Monday, August 31, 2020

About Robotech - A Macross Saga RPG

Robotech means a lot to me. It was by far my fav cartoon show when I was a kid. I was young enough to enjoy big transforming robots, but also old enough to understand the sentimental complications that were part of the show, as well as the depth and nuances of the strange war that went on between the humans on SDF-1 and the Zents.

 Robotech - A Macross Saga RPG is a Savage Setting published by Battlefield Press in spring 2019 and one of the first settings native to Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

So you can imagine my happiness when a Robotech setting book was announced for Savage Worlds, I couldn't believe my eyes!

For a Robotech fan, the book is simply fantastic: full of amazing art by Fransisco Etchart and detailed information about the general story and its secrets, all the characters, and of course all the human and Zent vehicles, spacecrafts and mechs. 

The book met and exceeded my expectations, except for two things that I expected to find within its pages: the first was a detailed transcription of the events of the original show, episode by episode (which can be found in the other Robotech RPG... no, not the Palladium one, the one by Strange Machine Games), and the second was a dedicated system to run space battles, something deeper than Mass Battle rules, but lighter than the standard Chase rules of Savage Worlds Adventure Edition.

A few months after its release, I had the honor and pleasure of translating it for the Italian edition,  as well as running it here and there at several cons and events!

While translating it, I also prepped a scenario for those con games: the player characters were a squad of Veritech pilots (OF COURSE), chosen by Roy Fokker himself to perform an acrobatic show with their VFs during the celebrations for the SDF-1's first flight... If you know the show, you can figure how it continues! The scenario included

  • A Quick Encounter scene with the pilots describing their acrobatic maneuvers in the sky above Macross Island
  • A Dogfight against a dozen of enemy spacecrafts and mechs as the Zent fleet attacks the SDF-1
  • An optional Interlude, ensuing when the SDF-1 folds into space along with part of the island, and pilots are temporarily stranded and floating into space
  • A Dramatic Task to rescue the civilians within the island shelters, which must be taken onboard the SDF-1
  • A final confrontation with a stranded Zent Ace emerging from the ruins of Macross city.
  • An epilogue on the SDF-1 where the surviving pilots are informed of what is truly going on and where they are!
I think I've run this scenario about six or seven times, with little variations here and there, and it was always a lot of fun! It worked well with players who knew the story, because it was from a different angle than the protagonists of the show, and it worked just as well with players who just knew we were going to play a game with transforming mechs, because really I only had to explain very little of the setting before starting the game.
I must say I always played this scenario with the Aces High rules for the dogfight: after all, that's what I had designed it for!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Wizards & Mystics - First Impressions

 Wizards & Mystics is a fantasy add-on for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, released under the SWAG license, written by Cyril Ronseaux, and expanding his line of fantasy add-ons which includes the already published Tomes & Prayers, Companions & Familiars and Bards & Minstrels.

Cyril used the Unofficial Savage Worlds Discord server to find volunteers willing to take a look at Wizards & Mystics before release, and I was happy to help. This also means I can share some impressions before it's released! With his permission, of course. 

Wizards & Mystics is quite a long supplement and, in short, it's awesome. If you plan to run a fantasy campaign, you will probably find a lot of use for this.

Wizards & Mystics offers a LOT. I'm not going to list everything that's inside, but focus on the things that I liked the most.

- A system to design and balance your own Arcane Backgrounds. This is very nice. You "buy" bits of rules and build unique ABs, defining the number of starting powers, initial power points, type of backlash, and many other details.

- Eleven fully developed Arcane Backgrounds, including Alchemist, Arcane Marksman, Shaman, Druid and Rune Mage. When I say fully developed, I mean that you find everything you might need to implement those into your campaign: well defined trappings, powers list, possible interactions with rules such as Support and Tests, and any special rule the specific AB might need, such as the ingredients rules for Alchemist, which I found very nice.

- Ten new Power Edges, empowering arcane characters in new ways. My favorite is Lightning Reflexes, which allows you to cast a spell at any time, even if it's not your turn, once per scene.

These are the things that struck me the most, but there's a lot more inside, so I really suggest you check it out on drivethru!

Guardians of Sol-Tau

Sol-Tau is a solar system in a faraway galaxy, inhabited by technologically-advanced races who, for several centuries, lived in peace.

That is until the Iods came.

30 years ago the Iods conquered and subdued Sol-Tau and, after having established a military dictatorship and exploited all possible resources, they are ready to rip off all the remaining energy within the solar system with a mysterious mega-machine called “the Hrax” - a device that will be thrown at the system’s twin suns, snuffing it out, to fuel their gargantuan Arcaship and allow them to set sail towards another solar system to conquer and exploit.

The time for the final solution is, unfortunately, at hand. But a secret society, guided by an obscure prophecy, is at work to save Sol-Tau. All they need is a crew of unwitting heroes to do the most important part of the job!

Guardians of Sol-Tau is a sci-fi adventure for 3-6 Seasoned characters. It's a light-hearted space romp adventure, where unwitting heroes become involved in a desperate mission to save their solar system from destruction and possibly put an end the Iods’ tyranny forever.

The story unfolds through eight scenes with several different rules subsystems in action:
  • Networking
  • Social Conflict
  • Chase
  • Dramatic Task
  • Quick Encounter
  • Interlude
  • and of course Combat!
...making it the perfect adventure for new players and GMs to explore or learn all the possibilities of the Savage Worlds Adventure Edition rules!

In order to stay true to its spirit of fast-paced action, Guardians of Sol-Tau makes use, optionally, of the Aces High supplement for the space dogfight scenes, and that is why Guardians of Sol-Tau and Aces High are also available together as a bundle.

GoST was written by Andrea Mollica, who built an awesome story around a generic adventure framework I designed, and I must say the final result was very satisfactory to me!

All the art is by Zaira Diana, while layout is by the egregious Matteo Ceresa.

The adventure has received some humbling praise by acclaimed designer Umberto Pignatelli, author of Beasts and Barbarians and lots of other games:

"This is a BRILLIANT scenario: the type of never-ending action I expect from a Savage Worlds adventure, with over the top situations and a glorious finale (if everything goes well!). The art and layout are fresh, and really help set the tone, which clearly is inspired to Guardians of the Galaxy, but maybe also Saturday morning cartoons, imho. This might become my go to adventure for introducing Savage Worlds to new or younger players, too!" [five out of five stars]

Guardians of Sol-Tau is available on Drivethru!

Friday, August 28, 2020

Ultima Forsan: Some Sparse Recollections

A few days ago on Official Savage Worlds Facebook Group there was a nice post about Ultima Forsan, and I felt like telling bits of its design and publication history and background, so here's what I shared, mostly copied and pasted here, for the curious.

Ultima Forsan was my first published setting, written by my good friend Mauro Longo and me.
It is based on Mauro's original novel "Decameron of the Dead", which recounts the first outbreak of the Plague Florence during the XIV century.
For the setting, we decided to forward the time line by about 150 years, and imagined a world where medieval men and women learnt, after much of the world's civilization was destroyed, to live under the threat of the Plague of the Living Dead, and even begin to thrive, starting the Macabre Renaissance.

We reimagined the Renaissance customs, institutions, states, etcetera, as they would adapt to a different world, more dangerous, less populated, ripe with opportunity... but also full of cultural, religious and political differences and conflict among the living.
After the Savage Setting was released, Mauro also wrote a novel, "Unglorious Guiscards", and five different Choose Your Own Adventure books. All of them are set in the same period of Ultima Forsan (and are not available in English, sorry!).
The setting itself was published in Italian, then in English, and after that it was licensed for Spanish and Russian editions (all of them can be found on drivethru). At the time, it was a bit of a record for an Italian RPG book!
What really makes me proud of Ultima Forsan is that, while it probably really is the grittiest Savage Settings, it is also a statement of the value of the human spirit, the courage to put aside differences and work together to face adversities and fight for a better future for all.
Ultima Forsan can be found on DrivethruRPG!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Axian Spice is born!

 Today is the day. Axian Spice is born, a blog where I'll write about games, mostly RPGs. Games I like, games I play, games I design or write content for.

I'll certainly write a lot about the projects I'll be working on in the future!

Most of the games I've contributed to so far can be found on drivethru.rpg: currently counting 45 titles!

See you soon for more game-related ramblings, news, and stories!

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