Monday, October 8, 2012

[Q&A] Shane Bauer, Greg Kveberg, and Ken Vinson (Brass & Steel)

[19:06] <+Pamean_Ken> Hi there!  I'm Ken Vinson, one of the designers of Brass & Steel: A Game of Steampunk Adventure.  I'm an underemployed climate scientist and amateur history geek.  Oh, and a gamer.
[19:07] <+Pamean_Greg> And I'm Greg Kveberg, also one of the designers.  I teach history for a living (apologies for any inside history-geek jokes in the rules - blame my prelim reading list).  Like my colleagues, I've been gaming since before the dawn of the modern era.
[19:09] <+Pamean_Ken> incoming wall of text
[19:09] <+Pamean_Greg> Our game, Brass & Steel, is a steampunk-themed RPG, with a fairly lean set of rules and systems.  We kept the rules simple so that the same set of rules could serve both in larp and tabletop gaming.
[19:11] <+Pamean_Greg> We can talk more about setting and such, but the very short version is that the game is set in a somewhat different version of the year 1905, in a world shaped and altered by the impacts of several technological marvels and by the presence of a few supernatural abilities.
[19:11] <+Pamean_Greg> Mostly, Britain is far more powerful than they were even in our real world, since they pioneeded several alternate steam technologies.
[19:13] <+Pamean_Shane> I'm Shane Bauer and I'm the third designer.  I work in banking in my day job, but steampunk game design is SO MUCH more fun.
[19:13] <+Pamean_Ken> And let's call that done with the initial spiel.
[19:13] <+Anduwaithe> Is Teddy Roosevelt president in this version of history?
[19:13] <+Pamean_Ken> Yes.
[19:14] <+Anduwaithe> Nice :)
[19:14] <+Pamean_Ken> and by yes, I mean that North America is pretty different, but there is still a U.S. and Teddy is President.
[19:14] <+Pamean_Shane> We couldn't just write off good ole would we sleep at night?
[19:14] <~Dan> By the way, I should mention that we already had a mini-Q&A with Ken a few weeks back, but I'm going to play someone dumb(er than usual) to make sure everyone gets the full scoop. :)
[19:15] <+Pamean_Greg> Although, since the US never made it past the Mississippi, he'd be starting a war to go hunting in the Rockies...
[19:15] * +Anduwaithe chuckles
[19:15] <+Pamean_Ken> The primary setting of the game is the Eastern Mediterranean, but we've got some basic coverage of other regions of the world in a chapter near the end of the rulebook.
[19:15] <~Dan> Anyone have a preference regarding exploring the setting vs. the system first?
[19:16] <~Dan> Okay, since we already went in this direction, let's go with the setting.
[19:16] <~Dan> I'd like to hear about the setting from two angles:
[19:17] <~Dan> (1) What makes the setting different from the "real world", and...
[19:17] <~Dan> (2) What makes the setting stand out from other steampunk settings.
[19:18] <+Pamean_Ken> I'll take (1)
[19:18] <+Pamean_Ken> In our Earth there has always been a kind of "magic" which is indisputably real.
[19:19] <+Pamean_Ken> with a nod to string theory, our Earth touches on many other universes.  In our Earth, the barriers are low.
[19:20] <+Pamean_Ken> Those other universes have other laws of physics.  In many places, usually small in scale, on Earth the laws of alien physics impinge upon our own.
[19:21] <+Pamean_Ken> Early in human civilization, people figured out how to distill essences from natural substances warped by these areas of alien physics, and were thus able to channel alternate physics in a way that amounts to "magic."
[19:21] <+Pamean_Ken> Ingesting those substances is in no way healthy.
[19:21] <+Pamean_Ken> Great power ----> horrible side effects.
[19:22] <+Pamean_Ken> So we ran with that and there are a number of "inflection points" where the history of our world diverges from that of the real world.
[19:22] <+Pamean_Shane> So this "magic" and these substances create our "magical steam" which is known as Hotaether, and a lot of other products of the magi-industrial complex.  These drive a lot of the differences between our world and the real one.
[19:23] <+Pamean_Ken> Right, because you can't just get to the mid-1800's and say "poof! Steampunk!"
[19:23] <+Pamean_Ken> or, at least, we decided not to.  So we came up with a reason for there to be weird physics that allows steampunk technology to exist.
[19:24] <+Pamean_Ken> One of the more recent (in the setting time) and pertinent changes is that the Brits, high on their new steampunk tech, marched on Constantinople in 1839 and dismantled the Ottoman Empire.
[19:24] <~Dan> Do I recall correctly that the magic side of the setting is something that you came up with to explain the steampunk elements and then worked "backwards" from there?
[19:24] <+Anduwaithe> The Old Man of Europe was euthanized?
[19:25] <+Pamean_Shane> Practioners of magic, known as Arcanists, get weirder and weirder the more powerful they get, but that's as close as we get to other races.  Our "monsters" are mutated animals, and possibly people.
[19:25] <+Pamean_Ken> So, in 1905, Constantinople is the capital of the British Near East Provinces, with the current Sultan as their "guest."
[19:25] <+Anduwaithe> 9( think I got that epithet wrong)
[19:25] <+Pamean_Ken> "weak man"
[19:25] <+Anduwaithe> Right :D
[19:25] <+Pamean_Ken> They keep the Sultan as a puppet, to maintain a facade of Turkish rule
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[19:26] <~Dan> Can't sleep, Lolthy?
[19:26] <+Pamean_Ken> To answer Dan's question:
[19:26] <+Pamean_Ken> When we were designing the setting, we decided there needed to be a rationale for steampunk technology, and we just brainstormed from there.
[19:27] <+Pamean_Ken> So, to sum up the differences in 1905.
[19:28] <+Pamean_Ken> Britain is a smidgen more powerful than it was in real history.  The Russians have been pushed into the arms of the Germans because they can't forgive the Brits taking Constantinople, the seat of Orthodox Christianity.
[19:28] <+Pamean_Shane> (done with one)
[19:28] <+Pamean_Greg> Let me, then, start in on (2) One thing, oddly enough, that makes our world peculiar is the fact that it *does* actually mostly look like the real world.  There aren't any elves.  Many of the nations look like the nations in our Earth's past.
[19:29] <+Pamean_Ken> No disrespect to Victoriana, mind you.
[19:29] <+Pamean_Greg> There are a lot of really nifty steampunk settings out there, but the majority of them are in fantasy or near-fantasy worlds.
[19:29] <&Lolth> Dan: migraine.
[19:29] <+Pamean_Ken> or post-apocalyptic, time-traveling pirates.
[19:29] <~Dan> Awwww... sorry to hear that. :(
[19:30] <+Pamean_Greg> We've also added in a few systems which are relatively rare in other steampunk games, such as the flavor of magic that my esteemed colleagues have discussed just now.
[19:30] <~Dan> Lolth: Well, while you're here, please feel free to chip in some questions for our guests if you like!
[19:31] <+Pamean_Greg> We also use a system for lucid dreaming - allowing characters to wander through the world's collective unconscious, and to sneak into the dreams of others.  That, as far as I know, is unique to our setting among steampunk games, and it's derived in large part from the intense interest in dreams and the unconscious that was part of the world in 1905.
[19:31] <&Lolth> Sorry, brain not working.
[19:33] <+Anduwaithe> Could you tell us a little more about Hotaether and its effects on technology?
[19:33] <~Dan> Can you give us an overview of technology levels?
[19:33] <+Pamean_Greg> We've also, unlike many games, shifted the focus to some of the more marginal areas of the world.  Our initial setting, as noted, is in Constantinople rather than London.  We're looking at other nifty settings where Europeans meet non-Europeans as well - places like Saigon, as settings for future stories.  That shifts the focus of our game a bit from London.
[19:34] <+Pamean_Greg> (done)
[19:34] <+Pamean_Ken> Shane's working on the next question.
[19:34] <+Pamean_Shane> Sure, Anduwaithe.  Hotaether is like steam, but more powerful.  It allows for some of the the things that happen in steampunk that can't in our real world.
[19:35] <+Pamean_Shane> It is produced in factories that take magical substances and transform them into products.  Hotaether in its uncompressed form is called "Slack" and that's what makes our airships float.
[19:36] <+Pamean_Shane> So Hotaether is kind of what I think of as our "foundational" technology.
[19:36] <+Anduwaithe> Cool. :)
[19:36] <+Anduwaithe> er, or hot, as the case may be ;)
[19:37] <+Pamean_Shane> Oh, and it's corrosive to steel, accounting for all of the brass everywhere!
[19:37] <+Pamean_Shane> (Of course....)
[19:37] <+Pamean_Ken> Important to note that slack is not inflammable, and is more buoyant than hydrogen, which allows for safer, heavier airships.
[19:38] <+Pamean_Greg> As for the second bit, Hotaether tech is different that real-world 1905 tech, and allows for more advanced engineering applications - more powerful engines, deadlier firearms, better airships.  Real-world technologies didn't offer the same payoff, and so many of them have lagged behind.  Heavier-than-air flight, for example, isn't yet on the drawing boards.
[19:38] <+Pamean_Shane> There are other substances produced by the magi-industrial complex too, such as Lucidos, which allows for shared dreamscapes and Physicane, which is a healing potion.
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[19:39] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, MAGIC!)
[19:39] <+Pamean_Shane> (Shared dreaming is otherwise possible only with a lifetime's effort.  The yogis are quite upset about all of these whippersnappers muddying up the dreamscape.
[19:39] <~Dan> Are automobiles more common than in IRL history?
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[19:40] <+Pamean_Ken> In the real world in 1905, personal autos were very rare but for those who could afford them there was quite a lot of variety in the types of propulsion.
[19:41] <+Pamean_Ken> In our world, it's even more so.
[19:41] <+Pamean_Ken> Electric cars compete with steam cars, compete with gas or diesel, and hotaether-driven vehicles.
[19:41] <+Pamean_Ken> All of them toys of the rich or governments at this point.
[19:42] <+Pamean_Ken> The only vehicles more available to middle-class are velocipedes, basically steam or hotaether-powered primitive motorcycles.
[19:42] <~Dan> What about military land vehicles such as tanks?
[19:44] <+Pamean_Greg> Tanks exist.  The Germans are leading developers, here, as are the Brits, and they both have focused on the "land battleship" style of tank.  Not exactly ogres, but much bigger than real world tanks.  Something like the crazy German 13-person tanks from WWI, if those had worked, and even bigger.
[19:44] <+Anduwaithe> hehe
[19:44] <+Pamean_Greg> Still very, very rare, however, and wickedly expensive.  Some powered armor also exists, but is, similarly, staggeringly expensive.
[19:44] <~Dan> Awesome. :)
[19:44] <+Pamean_Shane> This is a great example of the advantages of our Hotaether over real world steam.  More power = bigger vehicles.
[19:45] <+Anduwaithe> So would you say that the common man only has contact with high technology from afar?
[19:45] <+Pamean_Shane> That's very true.  They may see these things, but they don't own them.  They benefit from some of the tech, but don't own any.
[19:45] <~Dan> Yeah, I was going to ask about that: What's the average guy's access to tech? Is electricity more widely available tahn IRL?
[19:46] <+Pamean_Greg> If anything, the fact that hotaether is wickedly expensive has tended to exacerbate the already vast gap between rich and poor in 1905.
[19:46] <+Pamean_Shane> Not really.  The PC's of course automatically overcome this because they're PC's, but the average guy doesn't have a telephone, no electricity, etc.  Much like real life.
[19:47] <+Pamean_Ken> Quick note on hotaether tech.  The energy from hotaether can be stored in devices called "ampheres," which are basically high-power steam batteries.  These ampheres drive the smaller pieces of clockwork tech, like the powered armor, the velocipedes, and clockwork limb prosthesis.
[19:47] <+Pamean_Ken> Can't have a game without clockwork cyberlimbs, eh?
[19:47] <+Pamean_Shane> Really, why would you?
[19:48] <+Anduwaithe> :)
[19:48] <+Pamean_Greg> Made my 3.5 D&D game very odd, but we used them anyway!
[19:48] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:48] <+Pamean_Ken> Also, part of "high tech" is that alchemy works and has been applied on an industrial scale in the modern era to create all sorts of weird elixirs.
[19:49] <+Pamean_Shane> A lot more people have "dodge" with a specialty in "boom" because of the tech's alarming tendency to explode at inopportune times.
[19:49] <+Anduwaithe> Is this tied with the alien physics stuff you mentioned earlier?
[19:49] <+Pamean_Ken> Alchemy, in that weird chemistry can be done with the alien-physics-imbued materials from the Loci.
[19:49] <+Pamean_Shane> (It's not actually called "dodge" or "boom" but you get the idea.)
[19:49] <+Pamean_Ken> Locus being the singular term for one of those areas of alien physics.
[19:49] <+Pamean_Shane> Alchemical Salts...mwhahahahahah....
[19:50] <+Pamean_Greg> So - yes - it's definitely linked to the alien physics.  One of the things we've wanted play with is the fact that the industrialists and the arcanists need to use the same resources... setting up a competition.
[19:50] * +Anduwaithe nods
[19:50] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about how weird things can get around the Loci?
[19:51] <+Pamean_Shane> We wanted magic, called Arcanism, to be dangerous, strange and literally "out of this world."
[19:51] <+Pamean_Shane> It's practitioners become more and more alien as they increase in power.
[19:51] <+GoldenH> booyah
[19:52] <+Pamean_Shane> Loci have weird affects in our world because those different laws of physics manifest in bizarre, often very dangerous ways here.
[19:54] <+Pamean_Greg> The impact that a locus has can vary from the silly to the deadly.  A locus could change the way that different chemicals interact, for example, and cause ordinary water to become, effectively, a terrible acid.  Alternatively, a locus could simply be home to odd looking little insects that like to hide in shoes.  Could go either way.
[19:55] <+Pamean_Ken> Can also cause weird perceptual effects, like seeing sounds as bursts of light.
[19:55] <+Anduwaithe> Do loci shift from location to location, or are they all fixed?
[19:55] <+Pamean_Ken> Loci can come and go, but many of them have been stable over centuries.
[19:55] <+Pamean_Shane> I like the side effect in the book (one of many) where the places Arcanists live might develop odd fungi growing everywhere.
[19:56] <+Pamean_Ken> The traditional Arcanists have been using these loci for centuries, and now the industrialists are going around strip-mining them.
[19:56] <+Pamean_Shane> Mostly they don't move around geographically, but it's probably possible in some cases.
[19:56] <+Anduwaithe> So the stable loci have infrastructure that has been built up around them?
[19:56] <+Pamean_Shane> Maybe they could even be tied to something, or someone.  Possibly.
[19:57] <~Dan> Now, you mentioned mutant animals, but the rulebook doesn't really cover them. Any chance that may be addressed on your website and/or in a future book?
[19:57] <+Pamean_Ken> Well, a lot of Loci developed sinister reputations in ages past.
[19:57] <+Pamean_Greg> If by infrastructure you mean a few schools of arcansim, but mostly vast strip-mines, then yes.
[19:58] <+Pamean_Shane> We do need to address that, yes.  It's too much of a concept and not enough of a realization at this point.  We will definitely be covering this in a lot more detail.  One way is to introduce examples in upcoming supplements, but we should also have some for downloading gratis on the site.  We've talked about it.
[19:58] <+Pamean_Shane> (Link: http://www.pameangames)www.pameangames that is
[19:58] * ~Dan nods
[19:59] <+Pamean_Ken> It's not there now but yes, some sort of small bestiary could appear in the future.
[20:00] <+Pamean_Ken> Put your Gamma World imagination on for now.
[20:00] <+Pamean_Shane> Honestly when we come up with these things we let our imaginations run wild.  At Gen Con I had Dogtopuses in my tabletop.  They were awesome.
[20:00] <~Dan> In my discussions with Ken, I said that I got the impression that Brass & Steel has a steampunk Lawrence of Arabia feel, and that it seems a bit like the Mission: Impossible of steampunk games. Any thoughts?
[20:01] <+Pamean_Shane> I like the cinematic references because we really want the game to feel like a fun action movie at times.
[20:01] <+Pamean_Shane> Keeping the rules simple enough that you could run with a story was very important to us.
[20:03] <+Pamean_Shane> We have some big themes like east meets west, exploring the world, colonialism and so on.  We like to tell those kinds of stories.
[20:03] <+Pamean_Shane> (done)
[20:04] <~Dan> Ken and I have discussed a bit about a possible future for the game with additional "weird" aspects added in. Have you guys discussed that at all?
[20:05] <+Pamean_Ken> We have a working document on that but we haven't gotten much further with it.  I would say, though, that there is enough flexibility with the Loci to create all sorts of weird effects.
[20:05] <+Pamean_Ken> Whose to say there isn't a locus somewhere in the jungles of Africa that allows giant lizards to exist...
[20:05] <+Pamean_Ken> Who's*
[20:06] <+Pamean_Shane> Right now we're focused on 1905-6, stories that range from Texas Rangers to some very Sherlock Holmes-like things I write.  The broader arc we're keeping open for now, though we have some ideas out there.
[20:06] <~Dan> Ken: Is this the possible future we kicked around, or something else entirely?
[20:06] <+Pamean_Greg> Although chocobo training will likely never appear...
[20:06] <+Pamean_Ken> This is the one we kicked around.  I wrote up the ideas, but we haven't had an official discussion about it between us.
[20:07] <~Dan> Ah, gotcha. Cool. I am available for further brainstorming at your convenience. ;)
[20:07] <+Pamean_Ken> Cool. Thanks. :)
[20:07] <+Pamean_Ken> We did, however, decide on our release schedule between now and next GenCon.
[20:08] <~Dan> Want to say a bit about that?
[20:08] <+Pamean_Ken> Sure
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[20:08] <+Pamean_Ken> Right around the new year, we should have an adventure out called "The Curse of Althan-Ya"
[20:09] <~Dan> What's the premise?
[20:09] <+Pamean_Ken> It's basically a group of "not-so-top-men" being conscripted by the British to race a group of sinister Austrian archaeologists to the tomb of an ancient sorceress.
[20:09] <+Pamean_Ken> in Egypt
[20:10] <+Pamean_Shane> (And hilarity ensues...)
[20:10] <~Dan> Cool. :)
[20:10] <+Pamean_Ken> and desert chases, and chases through narrow Cairo streets, and ancient tombs, and robbing them.
[20:11] <+Pamean_Ken> We'll provide pre-gen characters, but it will be easy to integrate into an ongoing campaign.
[20:11] <+Pamean_Ken> And we'll release a second adventure right around early April, which Greg is typing about right now.
[20:12] <+Pamean_Greg> We'll follow that up with another adventure "grounded", which will feature the crew of an airship whose airship is stolen while they're away doing a bit of harmless crime in Constantinople.
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[20:12] <~Dan> (Howdy, Gemini! Q&A in progress!)
[20:12] <+Gemini> 'Ello!
[20:13] <~Dan> (Brass & Steel, a rather cool steampunk game.)
[20:13] <+Pamean_Greg> The PCs - again, either pre-gen or any crew with an airship - will find themselves racing through some of the seedier and more peculiar bits of the city in an attempt to locate their airship before something terrible happens to it, or before they're caught be the folks on the wrong end of their harmless crime...
[20:13] <+Gemini> (Cool!)
[20:14] <~Dan> Does anyone have any more setting-specific questions? If not, shall we shift gears and talk system?
[20:14] <+Pamean_Shane> Then next summer we'll be up for a Constantinople supplement, which will be our biggest release since the core rulebook.  It will cover the highs and lows, movers and shakers of our core setting.
[20:14] <+Pamean_Ken> This will be a pretty meaty location sourcebook.
[20:15] <+Pamean_Ken> Those are our three release between now and GenCon, but we're going to start a weekly NPC feature on the website in the not-too-distant future.
[20:16] <~Dan> Okay! Can you give us a quick system overview? Maybe start with the attributes and skills, and the core mechanic?
[20:16] <+Pamean_Greg> Sure!
[20:17] <+Pamean_Greg> Most everything in the game is resolved by adding a skill + and ability (both of which range from 1-10, typically), and attempting to role that number or under on a d20.
[20:18] <+Pamean_Greg> We use just seven abilities, and 20-25 skills - we wanted to keep the selection fairly simple.  We use a system of "familiarities" to model more specific knowledge within skills.
[20:19] <+Pamean_Greg> Opposed actions are resolved, in almost all circumstances, but simply having two characters add skill+attribute+modifiers, and comparing the degree to which they succeeded or failed.
[20:19] <+Pamean_Greg> (done) (for an overview, at least)
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[20:20] <~Dan> Ken mentioned that rolling "blackjack" style would also work?
[20:20] <+Pamean_Ken> Yes, we just didn't think of it.
[20:20] <~Dan> (i.e., higher is better without going over?)
[20:20] <+Damiar> ((the price is right!?))
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[20:21] <~Dan> What are the abilities?
[20:21] <+Pamean_Ken> If there is a second edition, we might officially move to Blackjack system
[20:21] <~Dan> (Howdy, boulet! Q&A in progress!)
[20:21] <+Pamean_Ken> though obviously people can houserule it.
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[20:21] <+boulet> Hello
[20:21] <+Pamean_Greg> Howdy!
[20:22] <+Pamean_Ken> Stats are Might, Vitality, Agility, Wit, Reason, Willpower, and Fate.
[20:23] <~Dan> And how broad are the skills?
[20:23] <+Pamean_Shane> Some example skills include Duck & Cover (dodge), Barking irons (firearms), Hell Bent for Leather (piloting), etc.  There are perception skills in most of the categories - combat, Arcane, Dream, etc. that each have their own uses called "eye" skills.
[20:23] <+Pamean_Shane> There are relatively few skills as Greg mentioned, with familiarities to provide a bonus for a small incremental cost.
[20:24] <+Pamean_Shane> So Barking Irons covers all guns that can be lugged around.  "The Big Guns" is for things over that.  Just as two examples.
[20:24] <~Dan> What about science skills?
[20:25] <+Pamean_Greg> We use one skill to cover science, with familiarity in specific fields of endeavor (that makes more sense in 1905 than it does now - it was still possible to be a scientific jack-of-many-trades)
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[20:26] <~Dan> So it's more like SCIENCE! *points skyward* ?
[20:26] <+Pamean_Greg> The engineering side of science is covered by the "Artisan" skill (the sciences are under "natural philosophy")
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[20:26] <+Pamean_Shane> One thing that applies here is that sometimes a familiarity is *required* as with Natural Philosophy.
[20:26] <~Dan> (Howdy, Joe!)
[20:26] <+Pamean_Shane> So it is "Science!" but you still have to specialize to do much with it....
[20:26] * ~Dan nods
[20:27] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[20:27] <+Pamean_Shane> We wanted the stats and skills to be readily committed to memory so when you got up and started LARPing it was quick and easy.  That's why there are relatively few.
[20:28] <+Pamean_Shane> In combat you roll Agility + Combat Skill, the defender rolls Agility + (something to defend with).
[20:28] <+Pamean_Shane> If the attacker succeeds - has more successes - they do damage equal to the base for the weapon, with a bonus by the amount they succeed by.
[20:29] <+Pamean_Shane> A neat thing about B&S is one roll by each resolves the round.  Damage is calculated from those rolls.
[20:29] * ~Dan nods
[20:29] <~Dan> Definitely my kind of system.
[20:29] <+Pamean_Shane> Again, this is in part so it is really easy for LARPing.
[20:30] <~Dan> How would you handle ability/skill totals over 20?
[20:30] <+Pamean_Shane> They would be very difficult and very expensive.  If they happened that person would succeed a lot.  A 20 always fails however.
[20:30] <+Pamean_Shane> (expensive in character points that is)
[20:31] <~Dan> Well, I was thinking of something like an elephant using brute strength, for example.
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[20:31] <~Dan> But understood, re: the mechanic.
[20:31] <+Pamean_Greg> Well, the elephant would generally win arm-wrestling matches.
[20:32] <+Pamean_Greg> Well, trunk-wrestling, anyway.
[20:32] <+Pamean_Shane> And do a lot of damage when stomping on you.
[20:32] <+Pamean_Greg> In other words, in situations like that, it's going to be very difficult to out-strong an elephant - impossible, in essence, for a normal person, and that's ok.
[20:33] <~Dan> Speaking of stomping, how deadly is combat?
[20:33] <+Pamean_Shane> Rather.
[20:33] <+Pamean_Ken> People are generally not one-shottable (if that's a word) but you can't take more than a few bullets and keep going.
[20:33] <+Pamean_Shane> Physicane and other mystical healing help some.
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[20:34] <+Pamean_Ken> Physicane being the most generic term for a variety of healing elixirs.
[20:34] <+Pamean_Ken> Armor isn't terribly common in most situations.  Heavy clothing will give a couple points.
[20:35] <+Pamean_Shane> We have a pretty deep "unconscious" threshold too, so someone stops acting well before they die, probably keeping them alive a lot of the time.
[20:35] <+Pamean_Ken> Armored corsetry gives five. :)
[20:35] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:35] <+Pamean_Shane> So yes, the best armored people at the ball are well-prepared women.
[20:35] <+Pamean_Ken> indeed
[20:35] <~Dan> You mentioned Fate being an ability... Does that translate into Fate/Hero/Drama Points?
[20:35] <+Pamean_Ken> or suspiciously wasp-waisted men.
[20:36] <+Anduwaithe> Ken: Don't knock it unless you've tried it.
[20:36] <+Anduwaithe> ;)
[20:36] <+Pamean_Shane> The Fate Attribute gets you a certain number of Tarot cards - you can use regular cards instead, but Tarot are more fun.  These are used to do repeated rolls or for certain cards give a lot of narrative control to the players.
[20:37] <+Pamean_Shane> Anyone that knows Tarot - the "Major Arcana" let you bend the arc of the story.
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[20:37] <+Pamean_Shane> (done)
[20:38] <+Anduwaithe> What happens if you draw the Hanged Man, for instance?
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[20:38] <~Dan> Do you use this card?: (Link:
[20:38] <+Pamean_Shane> Hanged Man is "the mysteries of the world, self-sacrifice, non-conformity."
[20:39] <+Pamean_Shane> So if a player tells a good story for why it applies he gets to make things happen that fit playing that card.
[20:39] <+Anduwaithe> Cool.
[20:39] <+Pamean_Shane> I don't know if it's on anyone else's mind but Fate Cards cannot be used on other players in general, without their permission.
[20:40] <+Pamean_Shane> Awesome players go with the flow however.
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[20:40] * ~Dan nods
[20:40] <~Dan> Howdy, Wondy!
[20:40] <+WonderRat> Howdy, Dan.
[20:40] <~Dan> Do you have a name for your system, and have you mulled over using it for anything else?
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[20:41] <+Pamean_Shane> We're talking this over with ourselves...ummm...not yet.
[20:42] <~Dan> "Not yet" to both questions? :)
[20:42] <+Pamean_Ken> We're pretty focused on B&S for now, but that doesn't mean we won't branch out in the future.
[20:42] <+Pamean_Shane> But we could.  We have had a group of existing steampunk LARPers talk about using it instead of their house rules.
[20:42] <+Pamean_Ken> but no, there is definitely not a separate name for the system itself right now.
[20:43] * ~Dan nods
[20:43] <+Pamean_Shane> With some tweaking it could be used in any setting really.  And if you like the idea of a "hybrid" system where you LARP and play tabletop with the same rules you could get good use out of it.
[20:43] <+Pamean_Ken> The skill names are meant to be period-evocative, but that's easy enough to change.
[20:43] <~Dan> What core mechanic is used when LARPing with B&S?
[20:44] <+Pamean_Shane> The same.  You just have a 20 sider in a small clear plastic shaker to account for the noticeable absence of a flat surface.
[20:44] <+Pamean_Shane> Sometimes at cons we use giant inflatable 20-siders.
[20:45] * ~Dan nods
[20:45] <~Dan> Deadliness aside, how cinematic is the system?
[20:45] <+Pamean_Ken> Of course, LARPers have a tendency to resolve a lot of social situations without rolling, but the rules are there in case they want to brazenly lie, etc.
[20:47] <+Pamean_Shane> I think it's cinematic in the sense that Arcanists cast spells and Hotaether allows for amazing things that can't be done in our world - steam gliders....etc.
[20:47] <+Pamean_Shane> But getting shot hurts a lot and death is waiting for someone that falls a long ways.
[20:47] <+Pamean_Greg> The system aims to be speedy and efficient in combat - we use a simple initiative system, and the combat rounds move briskly - we can finish a combat in one shadowrun round's worth of time.
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[20:48] <+Pamean_Greg> That pacing tends to feel more like the pacing you'd see in a movie, but there are definitely rules underneath the action.
[20:48] <~Dan> Well, I was thinking more in terms of action. For example, does the system account for multi-actions? Can you leap over a bar with both guns blazing in one round?
[20:48] <+Pamean_Greg> The short version is: no.
[20:49] <+Pamean_Shane> A round consists of the time it takes to do one thing.  There are a few "free actions" such as taking a step or dropping something that's in your hands, but mostly you do one thing.
[20:49] <+Pamean_Greg> The longer version is: no, but rounds only last a few seconds in game time, and should last only a very short time in playing time, too, so you get the pacing, but not the combined or multiple actions.
[20:49] <+Pamean_Shane> The rounds go by quickly enough that you're acting again soon enough.
[20:49] * ~Dan nods
[20:49] <+Pamean_Shane> Since we're talking about initiative...
[20:50] <+Pamean_Shane> thing we do is declare in initiative order but everything is resolved simultaneously.
[20:51] <+Pamean_Shane> So if you go unconscious in a round you're still acting *that round*.  For example.
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[20:51] <~Dan> So there's no way to out-draw someone, for example?
[20:51] <+Crazy-Cabal> DRAW!
[20:51] <~Dan> (Howdy, CC! Just wrapping up a Q&A.)
[20:51] <+Pamean_Ken> It is technically possible.
[20:52] <+Pamean_Ken> When a combat begins, initiative is rolled (Wits + Sergeant's Eye)
[20:52] <~Dan> (I so love the skill names. :) )
[20:52] <+Pamean_Ken> If someone fails that test, they don't get to go the first round.
[20:53] <+Pamean_Ken> So, if two gunslingers were waiting to draw, they'd both roll initiative, and if they both make it, then they shoot simultaneously.
[20:53] <+Pamean_Ken> but if one of them fails the test, they don't get a shot off that first round.
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[20:54] <+Pamean_Shane> And because skill is built into the damage a good shooter is more likely to really hurt their opponent.
[20:54] <+Pamean_Ken> Does that answer your question, Dan?
[20:54] <~Dan> It does, yup!
[20:55] <~Dan> So how does spellcasting work, and how much can magic accomplish?
[20:55] <+Pamean_Greg> Arcanism can do a great deal, but it's limited in two ways.
[20:56] <+Pamean_Greg> It can only achieve physical results - no charm person or anything like that.
[20:56] <+Pamean_Greg> An arcanist is also limited by their ability to channel energy - normal people can only accomplish modest feats.
[20:57] <+Pamean_Greg> Arcanists who have used arcane salts and risked undergoing inoculation can do a good deal more, and can draw on a reservoir of internal power in addition to their stamina to power effects.
[20:57] <+Pamean_Shane> (Illusions, some charm type things and so on fall to Dreaming, not Arcanism.)
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[20:58] <+Pamean_Greg> The mechanic for arcanism is pretty simple.  there are several skills linked to arcanism, and arcanists can use either practiced effects, called patterns, which are reliable but inflexible, and freeform effects, which are flexible but limited in scope and riskier.
[20:59] <+Pamean_Greg> (done)
[20:59] <~Dan> Is spellcasting quick enough to be used in combat?
[20:59] <+Pamean_Shane> (We played a certain magic-intensive game years ago and really liked magic on the fly.  It went into this system.)
[20:59] <+Pamean_Shane> Yes.
[20:59] <+Pamean_Shane> It's a skill test mostly.
[20:59] <+Pamean_Ken> invoking a pattern is a one-round action
[21:00] <~Dan> Can a powerful magician lay a smackdown on an entire town, for example?
[21:00] <+Pamean_Ken> they'd run out of power points
[21:00] <+Pamean_Ken> not that they couldn't set fire to half of a small town...
[21:00] <+Pamean_Shane> (The other half would catch when the wind picked up.)
[21:01] <+Pamean_Greg> As a general rule, we tried to calibrate it so that, in terms of direct damage, arcanism was a bit deadlier than firearms, but limited by the fact that arcanists run out of power before soldiers run out of bullets.
[21:01] <+Pamean_Greg> And heavy artillery will always be better than magic for wrecking a town.
[21:01] <+Pamean_Shane> (done)
[21:02] <+Pamean_Greg> <-- very bad at (done)
[21:02] <~Dan> Heh.
[21:03] <~Dan> Well, guys, we're a bit into overtime; however, you're welcome to hang out and answer questions as long as you like. Either way, is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to bring up?
[21:03] <+Pamean_Shane> We'd like to say thanks Dan.  This was a nice chat.
[21:03] <+Pamean_Ken> I think we've covered the basics and then some.
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[21:03] <+Pamean_Ken> Yes, thanks a lot for this opportunity.
[21:04] <~Dan> Absolutely, guys! I appreciate you all coming.
[21:04] <+Pamean_Greg> Indeed!  Thanks for the chat!
[21:04] <~Dan> I'll have the log posted shortly on my blog. I'll give Ken the link via FB.
[21:04] <+Pamean_Ken> Excellent.
[21:05] <+Pamean_Shane> And so done and done.  G'bye Dan.
[21:05] <~Dan> Bye, Shane, Ken, and Greg! Don't be strangers!
[21:05] <~Dan> You guys are always welcome to hang out here if you like.
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[21:05] <+Pamean_Ken> Thanks!  Will do.
[21:06] <+Pamean_Greg> Farewell!  I'm off for now - grading tonight, alas - but thanks again!
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