Monday 24 December 2018

Death's Chase: SWADE Edition

Part of the process of updating Frozen Skies to SWADE includes going over various rules. This includes the rules for the Death's Chase air race, basically adapting it for the new Chase rules. Recently got the chance to playtest it, so this week's post is the setup and how things worked out.

Additionally; Happy Holidays folk, will be taking a break until the New Year.

The Setup

*All agreed upon a row of 15 cards with everyone starting on Card 1.

*A single 'lap' was along the entire row, then looping back round to Card 1 for the next lap.

*The modifiers for Complications were in effect when it came to Shooting rolls, reasoning that the target aircraft is constantly moving about to dodge pillars of rock, etc. (Later realize that we'd forgotten about Unstable Platform and Recoil).

*Everyone got to automatically move one card before doing any Actions, basically to try and keep things mobile.
Everyone also got d8 for both Piloting, Repair and Shooting in addition to the Edges Ace and Ace Gunner (from Frozen Skies). Otherwise, we followed the Chase rules in SWADE, trying to keep things simple.
How It Worked & Feedback
For the most part it seemed to work, though it was clear some further tweaks were needed and the group came up with some ideas after the game.

*Having the Complications modifiers being active for Shooting seemed to be a good idea, though the players suggested extending them to manoeuvrers.This would certainly help encourage more of a "seat of your pants flying" feel. (Though the modifiers for Shooting will be dropped)

*Something that did crop up was that for 2 or 3 turns a couple of players effectively 'looped' back and forth between two cards. The players suggested making dropping back along the cards just a normal Action (so no Free Action) and requiring a roll to do so. (Though discussion with others the only change is probably going to be requiring a roll for dropping back)

*Attacking targets on the same card, suggestion here was to probably only allow it if the aircraft as a turret or side mounted pintle weapons.

*Another thing discussed was make it more of a difference between aircraft when it comes to speed, though as a group we didn't really come up with any solutions. I have thought about the possibility of having it so that aircraft move a card for each 100 MPH of their speed before doing stuff like Change Position, the latter bit could be a boost to move an extra card or two. There was also a suggestion to expand upon the modifiers above to include bonuses on Heart and Diamond Chase Cards, basically to represent the aircraft going flat out on a relatively clear stretch of the course.

Monday 17 December 2018

Frozen Skies Adventure Edition

So Savage Worlds Adventure Edition has been released (at least to Kickstarter backers at time of writing) and the non-disclosure agreement lifted, means I'm free to talk about how SWADE will effect Frozen Skies. Stated previously that I'll be doing an Update & Errata PDF dubbed 'Black Ice', basically covering the changes to Frozen Skies that will be incorporated into the SWADE version. So this week we'll be taking a look at some of those changes and one or two new ideas.

Edges & Hindrances

Least one Edge (Mechanic) has been dropped since the Mr Fix It Edge works mechanically the same with similar requirements.

Social Edges & Hindrances have been updated to work with the new Networking rules. Some work slightly different in SWADE than they did in SWD, likewise they've had the bonuses they provide brought inline with SWADE.

Ace Gunner is one of the Edges that have been completely changed; No longer does it provide a flat bonus to Shooting with vehicle mounted weapons, rather it now acts as a modifier for rolls on the Vehicle Critical Hit Table.

Pilot's Instincts is a new Edge and one that works by granting a bonus to your aircraft's Evasion score when you have an Action Card of 5 or less.

Aircraft & Combat

Aircraft have been updated to match the new vehicle stats in SWADE, though this has resulted in a reworking of the Aircraft Creation Rules. This means some of the aircraft modifications have been changed to match the new vehicle stats. For example, Airbrakes now provides a bonus to Handling when the aircraft is at less than half its Top Speed.

There will be some new modifications such as Armoured Cockpit which adds armor for Crew results on the Vehicle Critical Hit Table. I'm also toying with the idea of allowing extra spaces on an aircraft for modifications, but at the expense of reduced Handling.

Another new thing I'm looking at for aerial combat is different altitude levels, mainly for modifiers based on which altitude the aircraft is flying at and other factors. This could potentially effect aircraft modifications.

Death's Chase

Though an extension of the aircraft rules for Frozen Skies, it deserves its own mention.

I've already posted on social media that it will be based on the new chase rules for SWADE, though expand upon what those rules a little bit. The new chase rules use a second deck of cards to determine the chase, ranging from relative distance between those involved and complications. Though the value of the cards are normally only use to determine complications when they come up, I'm thinking of extending that to provide modifiers to both Piloting and Shooting rules regardless of whether there is a complication or not. My thought was that the cards themselves would represent the actual course of the race.

Monday 10 December 2018

Frozen Skies Episode 13: Tomb of Ice and Metal

Now flying the airship Stormrider following efforts last time to chart a new course for the crew's future, it was time to conduct their first venture with the new aero-vessel. Though it wasn't entirely plain sailing as there was dragonhawk related shenanigans, including an encounter with a flock of wild dragonhawks. The glory of finding an Alyeskan legend was tempered by the death of a key member of the crew.

Et tu, Mutt?

His breath steamed in the chilled air like a locomotive as he laid there gasping in pain from where the best had savaged his leg. Blood pooled round him as it poured from the ravaged flesh, though ice crystals were starting to form as the warmth was sucked from it and it began to freeze.What little he knew about battlefield triage was enough to tell him what he needed to know.

He wasn't coming out of this one alive.

The beast growled as it circled round, blood matting the fur round its mouth as it bared its teeth and snarled. Desperately he worked the action on his pistol and managed to extract the round that had caused the firearm to jam, just in time as the hound started charging towards him.

He could hear the shouts of the others, but they were too late...too damn late.

With great effort he brought the gun to bare as the animal leapt towards him, snarling as it bared its teeth and its pure white eyes seemed to burn with malice.

A strange calm seemed to come upon him and time seemed to slow as he resigned himself to his fate.

He was going to die here.

Die in this tomb of ice and metal.

Three Days Earlier...

The crew had opted to spend the night in Bowerstead Post and move on in the morning, some took it as the chance to deal with outstanding business in the settlement. Herbert sought out Ardan, seeking to enquire about the infant dragonhawk running amok in his warehouse. A deal was struck; Herbert could take the dragonhawk in exchange for an undisclosed favour being called in by Ardan at a later date. Happy, Herbert sneaked the dragonhawk onto the airship and stowed it on the orlop deck (lowest deck) of the airship with some crates of food.

All was going well until one of the ratings came down in search of some spare parts, though they made an abrupt U-turn upon seeing the dragonhawk and made to hurry back the way they came. Herbert ran after the rating and tackled them, though the rating managed to call out for help and word soon floated up to Tag on the bridge. Sebastian got sent down to see what the matter was, though when he reported back to the bridge he got told by Tag to deal with the problem. Though when he tried to get Herbert to get rid off the beast, Herbert managed to persuade the sharpshooter to let him keep the creature.

Over the next couple of days Tag eventually found out when a flock of dragonhawks encountered the airship and circled round it squawking and screeching. One of the crew mentioned about the young dragonhawk had brought onboard, after which Herbert was called to the bridge. Alex, meanwhile, had gone to one of the MG positions with the intent of shooting down the beasts....only for the gun to jam immediately (which turned out to be one 'upgraded' by Reginald). Back on the bridge Herbert explained himself and, despite his misgivings, Tag reluctantly agreed that the creature could stay but Herbert was fully responsible for it. The wild dragonhaks, in the mean time, had parted ways with the Stormrider.

Finding an Alyeskan Legend

A day or so later, the airship arrived in the area of Ragnar Point and the crew set about seeking a legend of Alyeskan lore; the Wreck of the Skellig.

After searching the sea ice for quite some time and eventually they were rewarded by spotting an object sticking out of the ice. Upon closer examination it appeared to be a wrecked skyship, half-buried in the ice. The ice round the wreck cracked alarmingly and so only a handful dare venture to cross over to the wreck, though moving at a slow and careful pace. The crew managed to reach the wreck without mishap.

Exploring the dark interior of the wreck they came across the skeleton remains of its crew, though no clue as to what befell the skyship and its crew. Though as they explored deeper into the wrecked aero-vessel the crew became aware that they weren't alone, rapid tapping noises and half-glimpsed shadows served to heighten the tension in the air. Alex was the first to be attacked, receiving a strike from behind that somehow failed to inflict any harm. Turning, Alex was able to see that his attacker was some type of wolf-like creature with silvery grey fur and pure white eyes. Though a shot at point blank from his gun crane soon put the beast down.

Sebastian was next to be attacked, but easily dealt with his foe. Though the crew could now all hear howls echoing throughout the wreck, prompting Tag to hasten down to the cargo hold in order to grab an item that Andrei had requested. However, in the cargo hold he encountered four of the beasts waiting for him. Two of them, in their aggressive haste to attack Tag, slipped on the icy floor and went sprawling. Having only two foes presenting an immediate threat, Tag was able to deal with them in short order. The third he also managed to deal with swiftly, but his pistol jammed and the four managed to get in to ravage Tag's leg. Collapsing to the floor and feeling his lifeblood flowing freely from him, Tag desperately tried to get his pistol cleared. He could hear the others coming, but he knew they would be too late.

The beast circled round and leapt to strike the killing blow, though Tag managed to get his pistol working and delivered a killing blow upon the beast. Ultimately, it was too little too late as the beast's momentum carried it forward and its teeth clamped round Tag's throat. As the others finally burst into the cargo hold, the last of Tag's life force left him.


Wow, a character death that wasn't at the hands of another character.

I'd be the first to admit that I thought the characters were going to be other tasks, though something that they may still end up doing at a later date. Though Tag's death was unexpected and puts a little bit of a spanner in the works for plot later in the campaign, though that can be worked around. Tag's player admitted that he was looking to retire the character soon, so Tag's death worked out.

Does now mean that technically isn't a captain no more, though I'm looking at addressing this.

Monday 3 December 2018

What Is...Aerothium?

With a new edition of Savage Worlds on the horizon, I've been going through and updating Frozen Skies to reflect the new rules. Alot of this has been mostly changes to stats, Edges and Hindrances. It is also a golden opportunity to go through the fluff of the setting, edit and improve the parts I'm not 100% happy with. The objective of this is to try and make the fluff more clear by tracking down and rewriting the contradictions about the setting, basically to make things a little less disjointed. The first of this so-called "What Is...?" series is a look at the lifting gas of the air vessels found within the setting; AEROTHIUM.

Whole Lotta Lift-ing

More commonly known as 'Lift Gas', Aerothium is the lifting gas used to give the airships of Darmonica erm...lift. Though in its natural state it is actually a mineral mined from the ground, then refined using an alchemical process to turn it into a gas. It is believed that the Ancient Terrans were the first to discover the process and then used Aerothium to enable their skyships through the skies. After the Fall of the Ancients the knowledge was lost, though it was rediscovered through a mixture of experimentation and the finding of fragments of information. It is widely acknowledged that modern processes of refining Aerothium are nowhere near as efficient as those used by the Ancients.

Aerothium gas, as mentioned, is used as the lifting gas for aero-vessels in the world of Darmonica. Though whilst not actually able to produce much lift on its own, it has an advantage over other gases in that it can be manipulated into producing more lift. It was discovered that if an electrical current was run through some Aerothium, the gas became lighter and thus had more lift. The greater the current, the greater the lift produced. It meant that aero-vessels could be larger and have greater carrying capacity. Though over time, Aerothium degrades with use and requires ever greater amount of current in order to continue producing lift. Typically, most aero-vessels will have their Aerothium replaced on a regular basis.

Currently, nobody is sure what the finite limit is for usable lift from Aerothium. There have been reports of wrecked skyships, dubbed 'air hulks', with Aerothium still in their gas cells riding lightning storms. It is believed that lightning strikes on these wrecks energize the gas in much the same way as an electrical current in normal operations. Though the fate of most air hulks, save for those salvaged, it unknown and thus it has been difficult for any serious studies to be conducted.

Thanks to the Skywright's Guild monopoly on Aerothium there exists a black market, unfortunately this tends to be for used gas siphoned from wrecked airships. Only the criminal or desperate would buy the stuff due to the increased risk for disaster with the reduced amount of usable lift available.

Using Aerothium In-game

Aerothium could be used as the plot device for an adventure, typically with the characters need to get their hands on some for their airship or to sell to a crime lord. The latter option could work for a campaign as the crime lord finds he's been sold used Aerothium and comes after the characters in order to get some revenge.

More game mechanic wise, Aerothium could have a big impact on the characters' airship as it degrades. Every time the character actually piloting the airship critical fails their Piloting roll a -1 penalty is incurred to the airship's Handling, to a maximum of -4. This penalty is removed when the Aerothium is replaced.

Additionally, different grades of Aerothium can be used with penalties or bonuses to an airship's Handling depending on the grade.