Cepheus Journal #005 Now Available

Whilst pulling together my notes for an article I wanted to submit for the next issue of the Cepheus Journal, number 005 has arrived today! A very pleasant surprise to see this announced over on MeWe, just in time for the bank holiday.

In this issue we have a wide variety of articles stretching across fantasy, science-fiction and modern settings. Subjects featured include: fighting the undead, world building looks at hostile planets, sizes and a look at the system Epsilon Indi. British Cold War tanks are discussed covering the modern era and there are plenty more articles to read across the issues 44 pages.

You can pick up a PDF copy direct from the website here: Cepheus Journal #005 download.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get my article finished for submission for issue #006!

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The Great Roc Race Review

The Great Roc Race is a new release from Grand Scheme Publishing, following the success of the King of Dungeons RPG Kickstarter back in July 2019. The book contains 31 pages and is available as a PDF from DTRPG for $5.00.

The scenario was originally developed from a game used on the UK convention circuit and Baz Stevens snapped up the chance to publish it. The Guild (players) are contracted to take part in the annual Great Race around Cataclysm, located in the Dunmarren Archipelago. The race involves the players riding a Giant Roc around three circuits of the city, hopefully avoiding obstacles and not getting killed. Players should be warned: there are usually a number of casualties.

The book is split to three main parts; obtaining and training your mount, meeting the opposition and riding it in the race – hopefully to victory. First off, the players will have to track down a suitable creature to ride, though some help is provided. This is fraught with danger and risk that the players may end up with an old nag of a Roc, rather than a super-duper Volcanic Firetail. If the Roc bonds with a player, this will prove to be very advantageous later in the race.

Part two looks at the players opponents who include the undead, the Drow and some royalty; an eclectic mix indeed! Useful stats along with general and secret information is provided on each page. The third part describes how to run the race around Cataclysm; as previously mentioned the circuit involves three laps of the city, split into six steps. I must admit it took me a couple of read-throughs of the instructions how to run the race (described on page 24) but on the second attempt it made complete sense. The players will have to avoid obstacles at two of the six steps; in addition the players can perform other actions such as a ranged attack or try hand-to-hand attacks (mount another teams creature and overcome them). The players then advance a step which of course, is dependant on the result (eg. sky / ground / sky / ground / sky / ground / screaming / death). For each step, there are a set of instructions along with tables (‘the mechanics’) to roll a result and the players will have to deal with the resulting situation.

If the players lose, they will have to answer to their employer and deal with whoever wins. However this may not necessarily be a bad thing, the winner may (may being the operative word here) be impressed with the players and offer them an opportunity that they can’t refuse…

It was a very pleasant surprise to receive a copy of The Great Roc Race as a Kickstarter backer and Neil Gow’s authorship with Baz Steven’s development support made for a very enjoyable read. The premise is fairly straightforward (capture a mount, ride it and win the race) but the easy-going writing style, along with the featured non-player characters bring the scenario to life. Though there aren’t pages and pages of descriptive text setting the situation, you do immediately get a ‘sense’ of the atmosphere and what it is like to walk the streets in Cataclysm, dealing with the characters in the scenario. There are a number of black and white line art illustrations which provide an idea of what some of the NPC’s look like, along with some random scenes of Cataclysm. The text is clear and well laid out with some colour highlights in the table headings and character inserts. However, I did notice one or two letters ending up overlapping due to the font used on the above and below lines. A minor thing – just made my OCD twitch slightly.

This was an enjoyable scenario to read and certainly looks like good fun to run over an evening or so’s play. If you run KoD games, this is definitely well worth checking out – a recommended purchase. Thanks go to Baz Stevens for sending a copy through the Kickstarter fulfillment.

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Alegis Downport 10th Birthday and Quantum Sorcery

First off, an apology in that this is going to be a bit of a self-indulgent blog post. When I started writing this blog 10 years ago, it was to sort of chronicle a resurgent interest in GDW’s Classic Traveller, which I had been kicking around for a few years. Having decided to do something about it, little did I realise where this adventure would take me. I have made friends around the world who share a similar interest and their own journeys in gaming. Some of these have gone on to set up publishing companies, fulfilling their own aims.

From writing short reviews and features, I’ve now reviewed what must be more than a hundred books and products from a number of publishers. In addition there have been some nostalgic looks back and system conversions. Its also motivated me to invest in tracking down some difficult to find products, having first read about them nearly forty years ago.

I don’t get nearly as much time as I would like to write articles and reviews but because it’s something I enjoy, I do what I can. It provides a much needed ’escape’ from real life and creative outlet which I don’t get otherwise, needed all the more since COVID-19. To all those people (many who I consider friends) I would like to say ’thank you’ for all the books and PDFs you have sent me over the years. This blog would be much diminished without your support.

If I was to pick a couple of ‘best moments’ from the past ten years, I would have to say it was being asked by John Watts of Independence Games (as was Gypsy Knights Games) back in 2012 to produce some artwork for their new setting. The first part of this became the cover for the ‘Clement Sector’ core setting book, the second became the initial designs and images of the ‘Rucker-class Merchant Starship’. The Rucker is now seen in many Independence Games products, thanks to the hugely talented Ian Stead. I have also been able to get other artwork published, along with contributing to the development of a number of publications by different publishers, which has fulfilled some personal aims.

Though I don’t get much opportunity to do artwork as I used to do, as I mentioned before much of my creative output is now in writing and I have been working on a little project which has finally come to fruition. Today marks the launch of ‘Quantum Sorcery’, released through Stellagama Publishing. Quantum Sorcery is the Fantasy RPG equivalent of the SF RPG one-sheet RPG rules ‘Cepheus Quantum’ also published by Stellagama. I’ve been kicking around ideas for a quick-start set of rules for a fantasy version of the Classic Traveller books for a number of years and when the Sword of Cepheus was released back in February 2020, I saw an opportunity to use them as the basis for some one-sheet RPG rules. Late last / early this year I got in touch with Stellagama’s Omer Golan-Joel to see if he would be interested in my draft and would want to release it under the Stellagama name. Omer said yes – so over the following weeks with some useful feedback, I refined the rules into a working set of rules. I’d managed to get the rules into two sheets (four sides) but for the final copy Omer has worked his editing magic and condensed the rules into a single sheet of paper, double-sided. The first side details how to create a character, equipment, combat. The second side provides a magic system, a treasure generator and a collection of nasties for a referee to throw at a party in their adventure. The game is designed as something you can quickly pick up and play in an evening, with the emphasis on fun and adventure. Therefore, depending on your needs, you have within Cepheus Engine from Stellagama three sets of rules for playing fantasy adventures, depending on how complex or quickly you want to get started. Quantum Sorcery is there for quick start single evenings play, Barbaric! for slightly more in-depth games along the same lines as the ‘Conan’ films of ‘high adventure’. Finally, for longer games or campaigns with more detail (but a still easy to use system), you have The Sword of Cepheus.

I hope its something that you’ll enjoy using and I would like to thank Omer Golan-Joel listening to my ideas and for getting my draft into the final ‘production’ copy that you can now download for free, from Drivethru RPG. If you have any feedback, please let me know via the comments section below. Both A4 and US Letter formats are available in the download.

So what now for the blog? At the moment, I don’t envisage much change. I’ve still got plenty of material for reviews, a few Laserburn scenario’s and a feature to write and some other stuff I want to put together. I would like to continue the publishing side of things, so we’ll have to see where that takes me.

In the meantime, *thank you* to all of the approx 26,000 visitors who have provided over 68,000 page views over the past ten years – I hope you have enjoyed my musings on Classic Traveller and Cepheus Engine, here’s to many more!

Posted in Cepheus Engine, Clement Sector, Independence Games, Stellagama Publishing, Sword of Cepheus | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments