Thursday, August 8, 2013

[Q&A] Brandon Blackmoor (Bulletproof Blues)

[19:14] <+bblackmoor> I'm Brandon Blackmoor. I work for DriveThruRPG as a programmer, and I've written or contributed to a handful of RPGs going back to 1992. The most recent game is Bulletproof Blues, a superhero game of "light" to "medium" complexity.
[19:14] <+bblackmoor> (done)
[19:14] <+Abstruse> When are we getting a mobile version of DTR? :p
[19:14] <~Dan> Heh. Somebody was planning ahead. :)
[19:14] <+Silverlion> What makes Bulletproof Blues stand out? :D
[19:14] <~Dan> And we're off to the races. :)
[19:15] <+bblackmoor> DriveThruRPG should work fine on mobile devices. Some Android web browsers have difficulty downloading the PDFs, but Andriud Firefox should work.
[19:15] <+bblackmoor> What makes Bulletproof Blues stand out? Ha. Good question.
[19:16] <+bblackmoor> It's simpler than games like Mutants & Masterminds, but more detailed than, say, Capes, Cowls, & Villains Fowl.
[19:17] <+bblackmoor> Both of those are fine games, of course.
[19:17] <+Silverlion> *nods*
[19:18] <+bblackmoor> What I like about Bulletproof Blues is that the combat is fast, and you can write up a fairly detailed character without needing a huge skill list or a calculator.
[19:18] <+Abstruse> And a more Q&A related question...Bulletproof Blues is based on Kalos Comics. I've never heard of that imprint. What sort of comics do they do and what sort of...I guess "style" would be the best word, as in Golden/Silver/Dark/ they go for?
[19:18] <~Dan> How would you describe the setting? Is it very specific, like, say, Wild Cards, or it is more of an "anything goes" setting like the Marvel Universe?
[19:18] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:18] <+bblackmoor> There really hasn't been a superhero game that straddled the line between "simple" and "complex", at least not quite where I wanted it. :)
[19:19] <+bblackmoor> Kalos Comics is the name of the imprint, of course. The "Kalos Universe" is the fictional setting that the game is supposedly emulating.
[19:20] <+bblackmoor> And when I say "fictional setting", I mean the whole thing is fictional. There are no "Kalos Comics" comicbooks in the real world. You could look at it as a comicbook universe from an alternate universe. :)
[19:21] <+bblackmoor> Want me to descrive the setting?
[19:21] <~Dan> Please do!
[19:21] <+bblackmoor> Or did you want to ask a follow-up?
[19:21] <+bblackmoor> Okay.
[19:22] <+bblackmoor> The Kalos Universe (although it wasn't always called that) is based on the long-running superhero campaign I am some of my oldest friends have been playing since, oh, the late 1980s.
[19:22] <+Silverlion> That's awesome. :D
[19:23] <+bblackmoor> Back then, the inspirations were Frank Miller's Davredevil, Watchmen, and Miracleman.
[19:23] <+Silverlion> (That's how H&S is..:/)
[19:23] <+bblackmoor> Among other things.
[19:23] <+bblackmoor> More recently, it's in the vein of the first couple of years of Authority (not so much the later story arcs).
[19:24] <+bblackmoor> What makes the default setting different from most other superhero games (at least the more popular ones) ... well, there are several. I'll see if I can list them.
[19:24] <+Silverlion> (I like more early Modern Age--80's, myself.) Still what is the biggest influence for your setting /now?/
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[19:26] <+bblackmoor> Probably the first couple of years of Authority is the strongest recent influence. Oh, there was a comic called Irredeemable that I liked a lot (the first year, anyway -- not so much after that).
[19:26] <+bblackmoor> That could have been take straight out of the Kalos Universe. Eerily so. Great minds, and all that.
[19:27] <+bblackmoor> Want to know what I think sets the Kalos Universe setting apart from most other superhero RPGs?
[19:27] <+Abstruse> So it's sort of a "real" comic book universe that just so happens to not have any comic books based on it yet?
[19:28] <+bblackmoor> It's a conceit. All of the character write-ups have a note about what comic the character first appeared in, and what year. That sort of thing.
[19:28] <+Abstruse> But influenced by that Moore, Miller, Gaiman, Ellis, Ennis, etc. sort of era?
[19:28] <+bblackmoor> Pretty much.
[19:29] <+Abstruse> (Okay, sold on the setting...)
[19:29] <+bblackmoor> I hesitate to say "Iron Age", because so much of what got labeled that was ... not to my taste.
[19:29] <~Dan> So Bulletproof Blues has a... deconstructionist feel, then?
[19:29] <+bblackmoor> "Bad girls", thigh pouches, HUUUUUUUGE guns, and so on.
[19:29] <+Silverlion> I think the authors you've chosen fit what I think of Iron Age.
[19:30] <+Abstruse> Do your characters have properly drawn feet?
[19:30] <+bblackmoor> I suppose it is a bit deconstructionist, but it's sincerely so. It's not mocking the source material. It's not a spoof or trying to undermine it.
[19:30] * ~Dan nods
[19:30] <~Dan> I follow you.
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[19:31] <~Dan> You mentioned huge guns, so I'm guessing the setting is no stranger to bloodshed?
[19:31] <+bblackmoor> I was listing "Iron gae" tropes that I didn;t necessarily care for.
[19:31] <+Abstruse> So sort of how Edgar Write and Simon Pegg did zombies and 80s action with SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ respectively? Loving homage-parodies?
[19:32] <+bblackmoor> I love those guys. So yes, although Bulletproof Blues isn't intended to be comic (obviously, I hope).
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[19:32] <+bblackmoor> q.v. "I hesitate to say "Iron Age", because so much of what got labeled that was ... not to my taste.  "Bad girls", thigh pouches, HUUUUUUUGE guns, and so on."
[19:33] <+AFKJonathan> (have to go do some stuff, but will stay in chat)
[19:33] <~Dan> Oh, duh. My bad.
[19:33] <~Dan> (Sorry. Long day.)
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[19:33] <~Dan> So how would you describe the default power level, if there is one?
[19:33] <~Dan> (Howdy, JP!)
[19:33] <+Silverlion> Is there any twists in how you handle powers/attributes?
[19:33] <+JP> (Heya!)
[19:34] <+bblackmoor> As for bloodshed, yes, that's one of the things that I think makes the setting a bit different. It's not Boot Hill, but people can die.
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[19:35] <+bblackmoor> Default power level... well, that's another area that's different from most other games. By default, Bulletproof Blues characters probably on par with your more powerful Avengers. Which is really pretty powerful.
[19:36] <+bblackmoor> But most of that power is displayed in ways other than blowing holes in mountains.
[19:36] <~Dan> Oh? How so?
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[19:36] <+bblackmoor> Someone really fast is REALLY fast, someone really strong can lift insane amounts, and so on. Much more so than you find in most superhero games.
[19:37] <~Dan> (wb, Daniel_Burrow!)
[19:38] <+bblackmoor> I hestitate to call it "realistic", but in most games, there is a disconnect between how powerful a character is (in theory), and what they can actually do qwith that power. There are still limits, of course. The Great Pyramid is really, really heavy.
[19:38] <~Dan> Is it realistic in the Wild Cards sense, in that, for example, if Superman tries to lift a battleship, it'll break in two?
[19:38] <+bblackmoor> Not that realistic. :)
[19:38] <~Dan> Ah. :)
[19:39] <~Dan> So how much could a maxed-out starting PC lift, for example?
[19:40] <~Dan> Seems like Thor could lift 100 tons based on the old Marvel FASERIP game, for example.
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[19:41] <+bblackmoor> "Maxed out" doesn't really mean anything, because the game isn't written with that kind of approach in mind. But a typical PC at the "average superhuman" level of Brawn could lift 7 tons or so.
[19:41] * ~Dan nods
[19:42] <+bblackmoor> Thor would be a level or two above that, which would be 30 tons or 100 tons.
[19:42] <+bblackmoor> (Brawn 8 lifts 100 tons)
[19:42] <+bblackmoor> The scale goes to 14, btw.
[19:42] <~Dan> Is that a hard universal cap, or just the cap for PCs?
[19:42] <+Silverlion> I must run.
[19:42] <~Dan> (Bye, Sil!)
[19:43] <+bblackmoor> Nice seeing you!
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[19:43] <~Dan> (Sil is a fellow game author, btw. He has a supers RPG called Hearts & Souls.)
[19:43] <+bblackmoor> Ah, I've not read that.
[19:43] <+bblackmoor> But then, there are probably fifty superhero games I haven't read yet. :)
[19:44] <~Dan> No doubt. :)
[19:44] <+bblackmoor> As for the scale... I suppose it could go higher, but any higher than that and it gets pretty silly.
[19:45] <+bblackmoor> Even at 14, a character that powerful is not really operating on a scale that's comprehensible to humans.
[19:45] <+bblackmoor> It's really, really powerful.
[19:45] <~Dan> Well, to be more specific, let's say you were going to stat Galactus's strength. Would it still be on the 14-point scale?
[19:47] <+bblackmoor> I would think not, based on the comics, but I'm not an expert on Galactus.
[19:47] <+bblackmoor> Wait: on the scale?> Yes.
[19:47] * ~Dan nods
[19:47] <+bblackmoor> I mis-read, and thought you asked if it would be 14. I think Galactus' Brawn would be less than 14.
[19:47] <+bblackmoor> But I'm not an expert.
[19:47] <+bblackmoor> On Galactus.
[19:48] <~Dan> This is just a personal preference, but I like having at least the potential for an open-ended scale, especially in superhero games. There's always someone more powerful somewhere. :)
[19:48] <+bblackmoor> On the other hand, when you are talking about godlike entities, what they can do or can;t do is pretty much up to the author of that issue.
[19:49] <~Dan> That's also true.... but one could argue that it's true of beings of all power levels in comics. :)
[19:49] <+bblackmoor> There's nothing that mechanically prevents an attribute over 14. I just have trouble imagining what kind of game that would be necessary in.
[19:49] <~Dan> I follow you.
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[19:50] <~Dan> So I'd like to turn to the system, but first, where would you say the setting falls on the moral ambiquity/clarity scale?
[19:50] <~Dan> ambiguity, rather
[19:51] <+bblackmoor> Good and evil exist, but rthere is a vast area in between where people of good will can and do disagree -- not just in means, but in ends.
[19:51] * ~Dan nods
[19:51] <+bblackmoor> That's one of the premises of the setting, actually.
[19:52] <+bblackmoor> That, particularly when it comes to the non-posthuman authorities, there characters may well find themselves in conflict with people who do not consider themselves the "bad guys".
[19:52] <~Dan> So would it be correct to say that morally, it looks like our world if you assume that we live in a morally objective universe?
[19:52] <+bblackmoor> That being said, another premise of the setting is that power is most sought after, and sought after most successfully, by people who want power.
[19:53] <~Dan> (i.e., absolute good and evil exist, but it's not obvious what's what when you're "in the trenches"?)
[19:53] <+bblackmoor> And people who want power are not, by and large, particularly nice.
[19:53] <+bblackmoor> The goal of people who have great power is t preserve and increase their power.
[19:54] * ~Dan nods
[19:54] <+Abstruse> Are you using an open system (D20, FATE, etc.), or custom-designed system (something you wrote yourself)?
[19:55] <+bblackmoor> The game system is called "Blues", which is how I came up with the title of the game. Want to hear the story behind that? I like telling it.
[19:55] <~Dan> Certainly. :)
[19:55] <+Daniel_Burrow> Please do
[19:55] * ~Dan munches popcorn
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[19:57] <+bblackmoor> Way back in the mid 1990s, after we'd already come out with Legacy (the first game Susan and I wrote together), I and most of my friends used Champions for superhero games (and sometimes for other genres, such as pulp and fantasy).
[19:57] <+bblackmoor> I liked a lot about Champions, but the endless, niggling point-juggling and increasingly pedantic rules bugged me.
[19:58] <+bblackmoor> (That doesn't make it a "bad" game -- you like what you like, and I like what I like.)
[19:58] <~Dan> (Oh, certainly.)
[19:58] <~Dan> (For the record, in my book, the only "bad" games are those that fail to do what they set out to do.)
[19:59] <+bblackmoor> So back around... I guess 1994? I had an on-again, off-again project to rewrite Champions as a much simpler game. For a long time it had no title.
[20:00] <+bblackmoor> Eventually, I called it "Heroin", because the name struck me funny. A couple of years later, R. Talsorian came out with Fuzion, and I would up incorporating some of those ideas.
[20:00] <+bblackmoor> Around that time, I changed the name to "Fuzion Jazz".
[20:01] <+bblackmoor> After a while, and many revisions, it stopped resembling Champions or even Fuzion, so I dropped the "Fuzion" and just called it Jazz.
[20:01] <+bblackmoor> By that time, Jazz owed a lot more to Risus and Over The Edge than to anything else.
[20:02] <+bblackmoor> Okay, so fast foward a ... decade. Jazz had been pretty stable for years (although I never did write up complete superhero or magic rules for it).
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[20:02] <+Abstruse> (I don't know Dan, FATAL seemed to do what it set out to do...)
[20:02] <~Dan> (Howdy, Dirian! Q&A in progress!)
[20:02] <+bblackmoor> I ran games among my local group using it from time to time, and it worked well, in my opinoin.
[20:03] <~Dan> (Abstruse: touché...)
[20:04] <+bblackmoor> However, whenever anyone *else* ran a game with it (which they did, from time to time -- my friend Erik used it to run a SLA Industries game, because the SLA rules are... let's say incomplete)....
[20:04] <+bblackmoor> Every single time, they added some things that I had intentionally left out. A set skill list. A set list of standard attributes.
[20:05] <+bblackmoor> Well, I *like* Jazz, so I didn't want to change it. But if I wanted a game system that would appeal to people other than me, it was clear I needed to give people what they wanted. So I added the things that my friends wanted, and, riffing on the name of "Jazz", I called it "Blues".
[20:06] <+bblackmoor> So when I was trying to come up with a name for the superhero version of Blues, I came up with "Bulletproof Blues".
[20:06] <+bblackmoor> (done)
[20:06] * ~Dan applauds :)
[20:07] <+bblackmoor> Oh, you asked about open licenses, etc.
[20:07] <+bblackmoor> Wnat to hear about that, or do you have a follow-up question?
[20:07] <+Abstruse> More if you have something to say.
[20:07] <+Abstruse> I'm just curious about the crunch.
[20:08] <+bblackmoor> I'd be changing the subject, so if you have a follow-up, please ask.
[20:08] <~Dan> Why don't you cover the open license issue, then we'll turn to the system?
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[20:08] <+bblackmoor> Okeedoke.
[20:09] <+bblackmoor> As a programmer, I have been working with open licenses since way back when.
[20:09] <+bblackmoor> GPL 1.0, around 1990 or so.
[20:09] <+bblackmoor> (Fuzzy on the exact year)
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[20:10] <+Abstruse> Close enough.
[20:10] <+bblackmoor> As an adjuct to that, I have had a keen interest in things like copyright for a really long time.
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[20:11] <+bblackmoor> When Ryan Dancy (formerly of WOTC) was proselytizing WOTC's Open Game License, I thought it was a great idea, if imperfectly implemented. Rather, it wasn't quite as "open" as I would have liked.
[20:12] <+bblackmoor> Old news, though. Long story short, one of the design goals of Bulletproof Blues was to make a game system that other people could use to build their own stuff and not have to worry about licensing.
[20:13] <+bblackmoor> So the text (other than the two chapters Greg Stolze wrote) is all released under OGL, and the whole game, text and images, is released under a Creative Commons license.
[20:13] <+Abstruse> 3.0 Share-alike?
[20:13] <+bblackmoor> The two chapters Greg wrote are under a different CC license, but the rest is under Creative Common Attribution-ShareAlike.
[20:13] <+Abstruse> Commercial or Non-Commercial?
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[20:14] <+bblackmoor> Greg's chapters are Attribition-NoDerivative Works.
[20:15] <+bblackmoor> Whether someone wants to use it commercially is up to them.
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[20:15] <+bblackmoor> They nay if they want.
[20:16] <+Yalborap> Ooh, I do like that.
[20:16] <+bblackmoor> And they can pick the OGL or the CC license, whichever works for them. The art is only CC-By-SA, though.
[20:16] <+Yalborap> Has the crunch been gone over already?
[20:16] <+bblackmoor> Nope.
[20:17] <~Dan> Yal: We're just about to come to that. :)
[20:17] <+Yalborap> Ah, kay.
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[20:17] <+bblackmoor> Everything is 2d6. Rolling high is good.
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[20:17] <+Abstruse> Anyone reading the Q&A afterward, check out (Link: for more info on the technical stuff we just talked about.
[20:18] <+bblackmoor> You can also check out the open version of Bullet[proof Blues at RPG Library Open Game Content, which is a pet project of mine.
[20:19] <+bblackmoor> Although I have not worked on it as much as I intended to. My goal is to have a one-stop-shop for all of the open game systems I like.
[20:19] <+bblackmoor> (Link:
[20:20] <~Dan> Huh. Cool.
[20:20] <+bblackmoor> There are so many great open game systems that I haven't added yet. Traveller, Pathfinder, etc.
[20:20] <+bblackmoor> The Bulletproof Blues text is there, though.
[20:20] <+bblackmoor> Okay, so, crunch, yes?
[20:21] <+bblackmoor> 2d6, and rolling high is good. That's the main rule.
[20:22] <+bblackmoor> When a character attempts something, and the outcome is uncertain, the player rolls 2d6 and adds the result to their relevant attribute.
[20:22] <+bblackmoor> (If there outcome is obvious, don;t bother rolling.)
[20:22] <+BPIJonathan> Ive been wanting a game with a 2d6 mechanic.
[20:22] <+bblackmoor> The total is compared to a difficulty number the GM assigns (typically "challenging", or 12). The attempt succeeds if the player's roll equals or exceeds it.
[20:22] <~Dan> Does degree of success matter?
[20:23] <+BPIJonathan> Is it straight roll, or are there other modifiers that exist to beat the difficulty assigned?
[20:23] <+bblackmoor> If the roll is contested, the difficulty number is 8 plus the defender's attribute. The attacker is the one who rolls the dice.
[20:24] <+bblackmoor> Degree of success *can* matter, and there are potentially tons of modifiers (basically, as many or as few as your personal style wants to deal with).
[20:25] <+bblackmoor> Degre of success basically only matters if the character has "expertise" in whatever they are doing. Ordinarily, a successful roll means just an ordinary level of success: the bullet hits, you pick the lock, you climb the rope, whatever.
[20:25] <+BPIJonathan> So its not like in Pathfinder / 3.x where you have a 1d20 roll plus skill and stat modifier?
[20:26] <+bblackmoor> Well, you have 2d6 plus your attribute.
[20:27] <+BPIJonathan> And that total is to beat the assigned TN>
[20:27] <+BPIJonathan> So its 2d6 plus Attribute vs. TN?
[20:27] <+bblackmoor> Right.
[20:28] <~Dan> So how do skills factor in?
[20:29] <+bblackmoor> The attribute is usually a particular default, but it can vary by situation. Normally, for example, a roll to be sneaky would be 2d6 + Agility. But if you are maneuvering through a dark building (and you don;t have nightvision gogles or whatever), it could be 2d6 + Perception.
[20:29] <+bblackmoor> Skills factor in by expertise, which takes us back to degrees of success.
[20:30] <~Dan> (brb -- please continue)
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[20:30] <+bblackmoor> Normally, a successful roll is just whatever the minimal level of success needs to be. Adequate, but nothing exceptional.
[20:32] <+bblackmoor> If the character has expertise in that particular skill or power or whatever (expertise is pretty open ended), and they roll three or more over what they needed, that's an "extreme success".
[20:33] <+bblackmoor> And they can get a number of bonuses from that. It could be a "eureka" moment, they could get an answer to a question that they didn't even know to ask, or whatever.
[20:33] <+bblackmoor> We give examples in the book.
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[20:34] <+bblackmoor> In combat, an extreme success can grant extra damage (which is the dull option, but sometimes you really just need to do more damage!), or it could knock the opponent down, or whatever.
[20:35] <+bblackmoor> Some powers have specific effects that you can get from an extreme success, but ideally, the GM would exercise their own creativity. But you can't always depend on that, so we give examples of some stuff.
[20:35] <~Dan> So how would you create a super-skilled character like Green Arrow, for example? Would you have to give him an effectively superhuman attribute to make him more likely to hit?
[20:35] <+bblackmoor> Not everyone is good at thinking of things like that on the fly.
[20:36] <+bblackmoor> Green Arrow is actually a really easy character to write up in Bulletproof Blues. :)
[20:36] <~Dan> Oh?
[20:36] <~Dan> :)
[20:37] <+bblackmoor> When it comes to well known characters like that, of course everyone pegs them a little differently. Does he have superhuman Agility? That sort of thing.
[20:37] * ~Dan nods
[20:39] <+bblackmoor> But however you imagine him, he's easy to write up. Pick the attributes you think fit (Brawn, Agility, etc.). Buy expertise with Combat [Archery], buy him an Ultra-Power that's defined as his arrows, and you're basically done.
[20:39] <~Dan> Mind if I look at that a bit more closely?
[20:39] <+bblackmoor> He's super simple. Which is, I think, a bit different from how a lot of games would handle him.
[20:39] <+bblackmoor> Ask away.
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[20:40] <~Dan> Okay... What attribute covers ranged combat in Bulletproof Blues?
[20:40] <~Dan> (wb, Sil!)
[20:40] <+bblackmoor> Accuracy is what determines hitting something at range.
[20:40] <+bblackmoor> The attributes are:
[20:40] <+bblackmoor> (omne sec)
[20:41] <~Dan> Okay... So it would seem that Green Arrow would have to have superhuman Accuracy to reflect his ability to hit consistently, as opposed to hitting well when he does hit (which would fall under expertise, if I follow you there).
[20:41] <+bblackmoor> Brawn, Agility, Reason, Perception, Willpower, Prowess, Accuracy, Endurance
[20:41] <+bblackmoor> And yes, that's the approach I would take, if writing him up.
[20:42] <+bblackmoor> I'd consider his Accuracy as superhuman, even in the TV show.
[20:42] * ~Dan nods
[20:42] <~Dan> So... Prowess = hand-to-hand fighting, correct?
[20:42] <+bblackmoor> Correct.
[20:43] <~Dan> Would you give folks like Captain America and Batman superhuman Prowess scores?
[20:43] <+bblackmoor> There's a reason why those are not based on Brawn and Agility (which is fairly common in games at this level of complexity).
[20:43] <~Dan> Yeah, I like that you broke those out.
[20:43] <+bblackmoor> Captain America and Batman?
[20:43] <+bblackmoor> Hmm.
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[20:43] <+Kei> hey folks!
[20:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, Kei! Q&A in progress! #rpgnet2 open for general chat!)
[20:44] <+bblackmoor> It depdns. If Batman is hanging out with the Justice League, yeah. If he's hanging out with Robin and batgirl, then no, but I'd pout him at max human. Or maybe one step above max human.
[20:44] <+bblackmoor> He is, after all, the goddamned Batman.
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:44] <~Dan> Heh. Indeed.
[20:45] <+bblackmoor> Oddly enough, I think I'd just out Cap at max human. But I may be selling him short.
[20:45] <~Dan> See, I contend that "non-super" supers like Batman are able to hang with the Big Boys because they are "effectively" superhuman in their competency levels -- what in other games would be skills.
[20:45] <~Dan> So I'd think they'd be "actual" superhumans in Bulletproof Blues terms.
[20:46] <+bblackmoor> I think that's a reasonable way to approach it.
[20:46] <+bblackmoor> Context matters for that sort of thing. In my opinion, anyway. Which is why I couched my reply as I did.
[20:46] <~Dan> Certainly.
[20:47] <~Dan> Hmm... We have 45 minutes left in "regular" time, and we haven't even gotten to powers yet.... can you hang with us any later, Brandon, or do you need to head out at 10:00 your time?
[20:47] <+bblackmoor> I can hang for a while. Mind if I freshen my drink?
[20:48] <~Dan> Sure, go ahead! :)
[20:48] <+bblackmoor> Fun fact: the most popular cocktail in Canada is the "Caesar". Google it while I go refill my glass.
[20:50] <+Kei> I has pictures from training!
[20:50] <+Kei> finally I think the first clear picture of me
[20:50] <+Kei> also
[20:51] <+Kei> (oh sorry! xD)
[20:51] <+bblackmoor> I am back.
[20:51] <~Dan> wb!
[20:51] <+bblackmoor> HELLO CLEVELAND!
[20:51] <~Dan> (And how is that different from a Bloody Mary? :) )
[20:52] <+bblackmoor> Kissing cousins.
[20:52] <~Dan> Ah, I see. :)
[20:52] <+bblackmoor> Also, Bloody Mary mix is a nuisance. A Caesar is simpler to make.
[20:53] <+bblackmoor> So, any questions on what we have discussed so far?
[20:53] <+GenoFoxx> powers?
[20:53] <+bblackmoor> Oh, did I tell you that Bulletproof Blues is available in print? If you buy the print version, you get the PDF for an additional penny.
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[20:53] <~Dan> Nice!
[20:54] <~Dan> No questions so far. :)
[20:54] <+bblackmoor> That's not true, actually. If you buy the print version and neglect tp spend the penny, just email me and I'll send you a coupon for a free pdf. That's true the other way, too: if you bought the PDF but decide you want the print version, just email me and I'll send you a coupon for $5 off it.
[20:55] <+bblackmoor> I have the advantage of not actually caring whether the game makes money. I just want people to have fun. :)
[20:55] <~Dan> You're a good man. :)
[20:55] <+bblackmoor> Okay, so, powers. What would you like to know?
[20:55] <~Dan> Well, let's start with the basics...
[20:55] <+bblackmoor> Attack, defense, movement?
[20:55] <+GenoFoxx> single source or multiple sources
[20:55] <~Dan> Is this a "cafeteria" system or an "effects-based" system?
[20:56] <~Dan> IIRC, based on our previous discussion, it's a bit of a hybrid?
[20:56] <+bblackmoor> Under the hood, it's effects based. More expensive powers are powers that do more things. But the vast majority of them cost 1 pt per rank.
[20:56] <+bblackmoor> A dozen or so cost 2 per rank. A handful cost 3 per rank. The 3 per rank powers are pretty broad.
[20:57] <+bblackmoor> In use, yes, it's a bit of a hybrid.
[20:57] <+bblackmoor> There are some very general powers that you can define however you lkike. Blast, for example.
[20:58] <~Dan> Are things like "Weather Control" their own powers, or are they assembled?
[20:59] <+bblackmoor> There is a 3 point power called [Element] Mastery. Powers with part of the name in brackets are supposed to be filled in with whatever the "element" is.
[20:59] <~Dan> I see.
[20:59] <+bblackmoor> So weather control would be (or could be) Weather Mastery.
[21:00] <~Dan> Would that give you the full range of weather-related abilities? Or would you still need to buy Blast for a lightning bolt, for example?
[21:00] <+bblackmoor> Three point powers are your big-time powers. A character with [Element] Mastery can do anything you could reasonably encompass with that power.
[21:00] <+bblackmoor> Blast, Flight, whatever.
[21:00] <~Dan> Cool.
[21:01] <+bblackmoor> There is a drawback, of course.
[21:01] <~Dan> I really, really hate effects-based systems on the far end of the scale that force you to quantify every aspect of a general power like that.
[21:01] <+bblackmoor> Here's an example from Extreme Earth, which is a third-party sourcebook I am about a month behind on writing up the characterss for...
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[21:02] <+bblackmoor> Stockade is basically a guy with power like Iron Man. Actually, he's more like Mach I from the old Thunderbolts (who was actually the Beetle, but I digress).
[21:02] <+Silverlion> You did the Under the Broken Moon stuff.
[21:02] <+bblackmoor> His powers, the whole lot of them, is all through a single [Ultra-power], which is his armored power suit.
[21:03] <+bblackmoor> Silverloin: I did indeed.
[21:03] <+Silverlion> Indeed. I thought so.
[21:03] <+bblackmoor> So he's *super* cost effective. Super Senses? Check. Flight? check.. Missiles? Check. Armor/ check.
[21:04] <+bblackmoor> All for a single rank 8, 3pt/rank power. (BTW, most of his powers are NOT rank 8, because just because you CAN buy something at the Ultra-power's rank doesn;t mean you SHOULD).
[21:05] <+bblackmoor> However, Stockade is much more vulnerable to things like Power Suppression, because every power he has is all actually a single power.
[21:05] <+bblackmoor> Hit Stockade with an EMP, and he goes down, hard.
[21:06] <+bblackmoor> That's not the case with a character who has five different powers.
[21:06] <+bblackmoor> There is more than one way to write up most characters.
[21:06] <+bblackmoor> (done)
[21:06] <~Dan> Interesting approach.
[21:07] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[21:07] <+bblackmoor> Well, the main design goal was to make it easy to make up characetrs and easy to play.
[21:08] <+bblackmoor> Carefully balancing every power against every pther power was not at the top of the list. Although of course we want them to be roughly equal in utility, which is why some powers (in Amazing MOvement, for example) only cost a single point, because they just aren't that useful for anything other than role-playing.
[21:08] <+bblackmoor> How doesx combat work?
[21:09] * ~Dan nods
[21:09] <+bblackmoor> The attacker rolls 2d6, adds their combat attribute, and compares that against the defender's attribute + 8.
[21:09] <+bblackmoor> Equals or exceeds means you hit.
[21:09] <~Dan> And is damage a flat value?
[21:11] <+bblackmoor> There are two kinds of attacks. Some are incremental (Blasting away until the target goes down), and some are all-or-nothing. Generally, the all-or-nothing ones can be resisted with an attribute roll (rolling your Willpower to break out of a Mind Control, for example).
[21:12] <+bblackmoor> The damage done by incremental attacks are generally equal to the rank pof the power. So Blast 4 does 4 damage (reduced by the target's protection -- armor, force field, what have you).
[21:13] <+bblackmoor> Which might seem dull, but it makes combat go a lot more quickly than having to roll all the time. Also, there are a number of ways to boost that.
[21:13] <+bblackmoor> Teamwork and expertise being the two main ones.
[21:13] <~Dan> How does weapon damage work?
[21:13] <+bblackmoor> That was a design goal: if the villain is too tough for you, if ypou can;t hit or your blasts can't get through their protection, you need to either:
[21:14] <+bblackmoor> 1) team up!
[21:15] <+bblackmoor> or 2) fight SMARTER, not harder. If the villain is a ppowerhouse that shrugs off howitzer shells, USE SOMETHING ELSE. Use electricity. Use mental powers. Use the environment (can he breathe under water? if you can and he can;t YOU WIN).
[21:15] <+bblackmoor> People who just want to roll dice until one side wins will probably not care for Bulletproof Blues. Which is okay: different people like different things.
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[21:16] <+bblackmoor> Weapon damage works the same way everything else does. Oh, but hand to hand weapons do have a wrinkle.
[21:17] <+bblackmoor> Hand to hand weapons bascially wither to their own damage, or they add one to the weilder's Brawn.
[21:17] <+bblackmoor> *either do
[21:17] <+bblackmoor> There's no equivalent mechanic for ranged weapons.
[21:17] <+bblackmoor> They just do what they do.
[21:18] * ~Dan nods
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[21:18] <~Dan> So there's no such thing as a more powerful hand weapon?
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[21:19] <~Dan> Like, how would you model something like Mjolnir in the hands of Thor?
[21:19] <+bblackmoor> I hate to bring up the "r" word, but at the scale of the damage ranks that Bullet Proof uses (which is usually in the low-to-mid single digits), having damage depend on a dice roll would have obviously nonsensical results.
[21:19] <+bblackmoor> Took me a long time to type that; let me get to your question now. :)
[21:19] <~Dan> No problem. :)
[21:20] <+bblackmoor> A more powerful hand weapon? What do you mean?
[21:20] <+bblackmoor> Maybe I was unclear.
[21:20] <+bblackmoor> A hand-to-hand weapon inflicts either the rank or the weapon, or the weilder's Brawn +1, whichever is greater.
[21:20] <+bblackmoor> No one will ever do *less* damage by picking up a weapon.
[21:21] <~Dan> Right, I follow you there, but...
[21:21] <+bblackmoor> Of course, use good sense. Superman weilding a pillow will still just do pillow damage. :)
[21:21] <~Dan> ...wouldn't that mean that in the hands of Thor, Mjolnir is no more effective than, say, a club?
[21:21] <+bblackmoor> Although the pillow will probably not last long. :)
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[21:23] <+bblackmoor> Well, it depends on how you want to write up Mjolnir. If Thor's Brawn is 8 (arbitrary), and Mjolnir is a Blast 8 (it'd probably be an [Ultra-power], but let's opt for simplicity), then sure, Mjolnbir would be no more effective as a blunt weapon than a baseball bat.
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[21:24] <+bblackmoor> But 1) Mjolnir is a lot more than a blunt object, and 2) unless the baseball bat is someone's *powet*, it won't hold up for very long being used by Thor.
[21:24] <+bblackmoor> It will be splinters after a couple of hits.
[21:24] <~Dan> True.
[21:24] <~Dan> How would you model Wolverine's claws?
[21:25] <+bblackmoor> We say something to this effect explicitly in the book, actually. I think it's in the Equipment chapter.
[21:25] <+bblackmoor> Hmm.
[21:25] <+bblackmoor> Well, they aren't equipment, obviously.
[21:26] <~Dan> (My apologies if this poking and prodding is tiresome. It's an addiction. *sheepish* )
[21:27] <+bblackmoor> They'd probably be a Strike power.
[21:27] <+bblackmoor> Took me a minute to think if maybe something moe esotric would be appropriate, what with the adamantium lightsaber effect. :)
[21:28] <~Dan> Yeah, that's always tricky.
[21:28] <+bblackmoor> But really, I think a Strike power would be all he needs.
[21:28] <+bblackmoor> Strike is like Blast, but not ranged, and it has the same rank or Brawn + 1 mechanic that hand to hand weapons have.
[21:29] <+bblackmoor> I imagine his Strike rank would be quite a biut higher than his Brawn, though.
[21:29] <~Dan> Yeah, that's what I was thinking.
[21:29] <+GenoFoxx> hmm a adamantium crystal equipped lightsaber
[21:30] <+bblackmoor> Oh, hey, want to segue to power enhancements and defects?
[21:30] <~Dan> Sure!
[21:30] <+bblackmoor> So you have powers, and powers have ranks.
[21:30] <+GenoFoxx> instead of a hum you hear *snikt*
[21:30] <+bblackmoor> Blast 8 costs 8 points.
[21:30] <+bblackmoor> heheheh
[21:31] <+bblackmoor> So, what if you want to throw grenades?
[21:31] <~Dan> (brb)
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[21:31] <+bblackmoor> That's a "power enhancement". While it is possible, in theiry, to have a power enhancement that costs more, in practice all of the enhancements in the book are +1 point.
[21:31] <+bblackmoor> So a rank 8 grenade is 9 points.
[21:32] <+GenoFoxx> wouldn't that be a nuke?
[21:32] <+bblackmoor> Similarly, a major power defect is -1 point, and a crippling power defect is -2 points. So if you have only the one grenade, that's a crippling defect, so it costs 8 + 1 - 2 = 7 points.
[21:32] <+bblackmoor> rank 8 is one nasty grenade. :)
[21:33] <+BlasterKyubey210> Sounds like a Plasma Grenade
[21:33] <+GenoFoxx> well on a scale of 14
[21:33] <+bblackmoor> We have examples for the defects and enhancents we thought would be the most likely to come up in a game. Hopefully that's enough for people to wind it on enhancements and defects that we didn't preduict.
[21:34] <+GenoFoxx> 8 is well massive
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[21:34] <+bblackmoor> Do you want the exact ranges and effects of a rank 8 grenade?
[21:34] <+GenoFoxx> a level 8 power leech grenade
[21:35] <~Dan> Is the fact that something is a gadget a power defect?
[21:35] <+GenoFoxx> could probably leech powers from the entire city
[21:36] <+bblackmoor> A gadget isn;t necessarily a power defect, unless there's some reason the gadget isn't always available.
[21:36] <+bblackmoor> In that sense, it would be analogous to an "obvious accessible focus" in Champions.
[21:37] <~Dan> Well, Tony Stark only has his "powers" when he's suited up, for example. Would that not be a defect in BB terms?
[21:37] <+bblackmoor> If you always walk around in your Iron Man armor, that's not a defect. If you spend real in-game time not wearing it, then it is.
[21:37] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[21:38] <+bblackmoor> It's really a GM judgement call. Bulletproof Blues really depends on the players and GM making sensible choices. If the players want to break it, they absolutely can. We don;t even try very hard to stop them.
[21:38] <+bblackmoor> Which will make it not some people's cup of tea. And that's okay.
[21:38] * ~Dan nods
[21:38] <~Dan> I think that's a sensible approach for a superhero game.
[21:39] <~Dan> If someone wants to go UP, UP, AND AWAY!!!, he doesn't need the rules telling him, "Well, yes, but..."
[21:39] <+bblackmoor> Well, it all just depends on what you want to spend your time doing. I don't want to spend my time fiddling with rules that exist just to prevent me from abusing the system. That's not what's fun for me.
[21:40] * ~Dan nods
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[21:40] <~Dan> The "right" way to play is the way that's fun.
[21:41] <+GenoFoxx> by your powers combined I am CAPTAIN GALACTUS!!
[21:41] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:41] <+bblackmoor> heh
[21:41] <&egyptian> Oh Dan, you and your "fun".
[21:42] <+bblackmoor> We actually have a power for that. It's based on a power my roommate Phil made up for Champions back in the late 1980s. :)
[21:42] <+BlasterKyubey210> incoming
[21:42] <+bblackmoor> It's called "Combination".
[21:42] <~Dan> I should probably call it a night soonish... Is there anything you'd like to bring up that we haven't discussed?
[21:42] <~Dan> (And regardless, you're welcome to hang out as long as you like. :) )
[21:42] <+bblackmoor> I guess we covered the important stuff.
[21:43] <+bblackmoor> I have dinner waiting, so when you're done I am done.
[21:43] <+bblackmoor> Thanks for the invitation, by the way. This was fun.
[21:43] <~Dan> Alrighty then! I'll go ahead and call it. Thanks so much for coming by and discussing your game with us!
[21:43] <+bblackmoor> Can I plug the blog and so on?
[21:43] <~Dan> Please come by any time! Game authors are always welcome to discuss their products. You don't need to wait for a Q&A.
[21:43] <~Dan> Please do!
[21:44] <~Dan> Link away!
[21:44] <+bblackmoor> (Link: is the main web site. There is a link from there to the Kalos Universe wiki, which anyone who makes up a Bulletproof Blues character can submit their character to have it added.
[21:44] <+GenoFoxx> but Link we need you or we can't summon Captain Galactus
[21:45] <+bblackmoor> We also have pages on Google+ and Facebook.
[21:45] <+bblackmoor> So just type in "Kalos Comics" and you will find it. Theer are also links to those on the main Kalos Comics page, at the link above.
[21:45] <+bblackmoor> (done)
[21:46] <~Dan> Thanks, Brandon!
[21:46] <~Dan> I'll get you a link to the log shortly. :)
[21:46] <+bblackmoor> Oh, and check out Extreme Earth, if you have the time. Bulletproof Blues will be one of the game systems they are supporting.
[21:46] <+GenoFoxx> It was nice meeting you
[21:46] <+bblackmoor> Nice meeting you!
[21:46] <+bblackmoor> have a good night.
[21:46] <~Dan> Good night!

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