I’ve recently discovered a game engine by Green Ronin (https://greenronin.com/) called the Adventure Game Engine, or AGE. It’s currently being used in several games, such as Dragon AGE (based on the video game series), Fantasy AGE (similar, but not tied to any specific video game), Modern AGE, Blue Rose, and The Expanse.
It’s a great system; it’s just crunchy enough for old school gamers like me, but it’s also smooth and works quickly and efficiently in just about any kind of scenario you could throw at it. It uses a d6 only mechanic; attributes are based on 3d6 (added together and compared to a table that gives you a result) and attribute (called abilities) checks or skill checks are based on a 3d6 roll compared to a target number based on difficulty.
What makes it unique is that one of the three dice you roll for checks must be a different color or different in some way. The result of that die can improve the level of success beyond just pass-or-fail, and may give you the ability to pull off “stunts”. Stunts are special abilities your character may have that can give you that little extra character-specific flavor.
Each of the different games they produce with this system are filled with their own in-depth treatment, and even though they are fairly compatible (with some minor tweaks) with each other, none of them seem generic or bland. The background setting of Blue Rose, which is labeled “Romantic Fantasy” is deep, involving, and really fleshed out, for example.
I especially love Modern AGE. The modern spy and espionage genre has always had a spot in my heart, ever since I played and GM’d Top Secret by TSR way back in the day. Modern AGE has the capability to be used for any contemporary setting including the near past back to about the old west or Civil War days, to the near future if you want to do a Cyber style of game.
About the only thing I’ve found about the AGE system that I’m not too enamored with is just the simple fact that a combat round is 15 seconds long. I know that sounds petty, and is such a minor point that I shouldn’t worry about it, but I believe that the game would have been better served with either a 6 or even better 3 second round. The 15 seconds work just fine in fantasy settings such as Dragon AGE and Fantasy AGE, but the inclusion of firearms in Modern AGE really ups the ante in how fast characters can attack and defend… at least in my opinion.
Regardless, the AGE system is truly worth a look at if you haven’t already. The Quickstart rules for Modern AGE are available for free at DrivethruRPG.com, and the PDF of the core ruleset is under $20, which is another good selling point.
Along with both Top Secret, Top Secret S/I, d20 Modern, N.O.W., and other gems of the genre, what I’m really hoping… Really Hoping, is that someday Green Ronin uses the AGE system for a Steam AGE, a steam-punk or Victorian AGE setting. It would also be a fantastic fourth version of Space:1889.
At the other end of the spectrum, Green Ronin’s “The Expanse” is an Adventure Game Engine system based on the show of the same name that covers the science-fiction genre really well. Even if you’re not interested in Sci-Fi, the solar system map on pages 140-141 is beautifully done, in a style I haven’t seen before but am now a great fan of.
Speaking of art, I can’t forget to mention the art in all of these games. Great, full-color art done by people who really love the genre, and are great for setting the scene and enhancing the flavor of each specific game.
I really hope you take a look at these, and better yet actually play these games. If you have, or if there’s anything you’d like to tell me about the, please leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading!