Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Shrouded Days

As we enter the Winter Holidays, figured its a good a time as any to delve into Alyeska's equivalent known the Shrouded Days. The Shrouded Days are tied to the Midwinters Festival celebrated across the rest of Darmonica, in some respects they are considered to be the local Alyeskan observation of Midwinters.

Also, a reminder that there will be no post next week (28th Dec).

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, Happy Holidays!

The Shrouded Days

The name 'Shrouded Days' is given to what is effectively a polar night in Alyeska, though only northern areas get 'dark' whilst more southern regions tend to get at least a little bit of daylight. They can last anywhere between a few days to a month or more depending on how far north you are.

The beginning of the Shrouded Days is marked by the Exodus, a number of people will leave the north to winter with relatives who live further south. Those that stay typically move into the biggest building in their settlement where heating fuel and rations had been stockpiled in the weeks leading up to the Shrouded Days. Midwinters is marked as the halfway point during this period of darkness, typically involving present giving and a big meal to pick up spirits. The first sunrise is known as Dawnfest, a celebration is held to herald the end of the Shrouded Days and to welcome the new year.

However the Shrouded Days isn't without its dangers, particularly for more northern settlements. Outlaws can take advantage of the near-deserted ghost towns, either as a place to hideout the winter or to pull of a heist when theres very few people around. To this end the Royal Alyeskan Air Police usually deploys an officer or two to help keep settlements safe in addition to the townsfolk organising a militia of a sorts to regularly check each building in the settlement. That said its not unheard of for some settlements to be found abandoned come Dawnfest...

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

December 2016 Update

2016 is drawing to a close and soon we'll be in a brand new year, looking back I feel that I've made a bit of progress in getting Frozen Skies closer to release. This week's post is mainly about plans going forward and what to expect next year, and also a quick PSA that there won't be a post on the 28th December as I wish to take a break over the Festive period.

Frozen Skies

Hopeful to have a proper release for Frozen Skies by next summer, it'll be even better if I can get it done before the start of my convention season but for now I'm aiming for summer. Different parts of the book are going be done in a mixed order, the Setting Rules are effectively complete and uploaded for feedback. The other sections I plan to initially upload as Patrons Only content over on the Patreon page for feedback, but theres no guarantee that they'll appear on the blog. Though what I've been doing for the artwork will remain the same format, though being in a better place cash wise should mean artwork being shown off more regularly.

Also going to be doing something a bit different with the blog, I've had a few people nagging me about doing a Frozen Skies campaign and I've realized doing Actual Plays will help build interest. So once my present Savage Worlds campaign (based on Fallout New Vegas for those interested) I will do a Frozen Skies one and post up session reports every other week (which is when the game sessions usually run), this will give me a bit of breathing room to do the other posts which are likely to be monthly updates and other content such as locations, etc.

In addition I'll hopefully be on a podcast soon to talk about Frozen Skies, more details when I have them.

Events

My situation has improved a fair bit over the past year, so hoping to do more conventions and events next year. So listed below are the shows or conventions that you can expect to see Utherwald Press at;

Diceni - Norwich
UK Games Expo - NEC Birmingham
NOR-CON - Royal Norfolk Showground
Exilicon - Cambridge (TBC)

Dragonmeet in London is on the wishlist, as is Dragondaze in Cardiff but keeping my ear to the ground for other conventions in the East of England.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Alyeskan Gazetteer: Fort Cathmore

In last week's post I mentioned about trading posts that are scattered across the length and breath of Alyeska. About how they're located along established routes and offer safe-havens, offering lodgings, warm meals and supplies to wary travellers. We're also a little overdue a Gazetteer post, so naturally the two seem to go together quite well.

Fort Cathmore Trading Post

Fort Cathmore is one of a number of trading posts still operated by the New Gwentia Trading Company, though the Company may eventually give up ownership in the near future. It is located at a crossroad where a gravel road cross the partially-paved MacGuire Highway that runs from Gravenburgh at its southern end to Tay River on the shores of Wicked Antler Lake at its northern end.

The trading post predates the Highway, having originally been founded by the Great Northern Trading Company to trade with the native tribes that inhabited the area. Overtime the trading post became a small settlement known as Fort Cathmore, acquiring a tavern, a blacksmith and a couple of homesteads. With the coming of motor vehicles and the Highway the blacksmith became a repair garage and the trading post gained a couple of fuel pumps for motorcars. The trading post itself now serves more as a general store and part-time post office, it is also connected to the telegraph line that runs to Tay River.

Today the trading post is managed by a Gilbert Bradshaw who has a indifferent relationship with Miss Holland the owner of the tavern and a less than friendly one with the Mason Brothers who run the garage. Miss Holland is content to run her tavern without inference and has always paid her rent on time. The Mason Brothers, Rowland and Antony, run their own motorbus along the Highway that completes with the NGT operated mailbus and Bradshaw is certain they siphon fuel from the trading post's fuel pumps but he lacks proof. Antony and Rowland have made their ambitions clear that they wish to takeover the trading post, though Bradshaw is worried just how far they'll go to achieve that goal.

But, as of late, Bradshaw has bigger concerns in the form of outlaws who have been attacking the NGT mailbus recently. Again he suspects the Mason Brothers but lacks anything concrete and the Royal Alyeskan Air Police haven't been able to get any leads despite routing a regular patrol through the area. Bradshaw is willing to pay handsomely if anyone could bring the outlaws to justice, he'll also pay a bonus if it can be proven that the Masons have a few dirty dealings.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Trail of Commerce

Though the main focus of Frozen Skies is obviously aviation, there are other aspects of Alyeska that may appeal to players and some have been mentioned previously. Though aviators and their aircraft are considered vital, there are those who consider themselves equally important if not more so at keeping the lifeblood of trade in Alyeska going. Theirs is a less glamorous life trekking across the frozen wastes, fending off beasts and raiders alike to help keep the flow of commerce open. These are men, and women, known as Free Traders.

New Gwentia Trading Co.

For a long time Alyeska was dominated by the Great Northern Trading Company, originally a fur trading business that gained a monopoly on all trade in Alyeska. Though the Great Northern ran into difficulties and had its assets seized by the Commonwealth, thus ending its long time monopoly and allowing independent traders to fill the void as the company ceased to exist. The Commonwealth formed a replacement called the New Gwentia Trading Co. (NGT for short), though it had limited power and influence compared to the old Great Northern.

The NGT's main function is to maintain some of the Great Northern's old trading posts, effectively small settlements in their own rights, and run general stores in various settlements across the Alyeskan Interior. The trading posts are located along established routes and offer safe-havens, offering lodgings, warm meals and supplies to wary travellers. Some of these trading posts are also service stations for motor vehicles, though this tends to be closer to the bigger settlements.

Another role of the NGT is contracting free traders, offering routes up for bidding and providing guards for hire. Contracts usually require yearly fees, but in return contracted traders can bypass Board of Trade fees and can claim compensation if they suffer losses. However there has been growing competition from startup truck companies who prefer to broker their own contracts with prospective clients.

Free Traders still hold sway over much of the Interior, their routes run from the few existing railheads to far-flung settlements. Admittedly slower than aircraft, a Free Trader convoy is able to transport items in bulk and is likely to remain a common sight for some years to come.

Adventure Ideas

A NGT/Free Trader based campaign is likely to take place on firm earth and feature long treks through the Alyeskan wilderness. Typically it'll be based around a two or three vehicle convoy, most likely Mule Tracked Carriers, defending said convoy against beasts and outlaws. Players could serve as guards or simply be passengers in addition to the possibility of running the convoy themselves.

Aviation could still feature, either aircraft coming to the aid of a convoy or being scouts for a free trader seeking a new route.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

More Lurker Thoughts

The Ancient Terrans are a key part of Frozen Skies' background, primarily for the setting's history and as a source of adventure hooks. There is also the chance for players to actually meet some Ancient Terrans, known as 'Lurkers', though admittedly probably not in a friendly manner. Since the last post about them, I've had a few more thoughts regarding them.

Old Masters of Technology

One of the biggest things that the Ancient Terrans had going for them was their technology, some of it has been retrieved by modern Darmonicans like the Skyships have others are still far in advance of anything currently seen. Its plausible that the Lurkers would still use some of this old technology, least the devices that they can keep working since making new ones would be a tad...difficult.

One thought along this line is having the Lurkers' Life Drain ability actually be some sort of device, a sort of personal life replenisher that works by stealing another person's life essence. This can extend to other devices such as one that cloaks a Lurker in shadows and thus allow them to sneak up on somebody unaware, perhaps even some sort of holographic device to help unnerve and dis-ordinate potential...erm...'food'.

Lots of possible ideas to run with, plus it ties into the Weird Science Arcane Background that is already in the setting. Still running with the idea of 'futuristic' weapons such as raygun style laser weapons.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Wild Blue Yonder

Mentioned that cargo planes are quite common in the skies of Alyeska, plus its envisioned that alot of Frozen Skies groups will be based around a cargo plane of some description. Originally I was looking at using the stats for a C-47 Dakota from Weird Wars, though with the aircraft creation rules its probably a better idea doing one or two from scratch.

Crown Aircraft Co. 'Beagle'

The Beagle is a twin-engined, all-metal cargo plane that saw service in large numbers in the latter years of the Great Darmonican War. A few remain in military service a decade after the conflict, many more can be seen flying in civilian hands.

Acc/TS: 20/120; Toughness: 12 (2); Crew: 2-4; Climb: 0; Handling: -1; Notes: Heavy Chassis, Extra Fuel Tanks, Cargo Space x8

Crown Aircraft Co. 'Wolfhound'

A larger counterpart of the Beagle is the four-engined Wolfhound, which has tricycle landing gear that also helps to set it apart from the taildragging Beagle.

Acc/TS: 10/110; Toughness: 14 (2); Crew: 4; Climb: 0; Handling: -2; Notes: Bomber Chassis, Increased Torque, Wing Adjustments, Cargo Space x10

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

November 2016 Update

Been a couple of months since the last update and people have been asking how things are going.

So heres a round-up of things, thats also a day early!

Frozen Skies

Happy with the Setting Rules as they currently stand, hopefully playtesting won't throw up any problems. Don't see any more changes being made at this stage, but we'll see.

The rest of the work involved is sorting out Edges and Hindrances, as well as editing all the text to make it into a proper book format rather than a jumbled collection of notes and blog posts. I've made some progress here but there is still a fair amount of work to be done with the writing, but hopeful we'll see the final book some point in the New Year. A change of dayjobs and other factors means in theory that I have more time to devout to getting Frozen Skies finished.

Though I am pleased to announce that the artwork side of things have started moving again, the artist recently finished this piece of a Skyship.


Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Going Gyro

Conventional aircraft have been covered along with airships of various descriptions, yet there is a type that has only been mentioned but never given much detail. In Darmonica these aircraft are known collectively as 'gyros' but they are effectively helicopters. They aren't that common in Alyeska and the few examples that do exist are in military service, primarily for the use of the Wulfbane Commandos.

Going Gyro

Here are some examples of Gyros that can be encountered in Darmonica.

Gyro-Courier

The Gyro-Courier is a fast and nimble aircraft, usually in its element in mountainous or urban environments. Primarily a civilian aircraft used to move small cargoes or passengers, but armed versions do exist and are used by corporate security forces.

Acc/TS: 20/50; Toughness: 11 (2); Crew: 1+3; Climb: -1; Handling: +1

Gyro-Scout

An older type, originally used by the military during the early days of the Great Darmonican War for recce sorties but gradually replaced by faster aircraft. Does have a much longer range than the Courier model, a selling point for many a mining and logging company.

Acc/TS: 20/60; Toughness: 10 (1); Crew: 1; Climb: -1; Handling: +2

Gyro-Carrier

Exclusively used by the military, these aircraft are capable of carrying an entire squad of soldiers and are typically seen transporting squads of Wulfbane Commandos.

Acc/TS: 15/48; Toughness: 14 (2); Crew: 2+10; Climb: 0; Handling:-1

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Cloud Runner

Back in the mists of time I put together a book of short stories called Alyeskan Tales, a sort of fiction companion for Frozen Skies if you will. One of the stories was called 'The Alyeskan Job' and concerned the crew of a cargo plane called the Grey Bonxie and was intended to be the beginnings of a series that would be called 'Tales of the Grey Bonxie'. Well time moves on and ideas change, prompting a retcon of the original Grey Bonxie idea.

So this week we're meeting the crew of the...

Cloud Runner

First off, tis an airship.

Its an old Rover-class scout airship that saw service during the Great Darmonican War, sold off after the armistice as the Commonwealth's military started winding down after the conflict. Despite being old, its a solid military design that features individually wired gas cells of Lift Gas for built-in redundancy and damage control. It also sports hooks to mount a pair of fighter-reconnaissance aircraft to extend its patrol radius and for self-defence. Propulsion is provided by four engines mounted in nacelles on the sides of the airship, the nacelles also feature 50-cal machine guns to provide extra defence capabilities.

Some point after the War's end the airship was acquired by a certain Artemis Stormwell, who named it the Cloud Runner, was used in a semi-successful career flying cargo all over Alyeska. With small profit margins the Cloud Runner these days features a far smaller crew than she did when she was in military service, likewise she only has a single escort aircraft that doubles up as a small transport plane.

The Crew

Artemis Stormwell - Effectively the Cloud Runner's captain, joined the Commonwealth Air Force during the War and had only just completed flight training when the conflicted ended. He was reduced to a Short Service enlistment as post-war cutbacks began and assigned to the Commonwealth colony of Orduesh where he transport planes over the sands of the Southern Wastes for three years before being demobbed. In an attempt to keep flying he went to Alyeska and signed on with the Aerial Corps, acquiring the Cloud Runner a short time afterwards.

James Midnightte - Served with the Royal Aero-Marines for a fair number of years and saw action during the War, though he is a quiet and reserved man who doesn't speak much of his time with the Rams (though he has stated that he was a sergeant). He has best been described as "an honourable man who's found himself stuck in a hive of thieves and cut-throats", though he remains loyal to Stormwell after rescuing him from a bar brawl (though is unaware said bar brawl was started by the latter cheating at a game of cards). Onboard the Cloud Runner he serves as a de facto First Mate and as an air gunner.

Gervase - The Cloud Runner's other air gunner and another former military man, believed to have served in the army as either a quartermaster or driver but little else is known beyond that. Has proven to be a good getaway driver, but is less than trustworthy and has bit of a drinking problem.

Kaya - The sole female member of the crew and the airship's mechanic, a very highly skilled mechanic capable of fixing almost anything with a few choice words and a whack or two with a spanner. She hasn't revealed her surname, though its believed that she had bit of a sheltered upbringing and is a bit naive about the ways of the world. Both Stormwell and Midnightte keep a close eye on her whenever she comes out drinking with the crew, especially after Gervase has a few drinks inside of him.

Nate Rawlons - Nate Rawlons is the best fighter ace in all of Darmonica, least that what he tells everyone he meets. Stormwell considers him a 'deranged, hot shot kid' whom the Aerial Corps forced upon him and wants shot of the young pilot. One thing for certain is that he is full of energy, but his state of mind is questionable at best as he seems slightly of phase with everyone else. Nate is suppose to fly the Cloud Runner's escort, a Drake heavy fighter converted to be a small armed transport, though Stormwell usually flies this aircraft and makes Nate man the rear turret.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

More Aircraft Thoughts

Work on Frozen Skies has admittedly slowed down a bit over the summer due to various factors, least with the blog I've still been able to produce content and ideas. The recent Fool's Errand adventure series is a prime example of this and I'm looking to do a few more adventures of varying lengths to give people more options to play with. Though this week's topic is prompted by a recent question over on the Savage Worlds Google+ group.

More Aircraft Thoughts

Been thinking about expanding on the aircraft rules a bit, namely with more modifications and manoeuvres.

Cargo Space

Looking to handle in a similar fashion to 50 Fathoms, as in the aircraft can carry as many 'units' of cargo that it has space for. What I have down at the moment for a Cargo Space modification is that it costs £25 and takes up one aircraft space, though technically there is no limit. Obviously it means that bigger aircraft can carry more cargo than smaller aircraft, so I foresee Heavy Fighters and Bombers generally being used as cargo planes. That said a Light Fighter could be modified as a fast and armed courier, flying small but valuable cargoes.

Manoeuvres

Another thing that I like to add to the aircraft combat rules is more manoeuvres to help flesh it out a bit more. I will probably go through the existing manoeuvres and see if any of them need modifiers to the Piloting rolls for them.

Immelmann - An Immelmann is effectively a 180 degree turn achieved by the aircraft climbing up and then looping over. In order to pull this off in game terms, make a Piloting roll with a -2 penalty. Success means you've pulled this manoeuvre off, failure means the aircraft goes Out of Control.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand Part 4

Here be the fourth and final instalment of the Fool's Errand series of adventures.

We have seen our heroes sent out to the Wulflands to retrieve an item only for the job to go south when a rival crew and some even less friendly critters showed up. Forced to return empty handed to their crime lord employer, our heroes were given the chance of redemption (in their boss' eyes at least) and tasked with recovering the item. Their chase has led them on a path of peril to the Bastion Peaks and to the hive of scum and villainy known as Broken Spires...

Act Four: Showdown At The Spires

Whether its Karla or the Rival Crew that the players are after, a raise on a Streetwise roll with a -2 penalty will led them to a tavern where their target is located. Regardless of whether its Karla or the Rival Boss leading them, there will be d4+2 thugs (use stats from Part 1). If the players try using diplomacy then use the Social Conflict rules in the SWD, though the players will suffer a -2 penatly on their rolls due to being outnumbered. Otherwise go straight to combat.

The thugs will try to swarm the players, though the fight will go out of them if they lose over two-thirds of their numbers. The Rival Boss will hang back until half his men are down at which point he'll enter the fray, though if the thugs' leader is Karla she'll hang back for a couple of rounds before trying to sneak out of the tavern. After 2d4 rounds of combat the door of the tavern will explode, treat this as a Medium sized blast that does 3d6 damage and its centered on the door. This heralds the rival of a squad of ten (10) black-clad, armoured and SMG armed soldiers led by a similarly attired officer who's orders are to liquidate everyone in the tavern and take the item. Obviously the players' goal is to get the item and get the heck outta dodge with as few bullet holes as possible.

Any surviving thugs will fight the soldiers, though this will be the only luck that the players will have as it'll give them a window of opportunity to grab the item. If Karla/Rival boss are still alive then they would've fled into one of the upstairs rooms, especially after the soldiers arrive. They hand over the item with only a small amount of encouragement (right now they'll be more interested in saving their own skin), explain that its an Ancient Terran artefact (hence why everyone is so interested) and if left alive they'll alert the soldiers to the fact that the players now have the item (because they're such a nice person).

Once they've recovered the item the players can attempt to leave, though any surviving soldiers will attempt to give chase (use the rules for a Standard Chase). Once outside the tavern the players will be greeted with a scene of chaos; a aerial brawl is being raged above the streets of Broken Spires and around a gray coloured zeppelin that sorts a large black anvil on either side. A Knowledge (Criminal Underworld) roll will reveal this as the mark of the Blackforge Consortium, a crime synidcate that is infamous throughout Alyeska and isn't a very good sign. A squadron of 14 Kestral fighters sporting similar markings are busy engaging whatever aircraft the locals of the Spires can get airborne at short notice, though it does mean that the airfield is largely untouched and a number of aircraft (including the players' own cargo plane) are still intact.

Once airborne in their aircraft of choice (their own or otherwise) a pair of Blackforge fighters will give chase as the players try to escape. Run this as a Dogfight chase that ends when the two Blackforge fighters are lost and/or destroyed, though there is a -4 penalty on Piloting rolls due to the terrain round Broken Spires. If the players somehow survive then their next job is to head back to Ferret and collect their reward, though if they mention the Blackforge Consortium then the crime boss will want shot of the item soon as and task the players with taking it to a fence who can sell it on. Otherwise Ferret will organize an auction for the item, though that will be an adventure for another day.

Appendix

Aircraft, see; Aircraft of the Commonwealth Air Force 

Blackforge Soldier

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d6, Notice d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d6, Survival d6, Throwing d4
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 8 (2)
Edges: Bock, Combat Reflexes, Marksman, Quick
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: SMG (12/24/48, 2d6+1, RoF 3, 30 shots, AP 1, Auto), Bayonet (Str+d4), Flak Jacket (+2/+4, Covers Torso)

Blackforge Officer - Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d10, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Intimidation d8, Knowledge (Battle) dd10, Notice d8, Shooting d8
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 8 (2)
Edges: Command, Hold the Line!, Nerves of Steel
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: Machine pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF 3, 30 shots, AP 1, Auto, Flak Jacket (+2/+4, Covers Torso)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand Part 3

Part Three of the Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand series.

Originally commissioned to retrieve an item from a ghost town in the Wulflands, the team have found itself betrayed after said item was stolen from them. Facing a crime lord's wrath unless they could get the item back the characters have been on the trial of the thief, though they have learnt that there are other interested parties also looking for the item.

Now the character's path leads them to the Bastion Peaks.

Act Three: At The Mountains of Trouble

The trial will lead the characters to the small mining town of Arran Crag, nestled amongst the foothills of the Bastion Peaks. Arran Crag is a rough and ready town, the salt mine being the main source of employment in the town. It is also a company town and law enforcement is handled by a company hired sheriff rather than the Royal Alyeskan Air Police, though the sheriff is more interested in making sure that the mine runs smoothly and tends to turn a blind eye to activities that don't disrupt the mining. Because of this the town gets frequented by sky pirates and criminals alike, making Arran Crag a sort of gateway to Broken Spires.

Both Karla and the Rival Crew passed through the town, a Streetwise roll at a -2 penatly (plus any Charisma modifiers) will confirm this as much. However finding anyone who knows the location of Broken Spires will take a Streetwise roll with a -4 penalty, even then the person will only give up the info if the players complete a job for them; retrieve some goods from a nearby cave.

The cave itself is a couple of miles outside of town and the characters can easily hire a truck to use, they'll need some form of vehicle to carry the goods back to town. The only problem is that the area surrounding the cave as recently been claimed by a pack of eight wolves led by a Pack Alpha (use the wolf stats from the SWD rulebook, Pack Alpha is a Dire Wolf and a Wild Card). Clearing out the wolves will make the job easier, but isn't required if the characters are smart and use a distraction to draw them away from the cave.

After returning to town with the goods they'll be given directions to Broken Spires, though the flight through the mountains will be difficult and hence a -4 penalty on any Piloting rolls. Enroute through the mountains the players will be attacked by a pack of Cloudhaunts, run this has an Extended Chase as the characters attempt to get clear of the creatures.

Appendix

Cargo planes are a common sight in the skies over Alyeska, presented below are the stats of a typical aircraft.

Acc/TS: 20/120; Toughness: 12 (2); Crew: 4; Climb: 0; Handling: -1; Notes: Light Transport

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand Part 2

Part Two of the Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand series.

In the first instalment the players were commissioned by the crime boss Ferret to retrieve an item from a ghost town out in the Wulflands. Though despite finding the item in question the players will return empty handed, leaving their employer less than impressed.

Act Two: Cold Betrayal

The second act opens presuming that the players have lost the item, though how isn't important just yet, and return to Ferret to explain what happens. As expected the crime boss is less than happy with the turn of events, though he'll be even more displeased if the players wait for more than a day and will track the players to let his displeasure made clear. Though angry he will hear the players out if they come see him sooner rather than later, the end result will be the players being sent out to get the item back from whoever took it with a deadline to do so...though if the players handed the item over the rival crew Ferret will reduce the payment he'd offered for the job.

If The Rival Crew Took The Item:- The players will have to do some legwork visiting taverns or tracking down connections in Alyeska's criminal underworld. This will entail three successful Connection (Criminal) or Streetwise based rolls at a -2 penalty to both, though it can be a mixture if the GM so wishes. Though a failure will draw unwanted attention from d4 thugs (use Rival Thug stats from Act One) per player. Once the players manage three successful rolls they will discover that the Rival Crew flew out to the Bastion Peaks, if Karla is still with the party she will take this opportunity to leave and make her own way to Broken Spires to tip off her employer.

If Karla Took The Item:- Ferret suggests that the players check out Karla's lodgings, these are a bit easier to find but by the time the players get there they have been recently cleared out of what meagre processions that Karla owned. There isn't much of interest aside from a discard note found if one of the players does a Notice roll at a -4. The note finalizes an agreement that Karla had with another party, basically asking her to bring the item to the sky pirate haven of Broken Spires. A Streetwise roll at the local airfield will confirm that a woman matching Karla's description recently boarded a flight to a town near the Bastion Peaks.

The players' next step is to make their own way to the Bastion Peaks, presumably with their own aircraft. When they do decide to head to the Peaks they'll be met by a bunch of thugs (like the ones from earlier but d6 per player) who'll try to warn them to drop their pursuit, if the players have skipped meeting Ferret then these thugs will be his henchman instead. If the latter then the players will have alot of explaining to do for Ferret will think the players have double crossed him, long as the players can talk their out of it then hopefully it won't end up as a gunfight.

Cast of Characters

Ferret - Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d6, Shooting d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Edges: Connections, Quick
Hindrances: Cautious, Greedy (Major or Minor)
Gear: Machine pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF 3, 30 shots, AP 1, Auto)

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

September 2016 Update

Update time!

Basically a quick roundup of whats happening with Utherwald Press at the moment, whats in the works and final conventions of the year.

Frozen Skies

The big one at the moment, currently trying to get a Print-On-Demand version of the setting primer done. It'll feature some extra content thats not in the PDF and those who have already 'brought' the PDF will be sent a discount link to get it at base printing cost (plus postage). Expect to see it in the next few weeks.

Artwork has been stalled for a little while, mainly due to the artist being away on holiday but hope to be able to showcase more pieces soon.

Also working on getting a series of adventures post up on the blog, these may be polished up later and compiled in some format at a later date.

Conventions

Couple of conventions left this year that Utherwald will be attending;

NOR-CON

Located at the Royal Norfolk Showground near Norwich and taking place on Saturday 8th October, Utherwald will be trading here and can be found on Stand A12.

EXILICON

On Saturday 22nd October will be Utherwald's second visit to this Cambridge based convention of creative geekery. As well as a trade stand, there will be a short Frozen Skies Q&A session.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Alyeskan Tales: Fool's Errand Part 1

This is a multi-part Alyeskan Tales with a new part going up each week until the campaign is finished.

Its envisioned for there to be three parts covering an adventure where the players are first hired to track down an item out in the Wulflands, only for them to get double crossed. The second act will see the players trying to get even and track down their rivals who stole the item in question, eventually ending up in the sky pirate haven of Broken Spires. Final act will hopefully see the players recover the item and attempt to flee the Spires as other parties move in to gain the item for their own ends.

Act One: Wulf Town Heist

The players are approached by the crime boss Ferret with an offer that they can't refuse.

Ferret has recently learnt the location of a valuable item that is worth a king's fortune to certain interested parties and wants to get his hands on it yesterday. The snag is that there MAY be others looking for the same item...oh and tis in the middle of the Wulflands. Ferret will state that it is believed that the item is contained within an old bank vault but won't reveal any information on potential buyers or who else is looking for the item.

Flying out to the location is fairly straight forwards, though things could be spiced up a little by either a military patrol or a sky pirate attack. The location itself is a ghost town, abandoned when the Wulflands were overrun by the Wulvers and home to the occasional scavenger. Thankfully Ferret's information is correct about the item being in the vault of the town's bank, also there doesn't seem to be any Wulvers in the local area. Ferret has sent along his own safecracker with the group to open the vault for them.

After the vault is opened and the item found the players' plans will feature a...slight hiccup, namely a rival crew laying in wait outside of the bank (Rival Boss and d4 Thugs per character). The rival crew will demand that the item is handed over, the players can hand the item over or try and fight their way out. Though regardless of whether or no they hand the item over the boss of the other crew will order his thugs to kill the players. If the players manage to keep hold of the item, then the safecracker will steal it either during the fight or at the first opportunity and disappear. After 2d6 rounds a pack of Wulvers will be drawn to the fighting prompting all parties to make a hasty exit.

Cast of Characters

Rival Thug

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d8, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Shooting d4, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6
Charisma: -2; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Mean, Wanted (Major or Minor)
Gear: Rifle (24/48/96, 2d8, RoF 1, 10 shots, AP 1, Snapfire), knife (Str+d4)
Notes: One Thug will be armed with a Machine Gun instead (40/80/160, 2d8, RoF 3, 47 shots, AP 2, Auto, Snapfire)

Rival Boss - Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d8, Notice d6, Persuasion d4, Shooting d6, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Edges: Connections, Strong Willed
Hindrances: Arrogant, Wanted (Major or Minor)
Gear: Machine pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF 3, 30 shots, AP 1, Auto)

Karla, Safecracker - Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Climbing d6, Fighting d6, Lockpicking d6, Notice d6, Stealth d8, Shooting d6, Streetwise d6, Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 4
Edges: Assassin, Thief
Hindrances: Cautious, Small, Stubborn
Gear: Pistol (12/24/48, 2d6, RoF 1, 6 shots, Revolver)

Wulvers - Wild Card

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d12+2, Vigor d10
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d12+2, Intimidation d10, Notice d12, Swimming d10, Stealth d10, Tracking d10
Pace: 8; Parry: 9, Toughness: 7
Special Abilities
* Bite: Str+d6
* Claws: Str+d8
* Infravision: Wulvers can see heat and halve penatlies for bad lighting when attacking living targets.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Crime Is Our Business

Where there is law there will most certainly be crime despite the best efforts of the authorities. Crime also has a habit of thriving where the law is weak, particularly frontier areas like Alyeska for example. Pickpockets and house burglars tend to be expected in civilised areas, but these are often low key and could sometimes be a lone operators. Criminal groups tend to be responsible for a wider range and higher level of crime, one such organisation is infamous amongst Darmonica's criminal underworld.

The Blackforge Consortium

The organisation known as the Blackforge Consortium started with honest intentions by a group of merchants seeking to increase their fortunes, though these days it lacking in the morals department. The Consortium has its hands in alot of pies, often taking a fair cut from various criminal activities such as extortion rackets, pit fights and smuggling rings. It is only indirectly involved with such activities, preferring to use its resources to make life..'uncomfortable' for those unwilling to cough up when asked by the Consortium.

Occasionally it will be directly involved in high profile activities, usually those where alot of money is involved like smuggling priceless artefacts. For the most the Consortium usually sends its enforcers round to its various 'interests' to ensure that its cut is paid on time. Its enforcers will also send time guarding Consortium shipments and warehouses, they can usually be identified by a symbol of a black anvil. This symbol is bad news for anyone who ends up with items marked with it as the Consortium does not take kindly to those who handle its goods without its permission.

The black anvil also shows up on Consortium owned airships and aircraft which are used to move important and highly valuable shipments. Typically these aircraft operate out of sight of the authorities, though at the same time the black anvil is meant to act as a warning to sky pirates to leave these aircraft alone. On a number of occasions the Consortium has gone after sky pirates who'd attacked one of its shipments, even went far as attacking Broken Spires with a large air fleet. It has been known to hire sky pirates as proxies to steal cargoes, normally to keep its hands 'clean' to a degree.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

An Aviator's Rest

The main focus of Frozen Skies is unsurprisingly aviators and their aircraft, plus a fair amount of time spent in the wild blue yonder. There are going to be times when the characters will find themselves with their feet firmly rooted on the ground over the course of their adventures, a good part of that will probably be at various different aerodromes. These aerodromes can range from the 'air stations' of the Commonwealth Air Force through to airstrips serving remote settlements in the Alyeskan wilderness, but the PCs can expect to visit each type at one time or another.

Commonwealth Air Stations

These are the air bases of the Commonwealth Air Force and typically come with significant facilities to support aircraft and crew. Though primarily used by the military they do see some use by the Alyeskan Aerial Corps, typically moving supplies and men to wherever is required. Comforts on offer tend to vary with the size of the base.

Aerial Corps Landing Grounds

ACLGs are small airfield scattered throughout the Alyeskan wilderness, though they're little more than a runway with fuelling equipment and a single hanger for light repairs. These airfields also feature a large wooden hut that serves as both accommodation for the airfield's staff and as a terminal building for passengers and freight.

Bush Strips

There are the numerous airstrips found across Alyeska in remote areas, serving either mining camps or isolated settlements. Often they'll have little more than fuelling equipment available, though some run by keen businessmen will have greater facilities on offer even including bars and motels.

Ghost Strips

So-called 'ghost strips' are aerodromes that have been abandoned for some reason or another, alot of them can be found in the Wulflands but they can be found in other places across Alyeska such as Roth Island. Despite being abandoned and sometimes in a poor state of repair, these old aerodromes are still used but mostly by smugglers and the like. In some cases the 'ghost' part is played up by those very same smugglers to scare off unwanted attention, in other cases....

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Setting Idea: Keep The Home Fires Burning

Another setting idea and thus entry on the 'Would Like To Do Someday' list.

This one is fairly similar to the concept of the Weird Wars: Home Front idea, arguably it can be said it is aside from some minor details. The main difference would be the backdrop of 1918 London at the end of the First World War and the Spanish Flu epidemic.

Setting Name: Keep The Home Fires Burning

Elevator Pitch: Supernatural horror amidst a plague ravaged 1918 London.

Genre: Weird Wars, Horror, Supernatural, WW1.

Inspiration: Vampyr, Dishonored, Ripper Street, Baltimore: Plague Ships, Weird War I.

Much like Home Front, this is a sort of civvie street counterpart to Weird War I but focused on London. The city's poorer districts are being ravaged by the Spanish Flu, though something much sinister lurks in the gaslamp lit back streets and alleyways. Dark things followed the soldiers home and now haunt the fabled London fogs.

The Weirdness of the Weird War is drawn to the death and fear in London like moths to a flame thanks to the Spanish Flu, though some of it hails from the war years but some stuff dates back to much much earlier. Thanks to the flu creatures like zombies, 'Gloms and ghouls can be encountered in the rougher parts of the metropolis especially in areas where mass graves were dug. Course there would be other beings taking advantage of all the death and suffering.

MI-13, despite in the midst of being wound down after the war, would be tasked with keeping the weirdness under wraps and contained. The Metropolitan and City of London police forces would be increasingly used by MI-13 due to reduction of resources, possibly bringing it into conflict with the Home Office. Either way possible ways of bringing the players in.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Commonwealth Rocket Group

Weird Science has already been mentioned as being the main Arcane Background in the Frozen Skies setting, there are possibly others that may be covered at a later date. Course using Arcane Backgrounds in Frozen Skies will be optional depending on what sort of game the GM wishes to run, though I still wish for there to play up the 'Pulp Science' aspect.

Enter the Commonwealth Rocket Group.

Boffins & Eggheads

Whilst Glimmer Rock has seen incredible technological wonders such as Skyships there are still those pushing back the boundaries of what more conventional technology can do. One such group is the Commonwealth Rocket Group headed up by the retired Colonel Frank Congrave, formerly an engineer in the Commonwealth Army. At the beginning of his army career he was a sapper in the garrison force of the Commonwealth colony of Orduesh which regularly saw skirmishes with the Sultanate of Taramate. It was during this time when the the fort Congrave was posted to came under attack by Taramate rocket artillery, despite being a tad unreliable the weapons left a deep and last lasting impression on the young Congrave. Eventually he acquired a commission and started working his way up the officer ranks, biding his time until he felt he had influence.

Congrave reached the rank of Colonel fairly rapidly due to the then still raging Great Darmonican War and shortly afterwards he started petitioning the army chiefs for permission to start a rocket programme. Naturally the army chiefs were a little wary and so Congrave tried pitching it as a long range weapon to take out the enemy whilst keeping Commonwealth soldiers out of danger. Despite the various demonstrations conducted by Congrave (with varying degrees of success) the army chiefs remained unconvinced and didn't quite see Congrave's vision. By the time it seemed like Congrave was actually getting anyway with his project the War was effectively over and the army quickly pensioned him off.

Disgruntled but still driven, Congrave sought out others who shared his interests in rockets and founded the Commonwealth Rocket Group. Unable to acquire a suitable test site in the Home Isles the Group looked elsewhere, the Alyeskan wilderness seemingly what they needed and the Group made the difficult crossing over the great ocean. Finding land was the easy part, raising the money needed to buy and fund the project proved to be more difficult. Fortunately the Group had plenty of technical skills available to it and its members started a side business as mechanics to help fund their research. Now free to peruse his ambitions Congrave has turned his focus on developing rockets as a means of flight, first in the form of a rocket powered aircraft before working towards his ultimate goal of leaving Darmonica's earthly embrace.

To many Alyeskans the Group is seem as a bunch of eccentrics forever blowing themselves sky high with their various experiments. Though the Group has come to the attention of others, particularly as the dark clouds of war blot the horizon....

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Alyeskan Tales: Wulf's Cry

This week is something a little different and quite possibly the start of another anti-series of posts much like the Gazetteer and Rogue's Gallery posts. 'Alyeskan Tales', as this new series is going to be called, is intended to cover the various adventure ideas I have for the Frozen Skies setting. These adventures will be a bit rough and ready, though they probably will be polished up at a later date especially if I get feedback.

So without further ado allow me to introduce...

Wulf's Cry

"A beacon station that guides aircraft across the Dragonspine Mountains, on the air route between New Gwentia and Calharrow, as requested emergency supplies before it is cut-off by a blizzard. Bureaucratic wrangling has meant that a very short and rapidly closing window is now left before the storm hits, meaning anyone who delivers the supplies could quite possibly find themselves stranded."

The players are presumed to have access to a cargo plane (the equiv of a C-47 Skytrain/Dakota) and have been chartered by the Alyeskan Aerial Corps to deliver the supplies. Bureaucratic red tape has meant the flight be delayed so that the players will have just barely enough time to complete the delivery before the blizzard hits, the leading edge of the storm will make flying a little difficult and so a -2 penalty on Piloting rolls will be in play as the players approach the station.

The destination of the players will be Beacon Station K-22, an outpost in the Dragonspine Mountains that maintains a radio navigation beacon to guide aircraft through the mountains. K-22 is staffed by four airmen, an NCO and an officer who's job it is to keep the beacon working. Layout wise it consists of a large radio tower that stands next to to a large, long wooden hut that serves as a combined radio building and barracks. In addition there is a smaller wooden hut that serves at the stores, a lean-to W.C. shack next to the barrack hut and a small hanger that contains a workshop that can do light repairs to aircraft.

A Calamity of Events

The clock is very much against the players as they attempt to beat the storm, especially after various hold-ups led to a late departure. By the time they've unloaded their aircraft at K-22 the blizzard is pretty upon them, effectively grounding them until the storm passes. So the players will have to sit it out in the barrack hut with the outpost's unit with little to do other than trying to pass the time.

A short time after the blizzard hits one of the airmen heads outside, either to relieve himself in the W.C. or to fetch something from the stores hut. Allow another short period of time to pass until the airman is considered to be overdue, at which point the NCO and another one of the airmen will head outside to search for their missing comrade. Make the players do a Notice roll but with a -4 penalty due to the blizzard outside, if they succeed will hear screams and gunfire from the two men. The second airman will hurry back inside, reporting that they had been attacked by something which killed the NCO and presumably the missing airman.

The first of three waves of attack will begin with Wulver Stalkers (see stats below), there will be four Stalkers plus one for each player character. The Stalkers will use the blizzard for cover as much as possible, so treat it as being Dark. Plus the Stalkers will attempt to break into the barrack hut, though unless they're all killed they will withdraw after five rounds of combat. An hour or so later the second wave will hit, this time consisting of 2-3 normal Wulvers per player character plus any Stalker that survived from the first wave. Like the second wave will they attempt to break into the hut, though this time they will withdraw after ten rounds or after they've lost two-thirds of their numbers depending which comes first.

Final wave of attack will come roughly half an hour after the second wave, this time consisting of 3-4 Wulvers per player character plus an Alpha and any surviving Stalkers. After ten rounds roll a d6 and a roll of 'six' the cavalry will arrive in the form of a gyro-carrier and a squad of Wulfbane Commandos which should tip the odds in the players' favour. By this time the blizzard should be passing and the players will finally be able to leave Outpost K-22.

Cast of Characters

Airmen & NCO

The airmen consist of Aircrafthand Banks, Aircrafthand Collier, Aircrafthand Stevens and Leading Aircrafthand Bartlett. The NCO is Corporal Higgins.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Repair d6, Shooting d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Edges:
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: Rifle (24/48/96, 2d8, RoF 1, 10 shots, AP 1, Snapfire), bayonet (Str+d4)
Notes: NCO will have Smarts d6 and an SMG (12/24/48, 2d6+1, RoF 3, 50 shots, AP 1, Auto)

Air Officer Reynolds

A/O Reynolds the commanding officer of Outpost K-22.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Notice d6, Shooting d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Edges: Command, Hold the Line!
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: Machine pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF 3, 30 shots, AP 1, Auto)

Wulfbane Commando

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d6, Survival d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness:6
Edges: Block, Combat Reflexes, Marksman
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: SMG (12/24/48, 2d6+1, RoF 3, 50 shots, AP 1, Auto), Bayonet (Str+d4)
Notes: One Commando will be armed with a Machine Gun instead (40/80/160, 2d8, RoF 3, 47 shots, AP 2, Auto, Snapfire)

Wulvers

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d12+2, Vigor d10
Skills: Climbing d8, Fighting d12+2, Intimidation d10, Notice d12, Swimming d10, Stealth d10, Tracking d10
Pace: 8; Parry: 9, Toughness: 7
Special Abilities
* Bite: Str+d6
* Claws: Str+d8
* Infravision: Wulvers can see heat and halve penatlies for bad lighting when attacking living targets.

Variants

Wulver Alpha: Increase Smarts and Spirit to d8 respectively, then run as a Wild Card.

Wulver Stalker: Reduce Strength to d10 and Vigor to d8, increase Stealth to d12 and add Fleet-Footed: Wulver Stalkers roll a d8 when running instead of a d6.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Rogue's Gallery: Madame Orla

In Alyeska there but a handful of individuals who wield great influence yet lie a step away from the public limelight, preferring to work partially behind the scenes. Madame Orla is one such person, well known as both the owner of a certain infamous 'house' and information broker.

There is more to the Madame than meets the eye.

Madame Orla


Much of Madame Orla is surrounded by mystery. Her skin tone, accent, and mannerisms bespeak of her hailing from some locale far beyond Alyeska's shores. Her advanced years have done little but refine her exotic and alluring beauty, which attracts men to her 'establishment' like moths to the flame. Whilst most come for the fine drinks and scantily clad girls, there is something else that draws aviators. Madame Orla has built up a network of contacts amongst Alyeska's shadier denizens and is the main person to speak to when looking for work thats not strictly legal (though minus her cut of course). Madame Orla is well aware of her establishment's reputation and bars undesirables such as drunks, tramps, and even the law from entering. She makes good use of enforcers to ensure her rules are obeyed and to ensure prompt payments from her clients.

What isn't generally known is that her family hails from a distant province of the former Holy Sodkan Empire, though they departed there long before the Great Darmonican War and have had very little contact with their homeland ever since. Her father worked for the Empire's intelligence service, but left after an apparent 'disagreement' with his superiors and moved his family to Alyeska. Orla's father continued to ply his trade as an intelligence operative, though this time as a freelancer selling secrets to whoever had the money. Most of his clients ended up being sky pirates seeking shipping lists for potential targets, the young Orla became fancied by them and despite her father's best efforts joined one of their bands after she fell for their leader.

Things to begin with did not go well for her, most of the other members of the gang looked down upon her as an overeager wet-behind-the-ears rookie. Worse still the gang leader saw her as just another woman to bed, something that he didn't have long to regret when Orla eventually killed him and took control of the gang. In time her band become one of the most feared gang of sky pirates and probably the most highly skilled, but Orla was careful to never be publicly seen as the gang's leader which paid off when she choose to semi-retire. 

These days she runs a number of brothels that she'd setup using the fortune she had gathered as a sky pirate, these also double up as safehouses for her sky pirate gang which she retains command over. Though her sky pirating days are over she still profits from her gang's activities as well as selling the information that her girls collect, though the choice targets always go to her gang. Her girls also collect the dirt on other sky pirates, particularly rivals and those that mis-use one of Orla's houses.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d10, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Climbing d10, Driving d10, Fighting d10, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Shooting d10, Streetwise d12+1
Charisma: +2; Pace: 5; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Small, Stubborn
Edges: Ace, Alertness, Attractive, Connections (sky pirates), Level-Headed, Professional (Streetwise)
Gear: Machine Pistol (12/24/48, 2d6-1, RoF: 3, AP1 Auto)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Royal Aero-Marines

Getting skyjacked by air pirates is constant threat for those that fly the skies of Darmonica, especially since during the War it was not unheard of military skyships being boarded. Much like the sailing ships of old, skyships can often be seen carrying a detachment of soldiers known as 'aero-marines'. These aero-marines serve on both military and civilian skyships, though the latter tends to belong to private security companies or corporate militias.

The best known of all of the aero-marine forces that exist in Darmonica is the Commonwealth's Royal Aero-Marines.

History

The Royal Aero-Marines can trace their origins back to the marines of the Commonwealth Navy, airships were originally under the Navy's control and small detachments of marines gradually started being used to provide security onboard these airships with the rise of sky pirates. When the Commonwealth Air Force was formed it was given control of the Commonwealth's air fleet and a number of the Navy's marines were offered the chance to transfer to the new Service. Those that did transfer over formed the nucleus of what was soon dubbed the 'aeronautical marine force', they were joined by soldiers from the Army when the force was officially named the 'Royal Aero-Marines' by Royal Warrant.

Prior to the Great Darmonican War the Royal Aero-Marines, or the Rams as they were nicknamed, were only the strength of a single battalion. During the War they were quickly expanded as the air fleet was built-up as the War waged on, with the Rams taking part in most of the Commonwealth's skyship engagements throughout the War. They also gained extra responsibilities and remain a sizeable force in the post-War years with the threat of sky pirates being so prevalent.

Organisation & Roles

Like their naval ancestors the Rams based their structure upon that of the Commonwealth Army, ranging from platoon and companies up to divisions. Typically only companies are the largest sized unit encountered, either as a the Ram detachment on one of the larger skyships or on 'shore duty' defending CAF bases and installations. Platoons are more common being found on both the smaller skyships of the air fleet and as 'shore parties' to provide security on the ground whenever a skyship is 'docked' at a non-military airfield. Occasionally ten-man strong sections may be encountered escorting valuable cargo or a prisoner.

The Aero-Marines' primary duty is the security of skyships by either repelling boarders or manning the guns in defence of the vessel, they have been used to board and try to capture other skyships if the opportunity arises. On the ground they mainly act as an airfield defence unit (much like the RAF Regiment), though they have been used in a shore party role as described above as well as in actual ground combat alongside Army units. Additionally Aero-Marines can apply and become pilots in the CAF, flying fighter or other aircraft.

Use In Games

How the Rams are used in your game depends on the sort of campaign that you're running, they can be an ally of the group or an enemy.

*A sky pirate campaign will have the Aero-Marines as a big foe if the group goes in for skyjacking, though the same can be said if the group decides to attack a CAF base.

*For a military campaign the Aero-Marines can be allies, rivals or foes depending on the group's actions.

*The group could be Aero-Marines themselves, either serving onboard a skyship or at a base. Shore parties in particular have a broad scope for different sort of situations for the group to handle.

Aero-Marine

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d8, Vigor d8
Skills: Fighting d8, Notice d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d6, Survival d6, Throwing d6
Charisma: 0; Pace: 6; Parry: 6; Toughness: 6
Edges: Block, Combat Reflexes, Marksman
Hindrances: Vow
Gear: Rifle, bayonet, grappling hook, etc.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Skies of Crimson

Its been mentioned countless times that sky piracy exists in Darmonica, not surprising that the Crimson Skies series of games was a big inspiration for Frozen Skies. Though I've never really gone into much detail about them, how they operate or covered some of the (in)famous scoundrels of the wild blue yonder.

Keep yer eyes sharp as we head off into skies of crimson.

Sky Piracy 101

Sky piracy in Darmonica arose a short while after aircraft had come into widespread use, records from this time tell of a group of disgruntled aviators hijacked a plane carrying the payroll for the company that had recently fired them. This robbery quickly inspired others and a number of self-styled 'brigands of the clouds' rose and fell, it was the popular press that coined the name 'sky pirates' and it stuck with the public at large. Prior to the Great Darmonican War sky pirates were considered more of a nuisance than a problem due to the limited number of gangs active back then, most of them lacked the experience and planes to go toe-to-toe with national air forces.

Things changed during the War primarily due to privateers that were created by the various countries to raid the sky shipping of their enemies, alot of these privateer gangs continued in the post-War years backed up by years of experience and military grade equipment. Other gangs were formed by deserters who branded together for mutual protection and took to sky piracy as a way of surviving. After the War pirate gangs got a boost from aviators and soldiers who'd been demobbed but left with little choices back on civvie street, thus providing a large pool of skilled and experience men (and women in some cases).

With governments now focused on post-War recovery and demobilization of their military forces in an attempt to get their budgets back under control sky pirates have not been kept under control by the now diminished air forces. This has resulted in the pirates growing from a minor nuisance to a major problem and headache for numerous people, particularly as the sky pirates have grown increasingly bold in their actions. Whereas before they were only interested in stealing valuable cargo they have since expanded into capturing aircraft and people for ransom. There are even reports of pirates stealing experimental new aircraft, prompting a number of big companies and corporations to form their own air militias.

Organisation and Operations

The organisation of pirate bands varies by their size and how they operate, the core will always be a group of pilots and potentially gunners depending on the aircraft that they fly. Beyond that depending on the band's size and profitability they may have dedicated mechanics to hand and possibly even boarders for skyjacking. The largest bands that are able to operate airships and maintain bases typically have a much wider range of staff on their payrolls. A number of bands make use of informants to tip them off about possible jobs or to help them stay ahead of the law, some even have their own network of spies and even make use of disgruntled corporate employees.

Raids and skyjacking are typically sky pirates' bread and butter as they still need to buy food, fuel and ammunition to keep going. Smuggling is often seen as easy money even if the pay isn't always that great, but typically they are seen as a way to tie over the band until its next big job. Skyjacking usually requires alot of planning and resources, so very few small time bands go for it other than as one-off jobs. Though not all that common it has been for some sky pirate gangs to attempt jailbreaks to free captured members or hired to help bust out somebody else, at least one band busted out the leader of their main rival after he got shot down.

Sky Pirate

Use the following stats for a Sky Pirate, though feel free to modify if gunner or even a boarder.

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d4, Spirit d6, Strength d8, Vigor d6
Skills: Driving d4, Fighting d6, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Piloting d6, Shooting d6, Streetwise d4, Taunt d6
Charisma: -2; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Mean, Wanted (Major or Minor)
Gear: Knives, clubs, pistols or SMGs. Boarders also carry parachutes and grappling hooks.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Aircraft of the Commonwealth Air Force

The Commonwealth Air Force is probably the more visible aspect of the Commonwealth's military in Alyeska, its aircraft can be seen in the skies and at countless airfields across the Continent. Many different types of aircraft are operated by the CAF ranging from fighters through to transports and heavy bombers as well as the Commonwealth's military skyships. This week we'll take a look at the aircraft the CAF uses in Alyeska.

Fighters

Hornet

The Hornet is the CAF's interceptor, its job is to simply engage the enemy as quickly as possible. As such it is built for speed and a mean punch with its 20mm autocannons, but it lacks in armour and so is bit of a glass jaw fighter.

Acc/TS: 25/170; Toughness: 10 (2); Crew: 1; Climb: 2; Handling: +1; Notes: Light Fighter
Weapons: 2x 20mm autocannon (50/100/200, 3d8, ROF 3, Bursts 10, AP4)

Kestral

More of a brawler compared to the Hornet, the Kestral is the Commonwealth's main frontline fighter.

Acc/TS: 20/140; Toughness: 12 (3); Crew: 1; Climb: 1; Handling: +0; Notes: Medium Fighter
Weapons: 4x .50-cal MG (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)

Drake

The Drake is designed and operated as a ground attack fighter, typically used in pinpoint strikes. It is a heavy twin-engined aircraft crewed by a pilot and gunner.


Acc/TS: 20/120; Toughness: 13 (3); Crew: 2; Climb: 0; Handling: -1; Notes: Heavy Fighter, Improved Targeting (+1 on Shooting rolls), Turret (rear mounted .30-cal MG)
Weapons: 2x 20mm autocannon (50/100/200, 3d8, ROF 3, Bursts 10, AP4)
2x rockets (50/100/200, 3d8, ROF 1, AP8, SBT)
1x .30-cal MG rear mounted (30/60/120, 2d8, ROF 3, Bursts 20, AP2)

Bombers

Firefly

Fireflies formed the mainstray of the CAF's light bomber force in Alyeska, they also get used on alot of recon and patrol sorties.

Acc/TS: 20/120; Toughness: 12 (2); Crew: 4; Climb: 0; Handling: -1; Notes: Light Bomber, Turrets x2, Extra Fuel Tanks
Weapons: 2x .50-cal MG nose turret (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)
2x .50-cal MG rear turret (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)
8x Medium bombs (4d8, AP20, MBT)

Valiant

Other than skyships the Valiant four-engined heavy bomber is arguably the most powerful aircraft the CAF processes, though they are deployed to Alyeska in limited numbers with there currently being only two squadrons comprised of twelve Valiants each.

Acc/TS: 10/100; Toughness: 14 (2); Crew: 7; Climb: -1; Handling: -2; Notes: Heavy Bomber, Turrets x3, Extra Fuel Tanks
Weapons: 2x .50-cal MG nose turret (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)2x .50-cal MG rear turret (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)
2x .50-cal MG dorsal turret (50/100/200, 2d10, ROF 4, Bursts 14, AP3)
20x Medium bombs (4d8, AP20, MBT) or 10x Large bombs (5d8, AP40, LBT)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Creature Feature: Cloudhaunts

Another "Hey, I haven't done this in a while" type of post, in this case a Creature Feature to fill out the Bestiary of Frozen Skies a little bit more. The subject for this week is a creature dreaded and cursed by aviators all over Darmonica, it is a bane for those who often fly in skies frequently shrouded by clod or fog.

Meet the Cloudhaunt.

Aviator's Bane

Cloudhaunts are winged creatures roughly bigger than a medium sized hound and are known to lurk in clouds or thick fog to prey upon unsuspecting aircraft. They are usually found in groups of 2d6 members, though larger packs have been heard of and stated to have even take out a skyship.

Their typically method of attack is to try and latch onto an aircraft and then try ripping it apart with their claws, though if the numbers are in their favour they will try to directly attack the crews of skyships.

Appearance wise they are similar looking to gargoyles but are furry rather than stone.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6(A), Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d12, Stealth d10
Pace: 0; Parry: 5; Toughness: 4
Special Abilities
*Bite/Claws: Str+d6
*Flying: Pace 8, Climb -2
*Gang Up: Two or more Cloudhaunts can gang-up, do this as a single attack but every extra Cloudhaunt adds +1 to the attack and damage rolls.
*Size -1: Cloudhaunts are just bigger than a medium sized dog.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Air Combat Playtest

With only half the group in attendance for this week's Game Night ended up doing a quick and dirty playtest of the Air Combat Rules for Frozen Skies. A couple of things sprang up as we did a quick dogfight and prompted some thoughts for a couple of additions to the rules, also waiting to see whether the players had any thoughts as well.

Regardless this week sharing the Setting Rules as they currently stand along with the proposed additions.

Setting Rules

A bit more polished up much closer to what will hopefully be their final form for release, feel free to have a butchers and let me know what you think.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BwiYZKQvknnWak9PS0VfNU5RMEk

The proposed additions are as follows;

*When using miniatures with the Frozen Skies Air Combat Rules divide the weapon ranges and aircraft speeds by 10, you're much less likely to run out of table space this way.

*Under Aircraft Modifications looking at adding Improved Gunsights, effectively a +1 bonus on Shooting rolls with the aircraft.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

June 2016 Update

Little bit of a short post this week.

Not much to report compared to last time, things are now plodding along.

Yes, plodding along...

(Though there is new artwork!)

Frozen Skies

Work on Frozen Skies has been progressing on both the artwork and writing front, not as quickly as I'd like but its still a step in the right direction. Once I've cleared some stuff from my plate I should have a bit more spare time that I can dedicate to the writing. Though sales of the Setting Primer and the adventure have been ticking over each month, it nice getting a Sales Notification to help show there is growing interest.

Podcasts

Got responses from the podcasts that I've contacted, though nothing worked out as of yet and I need to poke them soon.

Artwork

Finally new artwork; A Genchi, a race related to the Windryders but industrial/technology inclined. Believed to have once been slaves of the Ancient Terrans, but are basically second class citizens in modern Darmonica.


Thursday, 16 June 2016

Creed, Cults & The Occult

First off, apologies for this week's post being a day late. Was too busy to get it done on time, though keep an eye on the Facebook page for PSA updates if the blog post is going to be late. To sort of make up for it I've done a Patrons Only post over on the Patreon page showing a new finished piece of artwork for Frozen Skies.

Secondly, this week's blog post!

I've only talked a little about religion in Darmonica, think thus far I've only mentioned that there are a number of deities that people pay homage to. Likewise I believe that only two major religions have been stated, the Cult of the Great Maker and the Order of the Great Machine. Taran and Ares are two other deities that have been stated and given some basic details, though a full list of deities will be done at a later date.

Creed

Religion in Darmonica tends to be more important in certain areas and to certain people than others, society and the environment are typically the major factors in determining this. The Order of the Great Machine is the dominant religion in the Iron Collective since its the only religion that is allowed by the State, those that practice other religions in the Collective tend to keep a low profile. Elsewhere the Order is simply tolerated but tends to be a minor player in local affairs, it is also far less militant outside of its bastion in the Collective.

Ares, the Darmonican God of Warfare, has his largest following in the Artian Confederation with smaller followings in the armies of the various countries that make up Darmonica. Though in contrast to the Collective, practice of other religions in the Confederation is freely allowed. Tyland was a devout follower of the Great Maker, other religions were tolerated though in some cases openly practising another religion could've disadvantaged you in Tylander society. A broad selection of religions are practised in the Commonwealth, though not a single one of them is promoted more heavily than any of the others. Though nobody is quite sure who or what is worshipped in the Sultanate of Taramate...

Cults

Every religion is divided into different sects with some more radical than others, each with their own different goals and methods. The Order of the Great Machine is the prime example as being a more radical religion, having seized control of an entire country and completely rebuilt it to achieve their goals. On the flip side the Order's sects located outside of the Collective are considerably less extreme and seek to promote their religion via more peaceful means, these sects typically count academics and engineers amongst their members. As a whole the Order is closely associated with the Iron Collective which tends to colour people's view of the Order.

A more Alyeska centric cult is the Wulfen Brethren, a cult who whorship the Wulvers and whose activities has led to it being largely outlawed. The Brethren view Wulvers as being nature's ultimate form and the world's true masters, it is suspected that they may had a hand in helping the Wulver War happen but it is known that they have actively sought to sabotage the Commonwealth's war effort. Arson, industrial sabotage and occasionally assassination all over Alyeska has been linked to the Brethren as well as Wulvers being turned loose in many Commonwealth cities. Though no concrete evidence exists but it is also believed that the Brethren have been kidnapping pregnant women, something that is raising concerns for alot of different reasons.

There are other more minor cults that exists, including one that whorships the Ancient Terrans, who vary in ideals and goals.

The Occult

Talking about cults I feel some mention of the occult in Darmonica should be made.

Darmonica is a very low to virtually non-existent magic setting, it exists in a fashion but is extremely rare and one is more likely to encounter a stage magician rather than a true mage. The Windryders have what they call Weavers, but there is little knowledge about them and they are poorly understood. There are cults that claim to practice magic, most of the time this only seems involve the chanting of words with no visible effect but occasionally there is something else. Most of these so-called 'magic cults' claim to derive their power from somewhere beyond the mortal realm, though as of yet no attempt has been made to prove how true or not this is.