Things are heating up for Aether and Aethermancy. These past few weeks, we added a ton to both manuscripts. They’re on track for a Q1 2023 release.
Multiple sources of “magic” in Aethermancy
One of the difficulties of designing a magic system for Aether stemmed from Kevin’s experience with second edition Dungeons & Dragons’ introduction of psionics. Many players, himself included, felt that the system wasn’t very well incorporated into settings that had both psionics and magic. This was further confused by whether or not magic resistance also worked with psionics and whether or not psionic resistance also worked against magic. For campaigns that included both, things got a little dicey.
When he was designing Aethermancy, Kevin wanted a unified system that carried all those resistances together even if there were multiple different caster types present in the setting. Did you want to emulate your favorite laser sword swinging space wizard and share a setting with a chaos-wielding sorcerer? Did you want to have a fighter from an alien world who got stronger in ki abilities the more they fought and trained? What if that same character exists in a setting with extremely powerful magical items but where wizards are almost completely extinct?
The game master has much to do with building that setting and integrating everything. When the game system handles that integration inherently, though, it makes the game master’s job easier. It cuts down on rules confusion. We also are keeping in mind future Aether supplements and how they might make use of Aethermancy.
Progress on the Aethermancy book
Work has continued on the adventure included at the end, including making it a little bit more setting agnostic. You can still use it in Wellstone City, but it can also fit into your own world. The adventure is designed to introduce the practice of aethermancy into a world where it is rare or unheard of. The manuscript is more than half done.
Kevin expanded on some of the adventure seeds included in the book which use the setting generation system from the Aether core book. Those 30 adventure seeds have also been completed! We are closing in on all of the primary writing being done and preparing to torture our poor, unsuspecting editors with the impressive 120-plus pages of spells and the chapter on magical items and magic item creation.
Updates on the new edition of Aether
I wrote quite a bit for Aether’s new Non-Player Characters, Bestiary, and Vehicles chapters over the last three weeks. Two of those chapters are now complete.
The Non-Player Characters chapter
The Non-Player Characters chapter has archetypes listed for several types of NPC to make planning out adventures easy and quick. Rather than having to go through full character creation for each NPC like in the previous edition of Aether, now you can just pick one of the archetypes, maybe make a couple skill choices, set their skill levels based on the character’s narrative importance, and you’re done.
There are archetypes covering each of the three core genres (fantasy, modern, and science fiction). This will greatly reduce the amount of prep work Narrators need to do.
The Bestiary Chapter
The bestiary includes a few common animals, several common fantasy monsters, and a few creatures that fit in any genre. I reworked creatures’ stats too, so they’re even lower-maintenance than NPCs. They no longer get attributes, and have a simplified stat block that makes it easy to jot down. For example, here’s the work-in-progress entry for the hellhound:
SZ A, LP 5, AT 2/5/8, APT 2, MR 5/15/30, WP Bite 1d10-2 HD, DG 20
Skills: Natural Weapons 50, Perception 50
These enormous hounds are the size of ponies and built like Rottweilers. Their skin is cracked and black, and sometimes flames issue from the cracks. Their eye sockets are empty and instead of eyeballs have blazing orbs of sickly yellow light. Hellhounds are unharmed by any fire, non-magical or magical. They are invisible except to their prey.
The shorthand stats are Size, Life Points, Action Timing, Actions Per Turn, Movement Rate, Weapons, and Dodge, respectively. Then there’s a short list of their relevant skills, and a description that gives their appearance, behavior, and any special abilities. This new, concise format is designed to make Narrators’ lives easier and to make reading the bestiary more straightforward.
The bestiary is intentionally being kept a little shorter than it could be. We have a ton of ideas for creatures, but we want to save a few of them for planned supplements and adventures. There are plenty of creatures in the Aether core book to populate your adventures, though, so don’t worry about having too few options!
Also, we have contracted our first artist for the new edition of Aether. He’s working on a few pieces for the bestiary. We’ll reveal more about that in future updates.
The Vehicles Chapter
The vehicles chapter has the most work remaining out of anything in the new edition’s manuscript. I’m writing new rules for vehicle combat for the combat chapter. Once that’s in a state ready for play-testing, I’ll write up stats for several different types of vehicle.
There are four types of vehicular combat – ground, sea, air, and space – and so we’ll be testing and adding vehicles for each type. The vehicles appendix for the previous edition of Aether only addressed different types of modern ground vehicle and did not have vehicle combat rules, so there is a lot of groundwork to be laid. I’ll write more about vehicles in a future update.