Tuesday, September 4, 2012

[Q&A] Chris "Bashman" Rutkowsky (Honor + Intrigue)

[19:04] <+BASHMAN> Hi, my name is Chris Rutkowsky, and I run Basic Action Games.  I created the BASH! rpg system and more recently, Honor + Intrigue
[19:05] <~Dan> (Oh, I almost forgot -- if you don't mind, please give us a "(done)" when you're ready to move on.)
[19:05] <+BASHMAN> done
[19:07] <~Dan> So, how would you describe H+I to someone who knows nothing about it?
[19:09] <+BASHMAN> Sure.  It is a simple swashbuckling RPG modeled to emulate films like "The Princess Bride" "Three Musketeers" "Captain Blood" etc. The core rules are adapted from the Barbarians of Lemuria game system, which was a simple 2d6 based game used to run Sword & Sorcery.
[19:10] <~Dan> For those unfamiliar with BoL, could you briefly explain the relationships between attributes, combat abilities, and professions?
[19:10] <+BASHMAN> While the game can be run as pure historical fiction, there is also an optional chapter at the end called "Mysteries, Horrors, and Wonders" that allows you to add some fantastic elements like we see in "Pirates of the Caribbean", airships, magic, monsters, etc.
[19:10] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:10] <~Dan> (Whoops... sorry)
[19:12] <+BASHMAN> Sure.  In Honor + Intrigue, your attributes are called "Qualities" and they are "Might" (your strength and toughness) "Daring" (your ability to take risky, action-packed moves and resist fear) "Savvy" (your intellect, subtlety, aim, and wits), and "Flair" (your personality, luck, appeal, etc.)
[19:13] <+BASHMAN> Combat Abilities are Brawl, Melee, Ranged, and Defense.  All Heroes and Villains get 4 points to spread around there, unless they have the "Non-Combatant" Flaw
[19:14] <+BASHMAN> Then there are Careers.  This is a replacement to what most games handle through "skill lists".  Instead you pick four "Careers" your character either did in the past, or has great potential to do in the future.
[19:15] <+BASHMAN> You choose the Careers in chronological order, thus, telling a bit of your character's backstory as you make the character.
[19:15] <+BASHMAN> For an example of how they work, let's say you have the "Thief" career.  That can be used to pick a lock, sneak past a guard, leap from rooftop to rooftop, etc.
[19:16] <~Dan> (As an aside, I've compared these to Primary Traits in Over the Edge.)
[19:16] <+BASHMAN> The "Hunter" career can also be used to sneak through the woods, but is also used to set snares, skin game, survival, etc.
[19:16] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:17] <~Dan> It's my understanding that careers can offer a boost to combat once per conflict...?
[19:20] <+BASHMAN> Yes, but only if the player comes up with a good reason; the GM can veto it.  Typically at the table, I ask the player to come up with a flashback that explains how/why
[19:21] <+BASHMAN> So if you have the Duelist career, you might say "I remember a particular weakness of the style that he is fighting with and exploit it" while if you have the Assassin career you might say that you strike for a vital organ, just like they showed during your training
[19:21] <+BASHMAN> But any career can be useful in the right circumstance
[19:21] * ~Dan nods
[19:22] <+BASHMAN> A tavern wench might be able to use her past experience to bludgeon somebody with a wine bottle for instance
[19:22] <~Dan> Heh. Cool.
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[19:22] <~Dan> That being the case, though, what incentive is there to take a combat-centric career?
[19:22] <~Dan> (Howdy, Wondy!)
[19:23] <+WonderRat> (Howdy, Dan)
[19:23] <+BASHMAN> Well there are several.  For one, Careers are also useful in determining who wins ties on Initiative rolls
[19:23] <~Dan> (Talking swashbuckling action in Honor + Intrigue!)
[19:23] <+BASHMAN> So if you are in a duel, and you have more ranks in Duelist, you win the tie
[19:23] <+BASHMAN> If you are fighting on a ship and you have more ranks in Sailor, you win the tie, etc.
[19:24] <+BASHMAN> Second, your ability to make a sound argument for why your career is relevant is much greater if the career is combat oriented
[19:24] <+BASHMAN> A duelist can more easily explain how he uses his training in combat than a singer
[19:25] <+BASHMAN> Third; combat careers are useful for more things than just fighting
[19:25] <~Dan> Fair enough.
[19:25] <+BASHMAN> Soldier gives access to extra languages, survival training, resistance to illness and hunger, etc.
[19:25] * ~Dan nods
[19:26] <+BASHMAN> Duelist would allow you to know the reputation of other duelists, be familiar with the rules of dueling, to recognize weapon quality, recognize the style being used by another swordsman, etc.
[19:27] <~Dan> Speaking of deulists, could you say a bit about your rules for fighting styles?
[19:27] <~Dan> (When you're ready, of course.)
[19:28] <+BASHMAN> Yes, there are a number of Dueling Styles in the game that a character can be trained in.  These vary from the more defense oriented Spanish Style to the more offense oriented Italian (Florentine) style, the more archaic "Old Style", the flashier "French Style" etc.
[19:29] <+BASHMAN> Each style is differentiated by the maneuvers that it focuses on, and each gives its practicioners different benefits.  A master is also taught a "Final Secret" for the style, as well as gaining more Advantage over other duelists who are not masters.  Indeed, the latter part is why mastering multiple styles is very worthwhile.
[19:31] <+BASHMAN> So the Spanish Style benefit lets you spend Fortune Points to increase your Defense, or to get extra Parries.
[19:31] <+BASHMAN> The Italian style allows you to do more damage with the Main Gauche than usual, and also later lets you get a free secondary attack when you get a Mighty Success.
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[19:33] <~Dan> (Howdy, fudgebob!)
[19:34] <+fudgebob> howdy, Dan!
[19:34] <~Dan> (Honor + Intrigue Q&A underway!)
[19:35] <~Dan> You mention Fortune Points... Are those new to H+I, and how do they work?
[19:35] <+fudgebob> ( oh. ok)
[19:37] <+BASHMAN> Yes.  They are somewhat similar to the Hero Points of Barbarians of Lemuria, but they are meant to be used more frequently;  They flow across the table like a currency.  Players can earn them through play both by being heroic and when the GM makes bad stuff happen to them.
[19:37] <+BASHMAN> When you earn a Fortune Point during play, you also earn an Advancement Point
[19:37] <+BASHMAN> So there is no reason to horde them
[19:38] <~Dan> Now that's an interesting appproach... Is that the only way to earn "XP"?
[19:38] <+BASHMAN> No, you also get a standard award at the end of the game, typically from 1-3 Advancement Points.
[19:39] <~Dan> Still, that's cool that you pick up experience from being a cool player in "realtime."
[19:39] <~Dan> What can you do with Fortune Points?
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[19:40] <+BASHMAN> There is a long list.  In general, it is to help emulate the Swashbuckling genre.  Heroes in Swashbuckling movies tend to avoid falls, gunshots, etc.
[19:41] <+BASHMAN> And a Fortune Point can help do that
[19:41] <+BASHMAN> You can also use them to augment rolls to make it in a clutch situation
[19:42] <+BASHMAN> Before the roll, spend 1 to get a Bonus Die.  After a roll, spend one to add +1 to the final result.
[19:42] <+BASHMAN> So if you roll and failed by 2, you can spend 2 Fortune to make it a success.
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[19:42] <~Dan> Is there a limit to how many you can spend that way?
[19:43] <+BASHMAN> The latter?  No.  But you can only spend 1 to get a Bonus Die.
[19:45] <+BASHMAN> If the roll is important enough for you to spend 5 Fortune to turn a failure into a success, you can do that
[19:45] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:46] <~Dan> Cool.
[19:46] <~Dan> Would you care to say a bit about the supernatural in the game?
[19:47] <~Dan> (And other weirdness, like mad science?)
[19:48] <+BASHMAN> Sure.  As an option, you can have magic in the game.  This magic comes in two forms:
[19:48] <+BASHMAN> Scholarly magic like Alchemy, Talisman-Making, and Divination (these are based on historical supernaturalists)
[19:49] <+BASHMAN> And then there is Sorcery: a dark art that is unnatural and powerful; like the dark side of the force.
[19:50] <+BASHMAN> There are some supernatural secret societies, like the Bogatyrs which hunt monsters like werewolves and vampires, and also the Rosicrutians who are alchemists, the Systerood of Isis, who are adept healers
[19:51] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:51] <+BASHMAN> Wait
[19:51] <+BASHMAN> About "mad science" there are all sorts of "Clockwork punk" inventions you can build, ranging from improved firearms to airships and mechanical men
[19:51] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:52] <~Dan> Does Sorcery equate to the freeform magic from BoL?
[19:53] <+BASHMAN> Pretty much, yes; but unlike the BoL magic, it is meant to be NPC only and can be used to heal.
[19:53] <+BASHMAN> The ability of a sorcerer to instantly heal a gunshot wound is indeed a tell-tale sign of the unnatural aspect of his power
[19:53] <+BASHMAN> Done
[19:54] <~Dan> Ah... I was about to ask you about the inclusion of healing. I didn't think of self-healing.
[19:54] <+BASHMAN> Healing in game can be accomplished a number of ways.
[19:54] <~Dan> I can see how that would work a lot better than the "disco wizard" we discussed a while back. :)
[19:54] <+BASHMAN> First, you can simply spend Fortune to avoid or reduce injury
[19:55] <+BASHMAN> Second, after the battle is over, you automatically heal 1/2 the damage you took (it was just a flesh wound)
[19:55] <+BASHMAN> You can also spend some additional Fortune to heal after battle.
[19:56] <+BASHMAN> A Physician can help administer first aid to increase your healing
[19:57] <+BASHMAN> If you are unconscious, you don't automatically heal half damage, and require more serious medical attention to recover, possibly taking days
[19:57] <+BASHMAN> Done.
[19:58] <~Dan> So how "gritty" would you say the game is, overall? Not very?
[19:58] <+BASHMAN> Also, I've got an appointment coming.  Is there any last question?
[19:58] <+BASHMAN> Not very gritty; it is meant to be cinematic; but the GM can adjust that, and there is suggestions in the GM section on how to go about it.
[19:59] <~Dan> Cool.
[19:59] <+BASHMAN> Reducing what you can use Fortune points for, for example.
[19:59] * ~Dan nods
[19:59] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[19:59] <+BASHMAN> Not using "Pawns" as enemies is another
[19:59] <~Dan> Need to head out, you said?
[19:59] <+BASHMAN> Yes, I'm afraid, but thanks for having me on.
[20:00] <+fudgebob> i love BoL. I wish you good luick, BASHMAN :)
[20:00] <~Dan> No problem, Chris! Thanks for stopping by. I'll have the log of our conversation posted shortly.
[20:00] <+BASHMAN> Thank you again!

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