Fragged
We’re kicking off this series of Let’s Study posts for Fragged Empire by taking a look at the introductory chapter.

What’s in the name?

I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw this as it directly addressed my first question regarding the game, which was “What the heck is Fragged Empire?”

Turns out that they included the definition of the term, which has something to do with killing off a leader by their own soldiers in a fashion that looks like an accident (such as a dropped fragmentation grenade at their feet) during a battle.

It’s an interesting use for a term that I had come to associate with videogames where Fragged meant to kill something, and it’s a neat bit of trivia.

Key Setting Themes

Ah, Themes, my old friend. Readers will remember that I tend to blather on and on about themes and mood in games at times, so seeing this right off the bat is a welcome sight.

Fragged Empire draws on four themes for the game:

Post-Post-Apocalypitic Setting – With this and Numenera, I’m starting to think that this sort of genre is starting to pick up in popularity. The idea of being that far removed from the apocalypse as to constitute a “do over” of new civilzations is something that certainly has a lot of space for creative types and room for players to explore a world far removed from our normas while still retaining familiar technology

Cultural Tension – Culture is another aspect of games that I love, and I’m glad that it has a shout out so early on. With four distinct races struggling to survive and flourish in the new world of Fragged Empire, I’m looking forward to seeing how the game expands on such a distant future culture. Eclipse Phase and CthulhuTech did a great job at this, so Fragged Empire has a lot to live up to.

Genetic Engineering – In an interesting hint at the setting history, it seems that when humanity died out, their successors were the genetically engineered Archons. Amusingly the Archons also drove themselves into a genocidal war and died out to their own Geneticically Engineered offspring. It’s an interesting bit of history and begs the question of whether the game is hinting that this third generation is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past two.

Exploration – In a similar note to Numenera, the new generation of player characters exist in a world built atop the ruins of the Archon and Human civilization, leaving a lot of things to be discovered and (mis)understood. Plenty of potential for interesting stories.

Maps

The next two pages are a starmap of the Habrixis Sector, as well as a System Map of the Haven System. None of these mean anything to me yet, but will likely make for good reference later on.

Short Story: Galatea

What follows is a short story that introduces some signature characters for Fragged Empire. It’s a good bit of fiction, except for one little line that left me confused involving using a spanner to screw in a bolt. Aside from that, it’s a punchy piece with lot’s of action.

Short Story: History

The next short story is a fiction about two characters discussing the history of the setting. It’s an easier to swallow information dump, but at the same time I was hoping that they’d lay out everything first rather than relay it via the biased views of two characters.

Faction Snapshots

The next section shows the various playable races in the game. Each is given a gorgeous full color single page image, and a one page summary.

The summary is a little bit confusing from an organizational standpoint, as there’s a little bit of character creation (such as how each race affects a character’s traits) stuffed into the summary along with notes on Culture and a summary of who they are.

The factions presented are:

Corporation – Formerly known as the Vagarti, this race was rejected by their creators as inferior. Reorganizing themselves into a massive corporate entity, the Corporation has found new purpose beyond their genetic “heritage”.

Kaltoran – Bearing “genetic memories” Kaltorans are an optimistic and passionate race that want to go past the horrors that they inflicted and were subject to in the war.

Legion – A simian-ish race of disciplined soldiers, the Legion are an army without a war to fight. Bred to become weapons the race now struggles to find purpose for themselves in times of peace.

Nephilim – This “race” of genetically engineered beings are very intellectual and emotionally distant. They are the largest and most powerful military force, but one that is kept in check by the need to cooperate with the others for survival.

Overall, it’s an interesting setup for these individual races and civilization is held together by their interactions.

Rules Introduction

The last section of the Introduction Chapter has a quick summary of the rules. That said the only real mechanical detail in the section is that you use a 3d6 resolution system. There’s mention of things like tactical miniatures combat, the rules being best fit for long sandbox games and a nonlinear character progression.

An “optional” section at the end is a list of Game Types that can be supported by Fragged Empire, such as having surival horror, casual (easy combat) games and one with more story focus. Accompanied by a list of tweaks to accommodate that style of play.

Overall, Fragged Empire is pretty unique. There’s a lot of good ideas, and the organization of the material is a little bit different from what I’m used to. The artwork is, as I said gorgeous, and helps convey a lot of the mood of the game.

Next up, we’ll try to put together a character for Fragged Empire!

This Let’s Study series made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!


Here’s this week’s #RPGaDay2015 catch up post #3! Again, to those unfamiliar with the practice, it’s all about answering a series of questions relating to RPGS. The list of questions can be seen in the graphic found HERE

Day 18: Favorite Sci-Fi RPG

Of all my Sci-Fi RPGs, I’m going to have to give in and say that I’m still a giant fan of the Metabarons RPG. To those unfamiliar with it, it’s a D6 system take on the Metabarons Comic Book universe. With plenty of room for a mad and crazy idea at every turn. The system itself serviceable, and perhaps uninspired, but the setting is ripe with possibilities to leave your players scratching their heads. That said, most of my most insane moments were informed by reading the comic as opposed to the book, which did a pretty poor job of conveying the same manic world of the comics.

Day 19: Favorite Supers RPG

HERO System is perhaps one of my favorite systems since Character Creation is a game in itself. It’s bulky, and confusing at times, but I’ve yet to see a supers game faithfully attempt to simulate a world so thoroughly. You owe it to yourselves to check out at least the Champions Complete book.

Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

The World of Darkness holds a special place in my heart for Horror RPGs. I’ve run so much Mage and WoD Core stuff that running horror became second nature to me, and resulted in me being typecast as the horror GM, something I’ve been trying to shake off.

Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Rokugan, from Legend of the Five Rings. Hard to beat such an extensively detailed world of faux-Japan. It’s not the same, clearly, but it’s accessible enough to scratch the particular itch of wanting to play fantasy samurai in a world that cleaves to a different set of values than traditional western fantasy, and until now I’ve yet to see a setting come close to overthrowing L5R’s position for the best.

Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

I honestly love running at home. It’s quiet, you have access to food and drink, and you can play music if necessary. Right now that’s a little difficult given that I have an 8 month old son who is still in need of a lot of attention, but eventually I’ll get started on hosting games again.

Day 23: Perfect Game For You

It’s a toss up between Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition and Mage: the Awakening for me right now.

Day 24: Favorite House Rule

I don’t house rule so much, but there’s a little thing I’m planning to implement in a convention game I’m going to be running this weekend for D&D 5e game where the players are part of a Bloodsport-esque gladiatorial combat simulator.

Audience Request

Once per Encounter, a member of the Audience may request for a specific action to be taken by the party. If the party is able to execute the action during the encounter, they gain a Favor Token.

On their turn, an player may spend a Favor Token to gain any of the following:

– Reroll a failed check or save
– Stabilize and restore to 1 HP
– Heal 1 hit die + CON damage

Day 25: Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

As far as games go, there’s a lot of new mechanics I’ve come to learn, but the one I found to be pretty amusing was the addition of an official GMPC in the form of a Ryuujin in Ryuutama. It’s funky since the GM is rewarded for doing his thing, adding extra motivation his way!


coverAfter taking a few days off from my last post, I’m pleased to announce that the next Let’s Study article will be about a recent release: Fragged Empire by Design Ministries. It’s an interesting far-future RPG where players take on the role of a number of disparate new races born from the experimentation of several older races before you.

Here’s a quick look at the book’s marketing blurb:

“Betrayed by your creators, you are a genetically engineered remnant emerging from the ruin of genocidal war…”

A tabletop RPG setting & rules, set in a far future ‘post, post-apocalyptic’ setting. Your people have survived 100 years of brutal tribalism & savagery and are just now emerging back into space.

Set in the style of Firefly, Millennium Falcon, Alien, Farscape, Blake 7, Mass Effect & Knights of the Old Republic.

I do like the initial idea of this, but seeing a laundry list of inspirations right away does make me a little bit nervous. I’m from the school that wants to see the tone of the setting unfold by itself, rather than be given pop-culture pegs right away. It’s a good practice in design, but I’m not completely sold on the idea of it being used in promotional material.

Moving on, we get a look at some opening text to set the tone of the game, which I have replicated in formatting to try and preserve the author’s intent:

It is over 10,000 years into the future.
Earth is forgotten.
Humanity is dead.
Genetic erosion, brought on by thousands of years of apathy.
You are one of many genetically engineered descendants.
Created by the eugenicist Archons (humanity’s heirs), or the vengeful monster X’ion.
A genocidal war has ravaged the known galaxy.
X’ion won, killing the Archons, destroying their empire, and then abandoning his army to vanish without a trace.
This event threw the galaxy into 100 years of brutal tribalism.
After 100 years, your people have just re-entered space.
No one knows what’s out there.
Four surviving races have banded together.
Not out of a common direction, but out of necessity.
No one knows where this new society is headed.
Each race is struggling for survival.
They need each other.

Again I’m getting this sense that there’s a LOT that is going on with this setting and the author can’t wait to get us involved. But a few tiny flags pop up now and then that make me hesitate. For one, I’m getting this sense of being just a little bit displaced. I don’t have much of an anchor to the world as is, and while Numenera manages to somehow still make it work by retaining Humans as some sort of common ground, Fragged Empire doesn’t quite have this because of the fact that all the races aren’t human but some sort of descendant race.

Here’s hoping that the setting chapters manage to iron things out better. I’ve got high hopes for Fragged Empire, as it’s an entirely new setting, and isn’t just another Star Wars clone.

Tomorrow, we kick off our exploration of this brand new world with a look at the Introductory chapter.


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So far, Ryuutama has shown itself time and again as a great starter RPG… even if it’s not a standard RPG as most of us know it. Therefore it’s important to understand the structure of what is a stereotypical Scenario for Ryuutama.

Ryuutama helps out in this regard by providing worksheets that a GM can fill out while planning his game. These are:

Scenario Objective Sheet – This identifies the purpose of the PC’s travels and comes in three different types: “Traveling from one place to another,” “Traveling to a spot to find and/or gather something (or someone),” and “Defeat a certain monster.”

Scenario Cultivation Sheet – This sheet helps the GM arrange the story in the form of three acts, and helps with the GM in their pacing.

Event Sheet – Each Scenario is broken down into smaller sections called events. This sheet helps in coming up with the details for each event.

This section also provides a few tables for reference in terms of game balance, and what kind of challenges and monsters are appropriate for a party of a given level.

Looking at it right now it feels like a lot of paperwork, but I can’t doubt it’s usefulness. I’m used to winging most of my games and having just a loose outline to follow, but there’s certainly plenty of merit in doing the work this way. It’s a good exercise that many other GMs of other games could learn from, if only to give structure to an imaginative mind.

The Book of Autumn gives two sample scenarios to try out with a group. New GMs and Travelers will be able to stretch their legs and give the system a shot.

The Book of Winter

This last section of the book is a bestiary of the different kinds of monsters that Travelers can encounter.

Each monster writeup has notes on their level, habitat, seasons when they are more active, materials that can be harvested from them (then sold!) and other information. Monsters also have special abilities that can turn the tide of battle or just be a neat little trick they can do.

The Monster writeups are imaginative and cute, though I do wish that they had illustrated some of the creatures. The text description is nice, but I would love to have been able to just flip to a page and show my players what they’re up against.

Monster are classified under seven categories: Phantom Beasts, Phantom Plants, Demon Stones, Undead, Demons, Magical Creatures and Intelligent Races.

In addition stats for human NPCs and animals are given as well.

FAQ

The last portion of the book is a quick FAQ clarifying some rules questions that have cropped up for Ryuutama. They’re not game-breaking anyway, but are nice to know and have some fun answers.

Conclusion

For once in my entire career as a blogger, I would like to thank the Ryuutama team for bringing something fresh, fun and exciting to my attention. I bought my copy of this game, and there is not a single cent that I regret.

Ryuutama brings to life a different kind of game from the tired fantasy tropes that have been the norm in RPGs for years now. With the focus on the romance of traveling and the merry adventures that the adventurers encounter, Ryuutama delivers a refreshingly new experience to the table.

I will admit that I did have early difficulty with the presentation of some of the information, especially early on, with some Traveler Classes and Ryuujin Types thrown at me up front without any context, but it’s a minor quibble. The artwork is gorgeous, and I wish there were more of it somehow.

Combat looks tactical, without being bogged in the ammo-counting, hit-location identifying drudgery that detracts from the experience.

Ryuutama is a Fantasy game, but it occupies its own niche, and does what it chooses to do very, very well. I would definitely recommend this to groups looking for something different, lighthearted and yet capable of being much more.

I’m looking forward to the time when I can get started in running my own Ryuutama campaign, and bring it to life. I feel like I’ve learned much just from this simple read-through of the book.

So, to the entire Ryuutama Team, Kotodama Heavy Industries, and of course to Okada Atsuhiro, domo arigatou gozaimasu!

Ryuutama Natural Fantasy Role Play is available in DriveThruRPG for $14.00 or roughly Php 630.00

The Let’s Study series is made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!



The Book of Autumn is the GM section of Ryuutama. It’s also where we go about looking at the mysterious GM PCs called the Ryuujin.

The book starts off with Ryuujin Creation

Choose a Type

Ryuutama has 4 Types of Ryuujin to choose from, each representing a different genre of story that the game will have.

Midori-ryuu, the Green Dragon
Orthodox journeys involving adventure and exploration. This type is recommended for beginners and GMs new to Ryuutama.

Ao-ryuu, the Azure Dragon
Love, friendship, and human drama. This type is for GMs who want to create stories about the characters’ human relationships to each other.

Kurenai-ryuu, the Crimson Dragon
Battle and competition. This Ryuujin color is for GMs who want to focus on the combat system of the game.

Kuro-ryuu, the Black Dragon
Conspiracies, betrayals and tragedies. This is the Ryuujin for darker stories. It can be difficult to use well, so this Ryuujin is recommended for experienced GMs.

Choose your Shapeshifted Appearance

Ryuujin normally have a form resembling a horned human, a great dragon form, and a third form of the GM’s choosing. This form must be a non-threatening one that they can use to approach travelers.

Record Your Level

Starting Ryuujin start at Level 1 (No surprises there!)

Record your LP (Life Points)

Life Points are representative for the Ryuujin’s health and vigor and are spent to use the Benediction and Reveil powers. All starting Ryuujin begin with 3 LP.

It’s possible for Ryuujin to die apparently, which can cause the Journey to end, or for a new Ryuujin to step in and take the former Ryuujin’s place in guiding the Travelers onward.

Choose an Artefact

Each Ryuujin Type has 3 Artefacts to choose from, starting Ryuujin gets to pick only one. At the end of each Journey, the Ryuujin gets a chance to swap their Artefact for another.

Personalize your Ryuujin

This step is actually a whole list of details that work for establishing the Ryuujin as a character with personality, a name, a goal, and a place in the world.

Benediction

Benediction are spells unique to the Ryuujin that they can cast upon travelers or people related to travelers. Ryuujin can use these to help the travelers or fix sticky situations that might happen in the story.

Starting Ryuujin don’t start with any Slots, but upon hitting the second level they’ll gain Slots that can be used to contain a Benediction. At the start of each session the GM chooses a Benediction from a common list, or a list specific to his color.

Spending a Benediction from a Slot costs nothing and can be triggered at any time.

Alternately, a Ryuujin can cast Benedictions without a Slot by spending 1 LP.

An example Benediction is:
Benediction Which Controls Fate: Fortune – Declare a critical success on a check.

Reveil

Of the Ryuujin’s three forms, one is a great dragon over ten meters in length. Manifesting this form to save the travelers is called a Reveil, and is one of the Ryuujin’s most powerful abilities.

This is a direct intervention for the Travelers by the Ryuujin and is usually saved for the most dire circumstances due to the incredible effort necessary to make a Reveil.

Reveil become available to the Ryuujin upon hitting level two where they choose one from a list. Every two levels after, they gain a new one.

All Reveil cost LP to activate.

An example Reveil is:
Gift of the Dragon – Spend 2 LP to give the party enough food and water to last them for three days of travel.

LevelingUp

Ryuujin gain levels based on the number of sessions that the GM has run. The Ryuujin character sheet has a section for documenting PC data and signatures(!) to serve as proof that you’ve run those sessions.

Getting to Level 2 is easy enough (it just needs 1 session) but the last level (level 5) requires 12 sessions, which is already a moderately long campaign.

Gaining levels grants new bonuses to the Ryuujin, increasing their LP and giving access to the Benedictions and Reveils.

The Ryuujin character is probably unique in all RPGs in the sense that you have a GM character. It’s an interesting idea, and one that helps gamify the act of running games.

GMs are encouraged to meddle in the story, and putting a Ryuujin essentially aligns the GMs objective with the players, making sure that everyone is working towards the same goal: the completion of the Journey.

I think that this is probably the most revolutionary of the ideas presented by Ryuutama, and how it was implemented is very interesting. I’m looking forward to what kind of stories my games will take if I ever choose a Black Ryuujin though…

Anyway, our next article is about scenario creation and take a few notes on the Book of Winter’s list of monsters for Ryuutama, so please come back to check that out as well!

Ryuutama Natural Fantasy Role Play is available in DriveThruRPG for $14.00 or roughly Php 630.00

The Let’s Study series is made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!