Wednesday, March 13, 2013

[Q&A] Brennan Bishop (Storm Battalion)

[19:23] <+EvilBrennan> My name is Brennan Bishop. I've written a few games for (Link: and have taken over the API gameline from Eloy Lasanta. My new game is Storm Battalion. It's set in an alternative history in the year 1935. Supernatural Storms of unknown origin have erupted on the planet and bring with them massive electrical energy as well as mutations
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[19:24] <+EvilBrennan> and monsters. Various nations of the world (some real, some fictitious) are at war with one another over the power these storms provide. They employ bizarre and terrible weaponry (mostly  based off the works of Nicola Tesla)  to take over the storms and harness their energy.
[19:25] <+EvilBrennan> The players take the role of those few people who have died in a Storm and been returned to life. They have horrendous powers and use them to complete missions for their nation and fend off Monsters that have been brought about by the Storms.
[19:26] <+EvilBrennan> That's the game is a rather general nutshell. So, done I suppose :D
[19:26] <~Dan> Thanks, Brennan!
[19:26] <+Silverlion> What inspired this game?
[19:26] <~Dan> Anyone have any questions to get us... ah, there we go. :)
[19:26] <+EvilBrennan> Talking to my wife.
[19:27] <+EvilBrennan> I wanted to have a game that we could play together so we both picked themes and went from there. She picked hellboy and I picked "War". It grew quickly from there.
[19:27] <+GenoFoxx> so Frankenstein meets Universal Soldier?
[19:28] <+EvilBrennan> That is remarkably close to how it turned out. Except better I think. Universal soldier was sort of a terrible movie
[19:28] <+EvilBrennan> lol
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[19:29] <+GenoFoxx> the sequels were worse...but that's another topic
[19:29] <+EvilBrennan> More like Frankenstein meets a more coherent and interesting Wild wild west? Hmm. That's not much better actually.
[19:29] <+EvilBrennan> I can only imagine
[19:29] <+Melum> Universal Soldier was a movie I actually watched to help me sleep.
[19:30] <+GrimGent> That premise reminds me vaguely of TORG. I don't suppose that the Storms are connected to alternate realities?
[19:30] <+EvilBrennan> I pitched it to my publisher as Davey Crockett meets Hellboy.  He approved so that's something
[19:30] <+EvilBrennan> They are.
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[19:31] <+EvilBrennan> I don't touch on it much, but players can enter the other dimension by bringing reflective surfaces into the Storms and walking through them. They can't stay there for long, but they can use it for infiltration and such.
[19:31] <+Silverlion> Wasn't Davy Crocket a significantly previous era?
[19:31] <~Dan> (wb, Vanathor and Kzar!)
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[19:32] <~Dan> Welcome back to #rpgnet, Ian!
[19:32] <+Silverlion> So what's the coolest "thing" in this setting/system?
[19:32] <+EvilBrennan> It sure was. The two major points in time I detail in the book are the war of 1812 and the 30's.
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[19:34] <+EvilBrennan2> Sheesh, sorry about that
[19:34] <~Dan> Did the cat pee on your computer?
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[19:34] <+GrimGent> An evil twin?
[19:34] <+EvilBrennan2> My internet button is in a terrilbe place on my cpu
[19:35] <+EvilBrennan2> Evil twin indeed!
[19:35] <+EvilBrennan2> Previous question of coolest thing: Tech, power, or system stuff?
[19:35] <~Dan> Actually, before you cover what's cool in the system, perhaps you should touch on the system as a whole.
[19:36] <~Dan> So maybe cover the cool setting stuff first?
[19:36] <~Dan> (Including tech and powers, I mean.)
[19:36] <+EvilBrennan2> I mean, I've got powers where you can control other people's bones to have them explode like grenades, attack people with your own digestive tract, and you can put buzzsaws on trains, so there's a fair lot there.
[19:36] <+Silverlion> Whatever you think is coolest?
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[19:37] <+EvilBrennan2> Well, the system is a modified version of TEG's API system. So it's very quick paced and flows back and forth using an escalating initiative and a d20.
[19:37] <~Dan> (When we were discussing the game previously, I believe I said that the PCs sound like Clive Barker superheroes.)
[19:37] <+EvilBrennan2> IT's been changed from a more hand to hand focused game to more of a ranged combat one.
[19:38] <+EvilBrennan2> That's also quite true.
[19:39] <~Dan> Now, the API system maxes out at 10 and kind of fudges things to get over that level. Does Storm Battalion stick with that setup?
[19:40] <~Dan> (I believe the cap's 10, IIRC...)
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[19:40] <+EvilBrennan2> It is in the API system. There are ways to go over ten in Storm Battalion, but the rules cover it pretty well.
[19:41] <+EvilBrennan2> Things like stats can go above if you become a horrible monster, but skills max out at 10
[19:41] * ~Dan nods
[19:42] <~Dan> Now, I noticed in your description that you distinguished between "mutants" and "monsters". Care to say a bit more about that?
[19:42] <+EvilBrennan2> There was a query about setting, so here's some more:
[19:42] <~Dan> (Sorry, go ahead.)
[19:42] <+EvilBrennan2> Oh sure
[19:43] <+EvilBrennan2> I don't really call them mutants in the book because it's set in 1935 and mutants were not a big thing back then. Well, they were, but they weren't really called that outside the scientific community.
[19:43] <+EvilBrennan2> So, pretty much everything crawling out of the Storm is a monster
[19:43] <~Dan> (brb -- please continue)
[19:43] <+EvilBrennan2> Of course, let me explain that too.
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[19:44] <+EvilBrennan2> The Storms corrupt everything they touch. Trees, srubs, people, animals, and anything else trapped inside it gets doused with Storm contamination and either turns into a terrible monster, dies, or goes insane.
[19:46] <+EvilBrennan2> So they are incredibly dangerous to enter or be around as all these things come creeping out of them looking for people to snack on. There are bugs too. They harvest skin or implant themselves in your soft tissues and controll you like a bloated puppet. It's not pretty.
[19:46] <+EvilBrennan2> Storm Battalions (the players), deal with these mosnters as well as the other nations of the world trying to control the power that Storms provide.
[19:47] <+EvilBrennan2> More setting:
[19:47] <+EvilBrennan2> The setting is mostly in Canada (being a Canadian and all), but forays down into the states. There's a nation of indigenious people (based in reality except in real life they all got wiped out in 1812) out for land, the Brits are out for storm technology, the Americans are out for 'defending' themselves against the British, the Canadians are out for freedom
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[19:47] <+EvilBrennan2> and the European Union is out for making money and gaining power for their already rich countries.
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[19:48] <+Silverlion> Clive barker actually wrote fairly good traditional supers...
[19:48] <~Dan> (back)
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[19:49] <+EvilBrennan2> All nations provide different discounts at character creation. There are 8 templates to chose from all with unique abilities as well. Medics, Officers, Sentient Teleautomatons, etc.
[19:50] <+Silverlion> Are those "classes?"
[19:50] <+EvilBrennan2> Clive is an interesting fellow. Some good stuff in there. Some...not so good too.
[19:50] <+EvilBrennan2> Yeah, classes is another way of putting it too.
[19:50] <~Dan> Are they "classes" in the same way that the API demons are "classes"?
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[19:50] <+EvilBrennan2> Classes can scare people so I try to make them different.
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[19:51] <+EvilBrennan2> In the same sort of way, yeah. Demons in API have these racial abilities that other demons cannot do, but it's the same sort of thing for Templates in SB.
[19:52] <~Dan> What's the term from the people who come back from the dead with powers, again?
[19:52] <+EvilBrennan2> Medics can ignore being pinned down, Infantry can ignore minuses with weapons they've never used, Scientists can make serums that cancel out powers, etc.
[19:52] <+EvilBrennan2> Risen.
[19:52] <+EvilBrennan2> There are Lurkers as well, but they are the forementioned, "Hobo spider zombies".
[19:53] <+Silverlion> Interesting.
[19:53] <~Dan> So if all of the PCs are Risen... how can you play a robot? (I assume that's what a teleautomaton is.)
[19:53] <+EvilBrennan2> Sure is.
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[19:54] <+EvilBrennan2> The Pc's don't HAVE to be Risen. They can all be human, but they're made with less points and get no powers. The robots basically don't get the powers, but get access to upgrades and unique advantages.
[19:54] <+EvilBrennan2> They can also graft technology directly onto them at no additional cost.
[19:55] <~Dan> So there's no system incentive to play a human?
[19:55] <+EvilBrennan2> So, deathrays and A.M.I's.
[19:55] <~Dan> A.M.I.'s?
[19:55] <+EvilBrennan2> Automated Murder Implements.
[19:55] <~Dan> Nice. :)
[19:55] <+EvilBrennan2> Pistons, buzzsaws, those sorts of things.
[19:55] * ~Dan nods
[19:56] <+EvilBrennan2> An incentive? Oh my no. Humans are squishy and fragile. They also suffer from Storm Contamination which is what drives a Risen's powers.
[19:56] <+EvilBrennan2> So the things that make a Risen operate effectivally are the things that drive humans crazy or twist them into monsters.
[19:56] <~Dan> Heh. No game balance concerns, then. :)
[19:57] <+EvilBrennan2> One of the pregens is a human actually.
[19:57] <+EvilBrennan2> When I ran SB at a local con, one of my players looooved playing her.
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[19:57] <~Dan> (Howdy, Wondy!)
[19:57] <~Dan> (Want me to PM you the description of the game we're discussing?)
[19:58] <~Dan> How do humans feel about the Risen? Are they seen as super-soldiers or scary mutant freaks?
[19:58] <+EvilBrennan2> Balance is a hard thing to peg in this game. If you want to make a character that can kill everyone, you certainly can. If you want to make a character that can sneak past everything, you certainly can. The characters already start remarkably powerful and that's how I wanted it to be.
[19:59] * ~Dan nods re: balance
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[19:59] <~Dan> (Howdy, Omega!)
[19:59] <+EvilBrennan2> Scary mutant freaks. There's very few powers that if someone saw them in operation would not scream and run away. I think there are 2 of them that stem from cannibalism for example.
[20:00] <+EvilBrennan2> It's primarily a horror game, but the players are the most powerful and scary things in the setting/.
[20:00] <+EvilBrennan2> But at the same time, players look human. Without them busting out their powers, they can blend in just fine.
[20:01] <+EvilBrennan2> It's when they rush into a Storm not wearing gasmasks and growing bark on their skin that people freak out.
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[20:02] <~Dan> Can you give us an idea of the scale of the Risen's powers? For example, could a maxed-out Risen toss around a car, or even a tank?
[20:02] <~Dan> (wb, Drindaen!)
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[20:02] <~Dan> (Howdy, Serah!)
[20:04] <+EvilBrennan2> All Risen take whatever powers they like. There are no powers that just give a bonus to stats or skills. Only one gives stat bonuses but also turns them into a gigantic monster (roughly 9 feet tall, scales, big claws, usual stuff) that they can't change out from. A car, certainly. A tank? Nope. Some powers can teleport you or make you unable to die, but each
[20:04] <+EvilBrennan2> character should be able to take powers that fit their playstyle really well. Stopping time is great, but not all characters will use it the same way.
[20:05] <~Dan> Do the monsters have powers as well, or are they purely physical threats?
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[20:06] <+EvilBrennan2> A basic character can get shot in the chest and be out of the fight. That goes for the characters as well unless they are playing a charater style who is better at haveing holes blown through them, then it's less of a big deal.
[20:06] <+EvilBrennan2> They can have powers as well. It's more for the GM to work out, but the first adventure in the book is about a monster that has one of the powers that the characters have access too and becomes incredibly dangerous.
[20:07] <~Dan> Are any of the monsters intelligent?
[20:07] <+EvilBrennan2> There's a mutant bear that has a really high sneak skill. It's featured on the cover to boot.
[20:07] <~Dan> So you can bearly see it?
[20:08] <+EvilBrennan2> In their own way. A lot of them used to be human, so they can make traps, ambush people, sneak around them and so forth, but they won't strike up conversations or barter with players.
[20:08] <+EvilBrennan2> Narf!
[20:08] <+EvilBrennan2> Only if you squint
[20:08] <~Dan> :)
[20:09] <~Dan> How totally mutated are the monsters, on average? For example, is a mutated bear obviously going to be something that used to be a bear?
[20:12] <+EvilBrennan2> That's a really good question. Some can be identified more easily than others. Stumblebugs and squealers (ticks and rodents) are easy to tell what they used to be, but Bonesnappers and Boogiemen are less reconizable as once. humans.
[20:12] <~Dan> I take it you offer a decent-sized bestiary?
[20:12] <+EvilBrennan2> Bonesnappers shed their skin and cover themselves in a sort of mucus to keep all their organs where they should be.
[20:14] <+EvilBrennan2> I like to think so. I've got 3 different human based monsters, 2 bugs, 1 bear, rodents, dogs, deer, and a few others. These are just the monsters that make storms dangerous. It's the other nations to look out for too.
[20:14] <~Dan> Speaking of which, let's turn our attention to tech, if you don't mind.
[20:14] <+EvilBrennan2> I'd love to!
[20:14] <~Dan> Can you give us some examples of bleeding-edge tech in the setting?
[20:15] <+EvilBrennan2> Tech is a big thing in the setting. It's as big as the terrible powers and monsters.
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[20:15] <+Silverlion> Is the game more reactive than active? "Wait for bad stuff/go deal with it?"
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[20:16] <~Dan> (Question pause while Brennan catches up.)
[20:16] <+EvilBrennan2> Earthquake grenades, radio controlled robots, deathrays, railguns, deathmasks (tranfer storm energy to other players), rigid airships, and Mechanical canine units used for cover, carrying equipment and bracing machineguns!
[20:17] <+EvilBrennan2> There's a bunch more, but that's a little bit. There's also an electric shovel.
[20:17] <~Dan> Rigid airships = zeppelins, or...?
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[20:18] <+EvilBrennan2> SilverLion: It depends completely on the GM. I tried to make it as varied as possible. Players can be a part of the military, or not be as well. If so, there's a lot of reactionary steps there, but also the players can take the initiative and go out on raids and assassination missions.
[20:18] <+EvilBrennan2> Yeah, zepplins. Sort of. Kind of. Yes. :D
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[20:19] <~Dan> Explain? :)
[20:19] <+EvilBrennan2> Zepplins are just rigid airships made by the Zepplin company. So, no. But also, yes?
[20:19] <+EvilBrennan2> Same thing, different logo on the side.
[20:20] <~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
[20:20] <~Dan> What's the state of heavier-than-air aircraft?
[20:21] <+EvilBrennan2> Well, there are one person transports called Whistlers that are turbine powered aircraft that people strap themselves to like mad men
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[20:21] <+EvilBrennan2> There are also screamers that shoot missiles, but are little more than deathtraps.
[20:21] <~Dan> Welcome back to #rpgnet, Eloy!
[20:22] <+Eloy> no prob. I'm just popping in for a sec to show support! :-)
[20:22] <+Eloy> go Brennan!
[20:22] <+EvilBrennan2> I stayed away from planes almost entirely.
[20:22] <+EvilBrennan2> Hey! My publisher and good friend! How goes it eloy?
[20:22] <~Dan> Is there anything resembling mecha or power armor?
[20:22] <+EvilBrennan2> So, yeah. No planes to speak of. If players want high flying antics, give them Whistlers and hope for the best.
[20:23] <+Eloy> pretty good, sir! I came to hear more about Storm Battalion!
[20:23] <+Eloy> ll
[20:23] <+EvilBrennan2> There was. They found it just didn't work out so now they sit cluttering up battlefields with their terrible design flaws.
[20:23] <+etaoinshrdlu> Dan, is this a Q&A ? :P
[20:23] <~Dan> eta: Yes. :)
[20:23] <+etaoinshrdlu> Alrighty. ^^
[20:23] <+EvilBrennan2> There's a chapter devoted to outdated technology and the war stompers are a part of that.
[20:24] <~Dan> Are there ridiculously-huge tanks and/or battleships?
[20:24] <+EvilBrennan2> They just couldn't compare to tanks and fell over too often.
[20:24] <~Dan> (So tanks got the drop on them?)
[20:25] <+EvilBrennan2> Yep! The Monarch is the flagship of the European Union and it's huge and scary. The EU is all about the airships so the Monarch is impressive indeed.
[20:26] <~Dan> Oh, before I forget: Do you know of a game author named Benjamin Rogers?
[20:26] <+EvilBrennan2> Well, they were too expensive and silly to use. If a tank could shoot it apart, it's a design flaw. A lot of the tech was rushed out early to impress and frighten the other side so it suffered from a lot of bad technical designs.
[20:26] <+EvilBrennan2> I sure do.
[20:26] <~Dan> He couldn't be here tonight, but asked me to ask you how the game handles designing weird tech.
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[20:27] <+EvilBrennan2> Hmm, in what sort of way?
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[20:28] <~Dan> Well, let's say a player wants to play a mad scientist type who builds Tesla-tech. Is that doable?
[20:30] <+EvilBrennan2> Ahh, not really. There are types who maintain and repair such devices, but a built-it-yourself type isn't in the game. The systems where I have seen those character types in it are great...for that one player. It takes up a lot of space and work for the designer to craft that sort of character type and if there's a player who makes that type, it can bog thing
[20:30] <+EvilBrennan2> s down for the other players. Mind you, this is only my opinion. And I suppose since I wrote the book, it's fairly important. lol
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[20:30] <+EvilBrennan2> Wait for my next game. That's all about DIY.
[20:30] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:30] <~Dan> (wb, Sil!)
[20:31] <+Eloy> or possibly a sourcebook if the corebook sells well. :-)
[20:31] <~Dan> So all of the tech is mass produced?
[20:31] <+EvilBrennan2> That too.
[20:31] <+EvilBrennan2> Or stolen.
[20:32] <+EvilBrennan2> The Brits have (had) Tesla and he pumped out all the crazy technology. All the other nations ganked it and reverse engineered it. This is why the British have discounted tech at character creation.
[20:33] <~Dan> So it's kind of the reverse of steampunk settings in which all tech is one-offs?
[20:33] <+Silverlion> Tesla moved to Britain?
[20:33] <+EvilBrennan2> All the weapons are customizable as well. It's the closest thing to crafting new tech yourself. You can graft a sweeper (huge electrical cannon) onto a train or make your shotgun fully automatic if you like
[20:33] <+EvilBrennan2> Tesla moved to Britain in this setting, yeah. America was too unstable at the time.
[20:34] <+EvilBrennan2> One off tech?
[20:34] <+EvilBrennan2> Oh!
[20:34] <+EvilBrennan2> Like unique?
[20:34] <~Dan> Yeah. Like Nemo's Nautilus, I mean.
[20:35] <+EvilBrennan2> The only unique tech would be an incredibly powerful storm containment unit or a weapon that the player's customized
[20:35] <~Dan> So in Storm Battalion, if I understand you, the super-tech is all the product of huge factories rather than lone mad scientists.
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[20:35] <~Dan> (Howdy, GL!)
[20:36] <+EvilBrennan2> Generally, yeah. You could still get a submarine and outfit it with an electrical burst system or machineguns, or an airship for that matter, but yes. Generally all made in factories.
[20:37] <~Dan> Now, you said previously that the setting is morally murky but that there are some full-blown evil groups at work. Care to comment on that?
[20:37] <+Eloy> think of it like Episodes 4, 5 and 6. Death machines all highly effective and massed produced
[20:39] <+EvilBrennan2> Players can work for any nation. IT's come up with at character creation and they go from there. NExt time they play, they might work for a totally different nation competing in the same war for different things. So, lots of moral grey there. But in a time of war and supernatural monster attacks, you're going to get some crazies like the 4th army who are all
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[20:40] <+EvilBrennan2> Risen looking to convert more to their cause and take a slice of Canada for themselves, or the Blue 88's who are a spy ring in Regina, or the long Green girls who use whistlers to rob banks.
[20:40] <+EvilBrennan2> There are a lot of advantage takers out there for sure.
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[20:41] <~Dan> To what extent do the supernatural monsters disrupt the war?
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[20:43] <~Dan> (By way of comparison, the Civil War in Deadlands ground to a halt because the dead kept rising from battlefields.)
[20:43] <+EvilBrennan2> Little. The war rages on, but most Nations don't care for the civilians could up in their monster troubles because they're Canadians and the other nations are not (except Canada obviously). But depends on which Nation the players are working for, they might see a lot of them. Canada's secret Storm Agency (all nations have one) work on relocating monsters to
[20:44] <+EvilBrennan2> other places to attack American or British troops and leave them alone.
[20:45] <~Dan> Speaking of which: Are there storms in other places than Canada?
[20:45] <~Dan> (Sorry if you already covered that.)
[20:45] <+EvilBrennan2> A little bit in Northern America, but other than that, no.
[20:45] <+Silverlion> Hrms. Were the Canadians just that Karmically bad?
[20:47] <~Dan> How do other countries tap into the storms' power?
[20:47] <+EvilBrennan2> Pretty much. lol It stems from 1812 and the warfare in canada
[20:48] <+Silverlion> Ah, I see interesting. Stop poking demons canadians!
[20:48] <+EvilBrennan2> Storm contaimnet units hold the power foir a little while
[20:48] <+EvilBrennan2> Hah!
[20:48] <~Dan> So does the EU send raiders to swipe some storm power to haul back across the Pond?
[20:50] <+EvilBrennan2> Pretty much. They act as mercs to whoever will pay them in Storm Energy. All sides have reasons to work with one another against a common foe at one point or another
[20:50] <~Dan> It almost sounds like the storms are a combination of nuclear explosions and nuclear power.
[20:51] <+EvilBrennan2> I could see that.
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[20:52] <~Dan> Quick note: We have about 10 minutes left of regular Q&A time, but you're more than welcome to hang out as long as you like and field questions. (Or just hang out in general.)
[20:52] <~Dan> And that's a standing offer.
[20:52] <~Dan> That said, is there anything we haven't covered yet that you'd like to mention?
[20:52] <+EvilBrennan2> Man, I would love to, but I've got a play to run to rather quickly. I'll be back in waaay later on or tomorrow most likely.
[20:53] <~Dan> No problem. Any time you like, just stop by
[20:53] <~Dan> .
[20:53] <+EvilBrennan2> I think the only thing I'd like to mention is that the game is on Indiegogo right now and needs a lot of shares. Even if you don't plan on supporting the game, reaching a new audience is the best thing I could use. Here's the link: (Link:
[20:53] <~Dan> Oh! Want to post a link or two for info about the game?
[20:53] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[20:53] <+EvilBrennan2> You can also see our sweet cover and some of our art too
[20:54] <~Dan> I'll have the log of this discussion posted momentarily. I'll send you the link to that as well.
[20:54] <+EvilBrennan2> That would be great
[20:55] <+EvilBrennan2> ARe tehre any other burning questions out there before I rush out?
[20:55] <~Dan> Do you ever plan on revealing what's on the other side of the storms? :)
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[20:56] <+EvilBrennan2> I sure do! It's in teh book a little bit, but it's a stretch goal for the game. ;) If we don't make it, I'm planning on a book in the future of this setting. Different system, different setting. Post apoc.
[20:56] <~Dan> Awesome. :)
[20:57] <~Dan> Thanks again for stopping by, Brennan!
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[20:59] <+EvilBrennan> Thanks for having me! I'll see you again real soon.
[20:59] <~Dan> I look forward to it. Have a great evening!

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