Refugees of Aldermark -- Band of Blades Reskin

First, I love this game so much. I have limited experience with tabletop RPG but I would say this is my favorite one so far. I really love the narrative nature of the mission phase (and not being all about the numbers) but also campaign phase (which is all about the numbers). The last time I played it I was the QM since I love my resource management and cooperative games.

But I also have a lot of feelings about the military/militarism in general. So I have been reskinning some aspect of the game to make it less of a legion/army to a Band of Refugees fleeing. Everything is pretty much the same but I did add, removed and changed some elements. If you have thoughts or ideas, let me know. I am not quite finished on reskinning everything and there might be some balancing issues here and there.

Aldermark Refugees
The events parallels the timeline of BoB but instead of being a Legion that has a “grand” past, we are a bunch of Aldermark Refugees trying to escape the horrors of war, blight and plague. The band of refugees are from Karlsburg, and does have some semblance of leadership led by the nobles, elected officials and/or community elders. They are still devoted to their Pantheon, the one of the Twin gods, Gerholtz or Mattiar. Our goal is to simply run away as the army of the undead come closer. There are areas in Aldermark that still holds that can provide some respite; the mountains to the north, Talgon Forest to the northeast, the walled cities by the lake. We have to find sanctuary.

Picking a Chosen
I have reskinned the Chosen to just “Pantheons.” This is because their Chosen doesnt travel with the Band of Refugees. They still gain Chosen Advancements and I have made new advancements. Since one of the twins gods are Broken (but not determined in the book), you can choose to follow a Broken God. If you follow the Broken God, you unlock a special ability but that action is also corrupting. This does not mean you are inherently evil/bad, only that some of your actions can be corrupting and other communities in Aldermark may view you differently, some even with disdain. There are two chosen I have created/reskinned.

Gerholtz: Favor: Wild, Perseverance, Glory
Gerholtz have a lot of advancements that improves specialists and other personnel. Gerholtz followers are somewhat more aggressive and prefer to address things head on, to thrust forward and pierce through the enemy.

  • Gerholtz’s Companions: All specialists can have a trained and bonded animal companion. They are threat 1 NPC, can be used to absorb damage, add +1d to relevant actions; falcon can survey, horse can maneuver, crow can sway enemy. Rolling with your companion is not a group action. Specialists cannot easily replace their companions.

  • Primal Mastery: Your band of refugees are adept with bow and spears. Boar Spears have increased potency when defending against enemies with higher scale. Bows and Arrows have the same potency as muskets and guns but quieter.

  • Wild Instinct: Hunters (Sniper) can now be used as a required specialist on any mission. If there is a Forest Dweller or a Plains Folk (Heritages) Specialist on missions with the Wild favor; add +1d to engagement rolls.

  • Trapper’s Bounty: When you perform a “Religious Service" (Liberty), you may spend 1 food to boost the action.

  • Slayer of Great Beasts: Everyone add the xp trigger: If you kill or help kill an enemy higher threat than you, gain 1 xp

  • The Hunting Grounds: The Steward (Quartermaster) may select training campaign action. 2 Specialist gain 1 Shoot or Survey (Scout)

  • Blessed: Perseverance, Wild, Glory mission grants mission favor, also start with 1 mission favor filled.

  • The Broken Spear Thrusts: Acquired if your Chosen is Broken. When you advance, you may preform a tainted hunting ritual to reduce the level result by one (but Crits cannot be reduced and adds 6 ticks instead of 5 on the time clock.). Then roll 1d per Hunter (Sniper) for corruption. (1-3:3, 4/5:2 6:1 CRIT:0). This Corruption can be shared with any Hunter (Sniper) Specialist but cannot be resisted or further reduced.

Mattiar Favor: Holy, Glory, Persevere
Mattiar has advancements that benefit the Campaign Phase. Mattiar’s followers prefer to be defensive and deflect incoming enemies with their strong walls and shields.

  • Mason’s Walls: Our masons help reinforce fortifications. Once per location, if you do NOT advance, do not increase Pressure and you can also ignore the penalty of the third mission generated if it applies.

  • Tailor’s Dressings: Our Tailors help sew and dress minor wounds. During Campaign Actions, clear level 1 physical wounds for free

  • Tanner’s Alchemicals: Our Laborers can perform alchemy. If Laborer’s gain 8 ticks of corruption, they die.

  • Mattiar’s Blacksmiths: When you spend Blackshot, you can infuse Blackshot into melee weapons on the mission. Its is potent against the undead. Start with Blackshot.

  • Armorer’s Shields: Spend special armor to resist physical consequences, or when protecting someone.

  • Forged: The Steward (Quartermaster) may select training campaign action. 2 Specialist gains 1 Rig or Wreck.

  • Blessed: Perseverance, Holy, Glory Mission grants mission favor, also start with 1 mission favor filled.

  • The Broken Hammer Creates: Acquired if your Chosen is Broken. During your campaign action, your Mender (Medic) performs an occult crafting rite and works on existing long term projects FOR FREE. They roll the relevant action for effect(1-3:1, 4/5:2 6:3 CRIT:4), they also gain equivalent corruption. This corruption can be reduced through, resolve resist, if they have reliquary through the Pious Heritage trait or the sacrifice Laborers.

Changes in Heritage
Since Aldermark are somewhat xenophobic, I made changes with the Heritages since they will not have Bartans, Orites, Panyar or Zemyati in their group. So I reskinned and changed some of the Heritages. Not sure about the balancing but I mostly just moved the existing traits around.

Old Blood: They are Aldermani that may have family during or even before the Old Empire. They tend to be knowledgeable of old traditions, family lineages and history.

  • Noble: Boost on Campaign action
  • Connected: +1 Sway
  • Traditional: +1d resolve resist
  • Educated : +1 Study (Research)

Forest Dwellers: They are Aldermani that may have born or lived in Talgon Forest. Some of them have Panyar Marked traits and adapted to the dangers of the Forest.

  • Marked: +2d to resist corruption
  • Hunter: +1 shoot
  • Shrewd: +1 d to insight resist
  • Vengeful: Potency when harmed penalized

Plains Folks: They are the Aldermani that lived in the southern plains. Mostly nomadic, they are known for their equestrian skills, being warm when taming yet fierce amidst the charge.

  • Warm: +1 Consort
  • Traveller: fast and quiet in normal load
  • Stoic: +1d to prowess resist
  • Bold: +1d to resist on desperate actions

Kalsburg Native: They are Aldermani that lived in the Capital. Due to recent events, they have been a beacon of perseverance, of piousness, and of patriotism against all odds.

  • Artisan +1 rig
  • Survivor: can push for free to ignore wound penalty
  • Pious: always equip a reliquary
  • Loyal: +1d in group action

Changes on the Legion Roles
I made some a little bit of changes for the Legion Roles. Mostly renaming since some things doesnt make sense for a Band of Refugees.

Commander -> Mayor or Baron
Blackshot and religious supplies can now be used to reduce pressure (instead of just horses), depending on location and the broken “chasing” you. If you go though the long road, you will be using the Horses, if you go though the Talgon Forest, you will need religious supply as wards and black shot is used through the lakes since its more populated and more undead while travelling. This can also changed dependent on who is chasing you. If its Render, you need horses to just run away from their cavalry/knights, if its Breaker, you will need religious supplies to protect yourselves from hexes and curses, if its Blighter, you will need blackshot to protect yourself from the undead. This is just dependent on your GM. This allows alternate used for the other materials like blackshot and religious supplies. But this is completely dependent on the GM if they want to make the change.

Aside from that, the role of the Mayor is relatively the same. Some of the High Intel Questions will be changed.

Marshall -> Bailiff
Lots of reskins here. Instead of tracking Morale, they track Prosperity. Campaign actions depend on the prosperity of the Band of Refugees. The Bailiff “collects taxes” to allow campaign actions to be done. When people die or there is massive distrust, Prosperity is reduced and Campaign Action is reduced (same mechanics as Morale). One mechanic I added is: excess Prosperity (Morale) can be used to increase Trust of the Factions. See Faction mechanics below.

The 6 squads are also reskinned into Factions. Playable characters within the Factions DO NOT move factions unless compelled narratively. Moving factions will immediately create distrust and discord. All Factions have a Trust Clock (12 clock with 6 ticks filled). When their faction gets wiped out, moved, low prosperity, mistreated or neglected, their clock fills. If their clock fills, they will abandon the Band of Refugees. But you can also gain trust and you unfill the clocks. If you have a positive relationship with the factions, you gain their faction bonus. These are dependent on the GM if they want to add this new mechanics. The factions are:

  • High Ranking : Nobles or people that have influence within towns. Bonus: They prefer non-violent ways, +1d on negotiating, parleys, and haggling.
  • Military Ties: May have military ties whether having served or families in the army. Bonus: They know the casualties of war, +1d if their faction had suffered casualties in the mission.
  • Artisans of Mattiar: Follower’s of Crafting God Mattiar. Bonus: They are ingenious and crafty, +1d Rig or Wreck when approaching things in creative ways.
  • Caravansaries : Have ties with the Horse Lords of Sunstrider. Bonus: They are adept on travelling, +1d to Maneuver, or when on Horseback, increased potency
  • Hunters of Gerholtz: Followers of the God Hunter Gerholtz. Bonus: They are adept hunters and scouts, +1d on stealth, or ambushing targets.
  • Metropolitans: Folks that lived in large cities. Bonus: They are best when led and working together, +1d when led in a group action if you have a full group.

Changes in Specialist
I will post more reskins of the Specialist (and their Abilities) later. If you have abilities that you think may ne thematic, post them.

  • Guard (Heavy): Excel as a melee fighter. They could have been hired mercenary, townsguard, or a army deserter. They can Rally (Anchor) increasing their potency or other’s strengths.
  • Patrol (Scout): Excels in surveying the land. They could have been postriders, caravan traders, or the local highwayman. They can Scout (Scrounge) a safe passage or temporary Refuge.
  • Hunters (Sniper): Excels as a ranged shooter. They could have been poachers, trappers or sentries. They are can Aim and focus their shots into the enemy
  • Officials (Officers): They excel on leadership and inspiring the group. They could have been elected politicians, community leaders, and nobles. They can use their connections and Channels to acquire assets.
  • Menders (Medics): Excels in healing and repairs. They could be leeches, smiths or priests. The can Mend (Doctor) wounds as well an repair physical objects.
  • Townsfolk (Rookies): Refugees that are representing their faction
  • Burgher (Soldiers): Notable folks that have served their community. They have Persevered through Grit and hardship.

There are no major changes on the required specialist for missions, just the names.
Raid (Assault): Guard, Hunter, Mender
Scout (Recon): Hunter and Patrol
Religious: Official, Mender
Supply: Official, Guard, Patrol

Quartermaster -> Steward
Just reskinned the some of the actions:
Acquire Assets: No change

  • Liberty -> Religious Service: During Religious Service, stress is cleared and allows the collection of tithe to increase prosperity.
  • R&R -> Healing from Asrika: During Healing from Asrika, you pay followers of Asrika to help clear your wounds.
  • Long Term Project: No Change
  • Recruit: Narratively there is a change. You dont recruit soldiers, you hire and recruit faction representative that will do missions for your Group.

Loremaster -> Town Elder or High Priest
Pretty much the same role. They track the dead, and manages the in camp events and annals. Most prompts for the Annals cn be used for the History of Aldermark, though I will go through more in detail.

Spymaster ->
I have no clue what will be the reskin of the Spymaster. Im considering something like “Politicians” since they can be sly, they bribe, interrogate etc. Not sure though…

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This is awesome. I love the idea and am excited to see further development! I’m really liking the idea for the Factions. The idea for needing different supplies to reduce pressure is inspired: I would make this a core idea instead of having horses also be the general reduce pressure resource.

I do have a few questions, and some suggestions to take/leave at your will:

Chosen Advances

  • What does Blacksmiths mean “Start with Blackshot.”? Does this mean equipping it every mission? Do you equip blackshot on the first mission? Does it mean the Steward automatically has a supply of blackshot after the first mission?
  • What does Companions mean “can be used to absorb damage”? How do they absorb harm? If they do so, does it kill them, as it does with other NPCs? Also, giving a companion to all specialists seems too much. I would say either “three specialists gain” (keeping it in line with the Horned One’s similar ability), or “Hunter and Patrol specialists gain”.
  • Tailor’s Dressings seems much too powerful: taking it grants, essentially, a free R&R campaign action every campaign phase (esp. for a god that isn’t a deity of healing). I suggest tying it to the R&R campaign action as an additional healing tick for everyone, or making it do something else better aligned with the god of crafting (add an extra tick to one appropriate long-term project?).
  • If Forged and Hunting Grounds can not increase these actions past their normal limits, mention that, unless you intend this action to do so (in which case, mention that).
  • I would not have corruption from Broken Hammer be resistable. They are worshiping a Broken Chosen, after all, and calling on tainted powers, which should not be easily shrugged off. Also, is this an automatic action that a Mender must perform, or do they get to chose?
    ** In any case, I would remove sacrificing Laborers (which I’m reading as “human sacrifice”) for two reasons: while it’s an interesting concept, it’s extremely sketchy (it will likely make many players deeply uncomfortable), and it is of questionable value – why reduce automatic free ticks for random free ticks, but with corruption?

Suggestion that the refugees are not just from Karlsburg, but also from western Aldermark. I mention this as it makes less sense to have a “forest dweller” heritage if the refugees are city-dwellers (maybe leave mentions of Talgon out of the background, and have them from unnamed forests and fields off-map in the west). Might Mayor/Baron be better named Elder? And Town Elder/Priest just be Priest? (I suggest this as there’s a big focus on rituals and worship in this hack.)

Spymaster reskin…yeah, that’s a tough one. Caravaneer? (They have contacts and knowledge due to the wide mercantile network they used to run? They know who might know what, how to grease palms, and the lay of the land.)

Hopefully some of that is useful to you, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what else you do with it. Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for the support. I really was wracking my brains on alternative uses for the other supply items like blackshot and religious supplies. I also didnt like that on some mission that we had, we needed supply items that wasnt relevant like “assault missions on humans that dont need blackshots that a horse would have been more useful” missions. Im just planning on doing houserules on require materiels for the future.

I also like your suggestion to make them the Refugees from the Western Aldermark. The original thought on this one is the inevitable need for uniting leadership and by binding them as Kalsburg refugees, they will have a semblance of cohesion. The Baron/Mayor actually used to be Elder but changed it since I didnt know the Aldermani government structure and political systems and I didnt feel if the Town Elder have enough political clout. But that is for the GM and the players to decide anyways, not me. Your suggestions on Caravaneer as a spymaster, I like it!

I definitely need some balancing on the Chosen abilities. Here are some answers for your questions:

  • Blacksmith: You start with one supply of blackshot.
  • Companions: You can order your companion to protect you to absorb damage though they are very squishy, they can die and not easily replaced. The reason why I chose all specialist gain a companion is that most sessions, you will be playing 2-3 specialists. This mean you can really only bring 2-3 pets along with you. I also like the idea that other specialists can have pets, like a Guard with a war horse, or a Mender with a support dog, or a Official that has a parrot. I am intrigue on how the maths and statistics pan out though if this is too powerful.
  • Tailor’s Dressing: I agree with you on this one. Maybe removing that skill altogether. Originally it was the same skills as Shreya’s ability: Asrika’s Mercy but changed it later on. I thought maybe being able to remove only physical level 1 wounds and unable to clear level 2 or 3 harm would be enough of a balance but it is just a free R&R.
  • Forged and Hunting Ground: Abilities cannot pass thier limit.
  • Broken Hammer: Good point on this one. The Steward (QM) ultimately chooses to use the mender but narratively, they can refuse. I was actually going back and forth on the penalties for this action. Maybe just rolling for corruption like hoe alchemist gain corruption is the best way and have it un resistible.

The next things I will be working on is the Elder/Priest (Loremaster), Caravaneer (Spy Master), the Townsfolk (Rookie) and Burgher (Soldier) sheets.

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One other thought that occurred to me: “prosperity” strikes me as an odd choice to measure the morale of refugees fleeing from a war of extermination. I suggest “hope” might be a better parallel to morale?

It speaks more strongly to the refugee experience and the emotional state and cohesion of a refugee group. (To me “prosperity” calls to mind the (positive) economic state of a community or nation, rather than the needs or concerns of people fleeing to safety.)

There is actually a reason why I used “properity” rather than morale and hope. I wanted the campaign actions to be limited by tangible things like the amount of money the group rather than morale. If you dont have the resources, the group cannot afford to do certain things rather than being limited by low morale. Maybe changing it to “Fortune” cause that has many meaning: as resources, providence, or simply luck.

To me, that feels like stepping on the QM’s toes? In that not having the stuff (money, blankets, food, other general things, etc.) to keep going is covered by Supply. Unless I’m misunderstanding, it seems you’re merging Supply and Morale? (You’ll be rewriting a number of inter-linked systems; off the top of my head: the design of the LM’s story-telling, the QM’s role, and mission rewards and mission types. Should be interesting to see how!)

One concern: this causes a resource death spiral that might be better to avoid (ie: spending Prosperity just to act when you have low Prosperity forces Prosperity even lower, which could cause the band to break up very quickly). It also feels like this would cripple the QM player. And force a focus almost exclusively on missions with Prosperity benefits (at the expense of other resources)? I’m not sure if that’s intended, but definitely something to playtest.

The way it make sense in my brain is that “Prosperity” is the cumulative wealth of the entire group, including the people, like camp followers, refugees, etc that are also within your group. Every campaign phase, The Bailiff (Marshal) narratively collects donations/taxes from the group to pay for Campaign Actions. The Steward (QM) is in charge of allocating and spending those to Recuit, Heal, etc… The Supply the Steward manages are physical things they have stored, like food, blankets, and money. I think the reason why I made the change is that I feel weird that on LOW morale, I cannot do anything at all. I feel like when I am beat down it fires me up to do something. So if Campaign Actions is reliant on the ability for the group to afford the action, then they literally cannot do anything at all if they are broke. Low prosperity CAN still mean low morale but not always the other way around. I do not think that people will exclusively choose Prosperity missions since mechanically they are still the same. The group will still need Supply, Assets, Intel, etc. On Assault Missions, when players gain Prosperity as a reward, its not that you gain physical money, instead you are improving the general state of the group (that includes morale) which in turn make people donate more to your cause.

But I may also just making things more complicated than it has to be. So maybe just shifting to HOPE may be a better route too.

Caranveer (Spy Master)

Simple Trades (Simple Actions)

  • Rerouting: Our Trader reroutes and recuperates. Remove their wounded condition.
  • Rumors. Ask the Mayor/Baron (Commander) for the intel questions list. Your trader is sent on a mission and can answer one question from any list (regardless of the Commander’s intel total) whenever missions are presented by the GM
  • Bargain: Trader bribe or pay as needed. Add +1d to an acquire assets roll.
  • Temporary Hires. Trader hires local help. Add +1d to a long-term project roll.

Long Term Transactions: I removed the Lay Trap

  • Augment Missions: Use contacts to bolster the mission selection. Complete: Next GM mission generation, tell them to add +1 to the rewards and mission penalty rolls on one mission of the Mayor/Baron’s focus type. That type must appear once.

  • Expand network: Take the time to build contacts, informants, and local resources in the area, and expand and hone your traders’ effectiveness. Complete: Choose a new trade network advancement connected to any piece of the network you have.

  • Recruit: The Roads are dangerous. Sometimes you have to establish more. Complete: If you’ve lost a trader, add one to the roster. You can only have 2 traders at a time, or 3 if you have Establish More Routes in your Trade network.

  • Research: Traders acquire rumors and news at an area for high-reward missions. Complete: Learn all the special missions in a location, and the Commander may pick one to do. If you move past the location, reset the clock.

Trade Network (Spy Network) : Practically the same, only changes on the names of some things like Acquisition -> Establish new Route, Field Assessment -> Rumor Mill, etc.

Traders: I havent decided on some of the trader’s names but most of them will be changed.

  • Sunstrider Trader: A Nomad Caravanseer from the Sunstrider Camp. Specialty: Immediately starts as a master trader.
  • Noble Trader: A noble with connections all over Aldermark. Speciality: + 1 segment on expand network assignments rolls
  • Silver Running Wind: An orphan Aldermani Forest Dweller born of Panyar parents. Specialty: Does not wound on any mission.
  • Back Alley Dealer: They have ears everywhere. They specialized on acquiring rumors from all over Aldermark. Speciality: Whenever acquire Rumors you may ask 1 additional intel question.
  • Old Blood Trader: An old scholar turned trader. Their expertise is on trading antiquities and old histories. Specialty: +1d on research assignments.
  • Karlsburg Trader: Clever and resourceful. They are the expert on maximizing profits even from the smallest of trades. Specialty: +1d on augument mission assignments.

Playbook: Townsfolk or Refugee

Special Abilities:

  • Tough as Nails: You gain +1d to all resistance rolls. This ability cannot be taken as a Veteran Advance
  • Mixed Heritage: You can pick 2 other Heritage traits from another Heritage. If taken as a Veteran advance, it must be the first ability selected at character creation.
  • What doesnt kill you: Mark 2xp in any category at the end of any mission where you took level 2 harm or higher. This cannot be taken as a Veteran advance.
  • Just a kid: When someone protects you from incoming harm, they mark xp. When you promote, choose a second ability from your new playbook to replace this one OR you may keep this ability if you take the Patriot ability on the new playbook. This ability cannot be taken as a veteran advance.
  • Been through worse: You can take 1 additional trauma before dying. When you promote replace this with a level of Survivor or Hardened. This ability cannot be taken as a Veteran advance.
  • Home cooking: If a mission takes multiple days, use Fresh food. Say what you cooked. Everyone that partakes clears 1 stress. This ability cannot be taken as a Veteran Advanace. You always have Fresh food.
  • Jack of all Trades: Increase 2 zero ranked skills to rank 1. This ability cannot be taken as a Veteran Advance.
  • Hired. You are hired and considered Burgher. Gain 1 special ability and 1 Grit. You must take this as your first playbook advance. This ability cannot be taken as a Veteran Advance or a starting ability. You may retain any Advancement you have acquired so far.

Load Changes:

Family Weapons are carried on light loads along with Muskets. On Normal Load, they are given standard issued weapons like spears, swords, hammers or axes.

Playbook: Burgher Burghers now has a lot of support actions since they are not trained soldiers. Most of their special abilities are “Jobs”.

Special Abilities:

  • Patriot: You retain your naive hope. Mark 1xp in any category at the end of any mission if you use your naive hope or memento from home. If taken as a Veteran advance, it must be the first ability selected at character creation.
  • Trailblazer: When you advance (charging or in stealth) into the teeth of the enemy that outnumber or outguns you, clear 1 stress and gain +1d to manuever.
  • Acolyte: At the end of a mission, you can use your leftover reliquary uses to reduce another person’s stress, with a max of -2 stress.
  • Hired Hand: When selecting load, you may select 4 utilities instead of 2
  • Groom: If the Steward (QM) has Horses use available, all members of your squad start the mission with mounts. You gain +1d to Manuever while Mounted. If the horses are lost, mark a use of horse supply.
  • Bulldozer: You have experience demolishing buildings and can bring explosive charges (2-load) as part of your normal load.
  • Trapper: You are adept on making and springing traps. If you use traps or snares as a Set Up action for another player, they gain improved position AND improved effect.
  • Specialist Training: You promote to a specialist. Make a new play book. Mark 1 special ability and a rank of starting action. You MAY retain all your abilities (Not limited by your veteran abilities)

No load changes.

The next thing Ill be working on are the Patrol (Scout), Hunter (Sniper) and Guard (Heavy).
Sidenote, I exchanged Mattiar’s Tailor’s Dressing with Worker’s Unions: Our laborers are more organized. Bringing laborers and alchemist on missions no longer have penalties. You may also convert uses of laborers into a boosted Recruit action (2 Burgher and 3 Refugees).

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