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An Echo, Resounding Now Available!

An Echo, ResoundingLet Them Know Your Fame In Hell.

In An Echo, Resounding, a Labyrinth Lord-compatible guidebook, you’ll learn the arts of war and kingly rule in the untamed borderlands. Referees will find all the tools they need to build a savage land of adventure and bloody struggle, carving the foundations of empire into the very bones of their campaign. Players will find new talents as Champions of their lands, fighting for a noble cause or struggling to establish a beacon of light in the wilderness. And together, both will find new tools for domain management to bring the red-edged games of kings and princes within the grasp of fiercer souls!

Within this book, you’ll find that same dedication to practical play tools and detailed table helps that you’ll find in all Sine Nomine products. In particular, you’ll find….

  • Complete rules for domain founding, management, and conflict.
  • Quick and easy rules for mass combat with both military units and heroic individuals.
  • New Champion abilities to give expert adventurers even more value to the lords who win their capricious aid.
  • Extensive GM support for building campaign regions of cities, towns, ruins, lairs and precious resources. Don’t waste your creation effort- learn how to support your endgame from the first campaign session!
  • The Westmark, a fully-worked example region from Sine Nomine’s Red Tide Campaign Sourcebook and Sandbox Toolkit. Hit the ground running with zero prep or strip it for parts for your own campaign!

Grab it now and forge yourself a land worth conquering!

Mandate Archive Collection 2011 Now in Print!

For the benefit of those world-hopping freebooters who prefer their adventures in  unpowered formats, Sine Nomine Publishing offers you the convenient 50-page printout of the Mandate Archives Collection 2011, including all entries published this year. Within these pages, you’ll find…

  • Bannerjee Construction Solutions– Frontier space stations for those worlds with nothing but gumption, resolve, and a cheerful carelessness with human life!
  • The Bruxelles-class Battlecruiser– Stats and plot seeds for these ancient emissaries of the Terran Mandate’s will. Will you find one before your world’s enemies do?
  • The Cabals of Hydra Sector– A list of sinister conspiracies and dark cabals in Hydra Sector, along with detailed writeups of two organizations compatible with Darkness Visible!
  • The Dust– Nanite clouds from the Mandate’s latter days lie in wait in long-lost installations, along with details for randomly-generated pretech super-science!
  • Martial Arts– Want a campaign where lighting-handed unarmed warriors are a match for gunslinging space marines? Try out these ten martial arts styles and tips for creating your own!
  • The Qotah– For six centuries, these avian aliens have kept an honor-bound peace with humanity. Learn about their warlike culture and brooding integrity; is their word strong enough to bind the tempests of war?
  • The Red Sangha Mercenary Corps– Cursed from birth with bloodless calm, these Buddhist warrior-monks sell their implacable courage to support their world. What ends can drive an army without passions?

As a special bonus for those patient souls who have awaited a print format, this book also includes details on The Judicators– heirs to the ancient Bureau of Rectification and its ruthless policing of Mandate officaldom, these psychics wield a unique and subtle psionic discipline. Their arts allow them to use a victim’s own sense of guilt and duty to mold their choices, goading them on with the fires of their own burning shames.

You never know when the blind exertions of cosmic law might annihilate all traces of our advanced technology, so buy now and mock uncaring destiny with your foresight!

 

Mandate Archive Collection and An Echo, Resounding

Heeding the plaintive cries of the estimable public, a softcover compilation of the free Mandate Archive PDFs is about to be sent off for print proofing. Those who prefer to have their materials in physical format may rejoice at the sublime ease of use which the codex provides. As a bonus for these patient souls, it will also include an exclusive Archive entry on the Judicators- the enigmatic heirs of the ancient Bureau of Rectification, once the remorseless internal security of the decadent Terran Mandate. Their specialized psionic abilities play off the victim’s darkest guilts and deepest social taboos, allowing the psychic to sense their expectations and control their actions through the spurs of shame and duty. Here’s a taste of the new discipline:

In Your Place        Level 1

The judicator has an instinctive awareness of the expectations of others around him. In ordinary social situations and when exchanging common courtesies, the judicator always knows precisely what social behavior is expected of him by his interlocutor, whether in action, appearance, or speech. He can even speak formulaic courtesies and make flawless small talk in languages he does not actually understand, instinctively making the sounds expected of him.

The judicator fails Culture checks related to common etiquette and ordinary behavior only on a natural 2 on the skil check, and can masquerade as a native member of any culture or social group, assuming his appearance makes it plausible. Activation of this power lasts for one conversation or social situation. If mastered, this power is permanently active.

 
Despite this brief detour to accommodate the format preferences of loyal readers, work on An Echo, Resounding continues apace. This guidebook contains great heaping piles of help for a Labyrinth Lord keen on adding domain management and mass combat rules to their campaign in the customary Sine Nomine style. The guide focuses on building domains into your campaign as a natural, organic part of the setting rather than a phenomenon that simply pops up at 9th level with a sheaf of fresh paperwork. These tools help you build city-states, princedoms, border baronies, and stubbornly independent allods into your campaign from the very start, using them throughout the game’s life to fuel new conflicts, new adventures, and new opportunities for your players to engage with your creations. Even those Labyrinth Lords with existing campaign worlds are shown how to retrofit the mechanics into their games, adding fresh life and activity into old favorites.

But the contents aren’t just for Labyrinth Lords. Players are introduced to Leadership abilities, special powers and knacks related to running a domain or fighting a pitched battle. Accomplished rulers start to acquire Leader levels after they reach a certain point in their heroic progression, their earned XP now raising their level in this parallel class.  As they grow in the arts of rulership, they acquire new abilities to aid their hard-pressed dominion or become more fearsome in the roil of a bloody battlefield. Behold a mighty fighter carve a red path through enemy legions, a master thief cut a general’s throat in the midst of his personal guard, or a dwarven clanmaster marshal his people to fashion wealth beyond the dreaming of less artful breeds. These levels can also be used to reflect the talents of less heroic rulers who yet retain a genius for battlefield command or the ordering of a state; the elderly general may have long since retired to his country estates and be hard-pressed to defend himself against a younger warrior, but put him in command of an army and may the gods have mercy on any foe that dares defy him.

Much of An Echo Resounding is finished, but the mechanical systems yet require the good sharp shaking that comes of careful playtesting. With luck, you’ll hear its onrushing hooves by the end of January.

Theory and Practice

I’ve been working on An Echo,  Resounding lately. It’s a supplementary book for Labyrinth Lord focused on creating sandbox adventure regions, managing domains and political polities that PCs or locals might have there, and running mass combat in a way that integrates with the whole. While I’ve been sweating over the specific mechanics and resource tables of the book, it’s left me thinking about theories.

Theories are beautiful things. I’ve got lots of them about game design and building optimal sandboxes, and in many ways Sine Nomine itself is just a convenient rubric for me to use in expressing these theories. I think sandbox gaming provides a remarkable set of possibilities to a GM and players, and I think the design space hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it deserves over the past ten or twenty years. Given the opportunity, I’d talk your ear off about all the things that sandboxes can give to a group that other gaming styles can’t provide so easily. Those other styles each have their own strong points and advantages, certainly, but the special virtues of a sandbox are experienced all too rarely these days. I have my theories about why that’s the case.

But GMs and players don’t need theories in a published product. They need tools. One of my pet peeves about a lot of RPG books aimed at GMs and worldbuilders is the studied vagueness of the contents, the preference for giving sweeping advice and broad generalities over specific guidelines. The author will explain why a particular technique or goal is a good one and leave it to the reader to actually implement the directive. I’m not sure whether the authors honestly believe this is the best way to go about things or whether they’re perhaps paralyzed by the sheer scope of material they’re dealing with. Perhaps they fear to put down anything specific because they can easily imagine a case where any particular offering would be wrong or useless. I don’t think they’re doing their readers any favors this way. Why? Well, here’s a theory:

Continue reading Theory and Practice

Darkness Visible Now Available

Discover Sights of Woe

Rain-slick streets beneath an alien sky. Untraceable mail on a private terminal. A man in a shabby coat who is always watching. Poison in a glistening needle. From the distant ages of humanity’s dawn to the far end of the Silence, espionage changes only its tools. A useful lie is eternal.

With this book, GMs and players are equipped with everything they need to run campaigns of interstellar intrigue and covert action. New backgrounds, training packages and equipment options will kit out your starfaring spies, and the history and context of interstellar espionage will help you plan your adventures in a cosmos in dire need.

GMs are given special help in assembling an espionage campaign, with tools for the cooperative creation of enigmatic intelligence agencies and long-hidden Perimeter outposts. You’ll also find concrete, step-by-step techniques for building complex spy adventures and sinister plots, complete with detailed support material to keep your focus on the fun.

Look inside to find…

  • The history of interstellar spying in the Stars Without Number universe.
  • Details of the hideous maltech cults that threaten the very future of humanity.
  • A system for cooperatively creating intelligence agencies for your campaign and handling exploits against their nefarious rivals.
  • 36 new tags for flavoring your cults, all of which can be used as world tags as well.
  • Over 200 new adventure seeds, each one keyed to a different aspect of an espionage agency.
  • NPC, scheme, and method tables for fleshing out conspiracies and dark plots.

Get it now at DriveThruRPG!

Darkness Visible proofs and New Work….

Now that Darkness Visible has been entrusted to the tender hands of Lightning Source and I have another week or so to wait for the printed proofs, I can start work on the next project.

An Echo, Resounding will provide the tools and resources to help a GM run princely domains and sweeping mass combats under Labyrinth Lord rules. While specifically set in the devil-haunted world of the Red Tide, the tools in this book are applicable to almost any old-school game or retroclone. An initial chapter helps the GM build a sandbox region that both provides immediate outlets for adventure and embeds the necessary framework for future political machinations. Rather than having to suddenly retrofit everything in as soon as the PCs start to show an interest in influencing the local powers, these tools let the GM build those elements right into the sandbox. PCs that want to lead a village to victory over its oppressors or who are suddenly placed at the head of a city-state’s ragged militia can now effortlessly step into place without forcing a sudden rush of ad-hoc judgment calls and improvisations by the GM.

Many old-school domain management systems focus on simulating the strict details of a fantasy fief- gold income, population, peasant morale, food supplies, and other specifics. While this is a perfectly natural approach, An Echo, Resounding instead abstracts the fundamental elements of a domain into Military, Wealth, and Social values. These totals rise and fall depending on the types of locations held by the domain and the sort of special resources or advantages the PCs can bring to their homes. These totals are then used to support Assets, which reflect the military units, unique traditions, temples, schools, and other specific resources the domain has at its disposal. Outside threats and conflicts between domains then become focused on these Assets and the locations that support them. Struggles become specific, and every clash or sudden peril from the wilderness becomes a ready-made adventure hook for the redoubtable rulers. In addition to these domain rules, a mass combat system is provided that can flex to accommodate heroic PCs, massed troops, and special monstrous foes all on the same battlefield.

An Echo, Resounding is going to require extensive playtesting on the appropriate balance of location values and asset costs, so keep an eye on this space for playtest invitations over the course of the next month. And fear not, Stars Without Number fans; the lessons and playtesting data drawn from An Echo, Resounding are going to be directly useful for the project to follow; Other Dust, the standalone SWN-compatible game covering the post-apocalyptic savagery of Terra in the wake of Scream’s horrific devastation.

Darkness Visible Coming This Month

The sinister secrets of interstellar espionage are set to be revealed at the end of the month, as Darkness Visible makes its PDF and print debut on DriveThruRPG. Guidelines and tools are provided for forging your own campaign of star-spanning intrigue and trans-solar spies, complete with specific mechanics for generating both the agencies that employ these daring covert operatives and the vicious cabals that threaten all they hold dear.

In the customary Sine Nomine style, it is not counted satisfactory to simply give you dozens of pages of practical advice and specific pointers for emulating dashing interstellar agents. No, it is not enough. Darkness Visible provides page after page of specific, focused tools to produce concrete results for your game, along with step-by-step instructions for using them to generate the content you need.

You need a spy agency for your players? Follow these steps to build one. Your players want to break into a maximum-security prison satellite to kidnap an alien framed for war crimes? Take this template and fill it in from these tables. You need to dish up an adventure full of double-dealing and hidden actors but have no idea how to support the players’ investigation attempts? Use this adventure structure, lift the challenge rules from this chapter, and prepare these things for the session. Darkness Visible gives you the direct, specific guidance you need to get the job done.

Darkness Visible is written for the Stars Without Number role-playing game, but the guides and tools it uses are system-neutral and compatible with a vast swath of science-fiction settings. Expect it by the end of October.

Clippings: Online Sector Generator

Stars Without Number fan N. Harrison Ripps has produced an admirably handy online sector generator. One simple click produces a fully-mapped sector for Stars Without Number, complete with generated name lists for corporations, NPCs, political parties, aliens, and a list of different types of religion to be found as well. You can also download the sector as a TiddlyWiki file for offline use, where you can look at individually-generated world statistics and tags for each of the planets in the sector.

Give it a click here!