Tuesday, September 18, 2012

[Q&A] Benjamin Rogers (Sixcess)

[19:03] <+BenRogers> I'm Ben Rogers. I have been an avid fan of RPGs since I was about 16, back in the Dark Ages of the mid-80s.  For a lot of my gaming experience I made up homebrews and finally took the advice of some friends to start developing a gameworld.  We brought it to market, then my life crashed and burned (unrelated).  Now I'm back with some other cohorts.
[19:03] <+BenRogers> We're bringing out a new core mechanic and a series of gameworld realms to go with it. (done)
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[19:04] <+etaoinshrdlu> ("Dark Ages of the mid-80s" made me giggle :D)
[19:04] <~Dan> Thanks, Ben! What's the Reader's Digest version of Sixcess?
[19:04] <+BenRogers> On a personal note, I have been married for 23 years, have seven kids (the latest born two weeks ago) and I work two other jobs besides writing RPGs.
[19:05] <+BenRogers> Sixcess is a generic, universal mechanic.  It's a D6 dice-pool based (success-driven) mechanic. The intent is to make it light and easy--but with enough cruch for the people who love to toss the bones.
[19:05] <+BenRogers> (done)
[19:06] <~Dan> Is this an attribute/skill system? If so, what are the attributes, and how broad are the skills?
[19:06] <+BenRogers> (Should I mention that I once distributed literature that castigated D&D for being evil?) ;)  Gary Gygax and I used to email back and forth about that...
[19:06] <~Dan> You can mention whatever you like, Ben. ;)
[19:07] <+BenRogers> It is attribute/skill.  The attributes are Charisma, Intellect, Perception, Willpower, Reflexes and Fitness.
[19:07] <+BenRogers> I had originally envisioned a 5 attribute system, but it evolved through playtesting.
[19:07] <+BenRogers> There is also a "special attribute" (or, depending on gameworld, there can be several) that handles the "powers" of the gameworl.d
[19:07] <+BenRogers> It is named for the power, usually: Magic, Psionics, Chi, Superpowers, etc.
[19:07] <+BenRogers> (done_)
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[19:09] <+Dirian> hey hey hey
[19:09] <+BenRogers> Greetings, Dirian. :)
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[19:09] <~Dan> Howdy, Dirian, Geek! Q&A with BenRogers in progress. Ask away! :)
[19:09] <+BenRogers> For those arriving late, you can find the quickstart rules at: (Link: http://www.harshrealities.org)www.harshrealities.org
[19:10] <~Dan> What's the human attribute scale?
[19:10] <+BenRogers> An average human is ranked at a 2 attribute.  Human maximum is a 6.  It is possible to have a 0 in an attribute (it's even feasible to have a -1 due to injury or illness).
[19:10] <+BenRogers> Most attributes range from 2-4 and 4 is considered "bad ass".
[19:11] <+BenRogers> Those who have -1 attribute can still perform actions, but they have to overcome tha lready severe negative, which counts as a Mark against their roll.
[19:11] <+BenRogers> It basically means that you have to roll at least 1 six on a die *just to fail*. ;)
[19:11] <+BenRogers> (done)
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[19:12] <~Dan> And how broad are the skills?
[19:13] <+BenRogers> The skills given are actually more like "guidelines" and "suggestions".  For instance, we have a "Pistols" skill.  It makes sense that you need a skill to aim a pistol.  We also have a "Rifle" skill.  But we don't have a Shotgun skill.  It's left to the GM to determine if they are using a street sweeper/Judge style shotgun pistol or a duck hunting shotgun.
[19:14] <+BenRogers> In that same vein, we suggest that a skill can be anything you want.  Do you want a skill in "Rumormill"?  Sure.  Take it.  Now, when you want to check the local rumormill, roll your Charisma and Rumormill.
[19:14] <+BenRogers> If the player wants to define that they have a skill of "running in high heels" then can do that.  It's totally up to them.
[19:15] <+BenRogers> We do provide a pretty comprehensive list of "common" skills, though.
[19:15] <+BenRogers> (done)
[19:15] <+etaoinshrdlu> *raises hand* I have a question.
[19:15] <~Dan> Ask away, eta. :)
[19:15] <+BenRogers> Fire away, eta...
[19:16] <+etaoinshrdlu> First of all, I apologise if the question is stupid, I am not really an rpg gamer. But... in context of an rpg game, what would be a difference between a skill and a trait and how would the two interact?
[19:16] <+etaoinshrdlu> replace "an rpg game" with "this rpg"
[19:16] <+BenRogers> No need to apologize, it's a good question.
[19:17] <+BenRogers> An attribute is something that defines the person -- physical, mental capabilities.
[19:17] <+BenRogers> The skill is more the things that the person has learned.
[19:17] <+Geek2theRight> Innate vs learned.
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[19:17] <+BenRogers> So, for instance, if I were very agile and strong, I would have a high Reflexes and Fitness.  When I attempted a physical maneuver, even if not very skilled, I could do better than someone who had more training, but was basically weak and clumsy.
[19:18] <+etaoinshrdlu> Ahh. :)
[19:18] <~Dan> Howdy, work_fax! Q&A with BenRogers in progress. :)
[19:18] <+etaoinshrdlu> Many thanks! :)
[19:18] <+BenRogers> Likewise, a mental capability or a strong willpower or a basically friendly disposition may get me a long way--though training can overcome personal shortcomings.
[19:18] <+BenRogers> (done)
[19:18] <~Dan> Did that answer your question, eta?
[19:18] <+etaoinshrdlu> Yes, sir!
[19:18] <+etaoinshrdlu> Thank you! :)
[19:19] <~Dan> Heh. Feel free to ask any questions that come to mind. :)
[19:19] <+BenRogers> Sure thing.  Keep asking questions.  I have a policy that the only "stupid" question is the one that *is never asked*. :)
[19:19] <~Dan> Right. There are no stupid questions.
[19:19] <~Dan> Only stupid people.
[19:19] <~Dan> (Kidding! Kidding!)
[19:19] <+etaoinshrdlu> :D
[19:19] <~Dan> So what do you think makes Sixcess stand out, Ben?
[19:20] <+Geek2theRight> If you took bubble gum bubble blowing as a skill, what size bubble would correspond to what level of success?
[19:20] <+BenRogers> Most of what I see on the market today in the arena of generic systems are very hard, crunchy, mechanics.  There is the other extreme where there is amost no form whatsoever.
[19:21] <+BenRogers> I think Sixcess hits that "sweet spot". It can be played as a crunchy, roll-heavy mechanic if you want that--or it can be played with "gut rolls" and "let's see what the mood of the dice are today" mindset.
[19:21] <~Dan> How easy is it to stat up NPCs on the fly?
[19:21] <+BenRogers> You can easily toss 4 dice and say, Hey, I got a 3 sixes and a five.  I think this is a pretty good outcome!
[19:22] <+BenRogers> On the fly NPCs are fairly easy because you can think in terms of "below average, average, above average, bad ass" and give them a 1, 2, 3, 4 rank fairly easily.  Then imagine how trained they are and add a some dice for their skill and you're good to go.
[19:23] <+BenRogers> For me, at least, that gives the time and energy to focus on what they're doing, why they're doing it, and what their motivation is for the real roleplaying experience.
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[19:23] <+BenRogers> Oh.... (done)
[19:23] <+BenRogers> :)
[19:28] <+etaoinshrdlu> Are there any specific bounds on character creation?
[19:28] <+etaoinshrdlu> E.g. stuff you can't do with said character?
[19:28] <+BenRogers> Initial character creation does place a restriction on how many stats can be above 3.
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[19:28] <+BenRogers> You can't have more than 2 above 3 and only one at 5 during character creation (talking attributes, if I wasn't clear).
[19:29] <~Dan> How do you square that with a superhero setting, for example?
[19:29] <+BenRogers> There are no classes, no levels, no defined skillsets.
[19:29] <+BenRogers> You get X points for Attributes, Y points for Skills and Z points for Powers.
[19:29] <+BenRogers> And the player prioritizes what's more important, X, Y, Z (and a couple others).
[19:29] <+BenRogers> There are also Backgrounds, Edges, Flaws and Qualities that can impact your character.
[19:30] <+BenRogers> Did that answer your question?
[19:30] <~Dan> (Question pause while Ben catches up here.)
[19:30] <+etaoinshrdlu> Yes, sir!
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[19:31] <~Dan> Did you see my question, Ben?
[19:31] <+BenRogers> Superheros are, by definition, pretty high powered.  We have a supers setting in the works.  Basically, your superpowers give you a lot more capability.  Super strength for instance--you don't buy that as X points for a 12 Fitness.  Rather, you get an Edge or a Power that grants you the ability.  At character gen it's cheaper to buy that.
[19:32] <+BenRogers> What I really like is playing the "latent" supers idea--where you build a normally powered character who just has the *ability* to become super powered.
[19:32] <+BenRogers> But, I like campaigns where you face a pretty intense challenge.  :)
[19:32] <+BenRogers> Did I miss any other questions?
[19:32] <~Dan> I don't think so.
[19:32] * ~Dan thinks
[19:33] <~Dan> Can you give an example of a super-powered big bruiser type? How would you stat up the Hulk's strength, for example?
[19:33] <+BenRogers> I have to admit that I'm not the "supers guy" -- I'm more the "science" guy.  Supers are left to my cohorts, who have a rather extensive comic book background.
[19:34] <+BenRogers> Since we're talking about a generic system, let me start by saying that it "depends on the rules of the gameworld".
[19:34] <+BenRogers> Hulk could be built several ways, depending on how the GM has defined the rules of his gameworld (since we don't have a supers setting completed, yet, I am sticking to the generic).
[19:35] <+BenRogers> His strength could be an edge that granted him incredible strength.  or it could be a "power" that activates when he gets angry.  It depends on how GM defines the world and how the player conceptualized the character.
[19:35] <+BenRogers> One of the things we use in our powers is a broad sense of "what does it do?"
[19:36] <+BenRogers> If, for instance, you punch someone with super strength, it could be seen as a "harm" power with "super strength" as the nuance that defines it.
[19:36] <+BenRogers> Whereas, the lightnight weilding Storm could use the same "harm" power but with a "throws lightning" nuance. The same mechanic is used to determine whether it hits and what damage it does--but the nuance tells you hw to interpret it in the story.
[19:37] <+BenRogers> Done
[19:37] <~Dan> Hmm... So does that mean you'd have to break down his super-strength into everything it does?
[19:39] <+BenRogers> Not necessarily.  It *could* be done that way.  However, I would prefer to include a "super strength" edge that gives all the details of what can be done with it as a single entry. We haven't finalized a gameworld for supers, so I can't answer specifically yet--but the idea is that with the generic mechanic, you can build the world as it suits your needs.
[19:39] <~Dan> Well, let me go with a more down-to-earth example...
[19:39] <+BenRogers> The generic mechanic is, ultimately, only resolving the random element and the impact/soak.
[19:39] <~Dan> ...In your fantasy setting, are there ogres and/or trolls?
[19:39] <+BenRogers> Yes.
[19:40] <+BenRogers> Both, in fact.
[19:40] <~Dan> Okay. How do you stat their (presumably) superhuman strength?
[19:41] <+BenRogers> Ah.  They would have a FIT rating that would be higher than human maximum.  Ogres have something on the order of an 8 and Trolls can reach as high as 10, IIRC.
[19:41] <~Dan> Gotcha. So my followup would be: when does a high attribute become a power?
[19:42] <+BenRogers> this goes for non-fantasy creatures, as well.  Adult Tigers, for instance, have a FIT of 8.
[19:42] * ~Dan nods
[19:43] <+BenRogers> A high attribute is a power when it is "supernatural".  That can be "genetically modified" it can be "demonically enhanced" it can be "gamma-ray mutated".  Regardless, those numbers didn't happen naturally.
[19:43] <+BenRogers> However, in the case of a Troll, Ogre, Tiger, Bear, those are just "bigger, badder, meaner, tougher" naturally.
[19:44] <~Dan> So could you stat someone like the Hulk with just super-high Fitness?
[19:44] <+BenRogers> You could that, yes.
[19:44] <~Dan> Would there be a drawback to doing so?
[19:44] <+BenRogers> Especially if it was an NPC where you might not want to think thorugh all the details of the hows and whys and just watned to toss some heavy numbers for the characters to struggle again.
[19:44] <+BenRogers> against.
[19:45] <+BenRogers> Positives: it's fast, easy and you don't need to think through a lot of details.  Negatives: it lacks planning and may create a discontinuity in the minds of the players.
[19:45] <+BenRogers> (done)
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[19:46] <~Dan> Can you give a brief rundown of combat? After that, I'd suggest we move on to your individual settings.
[19:46] <+BenRogers> If I were building an adventure, I'd want to have a more detailed "hulk" for them to deal with.  If I were one-shotting it and I just "feel like tossing a hulk at them" I would be more fast and loose with the numbers.
[19:46] <+BenRogers> Sure. :)
[19:47] <+BenRogers> Combat is comparative.  The attacker rolls against his opponent, who rolls a resistance against the attacker.  The results are compared.  The one who has the better result gains the difference for their action.
[19:47] <+BenRogers> That's the generic look.
[19:47] <+BenRogers> The specific look is like this....
[19:48] <+BenRogers> I roll 4 dice against you with a TN of 4: I net 1 Mark and 2 Ticks.  You roll 4 dice against me with a TN of 4: you net 1 Mark 3 Ticks.  You win, with a net result of 1 Tick.
[19:49] <+BenRogers> Whatever you declared as your action is the successful action (I failed) and you get 1 Tick to add to what you did.
[19:49] <+BenRogers> If you were simply parrying, you were successful, end of story.  If you were riposting, I may be facing an attack with 1 Tick added to your damage on your weapon.
[19:50] <+BenRogers> Is that clear as mud?
[19:50] <+BenRogers> :)
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[19:52] <~Dan> Maybe you should explain Ticks and Marks?
[19:52] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, Mike! Here for the Q&A?
[19:52] <+BenRogers> A Mark is whenever a die comes up "6".
[19:53] <+BenRogers> A Tick is whenever the die rolled is equal to or greater than the Target Number (TN).
[19:53] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[19:53] <+BenRogers> so, if the TN is 4 and you roll 6, 5, 4, 1 then you got 1 Mark and 2 Ticks.  However, the Mark also allows you to roll another die in the test.
[19:53] <+BenRogers> So, you roll another die and get 3.  It wasn't a Mark or a Tick so it doesn't factor into the test.
[19:54] <+BenRogers> Your end result is 1 Mark, 2 Ticks.
[19:54] <+BenRogers> The 1 is also named--it's a "Pip"--but it's only a problem in certain situations (namely, if all the dice you roll come up Pips--that's a Fumble).
[19:55] <+BenRogers> You can play the Pip as an "anti-tick" if you want things to be really nasty.  Or certain powers sometimes have negative affects based on how many Pips are rolled.
[19:55] <~Dan> (You there, MikeRennaker?)
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[19:55] <+BenRogers> BTW, Mike is one of my cohorts. :)  He's one of the other designers of the game.
[19:56] <~Dan> Ah, excellent!
[19:56] <~Dan> A silent partner, clearly...
[19:56] <+MikeRennaker> Yes Dan I am.
[19:56] <~Dan> :)
[19:56] <+BenRogers> He was curious what this was all about and I suggested he pop over.
[19:57] <+etaoinshrdlu> As long as he's not a weasel. Cause "pop goes the weasel!" xD
[19:57] <~Dan> Excellent. Glad to have you, Mike!
[19:57] <+MikeRennaker> Thank You Dan
[19:57] <~Dan> Okay! Why don't we move on to your settings. Could you give us a quick rundown of them?
[19:58] <+BenRogers> When we played at GenCon, it took most people about 10 minutes to figure out the mechanic and within an hour, they were explaining it to me. :)  "Okay, I got a Mark and 3 Ticks, did he resist?" "Yes, for 3 Ticks" okay, then I have a Mark against him, I do Major damage with 4 boxes."  It was delightful to see people catch on so quickly.
[19:58] <~Dan> (And Mike, please feel free to chime in wherever you like.)
[19:58] <+MikeRennaker> Will do. And Thank You.
[19:58] <+BenRogers> Our first four settings are: ElfWood, Promised Sands, Extraordinary Voyages and Mytharia.
[19:59] <+Geek2theRight> Promised Sands sounds very familiar. Please elaborate.
[19:59] <+BenRogers> ElfWood is a fantasy world where we twist things up a bit and also try to "explain" common fantasy tropes.  Part of our joy of creating worlds is "genre bashing" and adding a bit of "wonk".  We do that a bit in ElfWood, though it is a somewhat "typical fantasy realm" -- with a twist.
[20:00] <~Dan> (Why don't you run down each one of them, then come back to Promised Sands to address Geek's question, Ben?)
[20:01] <+BenRogers> Promised Sands was originally released in 2003 under BBRACK Productions. When Ren and I (two of the six members of BBRACK) moved on to Harsh Realities, we brought the property with us. It's a dark, desert fantasy that is actually more of a post-apocalypse world.
[20:01] <+BenRogers> The apocalypse, in this case, was an asteroid bombardment, as opposed to a "crime against humanity" like nuclear war.
[20:02] <+BenRogers> Extraordinary Voyages is our take on Steampunk. It's more of a steampunk/sci-fi realm instead of the usual steampunk/fantasy offerings. We developed a whole new solar system, built some rules around it and situated a number of unusual races and cultures in the world.
[20:03] <+MikeRennaker> The nice thing about Promised Sands it that the world could be played in either genre. As a dark fantasy setting OR as a Post Apoc setting and works fine in both.
[20:03] <+BenRogers> Mytharia is en epic fantasy, kit-bash, genre clash, high fantasy world of warring mythologies and mythos. The world of Mytharia is shattered and vaious factions, lead by the pantheons of just about every major culture, fight it out for dominance.
[20:03] <+BenRogers> That's the thumbnail view.  Feel free to ask specific questions. :)
[20:04] <~Dan> Did you have any other questions about Promised Sands, Geek2theRight?
[20:05] <~Dan> If not, I do... :)
[20:05] <+Geek2theRight> I guess I just heard the name back in 2003 and it stuck. The details don't sound familiar though.
[20:05] <+BenRogers> If you saw a book with a two-tailed scorpion on it, that was it. :)
[20:06] <~Dan> One issue I had with the original version of Promised Sands was the lack of information about the surviving "modern" humans. Do you address that any further in PS 2e?
[20:06] <+BenRogers> That's a really good question. Allow me to explain...
[20:06] <+BenRogers> In the original plan--back in 2003--we had three books slated.
[20:07] <+BenRogers> Book 2 dealt with a war between the Ch'ak and the Dry Denizens (modern humans).
[20:07] <+BenRogers> Book 3 dealt with the Wet Denizens joining the conflict.
[20:07] <+BenRogers> We still have those completed books.  I'm chasing down the rights to the writing to be sure that I have them.
[20:08] <+BenRogers> If so, then some of that material may make it intothe Sixcess version.
[20:08] <+Geek2theRight> What's a Chak?
[20:08] <+BenRogers> TS Liukart actually wrote quite a bit of great stuff.
[20:08] <+BenRogers> Ch'ak are "dwarf klingons with tusks" for wont of a longer description.
[20:09] <+BenRogers> Their race is "Suv'ik" and their culture is "Ch'ak".
[20:09] <+BenRogers> Promised Sands was built around the concept that you have a race, a culture and a career that define you.
[20:10] <+BenRogers> For instance, I'm Human, from the United States and I'm a Product Manager.  That would be the basis for writing "me" up.  In Promised Sands, you picked your race, your culture and the career of your character and that gave you the basics of your character for creation.
[20:10] <~Dan> If I can interject here, one of the things I really liked about PS was the distinction between culture and race.
[20:11] <+BenRogers> We've had a lot of fans contacting us over the last few weeks, apparently there is some word out that PS is coming back. Many of them have said they liked that concept.  We're intending to keep it in the Sixcess version.
[20:11] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:11] <+Geek2theRight> I remember a game from 1996 or thereabouts that made a similar distinction between race and culture.
[20:12] <+BenRogers> Normally character generation in Sixcess is priority based--but in Promised Sands it will be more lifepath based with race, culture and career providing the starting point.
[20:12] <+Delgrim> PS?
[20:12] <+BenRogers> Promised Sands
[20:12] <+Delgrim> Oh, ok.
[20:12] <+Delgrim> Sorry just jumped in.
[20:13] <~Dan> No problem, Delgrim. Chime in whenever you like.
[20:13] <+BenRogers> When I first came up with the concept, I was a sophomore in college...  1990? Anyway, I brought that to the table when we first designed Promised Sans.
[20:13] <+MikeRennaker> It is actually my prefered way of creating a character.
[20:14] <+BenRogers> The nice thing about bringing PS back is that we only really need to get some new artwork and layout, then tailor the gameworld to the new mechanic (basically re-writing character generation and development) and it's ready to go.
[20:14] <+BenRogers> Burning Wheel came out shortly after PS and used a lifepath character gen system, too.
[20:15] <~Dan> You mentioned a couple of races crossing over from PS to EV?
[20:15] <+BenRogers> Dark Conspiracy, following the legacy of Twilight: 2000 and Traveller, was also lifepath based.
[20:15] <+Delgrim> Can you give a simple example about this character creation?
[20:15] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[20:15] <+BenRogers> Dan's question first, then your's, Dilgrim. :)
[20:15] <+BenRogers> There are two races that we're bringing from PS into Extraordinary Voyages (EV).  The Numid and the Andw'ahr.
[20:16] <+BenRogers> In PS there was mentioned a teleportation travel network.  But, if the coding was done wrong, people just went ... away.  Well, one of those groups landed on one of the moons of EV and slowly integrated into the Vektran culture.
[20:16] <+BenRogers> Delgrim, An example of lifepath creation...
[20:17] <~Dan> Does that mean that your four settings are part of the same multiverse? (Del's question first, obviously.)
[20:18] <+BenRogers> First, you choose your race, culture and career.  Each of those give you "bumps" in the areas that they emphasize.  Then you "age" your character through the first stage of his career. You gain some skills, some money--but could make an ememy or even become injured.  You do this multiple times until ou decide your character is the age you want to play...
[20:18] <+BenRogers> ...and then you "muster out" into game play.  there are negatives to aging your character too far--deterioation of attributes, enemies, injuries, etc.
[20:18] <+BenRogers> In fact, you *can* die in character generation if you go too far... ;)
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[20:19] <+BenRogers> Dan, we've always had the concept of a "nexus" world that allowed PCs to move between the realms. I was always a big fan of Torg and loved the genre bash that you could do there.  Clearly, if you have a power in one realm, you may not have it in another.
[20:20] <+Delgrim> So it's quite the same as in T2000 or Dark COnspiracy but there's possibility of injury or enemies?
[20:20] <+BenRogers> However, we don't have anything on the slate for this coming year that would define that world--but the mechanic is universal, so you could just move the character over and it would work fine.
[20:20] <~Dan> Howdy, jcfiala!
[20:21] <~Dan> Ben: Hmm. I wonder if Nexus: the Infinite City is available...
[20:21] <+BenRogers> Delgrim, yes.  Certain career choices have more chance of injury and enemies.  For instance, you can be a criminal and fail a roll at the end of one stage and be forced to go to prison for the next stage--and in prison you can be involved in a riot and take an injury (or die).
[20:21] <+Delgrim> Or very likely get enemies or/and "friends" you don't want to have.
[20:22] <+BenRogers> Our idea of "nexus" (and I put quotes around it because it's jus a concept, not a name) was more like "Callahan's Cross Time Saloon".
[20:22] <+BenRogers> Delgrim, indeed.
[20:22] <+BenRogers> There is also the option to gain exotic contacts. Some career actually gave you very little enhancement--but you got contacts that could give you resources that you couldn't find any other way.
[20:23] <+BenRogers> In Promised Sands, that was "otec" -- or the Dry Denizens technology.
[20:23] <+MikeRennaker> This can also affect what careers are open to you once you leave your current occupation and in the case of the example your prison term.
[20:23] <+Geek2theRight> Like the bar at the end of Quantum Leap!
[20:23] <+BenRogers> Geek, something like that, yeah. :)
[20:24] <+BenRogers> Yes, as Mike said, some of the careers limited your options later--like you could not be a Magistrate if you'd ever served a Prison term.  (Though there were ways to obscure your background--but you risked being found out and faced a worse problem if you failed the roll).
[20:24] <+BenRogers> Character generation became a "sub game" in and of itself.
[20:24] <+BenRogers> For people who love making characters, it could make for a fun evening of just making a group of people using the lifepath creation.
[20:25] <+Geek2theRight> I like when group chargen is baked in.
[20:25] <+BenRogers> I had one player who deliberately went to prison because he wanted that as part of his backstory.
[20:25] <+MikeRennaker> It did for us many nights doing its creation period.
[20:26] <+BenRogers> Dan, the plan is currently to kickstart ElfWood in November, PS in mid December and EV in February.  We are toying with the idea of kickstarting Sixcess (just for some art and layout help) in October.
[20:27] <~Dan> And what was the fourth one, again?
[20:27] <+BenRogers> Mytharia.
[20:27] <~Dan> Do you see any risks in having two fantasy settings?
[20:27] <+BenRogers> We have "penciled" it in for pre-GenCon.  We're not sure what unforseen events may occur between now and GenCon 2013, so we are making plans in pencil.
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[20:31] <+BenRogers> Yes, I do.  However, Mytharia and ElfWood both have a very, very different feel to them.  ElfWood has more of a Renaissance/17th century/seafaring feel.  Mytharia is more "mythological high fantasy with clockwork technology".
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[20:32] <+BenRogers> ElfWood is centered on an archipeligo with seafaring as a major element of three primary cultures.
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[20:32] <+BenRogers> Sailing in Mytharia is done in the clouds. ;)
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[20:33] <+BenRogers> Also, in Mytharia, you don't play a "pure" race.  All characters are "blended".  Your heritage determines what elements are available to the character and during character generation, you get to pick from the list available from your ancestors.
[20:34] <+BenRogers> These "crossbloods" can also gain additional aspects of their heritage as they advance.
[20:34] <~Dan> What sorts of races are involved?
[20:34] <+willows> that's interesting!
[20:35] <+BenRogers> Everything from "angelics" to "elves" to "dwarves" to "felinoids" to "orcs" to "mecanicals".
[20:35] <+BenRogers> There's about two dozen of them, if I recall correctly.
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[20:35] <+BenRogers> I think Ren played a reptilian/felinoid/angelic cross and bascailly wound up with a flying crocodile-lionman
[20:35] <~Dan> So both Mytharia and Elfwood have the "classic" fantasy races?
[20:36] <+BenRogers> Mytharia has them--but you can't play any of them "pure".  The most pure you could play would half-breeds--two races blended.
[20:36] <+willows> you are aware of that old-school sf&f art website that is also named elfwood, i assume?
[20:37] <+BenRogers> Yes, I am.  ElfWood was named because of the lifecycle of the elves.  They are actually born from the trees and when they die, they sprout a sapling from their heartwood that grows into a tree and connects back to the roots and branches of other ElfWood trees.
[20:37] <~Dan> What's the opposition?
[20:37] <+Geek2theRight> I knew the name was familiar!
[20:37] <+BenRogers> The trees are--literally--their ancestors and their offspring.
[20:37] <+BenRogers> Opposition?
[20:37] <~Dan> In Mytharia, I mean.
[20:37] <~Dan> Who are the baddies?
[20:37] <+Delgrim> Nemesis?
[20:38] <+BenRogers> It is the Faction Wars.  They have been raging for thousands of years.
[20:38] <+Geek2theRight> Can elves cross pollinate with other races?
[20:38] <+BenRogers> I have to admit that I'm not as well versed on Mytharia.  It's Scott's baby and I've been head-down over Sixcess, EW, PS and EV...
[20:38] <+BenRogers> In Mytharia, yes.
[20:38] <+MikeRennaker> Your enemies changing depending on hat team your are fighting for.
[20:38] <+BenRogers> In ElfWood ... sort of.
[20:38] <+BenRogers> In ElfWood, we have "half-elves" that are half human and half elven-- but they were magically created.
[20:39] <~Dan> What are the races in EV?
[20:39] <+BenRogers> EW also has M'raak that are half elf, half orc -- that  is because thorn trees are formed form the violent death of an Elf, and it produces thorny nuts that grow orcs and ogres. Since they are of the same genetic stock, they can cross pollinate.
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[20:40] <+BenRogers> EV-- the steampunk/sci-fi realm...
[20:40] <+BenRogers> Humans -- six distinct types
[20:40] <+BenRogers> Vl'Ren -- lizard-like with four distinct types
[20:40] <+BenRogers> Gheel -- amphibians
[20:41] <+BenRogers> Anders -- basically dwarves/halflings, but only in stature.
[20:41] <+BenRogers> Numid -- straight out of PS
[20:41] <+BenRogers> M'ladik -- orcish types
[20:41] <+Delgrim> When you look the few (and maybe most memorable) fantasy worlds, there's always the ultimate menace somewhere. Is there any of that in Elfwood?
[20:41] <+BenRogers> Arbri -- arborial reminiscent of the creature in Splice
[20:41] <+BenRogers> Gr'wuk -- four armed wookiees
[20:42] <+BenRogers> Tunvul -- wolfman-esque
[20:42] <+BenRogers> Pinnip -- seal folk
[20:42] <+BenRogers> Phew! That's all the races from all five worlds of EV.
[20:42] <+BenRogers> ElfWood has a few potential "ultimate menaces".  The most obvious (in my mind) are the creatures of the Shadowrealm.
[20:42] <+Geek2theRight> Seals!
[20:42] <+BenRogers> However, each race can potentially be a steamroller of nastiness that -- unchecked -- could destroy the world.
[20:43] <+BenRogers> Yes, Sealfolk. :)
[20:43] <+BenRogers> And they're actually quite cool.
[20:43] <+Delgrim> Shadowrealm is located in same world or is it sort of different plane?
[20:43] <+BenRogers> The best way I can explain it in short space is "where Frodo went when he put on the ring"
[20:44] <+Delgrim> Check.
[20:44] <~Dan> I just can't see that.
[20:44] <+Delgrim> Kind of limbo then?
[20:44] <+BenRogers> One of the seriously nasty menaces in the world of EW are the Kague.  The ratling race that was created when the Blood Elves (Sanguine) used rats to deliver a magical virus to the Humans.  It mutate the rats into the Kague and they have the potential to be a really, really nasty problem.
[20:44] <+BenRogers> Cant see what?
[20:45] <~Dan> (Like the place Frodo goes when he puts on the ring.)
[20:45] <+BenRogers> Oh... Sigh.  *Tosses Dan a Strike die*  You earned it, but it was a stretch... ;)
[20:45] <~Dan> Heehee. :)
[20:45] <~Dan> brb
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[20:45] <+BenRogers> Strike dice are given to players (or they can earn them in specific ways) in Sixcess as rewards.  I like puns, so I give out Strike dice for good puns.
[20:46] <+BenRogers> Delgrim, did I cover the questions you had?  Or was there more that you wanted to know?
[20:46] <+Delgrim> Eh, about menace or the first one?
[20:46] <+BenRogers> Just making sure I'd answered your questions.
[20:46] <+BenRogers> Btw, the Kague are a playable race in EW.
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[20:47] <+BenRogers> When the Dwarg secret comes out--both their reproduction and what their doing with the Trolls--that could be considered a menace.
[20:47] <+Delgrim> I'm quite familiar with T2000 and Dark Conspiracy so the carreer system isn't hard consept to crack. I think it's better read about the worlds some day for 20 pages will give better picture of it anyway :)
[20:48] <+BenRogers> And to the Vyrden, the prophecy of the Forest King chills them to the bone.
[20:48] <+Geek2theRight> What about Dwarg reproduction?
[20:48] <+BenRogers> There are no females.
[20:48] <+BenRogers> As the Elves are one with the trees--explaining their fascination with forests and trees.
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[20:49] <+Geek2theRight> So what do they do?
[20:49] <+BenRogers> Dwarg are one with the minerals of the earth.
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[20:50] <~Dan> So people just take them for granite?
[20:50] <+BenRogers> Dwarg "bathe" and release gametes into the waters in mineral rich pools.  Their gametes have all they need to produce another dwarg--except certain minerals. They burrow into the soil and incubate into a "child" dwarg.
[20:50] <+BenRogers> *Tosses another Strike die*  Just remember the rule, Dan: Three stirkes and you're out. ;)
[20:50] <+Geek2theRight> What are they doing with the trolls?
[20:50] <~Dan> :D
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[20:51] <+BenRogers> Trolls are normally controlled in a natural way--they cannibalize their own smaller members.  The Dwarg have been keeping the younger ones away from the older ones, allowing the population to explode.
[20:56] <+BenRogers> Basically, creating an incredibly powerful, insanely hungy, uncontrollable army that they can unleash on an island and walk away.  "Fire and forget".
[20:56] <+BenRogers> Since the Elves live in an island kingdom...
[20:57] <~Dan> We've just got a few minutes left in the "standard" Q&A; however, you're welcome to hang out and discuss your games further if you like, Ben (and Mike).
[20:57] <+Geek2theRight> That doesn't seem particularly smart.
[20:57] <~Dan> Anything you want to make sure you cover in the Q&A proper that hasn't been so far, Ben?
[20:58] <+BenRogers> And I wouldn't call them a "menacing threat" but if the Drey ever had access to an unlimited supply of Elven heartwood, they would overproduce and tip the balance of the ecology.
[20:59] <+Geek2theRight> What's a Drey?
[20:59] <+BenRogers> Just to say that when we create the worlds, we don't just toss something in and say, "here it is" and handwave it.  We think through the ramifications, the implications, the consequences.  We usually build up from a point that is thousands of years in the past to create the world where the players find themselve.s
[21:00] <+BenRogers> Drey are hive-based diminutive humanoids with batwings.  Sort of like a cross between fairies and bees -- but looking more humanoid.
[21:00] <+Geek2theRight> And they eat elves?
[21:00] <+MikeRennaker> and rather vicious.
[21:00] <+BenRogers> They eat the heartwood.
[21:01] <+BenRogers> The elven "seed", if you will.
[21:01] <+BenRogers> And they prefer it from the fruitlings, before they are "born".
[21:01] <+BenRogers> They feed the heartwood to their queen and she goes into an intense period of overproduction of eggs.
[21:02] <+BenRogers> In EW, the "default" culture is that of the Vyrden (forest) elves.
[21:02] <+BenRogers> They dominate the Stygian (dark) elves and the Sanguine (blood) elves.  They also dominate trade, economics, culture, the arts, etc.
[21:02] <+BenRogers> just as Britain dominated the seas in the 17th century.
[21:03] <+BenRogers> Ren, is there anything else you want to say before Dan ends the Q&A formally?
[21:04] <+MikeRennaker> We didnt get to talk abbout the Taurim.
[21:05] <+BenRogers> Oh, yeah, the bisonmen built on a native american motif.  Yeah.  We have those. :)
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[21:05] <~Dan> In which setting? Elfwood?
[21:06] <+MikeRennaker> Yes they are found in Elfwood.
[21:06] <+BenRogers> Interestingly, I had written up the Taurim culture completely and pitched it to my cohorts -- and then saw the WoW Bull-people when they were first introduced about a year later...
[21:06] <+BenRogers> EW.
[21:06] <+BenRogers> ElfWood has been evolving and percolating for awhile, now. :)
[21:06] <~Dan> Cool. :)
[21:07] <+etaoinshrdlu> Running through Mulgore, I once met a Tauren who farmed so much his epic mount was a tractor.
[21:07] <+etaoinshrdlu> (not really, but it makes for a good joke)
[21:07] <+BenRogers> EW also has a significant lack of mineral wealth in the Vyrden Isles -- so they don't depend on metal to make weapons and armor.  They use wood and the sap from certain trees.
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[21:08] <+BenRogers> The sap can be made into "concrete" or it can be made into a blade or even arrow tips.
[21:08] <~Dan> I'd like to thank Ben and Mike for stopping by. As I said, guys, you can hang out and continue the discussion as long as you like.
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[21:08] <+BenRogers> Dan, it was a great pleasure and I thank you for the invitation to talk about some of our favorite places.
[21:09] <~Dan> Absolutely! I hope you guys will feel free to hang out here whenever you like, by the way.
[21:09] <+MikeRennaker> Yes and Thank You for allowing me to Jump in as well.
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[21:09] <+BenRogers> The Vyrden elves also farm spiders for their silk.
[21:09] <~Dan> Certainly!

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