Thursday, May 2, 2013

[Q&A] Caias Ward (Trigger Happy)

[19:06] <+Caias> I'm Caias Ward, a designer located in New Jersey. I've written stuff for Aetherco (Continuum), Pinnacle (Path of Kane), SJGames (Pyramid Magazine) and Super Genius Games (Strike Force 7). I'm currently Kickstarting Trigger Happy, the RPG of Action, Crime and the World Which Hates You.
[19:06] <+Caias> (done)
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[19:06] <~Dan> Thanks, Caias!
[19:07] <~Dan> I know you've already been fielding some questions, but if I can roll things back a bit for a moment, could you tell us of the basic premise of Trigger Happy?
[19:09] <+Caias> The premise is that you play a Protagonist, those characters caught up in action and crime in a larger than life world. You are mechanically encouraged to get involved in an aggressive (not necessarily violent) manner with those events which you have determined will set you off or the type of trouble you attract in your life. (done)
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[19:10] <~Dan> Can you describe the components of a character and the basic system?
[19:13] <+Caias> You have six attributes, which are not your traditional Strength or Charisma. You have Might, Will, Wit, Pride, Hope and Clarity. You have Skills, with specializations that add extra dice or bonuses to your rolls. You have Limit, which determines how far you can push yourself and the punishment you take.
[19:14] <+Caias> You have Triggers, consisting of Ins (the trouble that you find or always seems to find you, and which gives you a bonus to circumstances). Outs let you change fate, giving you a mechanical bonus or allowing you to take narrative control of the scene.
[19:15] <+Caias> and you have Stuff, which lets you define your character mechanically and narratively.
[19:15] <+Caias> (done)
[19:16] <~Dan> What was your thinking behind the attributes?
[19:16] <+xyphoid_> What kind of stuff do you use Pride for in practice?
[19:17] <~Dan> (Question pause after xyphoid_'s question, please.)
[19:18] <+Caias> It's genre emulation. It's not always the big bruiser guy who ends up doing the most damage, but who wants it more and who is willing to sacrifice more.  Think of John McClane, for example. Not incredibly strong, yet he manages to survive longer than lots of people who might be tougher.
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[19:20] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, cb! Here for the Q&A?)
[19:20] <+Caias> Pride is a combination of intellect and creation. Anything problem solving which would require reflection and thought rather than simple reaction would use Pride.
[19:21] <+Caias> Pride also is used to resist anything which would cause guilt, shame or remorse. So someone trying to embarrass you would be resisted with Pride.
[19:21] <+Caias> (done)
[19:22] <~Dan> As per our previous discussion, you mentioned that melee combat is governed by Might. Would firearms fall under... Clarity?
[19:23] <+Caias> Might as well. It's a matter of your desire to inflict harm on others.
[19:23] <+Caias> If you were part of a target shooting competition, you could use Pride instead to show off.
[19:24] <~Dan> Ah, I see. So it's all about what's motivating the action?
[19:24] <+Caias> Yeah.
[19:24] <+Caias> If you were facing someone of far less skill than you, you could use Pride instead of Might if you just wanted to humiliate them.
[19:25] <+Caias> or Hope, if you hoped to teach them a lesson all Wise Master Style
[19:25] <+xyphoid_> right, so your stats are more about why than how?
[19:25] <+xyphoid_> works for me!
[19:25] <~Dan> Definitely an interesting approach.
[19:26] <+Caias> Yes. Motivation is huge in the genre. Think of shows like The Shield.
[19:26] <+Caias> Everything these characters do is because there is something motivating them.  Same as action movies, from Die Hard to Point Blank. Revenge, wealth, security, a desire for justice.
[19:26] <~Dan> Could you say a bit about how Stuff works? (And I have a follow-up to that one.)
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[19:28] <+Caias> As I said earlier, Stuff is what defined your character. It divided into two related categories (only because they work a bit different mechanically). You have People/Places/Things, which can be anything from you being an MMA Champion to having an Awesome Ride to being a Well-Connected 'Businessman'. You get a bonus to a Skill and/or a bonus to Effect
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[19:29] <+Caias> (a number which adds to the total of a Skill roll should you succeed).
[19:30] <+Caias> Then you have Weapons, which are built mostly the same way, except they have a bonus to Limit (to represent an attack which might not be accurate but is powerful). Some extra stuff in there like modifiers for range (we have broad abstract range categories), but built about the same as PPTs
[19:30] <+Caias> (done)
[19:31] <+hey> What happens if you go over the amount you needed to succeed?
[19:32] <~Dan> So, my follow-up: Regarding Stuff that relates directly to who the character is -- like, say, MMA Champion -- would it be accurate to say that the associated bonuses fulfill the function of more traditional attributes?
[19:33] <+Caias> It's an additive system, so however much you succeed by is how successful you are. Say you had a Target Number of 10 and rolled a 25 (and what you were attacking with had no Limit/Effect Bonus), you would have 15 Points of Effect.  In the case of an attack, you would cause 15 Limit to your target.
[19:34] <+Caias> It's addresses the 'traditional' category in more narrow terms, allowing for great customization. Consider the following:
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[19:34] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Bah! Here for the Q&A?)
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[19:35] <+Caias> Parkour Enthusiast (+2 Athletics, +10 Effect) and Strongman Competitor (+2 Athletics, +10 Effect). Same mechanical bonus, but represented different ways and end up granting bonuses in different circumstances.
[19:35] <+Caias> (done)
[19:35] <~Dan> Hmmm.... So, as an example....
[19:36] <~Dan> ...I take it that the Parkour Enthusiast wouldn't get his bonuses to, say lift something heavy?
[19:36] <+Caias> It would be reasonable, yes, that he wouldn't get the bonus in that case.
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[19:37] <~Dan> On a related note...
[19:37] <+Caias> But that person could spend Limit to alter his die roll if he wanted to make sure he succeeded.
[19:37] <~Dan> ...would it be correct to say that what attribute the Strongman Competitor would use to lift something would depend upon why he was trying to lift it?
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[19:38] <~Dan> (brb -- please continue)
[19:38] <+Caias> Yeah.  Any of the skills could use any of the Attributes in the right circumstance.
[19:39] <+Caias> Think about any training montage, especially for the underdog.  That's Pride right there.  The last Rocky movie, Rocky Balboa was not fighting with Might, he was using Pride.
[19:40] <~Dan> (back)
[19:40] <+Caias> (done)
[19:41] <~Dan> Is there any default at play there, or does the player state what attribute he's using for any given action, with a justification?
[19:42] <+Caias> There are some defaults (like Might for hurting people), but the player and the Showrunner can look at the circumstances and see if something is more appropriate.
[19:43] <+Caias> (done)
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[19:44] <~Dan> So let's say someone's "just" trying to leap from rooftop to rooftop. What would the default be there?
[19:45] <+Caias> Wit would cover it, as that covers basic agility
[19:45] <~Dan> (Howdy, brainglitch! Q&A in progress. #rpgnet2 open for general chat. :) )
[19:46] <~Dan> Huh. I see.
[19:46] <+Caias> You trying to impress someone? Pride. You took some LSD and are being chased by criminals? Clarity might be good.
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[19:47] <~Dan> Cool.
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[19:48] <~Dan> (Howdy, Squide, Wondy!)
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[19:48] <+banshee46> ARGLE BARGLE!
[19:48] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, banshee46! Here for the Q&A?)
[19:48] <+banshee46> ...There's a q&a?
[19:49] <~Dan> So when you're statting up your character, if you do want to show that your character is physically agile, that's where Stuff would come in?
[19:49] <~Dan> (banshee46: Yup! With Caias here, author of Trigger Happy. Or, if you prefer, there's general chat in #rpgnet2 while the Q&A's going on.)
[19:49] <+Caias> A combination of Wit and what Stuff you gave him.  I didn't want people just being a sheet of dots, but making them describe why they had the numbers.
[19:49] <+Caias> He's messing with you, Dan.
[19:49] <+Caias> :)
[19:50] <+banshee46> I actually did a review of Trigger Happy :P
[19:50] <~Dan> (Oh. :p )
[19:50] * ~Dan chuddkles
[19:50] * ~Dan chuckles, even
[19:50] <~Dan> Glad to have you here, banshee46!
[19:50] <+banshee46> Hopefully it got people to donate. I know it at least got some people to look at the kickstarter page.
[19:51] <+Caias> We're chugging along. Not doing bad for a first product. I mean, it's no Eclipse Phase or Torchbearer, but they have a larger network behind them right now :)
[19:52] <+xyphoid_> do you have much stuff about how to set up and run adventures in your genre?
[19:52] <~Dan> So you'd mentioned previously that the game is cinematic... How cinematic is it? Are we talking way over-the-top stunts of the sort seen in Hong Kong action movies, for example?
[19:53] <+xyphoid_> i always found going from movies to tabletop much harder than I expected, for example setting up things for 5 protagonists instead of 1
[19:53] <+etaoinshrdlu> If you want over-the-top stunts, you should redirect your eyes towards Bollywood. Hong Kong has nothing on that.
[19:53] <+banshee46> You know, Dan, my review is actually a good answer for that. When I wrote it, I was thinking of the kind of over the top fun one could have with the system.
[19:54] <+Caias> How cinematic would you like it to be?  We have mechanics in place which turn failure into success, a stat solely designed to give you bonuses when you are in situations that cause you trouble and a means of narrative control and dramatic editing :)
[19:55] <~Dan> Heh. Fair enough. Are there any "dials" involved there to adjust the level of cinematic madness?
[19:56] <+Caias> brb baby exploding
[19:56] <+etaoinshrdlu> ...that sounds unhealthy.
[19:57] <~Dan> (Ah. Can't have that!)
[19:57] <+hey> How does one model an exploding baby in Trigger Happy?---I mean, oops! Godspeed, Caias Ward!
[19:57] <~Dan> Have you been here before, banshee46? Your nick looks familiar, but it may just be from the forum.
[19:57] <+banshee46> It's just from the forum :P
[19:58] <~Dan> Ah. Well, please feel free to hang out here any time. It's a friendly place. :)
[19:58] <+etaoinshrdlu> Yeah.
[19:58] <+etaoinshrdlu> We don't bite.
[19:58] <+etaoinshrdlu> ...much.
[19:58] <+etaoinshrdlu> :P
[19:58] <~Dan> That goes for you as well, hey. :)
[19:58] <+Caias> I'm back.
[19:58] <~Dan> wb!
[19:58] <+etaoinshrdlu> And we're front!
[19:59] <+Caias> as for dials, not so much. The game focuses on the genre and how the genre plays. You can skin it different ways, however.
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[20:00] <+etaoinshrdlu> Could you skin it into a dead tauntaun ? :P
[20:00] <~Dan> Can you think of a "break point" when it comes to going over the top? As in, an action movie that's just too wild for Trigger Happy as written?
[20:00] <+banshee46> ...I'm suddenly picturing an SF skin for Trigger Happy.
[20:00] <+banshee46> Oh holy crap, that would be the most FANTASTIC GAME EVER
[20:00] <+hey> I was already thinking of Equilibrium.
[20:01] <+banshee46> "...What do you *mean* you hit him with a space ship?!" "I mean I turned on the engines to half-impulse, and pointed the navigation computer at him. What did you think I meant?"
[20:02] <+Caias> Not really. I mean, we have mechanics in the game called Take It To The Limit, Drop The Hammer and Push The Envelope.
[20:02] <~Dan> I dig the lingo. :)
[20:02] <+etaoinshrdlu> Is there a size limit to said envelope ?
[20:03] <~Dan> I suppose this is a moot point now, given the Bangers add-on, but would you have had any concerns about publishing a game with no "weird" aspects?
[20:03] <+hey> "He tried to kill him with a forklift..."
[20:03] <+etaoinshrdlu> hey: :DDDD
[20:03] <+etaoinshrdlu> As a qualified forklift operator, I find that very possible. :P
[20:04] <+Caias> considering that people watched 8 seasons of 24 and however many seasons of Leverage, not that concerned.
[20:04] <+Caias> :)
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[20:04] <~Dan> Heh. A fair answer. :)
[20:05] <+hey> Actually, I object to that. The over-the-top stunts are as unreal as any superpowers or magic. They're just not made as obvious.
[20:05] <~Dan> Bangers (which I'll get to in just a moment) aside, are there any other genres you can see getting the Trigger Happy treatment?
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[20:07] <+Caias> Depending on stretch goals and what we hit in the end, you might see a guide on how to make any game Trigger Happy. As for my own specific ideas, I have Enter the Protagonist (wuxia) and Adventurers Behaving Badly (fantasy).
[20:07] <~Dan> Are those things you actually have planned, or are those just things you'd like to do on your own?
[20:08] <+hey> How about The Future Is Boned (sci-fi) or Re-Kill All Monsters (horror)? ;)
[20:09] <+Caias> I have plans for the ones I mentioned. As for the ones hey mentioned, not a bad idea.
[20:10] <~Dan> So shall we turn our attention to the genre you have given the Trigger Happy treatment? :)
[20:11] <+Caias> heh.
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[20:11] <~Dan> Namely, what can you tell us about Bangers?
[20:11] <+etaoinshrdlu> They be bangin' ? :P
[20:12] <+Caias> Bangers is what happens when superpowers are an inner city problem. Young urban teens demanding respect and territory through energy blasts and super speed.
[20:12] <+etaoinshrdlu> I like the sound of that.
[20:14] <~Dan> Is it a single- or multi-source of power setting?
[20:14] <+Caias> We aren't going to focus much on where the powers come from, but rather the effects that kind of power has on the young and impressionable.
[20:15] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[20:16] <~Dan> On a related note, how "gonzo" of a supers setting is it? I mean, is it the sort of place where you might find mole-men, gods, and dinosaurs?
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[20:16] <~Dan> (Granted, I get that they wouldn't be the focus of the game.)
[20:16] <+Caias> It isn't a superhero game, but a game of people with superpowers.  And the Banger's setting is very street level, more Boyz in the Hood and Juice.
[20:17] <+hey> So like Wyrd is Bond, but with superpowers?
[20:17] <+etaoinshrdlu> Wyrd is the Byrd! (Or was it the other way around?)
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[20:18] <~Dan> Are the powers limited to the kids? Or does The Man have supers as at his disposal as well?
[20:19] <+Caias> Not as familiar with that game, although I have heard of it. And powers fade as you get older except in special cases. There are some legit superhumans around, but they will number in the 10s throughout the world.
[20:19] <+hey> That would be an interesting character: a Banger who got hired by the police, and patrols his former turf.
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[20:20] <+Caias> Yeah, there are some Stitches (as in snitches get stitches) and they get bounties put on them by gangs. Also, adult criminal groups try to use the teens in proxy fights
[20:20] <~Dan> Now, you said the game is street-level, but how powerful are the upper tier of supers? Like, how strong can they be?
[20:21] <+Caias> For an example, I actually created a Green Lantern power ring with the rules set.
[20:22] <~Dan> A full-power power ring, or a street-level equivalent?
[20:23] <+Caias> A full power power ring.  Granted, Bangers is going to have a 'dial' as you put it to limit the power level and type of stuff you are going to see.
[20:24] <~Dan> But there's nothing stopping you from creating "Thor the Banger"?
[20:25] <+Caias> You could. But it won't fit the setting and it will violate the dial the setting has set in it.
[20:25] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[20:25] <+hey> I could imagine that Thor would be the guy that the Bangers try to take down, most often.
[20:26] <~Dan> Are there any powers you deliberately left out as something that wouldn't fit the setting?
[20:27] <+Caias> It's a different power scale. Most threats Bangers would deal with would be cops, other criminals, and other gangs.  And the power creation system is somewhat free form. Explain your power, figure out how 'useful' it is, then assign the values for the power. There are examples of what will fit and what won't.
[20:28] <+Caias> and on what scale. Teleportation around the world? Probably not. But Teleporting down the road? Sure.
[20:28] * ~Dan nods
[20:28] <+hey> But Luke Cage would be a good example, or Iron Fist.
[20:28] <~Dan> Is power creation based on Stuff creation?
[20:28] <+Caias> it's it's own add-on.
[20:29] <+Caias> And yes, Heroes for Hire are a great example.
[20:30] <~Dan> How effects-based is it? Like, how far would you have to break down something like Weather Control?
[20:31] <+Caias> Not that far. I will admit the higher end of the scale can get wonky so I will need to visit it to give you a solid answer on that.
[20:32] <~Dan> Well, to be more specific, would it be closer to the old Marvel game, where you just have a rating for Weather Control, or would you need a rating for lighting, for wind, for flying, for fog, etc.?
[20:32] <~Dan> (The latter being more like HERO, I mean.)
[20:33] <+Caias> Depends on how you build your weather control. Leaning more towards HERO, but you won't need all that crunch for each effect. Describe what you want to do with your weather control, figure out how 'useful' it is, then assign the values.
[20:34] <+hey> I have a question regarding the game as it's currently designed, when you get a chance.
[20:34] <~Dan> Go ahead, hey. :)
[20:34] <+Caias> Go ahead :)
[20:35] <+hey> Specifically, how do you adjust for a game that's supposed to be more Shield/Wire/Breaking Bad than an over-the-top action movie, if not dials?
[20:37] <+Caias> A lot of it will be how you define the characters, especially through the use of Triggers (what sets a character off or the trouble he attracts).  A Vic Mackey isn't going to run off in murderous rage except as part of some end game.
[20:38] <+Caias> So there's no mechanical dial, but the players and Showrunner will agree on the style of play they want to engage in. I didn't feel I needed a mechanical enforcement for something like that.
[20:39] <+hey> Fair enough. So the players can veto something that goes over-the-top, as long as everyone agreed at the get-go that over-the-top wasn't what they were shooting for first. Sounds right.
[20:39] <+Caias> Considering I even wrote some notes on how to use Trigger Happy for Regency England court drama, you don't even need to pull a gun :)
[20:39] <+Yalborap> If it hasn't been asked, how much support does the game have for being, say, an over-the-top Fauxnan The Barbarian movie, or Commander Shepard Fights All The Aliens Ever? Or is it strictly limited to recent past - present -near future stuff?
[20:40] <~Dan> Speaking of which, do you think the basic game could handle something like Sin City, in which some characters like Marv seem allllmost superhuman?
[20:41] <+Caias> Right now, the game out of the box deals with action and crime the near past/present/near future. I have plans for fantasy add-ons, Bangers and wuxia.
[20:42] <+Caias> And Dan, Marv is easy to build in Trigger Happy. I didn't list Sin City as one of the inspirations because I ran out of room. Marv wading through cops is an example of our Jamoke rules.
[20:43] <~Dan> What about Marv smashing through a wall?
[20:43] <~Dan> (I think I remember seeing that in the movie, at least...)
[20:44] <+Caias> He blew through a door, but yeah.  And a combination of Limit and Outs (a way to dramatically edit a scene), you can do that.
[20:45] <+hey> Are there guidelines when to use Jamokes, Mobs, henchmen, and Bosses?
[20:45] <+hey> Written in the game itself, I mean.
[20:46] <+Caias> Yes, there are. We have guidelines for how to set up encounters. And if you mess up the balance, the Protagonists have Limit and their Triggers to help them out. And you can throw in more if you need.
[20:46] <+Caias> Jamokes and Mobs are meant to be waded through, btw. Don't be afraid to let the Protagonists run through them like Kool-Aid Man does walls...
[20:47] <~Dan> How is that handled? Do they have lower Limits?
[20:48] <+Caias> Jamokes and Mobs don't actually have Limit. They have Danger instead, which represents how much, well, danger they can face before they drop.  They can't alter die rolls with it and they don't get defense rolls when attacked.
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[20:50] <~Dan> So they get what are closer to "normal" hit points?
[20:51] <+Caias> Yes.
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[20:51] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:51] <~Dan> A quick note: You're welcome to hang out as long as you like and continue to ask questions, Caias.
[20:52] <+Caias> Mobs also have one attack roll they make against all opponents. You could have a bunch of people attacking the Protagonist, but only one or two at a time. In true movie fashion.
[20:52] <~Dan> That said, we have around 8 minutes left in "regular" Q&A time... Is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to bring up?
[20:53] <+hey> How about vehicle chase scenes? Any special mechanics for those?
[20:54] <+Caias> They are covered under the Conflict rules. A chase would be an Extended Conflict, where a series of rolls accumulate Points of Effect towards a certain goal (You need x PoE to escape, otherwise this happens).
[20:57] <+hey> Okay, earlier on you said that the "Attributes" were more like motivations. How would someone fight using Wits, Will, Clarity, and so on. Might is pretty obvious.
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[20:58] <+Caias> Someone drugged you and you need to keep your head about you, might use Clarity. If you are ambushing someone, you might use Wit.  If you are just trying to survive a beating (say you are getting jumped in by your gang), Will might be appropriate.
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[21:00] <+Caias> Alright guys, I have to go. Thank you for all the questions! is the Kickstarter URL and we have less than three weeks left to hit the other stretch goals. Consider telling 500 of your closest friends, upping your pledge level and picking up some of our incredible posters and dice as well
[21:01] <~Dan> Thanks for stopping by, Caias! I'll have the log posted shortly and will send you the link.

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