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Age of Shadow (based on OpenQuest)

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After a quick browse through the pdf, it looks decent enough. I'm not sure if it differs from OQ in any significant way, but I noticed there was no Divine Magic, just sorcery and renamed Common/Battle Magic. Different art, mostly weapons, monster heads and a rather nice looking map.

The Creatures chapter looks new, and while there is no chapter on the setting itself the impression is one very reminicent of Middle Earth.

My only question would be, why a new game? I think I'd have prefered it as a setting book for OQ, with an included a chapter detailing any changes from standard OQ.

But a first quick impression is that it's nice product, more focused for a Tolkienesque game tthan OQ itself.

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The Age of Shadow is currently at version 0.91, and so this might imply that it is still a work in progress.

I stumbled across The Age of Shadow while looking for map tiles at Crooked Staff Productions. You might find answers to your questions via the email address (and forum) found there. Alternatively, the web site for The Age of Shadow has a forum when these mysteries might also be revealed and discussed.

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I poked around a little after I posted, and discovered the Crooked Staff site as well. I did mail him, not with any questions really just to mention the game was being discussed here and over at the tavern.

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Hello all!

First of all - thanks jarulf for the e-mail :)

My only question would be, why a new game? I think I'd have prefered it as a setting book for OQ, with an included a chapter detailing any changes from standard OQ.

To be honest I originally put the book together just for myself really (just as a personal project) as I've always been tempted to try my hand at running a Middle Earth First Age (or First Age style) game.

But since Newt made the entire text portion of the OpenQuest book open content (which is an awesome idea BTW), I figured that rather than having a few loose pages of notes/house rules/etc., I would simply alter what I wanted, or cut/paste bits here and there, and attempt to make my own version of the rules (with everything all in one place) to better suit my own needs and ideas (however good or bad they may seem :) ).

As I say, at first the plan was to create a basic First Age game that the players could pick up and get to grips with quickly (for which OQ seemed ideal) ...though as I started to tidy my notes up (and went a little overboard drawing a cover etc.) I thought I might as well share it - just in case anyone else ever thought of doing something similar. But when I contacted Newt (of d101 games) he pointed out that even though it was going to be a free fan project, you can't use any IP* in conjunction with the OGL ...and so I changed the title (and various names and things), and The Age of Shadow was the result.

Since then I've been leaning more toward s First Age style of game (rather than an actual First Age game - as it would give me a lot more freedom as a GM), and have put together the Age of Shadow website with some of my ideas for the campaign world itself (though admittedly there is not much there at the moment).

And that's pretty much where I'm at right now. I still have to go back and alter some of the flavour text here and there to better suit some of the 'world' ideas I have, and it's still not really been play-tested - but all in all it's not that different to OQ.

Anyway ...I appear to have rambled on a bit so I'll end there (for now) with a bit thanks to anyone who has taken a look at it!

Edited by Kris
* any IP you don't own or have permission to use

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Thanks for the answer Kris. I've started reading the book properly now, and it looks like there are changes to vanilla OQ scattered about so producing it as a separate rule book does make more sense to me now.

I haven't got very far, but the setting does seem fun from what I've gleaned in the book and web site. I'll definitely keep my eyes open for new stuff. The fact that it isn't straight Tolkien also appeals to me (much as I love the books) as you get more freedom with a less detaild setting, one that is merely inspired by ME. That's what I usually prefer.

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Oh I feel like such a proud Uncle! Nice to finally see this one enter the harsh light of public awareness :) On a first skim read it looks lovely.

Without wanting to sound grumpy, I need to clarify the following:

But when I contacted Newt (of d101 games) he pointed out that even though it was going to be a free fan project, you can't use any IP in conjunction with the OGL ...and so I changed the title (and various names and things),

The actual clause in the OGL regarding other people's IP is you can't use any IP - that you do not have permission to use - in conjuction with the OGL, whether the project is fan based or for comercial release. As soon as you do you invalidate the OGL.

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Yeah - sorry - I should really have said 'any IP you don't own or have permission to use' ...so thanks for clearing that up (I guess I was just being a little to brief with my explanation).

In the end though, I think that it worked out better that way :)

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Great looking project, the artistic style is very atmospheric.

Just out of curiosity, could you summarise some of the changes you have made from OpenQuest and you motivations behind them? It would be hugely helpful to have a general idea of how the mechanics vary and whether the setting and material could be used with straight OpenQuest.

Simon Hibbs

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Great looking project, the artistic style is very atmospheric.

Yes, indeed - I have seen lots of commercial products which looked not half as

good and were not half as easy to read. ;t)

As for the content, I only had time for a quick scan, but as far as I can tell it

is also quite well done.

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Thanks for the kind words :)

...could you summarise some of the changes you have made...

Anyway...

Character generation is slightly different (with humans, elves, and dwarves being the playable races) ...though it would probably be best just to skim through the condensed character generation rules to get a taste of how it works (though it's still very similar to OQ).

There are also lots of little changes here and there (actions in combat have been grouped into Combat Actions, Movement actions, and Reactions, for example), but the main difference is how magic works (it's also not so prevalent).

In AoS, magic is split into 'innate magic' and 'sorcery.' Innate magic is only really available to elvish characters (or humans with some elvish ancestry), and is derived from the inherent power contained within the individual. Sorcery, on the other hand, draws upon the fabric of the world itself (which unfortunately, has been tainted by the 'dark powers'), and as such, can be corrupting. Though they are, in essence, still 'battle magic' and 'sorcery' - but with some tweaks.

The monster section is new too, though OQ has been used for a baseline from which to work.

Anyway, the motivation behind these changes was to make a system with more of a 'Middle Earth' feel to it, and a 'First Age' one at that (and not because I thought OQ was itself lacking). It's really as simple as that :) (oh and because I'm rather fond of OQ too).

Edited by Kris

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...whether the setting and material could be used with straight OpenQuest.

With regard to the setting booklet I'm working on...

...so far, the first half of the campaign guide is pretty much system neutral, and I believe the second half would be usable, or easily converted to OQ/BRP/RQ or similar.

However, the NPCs will obviously be built with the AoS rules ...but HERE's a look at some orc variants so that you can judge how useful (or not) they'd be for yourself :)

The campaign guide is still a bit of a WIP however, but I'm getting there slowly (it's also only going to be a basic overview, and not a fully fledged campaign setting).

Edited by Kris

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I'm very interested in this because I have plans for a ME campaign. I have already run it as a one-off one-day game and would like to run it as a regular game with my local games group. For the one-off I used a homegrown diceless system based on Amber but with a proper skills system. This worked well for a one-off game because it allowed for extremely fast play, but for a campaign I might prefer to use a diced system. I'm a long-time BRP gamer and this looks promising.

My game is early Third Age though. It's an alternate timeline where the PCs rescue Isildur at the Gladen Fields and become powerful and trusted Lord of Gondor under a noble, but increasingly paranoid and erratic king. My hypothesis is that Isildur had possession of the nine rings and the ambush was an effort by the Nazgul to retrieve their rings. Of course, if the players rescue Isildur some or all of the nine might be retained and who better to be their keepers that the heroic saviours of the king?

However as a full-on ME game I need a system that stays completely true to the source and avoids any trace of lapses into D&Dism, or even RQism to be honest. I also need solid mechanics for powerful artefacts like rings of power. That's a tough call for a game system though.

Simon Hibbs

Edited by simonh

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My game is early Third Age though. It's an alternate timeline...

An interesting concept, though as you say, it's a tough call to get the mechanics right for something like that in any system (and a lot of what the rings could actually do would be open to much debate I'm sure :) ).

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An interesting concept, though as you say, it's a tough call to get the mechanics right for something like that in any system (and a lot of what the rings could actually do would be open to much debate I'm sure :) ).

It seems to me that most magical artifacts in ME are just extraordinarily well made. Lembas bread is amazingly nutritious, elven cloaks and ropes are amazingly easy to use and work with, for the most part the swords are just realy well made swords.

To make it work I think I'd need to move away from a spell based model of magic. Instead, magic is channeled through your skills. It's like using hero points to achieve some amazing feat - in fact why not use a hero point system as the magic system?

So magic items are made by supercharging a craft skill roll. Magical feats are also hero point-supercharged skill rolls. Rings of power act as hero point stores, or accelerate the refresh of hero points.

Ditch hero point. Use Magic Points, but drasticaly reduce the refresh rate to 1pt per day, or even per week, and your POW functions at the MP level if it's lower than normal POW. Rings of power principaly act as regenerating MP stores of some kind. I like the idea that magic items have a will of their own, so maybe they have their own POW.

Hmm... More thinking to do.

Simon Hibbs

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I think Fergo113 covered the spirit of Middle Earth magic quite well (see the download section),

at least his material would be a good place to start from.

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I think Fergo113 covered the spirit of Middle Earth magic quite well (see the download section),

at least his material would be a good place to start from.

There's a lot of interesting and high quality stuff there, all extremely well done.

It is what I'd call a very heavyweight system though. You couldn't just sit down and start playing a magician, you'd need to spend a whole afternoon going through the magic rules before even starting. I'm also not keen on the idea of spell specialty skills. I don't think magicians in ME actualy have special magical skills. Magic isn't a seperate subject you learn, if you want to learn nature magic you just raise your Nature Lore skill or whatever to huge levels and then apply your will. Magic is an extension of the mundane, not seperate from it.

I don't want my players to have to look at or think about lists of spells or blessings or such. I'd prefer a mechanic where they have their character's skills on their character sheet, look at the situation in the game and the opportunities it offers, and then apply pool of points to buy and fuel powers and artifacts in a more organic way.

I'm verging on moving to HeroQuest for the system. It certainly has the flexibility for this sort of thing, but I think it should be doable in BRP. I want to retain that gritty basic system and have the heroic and the magical manifest in a very 'real' world.

Simon Hibbs

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I don't think magicians in ME actualy have special magical skills. Magic isn't a seperate subject you learn, if you want to learn nature magic you just raise your Nature Lore skill or whatever to huge levels and then apply your will. Magic is an extension of the mundane, not seperate from it.

I don't want my players to have to look at or think about lists of spells or blessings or such. I'd prefer a mechanic where they have their character's skills on their character sheet, look at the situation in the game and the opportunities it offers, and then apply pool of points to buy and fuel powers and artifacts in a more organic way.

Hmmm ... in this case you would only need rules for:

- which level of a skill (e.g. Nature Lore) is required to become able to create the

related magic,

- what effects (area, distance, duration ...) are created by a specific number of

points spent for the magic,

and could leave everything else to the description provided by the player of the

character in question.

In the end you could have only one "generic" spell template (skill required, spell

effects per point used), and the players could "fill in" this template as they like.

Something similar to this, perhaps:

Minimum relevant skill required xx %

1 Point per xx square meters

1 Point per xx cubic meters

1 Point per xx meters distance

1 Point per xx minutes duration

1 Point per xx objects

1 Point per xx non-intelligent animal SIZ

1 Point per xx sentient creature SIZ

Just some thoughts ... :)

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