Friday, March 1, 2013

[Q&A] Mike Olson (Atomic Robo)

[19:08] <+MikeOlson> Hi, I'm Mike Olson, and I'm the lead writer-guy of Atomic Robo: The Roleplaying Game, based on the very excellent comic book series Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener. ARRPG is built on the Fate Core engine, but has its fair share of modifications to make it as AR-ish as possible.
[19:08] <+MikeOlson> (done)
[19:08] <~Dan> Thanks, Mike!
[19:08] <~Dan> Anyone have any questions to start us off?
[19:09] <~Dan> (I'll give'em a sec.)
[19:09] <+MrSitouh> I've read some of the stuff talking about it, and I'm curious about the template-thingies. Can you give more of an idea of how they'll work?
[19:09] <+MikeOlson> Are you talking about modes? Or the proto-PC pre-gens used for playtesting and convention games?
[19:09] <+MikeOlson> (I assume modes, but I want to be sure.)
[19:09] <+MrSitouh> Modes, yes.
[19:10] <+MrSitouh> Couldn't remember the term you'd been using.
[19:10] <+MikeOlson> I almost typed up this answer in advance, because I knew it'd come up.
[19:10] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, by the way, MrSitouh!
[19:10] <+MikeOlson> Modes are groups of thematically related skills. Every PC has three modes, rated Good, Fair, and Average.
[19:11] <+MikeOlson> By default, all the skills in a mode start off with a rating equal to their mode. So if you have Fair Action, you have all of its skills at Fair.
[19:11] <+MikeOlson> There's no real pyramid or tower or any other "skill structure" like that. The only limit is that no skill's rating can be more than its mode's rating +2.
[19:12] <+Silverlion> Hrms wierd.
[19:12] <+MikeOlson> So that guy with Fair Action, he can't have any Action skills above Great.
[19:12] <+MrSitouh> Intriguing!
[19:12] <+MikeOlson> I hear your hrms weird.
[19:12] <+Silverlion> How does the game play up the tropes of Atomic Robo and wierd science.
[19:12] <+Silverlion> I'm used to pyramid fate. :D
[19:12] <+MikeOlson> The idea is to speed up chargen as much as possible. You start with a concept aspect, pick your three modes, and you're good to go. Everything else you can fill in during play. That's the default, assumed chargen method.
[19:13] <+MikeOlson> No phases, no refresh, no pyramids.
[19:13] <+Silverlion> Has anything from Fate core made it to the new version..??
[19:13] <+Silverlion> er from Fate to AR
[19:13] <+MikeOlson> Yeah, plenty. Outcomes and actions are the biggest difference in the new Fate Core, IMO, and those are definitely there.
[19:14] <+MikeOlson> Stunts, extras, stress, consequences... all that stuff.
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[19:14] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest11! You can set your nick with the /nick command.)
[19:14] <+MikeOlson> Part of the thing that makes modes so well-suited to AR is the Science mode. The Science's modes skills are "all the Sciences." So if you have Good Science, you're Good at all Sciences to start. Then you can improve them from there.
[19:15] <+MikeOlson> Because Action Scientists usually have a pretty broad scientific background, though they also have specialties. They're capable, face-punchin' scientists.
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[19:15] <+MikeOlson> And you can make up your own modes to suit your character, if you want to get more detailed about it.
[19:15] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, jjafuller!)
[19:15] <+MikeOlson> Dr. Dinosaur's modes are Dinosaur, Action, and Crystals.
[19:15] <+fudgebob> How does skills "improvement" work?
[19:16] <+MikeOlson> Jenkins' modes are Jenkins, Action, and Survivor.
[19:16] <+MrSitouh> I <3 Jenkins.
[19:16] <+MikeOlson> Improvements work one of two ways: by picking options off of a short list, if you don't like math, or by spending points, if you do.
[19:17] <+fudgebob> *nods (and likes the non-math option)
[19:17] <+MikeOlson> I'ma go back to Silverlion's question about how ARRPG plays up the tropes of AR.
[19:17] <~Dan> Actually, before you do that...
[19:17] <+MikeOlson> One is that Science mode I mentioned. That's kind of a biggie, IMO. Two others are brainstorms and inventions.
[19:17] <+MikeOlson> TOO LATE!
[19:17] <~Dan> ...could you describe Atomic Robo in general a bit?
[19:17] <+MikeOlson> Oh. Yeah, sure.
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[19:18] <~Dan> (Nice nick, Atomico. :) )
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[19:18] <+MikeOlson> So in 1923, in the twilight of his career, Nikola Tesla builds an automatic intelligence -- a robot he names Atomic Robo.
[19:19] <+MikeOlson> Over the course of the next 90 years (happy 90th birthday to Atomic Robo this year), Robo becomes a cross between Indiana Jones, a Ghostbuster, one of those people from Planetary, and Buckaroo Banzai.
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[19:19] <+Silverlion> Familiarity with the comic helps here I imagine.
[19:19] <+MikeOlson> He has a big scientific think-tank/paramilitary problem-solving organization called Tesladyne, and a team of scientists commonly referred to as Action Scientists. They fight crime.
[19:20] <+MikeOlson> Forgive me if I make assumptions about that -- I've been totally immersed in Robo for the past year or so.
[19:20] <~Dan> I'll bet. :)
[19:20] <~Dan> I'm guessing the setting is pretty gonzo?
[19:20] <+MikeOlson> The comic is really fun, sharply written, beautifully depicted, and just plain smart. It's a great all-ages book.
[19:21] <+MikeOlson> I have nothing to do with its creation, so I can say all that unreservedly.
[19:21] <+MikeOlson> It's... yeah, I guess. I may have lost all perspective.
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[19:21] <+MorganEllis> While there are lots of Gonzo elements, it tries to stay pretty grounded.
[19:22] <+MikeOlson> It can range from crazy-gonzo Dr. Dinosaur stories to relatively personal, human-level stories. Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the South Pacific is an example of the latter, IMO.
[19:22] <+MrSitouh> Crystals!
[19:22] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, MrPrim!)
[19:22] <+MikeOlson> Yeah, it's usually grounded in some scientific roots.
[19:22] <+MrPrim> Howdy.
[19:22] <+MikeOlson> Except Dr. Dinosaur. He gets to break reality on a constant and casual basis.
[19:22] <+MikeOlson> Crystals indeed.
[19:22] <+Silverlion> Odd question: Robo himself doesn't do a lot of inventing in the that how his character sheets look?
[19:22] <~Dan> (Oh, for those of you late to the party, the floor is open to questions. Just please watch for any calls for question pauses.)
[19:23] <+MikeOlson> He doesn't have any specific abilities on his sheet related to invention, no.
[19:23] <+MikeOlson> Carl Sagan does, though.
[19:23] <+MikeOlson> And Tesla.
[19:23] <+MorganEllis> Though granted the Flying She-Devils does have some pretty gonzo elements.
[19:23] <+MikeOlson> Absolutely. But the ending is pretty personal and intimate.
[19:23] <+MrSitouh> I love that we will be getting a character sheet for Carl Sagan.
[19:23] <+Silverlion> Cool.
[19:23] <+MrPrim> Japanese kamikaze robots and jet pack sky pirates... YeA
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[19:24] <+Silverlion> I'm a bit confused by modes are modes essentially skill packages you build yourself?
[19:24] <+MikeOlson> I kinda can't recommend it highly enough.
[19:24] <~Dan> So, with all that said.... back to Sil's question? :)
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[19:24] <+MikeOlson> They can be, yeah, or you can just pick from the four standard modes of Action, Banter, Intrigue, and Science.
[19:24] <+MikeOlson> What was that question again? Oh, what makes it AR-friendly?
[19:24] <~Dan> I believe so, yes.
[19:25] <+Silverlion> And those have a set of skills for how you resolve situations under that modes penumbra?
[19:25] <+MikeOlson> Brainstorms model scientists getting together to discuss and figure out a mystery through science.
[19:25] <+MikeOlson> I wouldn't refer to it as a penumbra, because that's loaded with some PDQ stuff for me, but... sure, you can think of it like that.
[19:26] <+MrPrim> Like when the Robos team up to fight the Whatever From Outside Wherever...
[19:26] <+MikeOlson> You never make a "mode roll" -- it's always skills. Modes just provide the themes and the ceilings for your skills.
[19:26] <+MikeOlson> Exactly.
[19:26] <+MikeOlson> It happens a lot in the comics.
[19:26] <+Silverlion> I was wondering because it sounds a bit like somethng I was working on...
[19:26] <+Silverlion> Anyway. So what kind of foes will we see in the book?
[19:27] <+MikeOlson> In the game, the players get together and kinda-sorta compete to figure out a hypothesis. And whatever that hypothesis is becomes the truth of the situation.
[19:27] <+MikeOlson> Wait! Let me finish this.
[19:27] <+MikeOlson> One sec.
[19:27] <+MikeOlson> Invention provides a quick and narrative way of inventing things. That's the other thing I was going to mention.
[19:27] <+MikeOlson> Okay.
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[19:28] <+Silverlion> (ah, ok, always say (done) after something so I know to stop pestering until you are done with a thought.)
[19:28] <+MikeOlson> What kind of foes? Majestic 12 Exo-Suits, Undead Edison, Helsingard warbots and Autosoldats, Yatagarasu jetpod fighters...
[19:28] <+MorganEllis> Dr Dinosaur!
[19:28] <+Silverlion> Cool.
[19:28] <+MikeOlson> ...Valkyrie Brutes, Dr. Dinosaur... there are a lot.
[19:29] <+J_Arcane> Dr. Dinosaur is the best.
[19:29] <+MikeOlson> Right now I'm finishing up the chapter of character-write ups. There are about 50 "canon" characters from the comic in there.
[19:29] <+MikeOlson> Dr. Dinosaur would be the first to tell you he's the best, yes.
[19:29] <+Silverlion> Yes. yes he is JA
[19:29] <~Dan> I'm assuming that the setting includes superhuman ability levels. How does the game handle them?
[19:29] <+MorganEllis> Otto Skorzeny, Biomega, Thomas Edison, Steven Hawking.
[19:29] <+MikeOlson> Through extras, somewhat as presented in Fate Core.
[19:30] <+MikeOlson> Yes, Morgan's right.
[19:30] <+MikeOlson> Although I don't know if I could call Stephen Hawking a foe, per se. He's written up as a PC.
[19:30] <~Dan> How does that work? Can you use Atomic Robo's super-strength as an example?
[19:30] <+MikeOlson> The two big superhuman abilities commonly in evidence in AR are superstrength and invulnerability.
[19:30] <+MorganEllis> An adversary or friendly rival then.
[19:31] <+MorganEllis> Though the face of Mars might say differently about the friendly part.
[19:31] <+MikeOlson> Sure. Robo has an extra called Atomic Strength that makes him absolutely stronger than any human. If he's in a contest with a human based on strength, he wins. If he's trying to do something strength-based that a human could do, he does it. It's pretty cut-and-dried.
[19:32] <+MikeOlson> If, however, he's challenged by someone who's also superhumanly strong, then we go to the dice.
[19:32] <+MikeOlson> Time and again in the comics, that's the way his strength works.
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[19:32] <+MikeOlson> Eight Nazis pile on him and he just walks across the room. A Majestic 12 Exo-Suit punches him in the face and he goes flying.
[19:32] <~Dan> Hmm. So there's no scaling beyond that?
[19:32] <+MrPrim> And the invulnerability?
[19:33] <+MikeOlson> The source material doesn't ask for anything more detailed than that, to be honest. It's not a game meant to do ANYTHING. It's geared specifically to do Atomic Robo. I'm sure people can and will hack it from there. I know I have already.
[19:34] <~Dan> Well, let me rephrase: Seems like I saw a pic of Atomic Robo lifting a tank. How does the game handle that?
[19:34] <+Silverlion> Are there any supernatural elements in the game? I don't have Ghost of Station X
[19:34] <+MikeOlson> He makes a Physique roll.
[19:35] <~Dan> So would the GM just set the difficulty as relative for someone with superstrength?
[19:35] <+MikeOlson> There's an extra called Bulletproof -- the most common sort of invulnerability we see in the books -- that essentially gives a character Armor:Inifinite against everything up to and including small-arms fire.
[19:36] <+MorganEllis> Supernatural stuff is usually handled as being Science that has yet to be explained rather than truly supernatural.
[19:36] <+MikeOlson> Yeah. A normal human couldn't do it at all. Robo could, but it seems like it'd be tough, so give it a decent difficulty and go for it.
[19:36] <+MorganEllis> Though I hear Volume 8 may have something to say about that.
[19:36] <+MikeOlson> (BTW, I'm pretty sure that pic you saw was from a potential cover for ARRPG.)
[19:37] <~Dan> (Might well have been.)
[19:37] <+MikeOlson> Silverlion: Ghost of Station X... don't take that name literally. There are no supernatural elements in the comic that can't be, within the world of the comic, explain by science. Eventually.
[19:38] <+MrPrim> Even Thomas Edison's Ghost Phone?
[19:38] <+MikeOlson> Like, Robo gets attacked by the ghost of Rasputin. But it's not a GHOST ghost. It's an Odic Force... something something... ghost.
[19:38] <+Silverlion> Yeah, I figured, mostly.
[19:38] <+Silverlion> Poor Lovecraft....:D
[19:38] <+MikeOlson> I don't want to spoil anything, but... volume 8 specifically has something that Robo has insisted repeatedly in the past is impossible.
[19:39] <+MrPrim> Time travel, woo!
[19:39] <+MikeOlson> Volume 8's crazy fun, BTW. I've gotten to read the scripts for that and RSA volume 2, and they're both phenomenal.
[19:39] <+Silverlion> Last I've got is :D
[19:40] <~Dan> So how does the game handle character balance? Is Atomic Robo just flat-out better than his cohorts?
[19:40] <+MrSitouh> Jenkins says no.
[19:40] <+MikeOlson> Mechanically, Jenkins is the most powerful canon character in the book.
[19:40] <+MikeOlson> As it should be.
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[19:40] <+MikeOlson> Robo comes in second.
[19:40] <~Dan> Who is Jenkins?
[19:41] <+MikeOlson> Everyone has the same allotment of resources for chargen. You can go over that allotment if you have permission (as per Fate Core's Extras chapter). Doing so gives the GM more resources to make the opposition in the story more challenging.
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[19:41] <+MikeOlson> Jenkins is this unbelievable badass who serves as Robo's bodyguard, but the running joke is that Robo's his sidekick.
[19:42] <+MorganEllis> Depends on what you mean by powerful, but combatwise yeah Jenkins wins.
[19:42] <+Silverlion> He's pretty effective, but he is not usually the problem solver.
[19:42] <+Silverlion> Unless the solution is to shoot it.
[19:42] <+MikeOlson> He's just a terrifying combat machine who can be thrown into certain-death situations and emerge victorious and covered in blood.
[19:42] <+MikeOlson> (Not his blood.)
[19:42] <+MorganEllis> To prey on their fear.
[19:42] <+MrSitouh> "We're not trapped in here with them. They're trapped in here with Jenkins."
[19:43] <+MrPrim> If I were to switch out Science with Magic would AR work for a Hellboy game?  "Aw crap!" Instead of "Horsefeathers!"
[19:43] <+MikeOlson> "Jenkins is on our side. You'll come to appreciate that."
[19:43] <+MikeOlson> Sure, I don't see why not.
[19:43] <+MikeOlson> You'd probably want to adjust some other things for tone, but that's a good place to start.
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[19:43] <+MorganEllis> The GM getting fate points, for characters that are more powerful is an elegant solution to the power levels, and it works great in play.
[19:44] <+MrPrim> Lemme rephrase "Aw crap."  No exclamation point.
[19:44] <+MikeOlson> I wanted a chargen system that would let you make the character you want without worrying too much about "power levels."
[19:45] <+MikeOlson> (Um... done, I guess?)
[19:45] <+MikeOlson> I keep forgetting to do that.
[19:45] <~Dan> Aside from superstrength and invulnerability, are there any "kewl powerz" availble to PCs?
[19:45] <+MrPrim> Lol
[19:45] <+MikeOlson> Whatever shit you can make up, more or less.
[19:45] <+MikeOlson> Let me tell you, these canon character write-ups have some pretty kewl powerz, if you ask me.
[19:46] <+MrPrim> Let us see the name of one?
[19:46] <~Dan> Example?
[19:46] <+MorganEllis> You're going to have to do a fair bit of conversion for a Hellboy game, but ARRPG and Fate Core and the Toolkit should make it a good start.
[19:46] <+MikeOlson> Between sample aspects and stunts listed with each mode (four standard modes and 13 sample weird modes) and the character write-ups, there are a examples.
[19:46] <+MrPrim> ;)
[19:46] <+MikeOlson> Gimme a second to pull one up. IT WILL TAKE NO LONGER THAN A SECOND!
[19:47] <+MikeOlson> Well, I like this one, from Lang's sheet.
[19:47] <+MikeOlson> Untapped Talents: Spend a fate point and choose a skill. For the rest of the scene, you have a +1 bonus to that skill's rating, to a maximum of Fantastic (+6).
[19:48] <+MorganEllis> The She-Devil's rocket packs, Science Team 5 suits, the Action Scientist on the cover with Robot-Exoskeleton Fists!
[19:49] <+MikeOlson> Reptilian Cunning: At the beginning of an issue, you may roll Will vs. a difficulty of Great (+4) to create an advantage in the form of a situation aspect called <aspect>All of My Plans Are Brilliant!</aspect> This aspect lasts until the end of the issue.
[19:49] <+MikeOlson> In addition to its usual uses as an aspect, you can invoke it to act against another character, even if you aren't anywhere near or immediately aware of them, as if you were face-to-face—provided that it's at least a <em>little</em> reasonable that you could've planned for their presence there (probably with booby-traps).
[19:49] <~Dan> I know some FATE games just treat weapons like system-free props. How does ARRPG handle them?
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[19:50] <+MikeOlson> System-free props with an option to give them more. They can be flavor or built out as hardware, as the player desires.
[19:50] <+MikeOlson> I don't like giving too much weight to equipment, because it tends to emphasize stuff over character.
[19:50] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest11! You can set your nick with the /nick command.)
[19:50] <+MorganEllis> Do you have stats for Robo
[19:51] <+MorganEllis> 's anti-material handgun for instance?
[19:52] <+MikeOlson> I will by the time I'm done with this thing.
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[19:52] <+MikeOlson> He used to have it as part of his sheet, then I decided that he'd borrowed it from Tesladyne's armory. The Webley Mark VI, though, THAT was on his sheet.
[19:53] <+MikeOlson> He doesn't have it in volume 8, so I don't think it's personal enough to be Personal Hardware.
[19:53] <+MikeOlson> Spoilers!
[19:53] <+MorganEllis> Alright then the difference between a normal Webley revolver and Robo's Webley.
[19:53] <+MikeOlson> Robo's has stats.
[19:54] <+MikeOlson> By contrast, Jack Tarot has guns too, but his gun-related stunts are about his skill, not about the guns. Robo has a stunt for THAT gun because it means a lot to him. He hangs onto it for 80 years!
[19:54] <~Dan> Does superstrength affect damage in HTH combat?
[19:55] <+MorganEllis> Yes, Mike. But that's a good example of how gear works. A normal pistol has not stats, while Robo's special gun has stats maybe give those stats as an example.
[19:57] <+MikeOlson> Dan: It can if you pay for it.
[19:57] <+MikeOlson> Let me find the stunt for Robo's Webley.
[19:57] <+MorganEllis> Or maybe how Lightning Guns look and work mechanically.
[19:57] <+MikeOlson> Lightning guns are a little deeper mechanically, because they can... cause problems.
[19:57] <+MikeOlson> But the Webley is pretty straightforward. Webley Mark VI Revolver: +1 to attack with Combat; Weapon:1
[19:57] <~Dan> What does Weapon: 1 mean in this context?
[19:58] <+MikeOlson> On a hit, it does +1 shift of harm.
[19:58] <+MikeOlson> I should say "on a tie or better," really.
[19:58] <+MikeOlson> I'm using Dungeon World language here.
[19:59] <+MikeOlson> A lightning gun has a couple aspects. One is its function, "ZKZZRAK!" The other is its flaw, "Limited Battery Pack." The flaw would be different with different iterations of the gun. Sometimes it's connected to a huge and immobile power source, as in the '20s. Sometimes it's as portable as a pistol, as in modern-day.
[20:00] <+MikeOlson> Obscenely Dangerous: On an attack that succeeds with style, spend a fate point to force the target to take a consequence (instead of checking a stress box) to reduce harm. If the target doesn't have a consequence available, they're taken out.
[20:00] <+MikeOlson> And it has that.
[20:00] <+MikeOlson> And this: Weaponized Electrolaser: Weapon:4, or Weapon:6 but at a cost.
[20:01] <+MikeOlson> Cost is the same as a minor cost, as defined in Fate Core.
[20:01] <+MorganEllis> Forget the dial is even there.
[20:01] <+MikeOlson> So you can have it do a shit-ton of harm, but you'll probably regret it somehow.
[20:02] <+MikeOlson> I just changed the language on Obscenely Dangerous, BTW. I wrote that quite a while ago. It's shorter now.
[20:02] <~Dan> How over-the-top is the action in the setting, and if the answer is "quite a bit", how does the system support it?
[20:02] <+MikeOlson> Gosh. That depends. The over-the-topness can really vary issue by issue.
[20:03] <+Silverlion> Its pretty over the top dan. In general.
[20:03] <+MikeOlson> Like, most of The Dogs of War is really pretty... I dunno... grounded in reality, let's say. (Not realistic, but grounded there.)
[20:03] <+MikeOlson> Then any issue with Dr. Dinosaur is just absolutely bonkers.
[20:04] <+MikeOlson> But that's what that guy does. He makes things bonkers.
[20:04] <+MorganEllis> Grounded is a good word for GIs in a tanks teaming up with a Robot to fight Mecha tanks.
[20:05] <+MikeOlson> Yeah, the Laufpanzers are obviously not especially realistic, but we're still talking about some kinda tank here.
[20:05] <+MikeOlson> It's not like Dr. D -- who is a Jurassic Park-style velociraptor -- walking into a gun store and buying a gun.
[20:06] <+MikeOlson> An Ordinary Motorist: Inexplicably, though you absolutely appear to be a dinosaur, wearing a couple pieces of ordinary clothing—a hat and trenchcoat, a hardhat and lab coat, a helmet and flight jacket, and the like—is enough for you to pass as a human being to pretty much anyone who isn't a PC.
[20:06] <+MikeOlson> When thusly attired and non-violent, you can always refuse a compel that would reveal your true nature <em>without</em> spending a fate point. When you <em>do</em> choose to reveal yourself to an NPC who wasn't previously aware of your true nature, you gain a +2 bonus to your first skill roll against them.
[20:06] <+MorganEllis> It's a matter of scale of adversary, Robo is punched through brick walls, but the GIs have to duck for cover, and team up to help do some damage to the Laufpanzers.
[20:06] <+MrPrim> Ha!  I like that a lot.
[20:07] <~Dan> I was thinking more in terms of swashbuckling, two-fisted action type stuff.
[20:07] <+MikeOlson> There's plenty of that.
[20:07] <+MikeOlson> There are several free comics online at, including the whole first issue.
[20:07] <~Dan> How does the system allow for it?
[20:08] <+MikeOlson> Well, Fate's already pretty cinematic-action friendly as it is. I'm not sure AR has any specific tweaks to allow for more of that.
[20:08] <+MikeOlson> Oh! Except for collateral consequences, I guess.
[20:08] <+MikeOlson> But those pre-date ARRPG.
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[20:08] <~Dan> As seen in Strange FATE?
[20:08] <+MikeOlson> Yes.
[20:09] <+MikeOlson> There's ample evidence of their use in the source material.
[20:09] <~Dan> Speaking of which... if you wanted to make the game a bit more superheroic, how well would Strange FATE's scaling mechanic work for ARRPG?
[20:09] <+MikeOlson> My favorite's in Ghost of Station X.
[20:10] <+MikeOlson> The power tiers? Uh... it should fit in just fine, I'd think. You'd have to decide what the tiers cost, but you could probably keep the same costs and just translate that to ARRPG's refresh-less system.
[20:10] <+Silverlion> Explain the use of collateral consequences? Scenery damaging?
[20:10] <+MikeOlson> Yeah, that's it in a nutshell.
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[20:11] <+MikeOlson> You can't take 8 shifts of harm yourself, so you take a moderate collateral consequence and offload 4 shifts onto your surroundings.
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[20:11] <+Silverlion> That is what I thought (I read Kerberos Club months ago so..)
[20:11] <+MikeOlson> More-severe collateral consequences have ramifications that last beyond the end of the volume.
[20:11] <+MorganEllis> You blow up one little Pyramid, and Egypt bans you for life.
[20:12] <+MikeOlson> Just so.
[20:12] <+MikeOlson> Explaining this stuff in the book is fun because I've tried to use panels from the comic to illustrate examples as often as possible.
[20:13] <&Le_Squide> Awesome! How much art from the comic is in there?
[20:13] <+MikeOlson> Which means I have to flip through and re-read issues again and again.
[20:13] <+MikeOlson> I don't know if I could estimate that off the top of my head.
[20:13] <+MorganEllis> Yours is a heavy burden Mike.
[20:13] <+MikeOlson> But I've tried to find panels for every example I could. Plus character portraits.
[20:14] <+Silverlion> Awesome.
[20:14] <+MikeOlson> I anticipate the book will be full of Scott's art.
[20:14] <+MikeOlson> And maybe some stuff from RSA, but that's something for other people to work out.
[20:14] <+MorganEllis> Well all the art is either from the comics or new stuff from Scott right?
[20:14] <+MorganEllis> I mean the cover is new for the RPG.
[20:14] <+MikeOlson> Right, but Scott didn't draw the RSA issues, so it means asking each artist individually if they're cool for it.
[20:15] <+MikeOlson> For it? With it.
[20:15] <~Dan> How much input has AR's author had into the game?
[20:16] <+MikeOlson> But every chapter, skill, and mode has a panel illustration. That's a lot.
[20:16] <+MikeOlson> Brian and I have been in constant contact over the past year+ about ARRPG. He wrote some GM-advice-type material, and we both worked on the (extensive) timeline.
[20:16] <~Dan> How familiar is he with RPGs?
[20:16] <+MikeOlson> I run stuff past him all the time. He's been a pleasure to work with.
[20:16] <+MikeOlson> I'm gonna say "Quite."
[20:17] <+MikeOlson> He's the one who came to me about doing ARRPG, y'know. I didn't even know the comic at the time. But he read Fate Kerberos and was like, "Hey, maybe this guy."
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[20:17] <~Dan> Huh. I was going to ask about how that happened. Cool. :)
[20:17] <+MikeOlson> Really looking forward to running ARRPG for him and Scott this weekend in Seattle.
[20:17] <~Dan> That must have been gratifying. :)
[20:17] <+MikeOlson> And just meeting them face-to-face at last.
[20:18] <+MikeOlson> Yeah, it was really cool, and it led to working with Evil Hat, which has been kind of a game-changer (no pun intended) for me.
[20:18] <+MikeOlson> That Fate Core Kickstarter... if any of you backed that, I just want to thank you for provided me with freelance work for the next 2+ years.
[20:18] <+MikeOlson> Providing, rather.
[20:19] <+MikeOlson> Brian has suggested in the past that he is directly responsible for my current workload as a freelancer.
[20:19] <~Dan> ;)
[20:19] <~Dan> :), rather
[20:19] <+MikeOlson> I can't really argue with it.
[20:19] <~Dan> Has he indicated if gaming has influenced his writing at all?
[20:20] <+MrPrim> Which of the Fate Core Freeby settings is your favorite, Mike?
[20:20] <+MikeOlson> It definitely has, yes. Robo discovers a fifth cardinal direction he calls Zorth. That's a direct reference to a poorly drawn map from a game Brian played in years ago.
[20:20] <+MikeOlson> Hard to say, Prim.
[20:20] <+MikeOlson> I edited Camelot Trigger, which is a lot of fun.
[20:20] <~Dan> That's hilarious, re: Zorth. :)
[20:20] <+Silverlion> Awesome.
[20:21] <+Silverlion> I had a friend kickstart fate core for me
[20:21] <+MikeOlson> I've been looking at both Burn Shift and Kriegszeppelin Valkyrie recently, and they're both really cool.
[20:21] <+MikeOlson> But I haven't had a chance to read through all of them yet.
[20:21] <+MikeOlson> Been kinda busy here, what with the game and the new baby and the not ever sleeping.
[20:22] <+MrPrim> TimeWorks is what I'm itching to run... What was the last game you ran that you didn't write? (Im enjoying pretending to be a reporter, if you can't tell) ;)
[20:22] <+MikeOlson> I ran D&D Next weekend before last.
[20:22] * +MrPrim has a new baby on the way,
[20:22] <+MrPrim> Also
[20:22] <+MikeOlson> I am weirdly obsessed with D&D Next's development, even though a lot of what I read about it is pretty disappointing to me personally.
[20:23] <+MikeOlson> Congrats!
[20:23] <~Dan> Indeed, congrats, MrPrim!
[20:23] <+Silverlion> Congrats indeed.
[20:23] <+MikeOlson> Last year I ran a TON of Dungeon World. We did this weekend-long living campaigns at three conventions in LA.
[20:23] <+MikeOlson> I like a lot of different games, though. I think I can firmly say that of the Fate Core team, I'm the biggest Rolemaster fan. Ha!
[20:24] <+MrPrim> Danke
[20:24] <&Le_Squide> Clearly you should have gone with Rolemaster for Atomic Robo.
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[20:25] <+MrPrim> Clearly.
[20:25] <+Silverlion> Critical hit tables? "Robo is dismembered" for every crit
[20:25] <+MikeOlson> Rolemaster's a game where I don't want to tinker with it -- I just want to play it.
[20:25] <+MikeOlson> But Fate's always been a tinkering game for me.
[20:25] <~Dan> I have a hunch ARRPG is going to be seen as the Next Big Thing in certain circles. That being the case, people are inevitably going to go on about running [insert setting here] with ARRPG. Do you have any thoughts of non-AR settings that ARRPG might work well for? (Aside from the aforementioned Hellboy, that is.)
[20:25] <+MikeOlson> Have you guys seen... ugh, what's it called... it's a D20 version of Rolemaster.
[20:26] <+MikeOlson> I ran two D&D games using an ARRPG hack weekend before last, and they were both awesome.
[20:26] <+MikeOlson> I'd hack it for straight-up supers, too. I expect that to come up a bit.
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[20:27] <~Dan> Hmm. See, I'd think that based on the way superstrength works, it would only work for low-end supers.
[20:27] <+MikeOlson> Can I say something controversial? Those Fate Core D&D games were so great they felt like Dungeon World.
[20:27] <+MikeOlson> Well, I'd *hack* it, not run it straight as-written.
[20:27] <~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
[20:28] <~Dan> Does the rulebook include a sample adventure?
[20:28] <+MikeOlson> I actually think Sarah's Burn Shift would make a good supers game with minimal work. Just like old Gamma World, there's a supers game hidden under that post-apoc mutant veneer.
[20:28] <~Dan> Burn Shift?
[20:28] <+MikeOlson> Y'know... there is an intro scenario written (by me and Scott Wegener), but right now I'm not sure if there'll be room. I want to include it, but I dunno.
[20:29] <+MikeOlson> It's one of the Fate Worlds mini-settings written for the Fate Core Kickstarter.
[20:29] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:29] <+MikeOlson> The two things I always want to hack games to do are D&D and Star Wars. I've done D&D. I bet Star Wars would work pretty well, too.
[20:30] <+MikeOlson> Modes make it really easy (for me, at least) to conceptualize a character. Like, I've always known Dr. Dinosaur would be Dinosaur/Action/Crystals, long before I sat down to write him up.
[20:30] <+MikeOlson> Throw in a Jedi mode, a Smuggler mode, etc. -- you're well on your way.
[20:30] <+MorganEllis> Fate Star Wars? I think that might be a bit of a stretch Mike!
[20:31] <+MikeOlson> Like, is Luke Jedi/Pilot/Fringer, maybe?
[20:31] <+Silverlion> SOTC works well for Star Wars
[20:31] <~Dan> How important is it for an AR game to feature Atomic Robo himself, in your opinon?
[20:31] <+MikeOlson> Morgan makes this remark because Star Wars was my entry point into Fate back in, like, 2006, when our friend Colin ran a SotC Star Wars hack.
[20:31] <+MikeOlson> Only as important as it is for the players at the table.
[20:32] <+MikeOlson> Robo can't be everywhere at once, but Tesladyne has to deal with multiple problems on a daily basis.
[20:32] <+Silverlion> Indeed.
[20:32] <+MikeOlson> There are teams of Action Scientists all over the globe punching trouble in the face.
[20:32] <+MorganEllis> I've run and played games with and without Robo even in the same scenario and it works just fine even when he isn't there.
[20:32] <~Dan> Is Robo one-of-a-kind?
[20:32] <+MikeOlson> Yeah.
[20:33] <~Dan> So if you want to play a PC robot, if you're true to the setting, you'll be playing AR?
[20:33] <+MikeOlson> A few issues of the comic turn around that, actually.
[20:33] <+MikeOlson> Nah, you can make another robot. There's only one Robo in the comic, but Brian and Scott would be the first ones to tell you "Screw canon!" if it means playing the character you want.
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[20:34] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:34] <+MorganEllis> Of course there could be other Robots out there. I played a Renegade Helsingard warbot in one of Mikes playtests.
[20:34] <+MikeOlson> I guess Edison's robot is along the same lines as Robo, but he's not the intellectual or emotional equivalent of Robo at all.
[20:34] <+MikeOlson> Most other AIs in the setting are more, well, robotic.
[20:35] <~Dan> Robo's pretty human, mentally?
[20:35] <+MikeOlson> Very.
[20:35] <+MikeOlson> Heck, he gets his first kiss at age seven!
[20:35] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[20:35] <+MrPrim> You could even play a Roboganger... Atomic Duplibot....
[20:36] <~Dan> How "openly weird" is the setting?
[20:36] <+MikeOlson> When Tesla's lab blows up in '43, the government swoops in to salvage stuff, but they can't have been the only ones.
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[20:36] <~Dan> Is the average person going to freak out at the sight of Robo, for example?
[20:36] <+MikeOlson> No magic, no aliens.
[20:36] <+MikeOlson> No way! Well, maybe. He's a big celebrity.
[20:36] <+MorganEllis> Like Hellboy, Robo is a very public figure. Dr. Dinosaur is a well known menace.
[20:36] <+MikeOlson> "We need a convoy. For Science!"
[20:37] <~Dan> So it's sort of like a superheroic setting in that sense, then.
[20:37] <+MrPrim> No aliens?  What about Vampire Dimension Vampires?
[20:37] <+MikeOlson> A bit, yeah.
[20:37] <+MikeOlson> Robo's been famous for decades, and the Action Scientists are famous by dint of that.
[20:37] <+MorganEllis> There are also Biomega attacks on Tokyo.
[20:37] <+MikeOlson> Well, not "famous" individually, but as a group, yes.
[20:37] <~Dan> What is Biomega?
[20:37] <+MrPrim> Robo is the CEO of a multinational corporation that also punches giant crabs... He's sort of a big deal
[20:37] <+MikeOlson> I need to write up a Biomega kaiju.
[20:38] <+MikeOlson> It's just "mutant guys," basically.
[20:38] <+MikeOlson> From a very specific source.
[20:38] <+MorganEllis> However some of the strange stuff is kept from the public.
[20:38] <+MikeOlson> A lot of it.
[20:38] <~Dan> What sorts of mutations to Biomegas have?
[20:39] <+MorganEllis> Giant Size, Armored Carapaces, Huge Claws.
[20:39] <+MikeOlson> We've only seen two kinds of them: human-like mooks, and an enormous city-stomping crab-like thing that had to be killed by a mecha-thing.
[20:39] <+MikeOlson> (Not Robo.)
[20:39] <+MorganEllis> Ability to mock the square cube law with impunity.
[20:39] <+MikeOlson> But in the continuity of the Robo-verse, there have been kaiju in Tokyo. So... stats!
[20:40] <+MikeOlson> Biomegas have only appeared in one issue, so we don't know a whole lot about them. Heck, I know more about them than anything but Brian and Scott, and I still don't know much.
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[20:40] <~Dan> How would you stat up something like a kaiju given the relatively flat scale?
[20:41] <+MorganEllis> Vampire dimension Vampires are a just from a different Earth, not from another planet.
[20:41] <+MikeOlson> Prim: Just saw your question. Things from another dimension (or outside spacetime) aren't quite the same as, like, Martian aliens. That's what I mean when I say "No aliens."
[20:42] <+MikeOlson> Just give him ridiculous mode and skill ratings and a couple stunts to make him super-strong and super-tough.
[20:42] <+MikeOlson> I'm probably going to stat up the Shinkabeast later tonight, and that's what I'll do. It's pretty simple.
[20:43] <+MikeOlson> ARRPG, like Fate Core, is not a game that trades in nitty-gritty. Between aspects and stunts, you can get surprisingly specific in a few broad strokes just by putting things in context.
[20:43] <+MorganEllis> Possibly a stunt to make him immune to any damage below a certain level. Hope you have a giant mass driver or a Buick handy.
[20:43] <+MikeOlson> If I give him a stunt called Gigantic Biomega Monster, he's a gigantic Biomega monster, because it says so right there.
[20:43] <+MikeOlson> Should I stat the giant ants? Seems superfluous.
[20:44] <~Dan> So let's say you're trying to sell someone on the game. Fill in this blank for me: "If you like [INSERT RPG], you might like Atomic Robo!"
[20:44] <+MikeOlson> BTW, you guys, I've been remiss in mentioning this, but Morgan there has been involved with ARRPG from the very beginning, when he statted up Neil deGrasse Tyson. We'll both be running ARRPG this weekend at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle.
[20:45] <~Dan> Excellent! Nice to meet you, Morgan. :)
[20:45] <+MikeOlson> Apparently, Morgan knew about Atomic Robo for years, but didn't bother mentioning it to any of us until, like, December 2011, right about when I got the ARRPG gig.
[20:45] <+MikeOlson> His punishment for that is me mentioning it constantly.
[20:46] <+MorganEllis> Yep, they never let me forget.
[20:46] <+MorganEllis> But then there can be a fun picture of giant ants to go next to the stats.
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[20:47] <+MikeOlson> No one's asked, but AFAIK we're still on track to release ARRPG this spring. Spring ends June 20th!
[20:47] <~Dan> Goot to know. :)
[20:48] <~Dan> Good, even
[20:48] <+MikeOlson> I'd really wanted to finish this write-ups before the weekend, but it turned out there were just way more than I'd anticipated.
[20:48] <+MorganEllis> I think of it as less of a what RPG they might like and turn it into what sort of other media they like. Do you like Ghostbusters, Buckaroo Banzai, and Indiana Jones? You might like Atomic Robo RPG!
[20:48] <+MikeOlson> I don't know if there'll be a Kickstarter for it, so let me just head that off at the pass.
[20:48] <+MikeOlson> I got Brian and Scott to write an Appendix N for the book, so there's a list of their inspirations right there.
[20:49] <+MikeOlson> I should put *that* on the blog.
[20:49] <~Dan> Looks like we have about 10 minutes left. Is there anything you'd like to bring up that we haven't discussed? (And I should mention that you're more than welcome to hang out as long as you like.)
[20:50] <+MikeOlson> Uh... let me see....
[20:50] <+MorganEllis> If they like Fate, in all it's various forms. If they like a fast, fun, system that cares more about Fiction than Physics. If they like a game where they'll have a lot of input into that fiction it might be the game for them.
[20:50] <+MikeOlson> I didn't come here with anything specific to say other than answering questions, so I'm not sure I have anything to add to what Morgan just said there.
[20:51] <+MikeOlson> I will say, though...
[20:51] <+MikeOlson> ...that if you playtested ARRPG last summer/fall, IMO it's much improved since then. Tighter, clearer. And that's before it's gone into editing.
[20:52] <+MikeOlson> Dan, you said earlier you thought it'd be a big thing. I don't know if that'll be true, but that's not why I wanted to do the game.
[20:52] <~Dan> Got any links you'd like to provide?
[20:52] <+MikeOlson> If even one Atomic Robo fan out there buys it and loves it, well... that's a pretty shitty percentage.
[20:52] <+MikeOlson> for all your Atomic Robo needs.
[20:52] <+MikeOlson> for more on ARRPG's development.
[20:52] <+MikeOlson> And other Fate stuff.
[20:53] <+MikeOlson> Oh! Here's something.
[20:53] <+MorganEllis> (Link:
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[20:53] <+MikeOlson> Even if you're an Atomic Robo fan and don't know or care much about RPGs, it's still going to be a great sourcebook.
[20:53] <~Dan> Howdy, Fred!
[20:53] <+fredhicks> What! Where?!
[20:53] <~Dan> :)
[20:53] <+Silverlion> Allo Fred.
[20:54] <+MikeOlson> There's a lot of info there about the world of the comics that's being revealed for the first time. As a fan, I think it's pretty damn cool.
[20:54] <+MikeOlson> Yay, Fred! You and Morgan take over. I'ma go help my long-suffering wife with dinner.
[20:55] <+fredhicks> I'm pretty out of it, man. Just finished the bedtime gauntlet with the girl.
[20:55] <~Dan> Thanks for coming by, Mike! (And Morgan and Fred!) I'll have the log up presently. Morgan and Fred, please feel free to hang out as long as you like. :)
[20:55] <+MikeOlson> Thanks for having me, Dan and everyone else.
[20:55] <+MikeOlson> Remain calm and trust in Science!
[20:55] <+MikeOlson> Olson out!

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