Tuesday, February 18, 2014

[Q&A] K. David Ladage (Arcanum)

[19:02] <+KDLadage> Hi. My name is K. David Ladage. I am just this guy, ya know?
[19:02] <+KDLadage> I am a role-playing from way back (started with Red Box D&D back in 1978-1979).
[19:02] <+KDLadage> I have played a lot of RPGs over the years. My favorites were the ones that kep things relatively simple -- Classic Traveller being a good one.
[19:03] <+KDLadage> Back in the mid 1980s, after the whole 'steam tunnels' thing in Michigan, I had my life turned upside down as my mother decided that all that RPG stuff was the devil's work.
[19:03] <+KDLadage> That was when, while at my local book store, I noticed this cool game with a black cover and a giant red pentagram on the cover. My first thought was 'gotta get me a copy of that.'
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[19:04] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian!)
[19:04] <+KDLadage> The Arcanum (second edition) was a great little game. But after time, I migrated over into other 'more serious' games. GURPS became my game of choice for many, many years.

[19:05] <+KDLadage> A while back, with the passing og E. Gary Gygax, I pulled out some of my old D&D books and ran a short campaign in the 'Keep on the Borderlands' module. A lot of fun -- all in tribute to a giant.
[19:05] <&Editor> I thank my mother a lot for not giving into that scare--despite her beliefs. :D
[19:06] <+KDLadage> After that, I started thinking about what I wanted in a role playing game. I started returning to my roots. I spent some time playing Basic D&D (BECMI) and the like. Amazing, actually, how much was there -- how much freedom that has been stripped from a lot of the later games, including the latest incarnations of D&D.
[19:06] <+KDLadage> Anyway, I was toying about with different games when came upon a copy of the Arcanum again. It was like a flood of memories coming back.
[19:07] <&Editor> (Yay! BECMI!)
[19:08] <+KDLadage> I did some research and contacted Steve Sechi. We spoke for a while... and worked out a deal for me to buy the Arcanum. I own the rights to all three major editions -- text and artwork. I do not, however,own the rights to the two follow-on books.
[19:08] <+KDLadage> The three books that make up the old Atlantean Trilogy were Arcanum, Bestiary, and Lexicon. Bestiary and Lexicon had been sold some time before I got in touch with Steve.
[19:09] <+KDLadage> I contacted the owner of that material (you guys have had him as a guest recently) and we spoke.
[19:09] <+KDLadage> I have to say... I have spoken to this man exactly one time... possibly the nicest single human being I have come in contact with.
[19:09] <+KDLadage> We decided that our boundary was simple -- it does not exist.
[19:10] <+KDLadage> He is free to do with the setting what he wants. Anything that appears in those two books he can use, even if they are included in the Arcanum.
[19:10] <+KDLadage> The opposite is also true. I am free to do what I want with Arcanum... and where that overlaps Atlantis... so be it.
[19:11] <+KDLadage> I looked over the Arcanum and decided to take it beyond Atlantis. I wanted it to be much easier to use it as a 'settingless' system. Make it applicable across many forms of role playing.
[19:11] <&Editor> Jerry Grayson is awesome.
[19:11] <+KDLadage> So Atlantis is being stripped from the core rules (and yes, Jerry is amazing).
[19:12] <+KDLadage> Atlantis will exist in the first Appendix as a 'this is how the first incarnations were handled' -- but references to it as a rule are removed from the main text.
[19:12] <+KDLadage> After I had some outlines, thoughts, and internal guidance... I started a Kickstarter. That was... humbling.
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[19:13] <+KDLadage> I wanted to get help with the costs of getting a ISBN and the like. What I got was a $6100 response to a $500 problem. :)
[19:14] <+KDLadage> A lot of people, it would seem, recall with fondness this quirky little game. A game that could not (at times) decide if it was a full RPG system, or a set of optional rules for AD&D.
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[19:15] <+KDLadage> The Arcanum has some (major) flaws. Some of which are artifacts of this split-personality; others are artifacts of an age pre-Desktop Publishing.
[19:15] <+KDLadage> But it has heart, and an internal beauty that I smile at daily as I tear through the text getting it ready.
[19:15] <+KDLadage> And that, is my story of how I cam to own a piece of RPG history.
[19:15] <+KDLadage> (done)
[19:15] <~Dan> Thanks, KDLadage!
[19:15] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:16] <+xyphoid_> man, I remember reading a review of these books in white dwarf in 198x
[19:16] <~Dan> Before I forget, would you like to link to the Kickstarter?
[19:16] <+KDLadage> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159628170/the-arcanum-30th-anniversary-edition)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159628170/the-arcanum-30th-anniversary-edition
[19:16] <+KDLadage> Also...
[19:16] <&Editor> Are you doing your own system?
[19:17] <+KDLadage> http:\\(Link: http://www.zila-games.com)www.zila-games.com
[19:17] <&Editor> I wish I'd known earlier I'd have Kickstarted it--well, if it happaned at the right time :D
[19:17] <+KDLadage> For the 3th Anniversary... this is the system presented in the first three editions. It is cleaned up, polished, corrected in places, fleshed out where it needs to be... but at its heart, it remains the same system.
[19:18] <+KDLadage> 30th... sorry -- fant fingering a lot right now.
[19:18] <+KDLadage> :)
[19:18] <+KDLadage> fat fingering.
[19:18] <~Dan> Can you describe the system?
[19:18] <+KDLadage> dang.
[19:18] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:18] <~Dan> (Also, do you happen to have a character sheet we can see?)
[19:18] <+KDLadage> Arcanum is, like a lot of games from the 80s, a direct descendant of D&D.
[19:19] <+KDLadage> Although this simple line comes with far more baggage than it likely fair.
[19:19] <+KDLadage> Arcanum has eight attributes, which are not randomly assigned. You have a pool of points to spend on attributes.
[19:19] <+KDLadage> There are non-human races, each with strength and weaknesses... these set attribute maxima.
[19:20] <+KDLadage> Each race comes with a set of special skills and abilities.
[19:20] <+KDLadage> There are 32 professions (classes). This is where Arcanum diverged the most from its ancestry.
[19:20] <&Editor> Martial Artist! Alchemist! :D
[19:21] <+KDLadage> Way back before D&D3e, Arcanum had a unified experience point table -- a table for single classed professions (which concentrate on a single area), and one for dual-classed professions (which generalize into two fields of study).
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[19:22] <+KDLadage> Yes -- Martial Arts, Alchemy... and a magic system that could make your head swim if you were too stuck on the paradigms of D&D.
[19:22] <+KDLadage> With nine schools of magic, and a level of detail assigned to Alchemy that had never been seen... Arcanum has (IMVHO) never been equaled in this area.
[19:23] <+KDLadage> Combat and saves used a simple Roll 1d20, 11+ is a success mechanic.... an early attempt at a 'universal task resolution system'.
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[19:23] <+KDLadage> Most skills, however, use a d% -- with the number of levels you have acquired since gaining the skill being the defining factor.
[19:24] <+KDLadage> One of the mosr interesting concepts is this:
[19:24] <+KDLadage> (most)
[19:24] <+KDLadage> Skills... if your profession does not offer it, you can buy it with your experience points.
[19:24] <+KDLadage> Special Abilities... most of those can be purchased as well.
[19:25] <+KDLadage> Spells... with a few exceptions, any spell not in your school can still be learned.
[19:25] <+KDLadage> The biggest barriers to spells are the Divine-Black Magic wall. Divine magic is granted by Higher Powers; Black Magic is granted by Lower Powers. And neither the two shall meet.
[19:26] <+KDLadage> Other than this, only a few spells in each of the schools is restricted. And most of those to preserve flavor. For example:
[19:27] <+KDLadage> If you want the best healing spells, Divine Magic is where those are located. Most of the other schools have some healing capabilities... but the prime healing spells of Divine Magic are limited to the Practitioners of Divine Magic.
[19:27] <+KDLadage> If you want the spells that keep kids awake at night, looking under their beds... go with Black Magic. That is one scary school of magic. They have 1st and 2nd level *permanent* curses.
[19:27] <+KDLadage> (done)
[19:28] <~Dan> What's the thinking behind the separate resolutions ystems for combat/saves and skills?
[19:28] <+KDLadage> The idea of a universal task resolution system was not common at the time Arcanum came out. Traveller had one, for example, but that was about it.
[19:28] <+KDLadage> Basic D&D had:
[19:28] <+KDLadage> d20 roll high
[19:28] <+KDLadage> d20 roll low
[19:29] <+KDLadage> 2d6 roll high
[19:29] <+KDLadage> 1d6 roll low
[19:29] <+KDLadage> d% roll low
[19:29] <&Editor> You didn't choose to improve upon it..?
[19:29] <+KDLadage> Each used at different times.
[19:29] <+KDLadage> Arcanum consolidated this into d20 roll high, and d% roll low. Done.
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[19:30] <~Dan> Did you see my question about a character sheet?
[19:30] <+KDLadage> As far as this edition, my goal has been to make the best Arcanum possible. To remove d%, or treat all rolls as d% would alienate some and make this a different game.
[19:30] <+KDLadage> (Character Sheet -- yes, I will dig one out here in a bit)
[19:30] <~Dan> (Ah! No problem.)
[19:30] <~Dan> How do attributes and skills relate?
[19:30] <+KDLadage> What I have done is strengthen the wall that defines what uses d20 and what uses d%.
[19:31] <&Editor> Makes some sense.
[19:31] <+KDLadage> In the older editions, there were a set of charts that showed the (often divergent) relationship between attribtutes and combat/save modifiers, and percent/skill modifiers.
[19:32] <+KDLadage> Again, I keep this intact, but unify the tables into a single logical progression that should make running the game much easier.
[19:33] <+KDLadage> If a roll is d20 based, then it is a combat (to-hit) roll, a saving throw, or a 'common ability' anyone can attempt.
[19:33] <+KDLadage> If a roll is d% based, it is a skill which improves with training.
[19:33] <+KDLadage> Attribute scores of 11-14 are all considered human average range and have no modifiers.
[19:34] <+KDLadage> Below 11, you have penalties; above 14 you have bonuses.
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[19:34] <+Randy> hello
[19:34] <+KDLadage> The scale is fairly simple.
[19:35] <+KDLadage> 15-16 = +1
[19:35] <+KDLadage> 17 and higher is +1 per point above
[19:35] <+KDLadage> thus 25 = +10
[19:35] <+KDLadage> same going down.
[19:36] <+KDLadage> Percent starts at a measly +/-1% and works its way up to +/-5% per point at the upper/lower end.
[19:36] <+KDLadage> This is scale -- simple as it is -- I pained over for a while as I poured over the original tables.
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[19:36] <+KDLadage> Remember -- my goal is to honor the original as much as I can.
[19:36] <+KDLadage> (done)
[19:37] <~Dan> What's the human attribute range?
[19:37] <+KDLadage> 11-14 is normal. Because of the way the original game handled attributes (100 points to divide into 8 scores), a score of 12 was median. The scale was, originally, of kilter a bit.
[19:38] <+KDLadage> I evened out the upper and lower ends a bit. But in the end, the scale is certainly in keeping with the original.
[19:38] <+KDLadage> The biggest change in in the percent modifiers.
[19:39] <~Dan> Well, I meant in terms of the human minimum and maximum.
[19:39] <+KDLadage> Where the original had modifiers that were all over the map, I wanted to consolidate these into a unified whole.
[19:39] <+KDLadage> Ah...
[19:39] <+KDLadage> The game has always capped attributes at a minimum of 6 for player characters. NPCs can go below this.
[19:41] <+KDLadage> Humans are limited to 18 as their upper score. Each race has its own upper limits in each attribute. Elves, for example, have a maximum 19 for Dexterity and Perception. Nethermen have a maximum of 14 for Charisma.
[19:41] <+KDLadage> The system tops out at 25.
[19:41] <+KDLadage> Make sense?
[19:41] <~Dan> It does.
[19:42] <~Dan> Speaking of which, what are the races?
[19:42] <+KDLadage> As I dove through the rules, I considered for a while changing things like the attribute scales and the like.
[19:42] <+KDLadage> In the end, I think that is best left to a 4th edition, or something along those lines.
[19:42] <+KDLadage> Races...
[19:42] <+KDLadage> Good question. :)
[19:43] <+KDLadage> Humans, of course.
[19:43] <+KDLadage> Aesir (giant-men)
[19:43] <+KDLadage> Andamen (animal-man hybrids)
[19:43] <+KDLadage> Dwarves
[19:43] <+KDLadage> Elves
[19:44] <+KDLadage> Nethermen (brutish goblinoid barbarians)
[19:44] <+KDLadage> Zephyr (hawk-men)
[19:44] <+KDLadage> In the original, there was one other race. That race became the core of the Talislanta games and setting... as a result, this was the one (small) portion of the rules that did not become mine when I purchased the system.
[19:45] <+KDLadage> Anyone recall the last one?
[19:45] <~Dan> Which race was that? I remember reading about that...
[19:45] <+KDLadage> Druas.
[19:46] <+KDLadage> The Druas were a dark-elf (drow) like race. The original text even states they came from a mysterious land called Talislanta.
[19:46] <+KDLadage> I think the links to Drow were dropped, given the years and years Talislanta had the tag-line: "Still No Elves!"
[19:46] <+KDLadage> (done)
[19:47] <~Dan> Heh. Yeah. Don't get me started on that... :)
[19:47] <+Bigby> Do races other than human have any sort of balance where while Attribute X can be higher than human Attribute Y has a lower cap?  Or are Elves simply better than humans and Nethermen worse, as far as Attributes go?
[19:47] <&Editor> Yeah Druas..:D
[19:48] <+KDLadage> Other races have some-higher, some-lower trait maxima. They are all limited severely in what professions they can take on where Humans can be anything.
[19:48] * &Editor pokes Dan at the "Still no Elves" thing :D
[19:48] * ~Dan snickers
[19:48] <+KDLadage> Humans have... well, like a lot of games from that time, a tough time of it.
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[19:49] <~Dan> I have a bit of a problem with systems that express racial variances in terms of maximum scores rather than attribute bumps.
[19:49] <+KDLadage> But if you look carefully at the system... the idea of any class is nothing to sneeze at. Granted, once you have your character... the fact that he or she cannot be a class you are not in anyway, is of little consequence.
[19:49] <~Dan> Insofar as there's no differenece in the racial averages.
[19:50] <+KDLadage> I have some ideas on how to make humans a bit more versatile... but I need to test them first. Humans *will* have an advantage beyond this when the game is released.
[19:50] <+KDLadage> With the point-buy system... no, Humans and non-humans are the same... which exacerbates the human condition.
[19:50] <+KDLadage> Like I said... not sure how just yet... but I will address this.
[19:51] <~Dan> Well, let me make sure we're speaking the same language, here...
[19:51] <+KDLadage> For example, one thing I am testing right now is the idea that humans can gain skills/spells outside their professions cheaper than other races.
[19:51] <+KDLadage> Sure.
[19:51] <+KDLadage> If I understand you:
[19:51] <+KDLadage> Given that the attributes are point buy, and...
[19:52] <~Dan> If you just adjust the maxima, then a member of a given species only stands out if he buys up to the highest levels.
[19:52] <+KDLadage> All players (regardless of race) have the same number of points, and...
[19:52] <+KDLadage> Unless you hit maxima, there is no difference.
[19:52] <~Dan> Whereas if you provided a bonus, every member of a species would be getting a representative bump. The average Elf would be more agile than the average Human.
[19:53] <~Dan> Right.
[19:53] <+KDLadage> Right. Elves are not *more agile* than humans, in general. In Arcanum, they simply have the potential to be more agile than a human can be.
[19:54] <~Dan> Fair enough.
[19:54] <+KDLadage> Now... elves get a +1 bonus to dexterity saves. This means when rolling dexterity-based, non-skill (d%) rolls, they are better in general. But their score will not reflect that outright.
[19:54] <+KDLadage> Also...
[19:55] <+KDLadage> There is a rule from the original that states that when you assign an attribute the maximum at character creation...
[19:55] <+KDLadage> You need to roll a d%. There is a 90% chance you are not quite that high... and will be assigned the score one point less.
[19:56] <+KDLadage> Taking the maximum is a risk.
[19:56] <+KDLadage> (done)
[19:56] <~Dan> Can you describe the magic system?
[19:57] <+KDLadage> Yes I can.
[19:57] <+KDLadage> Next question?
[19:57] <+KDLadage> ;)
[19:57] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:57] <+KDLadage> here goes.
[19:57] <+KDLadage> The magic system is divided into nine schools. Each approaches magic in a unique way.
[19:57] <+KDLadage> Mysticism focuses ki to bend reality.
[19:58] <+KDLadage> Astrology looks to the stars and calls upon things like the Law of Equivalences.
[19:59] <+KDLadage> Black Magic is, like I said, a bit scary. Some of the things they do in there -- like Graven Images -- feels like voodoo, rather than Divine Magic with the serial numbers scraped off.
[19:59] <+KDLadage> Elemental Magic (the stuff you associate with druids) is fire, earth, water, air, animals, and plants, oh my!
[20:00] <+KDLadage> Perhaps my favorite is Enchantment. The summoning spells of Divine, Elemental, and Black Magic simply do not work the same way that the Conjuration spells work. The illusions are treated as a true mind-rape at times. It is amazing how simple shifts give a lot of flavor in those schools.
[20:02] <+KDLadage> Where most summoning spells need a circle of protection and a thaumaturgic triangle to work, conjuration creates things out of thin air. Where a summoned creature may leave or attack you... the conjured animal will disintegrate into nothingness when the spell's duration is over... unless you are a high level Enchanter...
[20:02] <+KDLadage> High Level Enchanters will cast spells that make their conjurations permanent... or their illusions permanent.
[20:02] <+KDLadage> And illusions... wow.
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[20:03] <+KDLadage> Suppose you fail to disbelieve an illusory bridge -- you get a save when you would come into contact with the object (had it been real). You will begin to walk across this bridge, seeing yourself as you walk across it. Feeling the hard and knotted wood under your fingers...
[20:04] <+KDLadage> All the while, you are falling to the river below.
[20:04] <~Dan> Wow. That's creepy.
[20:04] <+KDLadage> Meanwhile, your friends are watching and all they see is you, as you see yourself -- walking along the bridge. Until you hit the water and reality comes rushing in...
[20:04] <+KDLadage> It is.
[20:05] <+KDLadage> This is how Steve and his team viewed illusions back then. I am doing all I can to preserve that -- because it is creepy, and so very cool.
[20:05] <+KDLadage> For layout -- I have all of the schools together except the last two levels of Mysticism, and Sorcery. Those will get completed tonight and tomorrow.
[20:06] <+KDLadage> I have some work to go back into Chapter 2 and finish.
[20:06] <~Dan> How does spellcasting work mechanically?
[20:06] <+KDLadage> Then it is on to the last two segments of the main book, and sending my raw text from Book 2 to Beth and Wade for editing.
[20:07] <+KDLadage> The original makes a huge point about this not being cast-and-forget.
[20:07] <+KDLadage> A caster can cast 2 spells per day, plus 1 spell per day per level of ability.
[20:07] <+KDLadage> So a 3rd level spell-caster can cast 5 spells per day.
[20:07] <+KDLadage> The level of the spell is not an issue. Those 5 spells can all be 1st level spells, 2nd level spells, etc.
[20:08] <+KDLadage> Casters all know the 1st level spells of their chosen profession.
[20:08] <+KDLadage> they have to seek out and learn the higher level spells.
[20:08] <+KDLadage> Level I spells can be cast by any caster.
[20:08] <~Dan> Is there a roll involved in spellcasting?
[20:08] <+KDLadage> Level II spells can be cast by a caster of 3rd level of ability or higher
[20:09] <+KDLadage> Level III spells can be cast by a caster of 5th level of ability of higher
[20:09] <+KDLadage> and so on.
[20:09] <+KDLadage> Spells take (unless otherwise noted) one full combat round to cast (one minute).
[20:09] <&Editor> You kept long combat rounds?
[20:09] <+KDLadage> The exception is Level I spells which take less than a full combat round, and so can be cast in combat relatively easilly.
[20:10] <+KDLadage> The time rules in Arcanum are an artifact of the time. But they work, for the most part.
[20:11] <+KDLadage> Keep in mind, the rules state quite clearly that a combat round is treated as one minute -- but that is a convention, and has little to do with reality. It is a way of allowing the Game Master to establish time limits (e.g., you have ten minutes to stop the spell from going off!).
[20:11] <+KDLadage> The fact that this means 10 combat rounds is of little consequence other than to establish a standard from which to work.
[20:12] <+KDLadage> If/when I do a 4th edition, combat rounds will likely be 5 or 10 seconds. But for this anniversary edition, keeping the one-minute-round seemed best.
[20:12] <+KDLadage> In the original text, spells were... well, a writing mess.
[20:13] <+KDLadage> Some spells had no listed duration or range.
[20:13] <+KDLadage> Each school seemed to be written by a different author.
[20:13] <+KDLadage> I have done a lot of work to clarify and clean this up.
[20:13] <+KDLadage> All spells have a duration listed.
[20:13] <+KDLadage> They all have a range and an area of impact.
[20:14] <+KDLadage> They are all standardized in format to make reading them a lot easier.
[20:14] <+KDLadage> If I could claim one 'worst flaw' of the original text, it would be layout.
[20:14] <+KDLadage> The wall of text many pages turned into was frightening.
[20:14] <+KDLadage> I hope I have done a better job.
[20:15] <+KDLadage> perhaps you guys can invite me back sometime and tell me how I did. :)
[20:15] <~Dan> You're always welcome, Q&A or no. :)
[20:15] <+KDLadage> (kids calling -- be back in 30 seconds)
[20:15] <~Dan> (No problem!)
[20:16] <+KDLadage> (back)
[20:16] <+KDLadage> I have an 8 and 10 year old addicted to Minecraft. :)
[20:16] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:17] <+KDLadage> Anyone that has attempted to do a relatively large, relatively technical book in layout has my respect.
[20:17] <+KDLadage> Each time you encounter something new that starts to become a pattern, you have to figure out how to handle it...
[20:18] <+KDLadage> Then you have to go back through each segment of the book you had already done -- where that something was rare and did not appear to need standardization, and fix it.
[20:18] <+KDLadage> Same thing for wording and phrasing.
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[20:19] <+KDLadage> You want to make sure there are little or no problems caused by your own wording... consistency is key.
[20:19] <~Dan> So I know this is a systemless product, but any system creates the physics of the setting. That being the case, what kind of implied setting would you say Arcanum presents?
[20:19] <+KDLadage> The setting implied is, as you might know, forefront on my mind.
[20:21] <+KDLadage> The old Atlantis setting was a hodge-podge. Want to run a diplomatic campaign? Set it here. Want to run a 'into the wilds' campaign? Set it here. Want to run a {type} campaing? Put it on {continent}.
[20:21] <+KDLadage> Steve did a great job.
[20:21] <+KDLadage> Jerry took this and created something I think is special.
[20:21] <+KDLadage> I recommend you all get a copy of this book. It is great stuff.
[20:21] <+KDLadage> Now.. I have a new setting I am putting together.
[20:21] <~Dan> For Arcanum?
[20:22] <+KDLadage> Book 2, thanks to the backers, will include a new, original setting. This setting is called IRONSEED.
[20:23] <+KDLadage> The initial cartography is coming soon. My artist will have it to me soon. It will get posted on the zila-games website.
[20:23] <&Editor> What will Ironseed be like?
[20:23] <+KDLadage> The setting is not so much a mish-mash with this sort of stuff here, and that sort of stuff there.
[20:24] <+KDLadage> It is more of a homogeneous setting. I am taking every element of the rules and asking myself: if this is how the world works, how does the world respond?
[20:24] <+KDLadage> Has anyone here ever read the WILD CARDS books by George R R Martin and co.?
[20:24] <+DrNate> sure
[20:24] <~Dan> I have.
[20:24] <+KDLadage> They asked themselves: if the world gained super-powers in 1946, how would it change?
[20:25] <+DrNate> I liked them as a teen, I think I outgrew some of the things that the writers thought were cool
[20:25] <+KDLadage> that is the process I am going through.
[20:25] <+KDLadage> Sure...
[20:25] <+DrNate> Super Pimp, for example
[20:25] <+KDLadage> Some of the things in the books were in-jokes that distracted (can you say New York Pitching coach?)
[20:26] <+KDLadage> Right.
[20:26] <+KDLadage> But the idea is a solid one.
[20:26] <+KDLadage> Start with the assumption that everything in the book is real, and not particularly uncommon.
[20:26] <+DrNate> Sure. The concept and most of the execution was good stuff
[20:26] <+KDLadage> This makes things tough.
[20:27] <+KDLadage> Even though I am not going to give away too much about IRONSEED here, just know it starts with that process.
[20:27] <+KDLadage> Ironseed is the last of the 'Iron Cities' -- these were cities designed to withstand major-magical and powerful-flying-beasty attacks.
[20:28] <+KDLadage> Magical influences exist everywhere -- some of it looks like technology. Some of it renders what we call high-tech obsolete.
[20:29] <+KDLadage> Other elements... remain positively backward because the only way to deal with it is a spell that is level V or higher...
[20:30] <+KDLadage> I assume withing the setting that most people are of 1st to 3rd level of ability, an they become more rare as you go up.
[20:30] <+KDLadage> I want it to feel classic 'fantasy' with a bit of logic behind it.
[20:31] <+KDLadage> (done)
[20:31] <~Dan> How extensive is the bestiary, and what's the ratio of, say, familiar-to-freaky?
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[20:32] <+KDLadage> I am about 30% through the writing for that part of Book 2. If the creature is brought up (even tangentially) in the main text, it was added in. So a lot of demons, devils, nature spirits, shadows... a lot of standard animals.
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[20:33] <+KDLadage> I am drawing inspiration from some unusual sources -- such as Fastasy Wargaming -- another old book from the 80s.
[20:33] <+KDLadage> Most of it is not what I would call 'freaky.'
[20:33] <~Dan> Mostly fantasy standards, then?
[20:34] <~Dan> Orcs, giants, trolls, dragons?
[20:34] <+KDLadage> I hope I do not miss any classic favorites, but yes... I want to make sure the standards are in there.
[20:34] <+KDLadage> If there is enough interest... a second Bestiary with the freaky stuff could come later.
[20:34] <~Dan> Sort of a folio containing fiends...?
[20:35] <+KDLadage> Yes... all of those and a host of undead (a lot of undead are in the core text, after all).
[20:35] <+KDLadage> Dragons of various sorts.
[20:35] <+KDLadage> But I do include some guidelines for customizing monsters.
[20:35] <+KDLadage> I am still amazed when I think back to the Fiend Folio of AD&D.
[20:36] <~Dan> Yeah. :)
[20:36] <+KDLadage> The first time I read the Skeletal Warrior.... and the first time I used it and scared the bejesus out of my game group.
[20:36] <+KDLadage> Nothing like telling a 15th level Cleric his turning of the skeleton failed.
[20:36] <+KDLadage> hehe
[20:36] <~Dan> That book really loved it some skeletons.
[20:37] <+KDLadage> Oh yes.
[20:37] <+KDLadage> And frogs.
[20:37] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[20:37] <~Dan> So how gritty/cinematic would you say Arcanum is?
[20:38] <~Dan> About the same as D&D, maybe?
[20:38] <+KDLadage> Like I said, though, back to the bestiary. I give you the core stuff (lions and tigers and bears, oh my) and the guidelines to make them anything you want.
[20:38] <+KDLadage> Arcanum is more gritty overall.
[20:39] <+KDLadage> Combat is positively deadly. You start with more hit points (Con score as opposed to a die type). You gain 1, 2, or 3 points per level after that until you get to level 12. Then it is 1 hit point per level for everyone.
[20:40] <+KDLadage> A typical combatant's to-hit bonus is also his or her damage bonus. So the guy with the +7 to hit is dealing 1d8+7 damage with his sword before strength is taken into account.
[20:41] <+KDLadage> When you reach 0 or fewer hit points, the Game Judge (Game Master) rolls to see if you are going to die or recover in 1d4 minutes. You don't know. It can be a stress-filled few minutes while you race to get the healer nearby...
[20:41] <~Dan> And what determines the to-hit bonus?
[20:41] <+KDLadage> All professions are given one of three ranks of combat training: untrained, skilled, or highly-trained.
[20:42] <+KDLadage> Untrained get no combat bonuses at all. they can buy them as a skill (Weapon Proficiency, Weapon Specialization)... but as a default, they do not get to-hit bonuses.
[20:42] <+KDLadage> This is the whole of the spell-casting classes.
[20:43] <+KDLadage> Skilled professions get a +1 combat bonus every 3 levels of ability. So, levels 3-5 = +1; levels 6-8 = +2; and so on.
[20:44] <+KDLadage> Highly-trained professions get a +1 combat bonus every 2 levels of ability. So, levels 2-3 = +1; levels 4-5 = +2; and so on.
[20:44] <+KDLadage> Also, skilled and highly trained warriors start getting additional attacks per combat round.
[20:45] <+KDLadage> A level 20 warrior, for example, has +10 to hit, +10 damage, and 3 attacks per round.
[20:45] <~Dan> Hmm. Sounds like you've helped mitigate the D&D-ism of magicians totally outclassing warriors at higher levels.
[20:45] <+KDLadage> Add in the 'tactics' available in the combat system, and you get a lot of options.
[20:47] <+KDLadage> The system starts with that mitigated to a degree (i.e., no combat bonuses for the Wizard). The skills (warriors can take the same weapon multiple times to get higher bonuses) and the combat tactics...
[20:47] <+KDLadage> in the end, a warrior has as many choices to make as the spell-caster.
[20:47] <+Jetrauben> I return from workday!
[20:47] <+KDLadage> (30 seconds please)
[20:47] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:47] <~Dan> (No problem, KDLadage!)
[20:48] <~Dan> (Welcome home, Jetrauben! Q&A in progress! :) )
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[20:50] <+KDLadage> (back -- boys off to bed)
[20:50] <~Dan> (Welcome back!)
[20:51] <+KDLadage> Its been a while. Place seems different. ;)
[20:51] <~Dan> So when we get down to 10 minutes left in "regular time", I like to turn things over to the guest to mention anything that we haven't brought up so far.
[20:51] <~Dan> (*chuckles re: different* :) )
[20:51] <+KDLadage> Ah. That time already?
[20:51] <~Dan> Yup! :)
[20:51] <+KDLadage> OK...
[20:51] <+KDLadage> Here is what I have told a few backers:
[20:52] <+KDLadage> If you are looking for a modern RPG with none of the quirks that made the 1980s era of the hobby what it was... you need to look somewhere else.
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[20:53] <+KDLadage> If you are looking for a word-for-word verbatum reprint of the old 1980s era Arcanum... you need to look somewhere else.
[20:53] <+Jetrauben> (Oh, sorry)
[20:53] <+KDLadage> This is Arcanum in name, Arcanum in spirit, and Arcanum in feel. It is cleaned-up, re-organized, corrected, and expanded. I have optional rules to address some issues in the base rules.
[20:54] <+KDLadage> I have diagrams for those that want to use the spells on a map or with miniatures.
[20:54] <~Dan> (No problem, Jetrauben!)
[20:54] <+KDLadage> But at its heart... this is Arcanum.
[20:55] <+KDLadage> If I were back in 1983, knowing what I know now about RPGs... if I were there and I could be with Bard Games and tell them about things like Mutants and Masterminds, 13th Age, GURPS 4th Edition, and so on...
[20:55] <+KDLadage> I might have tried to convince them to do things differently.
[20:56] <+KDLadage> I might have told them to consolodate further and make a single, universal task resolution system.
[20:56] <+KDLadage> I might have told them to eliminate attributes that result in modifiers, and use the modifier as the attribute -- something you can do with a universal task resolution system.
[20:56] * ~Dan nods
[20:57] <+KDLadage> But that game would have been far more technical and far less flavorful than the one that is presented from that era.
[20:57] <+KDLadage> And I am glad.
[20:57] <+KDLadage> We do not get here without going through that time.
[20:57] <+KDLadage> I want to honor a great game. I want to make it the best version *of what it is* I can make.
[20:58] <+KDLadage> I want to have Steve write me when it is all over and tell me thanks.
[20:58] <~Dan> :)
[20:58] <+KDLadage> If I can do that... then this has been a trip worth taking.
[20:58] <+KDLadage> That's about it.
[20:58] <~Dan> Very cool.
[20:58] <~Dan> As mentioned, you're welcome to hang out with us as long as you like, but I'll go ahead and log the official chat there.
[20:59] <+KDLadage> Anything else? Otherwise, I have two boys who want me to say prayers with them. :)
[20:59] <~Dan> Thanks very much for coming by! I'll have the link for you in a few moments.
[20:59] <+KDLadage> Sweet.

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