Thursday, November 8, 2012

[Q&A] Rafael Chandler (Scorn: The First Book of Pandemonium)

[19:02] <+RafaelChandler> Hi, everybody! I'm Rafael. I design tabletop RPGs (and I write novels and video games). My latest game, Scorn, is available in PDF-ashcan format, and will be available in print later this year.
[19:03] <+RafaelChandler> Scorn is really nasty. Vile. A horror game that goes for the viscera. Subtle like a suitcase nailbomb. Unpleasant. With a "death metal" aesthetic.
[19:03] <+RafaelChandler> Now the questions: give them unto me!
[19:03] <~Dan> Does anyone have any questions to start us off?
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[19:03] <~Dan> (Welcome, oroboros! If you're here for the Q&A, Rafael just opened the floor to questions!)
[19:04] <~Dan> (Rafael, I'll wait a sec before asking questions of my own in case someone's typing.)
[19:04] <+Ahrimanius> I have one
[19:04] <+ArsMysteriorum> What's different from Dread Unrated?
[19:04] <~Dan> (Go ahead, Ahri!)
[19:04] <+Ahrimanius> with Scorn almost out of the Door "print" will there be more in the new pandemonium line like say a new Spite how about MERCY
[19:04] <+Magnus_Ultracock> Is there anything you wrote that later even horrified YOU?
[19:04] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:05] <+RafaelChandler> That's three good ones!
[19:05] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Magnus: winner for best name)
[19:05] <+RafaelChandler> Ahrimanius - I don't think I'll release a new version of Spite anytime soon, as it came out a mere three years ago and it's still pretty solid. Also, it's a beast of a game. 420+ pages and a whole lot of art. Producing it took a long time.
[19:05] <~Dan> (Actually, Magnus, please change the nick. That one will get us in trouble with the server admins.)
[19:05] <+RafaelChandler> I'm not sure that I'm ready for a new edition of that game.
[19:06] <+oroboros> I have a question, when you're finished
[19:06] <+RafaelChandler> As for Mercy: The Third Book of Pandemonium, I've already done some preliminary playtesting. It's a postapocalyptic game with my delicate and sensitive aesthetic firmly in place.
[19:06] <+RafaelChandler> I'm thinking that I'll release the playtest doc for Mercy early next year and we'll see how playtesting goes!
[19:06] <~Dan> (Please wait until you see a "(done)" from Rafael, oroboros. Thanks!)
[19:07] <+RafaelChandler> ArsMysteriorum - What's different from Dread 2E (the "Unrated" version)? Good question.
[19:07] <+RafaelChandler> This game introduces character classes, including the Murderist (which is what happens when a demon and the victim of possession fall in love with each other and become one being).
[19:08] <+RafaelChandler> These five classes (Murderist, Nail-Martyr, Priest, War Ghoul, Hammerwitch) each have their own personae and unique stunts. In addition, the three basic character classes from Dread -- Fighter, Investigator, Sorcerer -- have been further divided.
[19:08] <+RafaelChandler> In Scorn, each has a unique list of available spells to choose from, focusing on violence, demonology, or investigation.
[19:09] <+RafaelChandler> Finally, the DM doesn't roll dice in Scorn -- everything's based on a target difficulty, which speeds things up a lot during combat.
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[19:09] <+RafaelChandler> Those are the major changes. A few new spells and demons, and I've replaced the scenarios from Dread with the scenarios found in the pages of Pent (I always preferred them).
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[19:10] <~Dan> (Thanks, Magnus!)
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[19:10] <+RafaelChandler> Magnus_Stormfall - I don't think I've ever written anything that actually scared me, though I have accidentally induced a panic attack.
[19:10] <~Dan> (Howdy, Heckboy!)
[19:10] <+Magnus_Stormfall> (<-- JP in character)
[19:10] <+Heckboy> (Hi, Dan)
[19:10] <+RafaelChandler> Certain subjects (medical problems, for example) trigger my anxiety. I was writing about the Baskra demon, which takes the form of a blood-spattered doctor, and I felt my heart rate surge and my skin prickle with heat.
[19:11] <+RafaelChandler> (That's where Hush's death scene comes from, in the fiction; and the EKG on page 10 of Dread.)
[19:11] <~Dan> (Oh, wrong Magnus. Magnus_Ultracock, again, please change the nick. Thanks!)
[19:12] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[19:12] <~Dan> (You had a question, oroboros?)
[19:12] <+oroboros> I remember hearing about Necrotroph a while back, is that coming out soon?
[19:13] <+RafaelChandler> For those who don't know -- I'm working on Necrotroph, a heavy-metal superheroes game.
[19:13] <+RafaelChandler> The playtest doc is nearly finished, but I need to run the game a couple more times to be sure. Later this year, I'll release the playtest PDF.
[19:13] <+oroboros> sweet. my group is very excited
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[19:14] <+RafaelChandler> In theory, I'll kickstart it next summer. I'm working with an artist who creates album art for metal bands. He's worked with Municipal Waste, Cannabis Corpse, some other bands. He's great!
[19:14] <+RafaelChandler> So I'm looking forward to that. The book's going to be square. It'll look like a vinyl LP case.
[19:14] <+Seras> :o
[19:14] <+RafaelChandler> It will be metal.
[19:14] <~Dan> Nice!
[19:14] <+ArsMysteriorum> That's awesone.
[19:14] <+Ahrimanius> awesome
[19:14] <+ArsMysteriorum> m*
[19:14] <+RafaelChandler> \m/
[19:14] <+Seras> \m/
[19:14] <+RafaelChandler> :)
[19:14] <+ArsMysteriorum> Hah!
[19:15] <+RafaelChandler> Question me!
[19:15] <+ArsMysteriorum> How is gameplay structured?
[19:15] <+RafaelChandler> In Necrotroph?
[19:15] <+ArsMysteriorum> In Dread, sorry!
[19:15] <+Seras> How does the d12 system work? I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the first edition, and I've been really interested in simple systems lately.
[19:15] <+Seras> I guess that piggybacks off of that "how is gameplay structured" question
[19:15] <~Dan> (Question pause there, as I'm guessing that will take some explanation.)
[19:16] <+RafaelChandler> Aha. Well, in Scorn, it's more or less the same basic formula as Dread 2E. Characters receive a trigger -- a catalyst of some kind that prompts the investigation -- and they hit various locations for clues.
[19:16] <+RafaelChandler> Along the way, they get mixed up in some manner of complicated situation, eventually resulting in the takedown of a demon.
[19:17] <+RafaelChandler> Unlike Spite, which was a widescreen game with lots of different possibilities and storylines, Scorn is pretty focused on a specific type of game, a mission-based "bug hunt".
[19:17] <+RafaelChandler> That make sense?
[19:17] <+ArsMysteriorum> Yup.
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[19:18] <+RafaelChandler> Seras - The d12 system works like this: you add one of your attributes (Violence, Traction, or Instinct) to a relevant skill (Medicine, Crime, Science). In both cases, you're talking about a number between 1 and 6.
[19:18] <+RafaelChandler> That's how many dice you roll against the target number, which you're trying to beat. The fun part is, if you get multiples, you add the number to the instances.
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[19:18] <+RafaelChandler> So if you roll three 12s, you get 3+12=15.
[19:19] <+RafaelChandler> Damage is the difference between your roll and the target difficulty. Roll a 15, against target difficulty 7, and that's 8 points of damage.
[19:19] <+RafaelChandler> There are all kinds of little things that can come up during play -- for example, you might use a stunt that lets you roll extra dice, or reroll low dice one more time, or what-have-you. But that's the core of it.
[19:20] <+Seras> Cool.
[19:20] <+RafaelChandler> Yup. It's pretty fast. The fun part is throwing spells and stunts in there, because of all the little tricks they let you do. One stunt allows you to roll two dice and add them together. So instead of rolling 7d12 and looking for the high score, you roll 2d12, and maybe you get an 8 and a 6, which would be 14, which is a great roll.
[19:20] <+RafaelChandler> That's the basics.
[19:21] <+RafaelChandler> Okay, (done)
[19:21] <+Ahrimanius> Did you expect The Books of Pandemonium to become as popular as they are now.What was your initial reaction.It does Rank up their with some Top RPGs on the Index
[19:21] <+RafaelChandler> Hola, BurntHombre!
[19:21] <+BurntHombre> Hey Rafael!
[19:21] <+RafaelChandler> Ahrimanius, I did not expect The Books of Pandemonium to succeed. I figured they were too gory/niche to make any kind of impression. I was kind of shocked at the good reviews.
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[19:22] <+RafaelChandler> Certainly never imagined that there'd be an audience for a tenth edition of the game.
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[19:22] <+RafaelChandler> But I'm damned grateful! :)
[19:22] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
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[19:22] <~Dan> Can you describe the classes?
[19:23] <+RafaelChandler> Sure, Dan!
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[19:23] <~Dan> (Welcome, lord_sassy!)
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[19:23] <+lord_sassy> What is up my peoples?
[19:23] <~Dan> (Q&A in progress!)
[19:23] <+lord_sassy> Rafael hello to you sir!
[19:23] <+RafaelChandler> The Murderist, as noted above, is a hybrid of two beings: a demon and its possessed victim. If they, linked as they are, fall in love, they become a single being: a wild-eyed sociopathic entity known as a Murderist.
[19:24] <+RafaelChandler> (Hi, lord_sassy!)
[19:24] <+lord_sassy> (Sorry to interrupt)
[19:24] <+RafaelChandler> The War Ghoul is pretty much the default character (a Disciple) from earlier versions of Dread. This is a character who's down on his/her luck, scraping rock bottom, a desperate loser with nothing left to live for.
[19:24] <+RafaelChandler> Perfect for indoctrination into a cult.
[19:25] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Hm. I like that view.)
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[19:25] <+RafaelChandler> The Priest is someone who sold their soul to a demon in exchange for power, and was recruited into the Cabal shortly thereafter. This person is more or less insane.
[19:25] <+RafaelChandler> The Nail-Martyr was an ordinary human, but was caught in a magical crossfire -- a Disciple cast an exorcism spell at a demon, missed, and hit the innocent bystander.
[19:26] <+RafaelChandler> Nail-Martyrs enjoy pain, and it makes them more powerful. The more they bleed, the more strength they give their comrades-in-arms.
[19:26] <~Dan> (That's okay, though. Who doesn't need more exorcise?)
[19:26] <+RafaelChandler> zing!
[19:26] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Haw haw haw!)
[19:27] <+RafaelChandler> And last, the origin of the Hammerwitch. Let's just say that it involves a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, a quart of Kentucky Senator bourbon, and a handful of coca leaf.
[19:27] <+Ahrimanius> hahah
[19:27] <+RafaelChandler> Those are the classes!
[19:27] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[19:28] <~Dan> How do their powers differ (other than what you already mentioned)?
[19:28] <+ArsMysteriorum> You just described the 17th Century.
[19:28] <+RafaelChandler> Each has a unique stunt that changes the gameplay. For example, when the Nail-Martyr takes more than 3 points of damage, he gets a Cabal point, which he can give to a teammate.
[19:29] <+RafaelChandler> With a Cabal point, you can roll an extra die, or you can use it to re-roll 1s.
[19:29] <+RafaelChandler> If everybody gives you Cabal points -- let's say everyone chips in and you get a total of 5 points -- you can roll 5 extra dice, or re-roll any die that comes up 5 or lower.
[19:29] <+RafaelChandler> So the more damage the Nail-Martyr takes, the more helpful he becomes. Until he dies.
[19:29] <&Le_Squide> Are these in addition to the older character types, or have you hyperfocuesd on very specific options?
[19:29] <+RafaelChandler> The Priest can communicate with cancer cells. They tell her the future.
[19:30] <+lord_sassy> How do you keep track of it all? The setting seems very detailed
[19:30] <+RafaelChandler> If the team gets stuck in an investigation, the Priest can hit up the oncology ward, yank the malignant cells out of someone, and get some answers.
[19:30] <~Dan> (Question pause after sassy's question, please.)
[19:31] <+RafaelChandler> Le_Squide: Dread 2E only had one class, really, but you could pick a Discipline (an area of focus): Combat, Magic, or Investigation. So these five classes are in addition to those disciplines. Makes it possible to have a team of four or five characters with very unique flavor/abilities.
[19:32] <+RafaelChandler> lord_sassy: There's a lot going on! It's true. Personally, when I hand a player a character sheet, I include relevant stunts and spells on it. But really, it's about as complex as I can handle -- which is to say, AD&D. I can't play games more complicated than that (not anymore -- ten years ago, sure, but not these days.)
[19:32] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[19:33] <~Dan> You mentioned spells earlier... Is that the term for all of the PCs' powers? Or is magic separate from "intrinsic" powers?
[19:33] <+RafaelChandler> Actually, let me add to that.
[19:33] <+RafaelChandler> Sorry -- lord_sassy, I meant to say, I include *the text* of stunts and spells on the character sheet (in abbreviated form). Makes it easier for the players. Not just listing the names of these things, but also descriptions.
[19:34] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: So, other than the stunts I've described, we've also got spells.
[19:35] <+RafaelChandler> These are pretty twisted. When you cast Viscera, your intestines become a mass of giant lampreys, leeches, and serpents; though anchored to your body, they tear through the skin of your belly and lunge at targets up to six feet away.
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[19:35] <+UserClone> WANT.
[19:35] <+RafaelChandler> When you cast Sexpletive, you scream a torrent of profanity that actually injures demons (which the player must then narrate).
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[19:35] <+UserClone> That is a fist full of FUCK YEAH.
[19:35] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone: :)
[19:35] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Yay justified blasphemous swearing)
[19:36] <+RafaelChandler> When you cast Bile, you spit up a huge quantity of acid and venom.
[19:36] <~Dan> (Mind the language, please, UserClone. PG-13 channel. ;) )
[19:36] <+lord_sassy> What if you are timid and afraid?
[19:36] <+UserClone> All spells should do sick s*** like that. You need to be a really demented freak to want to use MAGIC, after all.
[19:36] <+RafaelChandler> Essentially, I wanted to be sure that the players were every bit as horrific as the entities that they track down.
[19:36] <+UserClone> Also, my bad on the language. :P
[19:36] <+RafaelChandler> lord_sassy: You as the character, or as the player?
[19:36] <~Dan> (No worries. Just a friendly reminder. :) )
[19:36] <+lord_sassy> Either!
[19:36] <+UserClone> YES
[19:37] <+lord_sassy> Can you play somebody who isn't covered in nails and so forth?
[19:37] <+RafaelChandler> So, as a player, the book (which is also a free PDF) makes it fairly clear that this isn't a game for everyone, and that those who do not crave dark things (torture porn movies, death metal) might not enjoy this game.
[19:37] * +lord_sassy nods
[19:38] <+RafaelChandler> As for the player character, no, they're all pretty much horrendous entities. If you take too much spiritual damage, you have to consume human flesh.
[19:38] <+RafaelChandler> No room for timidity. The tagline for Spite was, "The earth shall inherit the meek."
[19:38] <+lord_sassy> Fair enough, that's perfectly reasonable
[19:38] <+RafaelChandler> Really, it was a result of my gaming sessions with people like BurntHombre.
[19:38] <+UserClone> MAN, I want that game. *whips the designer*
[19:39] <+RafaelChandler> This was originally designed for my gaming group, the one I've been playing with for about ten years. The system and themes just really fit with our playstyle.
[19:39] <+RafaelChandler> (Though the blasphemous parts are a result of my own twisted sense of humor/aesthetics.)
[19:39] <+lord_sassy> So do the players have to make hard choices? Do the characters believe in things? it seems very nihilistic
[19:39] <+RafaelChandler> lord_sassy: The characters must protect civilians and do the right thing, or else their Decay scores will increase past a certain threshhold.
[19:40] <+lord_sassy> IS it gonzo blood madness 24/7?
[19:40] <+RafaelChandler> At that point, they themselves become demons, and their friends must execute them.
[19:40] <+UserClone> I mean, you're still defending humanity, but yeah, you're just inevitably corrupting.
[19:40] <+UserClone> SO delicious.
[19:40] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:40] <+RafaelChandler> In order to avoid that, you must constantly strive to defend the innocent, rescue those who have been possessed, free them from torment without hurting them, and so on.
[19:40] <+RafaelChandler> As I mentioned before, you invariably find yourself in the middle of complicated situations.
[19:41] <+RafaelChandler> There's a woman being indoctrinated by a cult -- she's fragile, simple, easily swayed. Her life is in danger. Let her die, and you lose a part of your soul -- and it might be fatal.
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[19:41] <+RafaelChandler> But rescuing her won't be easy, and it could mean you get into a massive brawl with these cultists and their demon-empowered leader.
[19:41] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Nice way to focus psychopaths...)
[19:41] <+RafaelChandler> So when you go up against the demon, your chances of survival are diminished.
[19:42] <+RafaelChandler> And though some characters, like the Murderist, are clinically insane, the War Ghoul (for instance) is a down-on-her-luck type who has been given redemption -- a chance to be something more, a chance to be a hero. For her, this is a war, and she's a champion.
[19:42] <+RafaelChandler> So it's not all gore and hell and death. Not completely, anyhow.
[19:42] <+RafaelChandler> (done).
[19:43] <+lord_sassy> Your game frightens me!
[19:43] <+lord_sassy> Two thumbs up!
[19:43] <+RafaelChandler> lord_sassy: Of all my games, this is the nastiest.
[19:43] <+RafaelChandler> :)
[19:43] <+ArsMysteriorum> Recently ou wrote a book, Hexcommunicated. Will there be an RPG for that to come, as well?
[19:43] <~Dan> What's the source of the PCs' powers?
[19:43] <+Rania> I'm peversely proud of my scheme in this Exalted game
[19:44] <+RafaelChandler> ArsMysteriorum: There is an RPG based on Hexcommunicated in the works.
[19:44] <+RafaelChandler> It is being written/designed by Pawel "chimera" Cybula, and it uses the Spite rules -- it's a short hack for Spite that includes stats for all the operatives in the novel.
[19:45] <+ArsMysteriorum> NICE!
[19:45] <+RafaelChandler> (For those who don't know, my urban fantasy novel, Hexcommunicated, is about cybernetic werewolves, undead spies, and Lovecraftian WMDs.)
[19:45] <+Ahrimanius> sweet
[19:45] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: The source of the PCs' powers is the Vicar.
[19:46] <+RafaelChandler> The Vicar is the person who rounds up all of these freaks and organizes them into a Cabal. He/she teaches them to use their powers, and then tasks them with finding and killing as many demons as possible before dying in agony.
[19:46] <+RafaelChandler> Then the Vicar only shows up to see who's still alive, and to give them assignments.
[19:46] <+RafaelChandler> Some Vicars are demented street people, some wear Armani suits. No one knows what a Vicar really is, or where the 'magic' comes from.
[19:47] <+RafaelChandler> But word on the street is, Vicars are actually angels, and the magic is a gift from Heaven, a way to counterattack the invasion of demons.
[19:47] <~Dan> (brb -- please continue)
[19:47] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[19:47] <+Ahrimanius> What were your Influences going into Dread/Scorn (RPG,VideoGames,Music,Literature)
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[19:48] <+ArsMysteriorum> (love the name Vicar)
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[19:48] <+RafaelChandler> Ahrimanius -- I love gruesome cinema, particularly the New French Extremity. Films like Inside, High Tension, Martyrs, and Frontiere(s) really do it for me. I'm also a fan of movies like [REC], The Horde, and The Descent.
[19:49] <+RafaelChandler> In terms of fiction, my two biggest influences are Clive Barker (especially The Books of Blood and Cabal, for obvious reasons) and James Ellroy.
[19:49] <+RafaelChandler> Ellroy wrote L.A. Confidential, which was a fairly pasteurized family-friendly movie -- but the book will cause damage to your soul.
[19:49] <+RafaelChandler> Same goes for his other novels, like The Black Dahlia and American Tabloid.
[19:49] <+RafaelChandler> He also wrote a nonfiction account of his mother's murder -- My Dark Places -- which is harrowing and bleak. I love his work.
[19:50] <+Kerra> Clive Barker, I can definitely see. What is it that draws you to Ellroy's work?
[19:50] <+RafaelChandler> Musically, I listen to black metal and death metal -- Behemoth, Dark Tranquillity, Lord Belial, Napalm Death, Behexen, Amon Amarth, and so on.
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[19:51] <+RafaelChandler> Kerra -- James Ellroy's fiction is some of the sharpest prose you'll ever read. It's ultra-condensed; some people pick up his novel, White Jazz, and literally find it unreadable. It's cryptic, paranoid, truncated.
[19:51] <+RafaelChandler> It's also incredibly brutal. His scenes of violence are devastating. Amoral characters, heartrending cruelty, and complex plots leading to shattering revelations -- it's amazing work.
[19:52] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[19:52] <+RafaelChandler> In the immortal words of James Brown -- or the Joker -- "Hit me!"
[19:52] <~Dan> Are you familiar with Whispering Vault?
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[19:54] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: Yes, I used to have a copy. Never played it, though. Always wanted to give it a shot.
[19:54] <~Dan> I ask because Scorn reminds me of it a bit.
[19:54] <+RafaelChandler> A lot of awesome horror games like that: Kult, Chill... Just never had an opportunity.
[19:55] <~Dan> The PCs are basically "good" Cenobites.
[19:55] <+Ahrimanius> KULT Chill 2 horror classics right there
[19:55] <+RafaelChandler> Yeah! Horror games like CoC and Kult and WV were rock-solid, and definitely influential.
[19:55] <~Dan> And it has the "only players roll" thing going, too, as it happens.
[19:56] <+Seras> I put on Opeth and Between the Buried and Me, right now, just for you. I thought you should know ;)
[19:56] <~Dan> Oh! That reminds me...
[19:56] <+RafaelChandler> Seras :)
[19:56] <+UserClone> So does Spite get any more into what Vicars are, or just stir up more confusion about it?
[19:57] <+RafaelChandler> Spite has a different team leader -- the Monitor.
[19:57] <~Dan> Whispering Vault, the PCs are supposed to be real badasses, but in play, that doesn't really pan out. How bad-ass are Scorn PCs supposed to be relative to their opposition?
[19:58] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Both Scorn and Spite are very clear about the nature of the team leader -- but this NPC's backstory is in the DM section, not the player section.
[19:58] <+RafaelChandler> I mean, the ultimate decision is left to the DM, but the book specifies a couple of options that must be chosen from.
[19:58] <+RafaelChandler> Can't say more, as this is one of those games where DMs keep secrets from players, and spoilers can take some of the fun away.
[19:59] <+UserClone> Ah I see.
[19:59] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: In play, Scorn PCs can wipe the floor with humans.
[19:59] <+UserClone> So how many dice are rolled in a typical test?
[19:59] <+RafaelChandler> But depending on play style, they may have a hard time dealing with demons.
[19:59] <+UserClone> Because I was thinking of getting like ten of these badboys:
[19:59] <+RafaelChandler> If they've lost a lot of Blood, and have succumbed to Decay, they might die during the brawl.
[19:59] <+UserClone> (Link:
[19:59] <+RafaelChandler> But in Scorn, death is a good thing.
[19:59] <+UserClone> And D12-ing it up!
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[20:00] <+RafaelChandler> When you lose all your hit points, your power level goes through the roof. You are then able to close out this final case (wrap up combat, get your civilian to safety, whatever), after which you narrate an awesome death for your character.
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[20:01] <+RafaelChandler> Character death is great because it turns you into a combat monster, and then you get to light that cigarette and collapse in the snow or whatever.
[20:01] <+UserClone> Wait, so you ALWAYS win if you die, in Scorn?
[20:01] <+RafaelChandler> Well, you always become very powerful.
[20:01] <+UserClone> Nice!
[20:01] <+RafaelChandler> Going out with a bang. TPKs are glorious.
[20:01] <+UserClone> Feels very...John Constantine.
[20:01] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone: To answer your questions about dice.
[20:01] <+RafaelChandler> You usually roll between 6 and 18 dice.
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> 18 is the max, and you typically add an attribute to a skill, so you're going to roll 5 or 6 dice right there.
[20:02] <+UserClone> oh wow, I'd run out of fingers. I should totally stock up on D12s
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> Add some stunts or a cool description, and you can get some extra dice in there. Use magic, and you get even more.
[20:02] <+UserClone> It only uses D12s, yes?
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> Correct, only d12s.
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> 18 is the recommended number so you don't run out.
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[20:02] <+UserClone> There's nothing like rolling a fistful of dice to make you feel like a badass. :)
[20:02] <+RafaelChandler> :)
[20:03] <~Dan> When you roll dice, are you trying to beat the target number with just one die out of the pool?
[20:03] <+UserClone> So tell us about Mall Jhongg/ Mall of the dead. What's going on with that? Pretty close to where you're happy with it?
[20:04] * +UserClone waits his turn
[20:04] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: Correct. Or one set of multiples.
[20:04] * ~Dan nods
[20:04] <+RafaelChandler> So if you have a target difficulty of 10, and you roll something like 11, 9, 9, 9, 4, 1 -- then you could say, I got an 11.
[20:04] <+UserClone> Oh, so do you get some better result if you get multiple dice over the TN?
[20:04] <+RafaelChandler> But it would be better, of course, so look at those three 9s and say, I got a 12.
[20:04] <+UserClone> ...?
[20:04] <+RafaelChandler> (Because 9+3=12.)
[20:05] <+UserClone> OH.
[20:05] <+UserClone> Neat~
[20:05] <+UserClone> *!
[20:05] <+RafaelChandler> Yeah, exactly. Any multiple, you add the number to the instance. Two 5s is a 7 (2+5).
[20:05] <+RafaelChandler> So you see how far over the target number you went, and that's your damage (in combat).
[20:05] <+UserClone> so three 8s is 11, and so forth. Nice!
[20:05] <+RafaelChandler> Yep.
[20:05] <+UserClone> So tell us about Mall Jhongg/ Mall of the dead. What's going on with that? Pretty close to where you're happy with it?
[20:06] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Mall Jongg!
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[20:06] <+RafaelChandler> Yeah, so that's a game I've been working on over these past few years, and it uses Mah Jongg tiles.
[20:06] * +UserClone commits seppuku over a spelling error
[20:06] <+UserClone> Sheeshe
[20:06] <+UserClone> *Sheesh, even
[20:06] <+RafaelChandler> s'okay! there are multiple spellings.
[20:06] <+UserClone> lol
[20:06] <~Dan> Inspired by that other Dread game, perchance? :)
[20:06] <+RafaelChandler> hahaha
[20:06] <+UserClone> Doesn't seem to be
[20:06] <~Dan> Oh, wait... That's Jenga.
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[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> You could say that, I guess! Mainly, it's because of my wife.
[20:07] <+UserClone> It's more like War, right?
[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> She used to work at Activision.
[20:07] <+ArsMysteriorum> Rick!
[20:07] <+UserClone> the card game?
[20:07] <+Keyes> hey
[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> She worked on a bunch of Mah Jongg computer games while she was there.
[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> Hi, Keyes!
[20:07] <+UserClone> Heh
[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> We're talking about an RPG that uses Mah Jongg tiles.
[20:07] <~Dan> (Welcome, Keyes!)
[20:07] <+Keyes> Hey, Raph, Dan
[20:07] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Keyes was a regular on the old Dread forums)
[20:07] <+RafaelChandler> So, my wife, she worked on a video game about Mah Jongg. And after we were married, I asked her about it, and she taught me how to play.
[20:08] <+UserClone> Oh, Mrs. Chandler. Thank you for inspiring your husband to make EVEN MORE delicious and demented RPGs.
[20:08] <+RafaelChandler> And I thought it would be cool to use Mah Jongg tiles for a role-playing game.
[20:08] <+RafaelChandler> The idea behind Mall Jongg is:
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[20:09] <+RafaelChandler> It's the 1980s. A masked slasher is stalking the mall. A few teenagers (a jock, a nerd, a cheerleader, a stoner, a virgin) must survive the night. And rock out to The Cars.
[20:09] <+RafaelChandler> And you play it with Mah Jongg tiles, of course.
[20:09] <+RafaelChandler> But there are all these variants of the game, like Mall of the Dead.
[20:09] <+ArsMysteriorum> (Let the Good Times Roll)
[20:09] <+RafaelChandler> Mall of the Dead is a zombie movie simulator. A bunch of people who don't like/trust each other are locked inside a mall, and the zombies keep trying to get in...
[20:10] <+RafaelChandler> Classes include Honcho, Survivor, Bastard, and Scientist.
[20:10] <+RafaelChandler> And you don't need to know how to play Mah Jongg to play this game! The rules specify what you do, and when.
[20:10] <+UserClone> Yay, I wanna be the bastard!
[20:10] <+RafaelChandler> If you can play poker or rummy, then you can play Mall Jongg.
[20:10] <+UserClone> So if you're good at Mah Jongg, would that give you an edge, system mastery wise?
[20:10] <+RafaelChandler> The Mall of the Dead playtest doc is being proofread for typos and such, and should be done by early next week.
[20:11] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - No, not really. It's not close enough to the actual game's system to help.
[20:12] <+RafaelChandler> Good question, though. But the playing field is level!
[20:12] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[20:12] <+UserClone> Great news, there~
[20:12] <~Dan> How effect are mundane weapons in Scorn?
[20:12] <+RafaelChandler> Dan - In Scorn, if you attack someone with a weapon, the damage bonus is applied after you roll. So if the difficult is 9, and you roll 12, then you do 3 points of damage, plus whatever your weapon gives you.
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[20:13] <+RafaelChandler> Knife gives a +1, revolver +2, and so on.
[20:13] <+UserClone> So if you match the TN, you still hit, just without adding any damage, yeah?
[20:13] <+UserClone> besides the weapon damage?
[20:13] <~Dan> Well, let me rephrase: How effective are they against demons?
[20:13] <+RafaelChandler> Right, if you roll 10 against 10, you don't do any damage unless you've got a weapon.
[20:14] <+RafaelChandler> Against demons, effective, but not lethal. Most demons are really powerful.
[20:14] <+Death_Orifice> How do you normally write? When, how long each day, which programs/tools/software, etc?
[20:14] <+RafaelChandler> You need to use strength spells for hand-to-hand combat, or magic like Sexpletive that lets you injure them just by yelling.
[20:14] <+RafaelChandler> Death_Orifice: I mostly use NeoOffice Writer. I just type everything there, unless I'm on the road and I scribble into a notebook.
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[20:15] <+RafaelChandler> I write all day. When I'm not writing video games, I write novels or tabletop RPGs. I put in a good forty a week every week.
[20:15] <+UserClone> So you write the story/plot/dialogue for video games, yes?
[20:16] <+RafaelChandler> Yeah, that's my day job.
[20:16] <+UserClone> Do you have a favorite achievement in that category?
[20:16] <~Dan> How many demons do you detail, and how hard is it to create more?
[20:16] <+RafaelChandler> My actual schedule depends on my client. If my client is in Seattle (I had a three-year gig with a Sony studio out there), then I'm up late. If the client's in Russia,  then I'm up early.
[20:16] <+UserClone> Oooo...good question, Dan.
[20:17] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - My favorite game thus far? I think SOCOM 4. It was the first SOCOM game to feature a female protagonist, and the critical reception was good.
[20:17] * ~Dan bows
[20:17] <~Dan> (That's why they pay me the big bucks.)
[20:17] <+Kerra> How do you decide which ideas are good ones vs which ones need to go in the "later" file?
[20:17] <+RafaelChandler> It was a solid game with a fairly political plot, but it was well-received.
[20:17] <+Death_Orifice> (followup) Are there days/times when you find it hard to motivate yourself to write? In those cases, what do you do, how do you get down to it?
[20:17] <+Ahrimanius> that reminds me i need to download deep back for my ps 3
[20:18] <+Ahrimanius> deep black
[20:18] <+RafaelChandler> Dan - In the pages of Scorn, about forty-something. They're all pretty well-detailed. They descriptions go on for pages. Mostly, I focus on their feeding patterns -- who they seek out (the lustful, the covetous, the murderous) and what they do to those people.
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[20:18] <+UserClone> Yay for a female protagonist in a military tactical game! :D
[20:18] <+RafaelChandler> And I document the way that the demon torments innocent bystanders. And the ways that a demon will conceal itself. It's pretty thoroughly detailed. It's not really hard to create more of them.
[20:19] <+RafaelChandler> But I've got a lot of them in there already, so I don't think I added too many this time around. I like the lineup. There's the Curhadac demon, which makes artwork out of its victims' bodies, and there's the Laradina, which seduces a powerful man and then mutilates all the women in his life (wife, mother, daughter, anyone).
[20:19] <+RafaelChandler> I like my demons.
[20:19] <+UserClone> Wow, neat! Sounds thorough.
[20:19] <~Dan> Do you work from a discrete menu of demon powers, or do you just write up the powers for each demon however you like?
[20:20] <+Kerra> That's mad crazy. Love it!
[20:20] <+UserClone> So how easy would it be to port in a demon from a different system. Say, D20 or Fear Itself.
[20:20] <+RafaelChandler> Kerra - Hard to know. I had an idea for a novel about superheroes and supervillains, but I'm committed to writing the next Hex novel, so the caped crusaders will have to wait until next year. My gut usually tells me when to move forward on a project, and when to wait. I trust my instinct, and I hope for the best.
[20:21] <+RafaelChandler> Death_Orifice: I am always motivated -- I've been writing video games for about ten years, and I just can't afford writer's block, so I plow through it like the obstinate bastard that I am. But my preference is always to write in the afternoon/evening, after I've had a chance to get my head together. I pull all-nighters a lot towards the end of a project.
[20:21] <+RafaelChandler> Sleep all day, get up around 3, eat something, work out, write all evening, watch a slasher movie, go back to writing around midnight, crash when the sun comes up...
[20:22] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Yeah, it wasn't really noticed. A few sites mentioned it. Personally, it seems painfully obvious to me. A good idea. Nothing worth discussing, just a good idea to try. But it hardly ever gets greenlit by the powers that be. Go figure.
[20:23] <+RafaelChandler> (the female protagonist thing.)
[20:23] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: Actually, demon powers are left to the DM. There are guidelines -- Hunters are powerful combatants, Infectors spread hideous diseases -- and then there are mechanics for their special attacks.
[20:24] <+RafaelChandler> But the details are left to the DM, mostly because Scorn is the type of game where the DM and the players have to improvise. A lot of the work of world-building is dumped on the players.
[20:24] <+RafaelChandler> The DM asks them what happens, what they see, who's coming towards them, what's in the blender, what's wrong with that pregnant woman, and so on.
[20:24] <+RafaelChandler> It allows the players to author the horror for each other. The results are usually stunning.
[20:25] <+RafaelChandler> (If you've got the right mix of people!)
[20:25] <+RafaelChandler> Mostly, the demons aren't about powers so much as tendencies -- this demon pretends to be an orphan, gets adopted, and sets out to kill her parents by staging accidents: rollerskates on the stairs, that sort of thing.
[20:26] <+UserClone> Oh wow, sounds very like a game of Ghost/Echo I played at Burning Con: "The H.A.W.K.s, hm? So what do those look like, and why are they so dangerous in large numbers?"
[20:26] <+RafaelChandler> That's where the story hooks come in, so that's what I provide. But the special effects? I have a list of suggestions, and I leave the rest to the players. Like Ghostbusters: choose the method of your execution.
[20:26] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone: Porting in a demon from another system? Very easy. You assign it Violence, Traction, and Instinct scores -- respectively, how it fights, what kind of control it has over people, and how smart it is.
[20:27] <+RafaelChandler> Then you look at hit points, armor, and magical strength. Assign these scores. Done!
[20:27] <+RafaelChandler> (done)
[20:27] <+UserClone> YAY!
[20:28] <+UserClone> I was specifically thinking of porting in creepy dudes from The Book of Unremitting Horror (GUMSHOE).
[20:28] <+RafaelChandler> Totally doable.
[20:29] <+RafaelChandler> Bring your questions unto me.
[20:30] <+RafaelChandler> Or have we reached the end of the line?
[20:30] <+Ahrimanius> im thinking of a question but my eyes keep closing LOL
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[20:30] <+RafaelChandler> hahaha
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[20:30] <+RafaelChandler> What time is there, amigo?
[20:30] <+Kerra> I have you sleep? Your output is amazing.
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[20:31] <+Kerra> you ever sleep?
[20:31] <+Ahrimanius> 3:30am
[20:31] <+J_Arcane> Sleep is for people who aren't game designers.
[20:31] <+RafaelChandler> Kerra - My day job involves me writing about post-apocalyptic biker cannibals and giant robots.
[20:31] <~Dan> Do I recall correctly that the game doesn't look fondly on subtle solutions?
[20:31] <+RafaelChandler> So when I punch out, I'm still pretty refreshed!
[20:32] <+RafaelChandler> Dan - Scorn definitely rewards the sneaky types, if you're an investigator. Using skills like Charm and Crime to get past people, or pick locks, you can gather intel on the situation without combat.
[20:32] <+RafaelChandler> And there are lots of spells that make invisibility, impersonation, and stealth possible -- as well as influence or hypnosis.
[20:32] <+RafaelChandler> So there are ways to close out a case without putting the hurt on ordinary people.
[20:32] <+RafaelChandler> Or blowing up cars. Or setting buildings on fire.
[20:33] <+RafaelChandler> Though obviously those things are great fun.
[20:33] <+RafaelChandler> J_Arcane - Truth!
[20:33] <+Keyes> What can you say about the game based on Hexcommunicated?
[20:34] <+RafaelChandler> Keyes - It uses the Spite engine, and it's being designed by Pawel Cybula. It features stats for Vampoules and Fearwolves, plus new (exclusive) FAE operatives like the Hellemental.
[20:34] <+RafaelChandler> FAE = Force Amplified Entity
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[20:34] <~Dan> Howdy, DB!
[20:35] <+ArsMysteriorum> Love that acronym.
[20:35] <+Ahrimanius> Will Scorn be available in both soft and hardcover variants?
[20:35] <+ArsMysteriorum> Some interesting and cohesive correlations in the fae->'supernatural' entities.
[20:35] <+RafaelChandler> Yeah, definitely. And because it's not a new game, just a slightly updated version, I'm selling it at cost. Softcover, $13. Not sure what hardcover is.
[20:36] <+RafaelChandler> But this isn't a for-profit book. This is a thank-you to the mad bastards who kept it going for 10 years.
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[20:36] <+UserClone> So mostly, Scorn is a game about turning your guts into horrible biting hagfish and using them to eat the face off of demons who enjoy mutilating the babies of horny men?
[20:36] <+RafaelChandler> ArsMysteriorum - Yeah, the FAE are interesting stuff. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the novel! But don't read the RPG hack first, it'll ruin some surprises.
[20:36] <+UserClone> SOUNDS GOOD.
[20:36] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Yeah... That's it. That's my elevator pitch. THANK YOU!
[20:37] <+UserClone> LOL
[20:37] <+UserClone> Totally.
[20:37] <+UserClone> You can quote me on that. Especially the "SOUNDS GOOD" part, because I'm eating this up.
[20:37] <~Dan> What sorts of abilities do characters in Spite have?
[20:37] <+RafaelChandler> +1
[20:37] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: Spite is a completely different vibe.
[20:37] <+RafaelChandler> In Spite, though the characters (Zealots) have similar stunts and powers, they also have a different set of magics to choose from.
[20:38] <+UserClone> Wait, aren't angels *worse* than demons?
[20:38] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Exactly. The angels of Spite make the demons of Scorn look cute by comparison.
[20:38] <+RafaelChandler> Particularly the Ophanim, which are the angels deployed by God to obliterate cities.
[20:39] <+RafaelChandler> First Sodom, then Gomorrah, and now Winston-Salem, NC.
[20:39] <+RafaelChandler> The angels wiped out about 1.5 million people in an afternoon.
[20:39] <+RafaelChandler> The Ophanim, which are Lovecraftian horrors that knock skyscrapers over as they shamble around, can only be defeated if you bring out the big guns.
[20:39] <+RafaelChandler> Spells like Maledictions and Desecrations, which are so powerful that they cause damage to reality -- and to these massive angels.
[20:40] <+RafaelChandler> For example, one spell goes like this --
[20:40] <+RafaelChandler> (one sec)
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[20:41] <+RafaelChandler> The caster tears the veil of reality aside, and people for miles around suddenly catch a glimpse of the perfect harmony and contentment that was meant for our species;
[20:41] <+RafaelChandler> for some, the revelation is a catalyst for insanity, but others are delighted for the momentary flash of paradise.
[20:41] <+RafaelChandler> The caster harnesses that energy and creates a powerful shield from their souls, which the caster uses to deflect attacks from the Ophanim.
[20:41] <+RafaelChandler> Those who are driven mad by the epiphany eventually become Raum angels. The caster receives a defend bonus of 4.
[20:41] <+UserClone> Aw, crap.
[20:41] <+RafaelChandler> And that's the spell called Acheron. There are others that erase memories of thousands of people, or wipe out all that was good or beautiful in a place.
[20:42] <+RafaelChandler> The magic is big, the spells are big, the angels are huge. Some of them.
[20:42] <+RafaelChandler> Most are like the demons of Scorn -- humanoids, twisted and vile.
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[20:42] <+UserClone> So in order to defeat the horrible entity from beyond the veil (which is a giant, city-destroying angel), you have to put people in euphoric ecstasy, and make millions of smaller horrible entities in the process?
[20:42] <+UserClone> ...
[20:42] <+UserClone> SOUNDS GOOD.
[20:42] <+UserClone> lol
[20:43] <+ArsMysteriorum> I really enjoyed Spite.
[20:43] <+Brocktoon> It's a good game
[20:43] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Yep!
[20:43] <+UserClone> Can't wait for my copy. :D
[20:43] <+RafaelChandler> Thanks, both!
[20:43] <+ArsMysteriorum> It still remains the game responsible for the most fun I've had in an RPG.
[20:43] <+RafaelChandler> :)
[20:43] <+UserClone> I will buy so many D12s in your name, Raph?
[20:43] <+UserClone> *! even.
[20:43] <+RafaelChandler> :D Good stuff.
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[20:43] <+UserClone> And I WILL convince my fellow gamers to play this bleak, awful, soul-crushing game, even if I have to trick them.
[20:44] <+RafaelChandler> If you can't, I'll run a session on Hangout for you. I love Hangout gaming.
[20:44] <+UserClone> "No yeah, this is totally that My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic game we've been talking about trying. YOU'LL LOVE IT."
[20:44] <+UserClone> At least the last bit's not a lie...;)
[20:44] <+RafaelChandler> Evil.
[20:44] <+RafaelChandler> :)
[20:44] <~Dan> Do I recall that there's a spell in Spite that lets the PCs go all Voltron?
[20:44] <+UserClone> Please say yes!
[20:44] <+UserClone> Yeah, Hangout ViewScream was awesome. I'd totally play Scorn with you.
[20:45] <+ArsMysteriorum> Hah! Awesome, UserClone.
[20:45] <+UserClone> Or more Viewscream, even!
[20:45] <+RafaelChandler> Dan: In a sense -- you can't combine with other player characters, but you can drag the ghosts of unborn fetuses into a monstrous entity that you deploy against the angel.
[20:45] <+RafaelChandler> Is that the one you were thinking of?
[20:45] <+UserClone> We should totally make hacks of ViewScream.
[20:45] <+UserClone> Dibs on playtesting any future versions of that system!
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[20:45] <~Dan> I think so, yes.
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[20:46] <+UserClone> Also, JAYSUS, with the amazing back cover blurbs you spit out. I mean,
[20:46] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - ViewScream's got one hack that's set in a medieval fantasy world ("Crystal Ba'al"), and I'm working on a zombie one where your characters are Prime Minister, President, Head of CDC, and Soldier.
[20:46] <+ArsMysteriorum> I still wonder what you're interpretation of '... and I'll form, THE HEAD!' would be, RafaelChandler.
[20:46] <+ArsMysteriorum> your*
[20:46] <+UserClone> You had me at "drag the ghosts of unborn fetuses."
[20:46] <+RafaelChandler> And the Soldier character isn't playing on a laptop -- he's got a phone, and he's got a bunch of people wearing zombie makeup chasing him around in the woods.
[20:46] <+UserClone> HOLY DOG BISCUITS. That's amazing.
[20:46] <+UserClone> Crap, my phone service cut out!
[20:47] <+RafaelChandler> It could be. I just need to find enough people willing to cake zombie makeup on their faces and chase someone through the woods. I mean, it's going to require a bit of organization, no?
[20:47] * +UserClone RUNS.
[20:47] <~Dan> Are you still unable to say what the opposition is in Mercy? :)
[20:47] <+RafaelChandler> ArsMysteriorum: John the Baptist
[20:47] <+ArsMysteriorum> Epic Flashmob Exploitation +1.
[20:47] <+RafaelChandler> Dan - No hints on Mercy just yet. Soon! :)
[20:47] <~Dan> Ah, well. Another day, another Q&A. :)
[20:47] <+UserClone> Are the other people ACTUALLY necessary, or...?
[20:47] <+RafaelChandler> I want to get Necrotroph, Mall Jongg, and ViewScream finished. Not to mention Scorn, which is still an ashcan for the moment.
[20:47] <+RafaelChandler> Dan :D
[20:47] <+ArsMysteriorum> Ah, an answer on a silver platter.
[20:48] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Just an idea, actually. I could easily see the fourth person playing Epidemiologist or Secretary of Defense.
[20:48] <+UserClone> I mean, ViewScream didn't require ACTUAL tentacle monsters, and yet...
[20:48] <+RafaelChandler> But the idea is that you've got four people in four different parts of the world talking about zombies. And there was another one I was working on about supervillains. Legion of Doom type stuff.
[20:48] <+UserClone> I kinda like one person being the guy on the ground.
[20:48] <+RafaelChandler> And Kerra was working on a political one!
[20:48] <~Dan> Looks like we're running short on time for the official Q&A, although you're welcome to stick around and answer questions as long as you like, Rafael. Is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to mention?
[20:49] <+UserClone> You could totally make a game out of that thing on...Geek and Sundry was it?
[20:49] <+RafaelChandler> UserClone - Could be!
[20:49] <+Kerra> O
[20:49] <+RafaelChandler> Dan - Good call!
[20:49] <+Kerra> I'm excited about the zombie one.
[20:49] * ~Dan bows
[20:49] <+UserClone> Where people are dressed up as super villains and talking about the ways they're gonna take over the world and stuff.
[20:49] <+UserClone> And being jerks to each other.
[20:49] *** Seras|Shower is now known as Seras
[20:49] <+RafaelChandler> Okay, well, it was wonderful chatting with all you good people! All my games are free on (Link:,), and I encourage you to download and then torrent them.
[20:49] <+RafaelChandler> If you so desire.
[20:49] <+UserClone> Oh.
[20:50] <+UserClone> Well, Night, Raph!
[20:50] <+UserClone> Thanks for answer of the questions!
[20:50] <+ArsMysteriorum> Thanks, Raf.
[20:50] <+RafaelChandler> Yes, indeed. It's been great, and thanks for all the nice questions! I hope to game with you all at some point -- either online, or at a con sometime.
[20:50] <+RafaelChandler> Dan, thank you very much for having me here! I truly appreciate it.
[20:50] <~Dan> I'll have the log of the Q&A posted on my blog momentarily, Rafael.
[20:50] <~Dan> My pleasure!
[20:50] <+RafaelChandler> Excellent. :)
[20:51] <~Dan> And thanks to all of you who are new here. Please feel free to hang out here whenever you like. :)
[20:51] <+RafaelChandler> Good night, everybody!
[20:51] <~Dan> Good night!

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