Friday, July 31, 2015

The Mystical Thandi OR: the Power to Cloud Men's Minds!

Faithful followers, prepare yourselves for another titillating installment of Fridays in AEthrem! Turn your secret decoder rings to setting six, because in this special Gen Con weekend post, we're delving into the mystical powers available to characters in Venture!

In AEthrem, those that call on supernatural powers are known as thandi. They are not born with these abilities, nor can they be gained through study alone. No, each and every potential thandi can become one only by making a pact with an incorporeal spirit - referred to as a ryn. Numerous ryn exist in the world, but only a few agree to forming pacts. Each ryn is as unique as any other character, and their pacts are just as unique. While some thandi track down their ryn and convince them to form a pact, others enter into an agreement with the capricious entities when randomly encountering them, while still others become thandi due to some pattern the ryn itself follows - such forming pacts with the successive members of a human family.

The benefits granted by a pact are subtle powers - thandi do not hurl fireballs or raise skeletons from the grave. Instead, a thandi may have the ability to sneak past observers without being noticed, to fight with the strength of ten normal individuals, or to influence others with hypnotic suggestions, among other talents. This is not to say that the abilities of a thandi are insignificant - powerful pact-bearers have survived falls from skyscrapers with little injury, perceived things no normal mortal could have noticed, and moved through battlefields as nearly-unstoppable blurs of steel.

Pacts are not without their costs, however. Every use of their powers weakens the spirit of a thandi and strengthens their ryn through their shared bond. Eventually, even the most prepared thandi is pushed to their limit, unable to call upon their talents further. The pact itself also bears a terrible cost - requiring a sacrifice from the new thandi to first form the pact, and further sacrifices as its powers develop. The nature of these sacrifices are ultimately up to ryn itself. Lucky thandi might be able to proceed by giving up a portion of their own blood, or by agreeing to perform specific actions for their ryn in the physical world. More than one villainous thandi in history has agreed to malicious acts, up to human sacrifice in the worst cases, in search of more power.

Just calling upon the powers of a pact is not without a risk. The thandi channels the power and essence of their ryn through their own bodies when using one of their abilities. If their will falters at the wrong moment, the entity can pour in, possessing the thandi's body for a time. Even the most benevolent ryn has no qualms about taking over a body, and they seem to find the experience of having a physical form euphoric - almost intoxicating. Unfortunately, they also have no real understanding of how the human body is affected by things in the physical world, and risk harming the thandi or innocent bystanders through no ill will of their own. If the thandi is lucky, the ryn might simply violate several social mores while in residence, leaving them with much to account for once they regain control.

Thandi find varying degrees of acceptance within society. While they are openly outlawed in some nations, in others they might be accepted only within certain social circles. In Valerica, the Bureau of Esoteric Registration and Management requires registration for all thandi within the nation - and keeps a staff of thandi agents on hand to investigate crimes where a pact has been used and to pursue criminal thandi. Even in the most accepting locations, many find thandi and ryn unnerving, and official Church doctrine decries their powers as unnatural, casting ryn as agents of chaos - working to unmake the world Pelorus created.

Player characters may choose to be thandi - gaining invaluable abilities to help them succeed as a member of a venture company. They must walk a treacherous path to do so: risking becoming a social pariah, possibly loosing control of their own bodies with every use of their powers, and agreeing to ever worsening sacrifices for more power. Many are tortured souls, but they are bolstered along by the good they've accomplished through their rare talents.

Regarding thandi, one should also consider the old legends about those who lost themselves in a pact after sacrificing too much in pursuit of power. These corrupted thandi are said to have become something strange and unnatural after completely losing control of themselves. Of course, there couldn't be any truth to these old monster stories...


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Friday, July 24, 2015

SCIENCE! OR: Where Are My Rocket Pack and Death Ray?!

Welcome back to Fridays in AEthrem, intrepid explorers of the unknown! Today, we'll be talking about the engine that powers human society in AEthrem - science and technology.

While not the most technologically-advanced species to ever inhabit the world, humans in AEthrem have advanced quickly from their primitive beginnings. In just over 1,500 years, they've gone from using stone weapons to constructing airplanes. New advancements are made every day, and lauded in research journals and newsreel footage alike.

For most of human history, the Peloric Church was the driving force behind research and innovation. Established to support the followers of Pelorus the Crafter and study the divine workings of the world, the Church has sponsored countless researchers and engineers throughout the years. World leaders wanting the latest advancements for their grand works have long been forced to pay lip service to the church and make sometimes exorbitant donations to its priesthood - all serving to slowly push other faiths to the fringes of human society.

Today, the Church is well-established, with Cathedrals in most major cities and smaller houses of the faith in virtually every significant settlement. In addition to functioning as centers of worship, anyone can come to their local church for a variety of services - repairs and maintenance of machinery are provided by the members of the Order of Priest-Technician for the price of a small donation, as are telegraphing services. Those needing more complex assistance can employ those belonging to the Order of Priest-Engineer, who undertake the design of new devices and most larger public works projects, such as bridges, dams, and power generators.

In spite of its central role in society, the Peloric Church has been falling behind the cutting edge in technology in recent years. Private businesses have taken the lead by offering greater creative and personal freedoms for prospective inventors over the church, and edging into areas that the church has traditionally avoided becoming too involved with - such as weaponry. Inventors guilds and modern industries are experiencing a boom as a result, with all the expected infighting and backstabbing. While some push for a lead by hiring away their rivals' best and brightest, others aren't above resulting to more nefarious practices - such as mudslinging or corporate espionage and sabotage.

Transportation, entertainment, and communication are all undergoing huge changes in the modern day. Trade and travel has been facilitated by the rigid airship, with any community of note providing a dock for the vessels, while the airplane has caught the world's imagination - a machine controlled by courageous explorers, daring racers, and steel-willed combatants alike. The film industry is in full swing, and nightly radio broadcasts provide entertainment at home - both industries are home to a whole sky of rising stars, some willing to risk anything to make their name. While the Church's telegraphs can still reach almost every corner of the globe, the telephone has been implemented for a few decades, providing service to all but the most rural areas - although air mail can provide contact for even those in the deepest wildernesses.

Even these advances are not enough for some - those with the imagination and drive for it work tirelessly to design entirely new creations - personal rocket packs for flying through the air, electrical death rays for revolutionizing the military, even robots - tireless mechanical persons capable of carrying out simple tasks. Actually implementing these inventions on a wide scale is a huge challenge for industry - many are still not reliable or affordable enough for the mass market.

Until they become publicly available, fringe scientists and engineers construct and test prototypes of their latest inventions. Just building a device can be a huge undertaking, sometimes requiring rare and exotic components from across the globe. Reliability for these unproven inventions is also a huge concern - more than one wild-eyed young researcher has perished when their creation detonated in a huge fireball and a cloud of shrapnel, and even somewhat reliable devices require regular care, maintenance, and re-calibration to keep in working order.

So, yes, of course you can build a rocket pack and a death ray. It just might require a trip to the deepest jungle in search of rare gems and some tropical tree resin. Try not to explode, if you can help it.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Venture Companies - the Venture in Venture! OR: Meet the Staff of the Southern Star Company

This is our first post in the "Fridays in AEthrem" series, where we'll be detailing another facet of Venture!'s setting each week, time permitting. Today, we're writing about venture companies, which play a big role in the world of AEthrem.

Venture companies first appeared during the colonial expansion into territories now belonging to modern-day Valerica. From their earliest days, venture companies were hired for the most dangerous work: exploring new territories, providing security for settlers or companies, or investigating mysteries on the frontier, where the government could provide little support. Their employees earned a reputation as hardy trailblazers and courageous fighters, and venture companies have had a part to play in many major historical events.

In the modern day, venture companies are still hired for risky endeavors. Although colonial expansion is a thing of the past, they are still considered the best option for academic expeditions to remote or hostile areas. Security is still a common job role for venture companies, and they might be hired on as extra guards in extreme circumstances or serve a more active role, such as hunting down pirates or other criminals in a region. Venture companies also provide private investigation services, much like a detective agency, but with a more diverse skill set.

Licensing is required for a venture company to legally operate. This provides some accountability for these businesses, and reduces the risk for those looking to hire them. Any venture company with a history of unsavory dealings or too many official complaints filed against them can have their license revoked at an annual review, so companies or employees engaging in bad business or getting in too much trouble with law enforcement do get closed down rather quickly. Licensing also offers these businesses certain advantages: the right to arm their employees, legal sanction to engage in private investigation and bounty hunting, and the immediate trust a well-established venture company can receive from potential clients.

Venture companies within the setting provide a ready-made reason for groups of player characters to exist. They tend to attract outcasts as employees, and have a need for a diverse set of skills and backgrounds. Tales of excitement and danger are part of the daily operation of these companies, providing a quick way to involve the player characters (as the staff) in any variety of stories. Planning an archaeological expedition deep in the jungle? Hire a venture company. Trying to track down the base of the sky pirates that have been raiding your shipping line? Hire a venture company. Stumped trying to solve a series of strange murders in the city? Hire a venture company.

We're going to close this post by looking at a sample venture company and its staff. The Southern Star Company is used as an example player group throughout the core rules, and shows what a typical group of player characters might look like in Venture!

The Southern Star Company is a newly-established venture company, based out of Koriden City. Its founder, Nell Carten, is still trying to build up the Southern Star's client base and reputation. Currently, she is taking on any job she can find, putting the young company front and center in one risky endeavor after another and providing just enough to pay the rent on the company's downtown office.

Nell Carten is a Koriden City native, raised in the dockside neighborhood alongside the Beglif twins. From a young age, she yearned to see the world, and learned to fly from her mother while listening to stories of the woman's experiences as an airship escort pilot for Dursmann Industries. As an adult, though, the limited route of an escort pilot wasn't enough for Nell, and she signed up with the Condracean Grey Legion to travel abroad at the earliest opportunity. Service in the Legion was dangerous, but it taught her to how to handle herself in a firefight and gave Nell the chance meet Bronnan during the evacuation of Ederif. Nell still despises the Ferridi after fighting their ruthless soldiers for every inch of that colony as the Legion fell back. While Nell technically earned her Condracean citizenship following her tour of duty, she's avoided that unstable nation, instead investing her pay by founding the Southern Star Company in her home city.

Tren Beglif is Lida's twin sister, born in Koriden City to Exelosian immigrants. He's never been able to stomach common work - not that anyone has been able to tolerate him as an employee for long. Instead, Tren has made a living off his wits and loose morals, running cons and gambling. The latter has earned him a huge debt to Blind Antali, a Kierre with the local Gavierna. After receiving his latest beating at the mobster's hands, Lida forced Tren to sign up with the new company of their childhood friend, Nell Carten. Tren resents his younger sister (by seven whole minutes) ordering him into the job, but he genuinely enjoys his work with the Southern Star Company, and his social talents there might finally get him out of the hole he's dug with Blind Antali.

Lida Beglif is the moral compass for her twin brother, Tren. While he was off getting into trouble with the local criminals, she joined the priesthood, becoming a member of the Peloric Church's Order of Technicians. Lida loved working with machines and helping the communities she visited as a part of her duties, but felt forced to take a temporary sabbatical upon hearing of her brother's latest run-in with the Gavierna. She has kept in touch with Nell Carten over the years, and agreed to sign on as a mechanic for the Southern Star Company provided Nell also hired Tren. Lida is very personable, like her brother, but lacks his duplicitous nature. She also tends to act like she knows whats best for everyone in the company, especially her twin brother.

Bronnan Mieriton has the official title of Duke of Aredral, a duchy in Thassyl. He gained the title upon his father's death, along with a stranger inheritance: a thandi pact handed down to the firstborn son of the Duke of Aredral for seven generations. Bronnan wants nothing to do with the scheming of the Thassylian nobility, and left his home country to travel the world just after being named Duke. Since then, he has mostly squandered his money and his mystic talents with a purely hedonistic existence. His story would have ended in tragedy when he was cornered by Ferridi troops during the evacuation of Ederif, if not for the timely arrival of Nell Carten. Since then, he has felt a debt to Nell for his life, and was the first to sign on with her new venture company when she decided to found it. Quint, the ryn holding Bronnan's pact, loves travel and new experiences, reveling in them with a childish glee - apparently it was kept on a tight leash by Bronnan's predecessors, and Quint wants to make up for lost time. Bronnan tolerates Quint stoically, though their personalities clash, the ryn grants the wayward noble with the ability to sneak past others without detection and makes him deadly in a fistfight.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Here Comes Venture! OR: Diesel-Pulp Fantasy?!

Our first game, Venture! (or Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem, if you want to be formal about it), is currently undergoing editing, and we expect to have it completed in early 2016. We’ll be posting some previews here, as well as progress updates as we ramp up to Venture!’s release, but to start out with, let’s just dive into the big picture of what Venture! is.

We’ve described Venture! as a diesel-pulp fantasy role playing game. The “role playing game” in that description is pretty straightforward – this is a tabletop role playing game, where a group of players get together at the table to act out roles as characters and create a story together. But what about “diesel-pulp fantasy”, then?

AEthrem is a fictional, fantastic world that serves as the setting and backdrop for games of Venture! It draws from action-adventure pulp novels and comics, as well as film serials from the diesel era:
predominantly the 1920s-1930s. From its inception, AEthrem was conceived of as a place where
archaeologist-adventurers, mystical vigilantes, weird scientists, and ace pilots could get together and
thwart the plans of vile fascists, surly mobsters, sky pirates, and mad cultists. Of course, these exploits would involve occult relics, dangerous new inventions, mystery, and as much action as we could cram into the world.

That covers the setting in broad strokes, but what about the rules? We’re using the OpenD6 System as the basis for Venture!’s rules. This game system was originally developed by West End Games, most famously for their licensed film RPG adaptations. If you’re not familiar with it, OpenD6 is nothing to be intimidated by – it’s a quick-playing, easy-to-learn game system great for new and experienced gamers alike. We’ve modified the OpenD6 rules to optimize Venture! for rapid, thrilling gameplay (and just might have added a few things specific to the world of AEthrem along the way).

Right now, we’ve already completed writing for the Venture! core rulebook. Our crack editing team is hard at work reviewing the manuscript for its final revisions. After that, we just need to get things
presentable: that means layout and art.  While we’re waiting on all that, though, we’re going to be
sharing bits and pieces of the Venture! to come here.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.