Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[Q&A] Brett Bernstein (Precis Intermedia)

[19:10] <+brettbernstein> Hello all. I run Precis Intermedia and the man behind Active Exploits Diceless, genreDiversion games like HardNova and Ghostories, Treasure Awaits! and Warcosm, as well as the current owner of Shatterzone, MasterBook, Bloodshadows, Two-Fisted Tales, Story Engine, and the upcoming Lords of Olympus.
[19:11] <+brettbernstein> sorry, (done) :)
[19:12] <~Dan> How soon will Lords of Olympus be out?
[19:12] <+Silverlion> Will you being doing 2E versions of the Masterbook games?
[19:12] <+brettbernstein> Lords of Olympus is undergoing a final proofread and I'm waiting for a few final pieces of art, so within the next few days.
[19:13] <+brettbernstein> MasterBook will be updated, but not in the immediate future. (done)
[19:13] <+Silverlion> What is the game you created/own that you've played the most?
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[19:15] <+brettbernstein> Probably the genreDiversion 3E rules. It's got the simplicity that I like, mixed with flexibility to customize it as needed. (done)
[19:15] <&jcfiala> Dan!
[19:15] <~Dan> (Howdy, jcfiala!)
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[19:16] <~Dan> It seems that PIG is a little unusual in offering multiple "generic" game systems. Any thoughts on that?
[19:19] <+WonderRat> (Howdy, Dan)
[19:20] <~Dan> (Howdy, Wondy!)
[19:21] <+brettbernstein> Well, most of are evolutions of older systems. All three editions of the genreDiversion rules can be traced back to Active Exploits Diceless, with the final iteration evolving into a wider-reaching system due to fans asking for certain features and capabilities. The other systems are for different types of gamers. Some people want diceless, some people want story- and scene focused gaming (Story Engine), some people
[19:21] <+brettbernstein> want the detail and card deck that MasterBook offers.
[19:22] <+brettbernstein> Precis is about easy access to a variety of games, so I don't want to be limited by a single system. I want people to be able to choose a system based on their own preferences. (done)
[19:22] <~Dan> Going forward, do you plan on multi-statting your games?
[19:23] <+brettbernstein> It all depends on the game. genreDiversion games have always been cross-compatible with Active Exploits Diceless. (done)
[19:24] <~Dan> You mentioned wanting to discuss Lords of Olympus in particular. Care to give us the rundown on that one?
[19:29] <+brettbernstein> Lords of Olympus is a Diceless RPG focusing on the Greek Pantheon. That is, players portray Greek gods and demigods, children of Primordials, Titans, and Olympians. It is a stand-alone game. It is also an Amber retroclone that will have an Open Supplement License, allowing you to create your own settings and add-ons, royalty-free.
[19:30] <+brettbernstein> It was written by the RPGPundit. Love him or hate him, this is the real deal. It is a 234-page full-color PDF and/or Softcover.
[19:30] <+brettbernstein> As I mentioned, it should be available any day now. (done)
[19:30] <~Dan> What's the system like?
[19:35] <+brettbernstein> Pretty simple. Characters have four abilities: Ego, Might, Fortitude, and Prowess (plus Luck). Abilities are rated by Class: Mortal (not good), Heroic (still sub-par), Olympian (default), and Numbered (multiple tiers). Characters can also possess powers, like World-Walking, Immortality, and Olympian Magic, plus extras like Daemon Servants and Patrons. Conflict is basically a comparison of Classes, mixed with
[19:35] <+brettbernstein> environmental factors, Luck, and other elements, such as a character's Fortitude to last in a fight longer than his opponent. (done)
[19:36] <~Dan> No dex/agility ability?
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[19:40] <~Dan> (Howdy, Omega!)
[19:40] <+Omega> hi :)
[19:40] <~Dan> (Q&A in progress -- see topic. :) )
[19:41] <+brettbernstein> The game does not focus on that, but that's covered by Prowess. Ego is for mental conflict, Might is for brute force, Fortitude is for endurance and toughness, and Prowess is for battle, strategy, and melee. (done)
[19:41] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[19:41] <~Dan> And you said characters play actual gods?
[19:41] <~Dan> (By default, I mean.)
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[19:44] <+brettbernstein> Yes, or demigods. By default, the game is very high-powered. Players have to bid to get higher classes in an ability. (done)
[19:44] <~Dan> Do they play the classical Greek gods, or new gods?
[19:48] <+brettbernstein> The classical gods are mostly very powerful, with the top tiers, like Zeus, reserved as NPCs. While it is possible, I don't think it would be as much fun as playing fresh characters. (done0
[19:49] <~Dan> Seems like there's a Greek god for pretty much everything already. How do players create gods for aspects of reality that aren't "spoken for"?
[19:49] <+Dirian> God of Punnery?
[19:51] <&jcfiala> It sounds a lot like Amber, with the greek gods replacing the original Amberites.
[19:51] <&jcfiala> Not that this is a terrible idea, mind you.
[19:52] <+brettbernstein> I think there are so many aspects to life that it wouldn't be a problem to come up with a new one. Plus, a character can always be a deputy. For instance, he could work for Hephaestus and become the Lord of Daggers, or something like that.
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[19:52] <+brettbernstein> Yes, the game is set up just like Amber, replacing the family with the Pantheon. The system is compatible. (done)
[19:53] <~Dan> (Howdy, Gemini!)
[19:53] <+Gemini> (Hey, Dan! :D )
[19:54] <~Dan> How much control do the gods have over their domains?
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[19:55] <+Omega> I have looked over your company's website. Interesting mix of products you have there. Good to see Masterbook and Shatterzone come back to life. I'm also interested in a great many of your other products. It's nice to meet you.
[19:55] <~Dan> Have any questions for him, Omega?
[19:56] <+Omega> How did you manage to secure compatibility with Amber Diceless? Wouldn't licensing have been an issue?
[19:56] <+Omega> ((Yup))
[19:57] <+brettbernstein> Control over their domains depends on how many points they spend to get the realm. While the system is different in terminology, the mechanics are basically similar. I am not advertising compatibility.
[19:57] <+brettbernstein> Thanks, Omega (done)
[19:58] <+Silverlion> Hrms
[19:58] <~Dan> What are you expansion plans for Masterbook and Shatterzone?
[20:00] <+brettbernstein> I still have to re-release all of Shatterzone's supplements. As for MasterBook, the Open Supplement License allows anyone to publish sourcebooks, but I have nothing in the works right now, as I have lots of projects needing completion. (done)
[20:02] <~Dan> I forget... did you guys re-release Bloodshadows?
[20:04] <+Omega> I'm interested in what the Open Supplement License is. Could you explain it?
[20:04] <+brettbernstein> Bloodshadows is currently available in PDF and Print, yes. You can also get the Bloodshadows/MasterBook PDF bundle to save a few bucks. Also, the MasterDeck cards are included with the MasterBook PDF. You can also order a printed MasterDeck.
[20:05] <~Dan> Does someone else have the rights to reprint the D6 edition?
[20:05] <+brettbernstein> Precis Intermedia is using an Open Supplement License for Treasure Awaits, MasterBook, and Lords of Olympus. This license lets you publish wordbooks, new rules, adventures, etc. royalty free for either of these systems.
[20:06] <+brettbernstein> Bloodshadows D6 is available in PDF format only. No one else has the rights, though I have been in talks with several publishers to bring Bloodshadows and Shatterzone to other systems. (done)
[20:07] <~Dan> I have some of my players present who participated in my Two-Fisted Tales review playtest. Mind fielding a question or two about that one?
[20:07] <+brettbernstein> Sure.
[20:09] <+WonderRat> (Love that pulp game)
[20:09] <+WonderRat> ( <-----The Bronze Viper)
[20:09] <~Dan> Okay. I think we've discussed this a bit on the forums, but it seemed to me that the PCs were a little on the fragile side. While I get that you were trying to simulate the fact that pulp heroes like Doc Savage didn't scoff at guns and the like, in practice, I found that I had to go easy on my players to keep them alive. Thoughts?
[20:14] <+Omega> Is there a different between the original versions of the Masterbook Rulebook and Masterbook Companion, and those your company sells? I'm asking, Because I have my original books within arm's reach.
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[20:15] <~Dan> (Howdy, fudgebob!)
[20:15] <~Dan> (Question pause while Brett catches up, please.)
[20:16] <+fudgebob> ( :) )
[20:16] <+brettbernstein> Yeah, I didn't write this one, so I can only use my past talks with Matt Stevens. Matt is a pulp expert, so I bow to his knowledge and opinions. If I remember correctly, his take was that Pulp heroes did great things but sustained great hurt. My belief is that the cards are very important and should be saved to drive home the winning smack down and also to resist damage. That said, in my game, I would reserve regular
[20:16] <+brettbernstein> damage for major villains, while letting henchmen do the minimum possible - that's just the way I would prefer to play.
[20:17] <~Dan> I found that I needed to increase the card flow to keep the action moving full-tilt.
[20:17] <+brettbernstein> The original MasterBook rules and Companion books are mostly identical in terms of content, save for the new covers, removal of references to West End Games, and some cosmetic changes.
[20:18] <+brettbernstein> Everyone has different preferences, so I believe in doing whatever makes your game run better. (done)
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[20:22] <~Dan> What's next for GenreDiversion?
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[20:26] <+brettbernstein> Submariners for EarthAD2, followed by the EarthAD2 Expanded Edition. That's about it for now. Other projects like Tombstones n' Tumblweeds 2E (used Treasure Awaits system), Solo Wargaming Guide, and Treasure Awaits Wilderness Guide.
[20:26] <+brettbernstein> Pre-orders should also be starting soon for the full-color softcover of the 2012 One Page Dungeon Contest compilation. (done)
[20:27] <~Dan> What will be in the EarthAD2 Expanded Edition?
[20:28] <+WonderRat> Sorry I have no question, but just a comment. Just wanna say that Coyote Trial seems like a good rpg. Sorta debating between that and another game if I ever try to GM a Western game again.
[20:28] <+brettbernstein> It just brings together the core book, enhancement book, submariners book, and probably a few extra optional rules and scenarios. It's basically getting the same treatment as the Expanded Coyote Trail, Mean Streets, and Ghostories.
[20:29] <+brettbernstein> Thanks, WonderRat. (done)
[20:29] <~Dan> Hmm. Maybe a better question would be what's in the enhancement book and the submariners book.
[20:31] <+Omega> I have to say. I really like your Disposeable Heroes line. It has been a long time coming for such a product to be offered. Especially the option for custom printed cardboard figures. I don't think anyone else has done them. Are there any improvements to that line coming?
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[20:33] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[20:33] <+Ettin> Hey, anyone know if quoting dragon stuff from ddi on rpgnet is cool
[20:33] <~Dan> (And howdy, Rand!)
[20:33] <+Ettin> Oh wait you're doing a thing sorry
[20:33] <~Dan> (No problem, Ettin. #rpgnet2 is open for general chat, if you like.)
[20:34] <+brettbernstein> Ah. The Enhancement Pack includes a new character stock (class), new skills, new gimmicks, a new environment, new creatures, and a series of scenarios for that environment. The Submariners book is similar in scope, focusing under the seas, with new stocks (like Pisceans and Evolved Cephalopods), gimmicks, environment, and scenarios.
[20:36] <+brettbernstein> Thanks, Omega. There's a few new sets in the works (Romans and Bloodshadows). I have toyed with a few new options for the customizable system, but haven't worked on them for some time, because they just weren't as reliable as I had hoped. The most-recent improvement was the option to save your customizable sets and order prints. (done)
[20:41] <~Dan> (Sorry -- had to step away for a sec there)
[20:42] <~Dan> Can you please remind me of the core mechanic of GenreDiversion?
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[20:46] <+brettbernstein> Depends on the version. genreDiversion i (Coyote Trail, EarthAD2, etc.) is 2d6 roll-under ability+skill. Various difficulties can be set, which requires a particular margin to be reached. The margin is the difference between roll and skill. Now, genreDiversion 3E is 2d6 roll-over, so the roll is added to ability+skill to reach a particular difficulty value. Treasure Awaits and the upcoming Tombstones n' Tumbleweeds
[20:46] <+brettbernstein> miniatures game both use 1D6 variant of genreDiversion 3E, which is perfect for introductory and miniatures games. (done)
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[20:47] <~Dan> Will the new EarthAD use the roll-over mechanic?
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[20:49] <+brettbernstein> No. The game remains the same. The new supplement finalizes the series and gives way to the expanded edition. (done)
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[20:49] <+brettbernstein> Actually, I do have ideas for an EarthAD miniatures game and a genreDiversion 3E setting book, but nothing concrete.
[20:50] <~Dan> How difficult is it to use the 3E rules with the 2E books?
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[20:53] <+brettbernstein> Not very. Conversion notes are included with 3E. Abilities remain the same, skills are converted quickly (there's only 3 levels versus the old 8), and just add 10 to the difficulty number. Damage values are the same, as is health, although more resistant characters are the norm. (done)
[20:53] <~Dan> What game is your biggest seller?
[20:56] <+brettbernstein> As in quickest mover or all-time seller?
[20:56] <~Dan> Hmm.... How about both?
[20:57] <~Dan> What's your current fastest mover, and what's been your all-time best seller?
[20:58] <+brettbernstein> Disposable Heroes, without a doubt on both counts. Treasure Awaits! and Warcosm for , Coyote Trail, HardNova 2, Warcosm, and EarthAD 2.
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[20:58] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:59] <~Dan> Looks like we're about out of time... Any final questions for Brett, and any final thoughts, Brett?
[20:59] <+brettbernstein> Sorry. Didn't mean to send that. All the ones I listed above move well. Hard to distinguish current top sellers right now, but Treasure Awaits and Warcosm were in that group.
[20:59] <~Dan> No problem, Brett.
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[21:01] <+jtbullet> Am reading the list of seven
[21:02] <+brettbernstein> I just want to mention that if anyone is interested in either Treasure Awaits! or the One Page Dungeon Contest book (filled with full-color 1-page dungeons) that you should get in on the pre-order starting in the next week or so. The pre-order of the dungeon compilation will also include a free copy of the Treasure Awaits! Pocket softcover!!!!
[21:03] <~Dan> Nice. :)
[21:04] <~Dan> Guess we'd better call it a night, folks. I'd like to thank Brett once again for stopping by to talk about his games!
[21:05] <+Omega> Thank you for coming, Brett. Very nice meeting you.
[21:05] <~Dan> Brett, I'll send you a link to the log once I've posted it on my blog.
[21:07] <+brettbernstein> Thanks. I had a nice time.

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