Monday, 6 September 2021

September 2021: Lionheart

 As summer gives away to autumn and the final few months of the year, perhaps a good time to announce a project I've begun which I hope to have finished before the year's end. It's a supplement for Cold War Skirmishes that I hope to release via the Savage Worlds Adventurer's Guild on DriveThruRPG and may form the general format for CWS related products going forward. 

Oh and SWAGtember III: Return of the SWAG Bundle is how out. Check it out to find a ton of great community created content and my Operation Thule adventure.

 What is Lionheart?

 Lionheart is a supplement for my Cold War Skirmishes line that covers the British Forces during the Cold War period. The name references both Richard the Lionheart from English history and also the big NATO exercise Lionheart that took place in 1984.

As stated, the supplement's focus is on the British military during the Cold War era which I'm defining to be from the end of the Second World War in 1945 through to the start of the First Gulf War in 1991. This gives a time frame of some 46 years during which the British Forces saw constant action whilst undergoing changes in organisation, equipment and tactics. What this means content wise is an overview of structure and gear in the form of both weapons and vehicles with the focus on the British Army, though there will be a mention or two regarding the RAF and the Royal Navy.

Vehicles are going to be the bulk of the content and there is a surprising amount even going with what was actually used, so I'm going to focus on what was used on the frontline and thus more likely to be used by player characters. Aircraft wise, I'm probably going to restrict it to helicopters and light aircraft just to keep myself sane.

I'm including a draft below, which is far from finish due to stuff needing to be added along with the formatting needing to be sorted and pictures/artwork needing to be sourced. Though I am curious what level of detail people would like me to go into? Aka what years stuff was in service, etc?

Thoughts, comments and feedback muchly welcomed.

*Lionheart Draft*

Monday, 2 August 2021

August 2021: Alyeskan Gazetteer - Scrapper's Island

 Certainly been a while since we've had a Gazetteer post, so probably high time that was addressed. As ever this serves to explore the untamed wilds and expand the map of Alyeska, thus providing more fodder for people's games of Frozen Skies. In this month's entry we take a look at one of many ventures that failed to live up to their investor's expectations.


Scrapper's Island

Scrapper's Island is located in the Needles, north of Theda Air Station

The island has been used by fishermen for decades, originally being known as Dirgen's Landing since time almost immortal. Things changed with the end of the Great Darmonican War and the large amounts of war surplus flooding the market as the various militaries demobilised their forces. One enterprising businessman, a certain Sean Holden, sought to take advantage of this situation.

Spending no small amount of coin, Holden acquired the deed to the island and set about having a smelting plant and workers' housing constructed. Back in the Commonwealth's Home Isles he tendered contracts for disposal of surplus military equipment with the view of having it then transported to his island factory. It was Holden's intent to break up the equipment for salvage, either as spare parts or melt down the metals to be re-used for other purposes.

With a workforce in place, a few shipments en-route and operations already underway Holden was convicted for fraud and his assets within the Home Isles were seized by the Commonwealth authorities whilst Holden himself was imprisoned. Without it's main driving force, Scrapper's Island never achieved it's full potential. With no paychecks looking to be forthcoming, many of the workers upped sticks and left leaving those too stubborn or unable to leave.

Though looking mostly abandoned, Scrapper's Island continues in a state of limbo acquiring a tickle of junk that is broken down for spares by the so-called Scrappers that remain. The smelters stand silent, never really being used for their intended use as the island because more of a junkyard where various companies in Alyeska dispose of unwanted equipment.

Use In Games

Scrapper's Island could serve as the destination for a crew tasked with delivering a shipment of obsolete equipment, likewise the crew could visit the island in search of spare parts to make some repairs on the cheap. They could also be sent here to find something on behalf of a rich patron.

Monday, 5 July 2021

July 2021: To Pay Donn's Toll

 This month we're back in the world of Frozen Skies with a look at an idea for some background lore for the setting. The genesis of this stems from a recent discussion about the portrayal of the afterlife in fantasy settings and various different cultures. Focusing on the Commonwealth here whose beliefs are rooted in Celtic mythology but altered and adapted to fit the setting. 


Donn's Toll

Kinda playing on a number of different sources here for inspiration, though the main basis is the Celtic Otherworld believed to both be the realm of the gods and also of the dead. This concept of the afterlife known as the Otherworld I plan to carry over into Frozen Skies, though this Otherworld is also believed to be the home of various spirits like the fey thus making it, in some respects, similar to the Feywild in D&D. 

Passage to (and sometimes from) the Otherworld is conveyance via a ferryman, so alot like Charon in Greek mythology. Though in this instance the ferryman is based more of the Irish god of the dead Donn, just with a boat instead of a horse. With the Commonwealth's homeland being a bunch of islands I figured the ocean would have an influence on the cultural beliefs within the Commonwealth, hence the ferryman of the dead angle here. On a slight tandem here, funeral ships (for either burial on land or cremation at sea) could be popular amongst important families with ties to the ocean.

I like the idea of the Banshee from Irish folklore as a female spirit who heralds somebody's death, usually by wailing. Though I wish to expand on this, but keep the core idea of the Banshee being a herald of death. For the Frozen Skies version of the Banshee I'm thinking that when somebody dies, she either sings or wails depending on how good or bad the recently mortally challenged person was. This would then act as a herald for the person's spirit when it arrived in the Otherworld.

Another thing that I wish to incorporate is the Wild Hunt, least the concept of otherworldly hunters chasing after souls of the dead. My version would be led by a figure dubbed the 'Horned King' and the hunt itself targets the souls of those who have been bad in their lifetime. Course the idea here is that the soul is repeatedly hunted down depending on how bad they were, thus creating cycles where the soul is hunted down until they are considered to be 'cleansed' of their sins in life.

And that's what I have, though some parts may change as it gets refined and polished up.

Monday, 7 June 2021

June 2021: State of the Press

 Good grief, almost halfway through the year.

We're now heading into summer (or winter for those readers residing in the southern hemisphere) as signalled by it not raining for more than five minutes here in the UK, so it seems like a good enough excuse for an update on things. It'll be a short post, covering Frozen Skies and some personal stuff that still effect things.


Frozen Skies

One of the big changes with Frozen Skies is that I've managed to enlist some outside help, mainly to provide an extra set of eyes and opinions to counteract how much of Frozen Skies has been developed in relative isolation. For me this is great as I finally get some sort after feedback prior to going to print, thus hopefully leading to a much improved product when that happens. Obviously, that's a boon for everyone concerned.

The biggest change has been to make the Weird Science Arcane Background a NPC only thing, Weird Science was the only Arcane Background in the setting and it was hard justifying it. So now for player characters, Weird Science is effectively just the gizmos and devices side of things rather than powers. Weird Science would still remain a valid skill to operate said devices, though to acquire them a character would have to seek out a NPC mad scientist.

Another change is the inclusion of some alternative rules for air combat, which are just that; an alternative. The hex grid based more tactical rules are being kept, though GMs and their players are gaining more options to use. Whilst not being a be all and end all, it is hoped that this will provide greater choice for people wanting to play Frozen Skies.

Gonna try and get the revised SWADE update document, 'Frozen Skies Black Ice', done by the end of the month so that people can see the actual changes and thus provide feedback on them. As for the final product, I still can provide no ETA on that.

Personal Stuff

A potential boon/spanner in the works (depending on POV) that I've mentioned previously is that I'm currently in the process of joining the Royal Air Force. Needless to say, joining the British military can be and is a drawn-out process with the various steps being spread out over a period of a few months. As you can imagine, a global pandemic has slowed things down as well.

I'm currently at the Medical stage, though I did my actual medical back in April I failed on eyesight and need to re-do this section after acquiring a pair of glasses. Once this is done I have one more stage to get through, the Pre-Joining Fitness Test, before I finally receive a start date for recruit training. Presently I'm waiting on the medical to be re-booked, frustrating as the delay is it does mean more time to work on fitness and I'm currently estimating that it will be October time when I go off to recruit training.

As I said previously, hope to have something more substantial out for the SWADE version of Frozen Skies by the time that happens.

Monday, 3 May 2021

May 2021: Clan of the Fallen

 This month we return to the world of Frozen Skies by building some background lore, something that could possibly be used in games of Frozen Skies. It builds upon the clan society of the Commonwealth that I was aiming for, in addition introduces a plot angle for people to play with. Hopefully it'll be something that folk will find interesting and, if the reception is good, I'll see about doing more of these lore/plot-hook posts.


The Fallen Clan

Clan Kendrick's name is oft-spoken with disgust and mistrust, the clan having fallen from grace since the events of the Finklegate Coup. Disgraced, the surviving members of the clan found themselves as pariahs far as the Commonwealth was concerned. With much of their holdings, wealth and influence gone the clan eventually re-established itself in Alyeska where it gradually rebuilt it's fortune. As a sign of it's revival, Clan Kendrick had Dunfalk House built as it's new clan seat a few miles outside of Gravenburgh in Alyeska.

Still reviled by society at large, unsurprising the clan retains deep-seated bitterness and resentment of how the Coup played out. Having long coveted the throne, Clan Kendrick has frequently sought opportunities to help it achieve it's ultimate goal. One such opportunity presented itself in the form of Banrigh (Queen) Lothwyn II whom the clan paired with one of it's own scions to be a suitor when the then young Lothwyn came of age.

Despite taking the young man, Cathal Kilmartin, into her confidence the Banrigh fell for another. The identity of this other suitor is unknown as it's deliberately been kept under wraps, though publicly it is known that Lothwyn is dating somebody. Needless to say, this has frustrated Clan Kendrick no end. The clan has spent a great deal of effort and coin in trying to identify who this person is, though they've had limited success other than a real nugget of information; they regularly travel to Broken Spires to indulge in a spot of gambling.

With this critical clue to go on, the clan has despatched agents to the pirate haven to watch out for whom the Queen's mysterious lover might be. Additionally, Clan Kendrick has hatched plans to dispose of the mystery man and has been seeking a suitable outfit of freelancers to use as the scapegoat. A number of outfits have been hired by the clan, through proxies of course, with the aim of testing their worth before the clan put it's plans into action.

That said, the clan has remained highly cautious of the Queen's uncle and Ard Tiarna (High Lord) of Alyeska; Viktor Cathmore.

Monday, 5 April 2021

April 2021: Forsaken Revisited

 For a while I've had ideas for other settings beside Frozen Skies, settings that I've posted about time and time again. One of these has been a Dark SciFi that I'd dubbed Forsaken Space, which revolved around a single system where wrecked spaceships seem to be drawn to. Though I'm mulling going into a different direction with it, hence this post.


Welcome to Forsaken

I want to take a similar approach to that I've taken with Frozen Skies, start with a location and then build upon it from there. In this instance it'll be a planet, possibly named Forsaken though that might change, either way it's a heavily industrialised world with millions living in so-called hab-clusters. In some respects these hab-clusters are similar to the hive cities of 40K.

The world itself is under the nominal control of the galaxy spanning Terran Imperial Conglomerate (TIC), but I'm 50/50 between it being our own galaxy or another. My train of thought was that Humanity was finally able to spread across the stars after discovering naturally occurring wormholes, though these wormholes each operate on their own open/close cycle which makes interstellar that much more complex. There could be some wormholes that are open for a very long period and thus form part of regular trade routes, others are only open for a brief time prompting a sort of 'gold rush' when they do finally open.

This of course means that travelling from A to B could potentially involve pin-balling halfway round the galaxy depending on how good your timing is. You've probably realised the limitations with this method of interstellar travel, particularly how it hampers fleet movements, etc. To this end I'm toying with an idea of an experiment with FTL travel that went disastrously and tore a hole in the walls of reality, prompting invasions by other-wordly entities in what is known in setting as the Rift Wars. A combination of all of the above means most worlds are effectively isolated, a lone candle against the black.

Of course all this is subject to change, some elements may get altered as I develop the setting further. But I'd welcome thoughts and comments so far. 

Monday, 1 March 2021

March 2021: Bravo November

 This week is bit of a break from Frozen Skies, instead we're focusing on one of my various other setting ideas. In this instance it's the turn of Cold War Skirmishes, a project that covers the Cold War period between 1945 and 1991. The aim is to cover various nations and conflicts, particularly the lesser well-known ones. This particular post is something I've planned to do for a while and concerns a Chinook helicopter in British service; Bravo November.


Bravo November

Bravo November was one of thirty Boeing CH-47 Chinooks ordered for the RAF in 1978, the actual helicopter (military serial ZA718) being received by the RAF in February 1982. In April 1982 Bravo November (from her radio code BN) was loaded onto the MV Atlantic Conveyor in response to the outbreak of the Falklands Conflict. Bravo November happened to to be airborne when the Atlantic Conveyor was tragically sunk, taking much of the task force's helicopter support with it, but Bravo November managed to land on the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.

Bravo November ended up being the only serviceable heavy-lift helicopter for British forces during the duration of the conflict, whoever there was no spares, service manuals, lubricants or even tools for the helicopter. Even so, it was able to carry some 1,500 troops, 95 casualties, 650 POWs and 550 tons of cargo. 

The first of four Distinguished Flying Crosses for pilots flying the helicopter was awarded during the Falklands Conflict. Piloted by Squadron Leader Langworth on a night mission, the helicopter landed in the sea at around 100 knots. Spray from the impact flooded the engine intakes, but Langworth and his co-pilot managed to get the aircraft airborne once again. However, Bravo November suffered some fuselage damage along with a lost antenna and even the co-pilot's door when the crew considered bailing out of the ditched aircraft. Loss of the door meant the crew weren't able to navigate or communicate with ground forces, yet keep flying until the end of the conflict and received a replacement door from a captured Argentine Chinook.

The second DFC awarded was earned during the Iraq War, the aircraft being the first British helicopter to land Royal Marines ashore to size oil-pumping facilities before they could be destroyed by Iraq froces. Bravo November was flown by Squadron Leader Carr, who had to fly at 100ft or less with restricted visibility due to the dust kicked up by American armoured forces.

Third and fourth DFCs were awarded during the Afghanistan conflict. The first by Flight Lieutenant Wilson who remained on duty for a 24 hour period making frequent flights to ferry both reinforcements and wounded troops. Final DFC was awarded to Flight Lieutenant Fortune who received a head injury from a ricocheting bullet whilst attempting to land in a 'hot zone' whilst attempting to rescue wounded troops, the helicopter also received numerous hits. Fortune managed to stay in control of the aircraft and fly the injured soldiers back to base, though following day mechanics found that Bravo November's hydraulics had completely seized up.

Bravo November remains in service to this day and was the subject of an exhibit at the RAF Museum London. More info can be found *here*.

Stats

Size: 12; Handling: -2; Top Speed (MPH): 180; Toughness: 20 (2); Crew: 4+55
Notes: Helicopter; Weapons: 2x Med MGs (Fixed Left or Right), 1x Med MG (Fixed Rear)

Lucky: Bravo November has two Bennies for it's crew to use for any Piloting roll or to Soak Wounds against the aircraft.

Monday, 1 February 2021

February 2021: Frozen Skies Thoughts

There are times when the inspiration particle strikes and hit upon an idea whether something would work in a RPG project of mine, be it Frozen Skies or something else. In this instance it's a couple of things from Deadlands Lost Colony that I'd like to adapt for Frozen Skies. Whether I'll be able to include them in Frozen Skies remains to be seen, though I'll go over what they are regardless.


Gear & Availability

One of the things that I wish to do with the SWADE update for Frozen Skies is to reinforce the frontier feeling of the setting, part of which I feel can be addressed by adjusting prices of various pieces of gear. Revamping the currency and prices is on my list of changes to make, if anything to make it easier to adapt from other SW settings.

Something Lost Colony does is have gear rated for availability ranging from Common through to Very Rare. A Networking roll is used to find a particular item, this roll is modified by the item's availability and the modifier of the population size in a particular area. This means a Common item would be easy to find in one of the big and well-trafficked settlements, whilst a Very Rare item would be extremely difficult to track down in a remote mining camp. 

In Frozen Skies this would mean stuff like bolt-actions would tend to be rated as Common, whilst stuff like machine guns, etc would be edging more towards Rare territory. Would be interesting to see how this works in practice, though I'll see about releasing a stand-alone document with the availability added in for various items for folk to try out.

Adventure Generator

Frozen Skies' own Adventure Generator as it stands is something I'm not happy with, it certainly feels like it could do with a major overhaul. The one in Lost Colony would probably be what I'd go with, looking like it's more simpler to use and more efficient with how it generates an adventure.

You have three categories; Objective, Obstacle and Complication. You draw an Action Card for each one, the card's value determines the result whilst the suit could how the characters are drawn in or influence behind the Obstacle. Certainly heck of alot less in the way of tables and rolls than what currently exists for Frozen Skies.

EXAMPLE;

Objective: Ace of Diamonds - The characters find themselves in the middle of a battle whilst trying to make some money to keep their craft going and food on the table.

Obstacle: Seven of Hearts - The characters are competing against a rival group as a disease, or other health-related issue, come into play.

Complication: Six of Diamonds - Only non-lethal means are allowed either due to weapon laws or some hazard, though if the characters are willing to part with some hard-earned cash they may be able to resolve their troubles.

That certainly took alot less effort to do, the only real hard work is to string this into an adventure that works. Taking the above example this could be the characters running into a rival group in a bar where weapons aren't allowed and a brawl breaking out. Where's the bar? Perhaps in some mining settlement that the characters were delivering the medicine to, the brawl could've been started by a sick miner wanting to skip the queue or accidentally provoked somebody. Needing to replace some broken down parts, the crew had to take the job despite the outbreak but some of the payment could be loss being given as a bribe to appease the local authorities in the brawl's aftermath.

A few ideas, some of which could be expanded upon to round out the adventure even more. Certainly thinking this could be the way to go, though question remains whether I'll be able to adapt this for Frozen Skies.

What do you guys think?

Monday, 4 January 2021

January 2021: Through The Looking Glass

 New Year, new post.

Hopefully bit of an interesting read to start off 2021, namely some alternative takes on the setting of Frozen Skies. Some of these stem from ideas I've had over the years as I developed the setting, others were suggestions offered by folk who had come up with their own interpretations. All of these are pretty fair game for folk to use for their own version of Frozen Skies, though if there is overwhelming interest in a particular one I may see about developing it further.


Islands In The Smog

One of the very very early ideas (pre-2010) I had for what eventually ended up becoming Frozen Skies was floating islands in a void similar to Outland in World of Warcraft but alot more Steampunk in nature. Sundered Skies for Savage Worlds covers this niche pretty well, as does the Warbirds RPG, so it's gonna be tricky to be original here.

That said, if I was to do a version of Frozen Skies based on this concept it would be to have the world slowly drowning in a toxic smog. The survivors would be forced to build new settlements on the tops of mountains to try and stay above the smog, making air travel necessary as the sole means of getting about. Could work as an alternative history version where the Blast created the smog which has been getting larger ever since.

The Kurg

This stems from another early idea, probably right back when I first started designing my own RPG setting. It was basically this horde-like army called the Kurg that was overrunning large parts of the world, proving to be difficult to stop. I had envisioned the Kurg being from a militant society, possibly their own empire, that was set on world conquest. Ultimately this idea got shelved as the setting underwent various revisions until what became Darmonica finally emerged.

If I did the Kurg today in Frozen Skies I'd probably have them be an subterranean species (think something like the Locust Horde in Gears of War) who have captured parts of the surface world, again requiring a dependence on air travel for the surface dwellers. The focus would probably be more combatting the Kurg, attempting to re-claim the surface and perhaps even striking back against their subterranean lairs.

Then again I have teased another power in Darmonica residing in what is considered to be 'uncharted lands', could be the Kurg....

Alternative History

This is something that I've had folk suggest, either as how they've run their own games or comments on how 'real' I've made the world. Basic idea is an alternative version of North America, granted Alyeska is the old Russian name for Alaska so there is some merit. Could do this as either Alaska merging with Canada rather than joining the US or North America being under British control similar to Harry Turtledove's The Two Georges novel.

Real question would be what changed from our own world and timeline?

Downside would be alot of elements I've included in Frozen Skies wouldn't work and I feel this idea would be more restrictive creativity wise as it simply wouldn't be a blank canvas. Whilst alternative history is interesting, I feel there's only so much room you've got to work with.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, thats the different ideas I had. Let me know what you think.