Liralei Okidas (A Gnolf Vagabond), Illustration by Hans Zenjuga
Just a quick update on Astraterra’s English translation. The Finnish 2nd edition will be out soon. This means that the translation can continue and during the fall we’ll start working on this (given that the translator(s) do not have any obstacles).
So, things are finally moving forward. As soon as I get the most urgent Finnish publications done, I’ll start blogging here again more often.
Lately Indiegogo (the only viable crowdfunding platform available in Finland) notified that the project creators must have all their previous projects delivered before setting up a new campaign. It happens to be so that I have the Finnish 2nd edition of Astraterra still in progress and therefore cannot start the Indiegogo campaign for Astraterra’s English edition just yet. I’m trying to get the Finnish 2nd ed released as soon as possible, so we can move forward with the English edition. Sorry about the delay yet again. It’s coming out this year. I promise! 😀
Astraterra has been very popular since its release in Finland in the summer 2014. We sold out the whole first printing in 9 months and there has not been another printing since. This means that the books have been out of stock for a year and a half already. I’m constantly getting inquiries of the new printing and its schedule, but I have not felt ready for a new printing just yet. There has just been too many open questions and over-lapping projects happening. But after the latest Ropecon, I had to reconsider. There were so many people asking for Astraterra.
As I told you in the previous The Story of Astraterra post, the world of Astraterra consists of shards of a broken ringworld connected together by a vast blue sky and the ancient fargates. This time I’m going to tell a bit more about those islands and the different cultures inhabiting the islands.
I have not written too many blog posts in English (yet), but as we are getting the English translation (by a professional translator) finally done and the Indiegogo launch is getting closer, I’ve decided to post a few articles about Astraterra. Yes. I know, we were supposed to release the game during the summer already, but unfortunately we were not ready for that and we did not want to rush the game out.
But, back to the topic at hand.
As I cannot really rewrite the dev blog I did for the Finnish edition of Astraterra, and there is no point in translating them either, I decided to start a series of articles telling the story behind Astraterra. But, before moving to the actual topic of this first article in the series, a few words about Astraterra RPG.
So, what is Astraterra?
Astraterra is a tabletop role-playing game of wondrous adventures for all ages. The game is set in an amazing fantasy world with steampunk and science fiction elements.
This pretty much summarizes what Astraterra is about and you can find more about the setting and the game mechanics on this website, but at first I would like to tell you the story behind Astraterra and later I will tell you a bit more about how we shaped Astraterra to its current form.
When we started playing the first prototype of Astraterra with my three oldest kids in 2013, the idea of the setting had been there for awhile already. Some time in 2007 or 2008 I came up with an idea about a world where a ringworld had been shattered into pieces and there would be solar sail ship’s traversing the void between the shards of the broken ringworld. At that time the game was supposed to be more serious with an anime flair, but that idea did not quite fly.
After a few years, in 2013 I got an inspiration that the setting could be used as a base for a children’s RPG and I wrote a short, simplified version of the original concept. My oldest son (11 at that time) read the concept and he liked it. That was when I decided to make a quick prototype of the game.
I wanted to give us (me and kids) a framework for the setting (a broken ringworld, ships, islands and continents flying in an infinite sky), but otherwise I gave the kids pretty much free hands to decide what their characters were, what equipment they had and so on. Basically the kids set the tone and style of Astraterra at that point. After that we just built on that and a bit by bit the pieces started to come together.
The most important piece, however, was the moment when I understood that Astraterra is not just for kids. It started as a children’s RPG and it is developed together with my kids, but when we started playtesting Astraterra with my friends and with a small beta playtester group, it quickly became apparent that Astraterra had a quality that interested players of all ages. After realizing this I stopped referring Astraterra as a kids’ RPG. It’s not just that, its an adventure RPG for all ages.
We had already established that the player characters were explorers, who explored the remote islands and strange alien and ancient ruins found on those. In the beginning the players were a crew on an exploratory solar sail ship, but handling all the other crew, traveling and such matters felt too much for the youngest in the group (the youngest player was 5 back then) and we needed to streamline it a bit how the players got into an adventure – and we were missing a clear motive for it too. That’s when we came up with the fargates.
The fargates are the remnants of an ancient teleport network built by the Ancestors, who also built the ringworld of Astraterra. Usually the Fargates comprise of two black pillars resembling some kind of stone-like material. The pillars have weird symbols engraved on them and when they are activated the symbols start to glow faintly. If a person walks near a fargate glowing holo-runes appear in the air in front of the pillars. If the runes are pressed in correct order a teleportal opens up. A teleportal is a bright glowing disc floating between the pillars. Arcs of light, very much like the electrical discharges from a tesla coil, connect the teleportal to the pillars. Most fargates can produce a teleportal that fits a grown person and maybe a small beast of burden like a mule, a pony or a goro-lizard (the typical substitute for a horse all around Astraterra), and the portal stays open only for a short period of time, before it shuts down and must recharge for 4 to 24 hours.
The Gate Guild and the Teleport Explorers’ Society
The fargates were dead for thousands of years, but roughly a decade or two ago they have activated again and no one really knows how or why. Soon after the re-activation of the fargates, the Gate Guild was formed. And soon after that the Teleport Explorers’ Society. The Gate Guild handles the technical side of figuring out new gate codes and the maintenance of the gates, while the Teleport Explorers’ Society provides enough courageous (or greedy) explorers for the teleport expeditions. Both of the organizations are independent and do not take sides in the politics of Astraterra. All of the great empires of Astraterra (the Kingdom of Escalon, the Malorian Empire and the Arkadian Dynasties) have contracts with the both of the organizations. Although all empires of course have their own teleport exploration efforts also, but the Gate Guild seems to have an uncanny understanding of how the fargates operate.
Now that the ringworld was broken, the network is all messed up and no one really knows where each of the gates lead. The Gate Guild hires teleport explorers to investigate what’s on the other side of the gate and to activate the power source at the destination (The “hibernating” gates can be reached only through a gate with a working power source. If the central pillar is not brought back online, the network cannot be expanded any further). The deal is usually simple: The right to use the gate belongs to the Gate Guild and the explorers can keep all the treasure they can carry home from their expedition.
The fargates proved to be a perfect solution for our problem. It provided us with a fast means of getting straight to the adventure and a clear goal and motivation for the players. Of course the characters could have other goals and motives than just the treasure, but that is another matter.
You can now download the first chapter of the Astraterra rulebook as a free preview from HERE. The translation is done by Jukka Särkijärvi and more is in the works.
I hope this short preview gives an impression of what kind of game Astraterra is. In the full rulebook there will be of course much more content from equipment and creatures to gamemaster advice and in addition to these today we decided that some new material will be added for the English edition. We will expand the setting and a few rules based on the feedback we got from the Finnish players through a web survey we did recently.
We, or to be more precise Jukka Särkijärvi, has now finished translating the first chapter of Astraterra. We are still juggling around a few words and I need to do the layout, but as soon as those are done, I’ll link the first chapter here as a free preview for you all.
About the Translation
As we started discussing about the English translation with Jukka last fall, we quickly noticed that this is not going to be a cake-walk. Many of the creatures’ names and terminology in the game are word plays or have otherwise funny connotations or double-meanings in Finnish. This playful use of words sets a certain creative mood which is characteristic to Astraterra.
Regardless of the playing with Finnish words, I think we have found pretty good translations for some words already and Jukka has done really good job in finding good English counter-parts even for some more obscure Finnish words. And if there are some words we just can’t translate properly (my guess is there will be some), I’m pretty sure we can find a lot of English words to play with and convey the same light-hearted tone into the book that the Finnish edition now has.