Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five or So Questions with Fraser Ronald on Nerfertiti Overdrive

The Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter hits today! Keep an eye out.

Tell me a little about Nefertiti Overdrive. What excites you about it?
While I can sometimes be more interested than is good for me in the specific details of a historical setting, I can also really appreciate a story that purposefully disregards the facts and focuses on the fun. I am unapologetic in my love for the movie the 13th Warrior and happily sit through the Scorpion King. These movies take historical settings but then don't sweat too much in favour of presenting a fun and exciting story.

That's what I've done with Nefertiti Overdrive (first clue: it's not even set during the time of Nefertiti, I just though the title sounded cool). Then I added physics-defying action with mechanics that reward exciting and detailed narratives of character actions. In Nefertiti Overdrive, you can still say "I punch him in the face," but you won't get rewarded for that and could easily fail. If you say "I leap up, flipping over my opponent and landing behind him. I then swing back with my elbow, cracking him in the side of the head." That will not only make it easier to succeed – because it's pretty cool – but you can also earn Luck – a kind of Hero Point/Plot Coupon/Benny – from other players if you do something they really enjoy.

This all excites me because it amps up the energy at the table, players trying to outdo other players with their descriptions. It rewards creativity and creates a really strong, cooperative table dynamic that has always led to a really fun game in my experience. This is the kind of game I love to run or play.

What sort of mechanics do you use in the game?

Any time the dice hit the table in Nefertiti Overdrive, it's called a Test. PCs have four attributes that provide dice. Each Attribute has two Qualities – a descriptive word or short phrase like 'Protector' or "Loyal to the House of Kashta.' Each Attribute also has two die-types associated with it, the lower being the base die and the higher being the max die. If you can apply one of its Qualities to the scene, the Attribute provides its base die. If you apply the Quality in a narratively exciting or interesting manner, you can use the max die.

Dice are compared for Initiative (which character is active and which is passive), Target (does the active character overcome the passive character for a Triumph), and Effect (can one of the character's impose a penalty – known as a Condition – on the other). Each Challenge has a number of Triumphs required to overcome it.

Tell me more about Luck. What can you do with it?

With Luck, you can add an extra Quality – meaning you can roll five or more dice in a Test and use them all – re-roll a die, or remove some or all of a Condition – a penalty that can be imposed during a Test. Luck is provided by players to other players, and there is a limited supply. When a player uses Luck, it goes to the GM, who can use it to buy a natural 1 rolled by a player and add that die-type (though not the die itself) to a Threat Pool. The GM can add any die from the Threat Pool to any Test, but it can be rolled only once and is then removed from the Pool. When the GM spends Luck, it returns to the pot, available to be distributed by the players to other players.

When a player or GM has extra dice, she can apply those in whatever fashion she feels is best, to increase Initiative, Target, or Effect. This generally means an amazing result, which might lead to more Luck from players. It's the circle of life!

How are you preparing for the Kickstarter, and what kind of cool stretch goals will we see (if any)?

The Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart rules are already available (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/137307/Nefertiti-Overdrive-Quickstart-Rules) and were released in the hopes of creating some interest in the Kickstarter.

I have an agreement with Magpie Games to facilitate shipping, which takes a huge load off my mind. Magpie Games fulfilled my last successful Kickstarter, Centurion: Legionaries of Rome, and it makes a huge difference in regards to the period between having the book printed and getting it into the hands of our backers.

The text for the game is 75% finished, and we have about half of the artwork in hand.

The first stretch goal is going to be maps for the included adventure. I'm trying to present a very realistic goal for the Kickstarter, but that means I won't be able to afford maps. The plan is similar to what was done in the Quickstart – suggestions for image searches and a link to an existing map or illustration available on the internet at the time of publishing. I would really like to provide maps for the included adventure, but I believe $3,000 Canadian is more realistic than $4,500, but if I can get the latter, the adventure will get maps.

The next stretch goal is a port of Nefertiti Overdrive to Fate Accelerated written by none other than Jason Pitre of Genesis of Legend Publishing, the man behind Spark and Posthuman Pathways (and a pretty awesome guy - but let's keep that between us, it might go to his head). I am a fan of Fate Accelerated but did not feel comfortable hacking Nefertiti Overdrive. Thankfully, Jason is more than ready to oblige. This would happen at $6,000

After that, at $7,500, we'll include another setting I'm calling Daredevils of the Water Wastes. Part of Nefertiti Overdrive is a scenario creation system that can either be done as a kind of game or just as a framework for brainstorming. It allows the players to create the kind of campaign and setting in which they want to adventure. Daredevils of the Water Wastes is a product of that system, and uses the same mechanics as Nefertiti Overdrive, but with slightly altered Attributes for the player characters.

We have other stretch goals planned, and will reveal those as we knock these one's down.

Yes, I am exactly that insanely optimistic. It could happen!