Review: Frozen Skies

#1
OK, now I’m off the reservation. I got the TAG at Ten bundle when it appeared on RPGNow, which you’ll see reviewed in pieces over the coming months – $30 for $165 of games was enough to tip me over the edge. Let’s call it my holiday reading for the summer, shall we?

And while I was there I noticed Frozen Skies, which I’ve been watching for a while, for $5. So let’s look at that next.

In a nutshell: This is a dieselpunk fantasy setting for Savage Worlds, with lots of aeroplanes. It’s a 131 page PDF by Stephen Hughes, published by Utherwald Press.

The Setting


I usually try to sum up new settings as something like “it’s Firefly meets Star Wars”, but every time I thought I had a handle on Frozen Skies, it added something else into the mix, until it became difficult to categorise that way. About the only thing it doesn’t have is zombies, which is unusual for a Savage Worlds setting.

You can look at Frozen Skies as a parallel universe version of the 1920s; the technology, politics, and great powers evoke the feel of that decade, except for the Weird Science devices powered by glimmer rock.

You can look at it as Crimson Skies meets Ice Pilots. The campaign is chiefly set in Alyeska, which is part Alaska, part 1920s Canada, and part H P Lovecraft Antarctica; it’s what D&D would call a points of light setting, in that there are isolated settlements chiefly connected by bush pilots, demobilised from a world war that finished ten years ago, facing sky pirates, giant birds, other hostile life-forms, and lightning storms to deliver vital supplies.

You can look at it as the British Empire vs the White Walkers, as mysterious creatures called wulvers encroach on human territory and are held at bay by a big wall manned by military units who also undertake long-range reconnaissance patrols into the icy wilderness.

You can look at it as a 1920s pulp version of Avatar, as prospectors in search of unobtainium – err, sorry, glimmer rock – and ancient artifacts clash with natives who have tails, pointed ears, and use giant birds as mounts.

You can look at it as another world to slot into your Last Parsec campaign, as said artifacts were left behind by a people called the Ancient Terrans, who vanished thousands of years ago, leaving only their tools and buildings behind.

It can be all of those things. There’s a lot for PCs to do here.

The Rules


The book assumes you have Savage Worlds Deluxe, to which it adds a couple of new races, a handful of new hindrances and a dozen or so new edges. The biggest additions focus on aircraft; there are example aircraft and airships, rules for creating custom aircraft, and revised rules for air-to-air combat.

Available races are humans, windryders (the aforementioned bird-riding nomads), and genchi (descendants of windryders enslaved by the Ancient Terrans). The only available arcane background is Weird Science, which as in Deadlands relies heavily on a mysterious mineral, in this case glimmer rock.

The Other Stuff


There’s the usual gear chapter (heavy on aeroplanes), a bestiary, a group of stock NPCs and a few named and detailed characters who look like a group of experienced PCs plus their contacts, and a selection of six adventures ranging from a half-page seed to a four-pager in four acts, as well as an adventure generator.

Conclusion


This would make a fine anime series, I think. It’s a lot of game for five bucks and I’m pleased with it; I’m inspired by the setting, and it’s definitely something I’d like to run soon, which realistically means sometime in late 2019.

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Guvnor

The Guvnor
Staff member
#2
I think I also just got this in the charity bundle. I am devouring Last Parsec at a fast lick right now, and I may just plough right into all of the Savage PDFs I have thereafter.
It sounds intriguing.
 
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