Thursday, May 30, 2013

[Q&A] Jenna Moran (Nobilis, Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine)

<+JennaMoran> Hi! This is Jenna Moran (formerly R. Sean Borgstrom.) I'm the creator of Nobilis and writer for a bunch of other stuff out there in the gaming world.
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<+GenoFoxx> rawr
<+JennaMoran> I did the demons in Exalted's _Games of Divinity_ and the Sidereal Charms in first edition Sidereals and one of the adventures for Aberrant and the freeform psi system for Trinity and some awesome In Nomine stuff and so forth and so on. And, well, Nobilis.
<+JennaMoran> Tonight I'm going to be taking questions on Nobilis, which is a diceless game of cosmic characters affiliated with the conceptual building blocks of reality (Cars, Fire, Storms, Dreams, Love, Nomenclature, &c.)
<+JennaMoran> and the Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine RPG, which is the next-gen followup to it being kickstarted right now over on . . . um . . .
<+JennaMoran> (Link:
<+JennaMoran> It's the next evolution of the underlying diceless system, built for a more pastoral/Miyazaki kind of story than cosmic-level play.
<+JennaMoran> (done).
<~Dan> Thanks, Jenna!
<~Dan> Would anyone like to start us off with questions?
<~Dan> (*waits a moment for any takers before starting*)
<~Dan> Okay! Jenna, can you explain the relationship between Nobilis and Chuubo?
<+JennaMoran> I should have shared the link a few minutes before things started instead of after. ^_^
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<+GenoFoxx> Jenna was here not too long ago correct?
<+JennaMoran> Sure! In rules terms, Chuubo's is a diceless game improving on Nobilis' basic ideas---I guess you could think something like the step from the old World of Darkness to Trinity, in terms of system evolution.
<~Dan> (GenoFoxx: For a visit, yup. :) )
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<+Gemini> Is it easy to learn?
<+JennaMoran> In setting terms, there are some strong conceptual linkages---notionally, you could tell a story in which they're in the same universe---but I'm not pushing that too hard. More like the step from World of Darkness to Exalted, that way.
<+JennaMoran> Nobilis 2 featured the example of someone shooting down the sun with a bow and arrow when explaining some of the higher-level powers.
<+JennaMoran> To me, and to a Nobilis fan, you can think of Chuubo's as "what happens after somebody actually *does* shoot down the sun?"
<+JennaMoran> But there's a lot of water under the cosmic bridge between the two settings, so I think new Chuubo's fans will think of Nobilis more as a vaguely related cousin setting than the source and origin.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<+Gemini> Do you need to understand Nobilis to understand Chuubo?
<+JennaMoran> (Should I answer Gemini's question next?)
<~Dan> (Jenna: Please. :) )
<~Dan> (And question pause to give you time to answer his second question as well. :) )
<+JennaMoran> Answering out of order:
<+JennaMoran> You don't need to understand Nobilis to understand Chuubo's. It's a wholly self-contained game.
<+JennaMoran> Once the campaign is out, it'll be absolutely trivial to learn---Glass-Maker's Dragon puts everyone but the GM basically on top of a hill, on skis, and pushes. For a GM, or before the campaign's release, it'll be pretty easy to learn, but might sometimes confuse people who are used to different kinds of games.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<+JennaMoran> Oh, and there's snow. It's not just a hill with skis and like rocks. (done)
<~Dan> Heh. :)
<+GoldenH> Are there any cool new mathy/comp sci references in chuubo?
<+Crowned_Sun> Can I ask a question now? :)
<+Crowned_Sun> What can you tell us about the Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign? I haven't heard much about that and I'm really curious-- especially the notion that it's the best thing that you've ever written!
<~Dan> Could you describe the Nobilis system, and then how Chuubo tweaks it?
<+Gemini> (Thanks!)
<~Dan> (Crowned_Sun: Yup!)
<~Dan> (And question pause after Crowned_Sun's forthcoming question.)
<+JennaMoran> *Types a lot. Thinks a lot* *apologizes for slowness!*
<~Dan> (No problem, Jenna! Take your time. :) )
<+JennaMoran> Glass-Maker's Dragon is about death, and life, and virtue. It's about the waking of consciousness. It's about Marduk and Tiamat, metaphorically. I wrote Marduck and had Darkwing Marduk flashes for a moment. It's about a lot of things.
<+JennaMoran> Pause while my computer opens a file so I can look at something.
<+JennaMoran> OK, while it's loading.
<+GenoFoxx> (Darkwing Marduk....heh)
<+JennaMoran> There are 8 archetypal PCs. They're somewhere halfway between pre-built PCs and classes---they have playbooks, and a lot of setting grounding, but there are a lot of variations available.
<+JennaMoran> Plus some plug-in points for design-your-own---but, like I said, hills, and skis, so while I supported designing your own character, the heart of the campaign is in pick-your-character-packet and go.
<+JennaMoran> I tend to write the high concept of the backstory like this:
<+JennaMoran> Once upon a time, a witch and a glass-maker made a dragon out of glass and taught it to hate the world. It raged and it would have destroyed everything; only, it shattered, instead. Maybe it found some reason to love the world. Maybe their hearts weren’t really in it — not the glass-maker’s, not the witch’s. Maybe it was just that the dragon was made of glass
<+JennaMoran> Hrm. Cut and paste failure.
<+JennaMoran> Once upon a time, a witch and a glass-maker made a dragon out of glass and taught it to hate the world. It raged and it would have destroyed everything; only, it shattered, instead.
<+JennaMoran> Maybe it found some reason to love the world.
<+JennaMoran> Maybe their hearts weren’t really in it — not the glass-maker’s, not the witch’s.
<+JennaMoran> Maybe it was just that the dragon was made of glass.
<+JennaMoran> --- that.
<+JennaMoran> So.
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<+JennaMoran> The reason it's the best thing I've ever written isn't some giant thing. It's not that I expect you to read that high concept and be sold. It's mostly in the details and the tricks of the design---the way that it's designed to pick up your various intuitions
<+JennaMoran> about the world and the story as they're developing in play and amplify them and feed them back to you.
<+JennaMoran> But I think people will like playing and being and interacting with Chuubo/Shokyou, the ordinary kid with the wish-granting engine;
<+JennaMoran> and Seizhi/Suzy Schwan, the best friend they created with a wish
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<+JennaMoran> and Natalia/Antony Koutolika, the martial arts/math prodigy
<+JennaMoran> and Rinley Yatskaya, creature of fable; and the dream-witch; and the angel of Fortitude; and Leonardo/Dulcinea de Montreal, nightmare scientist, and the daughter or son of the dead angel of the houses of the sun.
<+JennaMoran> And, if not one of those, then the people who get caught up in a bunch of the stories that touch on themes of wishing and death and dreams and nightmares and loss and rebirth and creation and chaos and discovery.
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<+JennaMoran> So, sorry that answer took a long time and started disjointed. I was thrown by the slowness of my filesystem. ^_^
<+JennaMoran> (Done with that question, moving on to the next.)
<+JennaMoran> GoldenH asked "Are there any cool new mathy/comp sci references in chuubo?"
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<~Dan> (Hello, Yal! Q&A with Jenna Moran in progress!)
<+JennaMoran> I am . . . not sure. An old example of play had a theorem you could use to test if you were in a fictional universe, but I had to discard that example of play after a rules revision simplified some things. I'm dead certain there are such things, but all I can think of right now is art history geeking. I am a shame to my engineering roots.
<+JennaMoran> (done with that question, moving on to the next.)
<+JennaMoran> Dan asked: "Could you describe the Nobilis system, and then how Chuubo tweaks it?"
<+JennaMoran> So Nobilis is a system that lets you play people like . . . the Power of Solace. The person cosmically responsible for, and embodying, solace. Or the Power of Money. Same thing. Or Art.
<~Dan> (The power of some guy named Art?)
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<+JennaMoran> But the secret of stories like that is that there isn't one definition, one hard and absolute truth that you can point to, for what Solace is, or Art, or even Money.
<+JennaMoran> When you examine any of your definitions of things in the world, it all breaks down into fuzziness.
<+JennaMoran> So what Nobilis does is pretends that there is such a truth.
<+JennaMoran> And then it gives you a bunch of mechanical tools for manipulating it.
<+JennaMoran> You have a power that lets you create Solace. (Or Art. Or Money.) What does that let you do?
<+JennaMoran> And as a player---even if you know how the game works---you'll tend to think: oh, it lets me do this, this, and this.
<+JennaMoran> But the truth is, when you create Solace in a given case, or describe the Art you create, or decide whether you can create shells with a creation of Money, you're feeding the shared imaginary space of the game with your ideas about solace. Or art. Or money.
<+JennaMoran> You're creating a story about what those things are.
<+JennaMoran> That's the Nobilis system.
<+JennaMoran> It's built on top of some mechanical ideas like "you have Traits rated 0-5, and spend points on top of that in units of 0, 1, 2, 4, or 8 to reach target difficulties."
<+JennaMoran> But basically, at its core? It's about pulling those stories and ideas about how Solace, Art, Money, etc. work out of you. So that when those stories are beautiful, well, that's a beautiful gaming experience. And when they're kind of sketchy, like, seriously? You're giving that guy a snail as Solace?
<+JennaMoran> They produce fun arguments, either IC or OOC.
<+Cassandra> Snails can be cuddly too, you know.
<+JennaMoran> Exactly!
<+JennaMoran> That was doing Nobilis, right there.
<+JennaMoran> Playing Nobilis is a lot like random conversation on IRC. The fun part.
<+JennaMoran> Chuubo's tweaks this by shifting the focus from Solace, or Art, or Money, to . . . the process of your life. The mechanical attention formerly given to those big-name concepts is now given to "quests" like . . . I dunno. Practice the flute. Put out a game. Deal with grief. Spend time with your friends.
<+haren> It's more about the journey than the destination?
<+JennaMoran> And I've added some structure to the flow of the game overall, to cover the process of life in general in the kind of story you want to tell.
<+JennaMoran> Yes.
<+JennaMoran> That's actually very accurate. Chuubo's was created by a shift in the game mechanics from a focus on (thinking about) destinations to a focus on (living) the journey.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<~Dan> So... what are the stats in Nobilis and Chuubo, respectively?
* +haren nods. "I really like that."
<+Gemini> What ages would you suggest for Chuubo? And, is the content/art direction something I could show my mom without dying of shame? Finally, what programs do you use for writing?
<~Dan> (Question pause.)
<+JennaMoran> Nobilis' core stats are "Aspect" (being superhuman in a human way, the John McClane to Batman to Superman without eyebeams and flight continuum), "Domain" (controlling your Estate, your Solace/Art/Money thing), "Persona" (embodying that Estate), and "Treasure" (your cool stuff.)
<+JennaMoran> Plus some freeform Skills and such on the side.
<+JennaMoran> Chuubo's has a freeform Skill system and . . . something which is a bit more like classes than Traits.
<+JennaMoran> Like, you might build a character with 8 points of Skills like:
<+JennaMoran> Domestic Tasks 2
<+JennaMoran> Kindness 2
<+JennaMoran> Good Smile 2
<+JennaMoran> Sailing 1
<+JennaMoran> Stamp Collecting 1
<~Dan> (Sounds a bit like side traits in Over the Edge.)
<+JennaMoran> and then instead of having Aspect, Domain, Persona, and Treasure at 0-5, they might have 3 points chosen from a potentially endless list of options (but . . . I think 12? so far).
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<~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Dyne! Here for the Q&A?)
<+JennaMoran> Like:
<+Dyne> Yeah
<+haren> (Might I make a comment about Persona?)
<+JennaMoran> The Ace 2 (which is a lot like Nobilis' Aspect)
<+JennaMoran> Child of the Ash 1 (which is not really like anything in Nobilis)
<~Dan> (haren: Let's give Jenna a moment to catch up first.)
<+JennaMoran> (Done with that question.)
<~Dan> (Ah... fire away, then, haren! :) )
<+JennaMoran> Gemini asked what ages I'd suggest for Chuubo. Obviously Chuubo's is fun for all ages! Fortitude: the Glass-Maker's Dragon puts the characters at age 14-16.
<+haren> I find Persona is best as thinking about it not just as embodying (which is good, but sometimes is harder to imagine) as also being controling how things RELATE to your Estate. You, other people and things, etc...
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<+RandBrittain> I'd say it's unquestionably a G-rated game.
<+RandBrittain> At least, I can't remember anything PG?
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Hey, gang. :)
<+Gemini> Unlike, say, Exalted
<+RandBrittain> There's no need for direct comparisons.
<+haren> (Hello Cynthia)
<+JennaMoran> I tend to think that the characters need to be at an age where their lives are about to change in a big way, which means a high school game, or a cyberpunk or transhumanist game, or people prepping for a major change to their town or something.
<~Dan> (Welcome, Cynthia! :) )
<~Dan> (Welcome back, I should say. ;) )
<+JennaMoran> That's true, haren. Thinking of it as embodying is really just my own peculiarity; most people will value Persona for its ability to enchant things with the properties of your Estate (make them more Solace-ish or Money-like) or give them a role vis-a-vis your Estate, etc.
<~Dan> (Jenna, this is Cynthia Celeste Miller of Spectrum Games. :) )
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Thanks. :)
<+haren> Oh, I love the idea of embodying, and I've used that a lot. But for what it DOES, the second part helps.
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<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> It's nice to meet you, Jenna. :)
<+JennaMoran> Indeed! Thanks for suggesting the clarification.
<+JennaMoran> It's nice to meet you too, Cynthia!
<~Dan> So Aspect would be used for a feat of strength in Nobilis, I'm assuming... What would be the equivalent in Chuubo?
<+JennaMoran> I haven't had a chance to play your games but I admire the principles. ^_^ If you're who I'm thinking of. (Cartoon Action Hour, etc.?)
<+JennaMoran> Gemini asked: "And, is the content/art direction something I could show my mom without dying of shame? Finally, what programs do you use for writing?"
<+haren> Actually, based on something someone else said for another game (when they were talking about how they weren't interested in playing high schoolers) but a transgender clinic would work as well.
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Likewise. I've always wanted to give Exalted a whirl, but just haven't had the chance to. I've read it though and it's a work of art.
<+JennaMoran> The content shouldn't bother your mom. I'm hoping to have extremely classy art direction, too, but it hasn't been done yet so I can't know for sure. Certainly I try to avoid exploitative art and the like because yuck.
<+Crowned_Sun> Yay!!!
<+Gemini> Sweet!
<+JennaMoran> I mostly use Microsoft Word for writing, although I'm trying to get into Scrivener. I wind up doing a lot of stuff with IrfanView although I have no idea why.
* +Crowned_Sun hopes we see more Miranda, hehe.
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> And Nobilis is brilliant.
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<+Gemini> Yay! Scrivener! I was going to ask about that specifically, but figured no one knew what that was.
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<+Cassandra> I love me some Srivener.
<+JennaMoran> I think a transgender clinic might fit the premise but it would have to be a circumstance where the characters weren't stuck indefinitely but also have time for the game itself to happen before the "lives change in a big way" part.
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<+JennaMoran> Well, not premise. Theme?
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<+JennaMoran> Dan asked: "So Aspect would be used for a feat of strength in Nobilis, I'm assuming... What would be the equivalent in Chuubo?"
<~Dan> (Howdy, jcfiala, and wb, vy!)
<+vytzka> (yay!)
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<+JennaMoran> "The Ace" is the Trait that improves your strength, and more generally your . . .basic human abilities. It's what Natalia (or Antony) Koutolika, aka *The Prodigy* has.
<+JennaMoran> I suspect that when I do the second setting supplement I'll be adding another path that does that directly, but I'm not sure; I was honestly surprised that I only needed 12 for the material so far.
<+JennaMoran> I kept thinking, "Surely, I'll need to invent something new for this cha---oh, no, they just use this one."
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<+JennaMoran> You can also just be really strong with your freeform Skills---take a Weightlifter Skill, or Superior Strength Skill, or "I am an ogre I will totally crush you if you get in my way" Skill.
<+JennaMoran> The "classes" are . . .
<+JennaMoran> In the setting, there is a "wishing power in the heart to make the impossible possible."
<+JennaMoran> I realize that's totally twee but well. There is! It felt right for the kinds of things I was trying to emulate.
<+JennaMoran> And so The Ace is someone who has the wishing power in their heart to overcome tests of strength, among other things. But you can also just brute-force them (heh) by being really strong.
<+JennaMoran> The stuff like "The Ace" and "Wounded Angel" and "Child of the Ash" and such just represent the . . . "form" . . . that it takes when overcome your natural limits.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<+JennaMoran> I think I'm totally caught up!
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<~Dan> What (if anything) happens when abilities overlap? For example, in Nobilis, let's say you have a high Aspect and are also the Power of Strength?
<+JennaMoran> So the secret to Aspect is that you're making claims about . . . human potential. About the KINDS of things humans do. When you use strength, as a high-Aspect power, you're saying: "Look, this is something a human can do, only more so."
<+JennaMoran> A statement on people and the mode of human action, in particular, in the forum that is the world.
<+JennaMoran> When you use power over Strength, conceptually, you're making statements on the nature of strength, instead.
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<~Dan> Hmm. Interesting.
<+JennaMoran> This is resolved as follows:
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<+JennaMoran> You check for actual conflicts between the actions people take. Not in the tactical/strategic sense of "I'm fighting you," but in the sense of "just what are these two miracles saying? How do they actually come into conflict?"
<+JennaMoran> To the extent that there really is a conflict, higher number wins. But in practice, wriggling around the space defined by that conflict is more important.
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<+JennaMoran> There's some other stuff to make it a little more tactically interesting---various advantages that you can bring into play based on in-setting conditions, various sustained effects that you can invest in to gain an edge in a particular conflict . . .
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<+JennaMoran> But mostly I think it comes down to semantic combat.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<~Dan> Can you describe the antagonists in Nobilis and (if applicable) Chuubo?
<+Crowned_Sun> Any hint as to when/what we can expect next for Nobilis?? Like, say, the hinted upon Angels/Heaven book?? :)
<~Dan> (Question pause. :) )
<+JennaMoran> At the end of the Second Age the Riders came from outside the world and lay siege to Time; slaughtered the angels in Heaven; and did all kinds of nasty things, starting a war that lasts to this day. They're trying to cut apart the existence of the world; unmake it.
<+JennaMoran> I also sometimes call them Excrucians.
<+JennaMoran> There are four basic types: the Deceivers, who are basically the superhuman version of bored college philosophy students.
<+JennaMoran> They're here to disprove existence.
<~Dan> (The cake is a lie?)
<+JennaMoran> There's a webcomic about them at (Link:
<+Crowned_Sun> n' so are the candles! n' the concept of birthdays! and the idea that you were "born" (hah! such a thing...)
<+JennaMoran> For instance, there's Iolithae Septimian, who can make the lies she speaks into truths.
<+JennaMoran> She is scary.
<+JennaMoran> There're the Warmains, who are looking for people of a very particular quality in Creation. People, or sometimes other things.
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<+JennaMoran> They'll test you. If you pass their tests, they'll try to steal you from the world.
<+JennaMoran> (They're called Warmains for historical reasons, mostly.)
<+JennaMoran> There's the Strategists, who levy a moral judgment against the world. Basically, they're the ones here to kill everything because seriously living in existence is just disgusting.
<+JennaMoran> And sometimes when they kill a god and don't manage to unmake it completely they'll reconstitute it as a Mimic.
<+JennaMoran> I am vaguely embarrassed at this legacy terminology now but I thought it was cool in 1999 and will probably think it's cool again in 5 years.
<~Dan> :)
<+JennaMoran> There's Lord Entropy, who's the dominant force on the Council of Four that rules the Earth. He's mostly an antagonist.
<+haren> Warmains are awesome, especially when a Power marries one! ;)
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> I know the feeling, Jenna. :)
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<+JennaMoran> He runs the concepts of Desecration, Destruction, and Scorn. He lives on an island on the back of a giant soul-eating flying monster. He makes laws on the general order of "don't hurt anyone more than seven times what you can prove they've earned" and "don't fall in love."
<+JennaMoran> There's the Actuals, who . . .
<+JennaMoran> Imagine dead things. Out there beyond the world. They're not really awake. They're not really sentient. They're not really aware. They're . . . corpses. They don't have the fire in them that lets them see the world.
<+JennaMoran> They don't have the fire and light in them that lets them see themselves.
<+JennaMoran> But they want it.
<+JennaMoran> Autonomically, I suppose.
<+JennaMoran> Physically.
<+JennaMoran> They yearn for it.
<+JennaMoran> So they come into the world.
<+JennaMoran> They find things. Things that can see themselves. Things that can see the Actual.
<+JennaMoran> They take those things and they merge with them. They try to preserve the fire in them until the merger is complete.
<+JennaMoran> They try to keep that light burning while making you or whatever part of them.
<+JennaMoran> It never works.
<+JennaMoran> At the end you're just another instance of the Actual.
<+JennaMoran> And then there's the Zu, which are super-martial-artists that I will do things with basically last and so don't want to talk about too much at this time. ^_^
<+JennaMoran> In Chuubo's there's less of a division between antagonists and protagonists.
<+^_^> prontagonists
<+Gemini> … I think that's something very different, ^_^
<+Cassandra> Shrimp can be PCs? I lowe shrimp. They are super nummy.
<+Crowned_Sun> Not the best quality in a PC.
<+JennaMoran> The Mimics inspired one of the Arcs. (Those "class"-like things I was talking about earlier.) The Deceivers did too. The Warmains. The Actuals, even. They may very well each inspire a few more later on.
<+JennaMoran> It's not an antagonist-free setting, exactly; if nothing else, there's the Headmaster of the Bleak Academy, who like shot down the sun and stuff. (And that's terrible!)
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<+JennaMoran> And there's a flayed mind-taking beast out there on the far rooftops and human-eating ogres and an entire evil island and a body-stealer and a student council full of horrors.
<+JennaMoran> But . . .
<+haren> But everyone is able to do things both great, beautiful, terrible, and painful?
<+Crowned_Sun> ...heh, Student Council of Horrors.
<+Gemini> Should I get McDonald's for lunch?
<+JennaMoran> There's no hard protagonist/antagonist lines here, there's just Main Characters. Particularly in the first campaign, which is set in what the rules call the Pastoral genre and so is more towards half-Totoro half-Laputa than Princess Mononoke.
<~Dan> (Please keep general chat to #rpgnet2 during the Q&A, Gemini. Thanks! ;) )
<+JennaMoran> And as haren says, everyone is able to do things great, beautiful, terrible, and painful.
<+JennaMoran> I . . . am trying not to have people unworthy of empathy in my settings right now, because I believe that empathy is important.
<+Cassandra> Indeed.
<~Dan> (I have a follow-up question when you're ready, Jenna.)
<+JennaMoran> So Lord Entropy is gone, and his child Principal Entropy II or Principal Attaris II is a somewhat kinder sort. There's one potentially completely unsympathetic Actual around, and plenty of other potential nasties, but I'm leaving it for your gaming group to make them unsalveagable before I declare them thus.
<+haren> Well, even in Nobilis, I think there are few character types you can't empathize with at all... I have trouble with Strategists, but Warmains I really get, and Deceivers less so.
<+Dyne> Lord Entropy is just misunderstood.  He really just wants hand cleanser.
<+JennaMoran> Crowned_Sun asks: "Any hint as to when/what we can expect next for Nobilis?? Like, say, the hinted upon Angels/Heaven book??"
<+JennaMoran> The next Nobilis book is almost certainly the Warmains book. I'm working on a novel next, but that follows right after.
<~Dan> (Actually, brb)
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<+JennaMoran> Cassandra asks: "Shrimp can be PCs? I lowe shrimp. They are super nummy."
<+JennaMoran> One of the lifepaths/character archetypes in Fortitude: by the Docks of Big Lake is the Immigrant to Town.
<+JennaMoran> I wouldn't normally expect that to be a shrimp.
<+Crowned_Sun> ...*squeeeee at the concept of a Warmain book*
<+haren> Skill: Afraid of cocktail sauce -1?
<+JennaMoran> However, as long as you have a strong sense of the section of the ocean that the shrimp comes from, I guess it's . . . possible?
<+CynthiaCelesteMiller> Well, folks, I have to run. It's been fun. :)
<+JennaMoran> There is a dog in Fortitude: the Glass-Maker's Dragon with the Skill: Operate Heavy Machinery -1.
<+Cassandra> I was mostly joking. :)
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<+haren> (Later Cynthia)
<+JennaMoran> ^_^ Be well!
<+Cassandra> Byee!
<+JennaMoran> I was only answering the shrimp question because Dan went brb just before I got to him.
<+Cassandra> Thanks. :)
* +Crowned_Sun appreciated the answer to the Shrimp question, really.
<+JennaMoran> On a similar note:
<+JennaMoran> Gemini asks: "Should I get McDonald's for lunch?"
<+Crowned_Sun> I mean, it's always nice to know the breadth of character concepts that a game can potentially work with!
* +Gemini is very hungry. But also h as heartburn. It IS a quagmire.
<+Cassandra> I can't wait until I hear the answer to that one.
<+JennaMoran> Chuubo's leaves most of the tactical questions of what you "should" do up to you---it tends to answer them only at the strategic and . . . operational? . . . levels. Not so much "you should" or "you shouldn't" but "here's what you might gain" or "here's what happens."
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<+JennaMoran> If you were playing in an Inuyasha-inspired game then maybe your quests might explain why they bothered with those scenes at WacDonalds, and encourage you to do the same.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
* +Crowned_Sun glances at Gemini skeptically. Is he a Chuubo's signature character? Hrmmm!
<+JennaMoran> I am ready for a followup, Dan. ^_^
<~Dan> Okay, this probably isn't so much a follow-up as a new question suggested somewhat by the antatonist question, but...
<~Dan> Would it be correct to say that Nobilis features the surreal intruding on the (ostensibly) "real" world, while in Chuubo, the whole nine yards are surreal?
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<+JennaMoran> Hmmmmmmmmmm.
<+RandBrittain> Haha, you haven't seen Fortitude.
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<~Dan> In other words, does the average person experience weirdness on a regular basis on "Nobilis Earth"?
<+RandBrittain> There's a whole chapter on doing chores.
<+RandBrittain> Like, ordinary chores, like making jam. And it's great.
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<+JennaMoran> Nobilis Earth is mostly a "hidden-world" fantasy.
<+JennaMoran> I wrote the 3rd edition like it was a book of ghost stories and edge-of-society fables---like, you know, the story about the chat room you can't leave, and when you close it, you die? Or the ghost in the toilet?
<+JennaMoran> I wrote it as advice for dealing with the Nobilis. And CURSES I just broke kayfabe ignore that.
<+JennaMoran> *cough*
* ~Dan chuckles
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<~Dan> (wb, LordOfDorkness!)
<+JennaMoran> I spent a lot of time investigating stuff that you hear about at the fringes of, like, ordinary life---all the stuff you hear about out there. How to survive your dealings with the Nobilis and other oddities. But most people, obviously, don't even believe that stuff is really out there.
<+JennaMoran> Stories of Lexiarchos Caducine; or tumbleoaks, or that bear-train thing that I can't BELIEVE I am too tired to remember the name of, I thought I could never forget that, I mean, seriously.
<+JennaMoran> But yeah, it's edge stuff. Border stuff.
<+haren> And the people who are used to that stuff are either obviously crazy or just telling tall tales?
<+JennaMoran> So the ZEITGEIST would have you believe!
<+JennaMoran> In Chuubo's, there's more surreality in the sense that it's not set on Earth. It's set in Town, which is separate. Connected to Earth---you can get to most of Earth's oceans from Big Lake---but not _in_ Earth. So there's going to be some strangeness.
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<+Crowned_Sun> Lirrane Adrimorphous.
<+JennaMoran> But not really any stranger than ...
<+Crowned_Sun> The Bear-Train, that is.
<+JennaMoran> Thank you!
<+JennaMoran> Lirrane Adrimorphous.
<~Dan> (Great name. :) )
* +Crowned_Sun nods.
<+JennaMoran> Right.
<+JennaMoran> When I was living in Suzhou,
<+JennaMoran> One day, I walked down towards the lake.
<+JennaMoran> And there was a giant birdcage.
<+JennaMoran> Like, twenty? feet tall
<+JennaMoran> It hadn't been there a week or two before that
<+JennaMoran> Also, apparently Suzhou has its own completely unique dialect of Chinese. I mean, intercomprehensible. But its own speech.
<+JennaMoran> I worked at a building called Beng Zhan, where all the artsy stuff happened.
<+JennaMoran> The Beng is apparently a "sink."
<+JennaMoran> There was a giant sink in the lobby, on a pedestal.
<+JennaMoran> Everywhere was marketing for this weird sheep from this weird cartoon.
<+JennaMoran> So . . . Suzhou is extremely surreal. So is California, and I grew UP there.
<+JennaMoran> Town . . .
* ~Dan chuckles
<+JennaMoran> Town is actually in some parts of it a very simple and straightforward place. And others have other genres.
<+JennaMoran> I broke it up into regions and they play by different rules, conceptually.
<+JennaMoran> But here's the thing. Here's why I'm giving such a long answer.
<+JennaMoran> When the sun died, there was a miracle.
<+JennaMoran> Normally, the thing that would happen is, no more sun. Ever. Maybe never even ever *was* a sun, any longer.
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<+JennaMoran> Just gone. We'd live forever in the dark.
<+JennaMoran> Until we died.
<+JennaMoran> But when nothingness swallowed the sun---
<+Crappyapples> Greetings gentlemen.
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<+Crappyapples> and ladies.
<+JennaMoran> When the great empty meaningless vastness beyond the boundaries of the world took in the sun, when the angel of the houses of the sun fell into the nothingness, the nothingness caught light.
<~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Crappyapples! Here for the Q&A?)
<+JennaMoran> And then instead of Nothing, instead of the Lands Beyond Creation, there was the Outside. No longer empty, not completely. No longer nonexistent. Not completely. No longer NOTHING, not completely. Instead ... the unformed. The unknown.
<+JennaMoran> It rose, metaphorically, like the rising sea when the icecaps melt.
<+JennaMoran> It flooded much of Creation.
<+JennaMoran> But it wasn't nothing that did that. It was ... the unknown. The Outside.
<+Crappyapples> (Nope, just here to discuss RPGs. I'll queue my interest til after the Q&A)
<&Moxiane> "Here Be Dragons" getting its own back?
<+JennaMoran> And in its deepest portions it is still a lot like nothingness. It is still very empty.
<+haren> Almost like primordial chaos?
<+haren> Pure potential, yet... not.
<+JennaMoran> Yes, on both. ^_^
<+JennaMoran> But in the nearest places, just outside of Town . . .
<+JennaMoran> Surreality.
<~Dan> (Crappyapples: No problem! General chat's going on in #rpgnet2 while the Q&A is going on. :) )
<+JennaMoran> So the world is stacked: Town, the Near Outside (surreal), then growing progressively abstract until you're practically living in a Mondrian.
<+JennaMoran> (done)
<+JennaMoran> Hi Crappyapples!
<+Gemini> Where do you get your ideas from? Besides having curly hair, that is.
<+Gemini> b/c all of that just broke my mind a little bit.
<~Dan> Just FYI, Jenna: I know it's getting late there, but you're welcome to hang out and field questions after the regular Q&A time is over.
<~Dan> That said, is there anything we haven't covered yet that you'd like to bring up?
<~Dan> (And question pause.)
<+JennaMoran> Hm!
<+JennaMoran> I get my ideas from being imperfect in my perceptions.
<+JennaMoran> That is, when I look around me, when I understand things, when I hear or see or grapple with concepts, I never get them quite right. I can't. People can't. I get these . . . roughly-defined at the edges, chunked-up concept-things instead.
<+JennaMoran> Mutant relatives of the truth.
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<+JennaMoran> When they're put together in my head, the rough edges grind against one another like two sticks of wood, producing flame. Or mix like two chemicals, producing explosions. Or overlay like two unfinished patterns, producing . . . something that looks like a third.
<+JennaMoran> Like when you put a parrot on top of a dog and get something that looks like a centaur, or possibly an impending disaster.
<+JennaMoran> If you follow two tracks forward, at the same time, when they pull against one another, the tension creates new possibilities.
<+JennaMoran> That's where I get my ideas. That and, of course, my astonishing, naturally curly hair.
<~Dan> :)
<+Crowned_Sun> Don't downplay the hair.
<&Moxiane> Curly hair picks up subetheral radiation better than straight.
<~Dan> You live in a poetic universe, Jenna. :)
<+Gemini> I never do. Except for when I got it all cut off.
<+JennaMoran> I am regrettably too tired to have anything I particularly want to bring up. I already pointed people at the kickstarter itself, and that's . . . like everything super-exciting I have going on, I suspect. Wait. No.
<+Dyne> Which is nearly at 50% funded
<+JennaMoran> Nah. That's all the immediate stuff. I theoretically have a novel coming out soon (see but I shouldn't talk it up too much because it's pending cover art still, even if editing basically just finished. And similarly for the book of short stories.
<+RandBrittain> Why don't you tell people about future books for Chuubo?
<+RandBrittain> Horizon and Arcadia and so forth.
<+JennaMoran> Hm!
<+JennaMoran> I could do that.
<+JennaMoran> So the Chuubo's line as it currently looks:
<+JennaMoran> The core RPG, which is being kickstarted;
<+JennaMoran> The first setting supplement, Fortitude: by the Docks of Big Lake, which is all about pastoral living, er, by the docks of Big Lake.
<+JennaMoran> The first campaign, Fortitude: the Glass-Maker's Dragon, which I have talked about.
<+JennaMoran> I may wind up doing a book of short stories directly associated with this next, or later, or not at all. That's up to undetermined factors like inspiration rates.
<+Cassandra> Having curly hair is important to success. I know this because mine is curly too. ;)
<+JennaMoran> I do know that the next major project tied to the game after that is going to be Fortitude: the Far Roofs.
<+JennaMoran> That's a setting book & campaign built around the talking rats of Fortitude and their quests against the Mysteries that are their totem spirits, monsters, predators, and gods.
<~Dan> Sweet. :)
<+JennaMoran> If you venture out beyond the near rooftops, you know, the part of the rooftops where there are ordinary houses underneath you filled with ordinary people? and go out to the part where you're not over actual houses any more?
<+Gemini> are the talking rats  going to be like Reepacheep?
<+JennaMoran> That's the Far Roofs, where the Mysteries are.
<+JennaMoran> Yes, Reepicheep is my primary inspiration.
<+Gemini> Sweet!
<+JennaMoran> I mean, I've read other rat-stuff but . . . I heart Reepicheep.
<+Gemini> Same.
* +Crowned_Sun vaguely ponders the possibility of curling his hair to earn success as a writer.
<+haren> Heeee!
<+JennaMoran> I don't know for sure yet whether this is a campaign with a small setting book enclosed or a setting book and a campaign book. I just have a ton of material written for it for the pre-playtesting version of the game, and am updating it to handle the changed rules and the decisions I made about formatting.
<+haren> I love him too, Jenna.
<+JennaMoran> I have a ton of awesome material on the rats and Mysteries, though, so that's next.
<+JennaMoran> I've been encouraged to write something that fits the ... Friendship is Magic-type genre more squarely, which is currently partially fleshed out into a campaign "If Wishes were Horses." I'm not sure when I'm going to feel like doing that one, but it's on my mental queue. Maybe soon, maybe never. It's just . . . waiting!
<+JennaMoran> Similarly, "An Age of Innocence," which is a campaign based on somebody using a wish-granting engine to wish the sun HADN'T been shot.
<~Dan> Quick note: I may be hauled away to lunch shortly, so I'd like to thank you for spending time with us, Jenna! (Again, please hang out as long as you like -- I  just didn't want to let that slide. :) )
<+JennaMoran> The next major setting thing, though, is the book for Horizon.
<+JennaMoran> You're welcome! And thanks for having me.
<+JennaMoran> If Fortitude is pastoral living, if it's . . . Totoro-esque . . . then Horizon is . . . gothic.
* +Cassandra cheers and throws a parade!
<+JennaMoran> A long time ago, Town didn't have a sun in the first place.
<+JennaMoran> And a vampire sailed across from Europe and said, "You know, this is pretty awesome. I will build a new London here. A Night London."
<+Gemini> Sounds like Adventure Time.
<+JennaMoran> There's . . . actually some thematic similarities, yes.
<+JennaMoran> I wouldn't have thought of making a Horizon/Adventure Time connection, because the motifs are actually very different, but yes.
<+RandBrittain> Oh, Alexandrel, why are you so mean?
<+JennaMoran> Anyway, this kind of fell apart when Town rejected industrialization and an earthquake broke most of the factories and the sun came up for the first time.
<+Gemini> Because I love you, RandBrittain
<+RandBrittain> I'm not mean, I'm a thousand years old, and I just lost track of the majority vote.
<+JennaMoran> Leaving this dramatically underpopulated, partially ruined big city over to the west of the Fortitude settlement.
* +haren just had a really odd idea. But she isn't sure it's worth sharing.
<+JennaMoran> You know, so you have rookeries with a single family spread out among them, and such these days.
<~Dan> Okay, gotta run, folks!
<~Dan> I'll get the log posted in an hour or so, Jenna!
<+haren> Later Dan!
<+Gemini> Enjoy Dan!
<+JennaMoran> And fog and vampires and gargoyles and . . . that kind of thing.
<+JennaMoran> Thanks!

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