Wednesday, May 22, 2013

[Q&A] Sechin Tower (The Menace from Beyond)

[19:05] <+Sechin_Tower> My name is Sechin Tower and I’m the grand poobah of Siege Tower Games. I’m also the lead developer at Exile Game Studio where I’ve worked on Hollow Earth Expedition since the beginning and been the chief contributing writer for the supplements. Also, I’m author of Mad Science Institute, a novel of explosions and robots.
[19:05] <+Sechin_Tower> The Menace From Beyond is an adventure/survival-horror RPG inspired by the classic creature features of the 1950s. It was the birth-era of sci-fi monsters as we know them with movies like THEM!, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Bloob, Godzilla, alien invaders, body snatchers, and many more were born in the 50s
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[19:05] <+Sechin_Tower> *blob
[19:05] <+Sechin_Tower> Additionally, I want to really capture the paranoia of the time with communist infiltrators trying to subvert or disrupt society from within. Many of the movie monsters were metaphors for this threat creeping into America in a way that the majority of the population won’t see it until it’s too late. It’s a really neat era and one I don’t see done too often, s
[19:05] <+Nestor> I am so writing up the Bloob now...
[19:06] <+Abstruse> Sounds like a slash fiction title...
[19:06] <+Sechin_Tower> lol
[19:06] <+Nestor> Heh. They usually attack in pairs...
[19:06] <+Sechin_Tower> TMFB will use the Ubiquity rule system I helped develop in Hollow Earth Expedition. This time, I’m taking a few things farther with new rules for designing equipment and additional (usually optional) rules for things like chases and races, minimal-stat NPCs, and scenes involving players taking on the roles of NPCs in something we affectionately call “slaughte
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[19:07] <+Sechin_Tower> *slaughter scenes"
[19:07] <+Abstruse> You were cut off at "we affectionately call "slaughte"
[19:07] <+Sechin_Tower> we aim to put the "laughter" back in "slaughter."
[19:07] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:07] <+Sechin_Tower> We got crawling brains, pod-person doppelgangers, psychic aliens, oversized insects, giant creatures, tiny creatures, amorphous creatures… it’s enough to make you clutch your teddy-bear and pull the covers over your head.
[19:08] <+Nestor> And the Enos back in scenes
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[19:08] <+cadorette> Awesome
[19:08] <+trevlix> i've been waiting for a game like this for years - glad you are making it!
[19:08] <+Sechin_Tower> BTW, Nestor is one of my co-conspirators on this project. He's been working with another friend on creating all those monsters.
[19:08] <+Sechin_Tower> Thanks, Trevix!
[19:08] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, trevlix!)
[19:09] <~Dan> Glad you could make it, Nestor!
[19:09] <+Nestor> Thankee
[19:09] <+Sechin_Tower> I thought it was a time period not often done in RPGs, and it turned out to have huge potential
[19:10] <+trevlix> agreed. with the exception of one that never got published (normal, texas) i've never seen it done well...until now! :)
[19:10] <+Sechin_Tower> I have to give a shout-out to Bob Bretz for coming up with the idea. He originally suggested it as a supplement for HEX, but when I heard it I immediately knew it was worthy of its own setting.
[19:10] <+cadorette> Why isn't Bob here? I know he's an RPGnet denizen
[19:10] <~Dan> (Well, there was GURPS Atomic Horror, but I don't know much about that other than that it exists.)
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[19:10] <+Silverlion> No they skip the fifties a lot. what makes you think it was ripe for gaming?
[19:11] <~Dan> (Welcome, mib_o2k0yv! You can set your name with the /nick command.)
[19:11] <~Dan> Oh, and were you ready for questions, Sechin?
[19:11] <+Sechin_Tower> I keep hearing about Normal, Texas but I never got a chance to look at it. Atomic Horror is the reason why I'm not going to have giant ants on the cover of TMFB (because they beat me to it) but otherwise I totally would
[19:11] <+Sechin_Tower> Fire away!
[19:11] <+Nestor> Instead, we'll have flying saucers over DC, right, Sech?
[19:12] <~Dan> I played in a demo game of Normal, Texas run by the author at GenCon, and I weep at its fate. :(
[19:12] <~Dan> Want to field Silverlion's question first, Sechin?
[19:12] <+Sechin_Tower> When I first started looking into the 50s, I assumed it was just that awkward decade between WWII and the civil rights movement. It turned out to kind of be the birthplace of modern Sci-Fi
[19:13] <+Sechin_Tower> Flying saucers over DC... and anywhere else that isn't prepared for the invasion (so that's everywhere)
[19:13] <+trevlix> What movies have inspired you the most for this?
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[19:13] <+Silverlion> Modern TV SF, true. :D
[19:14] <+Silverlion> nd movies...
[19:14] <+Silverlion> :D
[19:14] <+Sechin_Tower> The 50s also have great possibilities for paranoia-- especially communist paranoia, which is what many of the monsters are metaphors for-- but also its an interesting split between optimism and pessimism about the new frontiers of science
[19:15] <+Sechin_Tower> My personal favorite is THEM!. I also loved the good paranoia ones like Invaders from Mars and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Plus, anything with Ray Harryhausen's special effects is great!
[19:15] <+Abstruse> Is the game going to be more plot-based or combat-based in terms of rules?
[19:15] <+Silverlion> Yeah, especially Godzilla (Atomic Bond)
[19:15] <~Dan> (Atomic Bond, the Nuclear Spy!)
[19:15] <+Sechin_Tower> Silverlion: it was also the time when Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert and so many more were getting their start. Sci-Fi was just beginning to grow up out of the pulps.
[19:16] <+trevlix> good choices! :) I would also choose The Thing from Another World
[19:16] <+Nestor> The Bamboo Saucer is another great classic
[19:16] <+Silverlion> There was a lot to be said for early pulps...
[19:17] <+Sechin_Tower> Abstruse: for plot-based vs. combat based, that's up to the GM and players. I like the ubiquity rules because combat can happen so FAST, so I tend to have many encounters in the scenarios that I write, and it in no way overshadows the character moments
[19:17] <+Silverlion> So what are your favorites ST?
[19:17] <+Sechin_Tower> Bamboo saucer! I haven't seen that one. Time to add it to the netflix queue!
[19:17] <+Nestor> It's mostly a SpyFi flick, but it has some neat scenes with an actual UFO.
[19:17] <+Sechin_Tower> The Thing from Another World was also great!
[19:18] <~Dan> Actually, let me call for a question pause after Silverlion's question, and perhaps you can give us the highlights of Ubiquity to answer Abstruse's question in depth?
[19:18] <+Abstruse> (My favorite in the genre is Slither, which even though it's from the 2000s is completely in that genre in terms of tone)
[19:18] <+Nestor> (Slither is based on an earlier 70's flick, IIRC).
[19:18] <~Dan> (Oh, and once you're caught up, Sechin, just a reminder to give us a "(done)", and questions will resume. :) )
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[19:19] <+Sechin_Tower> For those who don't know Ubiquity, it is the creation of Jeff Combos and debuted with Hollow Earth Expedition RPG. It features mechanics for streamlined dice rolling and in-game currency rewards for good roleplaying.
[19:19] <+Sechin_Tower> I think the U rules are a perfect fit for TMFB because it does so well with creating well-rounded, human characters. The heroes of the 1950s movies didn’t have super powers: they were normal and their weakness in the face of space-aged threats made the movies all the more compelling.
[19:19] <+Sechin_Tower> (For those of you who want more power in player characters, there will be some options in the supplements that will ramp things up).
[19:19] <+Sechin_Tower> done
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[19:20] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, garcia5156!)
[19:20] <+Sechin_Tower> Is that Gabe who just joined us?
[19:20] <+garcia5156> Yes sir!
[19:20] <+garcia5156> How's everybody doin?
[19:20] <+Nestor> Spiffy!
[19:20] <+Sechin_Tower> Welcome! Good to see you (or at least your words!)
[19:20] <~Dan> Doing well, thanks! I take it you're one of Sechin's associates?
[19:21] <+garcia5156> yes sir!
[19:21] <+Nestor> We prefer to be called minions. ;)
[19:21] <+garcia5156> Hw are you Dan?
[19:21] <+garcia5156> Nestor
[19:21] <+Nestor> Yo
[19:21] <~Dan> Great! Just chime in if you have any thoughts on the discussion. :)
[19:21] <+Sechin_Tower> Gabe has written sections on "the Reds" and "the Bureau of Unamerican Activities" among others
[19:21] <+trevlix> You mentioned Godzilla, will TMFB have Kaiju monsters in it?
[19:21] <+Sechin_Tower> Minions. I like that.
[19:21] <~Dan> Doing great, garcia5156!
[19:21] <+garcia5156> Sweet
[19:22] <+Nestor> I can answer that one, trevlix, if Sech doesn't mind.
[19:22] <+garcia5156> I will devote my attentions to you all despite the Heat playoff party I have goin on here ... lol
[19:22] <+Sechin_Tower> I am a HUGE godzilla fan, so I definitely wanted elements from that. Another neat thing about Ubiquity is the rules for size, so it is easy to scale up ginormous monsters.
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[19:22] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, Harold_Medford!
[19:22] <+garcia5156> Ginormous creatures are essential
[19:23] <+Sechin_Tower> Still, I wanted to save that for a particular supplement. (can I tell you about my plans for supplements, or would that be getting ahead of myself?)
[19:23] <+garcia5156> Hey Harold!
[19:23] <~Dan> Totally up to you, Sechin! It's your show. ;)
[19:23] <+Harold_Medford> good eve'n
[19:23] <+garcia5156> Maybe a teaser
[19:23] <+Nestor> How-dee!
[19:23] <+Abstruse> Plans are awesome. Give me release dates, though, and I'll publish them just to force you to live up to them :p
[19:23] <+garcia5156> might be in order
[19:23] <+Harold_Medford> Sala!  it is good to see you again!
[19:24] <+Nestor> (Once again, the power of the press rears its ugly head ;) )
[19:24] <+Sechin_Tower> Well, for now I'll just say that one of the reasons I wanted to produce this game was to make sure to provide more scenarios and supplements.
[19:24] <+Sechin_Tower> Within a year of the core book release, I intend to produce at least 4 scenarios that can be linked into a big campaign, plus 3 to 4 short supplemental books that focus on related eras and aspects. All will be on PDF initially, but I might do a compendium if it seems like the market will support a printing.
[19:25] <+Sechin_Tower> I want each of the supplements to give players and GMs more tools, as well as provide the possibility of moving the game in different directions and into other decades while advancing the overarching story of the world if they want. They can keep the time in the 50s or move it along, but I thought it would be fun to shift the culture and the balance of power
[19:25] <+Sechin_Tower> “The Kaiju Menace” would be set in the post-apocalyptic 1970s, this is one-stop shopping for your gargantuan monsters and giant robots
[19:26] <+Abstruse> Is there a metaplot insinuated by the core rulebooks (outside adventures and whatnot), or is it more of a generic sandbox for GMs to create their own drive-in influenced worlds?
[19:26] <~Dan> Sounds like fun. :)
[19:27] <+cadorette> Will you be using Sanity/Fear mechanics from the other Ubiquity books as well?
[19:27] <+Sechin_Tower> I'm going to make a metaplot _available_ but not _required_. It's your world and your game, so I want game groups to have LOTS of options, not just a "well, we played that and finished it."
[19:27] <+garcia5156> That sounds awesome ... very much like the All for One sequences
[19:28] <+Sechin_Tower> Hollow Earth is a good example of what I'm going for because there are so many layers and groups that there could be something new every single game for a long time
[19:28] <+garcia5156> Sechin, I think you should hint at some of the things to come, including an arcing storyline within the core book. Sort of a teaser for upcoming releases
[19:28] <+garcia5156> Itkeeps players looking toward the future and ... more purchases!
[19:28] <+Sechin_Tower> In TMFB the metaplot would be carried out in the scenarios that can be linked into a campaign, and I think each should have an escalating threat level (the first is a threat to a city, the second to the nation, the third to a hemisphere, etc).
[19:29] <+Harold_Medford> I would love to hear about some of the Creatures you plan to Feature.  Will they be similar to those we have seen on the Silver Screen, or something completely new and unique to your setting?
[19:30] <+Sechin_Tower> Cadorette: I wasn't planning on using the sanity/fear rules. They're there if players want them, but I want to go more for a "ticking clock" theme rather than a "shattering mind" sort of feel
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[19:31] <~Dan> (Oh, and question pause while Sechin catches up.)
[19:31] <+Silverlion> any specific plans for supplements?
[19:31] <+Abstruse> Anything Lovecraftian themed in mind now or in the future? Or will you stick to the typical drive-in fodder for inspiration?
[19:31] <+Sechin_Tower> As for the creatures: they are definitely inspired by the creatures in the classic movies, but also advanced a bit to fit with more modern understandings.
[19:32] <+garcia5156> Mutant alien fiends!
[19:32] <+Sechin_Tower> For example, we have crawling brains and blobs, just like in some of your favorites. And giant things that are supposed to be dinosaurs but don't fit any known paleontological (sp?) category
[19:32] <+Harold_Medford> (this is where i would normally make a pun about hinting at any of THEM!?)
[19:32] <+Sechin_Tower> And aliens!
[19:32] <+Abstruse> Pod people/Bodysnatchers?
[19:32] <+Nestor> And mind-controlling plants, and mutated people/animals, and...
[19:33] <+Sechin_Tower> The aliens are behind most of the mischief. Part of the PC's job will be figuring out what they're doing trying to create monsters and infiltrate our government.
[19:33] <+Sechin_Tower> But the aliens don't have the manpower for a direct assault, so they're resorting to subversion and sabotage.
[19:34] <~Dan> Ah.... That answers one of my concerns. I wondered how you'd give the PCs something to do while a giant monster was rampaging.
[19:34] <+Sechin_Tower> The player characters are among the few who seem to have a gift to see what's up and (sometimes) not freak out about it. The government has unofficially classified them as "Sentinels" and they try to find them before the badguys do
[19:34] <+Sechin_Tower> Finding a way to beat the monster is often going to be a big part of the plot. TMFB will also contain a section on “Boss Monster Fiats,” which are possible plot devices and special powers that help the boss monsters shape the plot and enhance the mystery.
[19:35] <+Sechin_Tower> Things like being vulnerable only when exposed to a certain substance, or spawning hordes of minions, or being able to control everyone’s minds. Otherwise, the players invariably rush in and either die or kill the beast, and either way you have a short game.
[19:35] * ~Dan nods
[19:35] <~Dan> Oh, speaking of concerns, I have a system question for you.
[19:35] <+Abstruse> So it solves The Medusa Problem...
[19:35] <+Sechin_Tower> Players are funny like that. Something about a consequence-free environment and large caliber weapons...
[19:35] <+Sechin_Tower> Bring on the system question
[19:36] <~Dan> In Ubiquity, damage and accuracy are rolled together.
[19:36] <~Dan> Now, effectively, that means that more powerful attacks are more likely to "hit".
[19:36] <~Dan> But that also means that huge creatures are more accurate, which means that kaiju-scale creatures would be super-ninjas.
[19:37] <~Dan> Or, alternately, that their size works against them, and they end up nicking PCs to death.
[19:37] <+Sechin_Tower> A powerful but inaccurate attack would average the same as a weak but extremely accurate one.
[19:37] <~Dan> Do you address that iss?
[19:37] <~Dan> issue, rather
[19:37] <+Nestor> Also, the Size difference adds a hefty penalty that evens the odds.
[19:37] <+Sechin_Tower> Damage is something we have been thinking about a lot. In the U rules, combining hit and damage is statistically identical to splitting them up. But then there are the special situations: what about when you have a Godzilla-sized monster? What about effects that reduce Passive Defense or Active Defense?
[19:38] <~Dan> Yeah, see, they average out... but in play, I don't think that should be happening.
[19:38] <+Harold_Medford> realize that this is an era where that Consequence-Free attitude was not easy, people see "red commies" everywhere, so if a Sentinel goes around blasting an alien Collaborator and the locals find out, i'm sure something will strike the ventilation system
[19:38] <+Sechin_Tower> Big creatures are dangerous and they're going to have big attacks. Take the T-Rex as a template, it has a 14 L roll for its bite. Not sure if it's very accurate, but when it comes down it comes down hard
[19:38] <~Dan> Godzilla doesn't kill people a little at a time. He seldom stomps on one individual, but if he does, it's all over.
[19:39] <+Sechin_Tower> Generally, big creatures are more dangerous. Until you give the smaller ones poison or swarming or something. The system tends to level size, but you can always pump up a more dangerous monster with more skill and/or attributes
[19:40] <~Dan> Will you offer a way of splitting attacks and damage as an option?
[19:40] <+garcia5156> You could decide to make "gargantuan" creature combat completely differently. Maybe along the lines of the Kill Scenes seperate rles.
[19:40] <+garcia5156> rules*
[19:40] <+Harold_Medford> that is one of the wonderful things about the Ubiquity system is that it easily lends to scaling up or down creatures :)
[19:41] <+Sechin_Tower> There are also special attacks that rule out one kind of defense or another. This way a little monster might be a persistent problem even if it doesn't pack a single big punch. And a little human could nickle and dime a big monster if he doesn't get squashed.
[19:41] * ~Dan nods
[19:41] <+Sechin_Tower> Big monsters probably have high passive defense and low active defense, and small monsters are probably the reverse. That means finding the right weapons is going to be important. A bazooka works great against the giant Gila monster chewing on the building, but it probably wouldn’t do much against a swarm of carnivorous spiders.
[19:42] <~Dan> Yeah, see, that's the other thing: In Ubiquity as written, it makes sense to shoot small, pesky creatures with bazookas.
[19:43] <+Sechin_Tower> It makes sense to shoot EVERYTHING with bazookas if you can :)
[19:43] <+Nestor> It does? :?
[19:43] <~Dan> Well, let me explain, and perhaps Sechin can address my concern there.
[19:43] <+Harold_Medford> Bazooks are not very effective against swarms, but it is still fun to try!
[19:43] <~Dan> If you have a weapon with a high damage value, you also have a weapon that's more likely to hit.
[19:44] <~Dan> So, you might as well use the highest-damage weapon possible to "snipe".
[19:45] <+Nestor> Uh oh, it looks like it's time for me to turn back into a parent. You're on your own, Sech. ;)
[19:45] <~Dan> Nice "meeting" you, Nestor!
[19:45] <~Dan> Sechin: Am I missing something there?
[19:45] <+Nestor> TTFN, guys!
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[19:45] <+Harold_Medford> if i may Dan, i think that pulling out a heavy weapon, such as any man portable artillery, presents another problem all together, that in that there will be many situations were Collateral Damage will be an issue, and most man portable artillery is going to cause lots of damage
[19:46] <+Harold_Medford> Night Nestor!
[19:46] <+garcia5156> seeya Nestor!
[19:46] <+Sechin_Tower> Except for range considerations, you're right Dan. But the inverse is also true: if you have a highly accurate .22 in the hands of a trained marksman, he could be the big gun because he can always hit the vulnerable spot.
[19:47] <+Sechin_Tower> G'night nestor!
[19:47] <+Sechin_Tower> Another way to get around this is with special damage. ”Caustic” damage ignores passive defense (toughness) and AOE ignores active defense (dodging). I’m not in love with the AOE term, because something caustic could also cover an area, but I also want to stay consistent with the verbiage of the other Ubiquity games.
[19:47] <+Harold_Medford> Nestor-tell your Muse to call mine, will ya?  she's on vacation again!
[19:47] <+Sechin_Tower> Anyway, things with caustic damage have a damage cap—if it hits it automatically does X. Extra successes on the attack roll don’t add up to more damage.
[19:48] <+garcia5156> I think a good bout of play testing s all this needs just to be sure.
[19:49] <+Sechin_Tower> Speaking of playtesting! We're doing open playtest right now. It’s a sneak peek at the game for you, and I would love to hear your feedback. You can get them from our website: (Link:
[19:49] <~Dan> Cool!
[19:50] <+garcia5156> sweet!
[19:50] <+Sechin_Tower> I'm not sure the playtest packets address the bazooka/godzilla issue yet, but I'll be sure to put that in one of the upcoming ones. I'll be releasing new packets from now until August.
[19:50] <~Dan> Do you have any special rules for technology -- the products of human SCIENCE! and/or saucer alien tech?
[19:50] <+Abstruse> Yoink
[19:50] <~Dan> Excellent, Sechin. That's really the only thing that bugs me about Ubiquity.
[19:51] <+trevlix> Sechin - I love the rules for slaughter scenes and can't wait to try them out. But do you think it might give the players too much info on the scenario they are playing? e.g. spoilers
[19:51] <+Sechin_Tower> Abstruse, if you want the playtest/kickstarter/release schedule, it's here: (Link:
[19:51] <+cadorette> Great chat, but I too need to go do the parent thing -- thanks for the info and insight, Sechin, and thanks to Dan/RPGnet for the hosting of the chat!
[19:51] <+Harold_Medford> Will the Players have access to Space Alien Flying Space Saucers and Ray-Guns?
[19:51] <~Dan> Come by any time, cadorette!
[19:51] <+Sechin_Tower> Slaugter scenes first then the high tech question
[19:52] <~Dan> Yup, let's have a question pause there.
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[19:53] <+Sechin_Tower> Slaughter scenes are really a delicate thing, which is why I want to make sure they're always optional. But ultimately their purpose is to be informational-- to give players knowledge that they couldn't get without dying (even if that knowledge is simply that the monster will melt your face)
[19:53] <+Sechin_Tower> I would say that if there isn't a purpose to the slaughter scene, don't run it. Just like in the movies: they don't put those scenes in for no reason. It's to communicate to the audience how dangerous it is, what mistakes to avoid, etc
[19:54] <+Sechin_Tower> Beyond that, I can well imagine that some players don't want to be the guy who dies, even for a short scene. So I want to make sure it's never forced on anyone
[19:55] <+Sechin_Tower> Most of the people I've talked to, however, seem to love the idea of being slaughtered in a dramatic fashion. It's a good chance for a little melodramatic acting, after all!
[19:55] <+trevlix> cool. i like the idea behind it. something thats not used very often. i'm looking forward to playtesting it. thanks.
[19:55] <+Sechin_Tower> Moving on to technology
[19:55] <+garcia5156> I think its one of the exciting things that helps make the setting different! Remind me of the Kill Scenes in Slasher Flick rpg.
[19:55] <+Sechin_Tower> I have to give credit for the "slaughter scene" idea and name to Shawn Hilton of Comics Cubed. Brilliant idea.
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[19:56] <+Sechin_Tower> One of the hallmarks of the 1950s was that it was the time science and technology really started to impact people, from their daily lives to international politics, and I definitely want that in the game
[19:57] <+Harold_Medford> the only proble with the slaughter scene is that payer instinct to survive.  had a demo slaughter scene that took forever, and they were trying to die, but that instinct to fight to the end sometimes as powerful as the overpowering monsters they are standing against.  one cop, with a revolver, against a 16 foot long ant, is no match, but dice and player insti
[19:57] <+Harold_Medford> instinct can really swing things in a strange direction!
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[19:59] <+trevlix> one last question from me: when can i give you money for this?!?!
[19:59] <+Sechin_Tower> Harold_Medford: my recommendation is to use the style points as an incentive and also as a way to say "you didn't fail: this was supposed to happen." I had one GM who told his players that they only get Style if they die dramatically, and they just about wiped themselves out right away!
[20:00] <+Abstruse> Quick follow-up about the Slaughter Scene. I'm not that familiar with Ubiquity. How does a Slaughter Scene work mechanically? And a quick follow-up to the tech question...can I have an interositor?
[20:00] <+Sechin_Tower> trevlix: that is a superb question and shows the keenest insight! Right now, the kickstarter is scheduled for August (it would only be moved if Jeff ends up doing the Revelations of Mars kickstarter about the same time)
[20:00] <+Sechin_Tower> I would also like to note something about my kickstarter plan: I’m not putting anything on kickstarter until the book is almost completely done, so there will be a minimum turnaround time for backers. I’m thinking something along the lines of 3 months turnaround because that’s about how long it will take to print and ship.
[20:01] <+Harold_Medford> Shiny!
[20:01] <+Silverlion> Sensible. ST.
[20:01] <+trevlix> nice! saving up my money now!
[20:03] <+Sechin_Tower> As for the slaughter scene mechanics: the dice rolling is all the same. However, it ties into the no-stat NPC rules so that players can generate characters in about 30 seconds. You don't want to spend an afternoon working on characters who are going to die, after all
[20:03] <+garcia5156> super cool
[20:03] <+Harold_Medford> will it have the same kind of iconic characters that we see throughout the HEX books?
[20:03] <+Harold_Medford> and any hints as to what they will be?
[20:03] <+Sechin_Tower> The "no-stat" is a bit of a misnomer (I'm thinking of calling them "Extras" instead). They have a motivation, maybe a flaw, and a basic "level." the GM/Player rolls the Extra's "level" for any skill that makes sense for that character.
[20:04] <~Dan> (I think we missed the tech question. :) )
[20:04] <+Abstruse> So it's not the PC's normal character, it's someone else? The player's small town sheriff character is watching, but the player takes over the brash military sergeant NPC to get killed?
[20:04] <+Sechin_Tower> Yay! The Pregen Character question! I was hoping someone would ask, because I love our lineup. Thank you Harold-Medford!
[20:05] <+garcia5156> You can call them "Guy's" ... they're always the first to die!
[20:05] <+Harold_Medford> you are so welcome young man, but there was a Tech question back there too :)
[20:05] <+Sechin_Tower> We came up with so many great iconic characters that it's going to be difficult to choose. I think we have 14. There's the beat cop, the mobster, the mechanic, the savvy cabby... lots more. You can check them out on our playtest packet and even vote for who should be in the core book!
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[20:05] <+Abstruse> Yes. Where's my interositor?
[20:05] <+Harold_Medford> garcia5156;  unless they are a dog or teenage kid (farmers son?_)
[20:06] <+garcia5156> true!
[20:06] <+Sechin_Tower> Voting (and other playtest feedback) is on our forums (Link:
[20:06] <+Harold_Medford> Vote?
[20:06] <+Sechin_Tower> The interositor might be found on the forums, too. I haven't checked :)
[20:07] <+Sechin_Tower> (going back a bit) Abstruse: yes, for the slaughter scene, the players take on other characters. Maybe russin spies or an innocent boyscout troop or the local cop. The same kinds of people who feed the monsters in the movies :)
[20:08] <+Abstruse> I meant interositor as a stand-in for any sort of sciency thing that writers of the time liked to treat as a magic wand. Gamma radiation in Marvel, for example.
[20:08] <+Sechin_Tower> (voting was for the favorite sample character, btw)
[20:09] <+Sechin_Tower> Well, in 1950s, those interositors are kicking out a lot of radiation. Radiation is the cause of (and solution to) every problem. Including and especially giant insects.
[20:09] <+Sechin_Tower> Back to the tech question!
[20:09] <+Sechin_Tower> *Clears throat
[20:10] <+Sechin_Tower> For one thing, there are going to be gear available in 1954 that wasn't in the pulp era game. Like the afore-mentioned bazooka. Also, jet planes. And portable radios. And televisions.
[20:11] <+Harold_Medford> power lines criss crossing the country in (convenient) locations
[20:11] <+Sechin_Tower> But then I also really wanted to capture that dichotomy between the optimism and pessimism in the new devices coming out. There will be experimental rockets and all sorts of things along those lines. There's even a faction of mad scientists: CARPA, the secret predecessor to ARPA, the predecessor to DARPA
[20:12] <+Harold_Medford> (RE:  Earth vs. The Spider)
[20:12] <+garcia5156> lead-lined refrigerators
[20:12] <+Sechin_Tower> And on top of that there's alien technology.
[20:12] <+Harold_Medford> Flying Space Saucers?  Space Ray Guns?  Robot Dogs?
[20:12] <+Abstruse> I like mad scientists...
[20:12] <+Sechin_Tower> Lead lined refridgerators could be handy, especially if you want to get in and suffocate yourself during a nuclear bomb drop.
[20:12] <+Abstruse> Blue boxes that travel in time and space?
[20:13] <+Harold_Medford> Abstruse:  just don't park it beside the Porta-Potty's
[20:13] <+Sechin_Tower> We're going to have some of the weird science rules as before, but I may also put in a few special actions people with the weird science talent can do. After all, I'm ultimately aiming to do an RPG based on my novel Mad Science Institute...
[20:14] <+Sechin_Tower> these new science actions are things like automating devices and detecting substances. Things characters could do on the fly so that Weird Science isn't just a talent that has to be used out-of-game
[20:15] <~Dan> That's important.
[20:15] <+Sechin_Tower> I don't know if the world of Menace is ready for the blue boxes that fly through time and space. Although, they sure could use help from a certain Inspector Spacetime...
[20:15] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:15] <+Harold_Medford> the Sentinels will be able to Jury-Rig unique detectors or ray emitters that the macho hero will only have one shot at using correctly before it goes "fizz"?
[20:15] <+Abstruse> Jury-rig? "If we cross the stream of the flux capacitor through the deflector dish...WE MIGHT JUST BRING THAT TRIPOD DOWN!"
[20:15] <~Dan> Do you have any concerns about the PCs getting their hands on alien rayguns and the like?
[20:16] <+Harold_Medford> Dan:  that's a good question for a Perfect Housewife!
[20:16] <+garcia5156> abstruse: nice!
[20:16] <+Sechin_Tower> If the sentinel has Wreird Science, then yes, but the macho-man is an NPC he might not be able to control his terror so the Sentinel would end up having to do it himself.
[20:17] <+Abstruse> I should've worked "tachyon pulse" and "anti-proton" in there somewhere...
[20:17] <+Harold_Medford> and "stabilizer"
[20:17] <+Sechin_Tower> The alien technology is different, but usually not so crazy powerful that it would upset the game. After all, those guys don't want to bring stuff down here that we can use against them
[20:17] <+Abstruse> Been playing too much technobabble's rusty...
[20:18] <+Sechin_Tower> Throw in a "reverse polarity" and I think you've saved the day.
[20:18] <~Dan> So there won't ever be an "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers" scenario?
[20:18] <+garcia5156> haha ... perfect!
[20:18] <+garcia5156> sign of a great setting!
[20:18] <+Harold_Medford> speaking of which, will there be a "Technobabble" random sidebar?
[20:19] <+garcia5156> that is  MUST!
[20:19] <+Sechin_Tower> I want the scenarios to build to that, but once you have a big invasion it's difficult to put the cat back into the bag. I wouldn't want to lead with that, but a GM could. We have flying saucers. and we have earth. They can versus.
[20:19] <~Dan> Yeah... You should totally give bonus rolls to making weird science if the player comes up with a bunch of horsesh*t to "explain" it. :)
[20:19] <+Harold_Medford> EvFS was set primarly in DC.  who knows what the aliens were doing in other capital cities or even LA...
[20:20] <+Sechin_Tower> I hadn't thought of the technobabble sidebar (maybe a skill? A talent? A flaw?) but that's a great idea!
[20:20] <+Sechin_Tower> Technobabble is a skill in Guildwars. But my engineer doesn't use it much.
[20:20] <~Dan> On a related note, might I suggest an idea you might want to pirate from GURPS Atomic Horror?
[20:20] <+Sechin_Tower> sure
[20:20] <+garcia5156> I think just a sidebar for the players/GMs to sue for flavor
[20:21] <+Harold_Medford> i was thinking for the DM or Scientist to throw nouns and verbs and "scotty'isms" together to propel the story along.
[20:21] <~Dan> As I recall, there was a skill called "Science!" that was meant to model the fact that 1950s scientists seemed to know all things science, regardless of their field. (more)
[20:22] <~Dan> In game terms, it let the skill user "remember" something that some other scientist had done. They couldn't come up with anything new with it -- just know something that any other scientist in any scientific field had done.
[20:22] <~Dan> Sort of like the Professor on Gilligan's Island.
[20:23] <+Harold_Medford> Dan:  in HEX there is a Talent called "Skill Mastery" which turns one Specialized Skill group into a General Skill for that character.
[20:23] <+Sechin_Tower> You and I might be thinking along the same lines! In RAW ubiquity, Science is a cluster of skills, but I was going to make it one single skill. "Can I fly this aliens spaceship? Of course! I'm a palentologist and therefore understand the science behind its enginges perfectly!"
[20:24] <~Dan> There you go. :)
[20:24] <+Abstruse> "Damnit, Jim, I'm a doctor of applied physics, not a doctor of neuroscience!"
[20:24] <+Harold_Medford> "Now your an Engineer"
[20:24] <~Dan> Or, you might just want to have SCIENCE! as a skill with actual scientific skills as specialties.
[20:24] <+Sechin_Tower> In the 1950s movies, scientists (and the government) are usually goodguys, and common characters. I want to give people incentive to play those, too.
[20:25] <+Abstruse> The exclamation point is a must.
[20:25] <~Dan> It really is.
[20:25] <+Abstruse> Otherwise, players won't know to use the voice. SCIENCE!!
[20:25] <~Dan> And it must be said while pointing vaguely skyward for not apparent reason.
[20:25] <+Sechin_Tower> Watch out for those engineeers, btw. Ever since the first hex scenario (in the core book) it's been a running joke that they will always betray you.
[20:25] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:26] <+Abstruse> Yep, Dan's hearing the voice in his head everytime I say "SCIENCE!"
[20:26] <+Abstruse> Good news, everyone. I bet he's reading this in the Professor's voice too.
[20:26] <~Dan> Now I'm deliberately hearing it in the voice of Sniffles the cartoon mouse. So there.
[20:26] <+Harold_Medford> oh, is Professor S here?
[20:27] <+Sechin_Tower> Professor Scrumtumbler would be very old by 1954, but he might still make an appearance!
[20:27] <+Abstruse> Professor Farnsworth from Futurama. Old meme. "Good news, everyone! You're now reading this in my voice!"
[20:28] <+Sechin_Tower> It's nice to be surrounded by mad science appreciators!
[20:28] <~Dan> Sechin_Tower: Do you have any nods to calling in the Air Force, and if so, do you have rules for squadrons of vehicles vs. giant monsters or flying saucers?
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[20:28] <~Dan> (In atomic horror, someone ALWAYS calls in the Air Force.)
[20:28] <+Abstruse> I always play the Russian in Fortune and Glory even though he's the worst character to pick solely because he's a mad scientist.
[20:29] <+garcia5156> hey guys ... gotta run! got people needing my hidden cache of beer!
[20:29] <~Dan> Nice talking to you, garcia5156! Come by any time!
[20:29] <+Abstruse> Dan: I think they went over that when they described the Slaughter Scenes :p
[20:29] <+garcia5156> It was fun ... thanks Dan!
[20:29] <~Dan> Abstruse: Perhaps, but sometimes it actually works. :)
[20:29] <+Sechin_Tower> The faction most likely to recruit the PCs is called "Project Blue Book," which was the (real life) Air Force's investigation into UFOs at that time.
[20:29] <+Abstruse> King Kong and...
[20:30] <+Harold_Medford> Sechin_Tower:  what about Dr. C. Arthur Turner?  how old would he be and will he make an appearan`ce?
[20:30] <+garcia5156> Happy to have chatted with all the familar name!
[20:30] <+garcia5156> Peace!
[20:30] <+Harold_Medford> Nice meetin you garcia5156
[20:30] <+Sechin_Tower> I think a squadron combat would be great! I will need think about those rules. Might include them in the Kaiju supplement
[20:30] <+garcia5156> Seeya Sechin!
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[20:31] <~Dan> Abstruse: Well, not the Air Force in this case, but direct military action was effective against Them!.
[20:31] <+Sechin_Tower> Bye, Gabe!
[20:31] <+Harold_Medford> Excellent idea Dan.  that sounds like a "easy mass combat" rule that might be interesting to develop.
[20:31] <~Dan> Speaking of which, Sechin, do you discourage stand-up fights like that, or do you just let the dice fall where they may?
[20:32] <~Dan> Harold: I think so. It would also let the players cut back and forth between their individual PCs and the military fighting the Giant Behemoth.
[20:32] <~Dan> (I love that one, btw.)
[20:32] <+Sechin_Tower> Not quite sure what you mean. I love an epic concluding battle, if that's what you mean. I try to give the players a chance along the way to pick up potential advantages
[20:33] <~Dan> Sechin: Well, what I mean is that there's almost always something going on with the giant monster even when it's not trying to step on individual heroes.
[20:33] <+BlasterKyubey210> mmm
[20:33] <~Dan> Usually, if it's not just smashing buildings, it's fighting the military.
[20:33] <+Harold_Medford> the actual mechancs to (call in the "artillery/bombers/navy") is relativly easy, it's more just the understanding effect that's at question in my mind.
[20:34] <~Dan> Ditto for flying saucers.
[20:34] <+Sechin_Tower> Or is this about scenarios on rails? I run a lot of con games, where that's necessary, so my games might skew to the railroad a little, but for written scenarios I make sure to include situations with many possible solutions
[20:35] <+Harold_Medford> or is the question about involving the PC's in the middle of the Epic Battles?  how to intergrate them?
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[20:35] <~Dan> Hmm... Sort of.
[20:35] <~Dan> Let me give you an example.
[20:35] <+Sechin_Tower> I also try to put a variety of challenges into every scenario so you don't feel like you're always doing the same kind of fight. Throw in some environmental factors, or a new variation on an old adversary. Or an interositor... :)
[20:35] <~Dan> The PCs are searching for a way to stop the giant monster.
[20:35] <~Dan> Well, the giant monster is doing its thing while this is going on.
[20:36] <~Dan> So... you cut back and forth between the PCs doing their thing and the military desperately fighting the monster.
[20:36] <~Dan> Sort of a slaughter scene, I suppose... although it might be seen as a sort delaying tactic.
[20:36] <+Sechin_Tower> (reading back some of the stuff while I was typing) Oh, yeah, what do you do with the giant monster! I watched a lot of monster movies to look at that question. A LOT. Knowing that some things work differently in RPGs than movies, I started developing some rules that could guide player/monster relations.
[20:37] <~Dan> (Sorry if I wasn't being clear there. Kinda thinking "out loud".)
[20:37] <+trevlix> ST sorry, but "player/monster relations" sounds like Godzilla sitting next to a soldier in a psychiatrists office being asked, "How do you really feel?"  :)
[20:38] <+Sechin_Tower> I call these rules the "Boss Monster Fiats" and they're things like invincibility, or invisibilty, or spawning hordes of minions, or paralyzing anyone within sight, or emittind dangerous radiation... usually the plot revolves around figuring out how to beat the monster
[20:39] <+Sechin_Tower> That's another reason for the slaughter scene: the players can get a taste of the Big Bad, but their characters can still survive the experience.
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[20:39] <+Sechin_Tower> And then there have to be plenty of other antagonists along the way while figuring out how to defeat the Big Bad. That's what communists are for. They are the badguy redshirts. Literally red.
[20:40] <+Harold_Medford> as a modern example, perhaps consider the modern monster film "Cloverfield."  the military was deep in the crap with it, but the little Starship Trooper Bugs were constantly falling off it...
[20:40] * ~Dan nods
[20:40] <+Sechin_Tower> J J Abrams knows his creature features
[20:41] <+Abstruse> Whew...FINALLY. New column's up...
[20:41] <~Dan> Speaking of the Commies, do you include rules for their weird psychic experiments?
[20:42] <+Sechin_Tower> I don't have anything for psychic experiments per se, but psychic powers play a big role in the game. The russians could aways be experimenting with those.
[20:43] <~Dan> Do you allow for psychic PCs in the core rules, and if so, are they based on the HEX rules?
[20:43] <+Sechin_Tower> There is also a group (in America) that calls itself the "Janitors" (because they have to clean up other people's messes) who are the victims of some kind of mishap that made them monstrous. Could be the russians, the aliens, or our own government.
[20:43] <+Harold_Medford> will there be new rules for Ian Fleming era spy equipment and how will the East/West relationship play a role in the core book?
[20:43] <+Sechin_Tower> PCs could be a member of the Janitors. They can certainly select psychic powers as long as they have the GM's permission
[20:44] <+Sechin_Tower> In the 1950s, most people with special powers were cursed by it. The player and GM might mine that for inspiration. It all depends on what kind of game people want to play.
[20:45] <+Abstruse> Good question, actually. If you're using the Ubiquity system, how interchangeable is it? Can I kitbash with other settings/genres if I want, or would that require a lot of houseruling to pull off?
[20:45] <+Harold_Medford> in these 50s movies, if you had a unique special power, of a different look (melted face, giant eyeball or brain, leather "T-Bird" jacket, etc), you were usually feared and mistrusted....
[20:45] <+Sechin_Tower> I'm going to save the spy gear for "Cloak and Dagger and Tentacle," which will be one of the supplements. I'll also have setting info if you want to advance your game to the 1960s (psychodelic or otherwise) because that was the height of the superspy mistique
[20:46] <+Harold_Medford> remember this is also the James Dean "Rebel" era, with a lot of culture clash and young heroes!
[20:47] <~Dan> Speaking of advancing things, some 1950s sci-fi horror bleeds over into straight-up sci-fi, with the heroes donning bubble helmets and heading into SPAAAAACE!
[20:47] <+Harold_Medford> C,D&T?  hummm...
[20:47] <~Dan> Any nods to that, now or in future supplements?
[20:47] <+Sechin_Tower> what Harold_Medford said. That was the inspiration for the "janitor" organization. Even without the powers, players may want to pick a flaw like 'target of prejudice" because of race or gender. Conformity was encouraged (and groups like the Bureau for Unamerican Activities can make good antagonists because of it)
[20:48] <+Sechin_Tower> There will definitely be a rocket in the core book. The story goes that the Rigellians have their evil base on the moon, which is (secretly) why we begin the space program. Not sure how much I want to get into it in the core book (space is limited!) but I definitely want that space travel in there.
[20:49] <~Dan> Is there just that one alien race at play?
[20:49] <+Sechin_Tower> Forbidden Planet is another favorite movie. It's almost a different feel, but it seems like there should be some room to connect it to this game.
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[20:50] <+Catseye> hi
[20:50] <+Sechin_Tower> There is one alien race sneaking around causing problems in America, but there are definitely more aliens out there and some of their interactions drive what the Rigellians are doing on Earth.
[20:50] <+Sechin_Tower> But that's for a different story.
[20:51] <+Sechin_Tower> Hi, Catseye!
[20:51] <~Dan> Howdy, Catseye!
[20:51] <~Dan> Quick note: You're more than welcome to hang out with us as long as you like beyond the scheduled Q&A, Sechin, but is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to bring up?
[20:51] <+Harold_Medford> "space is limited"  oooh Sechin_Tower; BAD PUN!
[20:52] <+Sechin_Tower> I want to make sure I thank Jeff Combos, the creator of Hollow Earth Expedition and inventor of the Ubiquity RPG system.
[20:52] <+Sechin_Tower> I’ve been working with him since the first book and it’s been an amazing experience. He’s taught me an incredible amount about game design and development and it’s been an honor to work with him.
[20:52] <~Dan> Jeff is a great guy.
[20:52] <+Sechin_Tower> Ha ha! I'll let you think I made that pun on purpose
[20:52] <~Dan> I met him at GenCon '05 and knew immediately that he was a man with a vision.
[20:52] <+Harold_Medford> eve'n Catseye!
[20:53] <~Dan> (And I was lucky enough to play Doc Savage in his League of Extraordinary Pulp game at GenCon '07. :) )
[20:53] <+jeffszusz> I -am- a great guy, I know
[20:53] <+jeffszusz> thanks
[20:53] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:53] <+jeffszusz> It's my conclusion that all Jeffs are fantastic
[20:54] <+Harold_Medford> Met both of you guys, though neither of you remember me.  a face in the croud.
[20:54] <+Sechin_Tower> And I'll also say this: Since you guys are Mad Science fans, I'll send a free kindle copy of my novel Mad Science Institute to the first 5 people who sends me a message via the contact form on my blog with the phrase "MENACE!"  (Link:
[20:54] <+Sechin_Tower> I agree about all Jeffs being freakin' awesome.
[20:54] <~Dan> Sweet!
[20:55] <~Dan> That reminds me... Sechin, did I meet you at GenCon?
[20:55] <+Sechin_Tower> Harold_Medford, I'm terrible with names but I might remember your face. Are you going to be at Gencon this year? If so, be sure to come by and say HI at booth 631
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[20:55] <+Canageek|2> Hey
[20:56] <~Dan> (It would have been '07.)
[20:56] <+Sechin_Tower> Booth 631 is us, btw. I wouldn't send you to some random booth. Even though it would be funny
[20:56] <+Sechin_Tower> Dan, I can't remember if we met at GenCon. We must have.
[20:56] <+Harold_Medford> not in Years, Sechin, but i'd wager you know me too well.
[20:56] <~Dan> Sechin: Were you one of the guys dressed up in mad science regalia that year?
[20:57] <+Sechin_Tower> Oh, yes, I still have my lab coat!
[20:57] <+Harold_Medford> that wasn't Sechin, that was Professor Scrumtumbler!
[20:57] <~Dan> (In honor of Secrest of the Surface World, I mean.)
[20:57] <+Sechin_Tower> I wouldn't miss out on mad science regalia
[20:57] <~Dan> Ah, then I must have met you. I was Jeff's guest that year.
[20:57] <+Sechin_Tower> That must be it
[20:58] <~Dan> Would you like to hang out with us longer, Sechin, or do you need to run?
[20:58] <+Sechin_Tower> Now, Harold_Medford can only be... /rips off mask/ Richard Spangle!
[20:58] <+Harold_Medford> so you mentioned Online Supplements; what sort of chaos do you have planned?
[20:58] <+Sechin_Tower> I'm going to have to go eat dinner soon
[20:58] <+Sechin_Tower> But first, was I right about your secret identity?
[20:58] <~Dan> No problem. I'll have the log posted shortly after we wrap up.
[20:59] <+Harold_Medford> Sechin_Tower:  took you that long?  i thought the Medford name was a dead give away?  who else knows that movie as well as you?  or the Prof. Turner line above?
[21:00] <+Harold_Medford> it is I, Richard Spangle (aka demon_llama), your loyal, abet chaotic, henchman at your service!  how may i serve you today master (over truffles with a twist of lemon?)
[21:00] <+Sechin_Tower> I'm slow but I get there at the end! Let the record show that Richard Spangle is my right-hand man and chief monster wrangler for Siege Tower Games. This guy has created more monsters than anyone other than Ray Harryhausen
[21:00] <~Dan> Awesome. :)
[21:01] <~Dan> I demand a good bestiary for any game. :)
[21:01] <+Harold_Medford> *grovel at the holy one's name*  All Hail Ray Harryhausen!
[21:01] <+Harold_Medford> and you are much too kind Sechin, i only crafted into clay statues what you granted life to!
[21:02] <+Sechin_Tower> About online supplements to the game: within a year after its release, I'd like to have at least 3 supplements (superspy, Kaiju, and behind the iron curtain Russia) and at least three scenarios. Maybe more, but that's my goal.
[21:02] <+Harold_Medford> too even
[21:03] <+Harold_Medford> will you have additional supplements, such as Creature Features (additional critters) or new adventures or "fast play" adventure packs?
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[21:05] <+Sechin_Tower> If I can swing it, I will definitely have an expanded bestiary supplement and I would love to also do a big book of pre-generated "extras" NPCs. The scenarios are a must, and at least one quick-start adventure to get people hooked is definite! First hit's free...
[21:05] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[21:05] <~Dan> Shall we make that the last "official" question for logging purposes?
[21:05] <+Sechin_Tower> Even if we don't have the "monster manual" supplement, each of the setting supplements will definitely have more monsters in it.
[21:06] <+Sechin_Tower> It would be great to wrap it up. My stomach is growling like King Kong on a bad hair day. I better go. It's been a blast, everyone! Thank you!
[21:06] <+Harold_Medford> ...and maybe a few in the Adventures (just like in the old TSR modules)?
[21:06] <+Sechin_Tower> Oh, absolutely
[21:06] <~Dan> Thanks so much, Sechin! I'll send you the link to the log momentarily.
[21:06] <+Harold_Medford> Night Sechin_Tower.  huggs to Kate and Ninja...
[21:06] <+Sechin_Tower> Monsters for all
[21:06] <~Dan> I do hope you'll feel free to hang out here in the future!
[21:06] <+Sechin_Tower> Thank you for hosting, Dan!
[21:06] <+Sechin_Tower> G'night!
[21:06] <~Dan> Good night!

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