Thursday, November 21, 2013

[Q&A] Ben Rogers (ElfWood)

[19:05] <+BenRogers> Firstly, I want to thank Dan for asking me back to #rpgnet.  I'm Ben Rogers.  I'm the Product Manager for Harsh Realities, LLC and I work with an amazing team of people to produce fun games.
[19:05] <~Dan> (You're quite welcome! :) )
[19:06] <+BenRogers> Our most recent offering is ElfWood.  We're about to kickstart it. (In fact, we're just waiting for Kickstarter's approval to proceed.
[19:07] <+BenRogers> ElfWood is a dark fantasy, set in a lush world with some underlying, shadowy portents.  It is a world where the elven culture is dominant and the struggles between elves and dwarg (dwarves) are based on fundmental differences that go beyond culture.
[19:07] <+BenRogers> Elves incorporate trees into their lifecycle - born from the fruit and destined to produce a tree upon their death, they are *part* of the forest.
[19:08] <+BenRogers> Dwarg, on the other hand, have no females in their species, they literally "spring from the earth".  These fundamental differences in the very nature of these creatures fuels their misunderstandings of each other culturally and philosophcially.
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[19:08] <+BenRogers> There's a lot more.. But that's the basis to start with.
[19:09] <~Dan> (done? :) )
[19:09] <+BenRogers> Oh, and I should tell you that occasionally my router needs to be reset and I might disappear for a couple minutes.  I will be back if that happens! :)
[19:09] <~Dan> (Oh, n/m. :) )
[19:09] <+BenRogers> Yes, /done
[19:09] <~Dan> Thanks, Ben!
[19:09] <~Dan> Before we get started with questions, I should mention that Abstruse, RPG columnist for Ain't It Cool News, is here. :)
[19:10] <+BenRogers> Very cool.  Hello, Abstruse.  :)
[19:10] <+Abstruse> Hello! So are dwarg the typical fantasy-archetype miners?
[19:10] <+BenRogers> Basically, yes.  They mine.  They love the earth.  They carve out massive underground features.  The earth is their wife/mother and they do all that they can to beautify her -- but only so they can see the beauty.
[19:11] <+BenRogers> And they covet her wealth - minerals.  /done
[19:11] <~Dan> And they have firearms and steam technology as well, IIRC?
[19:11] <+BenRogers> ElfWood is world light on metal - and the Dwarg have cornered the market.
[19:11] <+Abstruse> So they have forges they use wood to fuel them?
[19:12] <+Abstruse> I'm seeing a big point for tension there..."You cut down my great-grandfather to make a bracelet?!"
[19:12] <+BenRogers> Yes.  They started with machines to help them carve into the rock.  They use firearms (also earth minerals, when you think about it).  They lean toward coal -- but have no compunction about burning wood.
[19:12] <~Dan> Do they use magic?
[19:13] <+BenRogers> I should also point out that the orcs are born when an elf is slain violently and his body left "untended".  The tree that grows from that body is twisted and thorny and orcs are produced from the nuts of that tree.
[19:13] <~Dan> So orcs in the setting are totally nuts?
[19:13] <+BenRogers> There is nothing that prevents a dwarg from using either shard magic, blood magic or shadow magic.  And they like to blend tech and magic together.
[19:13] <+BenRogers> *tosses Dan a Strike die*
[19:13] <~Dan> :D
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[19:14] <+Bigby> I'm somewhat familiar with the setting, but could you touch on the differences in magic styles?
[19:14] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ!)
[19:14] <+BenRogers> We also call the "dwarg" because they are "not quite dwarves" and on day while discussing them, the word slipped out and has been a staple ever since.
[19:15] <+BenRogers> Bigby, by all means: Shard magic is subtle and is light, requiring little training to use, but not really able to do great feats.
[19:15] <+Abstruse> "Strike die" makes me want to take a step back and ask about the system the game uses. Can you give an overview?
[19:15] <+BenRogers> Blood magic is what fuels what you would commonly think of as magery or wizardly type of effects.
[19:15] <+xyphoid> so who are the PCs
[19:15] <+BenRogers> And Shadow magic is dark, twisted, powerful and uses nefarious and evil sources for its power -- and always exacts a cost on the user and those who are touched by it.
[19:16] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:16] <+BenRogers> Abstuse, sure. The mechanic is a D6 based dice-pool system. Attribute + Skill provide the pool.  A "luck die" or "karma die" or whatever you want to call it can be earned for various actions and it's called a "strike die".
[19:16] <+BenRogers> I often award them for humor.  :)
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[19:17] <+BenRogers> They can be added to any pool but once used, they are used up.  We also have a rule called "three strikes and your out".,  No matter how many strike dice you have, you may burn no more than 3 at a time.
[19:17] <+BenRogers> and if you burn 3 in one roll, you empty your pool.
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[19:17] <+BenRogers> I'm, /done
[19:17] <+BenRogers> Ohhh...
[19:17] <~Dan> (Howdy, AWOLJoe!)
[19:17] <+BenRogers> Xyphoid asked about PCs....
[19:18] <+BenRogers> So, who plays in this world... the history of the world has brought two powerful cultures to a clashing point - elves and dwarg.
[19:19] <+BenRogers> Although there are dwarg merchants in the cities on the coasts of the elven lands of Vyridia, they are hardly "allies".
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[19:21] <+Ben> Well...
[19:21] <~Dan> (wb, Ben!)
[19:21] <+Ben> That was fun.
[19:21] <+Ben> How much made it through before my son decided to reset my router unannounced?
[19:21] <+ChrisFitzgerald> There are also various additional races available for PCs
[19:21] <+Ben> *sigh*
[19:22] <+Ben> The point I was trying to make about characters is that where there are conflicts and friction, there are opportunities and interesting happenings.
[19:22] <+Ben> And that gives rise to many different types of characters that can be played.
[19:22] <+Geek2theRight> "they are hardly allies."
[19:23] <+Ben> Whether exploring, trading, spying, pirating, information gathering or just earning a living! There are a myriad of things for PCs to do in the world.
[19:24] <+Ben> Would a listing of character types we use at convention games help answer the question? or have I answered it? /done
[19:24] <~Dan> That might be helpful.
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[19:24] <+Ben> Let me get my list...
[19:25] <+Bigby> Perhaps touching on the other races as well.  Like those weird ones, what were they called again?  Humans?
[19:25] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Ben do you think it would be helpful to talk about some of the other races?
[19:25] <+Ben> Vyrden Mage, Sanguine Dark Mage, Stygian Military, M'raak Mercenary, Human Shipwright, Dwarg Merchant, Human Highwayman, Kague Slayer...
[19:25] <~Dan> I think Ben should discuss the races.
[19:25] <~Dan> (I hate being left out.)
[19:25] <+ChrisFitzgerald> lol
[19:25] <+Ben> Races... :)
[19:25] <+Ben> Okay  Since it's so unanimously asked for! :)
[19:25] <+Geek2theRight> Well, you gave a list of things true of almost every setting ever. I think what we want to know is what's so compelling about this setting specifically.
[19:26] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:26] <+Ben> Elves -- obviously -- three types: Vyrden (forest), Stygian (dark) and Sanguine (blood).  Dwarg.  Humans (3 of 13 different tribes are presented), Kague (ratlings), Taurim (bisonmen), Drey (nasty little flying dudes), Windsormen (wooden men)
[19:27] <+Ben> Geek2theRight, One of the most compelling things are the differences in thinking between the races. While a lot of settings handwave why elves and dwarves don't get along, for instance, we delved into more deeply.
[19:27] <~Dan> Bisonmen. Nice.
[19:28] <+Ben> We crafted deep, cultural, philosophical, worldview differences between. These differences are fundamental to who they are.
[19:28] <+Ben> It's one thing to grow up in a society of "families" -- but how different if your entire society has no understanding of "parental relationships"?
[19:28] <+xyphoid> So would you mix elves and dwarves in a group?
[19:29] <~Dan> (Question pause, xyphoid. :) )
[19:29] <+Ben> What about a society where you don't have females -- at all?
[19:29] <+Ben> So these differences are extremely fundamental to who these people are.  They aren't "tall humans with pointy ears" or "short humans with beards" -- they are different on every level.
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[19:29] <+Ben> Then we extrapolated out those differences into their cultures and their way of life.  And that's something we really haven't seen done in other settings before.
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[19:30] <+ChrisFitzgerald> to answer Xyphoid, yes
[19:30] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords! Q&A in progress, #rpgnet2 open for general chat. :) )
[19:30] <+Ben> Compelling reasons? I can only answer why I felt compelled to write it -- because I got tired of the same old, same old, same old fantasy worlds with a slightly different skin and a few different characteristics.
[19:31] <+Ben> And we wrote a world with significant differences between the peoples.
[19:32] <+Ben> Xyphoid, yes, you can have different races in the same group. It doesn't mean they'll get along.  Nor does it mean they'll be at each other's throats.  I traveled the middle east extensively in the early 2000s.
[19:32] <+Ben> I was invited into many people's homes who *hated* my country.
[19:32] <+Alaren> are the other races, and their interactions with elves, dwargs, and one another, given the same detail that the elf/dwarg cultural clash is given?
[19:32] <+Ben> They told me repeatedly, "You are not your country.  You are a man that we like.  We don't lke what your country does."
[19:32] <+Ben> Alaren, In a word, yes.
[19:32] <+Ben> Now, some history....
[19:33] <+Ben> The elves fought a huge civil war that established the Vyrden as rulers and the Stygian as "second class citizens".
[19:33] <+Bigby> Members of two warring races working together is a pretty common fantasy trope. So Dwargs, Elves, Humans, and even Kague could be in the same party.
[19:33] <+Ben> The humans were devastated with a "blight" -- a plague -- that reduced their numbers and shattere their ability to reproduce.
[19:33] <+Ben> This same "magical virus" also creaged the Kague.
[19:34] <+Ben> Each of the races has special treatment. However, the Elves do have significant focus.
[19:34] <+Ben> The humans are probably the next most detailed. /done
[19:35] <+Abstruse> (I think Ross is rubbing off on me...) What's the adventuring paradigm of the game? What motivation does the game provide for the PCs to go out in the world?
[19:35] <+Ben> Abstruse, there are, of course, a lot of variables to that, but we focus the world on the coasts, on the ships, on the trade, on the points of contact between the cultures.
[19:35] <+Ben> We think this creates the most interesting places to start.
[19:36] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Pirates!
[19:36] <+Ben> The world is composed of a large sea with a smallish continent and many large strings of archipeligos.
[19:36] <+Ben> ElfWood has a very strong nautical/pirate influence.
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[19:37] <+Ben> So, what motivation?  Everything from "I need to rescue my gold from the hold of that ship captain over there..." to "I want to see what's on the other side of the horizon"
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[19:37] <~Dan> (Someone's having connection problems...)
[19:37] <+Ben> There are prophecies, rumors, legends and a lot of people moving from place to place bringing these "adventure seeds" to the players. /done
[19:38] <~Dan> Are there any Big Bads that are capable of uniting the Elves and Dwargs?
[19:38] <+ChrisFitzgerald> I think Elfwood plays really well to exploration, political and cultural intrigue, and mystic prophecy style quests.
[19:38] <+Ben> We really try to avoid any "metagaming" but there are "things happening in the world" that we leave open to the GMs to explore.
[19:39] <+Ben> One of them is the "great war" that looms on the horizon between the Elves and Dwarg. Another is the "thinning" of the "veil" between Lakates (the world of ElfWood) and the Shadowrealm.
[19:40] <+Ben> There are a lot of "big bads" in this world.  Not the least of which are the shadow creatures that caused the seas to become acidic.  (They are called the "Scalding Seas".)/done
[19:40] <~Dan> Are there any rampaging enemies of both the Elves and the Dwarg? Would the Orcs qualify? Are there hordes of Goblins? Trolls?
[19:41] <+Ben> There are goblins. There are trolls. There are other "things" that just want to suck all the life out of anything they encounter.  We even have Zombies, courtesy of John Goff.  :)
[19:41] <~Dan> (Just don't let him introduce trains.)
[19:42] <+Ben> The Orcs and Trolls are "cultivated" - literally - into a fighting force by the Dwarg.
[19:42] <~Dan> (A little Deadlands humor, there...)
[19:42] <~Dan> Really? That's an interesting twist.
[19:42] <+Ben> now, if you remember what I said about where an Orc comes from -- the body of an elf slain in violence -- then where would the great orcthorn forests that the dwarg use to cultivate their shocktroops come from?
[19:42] <~Dan> Battlefields.
[19:43] <+ChrisFitzgerald> or careful and brutal experimentation...
[19:43] <+Ben> All the while, the elves -- who covet the power and control that their great shipping empires provide them -- are willing to chop down their Mother Trees (essentially cutting off their connection tot heir ancestors)....
[19:44] <+Ben> ....and use the ElfWood to build the ships that can traverse the Scalding Seas without rotting to pieces.  And the ships can come alive.
[19:44] <~Dan> So you're saying that Elves are some bad mother choppers.
[19:44] <+Ben> Yes, indeed.
[19:44] <+ChrisFitzgerald> rotfl
[19:45] <+Ben> The lifecycle of the trees are such that in the early years they grow great numbers of Vyrden fruit and in their waning years they produce great numbers of Stygian root-pods...
[19:45] <~Dan> So are all the seas of the Scalding sort? And if so, are they lifeless?
[19:45] <+Ben> ...but the Vyrden keep the populations of the Stygian in check by chopping down the great trees, making ships out of them, and then starting the development of completely new Mother Tree cities every few hundred years.
[19:45] <+ChrisFitzgerald> scalding, yes - lifeless, no
[19:45] <+Ben> Exactly.
[19:46] <+Ben> The life has "adapted" to a much more harsh environment -- it is much more badass.
[19:46] <+ChrisFitzgerald> all of the seas are deadly, acidic and caustic
[19:46] <+ChrisFitzgerald> but there are still freshwater streams, rivers and lakes
[19:46] <+Ben> And the live in those acidic, caustic seas seeks any "cheap, easy meal" it can find.
[19:47] <+Ben> sailors.
[19:47] <+Bigby> If I recall some humans have adapted to the Scalding Seas much better than the elves have.
[19:47] <+ChrisFitzgerald> yes indeed
[19:47] <~Dan> Hmmm... So the Elves have their living ships that can survive the Scalding Seas, and the Dwarg have ironclads, IIRC?
[19:47] <+Ben> The humans live on driftcolonies and have adapted to live *with* the seas.
[19:48] <+Ben> Yes.  Dwarg use iron-clads and a ceramic/glass hull system.  Wood on the scalding seas is like wax to a flame...
[19:48] <+ChrisFitzgerald> the dwarg actually use forms of ceramic and glass in addition to metals
[19:49] <+Ben> Dwarg also use firearms, cannon, etc.  Where the elves use ballista, catapult, trebuchet.  However, imagine a ballista bolt that hits and delivers a magical payload.
[19:49] <~Dan> So... do humans have ships?
[19:50] <+ChrisFitzgerald> One of those points of contrast Ben was talking about before shows up in the technology vs. magic approach of dwarg to elves.  Neither culture has n exclusive use of one or the other, but the trend is definitely reminiscent of the industrial revolution.
[19:50] <+Ben> Humans have ships, yes -- but made of the bounty of the seas.  They also have tamed many of the creatures, so they ride dolphins, orca, etc.
[19:50] <~Dan> How are they able to ride something that's swimming in acid?
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[19:51] <+Ben> One of the human driftcolonies is made from the giant shell of a massive sea turtle.  And they have rafts made from the shells of smaller turtles.  They weave sharkskin and have cultivated means of producing various protections from the acidic waters.
[19:51] <+ChrisFitzgerald> by wearing suits made of the inner intestinal lining of deep sea creatures harvested from the seas
[19:51] <+ChrisFitzgerald> For the humans, think 'scavenger tech'
[19:51] <+Ben> "acidic" not "acid".  Humans have adapted and have a trait called "scalded" that allows them to ignore the effects of the seas.
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[19:52] <+Ben> Imagine something akin to battery acid.
[19:52] <+Ben> It scalds the skin. Rots the clothing. Eats away at things.
[19:52] <~Dan> So what would a pirate ship be?
[19:52] <+Ben> But, your flesh won't be melted off your bones from contact.
[19:53] <+ChrisFitzgerald> I think a good comparison for the humans is to think of the Fremen from Dune - adapted nomadic bad-asses.
[19:53] <+Ben> Wooden ships last "a few years" -- so a starting pirate might have a smallish ship that they can take out of the water when not in active use.
[19:53] <+Ben> they might acquire some ElfWood, or steal some of the Dwarg tech -- or have a conglmeration of all of it.
[19:54] <~Dan> But the sad fact of the matter is that all of the Humans are on acid.
[19:54] <+Ben> Chris, that's a good comparison, since they were modeled after the Hebrews in the middle east and our humans are based on a hebrew motif, as well.
[19:54] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Thanks Ben
[19:55] <~Dan> (Sorry. I'm in a goofy mood this evening. :) )
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[19:55] <+Ben> Only one in 10 human females can reproduce.  And the ones who can't are called "nomen".  The ones who can?  Well, they are "protected" since they represent the survivability of the race.
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[19:55] <+Ben> "this" evening? O_o
[19:55] <+Ben> ;)
[19:55] <~Dan> How would you describe the "median" tech level of the setting, insofar as there is such a thing?
[19:55] <~Dan> (Fair cop, Ben. ;) )
[19:56] <+Ben> It's essentially "renaissance" level technology.  But, a lot of things are made with "ironwood" that we used metal for in our world. Vyridia is light on mineral wealth. And they eschew mining. As the dominant culture, this carries over most of the world.
[19:57] <+Abstruse> So what are lifespans like? Dwarg, Orcs, and Elves all reproduce asexually and oddly, while humans can't reproduce at our normal rates.
[19:57] <+Ben> The arrival of the huge metal ships of the Dwarg is almost an affront in itself.
[19:57] <~Dan> So firearms are made from wood?
[19:57] <+Ben> Another bone of contention between the Elves and Dwarg. /done
[19:57] <+ChrisFitzgerald> I'd say the technology is early victorian, right on the verge of total technological revolution
[19:57] <+Ben> The barrels aren't. But, most everything else.
[19:57] <+Ben> And some barrels might be wooden.  But, that would be most for pneumatic weapons.
[19:58] <+Abstruse> I think they made a wooden cannon on Mythbusters.
[19:58] <~Dan> Early Victorian? Hmmm... Pepperbox revolvers?
[19:58] <+Ben> Also, sap -- hardened -- is also a major player in the world.
[19:58] <+Bigby> A technological revolution that may not come if the world descends into total war...
[19:58] <+Ben> Knives, arrowheads - even "walking stones" -- are made from it.
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[19:58] <+Ben> Dan, abso-elven-lutely!
[19:59] <~Dan> Really? Cool!
[19:59] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Abstruse - dwarg and elven lifespans tend to be long, humans, taurim and kague tend to be shorter.
[19:59] <+Bigby> I like the sap armor.  Has to be custom made though.
[19:59] <+Ben> One of our Gen Con characters carries a double-barrel, flint-lock "hand cannon".
[19:59] <+Bigby> I played her.
[19:59] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[19:59] <+Ben> Sap is such a universally cool element.
[19:59] <+Bigby> She also had a number of throwing knives.
[20:00] <~Dan> I know you said that Elven ships don't use cannons, but do Elves use firearms?
[20:00] <+Ben> It can be made into thin sheets, woven, hardened into blades, made into blocks and bricks, no need for concrete and it all grows on trees.
[20:00] <+Ben> As a culture, no. Individuals?  Abso-elven-lutely!
[20:01] <+Ben> The elves also delve into primitive "genetic engineering" and have created the half-elf race -- have human, half elf.  They generate magic power -- but can't use it.
[20:01] <+Abstruse> How big is the world in terms of population and landmass?
[20:01] <+Ben> They are used as "batteries" for the "horde mages" that tap them for power.
[20:01] <~Dan> So the Elves are the Matrix machines.
[20:02] <+Ben> Abstruse, we focus on about 1/4 of a planet the size of earth. Half of the norther hemisphere. Rough equivalent of Europe, North America and the Atlantic -- with a huge landmass in the middle.
[20:02] <+Ben> As far as population...  100 - 200 million worldwide.
[20:03] <+Ben> Dan, not sure what you mean?
[20:03] <+Abstruse> Is that the only landmass on the planet? I know you mentioned a large ocean.
[20:03] <~Dan> Well, in terms of using an entire race as batteries.
[20:04] <+Ben> Imagine Earth.  Plop a continent with a bunch of islands in the middle of the atlantic. That's Vyridia. "Europe" is where the Dwarg are. "Africa" is where the Kague are.  "North America" is where the Taurim are from.
[20:04] <+Ben> We haven't expanded into any of hte other territories ... yet.  ;) /done
[20:04] <+Ben> Dan, got it! :)
[20:04] <~Dan> :)
[20:05] <+Ben> Sort of yes.  The Horde Mages are the machines of the Matrix.
[20:05] * ~Dan nods
[20:05] <~Dan> How prevalent are monsters in the setting?
[20:06] <+Ben> Everything from "nasty little things that wander through the woods" to "massive terrokon that are building gateways into the shadowrealm".  Prevalent.
[20:06] <+Ben> Many legends of oddities at sea, as well.
[20:06] <+Ben> Lots of room for any kind of "horror" elements that any GM would want to include. And we supply a good mix of things ourselves. /done
[20:06] <+ChrisFitzgerald> not to mention the really freaky stuff coming out of the Shadowrealm
[20:06] <+Ben> Chris, bingo.
[20:07] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Void krakens - shiver...
[20:07] <+Ben> We used Cthulhu mythos as a basis for a lot of our thoughts on the Shadowrealm.  Aside from the primary author, the shadowrealm stuff is also being written by Sean Preston and Cynthia Miller -- both avid cthulhu afficianados.
[20:08] <+Ben> Oh, and /done
[20:08] <+Ben> :)
[20:08] <+Ben> Do you know Sean Preston and Cynthia Miller?
[20:08] <~Dan> Well, I certainly know the latter. :)
[20:09] <+Ben> Sean wrote "tremulus" -- a Cthulhu mythos game.  And Cynthia Miller wrote "Macabre Tales" -- also a Cthulhu mythos game.
[20:09] <~Dan> Assuming her middle name is Celeste. :)
[20:09] <+Ben> Indeed.  the one and the same. :)
[20:09] <+Ben> Eddy Webb, of White Wolf writing fame, is writing up our Kague and Taurim.
[20:10] <~Dan> So are Shadowrealm creatures mindless horrors? Alien intelligences?
[20:10] <+Ben> And Robin Laws is writing a lot of our legends of the sea.
[20:10] <+ChrisFitzgerald> both Dan
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[20:10] <+Ben> Dan, It's a good mix
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[20:10] <+Ben> Some of them are simply mindless "I sense life and I kill it and suck it dry" and some are thoughtful, calculating, alien intelligences that like to offer their "services" in exchange for the souls of others that you bring to them.
[20:11] <+Ben> Everything from innocuous little things that seduce you to massive, spiky, screetching things, to "demonic" entities that blight your soul. /done
[20:11] <~Dan> Really? Robin Laws? Color me impressed!
[20:11] <+Ben> Yes, Robin Laws is on board.  I have his material in hand already, in fact.
[20:12] <~Dan> Man... How'd you manage to snag that Living Legend? :)
[20:12] <+Ben> Sheer luck.  And timing.
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[20:12] <+Ben> I happened to approach him when he had a break in his schedule and wanted to tackle something unique and different.  I pitched ElfWood and he said, "Oooh, I like."  :)
[20:13] <+Ben> Well, maybe not those *exact* words... ;)
[20:13] <~Dan> Awesome. :)
[20:13] <+Ben> But, he liked what I suggested, he had time in his calender. /done
[20:14] <~Dan> You might want to ping CJ Carella as well, if you have need. I have it on good authority that he's getting back into the gaming biz...
[20:14] <+Ben> I am ever so grateful to have a luminary like Robin Laws on our writing team. ):
[20:14] <+Ben> :)
[20:14] <+Ben> That was not supposed to be a frown up there....
[20:15] <+Ben> Interestingly, I talked to a couple of others -- names I am not going to drop, but let me tell you, your jaw would drop -- and they reluctantly begged off but asked me to pitch future ideas to them.
[20:15] <+Ben> I have two that have asked me to talk to them this summer.
[20:16] <~Dan> Very cool. And yeah, I can relate. I've had people's jaws drop when they see who I've had in here. They ask me how I got them. I say, "I... asked them?" :)
[20:16] <~Dan> (Including Robin D. Laws, as it happens. :) )
[20:16] <+Ben> Basically, that's it.  I sent a request. They responded.  We chatted a bit.  They told me their schedule and expressed interest in something in the future (or, in Robin's case, he had time in his calendar).
[20:17] <+Ben> It's like the beautiful woman in the club that goes home alone because no one has the courage to just ask her to dance.
[20:17] <~Dan> So the setting seems fairly bleak. (Which makes sense, because, dark fantasy.) Is there room for Big Damn Heroes?
[20:17] <+Ben> I think the bleak world makes it ripe for "big damn heroes"  This world ain't gonna save itself!
[20:18] <+Ben> I see ElfWood as Middlearth just before the great war.  It's dark -- but the heroes are there.
[20:18] <+Ben> It's Star Wars -- with the rebel alliance facing off against the *GALACTIC* empire.  It is the time for big damn heroes!
[20:19] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Yeah that was part of what excited me in the first place - the idea of heroes really standing out in contrast to the darkness of the world itself.
[20:19] <~Dan> Well, I'd see the difference there as being the existence of "good" kingdoms waiting to be rallied in Middle-earth. The kingdoms of ElfWood seem fairly unpleasant. :)
[20:19] <+Ben> I also like that the world looks so green and full of life -- hiding such dark, dismal, shadows.
[20:20] <+Ben> Yes, but we haven't really talked about 10 of the 13 tribes of humans or the Taurim.  :)
[20:20] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Dan - agreed.  That's part of what makes it so neat IMO.
[20:20] <~Dan> Oh? Are they the "good guys", generally speaking?
[20:20] <+Ben> Yes, the Elves are bleak. The Dwarg are oppressive.  The Kague are downright ... not right! And the Drey are vicious.
[20:21] <+Ben> The humans are not perfect -- but within them is the spark of salvation for this world.
[20:21] <+Ben> And the Taurim are really "gentle giants" who provide the "backup".
[20:21] <+Ben> Not saying you can't play a ravening, murderous Taurim. But that's not the stereotype.
[20:22] <+Ben> We like to present every *individual* as able to make the choices for themselves. On an individual basis, no member of any race is *determined* to be dark.  Those are personal choices.
[20:22] <+Ben> And whether the choice is to enslave others through economic might or physical power -- that's still a personal choice to do that.
[20:23] <+Ben> Even our Orcs have the "spark" of salvation within them.
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[20:23] <+Ben> Basically, if a player can play the race, then we think there's "hope" for that race.  (You'll note that the Trolls are *not* playable.) ;)
[20:23] <+Ben> Oh, and /done
[20:23] <&Silverlion> Always a good thing to have hope.
[20:23] <+MonkofLords> Quite
[20:24] <+Ben> Hope is what creates the light -- but the fact that you have to struggle to make that light shine provides the conflict that makes the world interesting.
[20:24] <&Silverlion> Did y'all cover magic?
[20:24] <+Ben> We discussed it briefly.
[20:25] <~Dan> A bit. Can you give a quick recap, Ben?
[20:25] <&Silverlion> Darn it missed it.
[20:25] <+Ben> There are three kinds: Shard (subtle), Blood (loud) and Shadowmagic (corrupting).
[20:25] <&Silverlion> I can read it later...:D
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[20:25] <~Dan> But you might have questions now. :)
[20:25] <+Ben> The creation myth involves the "shards" that were spread around the world.  Like dust.
[20:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, Aincumis! Q&A in progress, #rpgnet2 open for general chat. :) )
[20:25] <+Ben> Some of the shards "take root" in people or things -- and that gives them a lot more power, literally flowing through their veins (blood magic).
[20:26] <+Ben> Others just have a touch of it (shard magic).
[20:26] <+Ben> And others bargain for power with the denizens of the shadowlands and garner shadowmagic.
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[20:27] <+Ben> Some races have embraced certain magics -- like the Sanguine (blood) elves embracing shadowmagic.
[20:27] <+Ben> Others try to blend it with technology (dwarg).
[20:27] <+Ben> There are also "miracles" -- the humans of the west (not the nomadic, sea-faring humans -- the 13th tribe) have a religion that provides them the use of miracles.
[20:27] <&Silverlion> Seems disengenuous tgat Blood elves use shadow not blood :D
[20:28] <+Ben> Some of the Taurim have access to it because of their close association./done
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[20:28] <+Ben> They garnered their name not for their choice in magic -- but for their "fall" from the trees.  They no longer reproduce with the trees, but "breed like animals" -- and the elves called them "Sanguine" (bloody) elves
[20:29] <+ChrisFitzgerald> or 'Seedless'
[20:29] <+Ben> Sanguine also embrace the sensuality of the flesh in other ways, and this sensuality is anathema to the stoic elven traditions.
[20:29] <~Dan> Speaking of miracles... I read in the Sixcess core rules that all Sixcess worlds are monotheistic. How does that manifest in ElfWood?
[20:30] <&Silverlion> Yeah, I know that much.
[20:30] <+Ben> Sixcess provides rules and mechanics for playing monotheistic views, yes.
[20:30] <+Ben> In ElfWood, there is a pantheon of *real* and *powerful* beings that are worshipped as gods.
[20:31] <+Ben> However, there is one God -- called the Creator -- in ElfWood. And all "miracles" originate from the Creator.  The power given from the pantheon is Shadowmagic.
[20:31] <+Ben> Which hints strongly at their origin. /done
[20:31] <~Dan> So all of the... pagan?... gods are ultimately demonic?
[20:32] <+ChrisFitzgerald> I think a good comparison there is the mythology of the Silmarillion - there is an ultimate creator, who is somewhat lost to the depths of time, and then there are other beings that represent god-like archetypes but are really more like powerful agencies.
[20:32] <+Ben> If you mean "pagan" in the sense of "gods of the people" -- then yes.
[20:33] <~Dan> Interesting.
[20:33] <+Ben> And,just because they are "from the shadow" doesn't mean they are ravening, slathering, ugly things bent on world domination.
[20:33] <~Dan> Is that 13th tribe of Humans you mentioned the only group that worships the Creator?
[20:33] <+Ben> Some of them are very kind, loving, peaceful, etc.
[20:34] <+Ben> The 13th tribe were given "stewardship" over the great temple. They have been quietly maintaining it all these years and were spared the "blight" that reduced the rest of the humans to "non-productive" states.
[20:34] <+Ben> They are, in a sense, the "salvation" of the human race -- physically and spiritually.
[20:35] <+Ben> Using the same "comparing earth to Lakates" as before, the "great temple" is located in about "Mexico city".
[20:36] <+Ben> I don't know of a way to share a map, so... I can only make allusions. /done
[20:36] <~Dan> Are the Elf (Vrydan?) and Dwarg cultures monolithic empires?
[20:37] <+Ben> The Dwarg are built on a fascist motif.
[20:37] <+Ben> The Vyrden on a feudal/corporate motif.
[20:37] <+Ben> The Dwarg are united and have a collectivist society.
[20:37] <+Ben> The Vyrden have "tree-states" and siloed power.
[20:38] <+Ben> In fact, it isn't until the Dwarg breach their lines and slaughter a Mother Tree that the Vyrden are able to set aside their rivalries and unite as a people (but that's in the future). ;)
[20:38] <+Ben> It's hard to walk a line of a living story and not provide a meta-plot.
[20:38] <+ChrisFitzgerald> One of the key features of Vyrden culture is that while it is the dominant one in Lakates, the civilization is also fragmented and divisive.
[20:39] <+Ben> So, we try to tell the whole story -- and then set the game before a lot of the events occur  --- and let the GM know where it's going so he can play it as he sees fit.
[20:39] <~Dan> The dwarves of Glorantha, the Mostali, see themselves as part of a machine and see individualistic dwarves as "broken". Is there something similar at play here with the Dwarg?
[20:40] <+Ben> We used a national socialist pattern to create the society fo the Dwarg.  Their leader is even named "Aedolph".
[20:40] <~Dan> Heh. Man. You're hardcore. :)
[20:40] <+Ben> So, the state is everything to them and the individual is nothing -- yet strong individuals that achieve great things are honored and elevated to demi-god status.
[20:41] <+Ben> There is also another thing at work with the Dwarg...
[20:41] <+Ben> Recall that they are "of the earth".
[20:41] * ~Dan nods
[20:41] <+Ben> When they come to Vyridia and establish a "trading presence" in some of the coastal cities, they also build their "temples/bathhouses".
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[20:41] <~Dan> So... they have no souls...?
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[20:42] <~Dan> (wb, Song- n/m.)
[20:42] <+Ben> Thus, the Dwarg who arise from the Vyridian soil are ... different ... than those who arise from the "fatherland".
[20:42] <+Ben> On the contrary, they have souls.
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[20:43] <+Ben> And when the children of the soils of Vyridia are faced with a choice -- they are much less determined to blindly follow the guidance of the fatherland.
[20:43] <~Dan> They do Nazi the point?
[20:43] <+Ben> Oh, man, THAT was bad. *tosses a strike die*
[20:43] <~Dan> :D
[20:43] <+ChrisFitzgerald> oh wow Dan - you are in the zone tonight
[20:43] * ~Dan bows
[20:43] <~Dan> I live there, baby. ;)
[20:44] <+ChrisFitzgerald> :-)
[20:44] <+Ben> The real horror in all of this, however,is not the "nazi" dwarg.  It's not the fragmented elves.  It's not the seduction of the shadow.
[20:44] <+Ben>'s the Kague.
[20:44] <~Dan> The rat critters?
[20:44] <+Ben> They breed like ... rats.
[20:44] <+Ben> They eat anything ... like rats.
[20:44] <+Xilanqui> Die Die Man-thing?
[20:44] <+Ben> They are chaotic ... as rats.
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[20:45] <+Ben> And the only thing that holds them back is their inability to unite.
[20:45] <&Silverlion> I can see some problems...I suspect people will bring up.
[20:45] <+Ben> ...but there are rumors that the Food Chain (their information network) and the Plague Rats (their assassin guild) are working under the guidance of a single, charistmatic and uniting individual.
[20:46] <+Ben> And that "organization" and "unity" are forming amongst them.
[20:46] <+Ben> Sliverlion, problems with the Kague?
[20:47] <&Silverlion> If the nazi analogs aren't the worst bad guy. People are going to contstrue that your glorifying nazism.
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[20:48] <&Silverlion> The fact that Jews were often treated like vermin in NAzi propagand and a race of vermin are "worse" than your nazi analogs? That may not fair well in certain circles.
[20:48] <+Ben> I sincerely doubt it.  Firstly, we never make any direct allusion to nazi-ism in any way. We only use the collectivist, statism motif of the german regime in the 1940s as a motif.
[20:48] <~Dan> (Welcome, Guest13!)
[20:49] <&Silverlion> I hope no one draws that conclusion, but *shrugs* people are strange.
[20:49] <+Ben> Secondly, just because something is evil does not make it "more good" simply because there is something even more evil.
[20:49] <&Silverlion> True that.
[20:49] <~Dan> I think Sil may have a point, although I do hope he's wrong.
[20:49] <+Ben> And our dwarg never attempt genocide (except in their direct war against the elves).
[20:50] <~Dan> Taking Offense(TM) has become a cottage industry all its own, it seems.
[20:50] <+Ben> The Kague, however, want to *literally* eat everyone else.
[20:50] <&Silverlion> Yeah. I hope I'm wrong too. Seriously. Its just a gut feeling I have.
[20:50] * ~Dan nods
[20:51] <~Dan> Oh -- so while, as always, you're welcome to chat as long as you like, we've about 10 minutes left in "regular time". Is there anything you'd like to bring up that we haven't covered?
[20:51] <+Ben> Some people want to play "happy fun time" in the RPG sessions.  And they're welcome to do so.  Playing in one of our worlds and wanting "happy fun time" are probably anathema....
[20:51] <~Dan> (And if not... Are there dragons?)
[20:51] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Oh my goodness yes there are dragons.
[20:51] <+Ben> Oh, there are "dragons".  We have one called a "terrokon" that is ... deliciously nasty.  :)
[20:52] <+ChrisFitzgerald> But not your grand-dad's dragons.
[20:52] <+Bigby> I didn't know the back story on the Kague before.  I know one was a character in the GenCon sample characters.  Are they going to remain a playable race?
[20:52] <+Ben> He has a consort (a terrokir) and she tries to seduce *anyone* -- and he is *terribly* jealous.  (And can't see through the fact that she's 100 times as large as a human and it's quite impossible.)
[20:53] <+Bigby> And if so, what makes Trolls so bad that they will not be playable while the Kague that want to eat the whole world are?
[20:53] <+Ben> Bigby, yes.  They are playable.  Because we believe that if it's playable, then it has a chance at redemption and just because it came from "evil" roots does not determine it to be "evil". :)
[20:53] <+Bigby> So are trolls "monsters" not sentients?
[20:54] <~Dan> So just because you're a Kague doesn't mean that you're a degeneRat?
[20:54] <+Ben> Trolls are, essentially, a "dead end" gentetically.  While the Kague have potential to be more than theyare.
[20:54] <+Ben> Exactly, Dan.
[20:54] <+Ben> Trolls are somewhat "predetermined" to be what they are.  They are, essentially, walking fungus, after all. ;)
[20:55] <+Ben> Bigby, trolls have "rudimentary" intelligence -- but are more monster than sentient. (Though they can think, talk, carry out orders, etc.)
[20:55] <+Bigby> Got it.
[20:55] <&Silverlion> Myrk...rabid meat puppets...
[20:56] <+Ben> Rabid mushroom puppets. ;)
[20:56] <+Ben> (And, we *might* make them playable in the future.  We're still discussing just how much of a "dead end" they are.)
[20:56] <~Dan> They're mushrooms?
[20:56] <+Ben> They are, essentially, yes.
[20:57] <~Dan> Wow. 'Shrooms. Acid. Lots of drug imagery in this game!
[20:57] <+Ben> They grow from a "mother stump" -- a giant mushroom-like thing.  And they release "spores" -- especially when they are struck.
[20:57] <+ChrisFitzgerald> There's a great piece of art for the book of a fungal troll bloom - one of my favorites.
[20:57] <~Dan> That's pretty cool. :)
[20:57] <+Ben> And the spores take root anywhere there is rotting vegetation and darkness.
[20:58] <+Ben> There are three primary forms of trolls: Trollocs, trollkin and trolls.
[20:58] <+Ben> And the are cannibalistic.
[20:58] <+Ben> A troll would think nothing of grabbing a trolloc and eating it.
[20:59] <+Ben> *considers* drug imagery?
[20:59] <+Ben> Hmmmm...
[20:59] <+Ben> That gives me an idea... ;)
[20:59] <~Dan> (Again, goofy mood.)
[20:59] <~Dan> (But whatever works! :) )
[20:59] <+Ben> Hey, if LOTR can have "long bottom leaf" that seems to be likened to pot, why not? ;)
[20:59] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Eflwood...or Elfweed?
[21:00] <+Ben> LOL
[21:00] <+Ben> I see a version of the game in the future for our "RashHilarities" spinoff... ;)
[21:00] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:00] <+Ben> So, I'm curious...
[21:01] <+Ben> All those names on the right. Are those people "watching"? Or not logged on?
[21:01] <~Dan> We tend to have more than our share of lurkers who may or may not be paying attention.
[21:01] <+Yalborap> We're here.
[21:01] <+Dritz> I'm totally not paying attention
[21:01] <+Ben> I was just curious.  It's a pretty big list of folks. :)
[21:02] <~Dan> Indeed. :)
[21:02] <+Dritz> probably a lot of us have client setups that let us stay online 24/7 though :p
[21:02] <+Ben> Dritz, I greatly appreciate your inattention. ;)
[21:02] <&Silverlion> Most of them are undead and they logged in long ago, but now onlysit and stare at the blinking lights
[21:02] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:03] <+Ben> That gives me an idea for our FunkPunk minisetting! LOL
[21:03] <&Silverlion> Alright, I'm going to read. Later all.
[21:03] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Everything gives you an idea for something - that's what makes you such a good product manager!
[21:03] <+ChrisFitzgerald> ;-)
[21:03] <~Dan> Can you continue to hang out with us, or do you need to run, Ben?
[21:03] <+Ben> Chris, you are far too kind.
[21:04] <+Ben> However, my kids take the cake when they created super heroes who could shoot icecream and each flavor did somthing different....
[21:04] <+Ben> I should go and spend time with my family.  My wife thinks she cracked a rib a couple days ago and is currently sprawled on the bed...
[21:05] <~Dan> Fair enough. I shall have the chat logged and posted momentarily. :)
[21:05] <~Dan> Sorry to hear about the wife, though. :
[21:05] <~Dan> :(
[21:05] <+Ben> Oh, last thing...  If anyone is in Kansas City, we'll be at the KC Game Fair this weekend running 10 events.
[21:05] <+Dritz> hunh, that'd actually be nearby me
[21:05] <+Dritz> wasn't aware there was a game fair coming up
[21:06] <+Ben> It's at the Hilton by the airport.
[21:06] <~Dan> Oh, speaking of which, Ben: Feel free to organize online demo games in here if you like.
[21:06] <+Ben> Ren will be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I'll be there Saturday and Sunday.
[21:06] <+Ben> Y'know, I was thinking about that...  I wanted to try a Skype game, never done it before.
[21:07] <+Ben> Dan, many thanks for inviting me to talk again.  As always, I greatly enjoyed it and I was honored for you to spend time listening to my ravings. :)
[21:07] <~Dan> Our pleasure. :)
[21:08] <~Dan> Have a great evening!
[21:08] <+Ben> And, Chris, did you introduce yourself?
[21:08] <+Bigby> Good to see ya Ben.
[21:08] <+Ben> Do they know who you are?
[21:08] <~Dan> We do not!
[21:08] <+MonkofLords> No idea!
[21:08] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Nope, just the chatty weird guy.
[21:08] <+ChrisFitzgerald> :-)
[21:08] <~Dan> He's an enigma!
[21:08] <+MonkofLords> Nifty
[21:08] <+Ben> Chris has agreed to assist us in our endeavors with ElfWood.  He has written a good chunk of it and accepted the role as "Line Developer". :)
[21:09] <+ChrisFitzgerald> bows
[21:09] <~Dan> Cool! Congrats, Chris!
[21:09] <+Ben> Chris really impressed us with some of his suggestions early on.  We met at Gen Con, we felt a "kinship" and it grew from there.
[21:09] <~Dan> Chris, as Ben knows, game company folks are always welcome to hang out with us and discuss their products. Or just hang out. :)
[21:09] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Thanks!   It's been great fun and I'm looking forward to getting the completed product out there.
[21:09] <~Dan> So please don't be a stranger!
[21:10] <+MonkofLords> Gen-Con is the place
[21:10] <+Ben> After awhile, we asked if he liked floggings and regular beatings while being dragged over hot coals.  When he said, "only if I can pay you to do it!" we knew we found the right guy!
[21:10] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Thanks Dan
[21:11] <+Ben> In all seriousness, Chris has awesome ideas, great writing talent and can take the lead on ElfWood while we finish out Promised Sands and get Extraordinary Voyages out of her berth.
[21:11] <+Bigby> Nice to meet you Chris
[21:12] <+ChrisFitzgerald> [blushes]
[21:12] <~Dan> Think you'll hang out with us in the future, Chris? :)
[21:12] <+ChrisFitzgerald> Absolutely
[21:12] <~Dan> Excellent. :)
[21:12] <+Ben> And one last introduction, Bigby has helped us immeasurably with our errata for Sixcess Core.  Of all our editors, he has found the most items needed update and our Sixcess Core 1.1 is soon to be released.
[21:13] <~Dan> Bigby's a cool guy. :)
[21:13] <+Bigby> Awe Shucks
[21:13] <+Ben> He is a damned lunatic at finding all the things that we knew we had right and need fixing.  ;)
[21:14] <+Ben> Every time I see his email in my box,I have to look in the mirror and say, "I'm not a complete failure, I'm not a complete failure"... ;)
[21:14] <+Bigby> I am a pain for small press games.  There is one company that stopped answering my rules question emails...
[21:14] <+Ben> (Which is the mark of a *GREAT* editor, btw!)
[21:14] <~Dan> :)
[21:14] <+Bigby> Just keep sending me stuff to proofread.
[21:14] <+ChrisFitzgerald> On that note, my wife is also requesting my attention.  It was a pleasure getting to chat with all of you - I look forward to more opportunities in the future!
[21:14] <~Dan> Talk to you soon, Chris!
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[21:14] <+Ben> Lastly....
[21:15] <+Ben> Invasion of the Fourth Reich to be released in a couple weeks.  Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales to be announced soon.  ElfWood on Kickstarter as soon as they approve it.
[21:15] <+Ben> And with that, my final thanks, Dan.  Have a great night! :)
[21:16] <+Bigby> IofFR is a fun little setting.
[21:16] <~Dan> You too! :)
[21:16] <+Bigby> Nazis always make good bad guys.  Not sure how much else I'm allowed to say.
[21:16] <+Ben> Say all you like, Bigby.
[21:17] <+Ben> It's fun to shoot nazi invaders. ;)
[21:17] <+Bigby> Especially when they are dimension hopping Nazis with gauss-tech!
[21:18] <+Ben> Yeah...  I remember the first time I introduced my gaming group to these guys.  It was a lot of fun! :)
[21:19] <+Ben> Okay, I'm scooting.  :)  Later, all. :)
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