Thursday, September 26, 2013

[Q&A] John Dunn, Jason Marker, & Ross Watson (Accursed)

[19:02] <+JohnDunn> Thanks guys for the opportunity to chat, I'm John Dunn, publisher of Melior Via, LLC. We've previously published the Hope Preparatory School setting for ICONS and M&M3.
[19:03] <+JohnDunn> I've also been a freelancer for Shadowrun, Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, and a number of other products.
[19:03] <+JohnDunn> Tonight, I'm here with Jason Marker and Ross Watson to talk about our latest product - Accursed, a Dark Fantasy setting for Savage Worlds, which is currently on Kickstarter.

[19:04] <+JasonMarker> Hey there. I'm Jason Marker, I'm a game writer and designer from Detroit. I've been in the industry since '98, both freelance and full time (at Palladium). In my time working in the trad games industry I brought the new Robotech RPG to market and worked on all of the Warhammer 40K Roleplay games, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Star Wars: Age of Rebellion...
[19:04] <+JasonMarker> Shadowrun 4, and some other smaller projects.
[19:06] <+RossWatson> Awesome to be here, thanks for having us on! I'm Ross Watson, and I've been writing and designing games for over 13 years now. I've worked on a ton of stuff, including books for Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, Malifaux: Through the Breach, and I was lead developer for the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay line at Fantasy Flight Games.
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[19:06] <+RossWatson> I've also done some work designing miniature games for Shadowrun and Dust Warfare, and I worked on video games as well, including the action RPG title Darksiders II.
[19:06] <+JohnDunn> In Accursed, the world of Morden has already fallen in the Bane War to the forces of the Grand Coven of Witches. The Witchmarked, who are the player characters, are former humans who have been transformed by the Witches into horrific forms.
[19:07] <+JohnDunn> Now, abandoned by the Witches who created them, they must choose whether to embrace the powers granted by their Witchmark or to deny those same powers in an effort to recover some last remnants of their humanity.
[19:07] <+JohnDunn> they seek power to defeat the Witches and redeem themselves, then they may sacrifice their humanity for that power. Alternatively, they can sacrifice the very power that they need to win the war, so that they can purge their souls of their past sins.
[19:07] <+JohnDunn> Done
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[19:08] <~Dan> Thanks, guys!
[19:08] <~Dan> Would anyone like to start us off with a question?
[19:08] <+Abstruse> So while my initial reaction to the game was that you'd secretly slipped Ravenloft some PCP, after poking around a bit it feels more like Ravenloft if the PCs were Buffy, Angel, Blade, the Hugh Jackman version of Van Helsing...and the setting was slipped some PCP. How accurate is that?
[19:09] <+RossWatson> Good question, Abstruse. I'd say that you're pretty accurate, since there is quite a bit of those touchstones in parts of Accursed. What we were aiming for with the setting was to create a dark fantasy world where classic monsters team up together to fight cruel Witches and save their land from darkness.
[19:10] <+RossWatson> It's fair to say that I was channeling a bit of Van Helsing (well, the good parts from the movie) when working on it (done).
[19:10] <+Abstruse> Is the tone of the game that same sort of over-the-top action, or are you going for something more brooding and personal?
[19:10] <+JohnDunn> Another bit of the setting that we thought was cool was that we wanted to explore a lot of the different dimensions with the different lands. That's certainly true to the different themes presented in Ravenloft, though we don't necessarily have a "Dark Lord" type character behind each one.
[19:12] <+JasonMarker> Good question, Abstruse. So, there's a bit of both. The way we've designed the setting, you can play a crunch walking badass Golem who will punch out all your blood just as soon as look at you, or you can play the tragic, brooding character. It all depends on the game that you want to play.
[19:13] <~Dan> Can you give us a rundown on the character types?
[19:13] <+RossWatson> The tone is intentionally broad, as Jason explained, but it's also fair to say that the cinematic style encouraged by Savage Worlds allows you to pull of some great action-movie action in your game (done).
[19:13] <~Dan> (Oh, and before I forget, feel free to link to the KS!)
[19:14] <+RossWatson> Thanks Dan! The kickstarter for Accursed can be found here:
[19:14] <+RossWatson> (Link:
[19:15] <+JohnDunn> We've got six different playable races for Accursed. The Dhampir - half vampire, The Golems - aka Frankenstein, but also straw, stone, etc., The Vargr - Slavic Werewolves, Mongrels - humans fused with animal components, Mummies - who use their sarcophagi for armor and weapons, and Revenants - living dead on a mission.
[19:15] <+Abstruse> So you'd be around the Angel/Blade scale of the spectrum (with Buffy as light-hearted horror-themed romp and Interview with the Vampire at the mopey, emo end)?
[19:16] <+JohnDunn> Since it's Savage Worlds, the characters can mix and match their roles as they see fit, not necessarily locked into a particular role for each of the different archetypical monsters.
[19:16] <+RossWatson> On that scale, I'd say the tone is much closer to Blade, but that is a generalization. We built the setting to allow for different styles of play and moral codes.
[19:16] <+JohnDunn> I tend to think of the emotional spectrum as Hellboy, but I think it's safe to say that Ross, Jason, and I all have different GM-ing styles.
[19:17] <~Dan> How would you describe the power level of the PCs?
[19:17] <+RossWatson> One of our biggest touchstones for the setting is Hellboy, as John said, so that's another place I'd go to talk about tone.
[19:17] <+Abstruse> The first thing that impressed me about the Kickstarter was the art. How did you manage to get stuff that looked so good on a (relatively) low budget?
[19:17] <+Abstruse> (Oooh, Hellboy...wasn't thinking comics...Hellboy/Preacher/Hellblazer all fit too)
[19:18] <+JohnDunn> So, the character archetypes are fairly balanced as standard Savage Worlds races go, and by default, it works as a Novice setting. At the same time, the opposition is kind of intense, which is a big factor in why we say that it's a dark fantasy setting.
[19:18] <+RossWatson> Thanks Abstruse! The artwork is by Alberto Bontempi, a very talented italian artist ((Link: Alberto has worked with me before on some Warhammer 40,000 projects and his style was a perfect fit for the approach we wanted to take with the project.
[19:19] <+RossWatson> I think the success of the art is due to a fusion of Alberto's great use of color and composition with the dark stylings of the game -- I sent him a lot of Solomon Kane references when building the look and feel of the setting. (done)
[19:19] <~Dan> Well, let's take a specific example... How strong can Golems be?
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[19:20] <+JohnDunn> Strong... Uh, let me pull out the book for a better and more accurate answer, Dan.
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[19:21] <+RossWatson> Golems are hulking -- they're the "big guys" of the setting, and in general they are meant to be the strongest and largest folks you'll find in a group of Accursed. Golems can also be very tough, since they are made out of nonliving materials and don't really get tired or feel pain like a normal man.
[19:22] <+Abstruse> I think the art is what really drew the Ravenloft comparison to me. It really evoked that sort of dark fantasy feel that the best Ravenloft art did with a more modern gaming twist to it.
[19:22] <+RossWatson> We represent their size in Savage Worlds by adding in a Reach bonus (they can attack enemies further away than other Accursed) and slowing their Pace down a little (down to 5 from 6).
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[19:23] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Sam!)
[19:23] <+RossWatson> Ravenloft is a great touchstone for Accursed, Abstruse. It's pretty much the "elder statesman" of the dark fantasy genre, and there were definitely a lot of influences from that onto Accursed.
[19:23] <+JohnDunn> So, after doublechecking, the Golems are more tough than they are physically strong, and that can increase significantly if they embrace their curse. Essentially, they gain bonuses to toughness, are unaffected by wound modifiers, and can add bonuses to recovering from being Shaken.
[19:24] <+JohnDunn> Keep in mind that the Player's Guide is still a playtest. If we see feedback saying - "Golems need to be stronger" we can make adjustments.
[19:24] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:24] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:24] <~Dan> How would you describe the tech level of the setting?
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[19:25] <+JasonMH> Evening folks!
[19:25] <~Dan> Howdy, JasonMH, BPIJonathan!
[19:25] <~Dan> (Here for the Q&A, JasonMH?)
[19:26] <+JasonMH> Yep. Gotta absorb knowledge from the fine Accursed folks!
[19:26] <+JasonMarker> Good question, Dan. So, the tech level of the setting is generally early "Age of Sail". Think sort of mid eighteenth century. That being said, the tech levels vary throughout Morden. Manreia is the most technically advanced nation. They've got a working steam engine and some working experiments with the electric fluid...
[19:26] <+BPIJonathan> (sorry I am late, family things going on)
[19:26] <+JohnDunn> Thanks, Jason! Nice to see you Jonathan
[19:26] <+JasonMarker> While Cairn Kainen, on the other hand, is the least technologically advanced nation.
[19:27] <+JasonMarker> There's a pretty broad swath of technologies.
[19:27] <+BPIJonathan> Thanks John. I came to learn more about this setting.
[19:27] <+JasonMarker> (Done)
[19:27] <~Dan> You said that the PCs are all former humans, right?
[19:28] <+RossWatson> That's right Dan. The Accursed were once normal men and women who have been transformed by a Witch's curse into a monstrous form--the Vargr, Mummies, Mongrels, etc. mentioned above. This all happened during the Bane War, a massive invasion of Morden by the Witches and their dark armies about fifty years ago.
[19:28] <+Abstruse> So no Colt revolvers with silver bullets?
[19:28] <~Dan> How does that work when it comes to the Golems?
[19:28] <+JohnDunn> For the recent arrivals - we've basically covered the PC archetypes and a little bit about the inspirations and themes. We love questions.
[19:30] <+RossWatson> When the Witches first conquered the Outlands on the borders of Morden, they took the people there and turned them into shock troops to throw against the armies of the Alliance--the remaining nations of Morden who had banded together for protection.
[19:30] <~Dan> (As in, how does a human become an animated form made of unliving materials?)
[19:30] <+JasonMarker> Heh, no. Firearms are pretty much muskets, musketoons, some rifled muskets, and a single, highly advanced breech loading rifle from Manreia.
[19:30] <+JohnDunn> Dan, the Crone, who is the Witch that created the golems, loves to experiment with the essence of life and materials. In creating the golems, she captured human souls and imprisoned them in unliving things - thus, the straw, flesh, or other materials that imprison them.
[19:30] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[19:30] <+JohnDunn> The Witchmark is the core of the curse that creates each of the different Accursed archetypes, and it can manifest in different ways within the different Witchlines.
[19:31] <+Sam> How does being an Accursed affect the individuals lifespan if at all?
[19:31] <+RossWatson> During the Bane War, the Grand Coven of Witches was sundered by betrayal and many of them returned over the mountains with the majority of their armies. The Accursed were left behind, with no home to return to and nowhere to turn. They became wanderers, bandits, and adventurers. Many joined the Order of the Penitent, where they seek to gain redemption.
[19:31] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:31] <+JohnDunn> So, with a stone golem, it might be carved into the statue. With a vargr it is often a wode marking upon the skin (and fur).
[19:32] <+RossWatson> The lifespan of the Accursed is an open question at this point -- they just showed up in the setting fifty years ago. Only a few have shown any signs of aging (mostly Mongrels and Vargr in their human forms).
[19:32] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:33] <+RossWatson> It is presumed that the power of the witchmark fused into an Accursed's flesh not only is the source of their supernatural powers, it also may extend their lives beyond mortal limits, but none know for sure.
[19:33] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:33] <+Abstruse> Are there any holy orders in the setting? I hate to keep making the comparison, but something like how Paladins work in Ravenloft?
[19:33] <~Dan> Is magic strictly the province of the witches?
[19:33] <+Bigby> So are the witches actually something other than human?  Is "over the mountains" essentially another dimension/world?
[19:34] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:34] <+JasonMarker> Witches are, essentially, the dragons of the setting, Bigby. They might have been human at one point, but now they're near unstoppable forces of nature full of dark magics.
[19:34] <+RossWatson> Great question, Abstruse! The Order of the Penitent is a group that opposes the Witches and is primarily made up of Accursed seeking to strike back at their creators. It is sponsored by the Enochian faith, a wide-spread religious order that holds several human virtues as sacred.
[19:34] <+JohnDunn> Dan, there are two arcane backgrounds in the game setting. Alchemy, which is sort of a supernatural science. The key being that if something works once, it'll work again. The second is Witchcraft, which involves elements of sigilism, sympathy and invocation.
[19:35] <+JohnDunn> Not everyone is capable of performing witchcraft. There are the Witches, who are the big bads of the setting, then there are Warlocks, who follow them and can perform lesser Witchcraft. Finally, there are the White Witches who know some Witchcraft, but try to avoid the spells that would permanently destroy their souls.
[19:35] <+RossWatson> There are orders of knighthood who also work with the Enochians, and there are even some Accursed who can become a knight if they wish -- there's room for a broad range of moral codes, so if you wanted to play a paladin-like character, you certainly could.
[19:35] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[19:35] <+JohnDunn> Of course, even a cognizant white witch could eventually give into the power and become corrupted by it.
[19:35] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:36] <+JasonMarker> done
[19:36] <~Dan> Speaking of the Enochians, does faith have any power in the setting?
[19:37] <+RossWatson> That's something we thought about deeply, Dan. What we decided to do in Accursed was to limit supernatural abilities to witchcraft and alchemy. Therefore, faith in Accursed is a highly personal thing, and it does have power to move people in significant ways, but not as a supernatural force.
[19:37] <+RossWatson> I think it makes the exploration of faith in the setting, and how your character reacts to that, a very interesting narrative.
[19:37] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:37] * ~Dan nods
[19:37] <+JohnDunn> One thing to add on that.
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> It's important to consider that in the setting there is VERY LITTLE healing magic.
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> We felt that was kind of an important element in maintaining the dark theme.
[19:38] <~Dan> Probably so.
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> Alchemists just don't have the knowledge necessary to perform those kinds of magic with living things.
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> And Witches, well, there may be consequences for trying to dabble in those things.
[19:38] <~Dan> How "flashy" is witchcraft?
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> So, yeah, combat entails inherent very serious risks.
[19:38] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:39] <+BPIJonathan> I think that is a good plot element for a lot of settings. Also tends to make people a little more cautious in fights.
[19:39] <+BlasterKyubey210> or avoid getting into them in the first place
[19:40] <+JohnDunn> Thanks, BPIJonathan, it's Savage Worlds, so there are ways to mitigate the risk, but we like to think that folks who are attached to an Accursed character are going to give those matters serious consideration.
[19:40] <+RossWatson> Witchcraft is highly versatile -- it is the magic of the Accursed setting, and that means that there are very few limits on just what is possible. That having been said, witchcraft generally requires certain trappings (such as sympathetic magic links, blood or representations of your target being common examples) and flows through three particular forms.
[19:40] <+RossWatson> Sigilism, sympathetic magic, and invocation. Invocation generally allows for some pretty flashy effects, but one thing to keep in mind is that witchcraft is also inherently dangerous.
[19:41] <+RossWatson> There is a mechanic in Accursed when witchcraft is used too hastily or carelessly where it can have effects on the wielder's soul.
[19:41] <+RossWatson> So flashy witchcraft is present in the setting, but not common, for that reason.
[19:41] <+JohnDunn> And, you're right Blasterkyubey210. Avoiding combat is always a safe strategy -- when it's possible.
[19:41] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:41] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:42] <~Dan> Do any of the PC "species" have magic-like abilities?
[19:43] <+JasonMarker> There are magic-type abilities for most of the Witchbreeds, but they're reflected in individual Edges rather than actual spell-like effects.
[19:43] <+JasonMarker> The Golems can, with the right edges, transfer their souls to other objects, or detach parts of their bodies.
[19:44] <+JasonMarker> Vargr can turn right into wolfmen, that's pretty magical.
[19:44] <+JasonMarker> So, yeah. Magic-like abilities but not actual magic.
[19:44] <+JasonMarker> (done)
[19:44] <~Dan> (brb -- please continue)
[19:45] <+JohnDunn> Bueller?
[19:46] <+RossWatson> So I think we're available for another question or two right now.
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[19:46] <+BPIJonathan> What was your inspiration in developing the setting?
[19:46] <+JasonMH> What advantages do you think the Savage Worlds ruleset gives to your conception of the setting?
[19:46] <~Dan> (back)
[19:47] <+Abstruse> I'm a bit vague on the roles of the PCs in all this..they're cursed by the witches, but are they meant to be politically powerful people in their original lives? Like lords and kings and knights? Or could some random farmhand or low-level soldier be an Accursed?
[19:47] <+RossWatson> There were quite a few things that led to the inspiration for Accursed, but I would say the most inspirational things were Hellboy and the Creature Commandos -- another comic book where classic movie monsters team up to fight in WWII. I loved the idea of monsters working together to fight evil.
[19:47] <+JohnDunn> So, with the Fast! Furious! Fun! mantra, we're able to immediately capture the elements of drama and action that we found so compelling in some of the films and other media that we took inspiration from.
[19:48] <+JohnDunn> Characters can quickly act in dramatic faction, by taking advantage of the rule system, adding some descriptive flavoring, and letting the bennies fly.
[19:48] <+RossWatson> The dark fantasy setting aspects were all highly inspired by Solomon Kane, Castlevania, and Ravenloft -- I loved how those settings all emphasize different parts of both horror and fantasy and tie them together. Accursed builds on those settings with the "monsters team up" angle and then adds in the Witches' curses...
[19:48] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:48] <+JohnDunn> To us, the ability to be able to buckle-swashes with the best of them was a big selling point for Savage Worlds.
[19:49] <+JasonMarker> To your question, Abstruse, the Accursed are mainly soldiers and common people caught up in the Witches onslaught and changed into the Witchbreeds. There may be a few nobles or wealthy people scattered here and there in the ranks of the Accursed, but they're relatively uncommon.
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[19:49] <+JohnDunn> Now, we admit it's not the ONLY way that this could be done, but it seemed like the most straightforward of the options that were available. It also came with a fan base that knows a thing or two about zombies.
[19:49] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:49] <~Dan> I'm assuming that the common folks are terrified of the Accursed?
[19:49] <+JasonMarker> Done
[19:50] <+JohnDunn> Among the Accursed, Abstruse, are the nobility from Hyphrates who were buried using mummification techniques. Now - Hyphrates isn't a straightup Egypt clone, but they do replicate their burial rituals in many ways. So, its certainly true that most mummies had some history as nobility.
[19:50] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:50] <+RossWatson> Dan, that is true in many places across Morden, but the world is still a big place. There are many regions where the Accursed are feared and mistrusted, and even a few where they are completely unwelcome. However, there are also some places where the Accursed can walk openly and interact with normal people without too much trouble.
[19:51] <+RossWatson> It just depends on where you are. However, you won't go far wrong if you assume that most settlements are going to find the presence of an Accursed disturbing at the very least. (done)
[19:51] * ~Dan nods
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[19:51] <~Dan> (Howdy, Kaiju_Keiichi!)
[19:51] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> greetings dark ones
[19:51] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> are we ready for the wicked rite?
[19:51] <+BPIJonathan> I am not sure if this has been answered, but generally speaking -- how common are Accursed in relation to the "normal" folk?
[19:52] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> (oops, sorry)
[19:52] <+JasonMarker> The Witchbreeds make up roughly one percent of the population of Morden. That's still a heck of a lot of Accursed, but they're still relatively rare.
[19:52] <+JasonMarker> done
[19:53] <+JohnDunn> When the forces of the Grand Coven rolled into Morden, they devastated the Outlands, and transformed many of the people from those less sophisticated nations into monsters through the ritual that created Witchmarks.
[19:53] <+JohnDunn> The Outlands were much less populated than the more sophisticated nations of Morden, but the Accursed were also more powerful soldiers in the vanguard of the armies.
[19:54] <+JohnDunn> So, between the combat capabilities compared to untrained mortals and the sheer numbers created, there are a fairly terrifying number of surviving Witchmarked.
[19:54] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[19:54] <+Abstruse> How much published adventure support are you going to have at launch or shortly thereafter?
[19:54] <~Dan> To what degree do the witches fit the "cackling crone" stereotype?
[19:54] <+JohnDunn> So, there are two different things currently in terms of adventure support, Abstruse.
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[19:55] <+JohnDunn> The first thing is that the core book will include a number of short adventures as well as a plot point campaign.
[19:55] <+JohnDunn> The second thing is that we're funding at least two adventures through stretch goals that have already been achieved.
[19:55] <+JohnDunn> Rich Baker (known for his work at Wizards on D&D) and Sean Patrick Fannon (known for his Shaintar Savage Worlds setting) are both already committed to writing adventures.
[19:56] <+RossWatson> Dan, the Witches in Accursed are all very different. There's the Crone -- she's the most ancient, and the one featured on the cover of our book. The Crone probably comes closest to your typical faerie tale witch, and it is she who created the Golems (among many other banes that are essentially nonliving things with souls inside of them).
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[19:56] <+JohnDunn> We've got four authors who we've also announced that are going to write 1-sheets if we hit the $17,000 stretch goal. They are Shane Hensley, Colin McComb, Adam Jury, and Sean Preston.
[19:56] <+RossWatson> There's also Sanguinara, the Blood Witch, who is a seductive beauty who enjoys playing political games with her newest toy -- the nation of Valkenholm. Schemes and plots are her stock in trade, a spider at the center of a web of intrigue.
[19:56] <+JohnDunn> Beyond that, well, it's going to depend upon where stretch goals take us and what happens after the game becomes generally available.
[19:57] <+JohnDunn> (done)
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[19:57] <+RossWatson> So as you can see there's quite a bit of difference there, and we have several other Witches in the setting who each have their own unique style.
[19:57] <+RossWatson> (done)
[19:57] <~Dan> Aside from Witches, what is the opposition like?
[19:57] <+JohnDunn> We actually have 13 Witches as part of the setting, but we're deliberately only defining 6 of them at this point.
[19:58] <+JohnDunn> Well, maybe 2 more, depending upon whether folks pledge at levels that let them create Witches and an associated Witchbreed.
[19:58] <~Dan> How did you decide Witch ones to define?
[19:58] <+JohnDunn> We're trying to leave the other ones open for GMs to be able to flesh out the setting further.
[19:58] <~Dan> (Sorry. Too easy.)
[19:58] <+JasonMarker> We played rock, paper, scissors for it, Dan.
[19:58] <+JasonMarker> :)
[19:59] <+RossWatson> Dan, the Witches are the primary antagonists, as mentioned before -- they're the "Dragons," the big bad guys. They have minions as well, of course! The setting of Accursed has many Banes -- these are monsters created by the Witches to serve as slaves, guards, and servants. Banes are often the enemies that the Accursed have to fight.
[19:59] <+JohnDunn> Basically, we made some initial decisions based upon which ones we thought would be most approachable for people learning the setting. So, we had to have the Vampire, Wolfman, and Frankenstein...
[19:59] <+JohnDunn> And we wanted to make sure that the Witches linked to those were present.
[19:59] <+JohnDunn> From there, we kind of went with a combination of which we thought would be most approachable for folks new to the setting as well as a bit of a balancing act with what seemed like it would be cool to play.
[19:59] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:00] <+RossWatson> Some examples of Banes include the horrid, boneless Leech-men who serve Sanguinara and lurk in the swamps of the Sunken Lands endlessly searching for more blood to fill their bloated bellies. There's also the Flayed Walkers, Hunger Trolls, Gorge Wolves, and many others.
[20:00] <+RossWatson> One of my favorites are the Manikins -- creepy little murder-dolls made by the Crone, who strike from hiding and love to torment humans whenever they can.
[20:00] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:01] <+JasonMarker> Hey Dan, I have to run. Thanks for the hospitality!
[20:01] <~Dan> You said the Damphirs(sp?) are half-vampires... Are there actual vampires in the setting, and if so, how do they relate to the Damphirs?
[20:01] <~Dan> Bye, Jason! Thanks for coming by!
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[20:01] <+Abstruse> Dhampir :p
[20:01] <+Abstruse> Dhampir = Half-vampire = Blade
[20:02] <+RossWatson> Dan, there are actual vampires -- the idea of them is just too cool not to include.
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[20:03] <+RossWatson> The Blood Witch's intent was to create hordes of vampires from the humans of the Outlands. Her magic is rooted in desire, and those who were ensnared by her witchmarks were tormented with horrific temptations of all kinds of hungers, including a lust for blood.
[20:03] <+RossWatson> Those few who were able to deny these temptations became the Dhampir -- they have many of the strengths of the vampire, and some of the weaknesses. Most importantly, Dhampir are not slaves to Sanguinara like their full vampire kin.
[20:04] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:04] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[20:05] <~Dan> Are (or were) there any supernatural "good guys" in the setting unrelated to the Witches?
[20:05] <+Abstruse> On that note, how do you guys define Revenants? That word is used all over the place in the past decade or two for everything from Romero-style zombies to straight-up vampires.
[20:05] <+RossWatson> Dan, there were some supernatural good guys in the setting -- before the Bane War.
[20:06] <+JohnDunn> Abstruse we had a specific visual vibe that we wanted for revenants as well as a specific thematic vibe. For the theme, we were very much about the Crow. Something that has died with a task at hand that must be completed.
[20:06] <+RossWatson> Accursed is a world where all the faerie tales went horribly, horribly wrong. This means that there weren't a lot of "good guy" faeries, but there was the Seelie Court, a group of faeries that were friendly to humans, ruled by their Summer King, Auberon.
[20:06] <+JohnDunn> Most commonly, they're strongly motivated by a desire for vengeance. Typically against the Morrigan (the witch who created them in her black cauldron), but it can be other causes.
[20:06] <+Abstruse> (Faerie tales went wrong? Did you READ the original Brothers Grimm stories?! How much more wrong can you go from there??"
[20:07] <+JohnDunn> Our big visual reference, though, is a zombified version of Jonah Hex, because, well, we thought it was badass.
[20:07] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:07] <+RossWatson> Auberon and the Seelie Fey were part of the Alliance that fought back against the Witches invasion. However, the Seelie Fey were all wiped out by the end of the war in a battle against the Djinn -- the only Witch that has ever believed to have been permanently slain.
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[20:08] <~Dan> I take it that the Unseelie Fey are still around?
[20:08] <+RossWatson> Abstruse, as an example, when Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on the spinning wheel, it wasn't just her who fell into enchanted slumber -- it was her entire kingdom. Hundreds of people slowly rotting away.
[20:08] <+RossWatson> Another good example is that there's a feared assassin in Valkenholm known as Little Red Cap. It is said that she dips the hood of her cape into the blood of her victims to grant her clothing that unusual crimson shade.
[20:08] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:09] <+JohnDunn> Yes, the Unseelie Fey are very much still around, and without the Seelie fey to balance them, they have begun to expand their power base. They are also the ones who are quick to respond now, whenever a mortal undertakes the rituals that might be involved in summoning a supernatural being to make a deal.
[20:09] <+Abstruse> Isn't that crossing the streams in mythologies?
[20:09] <+JohnDunn> Of course, the compensation taht they expect in return for their assistance can be a very high price, and not something that can be taken lightly at all.
[20:10] <+JohnDunn> Though, when a mortal agrees to the compensation, they seldom fully appreciate just how badly things have gone.
[20:10] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:10] <+RossWatson> Yes, yes it is. A little like Hellboy crossed over Cthulhu, christianity, and faerie tales. You've seen the Golden Army, right? :)
[20:10] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[20:13] <+NiTessine> Oh, hi there again, Ross.
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[20:13] <~Dan> What (if any) other systems do you have planned for the setting?
[20:14] <+RossWatson> Hello my Finnish friend!
[20:14] <+JohnDunn> Are you trying to get unannounced stretch goal information from us, Dan?
[20:14] <~Dan> <.<
[20:15] <+RossWatson> Michael Surbrook is on our schedule to convert the setting to the Hero System, so that cat is already out of the bag. :D
[20:15] <~Dan> Really? Wow... That's pretty hardcore.
[20:15] <+JohnDunn> So, we have positive relationships with a number of folks who have worked with several very well known and popular game systems. Some of those individuals have agreed to do system conversions as stretch goals. But, we do need to get a little closer to achieving the announced stretch goals first.
[20:15] <+RossWatson> That's how we ROLL in Accursed.
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[20:16] <+RossWatson> But yeah, also what John said.
[20:16] <+JohnDunn> ;)
[20:16] <+RossWatson> Keep an eye on the kickstarter and we'll have more to say on that in the future. :)
[20:16] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:16] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:16] <~Dan> Cool. :)
[20:16] <~Dan> What are your personal gaming preferences?
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[20:17] <+JohnDunn> I've made no secret about my favorite RPG over the years. That's WEG's Torg system. I love the fact that it's a cross-genre game with built in mechanics for handling the different genres on their own as well as having those elements interact.
[20:18] <+RossWatson> Champions does happen to be one of my favorite systems, but I'm also really enjoying Savage Worlds (of course!). I also play a lot of Shadowrun. In fact, I have shelves FULL of game systems that I love to play, so that's a loaded question.
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[20:18] <+JohnDunn> For me, in an RPG, I generally prefer a game system that, once you've learned it, more or less gets out of the way of the story and lets things just run.
[20:18] * ~Dan nods
[20:18] <+RossWatson> Mouse Guard, TSR Marvel Super Heroes, I have a ton of games that I love for different reasons that work well in different genres.
[20:19] <+JohnDunn> I realize that's a vague statement and its pretty subjective based upon how much time you've spent with it. For some folks Hero or Rolemaster gets out of the way. For me, Savage Worlds, Torg, and FATE can all do that with the right adventure and the right group.
[20:19] <+RossWatson> Like John, I am also a TORG fan, but it is tough finding a group for that these days.
[20:19] <~Dan> Ah, TORG...
[20:19] <+JohnDunn> But, ya know, different times different systems and settings work well. Once in a while, the crunch from Rolemaster can be a great deal of fun.
[20:20] <+JohnDunn> Of course, you said personal gaming preferences, adn we both just dove into RPGs... So, uh, yeah, we're RPG players primarily. Though I do a little tabletop wargaming (40K, et al). I'm not much of a card player or video gamer.
[20:20] * +BPIJonathan has a TORG group. Meets every other month :D
[20:20] <+RossWatson> I'm going to go on record here and say that I also really like trying out new game systems just to see what they bring to the table, so I'll play just about anything.
[20:20] <+RossWatson> Lucky dog!
[20:21] * +JohnDunn is jealous of BPIJonathan.
[20:21] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:21] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[20:21] <~Dan> What plans do you have for supplements?
[20:22] <+Abstruse> Are you planning to port the setting to any other systems, like Pathfinder or 13th Age?
[20:22] <+JohnDunn> Well, we want to do books that focus on the nations of Morden. That'd basically be a series of 2 - 6 books depending upon how the Kickstarter takes us.
[20:23] <+RossWatson> Abstruse, all we can say about that is what we mentioned above -- we've got some folks online to do conversions to some /very well known and popular game systems/.
[20:23] <+JohnDunn> Beyond that, we would like to do a little bit more to expand the detailed number of witchbreeds as well as some of the additional banes in the different witchlines. There simply isn't enough space in the main book to fit everything we'd like.
[20:24] <+JohnDunn> If we see the support available, then we'd like to even consider expanding out to cover one or two of the additional Witches that have gone back over the Darkwall Peaks or presenting material about the different islands out in the Discordian Sea.
[20:24] <+JohnDunn> So, yeah, it boils down to what sort of response we see on the Kickstarter to determine how quickly we can do things and how much stuff we can do.
[20:24] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:25] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:26] <~Dan> Are there any unusual professions open to PCs?
[20:27] <+RossWatson> We have some archetypes in the setting that are good categories for that sort of thing, Dan.
[20:27] <~Dan> Oh? Examples? :)
[20:27] <+JohnDunn> We're actually blogging about the different Savage Worlds Professional Edges that we're including in the setting right now. That's been the theme of the last few blog posts and it'll continue for another post or two.
[20:27] <+RossWatson> One of them is the Investigator -- this is our version of Sherlock Holmes, the guy who analyzes information and is able to research weaknesses of the Witches and their Banes. Its always good to have a smart guy on your team when you're having to dive into a stronghold full of vampires in the middle of the night...
[20:28] <+JohnDunn> So, because they're Edge selections, PCs don't have to follow any of these specifically, but they certainly have the option to do so. PCs can even, if they wish, follow more than one of these paths, or even follow something that's along a theme without acquiring the associated Edge.
[20:28] <+RossWatson> There's also the Witch Hunters -- these guys are the "Street Samurai" of Accursed, the people you turn to when you need to kill every Bane in the room. Accept no subsitutes.
[20:28] <+JohnDunn> Over on the blog site - (Link: we've got the first 5 posts up already discussing this.
[20:28] <+JohnDunn> The sixth one (which goes live tomorrow morning) actually focuses on the white witches.
[20:29] <+RossWatson> Alchemists do alchemy, as their name suggests -- they're the guys who can turn your sword into cold iron so you can dispatch the Cauldron-born who's chasing you across the moor, or the guy who can brew a restorative to wake you up from the crooning song of a Banesidhe.
[20:29] <+JohnDunn> (done, but I think Ross has a bit more)
[20:29] <+RossWatson> White Witches practice witchcraft and use their command of that magic to strike back against the witches. Of course, white witches must take care when wielding their powers lest they draw the essence of the cruel Witches into themselves.
[20:30] <+RossWatson> There's also the Knave -- this guy is our rogue, our social engineer, our scoundrel and theif. Knaves can get it done when a sword or a gun just isn't going to be enough to get you into the Witches' lair.
[20:31] <+JohnDunn> Enochians are another of the archetypes. These are individuals devoted to spreading the importance of the virtues both in their words and their example.
[20:31] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:31] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:32] <+Bigby> Sorry, just got caught up so this question is a few minutes late.  When you convert the game to other systems will those printings have their own Kickstarters?
[20:34] <~Dan> Are most monsters of the humanoid type?
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[20:35] *** Topic on #rpgnet is: Happy Birthday, Silverlion!! || #rpgnet welcomes John Dunn (Accursed) 9/26/2013 7:00 p.m. CST! || Q&A schedule: (Link: || Q&A logs: (Link:
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[20:35] <~Dan> (Whoops. Not sure what happened there... )
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[20:36] <~Dan> (Ah, netsplit.)
[20:36] <+Abstruse> (Well that was new...)
[20:36] <+Bigby> Err, not sure if my question went through...
[20:36] <~Dan> Mine either.
[20:36] <+Abstruse> (More like server crash...I got booted)
[20:36] <+JohnDunn> Bigby, we're handling our printing through POD. So, if we achieve funding to present them, they'd be available upon conclusion of this Kickstarter.
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[20:36] <+JohnDunn> Looks like something hiccuped. Did my response get through that time, Bigby?
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[20:36] <~Dan> I saw it.
[20:36] <+JohnDunn> Dan, we didn't see your question.
[20:36] <+RossWatson> I just re-logged in.
[20:36] <+RossWatson> Last thing I saw was Bigby's question.
[20:36] <+Bigby> I saw that your handling printing via POD.
[20:37] <+Abstruse> Sorry if this has been asked (I've been distracted by drama), but what's the political landscape like in the setting?
[20:37] <~Dan> Ah. I asked if most of the monsters are humanoid, or are there giant monsters as well?
[20:37] <+JohnDunn> Well, the Witchmarked are humanoid. However, the banes come in a wide variety of sizes.
[20:38] <+JohnDunn> We've blogged previously about the Scarab swarms which transformed the once lush countryside of Hyphrates into a barren desert.
[20:38] <+RossWatson> Abstruse, the political landscape of Morden is a bit of a patchwork. Cairn Kainen, for example, is largely ruled by different clanholds who each control their own little piece of the nation. You can imagine it like the small kingdom of the 13th Warrior film, replicated all across that blighted land.
[20:38] <+JohnDunn> We've also presented the Swamp Kraken and the Hunger Trolls, which are definitely larger than mortal humans.
[20:38] <+RossWatson> Valkenholm is a combination of Feudal Transylvania and Machiavellian italy.
[20:38] <+JohnDunn> Then there's the Weeping Colossus of Hebron...
[20:38] <+JohnDunn> We'll just leave that there.
[20:38] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:39] <+Abstruse> So there's no unifying government, but rather a bunch of city-states and small fiefdoms?
[20:39] <+RossWatson> Steppengrad most resembles Imperial Russia in the age of Rasputin, and is probably the most cohesive of the realms with regards to culture.
[20:40] <+RossWatson> The Alliance was the first and only time the nations of Morden were ever able to agree and come together in unity. After the Bane War, some of the nations are ruled openly by the Witches (such as Valkenholm and Cairn Kainen) whilst others are manipulated by banes and other humans who have proclaimed allegiance to their conquerors.
[20:40] <+JohnDunn> There are six nations that attempted to unify during the Bane War, Abstruse, but they have not stayed unified. The rulers of some of the nations were lost to the bane war. Now, the banes rule at the whims of the remaining Witches.
[20:40] <+RossWatson> Think of Morden like Europe -- there are city-states and nations, but no overall government of the entire continent.
[20:41] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:41] <+JohnDunn> So, in some places, there certainly are city-states. Unconquered Parnath, of Hebron, is perhaps the only nation that retains its government from before the Bane War, though even that is transformed by the sacrifices they had to make.
[20:41] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:41] <~Dan> And what are the Warlocks, again?
[20:41] <+Abstruse> So some dude rides up and says "I'm the King of <Insert Nation>!" and all the people there except the noble who's been paying taxes says "Who?"
[20:41] <+RossWatson> Warlocks are people who practice witchcraft... and who have become slaves or pawns of the Witches in the process.
[20:42] <+RossWatson> Some warlocks believe that they are acting on their own interests, but their natures have been forever changed by the dark influence of the Witches that has taken root in their souls.
[20:42] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[20:43] <+RossWatson> That's not terribly inaccurate Abstruse, but each nation does have its own sense of identity and some knowledge of who is really calling the shots.
[20:43] <~Dan> Are "warlock" and "witch" not gender-specific?
[20:44] <+RossWatson> There's a Council of Lords in Manreia who run that country, for example, and Sanguinara is a hands-on dictator. The Morrigan and Baba Yaga, however, mostly let people govern themselves without too much interference... as long as the tithes are paid.
[20:44] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:44] <+JohnDunn> That's correct, Dan. They are not.
[20:44] <+JohnDunn> The Witches proper are entities that are sufficiently powerful that gender may not have a whole lot of meaning to them.
[20:44] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:44] <+RossWatson> For example, no one knows just what the Chimera is, beyond that "she" is a Witch.
[20:44] <+RossWatson> (done)
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[20:46] <~Dan> Are the Banes mostly under direct control of Witches, or are they mostly "independent"?
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[20:47] <+RossWatson> The key difference between Banes and Accursed is that the Witches can always assert control over Banes. The Banes are their creations, and while some Banes have free will (for example, Vampires), when a Witch commands, they /must/ obey.
[20:48] <+RossWatson> Some Witches (like Baba Yaga) just aren't that interested in remote-controlling their creations, so sometimes Banes run amok or have their own schemes going on.
[20:48] <+Abstruse> Are the Witches and their minions the only universal antagonists in the setting? And are there any Witches that are more benevolent?
[20:48] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:49] <+RossWatson> Abstruse, there's also the Unseelie Fey as well. We like having them as a "third side" in the conflict since they can be both ally and antagonist, depending on the needs of the GM.
[20:49] <+JohnDunn> Abstruse, they are the primary antagonists, but they are not the only one. The world has gone to hell, and there are desperate people who make the choices to take actions that are, well, not nice.
[20:50] <+JohnDunn> There are also Accursed, who are no longer working for the Witches that can make these same kinds of choices.
[20:50] <+JohnDunn> There are elements of the Enochian faith that have strong feelings and are willing to take extreme actions.
[20:50] <+RossWatson> There are no known benevolent Witches in the setting, but we're not going to state categorically that they're all irredeemably evil. For example, Baba Yaga has been slowly conforming more and more to the Steppengrad ideal of what she's meant to be since her arrival there... which is both good and bad for the natives.
[20:50] <+JohnDunn> There are other mercenaries whom the Witches left behind.
[20:50] <+JohnDunn> There are pirates and thieves who promise refugees safety in exchange for, well, unconscionable acts.
[20:51] <+JohnDunn> So, yeah, we're not hurting for bad guys.
[20:51] <+RossWatson> And the islands in the Discordian Sea are like planets in the original series of Star Trek -- you can find just about /anything/ out there.
[20:51] <+JohnDunn> Are the Witches benevolent? Well, the Witches have motives and goals that aren't necessarily comprehensible to mortals.
[20:51] <+JohnDunn> There could be times when they do something that seems like its helpful to a region or even towards a group of PCs.
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[20:52] <+JohnDunn> But, it's probably in everyone's best interest to thoroughly question the motives and the goals involved in any generosity. That's a gift horse whose mouth I'd be examining VERY closely.
[20:52] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:52] <+RossWatson> Dinosaurs, crazy tree-men, entire societies of brain-enhanced apes led by primitive shamans, etc.
[20:52] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:53] <~Dan> ...There are dinosaurs in the setting?
[20:53] <+RossWatson> Not explicitly, but there are tales told by sailors of sighting huge lizards on a certain island out in the Discordian sea.
[20:53] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:53] <~Dan> Cool. :)
[20:54] <+Abstruse> How much of the setting do we get to see in the core book?
[20:54] <+RossWatson> I was just waxing a bit poetic about the possibilities of the Discordian Sea, which is why we love having that element in the setting.
[20:54] <~Dan> So in the time we have left in "regular" time, is there anything you'd like to bring up that we haven't covered?
[20:54] <+Abstruse> And how much do you have planned out for future books that you don't have space to expand on yet?
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[20:56] <+JohnDunn> We're explicitly presenting the six nations with a few pages in each for the players guide. We're touching on other portions of the setting as well, though most of those sections receive less detail.
[20:56] <+RossWatson> Abstruse, we have tons of stuff we'd love to detail out for the setting. There's a lot of cool ideas and themes and characters that we're excited about--it's really going to depend on how well the Kickstarter does. If people want us to make more books for the setting, we absolutely will!
[20:56] <+RossWatson> It's fair to say that if there's demand for more information about the world of Accursed we could write books for the next several years covering it.
[20:56] <+JohnDunn> Other parts of the setting, including a few prominent locations, are detailed in the latter part of the book (which we haven't yet previewed) as part of the plot point campaign. These places are going to be biased in that they're important to the plot point campaign.
[20:57] <+JohnDunn> So, we're certainly not covering everything we'd like to present, but we're working to provide enough for game groups to have a solid footing.
[20:57] <+RossWatson> As just one example, we mentioned that the Grand Coven was made up of 13 Witches, and we're only detailing 6 or so in the main book. Plus there's the lands they originally came from across the Darkwall mountains. And so forth, and so on. Lots of ideas waiting in the wings. :)
[20:57] <+RossWatson> (done)
[20:57] <+JohnDunn> That's also why we like to use a bit of shorthand in sometimes describing nations, because we feel like that gives folks a bit of an insight to the appropriate tone for the different places.
[20:57] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[20:58] <+JohnDunn> Dan, I'd love to talk about a couple of Kickstarter points.
[20:58] <+JohnDunn> The most important ones being that we're very excited about the announced stretch goals.
[20:58] <~Dan> Sure, fire away!
[20:58] <+RossWatson> As a reminder, you can find the Accursed Kickstarter at this link:
[20:58] <+RossWatson> (Link:
[20:58] <+JohnDunn> Next up at $15,000 is a novella from Mel Odom. After that we have the set of 1-sheets that I'd mentioned earlier, and then a sourcebook that Chris Avellon and George Zeits are doubleteaming.
[20:59] <+JohnDunn> If we hit $15,000 we'll be announcing even more stretch goals.
[20:59] <+JohnDunn> We also have ~310-ish backers right now. If we achieve 400 before the end of the Kickstarter, we'll make a custom Accursed Poker Deck available.
[21:00] <+JohnDunn> On that one, it doesn't matter how much folks back for. We just want to have people participating in the project. So a $1 backer gets us a step closer to that Stretch Goal.
[21:00] <+JohnDunn> Finally, as a reminder, anyone who backs can immediately check out the link to the Playtest Download in Backers-Only Update #1.
[21:00] <+JohnDunn> As soon as they pledge, they can grab that and start looking through the materials.
[21:01] <+JohnDunn> We LOVE getting feedback about it.
[21:01] <+JohnDunn> We prefer constructive feedback, like "This Sucks BECAUSE" But, we'll take what we can get. :)
[21:01] <+JohnDunn> (done)
[21:01] <+RossWatson> Also, everybody who backs the kickstarter gets instant access to the playtest version of the Accursed Player's Guide -- a 100+ page book that details much more about the setting and gives you the tools you need to get started playing it right away in Savage Worlds.
[21:01] <+Bigby> How many of the stretch goal ebooks have been confirmed at this point?
[21:01] <+RossWatson> (done)
[21:01] <+JohnDunn> And, I think that's about time.
[21:02] <+JohnDunn> We've confirmed two stretch goal ebooks - the adventures from Sean Patrick Fannon and Rich Baker. We've achieved stretch goals to increase the amount of artwork and to have Andy Chambers write the introductory text.
[21:02] <+JohnDunn> If we hit $20,000 we'll have two additional, for a total of 5 books.
[21:02] <+JohnDunn> And, if we hit 400 backers, that'd bump it up to 6 (the poker deck counts as one)
[21:03] <+JohnDunn> Beyond that, well, we've got a lot more planned.
[21:03] <~Dan> Excellent. :)
[21:03] <+JohnDunn> But we need support to get there, and we very much appreciate everything we've received so far.
[21:04] <+Bigby> What level needs to be reached to get to the 9 ebooks mentioned at the $75 level?
[21:04] <+JohnDunn> It depends upon the exact order of the next batch of stretch goals and if we hit 400 backers.
[21:05] <+Bigby> And if the poker deck makes it, will that have to be ordered through drivethru or would you be sending those out?
[21:05] <+JohnDunn> But, if things go the way I expect, it'd most likely be in the $25,000 - $27,000 range.
[21:05] <+JohnDunn> I think that's pretty acheivable, but I don't want to get cocky.
[21:05] <~Dan> :)
[21:05] <+JohnDunn> Bigby, the poker deck will go through DriveThru. We trust them to do fulfillment.
[21:05] <+RossWatson> We're all very grateful for the outpouring of support from hundreds of gamers out there, thanks to you guys, Accursed is going to become a reality. And with luck it can be /even more awesome/ as the kickstarter progresses.
[21:06] <+JohnDunn> Thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to join in the chat, and thank you Dan for being such a gracious host to us.
[21:07] <+RossWatson> It was great participating in this #rpgnet chat, I'd love to do it again sometime!
[21:07] <~Dan> You're entirely welcome! I hope you guys will feel free to come by whenever you like and hang out with us!
[21:07] <+JohnDunn> I'm afraid my work day starts a little absurdly early tomorrow, so I need to bow out at this time. All the best to everyone, and good gaming!
[21:07] <~Dan> I'll get you the log link shortly.
[21:07] <+RossWatson> I also need to get going... what John said, and may all your hits be crits!
[21:07] <~Dan> Bye, guys!

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