Monday 7 December 2020

December 2020: Flight of Mercy

We're coming to the end of an unprecedented year and entering what is a traditionally a time to share with loved ones and of gift giving in addition to spreading cheer and hope. This is going to be my last blog post of the year and the next one isn't likely to appear until mid-January, so in the spirit of gift giving I'm giving you lot an adventure for Frozen Skies. This is in part inspired by the 1925 Nome Serum Run, least to the point of a remote snowbound settlement requiring urgent supplies. Still, I hope the adventure provides a fun and interesting game for those that play it.

Trouble A-Brewing

It's winter and the so-called Shrouded Days are creeping ever southward, engulfing the northern most regions in a month or so long night. Some folk have already come south, though others remain to endure the darkness having stockpiled key supplies. Though disaster has struck the remote settlement of Windscale's Gap; a fire broke out and razed it's storehouse to the ground leaving the settlement critically short of supplies. A mercy flight was already dispatched, though a distress call was received from the aircraft before all contact was loss.

A second flight has been hastily arranged.

This is where the characters come in, contracted at short notice to attempt a second flight to Windscale's Gap to deliver urgently needed supplies before bad weather shuts down the air route. They can ask about the first flight and that contact with the aircraft was loss, along with it's rough co-ordinates, but what happened to the aircraft is unknown. If the characters decide to try and salvage some of the supplies from the first flight to help out the settlement, award them a bennie each.

For this adventure, unless they already have one, the characters are presumed to have a Beagle cargo plane with the following additions;

Medium MG (Fixed Left), Medium MG (Fixed Right), 2x Linked Medium MG (Pintle Rear)

Optional: The First Flight

If the characters decide to salvage supplies from the first flight, they can find the wreck with a raise on a Notice roll. Support rolls can be used if the players feel uncertain about their task, though feel free to give bonuses based on the amount of time they devote to the task though remind them they are against the clock. 

Once they have found the wreck, landing isn't an issue though there doesn't seem to be any signs of life. After they've landed and proceeded on foot to the wreck, roll a d6 and consult the table below;

1 - A pack of wulvers, one per character, attacks the party! (see Frozen Skies)

2-3 - d3 bears are drawn towards the wreck in search of food. (see SWADE)

4-5 - Pack of snow cats, one per every two characters, stalk the party. (see Frozen Skies)

- Survivors! Some of the plane's crew are alive but are in need of medical attention ( roll d3 for number of survivors, presume a Wound each).

Trying to investigate the cause of what happened to the first flight can be done either by asking the survivors (if any) or getting a raise on a Repair roll whilst inspecting the wreck. The cause appears to be engine failure, something backed up by the remains of the engines and lack of any obvious 'battle' damage.

Some of the supplies are thankfully still intact and can be moved to the character's own aircraft.

Troublesome Skies

Flying the skies of Alyeska isn't without it's risks and as such draw four cards from the Action Deck to determine if any Travel Encounters occur. Consult below for suggestions on how to do each Encounter type.

Spades - Enemies: This can be d6 sky pirates flying Trodai Fighters, presume d6 Piloting and Shooting along with the Rock and Roll! and Steady Hands Edges.

Hearts - Strangers: SWADE does a good job of covering this, though NPCs could offer help by pointing out the wreck of the first flight or providing a +1 bonus to Piloting (for the rest of the session) by tipping off the characters about conditions ahead.

Diamonds - Treasure: If the characters haven't decided to find the wreck of the first flight, they could stumble upon it by pure chance. If they decide to check it out, run it as per the Optional: First Flight entry detailed above.

Clubs - Obstacle: This could be a blizzard or storm that the characters inadvertently fly into. Run this has a Challenging Dramatic Task with the characters needing to get two tokens per character over three rounds. Piloting is the obvious skill to use here, along with Notice for whoever is supporting the pilot. For other characters they can use either Athletics, Repair and Strength to help keep the plane stable and flying by stopping cargo from being thrown about. Alternatively this could be done as a Quick Encounter with the suggested skills mentioned previously and a -2 penalty for the extreme conditions.

Final Destination

After a possibly harrowing flight depending on the players' luck, Windscale's Gap finally emerges as perhaps the most welcoming sight in the world. The settlement is little more than a collection of wooden buildings, though the burnt remains of the storehouse can be clearly seen amongst the banks of snow. Whilst they have reached their destination, the characters aren't quite out of the woods.

They've still got to land.

Windscale Gap's lacks an airstrip, instead having a clear field for aircraft to land which has couple of feet of snow. The weather is also closing in, meaning a -2 penalty on the three Piloting rolls needed to safely land. Support rolls in the form of Notice to spot dangerous patches of snow and Repair, if the aircraft had taken damage, can be made to help with the landing. Failure on each of the three Piloting rolls inflicts a Wound on the aircraft, though the pilot can forego the third roll to take-off and circle round for another try which will grant a +1 bonus to Piloting on the next landing attempt.

Once safely down on the ground the characters are warmly welcomed by the townsfolk, if the supplies from the first flight were recovered and handed over as well then the townsfolk throw a small party in the characters' honour.

Monday 2 November 2020

November 2020: Skywright's Guild Revamp

This month's post was prompted in part by a rethink of the relationship between skyships and airships in Frozen Skies and in part by a suggestion by user MicaMoo on the Unofficial Savage Worlds Discord. Hopefully this will ultimately expand couple of aspects of the setting and give one or two things greater importance within the world. Overall, something that adds to the setting.

Masters of the Sky

I've already written about the Skywright's Guild, how I've stated that the Guild is the largest builder and operator of aero-vessels in Damonica. This is something I'm going to keep for the most part, though I'm making some changes in relation to the proposed changes to technology behind the skyships.

I'm looking at going with a device known as an Aero-Lift Engine (ALE) that derived from Ancient technology and is used to produce lift for skyships. Thinking the Guild managed to stumble upon an Ancient skyship and reverse-engineered some of it's technology in order to create the first ALEs, thus allowing the Guild to gain a huge edge in the aero-vessel market. Of course the Guild has a strong interest in keeping the ALEs origins a secret and so regularly scout out Ancient skyships and supply their own engineers to maintain ALEs on various skyships. This means whilst anyone can build a skyship, they must accept the fact that they have to lease an ALE from the Guild and have Guild staff on-board.

The Aero-Lift Engines work by vaporising grounded, high-grade glimmer-rock crystals and then driving an electrical current through the resultant gas (dubbed 'Glimgas') to produce a superior lifting capability. Though the process isn't fully understood even by the Guild itself, yet it has actively sought to sabotage efforts by other parties to create their own ALE.

Airships (or gasbags) use a mixture of conventional lifting gas and low-grade glimmer rock that's been ground to dust, though used high-grade Glimgas that's been collected by the Guild and sold as mid-grade is sometimes used. Because Glimgas (regardless of how it's produced) requires an electrical current, it is carried in separate gas cells to helium or hydrogen to reduce fire risk. Due to the poorer quality of this type of Glimgas and the prices charged by the Guild, it's generally used to give a boost to more conventional lifting gases. Those who can afford it, airships that solely use low-grade Glimgas have greater lifting capability compared to conventional gases but this still falls far short of what a skyship is capable of.

Having the monopoly on ALEs, simply due to being the sole supplier, the Guild has a presence in every nation save for the Iron Collective. Guild facilities are well guarded and shipments of ALEs to various aero-shipyards are done under heavy guard, typically the Guild's own aero-marines known as the Skyguard. The Skyguard also accompany Guild personnel on expeditions to crashed Ancient skyships that have been discovered or protect ALEs and have orders to destroy them to protect the Guild's secrets.

When the Iron Collective was first formed, the Guild reluctantly had as many of it's facilities as it could within the former Holy Sodkan Empire destroyed, though one or two facilities are suspected to have fallen into the Collective's hands. To this end, the Guild has been the most vocal about combating the Collective and has gained the support of Sodkan exiles. There are rumours that the Guild has a special Skyguard unit that is sent on raids into the Collective to hinder it's aero-vessel construction capability.

Monday 26 October 2020

Halloween 2020 Special: Last Town Before The White

 Welcome to Utherwald's Halloween 2020 Special.

This week's blog post is an adventure for Frozen Skies with bit of a horror theme, the basic aim is for a Halloween one shot though could still be inserted into a campaign. If this is received well I'll try to do more themed adventures, possibly for Frozen Skies or for other adventures.

Adventure Background

Weyland Station is a small, remote coastal settlement located in the far frigid north of Alyeska beyond the Monolith. The settlement was founded as a whaling station, though that was a venture that didn't pan out and these days the settlement is home to a handful of ice fishermen and their families. There is a small airstrip to allow the settlement to maintain contact without the outside world via aircraft, but also allows the Royal Aero-Fleet to maintain a small weather station during the summer months.

The settlement's remote location and relative isolation made it a target of the Wulfen Brethren for one of their nefarious experiments. The Brethren view the Wulvers as nature's ultimate form and the true masters of the world, so they've done what they can to allow the Wulvers to dominate Alyeska. Part of this involves the use of experimental chemical mixtures designed to try and turn humans into the savage beasts. Weyland Station was their latest test site.

As for the characters' involvement, there are a few options.

*A Cry For Help; The characters could receive a call for help which could be from the weather station, townsfolk or even somebody they know.

*Courier; Could be that the characters make a delivery to Weyland Station, supplies for the settlement or the RAF weather station. On the flip side, they could be heading to the settlement to pick something up.

*Random Chance; Another option is that the characters stumble upon Weyland Station, either because they got lost, diverting because of bad weather or they've been in a dogfight and it's the closest place to put down for repairs.

Whatever the reason for the characters to wind up in Weyland Station, emphasis how remote it is and give scant details for a Common Knowledge roll.

Welcome to Weyland Station

The characters should radio the settlement on approach, though they'll receive no response to their calls. Likewise, if they're answering to a distress call they'll find that the message is on repeat. First glimpse of the settlement reveals a cluster of snow-bound buildings close to what appears to be an airstrip with a couple of small aircraft, other than a few electric lights shining through windows there are no signs of life. 

Once the characters land, nobody seems to come out to greet them and on closer inspection they find that the two aircraft appear to have been deliberately damaged (Repair roll at -2 to determine this). At this time a heavy fog rolls in, drastically reducing visibility (-4 penalty for Dark) and making it extremely unsafe to fly. The characters are effectively grounded for a few hours in what seems to be a ghost town, though there are signs to suggest that it was recently inhabited. 

Moving through the town and checking out the various buildings they'll find signs that something happened like smashed windows, gigantic claw marks and large holes ripped in walls. Call for Notice rolls and tell those who get a raise that they see something moving in the fog, just a large shape and no details. After this describe the characters hearing strange, beast-like cries out in the freezing fog and that something heavy lands on and moves about the roof of whatever building they happen to be in. Emphasis the walls creaking under the weight and perhaps the building sagging slightly as it struggles to cope.

Then launch the attack.

The creatures, in this instance mutated human-wulver hybrids, will charge out of the fog making a beeline for the characters. Due to the sudden attack from the fog and the hideous appearance of the creatures, have the characters roll a Fear check at -4. There are two of the creatures per each character and they will attack relentlessly until one side or the other is wiped out. 

If the characters survive, they'll be able to fly out once the fog lifts but play up the tension and tease a possible second attack. If you wish to expand this into a much longer game, perhaps have the characters find vials or other pieces of equipment related to chemistry which could be turned over to the authorities. A maker's mark on the equipment will be the start of a trail that leads to the Wulfen Brethren and their insidious plots.

The Creatures

The creatures are human-wulver hybrids, a hideous combination of the two. The features on the creatures will vary alot, some may have more human facial features or something more wolf-like. Sames goes for the rest of their bodies, leaving most misshapen looking.

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d10, Vigor d10
Skills: Athletics d8, Fighting d10, Intimidation d10, Notice d12, Stealth d10, Survival d10
Pace: 8; Parry: 9, Toughness: 7

Edges: -

Special Abilities
• Bite: Str+d6

• Claws: Str+d8

• Infravision

• Resilient

Monday 5 October 2020

State of the Press October 2020

 Tis been a while since I've posted an update on what's happening with Utherwald Press, especially with the year that 2020 has turned out to be. There is some Frozen Skies news that goes hand-in-hand with some personal, behind the scenes development that'll be of interest to folk. 

The Year That Was

So this year has been dominated by Covid-19, something that looks set to affect our lives going forwards. Here in the UK we endured a national lockdown for close to five months and may soon face a second lockdown as we head into winter. For me, I still had work to go to as my main job was considered an essential service and only in the past few days has my second job started back up (busy busy man).

So how has it effected Utherwald?

Covid has effected things in a couple of ways. First, work has been suspended for the time being on my Keep The Home Fires Burning setting as it's set during the height of the Spanish Flu it seemed to be in bad taste to post about it given the current global situation. It is a setting that I'd like to resume work on, though perhaps down the line a fair bit.

The second effect has been conventions being cancelled, meaning less chances to promote Frozen Skies and make some sales. Online sales via DriveThruRPG have been ticking over, though Utherwald is really more of a hobby compared to my main employment. Ironically, no conventions has meant no real expenses.

In short, I've managed to get by comfortably.

But I'm still trapped in the same problem of lacking the funds to get Frozen Skies updated and released for SWADE, so work has been plodding along with regards to Frozen Skies. With things still being uncertain, I'm not sure how viable crowdfunding is right now.

Covid has put the spanner in some personal plans, meaning some things for me are currently on hold. Partially because of this I am currently working on trying to join the real life RAF, something that will mean Utherwald being put on the backburner for a bit but at the same time I'll be in a better position when I come back to it. 

Course this will probably mean 2022 before Frozen Skies gets properly released under SWADE, though least hopefully I'll be able to cover the cost of getting it done. 

 In the meantime? 

I'm mulling the idea of perhaps releasing a draft version of the SWADE Frozen Skies, it'll give something for people to work with and hopefully get some feedback before finalising the end product. We'll have to see how that works out.

Monday 7 September 2020

September 2020: Banshee Down

So in last month's post I promised that the follow-on post would be an adventure.

And so here we are, an adventure involving the pirate gang known as the Banshees. It is a standalone adventure that can easily be fitted into an ongoing campaign or serve equally well as a one-shot, though the main focus is air combat which is something to be taken into consideration. Depending how well this does, I'll certainly consider doing more content along similar lines either in the form of a series of linked adventures or more updated character stats and companion adventure.

Banshee Down


The setup for this adventure is pretty simple; It starts with the assumption that the characters are travelling in a sizeable aircraft of some description (cargo plane or airship) over the wilderness of Alyeska.

Call for a Notice roll for the characters and those that pass will see a column of smoke on the horizon, though those with a d6 or more in Piloting could possibly recognise it as coming from a recently crashed plane. Presuming the character go check it out they will find a fighter craft billowing smoke and the pilot still sat in the cockpit but unconscious. Anyone checking the aircraft for insignia will find the picture of a screaming female wraith or ghost, a Common Knowledge roll (those with connections to or knowledge of sky pirates will get a +2 on this) will reveal that the aircraft and pilot most likely belong to the Banshees pirate outfit.

Pilot herself could simply be a normal pilot of the outfit or even Natasha herself depending on the GM's choice.

The characters have a few options on how to proceed here;

*Morally dubious characters would simply leave the pilot and salvage what they can of the plane. This will, without a doubt, make them enemies of the Banshees should they find out.

*Righteous characters will realise that the pilot is a wanted criminal and therefore take her to the nearest settlement of a decent size and hand her over to the law. Going with this option will incur the wrath of the rest of the Banshees who arrive to rescue their downed pilot, the characters could hand her over at this point or try and make a run for it leading to a Chase or running air battle. Obviously handing the pilot over could make the Banshees more friendly in the future, making it a run for it will make them enemies of the characters.

*Charitable characters, even realising that the pilot is a wanted criminal, could try to return her to her outfit or take her to the nearest hospital. This option will involve a Chase, but this time the opponents are regular sky pirates flying Kestrel fighters (see the Frozen Skies Black Ice Update for SWADE). Going with this option could allow the Banshee pilot to help out the characters as an extra gunner, a pilot or simply do Support rolls. Of course, picking this option will certainly make the Banshees more inclined to be friendly...perhaps even come to the character's aid if they're really struggling.

And there you have it, a nice and simple adventure that's straightforward enough to run and will hopefully provide plenty of fun. Though feedback and suggestions are most welcomed.

Until next time folks, watch yer six!

Monday 3 August 2020

August 2020: Banshee's Wail

OK, something a little different this month.

This is going to be a two-parter, this post in particular features updated stats for the all-female Banshees sky pirate gang. The follow-on post will hopefully be an adventure centered round them, perhaps a one sheet style adventure or perhaps something longer. Depending on how popular this is, I may see about doing more of this sort of thing.

Banshee Sky Pirate

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d6, Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Language (Native) d8, Notice d6+2, Persuasion d6+1, Piloting d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d6, Taunt d6, Thievery d4
Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Greedy, Loyal, Wanted (Major)
Edges: Ace, Alertness, Attractive, Pilot's Instincts, Quick, Rock and Roll!
Gear: Knives, clubs, pistols or SMGs.

Natasha's Agility, Smarts and Piloting all increase one die. In addition she gains the Ace Gunner, Command and Danger Sense edges.

Banshee Plane

Top Speed: 310 MPH; Toughness: 12 (3); Crew: 1; Climb: 15; Handling: +1; Size: 6 (Large); Notes: Improved Gunsight
Weapons: x4 Heavy MGs (Fixed Forward, Linked)
Special - Banshees' Cry: When doing an Intimidation based test against an enemy pilot, add +2 on the roll.

Monday 6 July 2020

The Coalition Revised

Another instalment in the Revisited/Revised series where I look again at the background fluff as part of the update process for SWADE. This month it is the turn of the Coalition, a state that I wish to alter to allow greater potential for plot lines. This will hopefully make it a more interesting nation for players as well.

Rise and Fall

The biggest changes I wish to make to the Coalition is it's name and it's backstory.

I've previously mentioned that the Coalition used to be called the United Provinces, this is something that I wish to revert back to. Reasons why will be explained below.

So the Coalition's backstory was that it used to be ruled over by a monarch, but said monarch got deposed by a coalition of merchants and their guild thus rising rise to the corporate dominated Coalition. I wanna roll back the clock, have the monarch still in power but have rising tension and conflict with the merchants/corporations over the monarch's policies.

This should hopefully make things a bit more interesting. It also raises the possibility of the players getting involved and aiding one side or another as they influence what occurs within the United Provinces. Could still have the idea of corporations acting independently, seeking to gain an advantage over the others.

Monday 15 June 2020

June 2020 Extra: Air Combat Playtest

Couple of days before the writing of this post (and around a couple of weeks before it goes live), I did a playtest via Roll20 of Frozen Skies' air combat rules against the backdrop of the launch of SpaceX. It was nice getting back to playing Savage Worlds properly (admittedly in a virtual setting) and a chance to see how well the air combat rules worked. Cannot say whether the virtual format aided or impeded things, though things seemed to go well enough.

If you wish to support me or like extra content, please consider checking out my Patreon page.

The Setup

Since I only had couple of players from my regular group, went with a couple of player controlled Kestrel fighters going up against a Wild Card Ace in a Kestrel with couple of Wingmen Extras flying Trodai/Warrior fighters. Single character sheet was used for the skills/rolls and aircraft stats and the rules were there as Handouts for the players to read and reference.

The Playtest

Started things by walking through the rules for Savage Worlds (as one of the players hadn't played the system before) and then the air combat rules (though interrupted by the SpaceX launch). Once everything had been explained and the players seemed happy with everything, I setup the combat. Placed the aircraft of the two players on one side, then put the three enemy aircraft round 15 hex squares away facing the players.

Went through three rounds of combat, which was a pretty close thing and I'd expected the NPCs to claim victory but then my notoriously bad dice rolls kicked in. Ended up having at least a good dozen or so failed Out of Control rolls, though realised now that everyone had the Ace Edge and thus could've ignored couple of points of penalties. D'oh!

In the end the players emerged victorious, even though one of their planes took couple of Wounds in the process. The enemy Ace got shot down first after his aircraft took an absolute mauling, the two Wingmen sharing his fate soon afterwards.


The players agreed that the rules seemed pretty solid and I am even more convinced that a hex grid is the way forwards. However, there were some points that were brought up.

*The Wingmen's aircraft I ran as being just like normal Extras in Savage Worlds, basically they only had a single Wound. I'd done this to help speed up combat based on experiences in previous playtests, though the players suggested perhaps increasing the number of Wounds to give them a little bit of staying power. So I'm thinking of having a base of a single Wound but increasing this based on Size of the aircraft, thus two Wounds for a Large aircraft and three for a Huge one.

*Weapon arcs was something that was brought up by one of the players (the planes only had forward firing weapons). Though once I'd pointed out that it was possible to have backward firing guns and even turrets, explaining how those worked, he seemed satisfied.

*Manoeuvrers was bit of an interesting one, chiefly when they can be done. Suppose this can be addressed by stating when each one can be done.

Though a second d'oh! is that I've just realised/learnt that Out of Control rolls are only on a Critical Failure or in certain situations.

Monday 1 June 2020

June 2020: CWS: The Bratty Man Cometh

Recently came across something rather interesting and being a while since I last did a Cold War Skirmishes post, it is something too good not to post. If things go to plan, this is likely to be the first of two posts this month, the second post will be a write-up of a playtest of Frozen Skies' air combat rules and should be expected some point round the 15th June. Also, if you wish to support me or get access to new posts ahead of the crowd then please consider checking out my Patreon.

Wolfgang The Bratty Man: A Legend Of The Cold War

Picture the scene.

You're a British soldier stationed in Germany and part way through a field exercise on the Soltau Training Area. You're cold, tired and sick of ration packs when all of a sudden a blue Mercedes van appears like magic through the smoke of a mock battle. Angry shouts are elicited from the NCOs as you and your fellow soldiers run off to buy hot chips, bratwursts, burgers and cold beer.

Wolfgang Meier, a legend amongst British soldiers based in north Germany, had arrived.

Wolfgang had a semi-mythical ability to manoeuvre his van across seemingly impassible terrain to bring his wares to hungry armour crews (who were then often obliged to tow the van out when it got stuck). His knowledge of exercise plans and the local terrain was also legendary, and he often knew where units were headed before they even received their movement orders – some observed that if he wasn’t an East German spy, he should have been.

For more than two decades his van could appear at any time of day, even in the middle of a live military training exercise narrowly missing grenades. During the '70s and '80s he was an instant morale booster whenever he appeared, his uncanny knowledge of where units were helped more than one lost soldier.

And end of an era came to end in 1994 when Wolfgang's fast food van completed it's last mission and the man himself brought himself a camp site with the money he'd made.

Use In Games

Wolfgang could potentially be an interesting and useful NPC for a GM to use, serving at least as a friendly face for the characters to encounter. He's best played turning up out of the blue, either as a Travel Encounter or when the GM feels the time is right. The GM could have Wolfgang serve as a source of information, letting the characters know where their parent unit is or where enemy forces are. Additionally, Wolfgang could help them out by giving them a lift or beseech the characters for help in rescuing his family.

Wolfgang Meier

Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d8, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Athletics d6, Common Knowledge d8, Driving d8, Language (Native) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d10, Stealth d4
Pace: 6; Parry: 2; Toughness: 5
Hindrances: Loyal, Mild Mannered, Pacifist (minor), Quirk
Edges: Ace, Alertness, Charismatic, Danger Sense, Reliable, Streetwise, Strong Willed