Introduction

This month’s bumper issue of Page XX sees two new releases, a retrospective on the year, and a look at the new store and bookshelf, plus a sneak peek at the forthcoming new website. On pre-order is the of the keenly anticpated story games anthology Seven Wonders featuring all new games from mainly new writers. Also, out now for the Dracula Dossier, The Hawkins Papers PDF, maps, reports, private correspondence, newspaper columns, business cards, and period photographs. Finally if you are reading this before 30th December,  the 13th Age Bundle of Holding is available – almost everything for 13th Age for less than $36.

Retrospective

The solstice has passed, the year draws to a close, and I am looking back at the year through a haze of mince pies and bonhomie. Our annual Pelgrane get-together at Dragonmeet kicked off with a game run by Robin D Laws in which I had to play Time, Inc agent Kenneth Hite in disguise while simulataneously preparing ox cheek and sticky toffee pudding.

dm

Dragonmeet was our most succesful to date, and I was heartened to see that our pre-release version of the Seven Wonders anthology sold out. I’ve been involved in the playtesting of almost all of the games, but this has been Cat’s project, and she’s really brought the best out of all the game designers featured. I’ve used these games to introduce non-roleplayers to roleplaying, as well as enjoying them with my game group.

You can hear Ken and Robin’s Dragonmeet live broadcast here, and the Pelgrane Press seminar here.

2015 has been a year of consolidation, untangling historical quirks I’ve embedded in the company, and improving our processes. This is the first year with Cat Tobin at the helm of Pelgrane Press, and with Gareth and Ken she has delivered most of the Dracula Dossier, a complete new anthology of games, and improved our customer support no end. We’ve not had the mad flurry of new releases we had last year, but sales are about the same as 2014, which is impressive. Cat is now as much the company as I am, and Pelgrane certainly more than the sum of its parts.

Website and Store

We’ve undertaken a soft launch of our new webstore, and all but the most recent of our customers might not have yet encountered the new bookshelf, where you can download all your purchases, track shipments and see your subscriptions to date. Register here and you can import your existing orders.

The next major task is to entirely redo the website in a style developed by Christian Knutsson, who designed the look of Hillfolk. We are moving it from our own server to a hosted solution, and the new site will tie into the webstore much better and showcase our products in a more approachable fashion.

 

newwebsiteTimeWatch

The TimeWatch Core Rules manuscript is now with Christopher Smith Adair for copy editing. It will be our biggest core rule book yet. Kevin Kulp has been finishing his remaining adventures for Behind Enemy Times, and is moving on next to his part of The Book of Changing Years. Backers already have their playable version of the TimeWatch manuscript. I can only apologise for the delay in this project which was never intended to be quite so large when we first announced the Kickstarter. It will be very late, but of high quality.

13th Age

The GMs Screen and Resource Book GMscreen is off the presses and will be shipped out at the end of January. Get the pre-order and download the resource book now.

The first Battle Scenes book High Magic and Low Cunning is ready for layout now, and the next book is underway. It will be on pre-order in January or February 2016.

Gareth Hanrahan has delivered the first draft of the Book of Demons, and I’ve playtested the Demonologist –  a character which makes pacts with demons and gives them offerings. Each pact is either disfavoured, neutral or favoured at any one time, and it’s important to the demonologist to give offerings to prevent the creatures breaking free and wreaking havoc.

Here is an example of a spell from the Pact of Cruelty:

Tormenting Chains

Ranged Spell

Once per battle

Targets: 1 nearby enemy

Attack: Intelligence + Level vs PD

Hit: 2d8 + Intelligence damage

Special: You may maintain this spell by expending a quick action every round. As long as you maintain the spell, the target takes 1d8+Intelligence damage whenever it makes an attack or move action. The target may break free of the spell by making a hard save (16+). This damage counts as ongoing damage.

Miss: 3d8 + Intelligence damage

3rd level spell: 4d8 damage (2d8 damage if the target struggles)

5th level spell: 6d8 damage (3d8 damage if the target struggles)

7th level spell: 8d10 damage (5d8 damage if the target struggles)

9th level spell: 10d10 damage (7d8 damage if the target struggles)

GUMSHOE One-2-One

Chris Spivey and Ruth Tillman are creating characters for Cthulhu Confidential to be included as a core part of the first release, so you’ll have a choice of three characters, including Dex Raymond, LA Noire detective, Vivian Sinclair, a New York socialite amateur sleuth and Langston Wright, an African American codebreaker and war veteran in post-war Washington DC.

It’s in playtesting now and we’ve had the highest take up we’ve had since we offered the 13th Age core rules.

Page XX logo

Hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas, and are all set for New Year’s Eve and a shiny new year in 2016! We’ve had a busy month, between our Pelgranista get-together at Dragonmeet in London, and soft launching our new look webstore, which is the first part of our website redesign. The new store design has given us the space to sell individual Series Pitches for the DramaSystem, as well as all the back issues of Ken Writes About Stuff, and over the coming months we’ll be updating it with new bundles and special offers.

To get the new store up and running with a bang, we’ve got two new releases to get it going – Seven Wonders, our much-discussed anthology of story games by up-and-coming UK-based designers, and the PDF of the Hawkins Papers, the extensive handout collection for the Dracula Dossier. We’ve got bumper collections of the subscription products, too, with the November and December editions of KWAS, Galileo Uplift and Las Vegas: 1968, and the November and December editions of 13th Age Monthly, The Waking Stones and Home BasesKWAS Vol. 3 subscribers now have the December edition, Alchemy, on their order receipt pages – this will be available to non-subscribers at the end of January.

New Releases

      • Seven Wonders – an anthology of one-shot story games, which introduces the next generation of UK games designers
      • The Hawkins Papers – a PDF collection of maps, newspaper clippings, photos, and documents for the Dracula Dossier
      • Galileo Uplift – Tech and gear for your high-powered MOON DUST MEN game, powered by a new GUMSHOE “tech tree” subystem
      • Las Vegas: 1968 – Sin City in its heyday, with happening hooks for vampire conspiracies, esoterrorism, and THE FALL OF DELTA GREEN Mythos machinations
      • The Waking Stones – a full 13th Age Bestiary-style writeup  of an ancient stone race, reawakening in the 13th age
      • Home Bases – new mechanics for 13th Age PCs to create their own castle, tavern, or sacred grove to call home and build stories around

Articles

13th Age

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2015

2015

Alchemy_cover_350Chemistry or magic? Madness or miracles? Poison or power? Blend all those elements — and more — with Alchemy, the latest Zoom in on a historical magic system for GUMSHOE gaming. Operating at every level from the base dungeon-crawl to the Awakened Working, this magic system gives you the secrets of matter — and maybe a touch of mercury poisoning.

Alchemy is the tenth installment of the third Ken Writes About Stuff subscription and is now available to subscribers – it will be available to buy in the webstore in January. If you have subscribed to the third KWAS subscription, Alchemy is now on your order receipt page, so all you have to do is click on the new link in your order email. (If you can’t find your receipt email, you can get another one sent to you by entering your email address here).

Stock #: PELH37D Author: Kenneth Hite
Release date: January 2016
Pages: 12pg PDF

A Column on Roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws


Excerpt from an Ordo Veritatis threat analysis report (draft version)

Author Codename: Coastpoint

In this department we think often of ODEs (Outer Dark Entities) but too little of a parallel phenomenon, one I will, for lack of a better term, call the Outer Dark Intersection. For the rest of this paper I will use the acronym ODI, while recognizing that it has not been officially recognized by the OV style guide.

Intersections differ from entities as follows:

  • Chiefly, ODIs lack sapience, loosely defined to include such signs of intelligence as personality, individual motivation, learning, and the ability to communicate*.
  • They lack bodies, although in some cases they might be said to have, or be, structures.
  • Accordingly they lack locomotion. An ODI might wink into existence or disappear but once manifested in our reality does not visibly shift position by means other than materialization/teleportation.

In short, where an ODE reminds us of a person or animal, an ODI appears to be a place. We can talk with, or be attacked by, an ODE. We can enter an ODI and move around inside it. While inside, we might confusingly believe ourselves to be under assault, or to be encountering intelligent/autonomous beings. In fact, we are interacting with psychic projections, generated by the interaction of our minds with the irrational variant space of an ODI.

The classic ODI would be the haunted house of legend and lore. When entering a haunted structure, a top investigative priority must be to determine whether it is:

  1. an ordinary building infested by ODEs
  2. an ordinary building manipulated by Esoterror agents to create the impression of an ODE manifestation
  3. an unreal building partially present in standard physical reality, and partly present in an intermediate zone between us and the Outer Dark (see below)

In a house haunted by, say, Dementia Larva or Kooks, the structure itself, though it may be trapped or unstable, serves merely as an environment for the threat. A haunted house acting as an ODI is itself a supernatural presence. Agents entering it project their thoughts, fears and expectations regarding haunted houses into the ODI. It responds by presenting them with their dread imaginings—incorporeal spirits, eerie whispers, hurled objects, vivid visions of past crimes. Generally, in keeping with our notions about hauntings, they begin with the minor and eerie, finally escalating into the downright mind-shattering.

An ODI may locate itself in our world only long enough to trap one victim and then vanish. The Phantom Toolshed, seen in Rochester NY in the spring and summer of 2008, followed such a pattern. Various at-risk teens reported seeing this shed, where according to urban legend money or drugs might be stashed. Some witnesses recounted incidents in which they came across the shed in an alley, industrial park or backyard. Though drawn toward it, they for assorted reasons chose not to enter. At least three others did go in. They found tools inside—a hammer, a hacksaw, a nail gun—and removed them to show their friends. In three cases they later used these as weapons in savage attacks against friends and family. All three had undergone complete psychotic breaks. Our Veil-Out procedure ensured that mental health professionals labeled the detailed and similar accounts of their time inside the toolshed as hallucinatory. In fact, all three recounted a journey through a labyrinthine subterranean network where they witnessed scenes of historical torture, were imprisoned or restrained, and saw their own worst thoughts enacted before them. Each found the toolshed in a different location within the same twenty block radius. Our agents ended the Intersection by finding the buried remnants of an old graveyard ritual, performed by unknown persons sometime in the early 19th century. During that era the upstate New York area became known as the Burned Over District due to an explosion of spiritualist and psychic activity. The pre-Esoterror cult responsible for the rite has yet to be identified. Research continues, with tantalizing hints suggesting that some precursor of the OV smashed the cult and dispersed its members—regrettably leaving the seed of an Outer Dark Intersection behind for later generations to contend with.

What activated the fruits of this ancient rite in 2008 remains unclear. A likely cause would be lone wolf activity by a naïve supernaturalist. However I cannot yet discount the possibilities that fully aware Esoterrorists sometimes hunt down such traces of old magic and, by no doubt twisted means, renew their force.

An ODI can overlie a mundane structure, as occurs in classic haunted house style Intersections.

Particularly brutal murders, especially those where the remains of victims or perpetrators remain buried on site or nearby, render buildings vulnerable to these intrusions. Discovering the truth behind these old crimes and/or destroying (or properly interring) the remains has in some cases suppressed the uncanny in such places. However one cannot underestimate the certainty of razing a targeted building to the ground. Before doing this investigators must be sure that they have truly uncovered and neutralized the factors making the site a vector for Intersection. Absent such precautions, the Intersection may attach itself to them. In the unfortunate aftermath of Operation Glad Strike, agents declared a haunting case complete. Then the lead agent arrived home to find her own condominium transformed into a new host for the ODI experience.

Stepping within an ODI’s boundaries takes one into a space unlike our own. It cannot be the true Outer Dark, because:

  1. contact with it does not bring immediate madness and destruction.
  2. Outer Dark Entities cannot use it as a portal to bypass the Membrane and enter the material world.

I therefore posit an intermediate space, a fold in our reality that defies psychics while packing a destabilizing emotional charge. The Intersection displays some qualities of the Outer Dark, but they are manifesting here, not taking us there. An Intersectionalized structure may appear larger and more circuitous than measurement of its exterior could possibly allow. Note that, unlike outbreaks of the Ocean Game, the experiencer never hallucinates anything that would contradict the notion of being inside a structure, albeit a very strange one.

Inquiry into this area remains dangerously preliminary. Please find attached my proposal for the formation of a new working group. Included is a series of reports on a location in northern Saskatchewan where we might find, and study, a mine shaft infected by an ongoing Intersection.

*This is not to say that all ODEs possess all such qualities—some varieties for example display no documented propensity for communication.


The Esoterrorists are occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world – and you play elite investigators out to stop them. This is the game that revolutionized investigative RPGs by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Purchase The Esoterrorists in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Home Bases

Home Bases cover_350Simple new mechanics for player characters who want a castle, tavern, sacred grove to call home and build stories around. Includes rules for the obligations that can make or break your base, examples to suit many different campaigns, and new magic items  for characters who want to put down roots.

Home Bases is the twelfth installment of 13th Age Monthly Vol. 1. You can buy it as a stand-alone PDF, or purchase the collected Volume 1 to get all 12 issues plus the Free RPG Day adventures Make Your Own Luck and At Land’s Edge!

Stock #: PEL13AM13D Author: Steven Warzeha, Rob Heinsoo
Artist: Rich Longmore Type: 8-page PDF

Buy now

Spirit

Spirit

Friendly PelgraneOver the holiday season, the Pelgranes rest and recuperate, ready for another year of creating and playing amazing games. Weakened by egg nog and mince pies we are in no fit state to ship goods or give coherent answers to questions. So, shipping and support are affected as follows.

The Store

The store will be open over the holiday season, but the shipment of games will be delayed. You’ll still get any downloads, though.

  • UK and Rest of World: Games ordered between 22nd December and 4th of January will be shipped after the 4th January
  • US and Canada: Games ordered between 22nd December  and 28th December will be shipped out after 28th December

Support

Customer support for the store and otherwise is closed between 24th-27th December, and will be slow after that until we deal with any backlog.

Have a great holiday season, filled with games, joy and happiness!

“Behold a great Mystery which I reveal to you without an enigma; this is the secret of the two Mercuries which contain the two tinctures. Keep them separately, and do not confound their species, for fear they should beget a monstrous Lineage.”

— The Six Keys of Eudoxus (date unknown, first known publication 1689)

red_mercuryThe modern conspiracy-tale qua urban legend that is red mercury was born, most likely, in the hothouse world of smuggling and corruption that sustained the Brezhnevite Soviet Union. Although the “orthodox” version of red mercury was a sort of hyper-accelerant for nuclear explosives, or possibly an ultra-catalyst for implosive fusion, a 1993 Pravda exposé on the topic depicted red mercury as also (or alternatively) a key ingredient in Stealth technology or perhaps missile guidance systems. Supposedly a lattice-shaped isomer of mercury antimony oxide (Hg2Sb2O7), enhanced with or somehow containing radioactives (lutetium, or perhaps plutonium) and then bombarded with a particle beam, becomes capable of immense energy storage: “a bullet can sink a battleship, a baseball can destroy a city.” The “red” refers to its color, or its Soviet origin, or abbreviates “redistilled.” Although Samuel T. Cohen (among other things, the co-inventor of the neutron bomb) vouched for its existence, the general consensus is that “red mercury” was invented not as a super-weapon but as a super-scam, a means to separate desperate would-be nuclear nations and terror groups from their slush funds. One particularly recherché theory holds that it was deliberate disinformation jointly concocted by the CIA and KGB as a nonproliferation measure: get nuclear smugglers chasing a myth, and they wouldn’t chase plutonium.

Red mercury had a brief heyday in the early 1990s, when it appeared at the center of at least five murders associated with an Iraqi attempt to buy nuclear material from South Africa. (Fun fact: The South African Defense Forces shell company created to thwart (?) this ring was called “Delta G Scientific.” Really.) Osama bin Laden bought a cylinder of red mercury from a Sudanese general in 1993, for instance. Every year since then, one or two arms dealers, Russian Mafiya entrepreneurs, or needy dictatorships tries to buy red mercury (the going rate was $300,000 per kilo in 1997, up to $1.8 million in 2013) and usually gets scammed, which means someone usually gets dead. Where Iraq and al-Qaeda went in the 1990s, of course, ISIS goes today.

In a zingy read in the New York Times Magazine, C.J. Chivers follows the trail of red mercury through Syrian and Turkish middlemen, illuminating the contemporary form of this modern myth. Chivers re-tells the delightfully wild story from the late 2000s that Soviet engineers (during the “American occupation”) smuggled red mercury out of the country in Singer sewing machines, though doesn’t mention the Egyptian conspiracy tale that red mercury can be obtained by cutting the throats of mummies. The story also gives a few new details that should prick the thumbs of any Night’s Black Agents Director worth her salt. For example, Chivers quotes a smuggler named Safi al-Safi: “The most expensive type [of red mercury] is called Blood of the Slaves, which is the darkest type. Magicians use it to summon jinni.” Another smuggler, Faysal, says that red mercury or “spiritual mercury” can be found “in Roman graves.” And finally, the smugglers’ consensus is that “real red mercury is attracted to gold but repelled by garlic.”

Red Mercury Cylinder

“The most sharp Vinegar is the Red Mercury; but the better to determine these two mercuries, feed them with flesh of their own species — the blood of innocents whose throats are cut.”

— The Six Keys of Eudoxus

Which leads us not to a Thing We Left Out of the Dracula Dossier per se, but rather to one of the many many areas of modern mythology that the Dracula Dossier can comprise. Here, then, broken down as a proper Director’s Handbook Object, is that postmodern philosopher’s stone, Red Mercury.

Appearance

A dull gray cylinder about 30 cm long and 10 cm thick, marked with a radiation symbol. Cyrillic lettering on it reads Obrazets Noly — “Sample Zero.” When opened, it contains about 30 mL of radioactive material resembling thick red ink that flows and separates into drops like liquid mercury. Its density is 20.20 grams per cubic centimeter. Without testing the material, an Agent with Chemistry believes the substance could be mercury antimony oxide.

Supposed History

This is “hot” red mercury, the good stuff, straight from a Russian nuclear weapons lab. It might even be taken from the original 1965 test in the Dubna cyclotron, or just the “calibration batch” (easy to abstract, hard to miss) from a new program spun up under Putin. And there’s more where that came from. Tradecraft provides the information in the above paragraphs, and a 1-point Research spend leads the Agents to the New York Times Magazine story linked above and its intriguing garlic-related information. A 1-point Occult Studies spend leads to the Six Keys of Eudoxus, and to alchemy in general if that helps in your game.

Major Item

This is indeed red mercury, and the secret ingredient is Dracula’s blood, infused with mercury during his own lifetime as an alchemist. The Russian vampire program (DH, p. 76) figured out how to use particle beams to cibate the blood of Dracula into a mercury-antimony matrix (in KWAS: Alchemy terms, this is an Awakened Working of Vermilion + Sulfur), and the amazing effects of red mercury all follow from that:

  • Immense Explosive Power: The demonic strength of Dracula infuses red mercury: a Class 3 explosive requires only 3 g; a Class 4 explosive only 6 g; a Class 5 explosive only 12 g. Hand-loading red mercury into hollow-point rounds (~1 g per bullet) either increases bullet damage by +3 (and makes the bullet a bane to all lesser vampires) or (unmodified roll of 1) blows the gun up in your hand when fired (Class 2 explosion, +4 damage in debris range). Using red mercury requires a Difficulty 7 Explosive Devices test.
  • Chemical Weapon: A drop of red mercury added to chlorine creates a deadly cloud of vapor: if inhaled or exposed to an open wound, treat as injected tetrodotoxin (DH, p. 87). Garlic oil acts as an antidote.
  • Lifebane Bomb: Samuel Cohen believed that the Soviets built dozens of baseball-sized red mercury “neutron bombs” that required no fissile material to fuse their core of heavy water. With 150 g of red mercury (and either a very detailed schematic or a 2-point Physics spend), an explosives expert can make a lifebane bomb that acts as a Class 6 explosive. Dracula can command those killed by this bomb. Those protected from vampires (surrounded by garlic, inside holy ground, etc.) within the debris range are immune to the bomb.
  • Stealth Sheathing: Atomized and used to paint a surface, red mercury renders it invisible to all imagery, just like Dracula! Any vampire is at -4 Difficulty to track anything coated with red mercury. High-tech automotive paint requires about 15 g per square meter, but a Chemistry spend might reduce that even further.
  • Missile Targeting: Dracula’s blood knows its own. The user must separate one drop of red mercury into two drops. A missile, artillery shell, or anything else in free flight homes in on a drop of red mercury if the missile has the matching drop inside it. Vampiric Blocks that affect Dracula block the targeting signal.
  • Summoning Demons or Djinn: Dracula’s demonic pact connects his blood to Hell. Burning red mercury in the correct sigil (2-point Occult Studies spend, at least, plus an incantation from Le Dragon Noir (DH, p. 273)) summons a demon or djinn. Every gram of red mercury burnt equals 1 point of Aberrance or Hand-to-Hand the demon or djinn possesses; its damage equals +1 per 1o points in Hand-to-Hand, its Health equals its Aberrance. It has the same banes, weaknesses, etc. as Dracula. Dracula can command it.
  • Key to Further Dracula Research: Reverse-analyzing the substance provides clues to Dracula’s powers, to the Soviet vampire program, and likely to plenty of other big campaign questions.

The blood of Lilith (DH, p. 69) or Queen Tera (DH, p. 71) might also be the active ingredient in red mercury. Or the Director could vary the effects of the red mercury depending on the donor vampire. “Telluric” red mercury has the same effects, mostly explained by the conversion of telluric bacteria to telluric mutant bacteria by Russian radiation.

Minor Item

This is indeed red mercury, but it only has one of the powers above, as well as being a key to further Dracula research. Unlike the red mercury above, it’s also highly radioactive: treat exposure as anthrax (NBA, p. 81) except the victim only heals half her lost Health after treatment. Her Health rating lowers to the new level, from which she can rebuild using experience points.

Fraudulent

This is one of the many types of phony red mercury floating around the arms-trader underground: liquefied cinnabar (mercury sulfide), “red oil” (tri-n-butyl phosphate, highly exothermic), waste metallic nuclear coolant, mercury tinted with cochineal or lipstick, depleted uranium powder in an oil suspension, chloride of mercury, mercuric iodide, mercuric oxide, or mercuric cyanate (also highly explosive and flammable).

Connections

Al-Qaeda in Rûm (DH, p. 148) wants red mercury very much, and the Romanian mafia (DH, p. 157) might well be dealing it, perhaps through the Arms Runner (DH, p. 102) or the Syrian General (DH, p. 133). The SRI (DH, p. 156) may have seized a sample from which more could be traced, as might the Slovakian Border and Alien Police (DH, p. 164). The Retired KGB Agent (DH, p. 97) might know about the original experiments, and the Seismologist (DH, p. 100) might be obsessed with replicating them. Red mercury might power the Earthquake Device (DH, p. 266) or the Radu weapon (DH, p. 276). If authentic, Edom would very much kill to get this cylinder, and Pearl (DH, p. 52) may well run one or both parties to the transaction. Edom might have set up this transaction even if the cylinder is fraudulent, as a means of drawing out shadowy players in the vampire-alchemical underground.

In space, the darkest day of the year is every day. Nonetheless, five of the Combine’s seven major species evolved naturally on home planets before reaching for the stars, and to various degrees remember rituals and holidays that marked the turning point between encroaching and receding night.

Before the war, human secularism confined Christmas celebrations to the quaint symbolism of Santa, mistletoe, and candy canes. Since the mysterious end of the Mohilar threat, certain nufaiths have reshaped the Nativity story of the holiday to their own futuristic ends.

The emotion-averse, nature-loving balla fight to retain a connection to growing seasons. Their solstice holiday, Seedsong, has farmers keen songs of hope to hibernating plants, and to seeds anticipating their next germination. On spaceships, balla gift each other, and trusted outsiders, with plant cuttings, bulbs, and seeds. Unlike the olden days, these can be planted and tended straightaway in a ship’s hydroponics facility. The balla in the illustration holds a bulb it has sung fertility into, offering it as a gift. Don’t recoil when it chirps!

Get ready for trouble on the durugh solstice. On this day of misrule, serfs and peons were permitted to speak freely and satirically castigate their authoritarian betters. During the festival, one is not supposed to remember, much less taken personally, anything a durugh of inferior rank or status says to you, right before he stumbles off to drunkenly vomit. Lasers can expect an investigation conducted on a durugh world during Chaotica, as the holiday is commonly translated, to vibrate with boozy, brawly complications.

Kch-thk of course celebrate by feasting. Their holiday, called Doorbreak, marks the end of a fast with the ritual destruction of pantry doors. Dry, crunchy foods modern Kch-thk would normally eschew in conditions of abundance become a heartfelt connection to the rigors of the past.

Tavak recall the Winter Wars, a series of battles in which warriors of honor vanquished a culture of unrestrained violence and pillage. Orations of epic martial poetry take place over a dozen nights. Gifting ceremonies at the end recapitulate the awarding of spoils to the victorious sword-priesthoods.

None of the solstices of these five cultures sync up. All remain keyed to original dates from the dominant hemisphere of each respective homeworld.

Cybes reject solstice celebrations as obsolete reminders of earthly limitations.

The vas mal, somewhat annoyingly, insist that in their former godlike personas they inspired all mortal religious beliefs and festivals. However they do enjoy a nice Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

 


Ashen Stars is a gritty space opera game where freelance troubleshooters solve mysteries, fix thorny problems, and explore strange corners of space — all on a contract basis. The game includes streamlined rules for space combat, 14 different types of ship, a rogues’ gallery of NPC threats and hostile species, and a short adventure to get you started. Purchase Ashen Stars in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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