Monday 19 December 2022

Why you should check out Aconyte Books

Image: Aconyte/ Asmodee 

First off, this isn't a sponsored post or anything. I just like talking about things I enjoy, and one of those things is Aconyte Books. Let me tell you the ways.

Aconyte is the fiction (and recently non-fiction) publishing arm of Asmodee, announced back in the beforetimes of 2019 as a way of bringing novelisations of Asmodee's hit games to a wider audience. Helmed by publishing luminary Marc Gascoigne, Aconyte would launch its first slate of titles in 2020 including universes such as Arkham Horror, Keyforge, and Legend of the Five Rings, and Descent, quickly expanding to Marvel, Twilight Imperium, Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed after a deal with Ubisoft. 

I jumped on the bandwagon at launch, reading Wrath of N'kai by tie-in heavyweight Josh Reynolds. It was good, pulpy, cosmic horror fun, so I decided to grab a bunch more books and here I am two years later with somewhat of a crush on Aconyte. 

As an unabashed fan of game lore and tie-in fiction Aconyte's stable is, for me, a bit of a dream and I'm surprised just how many titles the publisher puts out in a year, typically with a slate of new books per season, often with brand new licenses. My absolute favourites so far have been Litany of Dreams by Ari Marmell (Arkham Horror), Cult of the Spider Queen by S A Sidor (Arkham Horror), The Necropolis Empire by Tim Pratt (Twilight Imperium), The Gates of Thelgrim by Robbie MacNiven (Descent), and Sword of the White Horse by Elsa Sjunneson (Assassin's Creed: Valhalla). It's also important to note that I'd only played a few of the games these were tied to, and in some cases only once, but these were strong enough to get me invested in their worlds. I'm not too proud to say that after reading White Horse I immediately bought Assassin's Creed Valhalla. Turns out it's my jam.

So why should you check out Aconyte?

Image: Aconyte/ Asmodee

1. The Variety 

Something Aconyte does is smartly subcategorise its brands. Having a full line of Marvel books could be overwhelming, but the publisher releases mini lines within licenses to keep things manageable. With Marvel that means having the Legends of Asgard series of you're into high fantasy, Heroines, School of X and more. You won't be hard up for a license that you like, too. So far Aconyte has as part of its stable:

- Arkham Horror

- Descent

- Marvel 

- Zombiecide 

- Splinter Cell 

- Keyforge 

- Legend of the Five Rings 

- Assassin's Creed 

- Watch Dogs 

- Terraforming Mars 

- Twilight Imperium 

- The Division 

2. The writing 

Tie-in fiction is a tough gig. Tight deadlines and having to keep within a given world can be limiting. But Aconyte has brought on a experienced group of authors putting out some of their best work. With Josh Reynolds not working for Black Library anymore it's a bit of a coup for the publisher in my opinion, and with stalwarts like C L Werner, Robbie MacNiven, S A Sidor, James Swallow and Anna Stephens, you can be confident of a good time. 

3. LGBTQA+ characters 

Many of the books in Aconyte's library contain queer protagonists or supporting characters. This is especially heartening in properties like Arkham Horror where Lovecraft's deep-seated loathing of anything 'other' ran through many of his stories. Sometimes queer characters are just left to be people, without forcing romance into the story just because, which is refreshing. 

Image: Aconyte/Asmodee

4. Beautiful covers 

Yeah yeah, I know the saying, but some of these covers are gorgeous, particularly the art deco of Coils of the Labyrinth or Litany of Dreams. I also really like the lovely triptych you can when you put the Twilight Imperium trilogy together. 

Image: BBC

5. Multiple formats 

Aconyte has more recently moved into audio formats, with audiobooks produced for some of its lines. They've even done a full cast audiodrama of some books like Wrath of N'kai. Speaking of, the BBC has just launched Splinter Cell Firewall as an audio drama over on BBC Sounds that I'm listening to as I write this post. Yeah, I'm a fanboy. 

Anyway, a bit of a tangent from my usual roleplaying stuff, but something I thought you, dear reader, might be interested in. If you're a fan of Aconyte let me know your favourite books in the comments. 

Wednesday 14 December 2022

The Lake Maidens of Camelot for Romance of the Perilous Land

 The Gwragedd Annwn (Ga-reth An-oon), also called Lake Maidens in the common tongue of the eleven kingdoms are radiant fairies who dwell in large lakes, emerging to ensnare mortals with their beauty. The Lady of the Lake Nimue herself is one of these creatures, though a friend to Arthur and Merlin. 

Lake Maidens dwell in great submerged fairy cities in apparently bottomless lakes. When called to the Wild Hunt, they ride their fairy hounds to aid Herne in dragging souls to Annwn. Some even bear children with mortals, giving birth to fey-touched whose skin glistens unnaturally in the sun and moonlight. 

Lake Maidens are able to take the form of adult humans as well as their diminutive fairy aspect. 

HD2 (12), HP 9, AP 2, Att Dagger (d6+2) and Lure, SP12, Spells: Conjure Water from Air, Dazzle with Glittering Lights x2, Change the Mundane into Treasure X2, Sense the Presence of Magic X2, Good Luck Charm. 

- Lure: As a ranged attack of 60ft, the lake maiden  entrances a target. They must succeed a Charisma save or use their next turn to move towards the creature, taking no other action.

- Waterborne: Swim speed of 50ft

- Unnatural sight: Can see in darkness as if in light.

Monday 5 December 2022

Krampus for BX and RoTPL

Merry Krampusnacht! Tonight's the night the Krampus comes to your houses and thrashes your children with sticks before dragging them to hell. He's my favourite.

Anyway, here he is for BX and then Romance of the Perilous Land.

Krampus, HD9, AC3, HP40, Att claw (1d6)/stick thrashing (2d6), MV 120' (40'), SV D8 W7 P11 B10 S11 AL Chaotic, XP2300

- Cleric Resistance: +4 to saving throws against spells cast by clerics.

- Fearful Aura: Anyone Lawful or Neutral coming within 10' of Krampus must save Vs spells. If they fail, they must flee for d6+4 rounds, with a 30% chance of dropping whatever they're carrying.

- Spell Immunity: Unaffected by sleep and charm spells.

Krampus, HD8 (18), AP8, HP32, Att claw/stick thrashing (d10+8/d10+8), SP18

- Unaffected by Cause the Alert to Slumber and Subdue the Wicked spells.

 - Fearful Aura: Anyone who ends their turn within 10' of the Krampus must make a Mind save or flee at full speed for 3 rounds. They have a 30% of dropping whatever they're holding.

- May cast Restrain as if with Invisible Rope. 

Sunday 4 December 2022

Fairy Markets

 It's never many people's desire to come across a fairy market. Some plains and valleys are known for driving people 'pixie-led', happening across a glimpse of the otherworld and the uncanny fear this experience brings with it. 

Wanderers often hear the sweet music of the fairies (or fair folk, including pixies) and feel bound to follow this beguiling melody. In Romance of the Perilous Land this would require a Mind save based on the level/HD of the fairy musician. In a BX game it would be a save versus spells. If they have the knowledge to turn their coat inside out then gain an edge on the roll (or in BX, +2). Turning out your pockets if you have no jacket works too. Using a pixie pole as a walking stick completely negates the need for a save. 

Failure results in the wanderer heading towards the music's source, through a cloud of rolling fog. Here they happen upon the fairy market. Smells, sights and sounds are heightened. Fairies, pixies, hobs and all manner of otherworldly beings browse stalls of weird materials, clothes, trinkets, garlands and food. Fairies, even the seelie ones, are stick tricksters and will rarely give a human a fair sell. Most of the time the object purchased will turn into a couple of snails webbed together. Unseelie fairies may sell the interloper something malevolent, like a cursed goblet that will never be filled or a necklace that attracts adders.