again, this time downing one of the thugs. George's efforts with the machine gun put down a couple more thugs. Jack and Sebastion reach the upper floor, Jack then spotted for Seb by using his pair of binoculars. Allow Jack to do a Notice roll, a success and each raise then gave +1 to Seb's Shooting roll (IIRC he got a raise and so Seb got +2 to his own roll). Seb then fired at the thug leader and managed to roll 24 on his damage roll, the thug leader managed to do a Soak roll but was left with two wounds. Alex then moved up to do a melee attack on the thug leader and...failed.

The thugs continued to move forwards, but their shooting was just as ineffective as it was during the first round. The thug leader spent a benny to remove Shaken and proved just as bad in melee against Alex. Due to time constraints we had to call it quits there, though everyone seemed to enjoyed it.

Thoughts: Range and cover modifiers do have a big impact, plus it was nice seeing the players thinking tactically.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Kickstarter Update

OK, Frozen Skies Kickstarter update time.

Right, that magic word...FULFILMENT

We've pretty much finished checking through for typos and errors, now its a case of doing the last few corrections and edits before finalizing the files prior to them being uploaded to DriveThruRPG. There will probably be bit of a delay since the files will be needed to be validated by DriveThru, once they've been approved see can then see about sending out copies of Frozen Skies.

So now would be a very good time to ensure that your Kickstarter details are correct, a survey should go out at some point in the next few weeks so that the process of fulfilment can be done. The focus will be on getting Frozen Skies out, after that we can turn our attention to the rest of the Kickstarter rewards.

Oh, and theres another magic word....FEEDBACK

Released a Kickstarter draft PDF of Frozen Skies via a Backer-only update a few months back, have asked for feedback whether theres any changes needed to be made. Now is the last chance to get that feedback in.

Monday, 7 May 2018

The Gwentshire Chronicles: The Mist-Bound

We're returning to the County of Gwentshire and taking a look at a few ideas concerning the Mist-Bound. This group of entities serve as sentinels, standing guard against otherworldly beings trying to break through the weak point in reality located in Gwentshire.
 
Doing things a little differently this week by having this week's post up on Patreon before it goes live on the blog. 
 
 
 
The Mist-Bound
The Mist-Bound are a group of five entities who guard the rift in the walls between worlds and stop otherworldly beings from slipping through. They are widely believed to have been druids who underwent a ritual to become the Mist-Bound, something that is said to have occurred before the Roman conquest of the British Isles.
 
Normally they are very covert, preferring to conduct their eternal duty away from Human eyes. On the few occasions that they have materialized before a person, there has never been more than five of them and they all appear as cloaked figures surrounded by mist. There doesn't seem to be a clear leader and generally they all seem to be male, though one is said to to be female from the tone and accent of their voice.
 
They seem to have some sort of relationship with the spectral black hound 'Grim Jack'. Its not clear whether the hound is a servant of the Mist-Bound or an ally, but no known hostility between the two has been recorded. Its only on very rare occasions that Grim Jack has been seen in the company of the Mist-Bound.
 
Over the centuries the Mist-Bound's power has been steadily eroded, first by the raise of Christianity and then later by the destruction of ancient sites beginning during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century. Decline in the Mist-Bound powers has meant a weakening of their vigilance on the Gwentshire rift and greater chances of things being able to slip through. A spite of 'weirdness' in the 1970s was said to have been caused by a housing development destroying a key site, something that forced the Mist-Bound to enlist the aid of mortals.
 
The Neopagan movement has seen a revival of the Mist-Bound's strength and power, thus allowing them to catch more of the smaller beings trying to slip through the crack between worlds. However, Human activity has been a threat to the Mist-Bound is likely to continue to be so.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

April 2018 Update

We're over a quarter of the way into the year and its looking like Frozen Skies will soon be ready. Though still a bit quiet on the events front and other big announcements, but there is a little bit of news there. Plus there is other Frozen Skies related news that may be of interest to folk.


Frozen Skies

Some of the backer rewards in the Kickstarter was some extra content in the book; had a couple of people in particular choose the "Create Your Own..." pledges. We've had to chase these people, but we've have now received responses from them and working to inter-corporate their rewards into the book.

Don't like to commit to any firm dates as of yet, though hopefully by mid-May we should be in a position to start fulfilling Kickstarter rewards. It just depends on how quick the artist is and how long file approval takes via DriveThruRPG. As ever, we'll try to keep you guys posted.

Events

Not much to say, going to be another year light on events and staying close to home.

At this year's Diceni in Norwich on Sunday 6th May, print copies of the Frozen Skies Setting Primer can be found on the stand belonging to Trinkety. Utherwald wasn't able to get a place this year, but I know the lass behind Trinkety and she'd offered to stock the Setting Primers.

An event that I'm hoping will have an Utherwald Press presence this year is another local show; NOR-CON on the last weekend of September.

And Finally...

Quite some time back I mentioned about the possibility of running a Frozen Skies campaign.

Seems that will finally be happening in over a week's time, though tad earlier than I had initially planned. General gist of the campaign is that the characters are part of a crew of freelancers working for a logging company, this will give them a springboard to start from and allow them to decide that they want to do. Though I do intend for them to get caught up in....stuff.

Since the players are liable to see this post, I can't give out much more in the way of details. Though I'll try to post fortnightly updates on the campaign.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The County of Gwentshire

As the Gwentshire Chronicles setting idea seems to have been a big hit I've decided to do a follow-up post. Its a general overview of the County of Gwentshire, noting places of interests. It also gives a rough idea of the geographic layout of the county along with little glimpses at its history.

Expect further posts as I explore some concepts for the setting, though people have asked about cross-generational stuff.


The County of Gwentshire

Gwentshire is a small English county located in the South-West of England, close to Bristol.

It is bisected by the River Gwent, which flows north through the county into the Bristol Channel. The county town and administrative seat is the town of Gwentford, straddling the River Gwent in the rough center of the county. Gwentford is home to Moore Barracks, the depot of the Gwentshire Rifles and boasts some light industry. A railway line runs east to west, crossing the Gwent at Gwentford where branch lines split off to serve the rest of the county. Aside from the light industry round Gwentford, the county is rural with flat coastal plains giving way to more hilly terrain the further south you go.

Places of Interest

Gwentford - County town and administrative seat.

Gwentford Castle - Built by the Normans on the site of an earlier Anglo-Saxon fort. Damaged during the English Civil War and never properly repaired, was used as an army barracks until Moore Barracks was built in the early 1800s. Used as a prison during the latter half of the 19th Century until the so-called 'New Prison' was built in the 1890s. Despite plans to turn it into a museum it stood empty for much of the 20th Century, though was used as a PoW camp in both World Wars.

Potterstead - Main port in Gwentshire and located at the mouth of the River Gwent.

Lombe - Village in the south-eastern part of the county and host to Lombe Hall, the country seat of the Snell family (least up until the 1930s).

Ashenbury - Located south-west of Gwentford, west of the River Gwent and just north of the Weston Hills.

Ashenbury Tor - Sandstone hill close to the town of Ashenbury and nestled in a crook of the River Gwent, site of a prehistoric hillfort that was later used by the Romans.

RAF Ludsgate - Aerodrome built in the 1920s, acquired by the RAF in the late 1930s as part of its pre-WW2 expansion programme.

The Levels - coastal plain and wetland area forming the northern half of the county.

The Weston Hills - Range of limestone hills that dominate the southern half of the county, boasts many gorges and combes as well as a few caves.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Setting Idea: The Gwentshire Chronicles

Whats this? Another Setting Idea and entry on the 'Would Like To Do Someday' List?!

Been toying for some time with the idea of a British supernatural/horror setting, but so far I've struggled with a way of making it stand out. Recently I believe that I've finally cracked it; One location (a fictional English county) but with the option of different time periods.

Basically means that a game in the setting can be set at any period throughout history, from Roman and Medieval times through the Victorian period to the World Wars and 21st Century.


Setting Name: The Gwentshire Chronicles

Elevator Pitch: Exploring the weird, supernatural history of a fictional English county.

Genre: Supernatural horror, historic.

Inspiration: Lovecraft, Doctor Who.

Overview: The Gwentshire Chronicles is set in the fictional English county of Gwentshire, which is analogous to the northern part of Somerset.

This part of England in real life has always had bit of a weird and mystical reputation going back to prehistoric times, stone circles and Glastonbury Tor being the prime examples. Within the Gwentshire Chronicles, the supernatural is going to have a strong and forms a sort of 'mythos' based round the county of Gwentshire. There will be key elements of the Gwentshire mythos thats consistent across the various different time periods, but other elements will change to reflect specific periods. Dark creatures may terrorize lone farms and villages at night, but gradually these creatures will retreat into the hidden and forgotten places as the domain of Man expands outwards.

As for the mythos itself, I have a couple of ideas.

The first is the demonic or spectral entities known as 'black dogs' found primarily in the folklore of the British Isles. Some are said to be harmful, others guide and protect wayward travelers. There is going to be a black dog in Gwentshire known as 'Grim Jack', usually regarded as an omen of death. Though Grim Jack would be known to fight evil spirits, its unclear whether he's good or evil as he does not go out of his way to protect people. He is, however, known to hunt down people who commit crimes such as murder within the borders of Gwentshire and would otherwise escape justice.

The other idea was creatures, or even entities, known as the the 'mist-bound'. Running with the idea that mist is common in Gwentshire regardless of the time of year, generally there is stuff that reside in it. Thinking that Gwentshire is actually a weak point in the wall that separates our world from the spirit world, meaning that things slip through (hence all the supernatural stuff). The mist-bound are actually sort of guardians or sentinels, basically trying to prevent stuff slipping through. Due to human activity disturbing or even destroying certain sites throughout the county, the mist-bound's power gradually gets eroded and so they're forced to let the smaller stuff through so they can focus on the much bigger threats.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Alyeskan Gazetteer: Grimsport

Alyeska is home to be many settlements; some little more than mining camps whilst others are fully fledged towns. Most were founded either in areas rich with natural resources or close to readily available water. All usually have some sort of reputation for good or ill; Grimsport sits within the latter.


"A Most Dour And Decrepit Town"

The town of Grimsport sits at the mouth of the Grimsby River, which flows eastwards from Wicked Antler Lake to meet the sea on Alyeska's eastern coastline. The town was founded by the Grimsby family who gave their name to the river, the town and the whaling company that was Grimsport's major employer. Though the Grimsby family is now all but gone, the last male heir is believed to have been killed during the Great Darmonican War, and the town seems to be in terminal decline.

Grimsport has always had a bit of an ill reputation, the Grimsby family is said to have left the Home Isles under a dark cloud and some dare say that the family was cursed. The townsfolk themselves are a insular bunch and extremely unwelcoming to strangers, even to the point of outright rudeness. Whaling ships typically only unloaded the fruits of their labours at Grimsport, then sought a different port to take on supplies and for the crew to enjoy some shore leave.

Today, Grimsport is a decrepit looking town. The whaling industry effectively collapsed with the outbreak of war and Grimsport gradually went into terminal decline. Grimsby Hall, the seat of the Grimsby family, lies neglected whilst the whaling company factory is a blackened shell after a fire a couple of decades previously. An air of decay with streets of dilapidated buildings, seemingly half of which have any sign of human habitation.

Grimsport's only real contact with the outside world is the rickety old bus that runs from the town to Purpleflint and back three times a day, though the town does boast a small airstrip originally maintained by the Grimsby Whaling Co. There is also a two-man Air Police detachment, though this is rotated every three months and is an unpopular posting as its considered a punishment detail. The detachment's main role is to function as a point of contact for search and rescue efforts during an emergency, though they are alerted via a landline telephone so that they do not have to main the radio round the clock.

Services wise there is a rundown hotel that contains the town's sole restaurant and bar. There is also a combined general store and post office, a remnant of the old Great Northern Trading Co. This store is run by a Mrs Jenkins, a war widow and the only friendly face in town. Mrs Jenkins' husband died during the war, but she has maintained a cheerful disposition and is willing to impart advice to newcomers.

Due to Grimsport poor reputation, most aviators tend to turn down jobs that involve the town. As a result such jobs tend to offer double pay as an incentive, even for something as simple as a mail run. That may seen enticing to player characters who'll probably consider it 'easy money' even if they suspect a catch. Smuggling is another option due to the town's remoteness and the lack of interest from the aforementioned law enforcement.

Grimsport should be played as being more than a little creepy; there is a near-constant mist that engulfs the town and there is overwhelming feel of abandonment due to the rundown nature of the town. The locals will simply stand and silently stare at newcomers rather than engage in conversation, they also look similar to one another. The characters should feel like they're being constantly watched, perhaps even see half-glimpsed shadows, in addition to feeling that they're trespassing on unhallowed ground.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Rogue's Gallery: Kaelin Madigan

Alyeska is a land of ample opportunity; some toil the land for the fruit of the earth whilst others seek precious minerals beneath it. For every soul seeking to make an honest living, there are many who seek to part fools from their gold through dishonest means. Thieves and bandits are a common plight in civilized lands, but there is another kind of scoundrel that is on the raise who uses trickery and deceit to get what they want.

Kaelin Madigan is one such person, using every trick up her sleeve to fleece others out of their heard earn coin.





Kaelin Madigan

Kaelin didn't have an easy start in life, being born on a Genchi ghetto in the Aldwell District of Lindun. She never knew her father and her mother was killed during an air raid, the ghettos having received no provisions for the safety of their residents. Being orphaned at a young age was bad enough, but being a Genchi she could expect no help from the state for her welfare. The other families in the ghettos looked out for her as much as they could, though food, medicine and even clothes were in pitiful short supply as the Genchi were low down on the rations list.

It wasn't long before Kaelin started stealing food from shops and market stalls; sometimes she'd managed to get away with a loaf of bread, other times she got bruises from irate shopkeepers for her troubles. Through a mixture of trial and error she learnt that she had a knack for subterfuge, using deceit to swipe coins and ration books from unsuspecting victims. She soon put her skills to good use with a street gang, acting as a distraction whilst her fellow gang members went about the actual act of thievery. However, the gang ended up being busted by the law and Kaelin opted to skip town.

By this point the Great Darmonican War had ended and civilian shipping was starting to recover from the long years of war. It proved relatively easy for Kaelin to gain passage to Alyeska, a supposed land of opportunity she'd frequently heard others talk about. Whilst getting to Alyeska proved easy enough, Kaelin found that establishing herself there was another matter entirely. Her good looks had proven useful in the past and proved useful again as she managed to gain work with a certain madame as an escort.

From a string of wealthy clients she quickly learnt the etiquette of high society and useful tidbits from indulging in pillow talk with said clients. Before long she was able to work on a more freelance basis and had access to the few exclusive clubs and casinos that exist in Alyeska. She chooses her marks carefully, making sure that they're inebriated before she approaches them and thus more open to her advances. Later she engages in pillow talk in case her mark lets slip valuable information, then waits until he falls asleep before examining the mark's home. Personal papers, especially those relating to financial matters, she is particularly interested in and she uses a miniature camera to allow her to forge copies later on. She also looks for valuable items that she can secret out of the house and then fence.

Player characters may get hired by one of her victims to help catch her if the victim suspects what she has been up to. The characters may even get approached by Kaelin if they frequent upper end clubs and look reasonably wealthy with the intention of robbing them. On the flip-side, Kaelin may approach the characters to enlist their help with a potentially big score.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d8, Gambling d8, Intimidation d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Repair d6, Shooting d6, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8, Taunt d6
Charisma: +6; Pace: 6; Parry: 7(8); Toughness: 4
Hindrances: Greedy (Minor), Small, Wanted (Minor)
Edges: Acrobat, Alertness, Attractive, Very Attractive, Block, Charismatic, Dodge, Extraction, Level Headed, Martial Artist, Quick, Strong Willed, Thief
Gear: Revolver (12/24/48, 2d6, RoF 1, Shots 6, Revolver), Dagger (Str+d4)

Sunday, 25 March 2018

March 2018 Update

Tis been a couple of months since out last update, so its kinda high time for a new one.

There is some news regarding the Kickstarter, chiefly how things are progressing on that front. There has also been some movement on the Cold War Skirmishes front as well. Finally, reports on the deployment of Utherwald Press later in the year.





Kickstarter

The bulk of the artwork for Frozen Skies is done, just waiting on a handful of pieces which have been delayed. Hoping that these final pieces will be completed in the next week or so, potentially allowing us to finalize the PDF by mid to late April time. If all goes well we may even be lucky enough to start shipping rewards early, it just depends on how things go.

The draft version of Act One of the Kickstarter exclusive adventure 'The Remmants of the Past' has already been shared with backers and work on Act Two should begin soon. Envisioning at least three parts to the adventure, which will be turned into a PDF once completed.

Cold War Skirmishes

A week ago I released a fan made adventure called 'Operation Thule', a Weird Wars style adventure set during the Falklands Conflict. The response to it seems positive, so I'll look into doing a fuller CWS book on that conflict.

For those who've not yet seen the adventure, the link can be found here; https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fa4WgFiR1pLMhJjlPBatvauJxnmFzA1W

Events

Diceni, Norwich - 6th May -  Didn't get a stand, but Utherwald Press may still be there.

UK Games Expo - The logistics for UKGE this year haven't worked out, but maybe next year.

NOR-CON - This one is still on the cards.