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Saturday 4 March 2023

Quick-Start Saturday: Aegean

Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.

Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.


What is it?
Aegean Quick Start Rules is the quick-start for Aegeana roleplaying game about a group of mythic heroes building a new, free city on the shores of the Aegean Sea.

It includes a basic explanation of the setting, rules for actions and combat, the gods, the adventure, ‘The Nesaean Boar’, and five ready-to-play, Player Characters.

It is a one-hundred-and-one-page, black and white digest-sized book.

The quick-start is lightly illustrated, but tidily laid out. There are a lot of examples of the rules which speed the learning of the game.

How long will it take to play?
Aegean Quick Start Rules and its adventure, ‘The Nesaean Boar’, is designed to be played through in three to five sessions. Notes are included for the Game Master who wants to run it in a single session.

Who do you play?
The five Player Characters are all would be mythic heroes. They consist of a ranger and hunter, a famous athlete, a healer, an oracle, a merchant, and a wealthy soldier. All are available to download from the publisher’s website.

How is a Player Character defined?
A Player Character in Aegean has five characteristics—Might, Reflexes, Cool, Insight, and Cunning—and several broad skills, such as Lore, Melee, and Perform. All are rated between one and five, although specialisations increase the rating of skills by one. He has the attributes Resolve, Risk, Endurance, Standing, Wounds, Hubris, Glory, and Fate. He can also have Gifts and Talents, the first bestowed by the gods upon heroes of divine parentage, the second representing his greater expertise.

Resolve represents the gods’ favour and is spent to add to a story detail, gain a single success, or activate an item property. A Player Character does not begin play with Resolve, but can earn it when tens are rolled on the dice. It has to be used by the end of a session or the Player Character gains the disfavour of the gods and earns Hubris. Risk represents the danger he is in and can be gained through play involuntarily or voluntarily, the latter to add successes to a roll or to activate an item property. When Risk exceeds a Player Character’s Endurance, he gains a Wound. Gain enough Wounds and they can be spent as Scars in a fashion similar to Experience Points. Hubris is a Player Character’s Pride and if it exceeds his Glory, the gods’ disfavour is gained and he is Cursed. Fate can be a Player Character’s Goal, Belief, or Passion.

How do the mechanics work?
To have his player undertake an action, a player rolls a pool of ten-sided dice. This is equal to the value of the characteristic and the skill being used, plus any appropriate specialisation. Rolls of eight or more are counted as a Success. A Standard Difficulty does not require extra Successes for a Player Character to succeed, but harder tasks do, all the way up to a Difficulty Factor of five or Divine. Risk and Resolve can be spent to gain extra Successes. 
Rolls of ten can be used to gain an extra Success, a point of Resolve, remove a point of Risk, activate an item property, or give another Player Character a Success.

How does combat work?
Combat in Aegean is quite tactical taking into account terrain, range, and a variety of manoeuvres and actions. Actions include Defend, Disarm, Harm, and Taunt, whilst manoeuvres include Aim, Prepare, and Sacrifice Item. Initiative is interesting in that it can flow back and forth between the Player Characters and the NPCs. When the Player Characters have the initiative and continue to succeed in their combat rolls, the players can decide who acts next. If a roll is failed, the initiative passes to the Game Master and NPCs and if the Game Master fails a roll, it passes back to the players to decide who acts next. This continues until both Player Characters and NPCs have acted, but it can flow into the next round because whomever acts last in the round and succeeds gets to decide who acts first in the next.

How does magic work?
One of the pre-generated Player Characters does have the gift of Oracle, which grants him the ability to predict the future once per session. This is represented by an Insight (Lore) roll and this can be used to replace the results of a roll by another Player Character or NPC. If good roll, it can benefit the Player Character, if a bad, it can penalise an NPC.

What do you play?
Aegean is set in a mythic age which combines the periods of before the fall of Troy and the Greek dark age and Classical Greece when Sparta is at her military might and Athens a beacon of democracy. The given adventure, 
‘The Nesaean Boar’, begins in Vlokis, a coastal colony recently founded by Athens where the Player Characters live. They are asked to investigate an attack upon a farm belonging to Nesaea by a boar in which her family died. The adventure will take the Player Characters from Vlokis to Delphi to consult the oracle and discover a means of dealing with the creature, before locating said means and returning to confront the beast in its lair.

Is there anything missing?
Surprisingly not. 
Aegean Quick Start Rules also includes rules for item properties, downtime activities, and dealing with the gods, as well as advice for the Game Master in running the adventure. Further, there is scope for the Player Characters to gain Experience Points and their players to spend them to improve skills and purchase Talents. This enables a group to play further adventures, such as those in the Aegean Adventure anthology.

Is it easy to prepare?
The core rules presented in the 
Aegean Quick Start Rules are easy to prepare. The Game Master will need to pay closer attention to how the Resolve, Risk, and Hubris rules work as well as how to to handle interaction with, and portrayal of, the gods.

Is it worth it?
Yes. The 
Aegean Quick Start Rules present a concise, but detailed version of the rules that are tactical and engaging and encourage the players to roleplay through the need to balance their characters’ Risk, Resolve, and Hubris on the path to their characters becoming heroes. Although the Aegean Quick Start Rules are not free to download, they do offer scope for long term play, something that most other quick-starts do not. Whether or not a group decides to play beyond the given adventure, the Aegean Quick Start Rules are still a solid introduction to the rules and roleplaying in Mythic Greece.

Where can you get it?
The Aegean Quick Start Rules are available to download here. 

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