Osiris: Running Silent

More than 200 downloads of Operation Nearscape since its release less than two weeks ago, and not one piece of feedback. I got a very nice review from Megan Robertson, and she seems to think that she would welcome more, so that’s something.

Maybe people are waiting to try it out. Maybe people are just mulling it over. More likely, most people who download it will glance at it and then file it or trash it. Whatever the case, this is a test, so if you would be interested in more Osiris Files, and would be willing to pay a buck for something like Operation Nearscape, let me know.

You can find Operation Nearscape here.

Sword Noir One-Pager: Kiss MacGuffin Deadly

This one-pager probably works best if your PCs are Urban Cohorts in Everthorn–or otherwise representatives of some level of law enforcement or other organization that imposes order in some fashion, like the Knights Templar and Hospitaller in the Holy Lands during the crusades. If not actual “police,” the PCs could be something akin to private detectives–if the setting has them–or some other freelance troubleshooters (or gunslinger/dirty-knight errant like Caspan Trey in my story “For Simple Coin”). Given that the PCs are expected to assist an innocent, criminals might not be the best choice.

This one-pager is also short on locations as it is long on everything else. You can always re-cycle a cool location from one of the earlier one-pagers if necessary.


Kiss MacGuffin Deadly

An innocent—to whom the PCs are likely to react positively but whom they don’t know—secretly connected somehow to a powerful mage of ill repute from afar requests the PCs’ help. This innocent needs to deliver a package to an individual in Everthorn. This is a matter of life or death. In an ambush, the innocent is killed or abducted. Various factions vie for the package, which is actually an uncontrollable item of power that destroys all around it when released from its confines.

Plot Points
1. The innocent does not have the package, but is receiving it from a trusted ship’s captain who travelled from afar. The innocent has a note to the captain to release the package to the bearer of the note. The innocent provides the note to the PCs once she secures their assistance. The innocent has a sense of impending doom.

2. The Evil Mastermind sends four mercenaries (possibly named Sucre, Xavier, Tang and Celeris) to get the innocent and the package. If the capture is unsuccessful, the crew are tasked with killing the innocent. The recovery of the package is a top priority.

3. When the PCs secure the package, there is a note included with it that it must be delivered to Al-Ansar or the Invisible Judge for safekeeping.

4. Just before the PCs make the delivery, the Evil Mastermind along with any surviving mercenaries and a total of eight toughs attack in an attempt to grab the package. The powerful mage of ill-repute, Skeleros, appears and joins in the struggle, attacking the strongest party first.

1. Star’s Reach: The galleon of the Ship’s Captain. This is a large, fast vessel, able to cross oceans and perhaps introduce the PCs to entirely new settings.

Narrative Characters
1. The Innocent, plot initiator
Concept: Naïf (+2) Faculty: Engender trust (Cha, +2)
Phy 7; Agl 7; Wit 9; Cha 12; Wil 9

2. Mercenaries
Concept: Tough Guy (+4) Background: Street Hunter (+2)
Faculty: Rough housing (Phy, +4) Flaw: Unimaginative (-2)
Phy 15; Agl 9; Wit 7; Cha 9; Wil 7
Cracking Heads (Phy, +4); Powerhouse (Phy, +2)

3. The Ship’s Captain
Concept: Merchant Adventurer (+2) Faculty: Cold Read (Cha, +2)
Phy 7; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 12; Wil 7

4. Evil Mastermind
Concept: Underworld Spider (+2) Background: Arcanist (+2)
Faculty: Intimidation (Cha, +2) Flaw: Impatient (-2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 12; Wil 9
Fight Dirty (Phy, +4), Aggressive Negotiations (Cha, +2)

4. Skeleros, powerful mage of ill-repute from afar
Concept: Necromancer (+2) Background: Spurned Scholar (Wit, +2)
Faculty: the Arcane (Cha, +2) Flaw: Imperious (-2)
Phy 7; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 15; Wil 9
Arcane Quality – Water, Charm of the Grave (+4), Rain of Fear (+4)

Operations Nearscape: an Osiris File

The DNA of an astronaut and naval aviator declared MIA in 2006 has been found in a fragment from the Tunguska event of 1908. Is the aviator alive? How could his DNA be involved in the explosion of the Tunguska event, 100 years earlier? Osiris is tasked with learning the answers to these questions.

Black projects, super-science, and conspiracies all play a part in Operation Nearscape.

This product is part of the Osiris Files series and is systemless. It is not a complete adventure, but is a “concept module,” providing ideas and inspiration built around a central conceit to help the GM build an adventure suited to the GM’s campaign.

You can find Operation Nearscape at RPG Now, along with the rest of our products.

The Osiris Files: Operation Nearscape was created as the first of a possible series of similar concept modules. If there is interest, the plot arc conceptualized for the Osiris Files will be released through a series of concept modules.

The Osiris Files series
The Osiris Files take place in a world right beside ours. Next door, or perhaps just down the block. People drive cars you would recognize, have jobs you would recognize, and eat food you would recognize. Somewhere, though, there is a shadow world. It might be a world of super spies, super humans, or magic. It might be a world of hidden monsters, ancient threats, or that which man was not meant to know.

The characters inhabit this shadow world. They may pose as accountants, or librarians, or electricians, but they are not. They are not butchers, bakers or candlestick makers. They are something different, something special, and something absolutely dangerous.

The Osiris Files are not adventures, they are concepts. Each operation provides briefing materials, background and ideas. All the material is systemless, and therefore can be used with any role-playing game system. The core of the adventure and its place in the campaign are left to the GM. There are no maps. There is no conclusion. While the concept provides possible conclusions and ideas as to what is happening, there is no set path to solving a problem. The Osiris Files only provide ideas.

This has been a long time coming (copyright on Nearscape is 2009, if that tells you anything). If this moves forward, it will only be if I get enough interest that I believe I can sell enough of each of the other 7 planned “concept modules” in the Osiris Files plot arc to motivate me to get it done. The writing for module two, Operation Savage, is complete. Let’s see if this pans out.

Sword Noir One-Pager: The Lost

This one-pager only fits on a page with 10 pt font, but that’s fair, isn’t it? One thing I like about this one is that if the PCs are playing criminals, this is where they distinguish themselves from the scum. I talk about that a bit over at Sword’s Edge.

The Lost

Regher Gaunt, once an Urban Cohort, achieved something of note when he was drilled out of that corrupt organization for being too corrupt. He’s now a resident of the Gagerum, maybe the biggest slum in Everthorn, and an old enemy has taken the only thing that matters to him, his daughter. He almost got killed trying to get her back, and now he’s turned to the PCs as his only hope. Cut-Lip Caladis—who used to run with the gang known as the Fallen Ones—took the girl and has someone backing him up, a bunch of someones who almost killed Regher. Now Regher’s got nothing, no one to help him, and might not even live to see another morning. All he wants is his daughter safe.

Plot Points
1. Regher actually did his job when he put Cut-Lip to the oars for robbing and killing a family, but Cut-Lip holds a major grudge because this was one time when Regher couldn’t be bought. Regher knows Caladis is willing to kill children, so he’s desperate.

2. This is just sweet revenge for Caladis, who intends to sell the girl into slavery. He tried to interest the Fallen Ones, but only his previous association with them stopped them from gutting him. He’s gone too far. They didn’t stop him but they have no love for him. They know he’s on the way to the Pit.

3. Caladis indeed has Regher’s daughter, Lydia, at the Pit. He also has 8 hired goons led by Druxis, a mercenary.

1. The Aerie: The Fallen Ones congregate at an old watchtower that is now on the edge of the North Road, just on the outskirts of East Corners. It’s been modified and heightened so that it now climbs six stories up, and has a diameter of 20 metres at its base and 10 metres at its apex. Each floor serves a different purpose—tavern, gambling hall, brothel, and opium den—with the top two stories the headquarters of the Fallen Ones.

2. The Pit: Three kilometres north-east, off the North road, is an old quarry or mine or something. This is an illegal slave market that opens for one night during the full moon. The Pit is only the most recent location, as whenever the Urban Prefect learns of its location, he sends the Captain and his Whites to shut the place down.

Narrative Characters
1. Regher Gaunt, disgraced Urban Cohort
Concept: Loser (+2) Faculty: Tough Guy (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 7; Cha 7; Wil 9

2. Cut-Lip Caladis, holds a major grudge
Concept: SOB (+2) Faculty: Back Stabbing (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 7; Wil 7

3. Adreanna, leader of the Fallen Ones
Concept: Honourable Criminal (+2) Background: Kill My Way to the Top (+2)
Faculty: Drawing Blood (Agl, +2) Flaw: Tied to Oaths (-2)
Phy 9; Agl 15; Wit 12; Cha 12; Wil 9
Voice of Authority (Cha, +2), Sharpest of Blades (Agl, +2)

4. Druxis the merc
Concept: Mercenary (+2) Faculty: Swordsmanship (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 9; Cha 7; Wil 7

5. Hasault, runs the Pit
Concept: Flesh Merchant (+2) Faculty: Smell Weakness (Wit, +2)
Phy 9; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 7; Wil 7

Sword Noir One Pager: Layers

I talked a little bit about one-pagers over at Sword’s Edge. Here’s the first one-pager for Sword Noir, Layers. You can read the Sword’s Edge article here.

The criminal boss, Dugald the Lame, has brought the PCs into a major operation that he is planning, one that offers a massive pay-out. He won’t take no for an answer because he says the PCs are the best in the business—and if the PCs insist on saying no, that’s a whole other adventure. Just as the job/deal/whatever is going down, the Urban Cohorts swoop in to arrest everyone. As the PCs may (or may not) learn, Dugald sold them out. Under the guise of the Ghost Crow, he’s been selling anyone he doesn’t like to the Cohorts, getting their money and a free pass for his own operations.

Plot Points
1. Just before starting the job, the PCs recognize a crooked Urban Cohort named Vindiacos skulking around, trying to look non-descript with a big cloak covering his breastplate and weapons. This will hopefully clue them in that things are wonky. If they don’t figure it out, they are faced with double their numbers in Urban Cohorts who are—thankfully—out to arrest them rather than kill them.

2. Either information from the crooked Cohort or other resources lead the PCs to the Maze and Alisanos. He sells the information to the Cohorts, but it comes from the Ghost Crow, who seems to know almost everything about the Everthorn underworld. The Ghost Crow can only be found at his Sea Palace.

3. The Ghost Crow is well-protected by both Urban Cohorts and his own gang of cut-throats both at the launch to the Sea Palace, and on the Sea Palace as well. No one seems to know what the Ghost Crow looks like, or where on the Sea Palace he can be found.

1. The Maze: Likely in Gagerum or a similar slum, the Maze is a collection of tenements covering over three blocks that have been attached by walkways, additions, and extensions so that they form one giant building, but a building that is its own neighbourhood, inhabiting vertical as well as horizontal space. The Maze has merchants, taverns, inns, a cooper and even a blacksmith. It is run by the Cursed Crew.

2. The Sea Palace: This is a collection of barges, anchored outside the sea walls near the Tides. Buildings have been built on these barges and there are chain and board bridges between barges. There is a brothel, a casino, an opium den, and an inn and tavern. It is not open to anyone, and the Ghost Crow keeps invites to a minimum.

Narrative Characters
1. Duglad the Lame master of Right Banks/Ghost Crow, master of the Sea Palace
Concept: Ringleader (+2) Faculty: Deception (Wit, +2)
Phy 9; Agl 7; Wit 9; Cha 12; Wil 7

2. Vindiacos, Urban Cohort contact
Concept: Corrupt Cohort (+2) Faculty: Bringing the Pain (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit7; Cha 7; Wil 9

3. Alisanos, purveyor of information
Concept: Underworld Merchant (+2) Background: Orphan of the Streets (+2)
Faculty: Connections (Cha, +2) Flaw: All that glitters (-2)
Phy 9; Agl 9; Wit 12; Cha 15; Wil 12
Sell you Anything (Cha, +2), Know It All (Wit, +2)

4. Requin, master of the Cursed Crew and Mayor of the Maze
Concept: Enforcer (+2) Faculty: the Blade (Phy, +2)
Phy 12; Agl 9; Wit 7; Cha 7; Wil 9

Sword Noir: Valuable Lessons

I learned two things at our Sword Noir game last night.

1. One must enunciate correctly. “Contact” sounds very much like “contract” in the right conditions.

2. While Sword Noir has a magic system, it is possible to do “low level” styles of magic without using the magic system.

Last night, we had both a pyromaniac alchemist and an engineer styled as an early 17th century MacGyver. We didn’t use the magic system. I was thinking about it, but passed on it, as the alchemist was a new player who had been away from RPGs for a bit, and while I tried to keep it simple, magic tends to add complexity to any game.

Thing was, given that in combat their intent was to incapacitate or kill their opponents, there was no need to do anything differently than if someone was using a weapon. Whether a character uses a knife, a sword, a flintlock, a spinning chandelier affixed with table legs or caustic powders, the effect was the same. So the characters simply used different Qualities with different narrative descriptions of the action. No problem.

The alchemist also whipped up a fantasy version of sodium amytal to aid in the questioning of prisoners. And why the fuck not? Everyone had fun and the characters got to be awesome.

I’m interested in seeing where this will go. I’ll let you know more after our next game.

Third lesson learned thrown in for free: I can totally run a game from one sheet of paper with an outline of the situation, 2 special locations, 3 plot points, and 5 narrative characters, as long as I have the whole of Everthorn to back me up. I’ll bet you can too. Using the information provided for Everthorn in Sword Noir, the Kheufer Scrolls, and Crossing the Millers, you’ve pretty much got a fair chunk of Everthorn outlined, if not described.

More on Sword Noir one-pagers to come.

You can find awesome Sword Noir stuff here.

Sales Figures for September

As you can see from the figures below, Crossing the Millers did pretty well for its first month—and that is, of course, relative to my expectations. Please remember, when looking at those figures, that Sword’s Edge Publishing is a z-list publisher, without staff and without a marketing budget. I count more than 25 sales in the first month as a major win.

Part of the continued strong sales for Sword Noir can be attributed to releasing Crossing the Millers, as any release helps to push sales in back product. Part of it can also be attributed to the “Sword Noir bundle” I have provided over at RPG Now, in which one can purchase Sword Noir and its two existing adventures at a 17% discount on buying them separately. This may have pushed customers who were considering the purchase to actually make it.

I’d like to mention, in case you didn’t know, that anyone who purchased both Sword Noir and the Kheufer Scrolls would have received a coupon for a free copy of Crossing the Millers. If you call into this category but have not received your coupon (likely because I can’t email you through RPG Now), please drop me a line and let me know. Send along your customer number, if you can.

And for those playing along at home, we’ve cleared $ 889.91 of Sword Noir‘s $ 1338.59 cost. I expect sales to drop off dramatically in the following months, so two years to profit may not have been too pessimistic.

It is my hope that October will see the release of Kiss My Axe: Thirteen Warriors and an Angel of Death and then November will see the release of Suffer the Witch, the first Kiss My Axe adventure. That will—hopefully—help to maintain strong sales.

Fingers crossed.

You can find the “Sword Noir bundle” here.

You can find the rest of our catalogue here.

Monthly Sales
Khorforjan Gambit, 2
Qalashar Device, 2
Raid On Ashkashem, 2

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 2
For Simple Coin, 7

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 1
Covert Forces Redux, 1
In Her Majesty’s Service, 2

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 32
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 55
Sword Noir, 39
The Kheufer Scrolls, 32

Sales to Date
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113): 29
Khorforjan Gambit: 93
Qalashar Device: 106
Raid On Ashkashem: 145

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms: 27
For Simple Coin: 46

Charity Products
Relief Effort: 53

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section: 89
Covert Forces: 100
Covert Forces Redux: 137
In Her Majesty’s Service: 123

Modern Medieval
Gunpowder Plots: 73
Man-At-Arms Advanced Class: 36
Mercenary Advanced Class: 39
Spy Advanced Class: 34
Modern Medieval Compilation: 46
(for Japanese Disaster Relief)

Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit: 35
Line Zero: 32

Roles & Classes
Capable Hero: 84
Combat Hero: 83
Counter-Terrorism Assaulter: 95
Covert Hero: 92
Spec Ops Recce: 93
Special Operations Marksman: 93
Talent Trees Assembled: 68

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 32
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 699
Sword Noir 249
The Kheufer Scrolls, 72

Treasure Chest Unlocked
Gems: 66
Incense: 7