Jadetech Fiction #2: Flashpoint

From the pages of Jadetech: Red Jade.

By Benjamin Feehan

“How many rounds do we have left?” Shen flicked his wrist, dropping six hot brass casings out of his revolver and into the dust at his feet.

The sailor held up three bullets. “This is it.”

“And how many thugs are there?”

Alistair chanced a glance over the rim of rock which shielded him from the thugs below. He had an empty rifle between his knees. Shen assumed that like most Aerishmen, the boy was comforted by the mere presence of the gun. “Twelve I think? Thirteen maybe? One of them might not be as wounded as he thinks he is.”

Shen smiled bleakly. “No one said bandits were the braver sort. Give the bullets here”

The sailor shook his head. “Three bullets isn’t going to kill twelve bandits. Don’t care what kind of trick-shot traveling show you’re in. Unless you’ve got more of that green jade brew hidden somewhere, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to handle the other nine even if you take out three of them.”

“I’ll handle it.” Shen put out a hand and the sailor dutifully dropped the last three cartridges into it. … click to continue.

Running Conflicts in Shadowcraft

There has been some understandable confusion regarding how Shadowcraft plays out in a conflict because of the conversation mechanic. On the surface, it appears that the conversation mechanic is lifted directly from Apocalypse World, but while AW was surely our inspiration, Shadowcraft doesn’t have the move system AW requires to function smoothly. Shadowcraft is quite different, while strikingly similar.

Page 77 of Shadowcraft: The Glamour War is the go-to text for how the conversation functions here:

  1. The active player describes their action, then rolls the dice
  2. The reactive player describes how their character reacts to the other player’s action, then rolls the dice
  3. Aspects are invoked
  4. Consequences may be taken
  5. The outcome is decided

Getting to the stages above requires that the GM set the scene, describing what is taking place, setting the stakes, etc. (pg. 112).

Once the scene has been set the active player describes their action and rolls dice. Who is the active player? It can be decided in one of two ways: whoever responds to the GM setting things up first, or whoever the GM points out by asking them “what do you do?” You can describe anything you want when it’s your turn … click to continue.

Example Shadowcraft Conflict

This is an example conflict for Shadowcraft: The Glamour War.

Christopher is running a game for Jesse, Ben, and John-Matthew (JM).

The group has been staking out a potential enemy contact and after spotting the contact delivering a sealed scroll to a discreet pickup spot, and after a brief chase, Jesse has tackled the contact to the ground. The others are catching up.

Jesse: “Now, you’re going to tell me everything.”

Jesse won the chase contest for his side.

Christopher (GM): You have him, but he warps into a shadow and snakes free (Expression stunt). When he reforms a few feet away, he draws his sword and squares off. “You’ll have nothing from me!” What do you do?

The conflict scene has been set.

Jesse: Okay. This guy is more powerful than we expected. I’ll pull my warhammer and use Expression of my own, toughening my stonekin skin (stunt). Then I rush him (rolls dice; 1+2 = 3).

Jesse is the active player, describing his action and rolling dice, locking the description into the fiction.

Christopher (GM): It takes a moment for your skin to change, but I think it’s cool that it happens as you run in, shifting

click to continue.

Shadowcraft Archive Google Space

I created a Google Space to handle inquiries regarding Shadowcraft: The Glamour War.

There were many requests for more information on game mechanics, setting details, etc. Having this repository for information is a nice way to combine everything into one manageable place that links directly to the Google+ accounts of anyone following it.

Click Here to go to the Shadowcraft Archive Space.… click to continue.

Jadetech Fiction #1: Breakout

From the pages of Jadetech: Green Jade.

By Benjamin Feehan

Shen poured a bit of murky, green fluid into the rusted tin cups. The calloused hands holding each cup were hard, their fingers black with grit beneath thick and jagged nails. Some of them were missing fingers entirely, the penance of a Kaiyu gangster or a bloody offering to the grinding gears of some deep shaft-digging machine. On his left, a scowling Aerum seaman was still nursing the place where the guards had burned out his red jade knuckle tattoos. Shen doubted that the man’s fingers would ever be the same again. Not that anyone was ever the same after a stint in the Diyu Mountain Labor Camp.

Shen’s own hands were relatively clean next to those of these hard-bitten men. He was skinny and bespectacled, and the warden had immediately dismissed the little Túyangan to latrine duty with a sneer. “I need men with muscle. Nobody has time for reading on my mountain. Too bad you didn’t grow up on a farm.”

Foul smelling as it was, Shen could not have picked a better job for what he had planned. Surprise inspections and hawk-eyed Captain Jora ensured that … click to continue.

Shadowcraft: The Glamour War Launches!

It’s here. Shadowcraft: The Glamour War, the newest game from my imprint, Reroll Productions, launched this morning at DTRPG.

This game is unlike any other I’ve designed – mostly because I didn’t design it. Like the introduction of the book says, the idea began in my mind, but it was fleshed out by the creative team. John-Matthew DeFoggi drafted an incredible setting from our initial conversations, and Christopher Ruthenbeck took my idea of using the Apocalypse World conversation engine and porting it to Fate Core, along with many other alterations we were eager to make to Fate, like using ranked aspects instead of skills and removing the attack action.

I’m very happy with how Shadowcraft turned out, and look forward to putting out some fiction about the setting at some point. There’s still some work to do to get the print edition, player’s and missions guides created, etc., but the digital edition of Shadowcraft: The Glamour War is available now!click to continue.

The Ashwick Chronicles: Magic Concept

I’ve been working on a setting for several years, which is coming together as serialized fiction (first issue hits June 1st). Here’s a flash fiction I wrote to help me figure out how magic works in the paranormal setting of The Ashwick Chronicles.

The Nature of Magic

“Master, how does magic work?”

The master considered for a long moment before speaking. “Casting magic is like creating art from chaos. It is the reason we work with sand gardens. They are similar in concept.”

The student didn’t hide his confusion. The master knew he would have to explain further.

“The first step in spellcraft is the casting of a hex, which we have been working on. Hexes are a pinprick of chaos in reality, which we call ‘creation’. And how does creation work? How do you create something?”

“By bringing order to chaos, like we do in the sand garden?”

“That’s right. Chaos cannot exist for long, else it will destroy itself and everything it comes into contact with; understanding that will make it easier to explain the reasoning behind our enmity with some of the other arcane orders. So a hex creates a single point of chaos, and your click to continue.

The Knights Templar: New Discoveries and Story Seeds

When I was in high school, I voraciously studied the Knights Templar. They were basically paladins, and paladins were my second favorite D&D class (after Ranger).

During that study, I discovered the horrible fall of the Knights Templar: that they were allegedly not all that pious and honorable. The crimes and blasphemous activities they supposedly took part in tarnished their “cool factor” for me back then. So when Assassin’s Creed came out, I had no trouble buying into the idea that the Templars were some terrible villains.

Enter Time Magazine

I posted an idea on Google+ last month regarding secret societies as a source for paranormal fiction. The premise was that each society in the story would have command of a different type of magic, and the “secret” that they kept was the knowledge of that specific brand of sorcery.

Naturally, if I’m going to begin a work on secret societies, I’m going to try and get reacquainted with them. It was fortuitous, then, that the bookstore had a new magazine out on their shelves.

The first article in the magazine is on the Knights Templar, and since they were already a society I was considering for my story, it … click to continue.

Flash Fiction: Old Man Lang (Jadepunk)

From the Fate-based roleplaying game: Jadepunk: Tales from Kausao City

“Laddies – that’s Aerish for ‘friend’ by the way – I visited the Kaiyumi islands for the first time when I was your age.” The children rolled their eyes at Old Man Lang, always sitting on the same corner telling anyone who would listen some fantastic tale of his supposed past. He was a bum, not worth anyone’s time. The children listened only to poke fun at him.

“The islands, riiiight…” one of the older children mocked.

Old Man Lang smacked the child upside the head with his cane. “It’s true, you insolent brat! When I was your age, I was already traveling the world, learning the martial arts of faraway lands so that I could better defend myself and the people of this fair city.”

The insolent brat rubbed the top of his head, angry but mindful of who might be watching. “You don’t know martial arts, you old fool, and we’ve got the city guard to protect us. What could you do?”

“You think the city guard is…” Old Man Lang began before being interrupted.

“What are you doing?” A woman wearing a fine dress yelled as she … click to continue.

Roleplaying by Seasons

This is a concept that was presented to me some time ago that stuck with me, and has proven to be a kick at the table.

Most groups play RPGs as consistent games from week-to-week, progressing through various levels a bit at a time. Problem is, things can get old in a game like that – the story can begin to drag or the characters get too powerful for common villains (ever played a Ranger in epic levels and get much use out of that Favored Enemy: Goblin?).

Playing by Seasons

One thing that kicked in my mind as a player of Fate Core was the idea that a major milestone is something akin to the finale of a television season. If it helps (as it does me) you can equate this idea to the comic book story arcs that become trade paperbacks. They’re part of the ongoing tale, but have a beginning and ending with a full arc between. That’s the way I enjoy my roleplaying now, and what the Perpetual Motion Engine is being developed to accommodate.

Implementing This Play Style

The idea is that the GM tells you what the situation (the problem the PC’s exist to … click to continue.