Friday, September 30, 2016

The Beast, Day 13

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 13 is now posted!

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The Beast, Day 12

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 12 is now posted!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Beast, Day 11

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 11 is now posted!

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Monday, September 26, 2016

The Beast, Day 10

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 10 is now posted!

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Beast, Day 9

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 9 is now posted!

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Beast, Day 8

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 8 is now posted!

(It's extremely brief.)

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Friday, September 23, 2016

The Beast, Day 7

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitchDay 7 is now posted!

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Beast, Day 6

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 6 is now posted!

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The Beast, Day 5

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 5 is now posted!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Beast, Day 4

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 4 is now posted!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Beast, Day 3

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 3 is now posted!

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Five or So Questions with Brandon Williams on Demon Gate

Hi all! Today I have an interview with Brandon Williams about the new game from Arcanum Syndicate, Demon Gate, which is currently on Kickstarter with a little over a week left! You may recognize Brandon's name from the cyberpunk RPG Chaos 6010 A.D. Demon Gate is an apocalyptic fantasy RPG with survivalist elements. Check out the interview below!

Tell me a little about Demon Gate. What excites you about it?

Demon Gate is an apocalyptic dark fantasy RPG that places the players into a very harsh and dangerous world that really forces players to survive together. There are no alignments and all characters begin the game with the bare minimum of gear that is primarily established depending upon what your character class is. I try to let GMs know that it is very important to keep track of the mundane things in this game like food and provisions and warmth, for surviving in a hostile wilderness should be just as tough as the monsters you may encounter.
Everything about it excites me realistically, but if I had to choose a couple it would be the combat system and the setting. It is kind of meant to start out very fantasy lite where all these things, monsters and such are supposed to be scary stories you heard around the campfire at night in your village but as you start to explore the dark world you find out the stories are all real. There are these prophesies about the end of the world where the demons and devils from the Black Plane (Hell) will eventually enslave our world, and you will begin to realize that this can really happen unless you band together and try to stop it.

The combat system uses resisted rolls so you roll a d20 to hit but you also roll a d20 to defend by trying to match or beat your attacker's roll. There are also cool talents and abilities that help you out in the midst of combat where you can sometimes spend legend points to activate them. If you roll a natural 20 to defend an attack you gain an immediate riposte at your enemy, there are a lot of fun things like that which makes rolling against one another a good time.

What inspired you with your design of Demon Gate, including games, other media, and your own interests?

I originally created the idea back in the 90s working on another RPG called Chaos 6010. So back in the day I really loved the setting for Forgotten Realms during 2nd edition. Yet since then I have taken a lot more inspiration from the art in other games like Diablo, or the Necronomicon, Call of Cthulu. I also took a great deal of influence from a really old rpg computer game called Darklands, a game about medieval Germany. Inspiration from movies like the Hell scene in Constantine. Even many of my own nightmares have been a great inspiration, while very frightening they were also inspirational and I had to jump up and write them down. I have always been fascinated by the idea of Hell in many religions so it takes a lot of inspiration from real world religious beliefs as well and I tried to tie the storyline into our world's history in a way. For instance how to explain how entire civilizations or villages just vanished in the past. Hellraiser was also an inspiration to me and series of books on the Lesser Key of Solomon, Ars Goetia, as well as goetic art and symbols.

For a survivalist game, tracking gear and rations can be complex. How does Demon Gate handle that mechanically and fictionally?

When you are traveling the GM rolls a chance for random encounters each day (optional but recommended) and due to the planet's harsh climates at times bad weather conditions can pop up effecting your chances of survival. So it is good to have survival skills to help out. Players are allowed untrained skill checks for those who do not possess the proper skills even though it is much harder to succeed. Since each character skill is based off of an attribute you make an attribute check for an untrained skill check and your target number is raised. The GM has the option to use the random encounter tables for all different types of locations or they can simply make situations up of course. Due to the planet having two suns, a broken moon, and many close planet's during parts of the year, the climate and gravity shifts can sometimes cause some strange anomolies.

When keeping track of provisions you are allowed a certain amount of days for your water skin to deplete so you just make a little tick off for each day on a scrap paper. For food there is a very helpful hunting and foraging table that lets you make one roll to pretty much figure out how many meals you gain from the hunt and also how many hides and bones you are getting from the kill determined by the result of your hunting skill result.This works the same when foraging or fishing. The roll will determine if you catch anything that night at all, how many portions, and units of leather, bones, scales, etc. These can be saved and traded on the road or sold at a town, or if one of the characters possessed the proper skills can be used during crafting. For long adventures across the wilderness it is always good to pack your provisions so that you do not have to worry if you will eat that night, for starving will begin to degrade your stats as will freezing to death.

When players encounter challenges in the game, are they more likely to be physical in nature and if so, how? What mechanics are in place to address physical and social or mental challenges?

In the game master chapter I talk about making sure all NPCs (non- player characters, just in case someone doesn't know), aren't just brutes who care nothing about living and just wish to kill you and take your money. Some may have starving families, some may even end up helping you. I think that this might depend on the GM and players but in Demon Gate there are rules for social engagements, and very many mental afflictions. Travelling to the Veil or Shadow Plane, or Hell even, as some may do at times in quests to forever kill a spirit's soul can have repercussions. Characters must also have a good Willpower attribute to be strong in mind. Having a high willpower will grant you fortitude which is like armor for your mind. Armor in this game soaks damage so if a character has a high willpower they might have +2 to defend mental attacks and a fortitude of 5. This if hit with 20 mental damage the fortitude soaks 5 of it letting you take only 15 damage. 

Charisma is your social skill. This is not how pretty you are, there is a physical beauty rating for that. Charisma is how well you do in social engagements. I did this because I'm sure many people have met a very pretty person with a really bad charisma. A high charisma will alter your reputation points which are great to have when trying to seek an audience with a local magistrate or lord, etc. There are resisted rolls in most cases if it comes down to having to roll. I say this because some game masters would prefer you use words but Jon the player might not be very good with them while Arun who is Jon's character might have a high charisma so he would make his charisma check by rolling the dice and trying to either reach a target number or another character's resisted roll.

There are a great deal of physical alterations of course, so I put a lot of rules within the combat mechanics as if you are playing a mix between an rpg and a miniature battle game. I love using miniatures to show fight scenes of course it isn't necessary but I believe it adds a whole new level of fun to the game. You do not have to use miniatures but the rules are explained with them in mind. I love the combat system being resisted d20 and it has proven to be a good time for many years.

The Black Plane sounds cool! Could you talk about the fiction of the game a little, and share any of your favorite flavor bits?

I have written a great deal of lore about this world but I do wish to keep much of it a mystery and hope to unleash more and more of the story in future books. I will say that it is meant to start as if all these prophesies and legends are just fairy-tales but as adventurers begin to explore the world they find the remnants of an ancient alien race called the Void Gods who once ruled this world and inhabited it for it's metallic resources. There is a few metals on this planet that can glow and channel energy and magic very well, these mertacullum weapons that are found can do some powerful things. I still keep it all within the medieval fantasy genre though so you never find a ray gun, but a lance that can retract and fire lightning out of it is a little more on point. The ancient alien tech that is found is primarily thought of as "magic items".

The demons once ruled this world, it was theirs because many of them were the criminals of the void gods. They were the most foul and wicked of their kind, so bad that they left them imprisoned on this planet within dungeons. A very powerful demon lord who is from a little planet called Earth is the one who started to set them free when he was banished to this world long ago by the God of Earth. These demons were able to reconstruct the powerful gates of the Void Gods that they made using the mertacullum. These gates could travel to other worlds and even other planes of existence. They would use these gates to bring creatures from the surrounding planets and enslave them, forcing them to mine the metals of this world, to serve them, to force them to worship them as their new gods, and to use them for their suffering. Well once the gods of the Forgotten Worlds found out about this, they united and brought angels and nephilim to the planet through the gates and fought the demons in what is called the Thrall War. The demons were defeated and locked away in prisons in the Black Plane, or Hell. Each world has its own planes of Heaven, Purgatory, Shadow, Hell, even Elemental ones. Hell has a special prison called Tartarus, where the demon god Baal was locked within and sealed up forever. Until the seals began to break and fantatical cults a thousand years later sought to unleash the ancient lord Baal upon the world. Now the Age of Falling, the Pale Plague all of the signs are coming true, and now everyone is afraid.

Thanks to Brandon for the interview, and definitely check out Demon Gate on Kickstarter! It only has a little bit of time left but has some great art and seems like a cool time for survivalist, apocalyptic fantasy fans. 


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Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Beast, Day 2

I'm playing The Beast on thatlittleitch! Day 2 is now posted!

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Beast, by Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil Węgrzynowicz Playthrough

Such a fun thing to see in the mail!
Starting tonight I’m going to be doing a (hopefully daily) feature playing the card game, The Beast, by Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil Węgrzynowicz. The Beast is an unsettling erotic card game that tells a story about you (the player) and your Beast (who you have sex with). 
The first day, you answer a brief questionnaire about your Beast, make a deck of 19 cards, then pull a card each day for days 2 through 20. You write your responses to the events on the card in a diary.
Traditionally, you burn your diary. However, in the spirit of thatlittleitch, my horror erotica blog, I’m going to be sharing my responses on that Tumblr, and then linking them here on Thoughty. I’ll share a picture of the card I pull, and my response. I have no idea what kind of content will come from this.
I played a beta version of The Beast a while ago, and I really enjoyed it, but it certainly touched in some strange places (in more than one interpretation). I am excited to play it again, and want to share the journey with you. Tonight I’m filling out the questionnaire, with the answers on thatlittleitch!

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Desktop Downloads!

Hi All!

Just FYI, there is now available on the top navigation bar a Desktop Downloads link that takes you to a Google Photos collection where I've put up downloadable computer & phone desktops. Feel free to share!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Women with Initiative: Elsa Sjunneson-Henry

Hi all! Today's Women with Initiative feature is with Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, a well-known writer, designer, editor, and creator, as well as a accessibility coordinator and consultant for conventions. She is a huge advocate for disability accommodation, representation, and accessibility in gaming and fiction arenas, and has started doing educational programs like the Writing the Other Master Class, Writing Deaf and Blind Characters coming up September 10th (spots are still open!)

Elsa blogs regularly on Feminist Sonar, talking about everything from feminism on screen to her personal experiences and how they impact her and the world around her. She's worked on a number of fiction and RPG products including writing Elizabeth Bathory for Dracula Dossier, and her current game DEAD SCARE, a tabletop RPG of zombies and 1950s housewives that Kickstarted last year. I asked Elsa a few questions about her work on DEAD SCARE.

What were the most important things you found you had to focus on while designing DEAD SCARE in terms of inclusivity, accessibility, and staying true to the fictional goals you had for the game?

I wanted to write a game about zombies that wasn't actually about the zombies. At its core, DEAD SCARE is about communities, and how they react under pressure. In order to do that, I needed to pay attention to how women differentiate themselves from each other, while still making sure that each and every single playbook could be played by a woman of any race, class, ability or age. It was important to me that racism not play a part in the way in which the game read to players.

DEAD SCARE can include some very scary and intense situations. How do you design the game to help GMs and players navigate you, and do you have an example of an experience at the table where you thought your efforts in that regard showed fruitful results?

DEAD SCARE has a section on what I call the tone dial. Essentially, you can play DEAD SCARE any number of ways, from it being a LEAVE IT TO BEAVER episode where zombies just happen to show up and ruin the church bazaar, to a game where everyone engages with the social and political struggles of the 1950s. It's a game where you opt in to the difficulties, not a game where you force players to engage with them. I like to run Dead Scare as a story about community, but some players want it to be a dungeon crawl through suburbia.

What lessons have you brought from your work on Dead Scare as you move forward with more RPG products, and what projects are on the horizon for you?

DEAD SCARE taught me that I shouldn't be afraid of mechanics, which is something that I have brought forward to my work on the FATE ACCESSIBILITY TOOLKIT. In the next few months, though, I am focusing on teaching writers and how to write disabled characters. I'll be teaching a course with Writing the Other on writing D/deaf and Blind Characters. I'm currently working on a book which I'll be querying to agents hopefully this fall, and many short stories. I'm working to diversify what I write, moving to do more fiction, because I love it.

Thank you so much to Elsa for allowing me to interview her for this month's feature! Make sure to follow her blog posts at Feminist Sonar and her words on Twitter @snarkbat, and you might still be able to grab a spot in her Writing the Other Master Class on Writing Deaf and Blind Characters by registering here

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Five or So Questions with Slade Stolar on The Indie Hack

Hey all, I have an interview today with Slade Stolar about The Indie Hack, which I really enjoyed checking out. Have a good look at his responses below.

Tell me a little about The Indie Hack. What excites you about it?

I was really inspired by The Black Hack. It's a thin volume--just 20 page--and it cuts to the core of old-school dungeon delving. You've got four classes, you roll d6s, d8s, d20s, etc., you face monsters with HP, and you hope to pass your skill check vs. poison. But all of that can be done in just 20 pages once you've got roleplaying figured out (4 or 5 years in, maybe). I wondered whether something that was more story-focused could work in the same way (I'm not claiming a strong dividing line between Old-school/OSR and Story/Indie/Post-Forge gaming here, I like a mix of both sides in nearly all of my games).

The Indie Hack is my fantasy heartbreaker, which Ron Edwards will tell you to go out and write, if nothing else, just to get it out of your system. I've had notebooks lying around for years with little tidbits of adventures, settings, and mechanics. Recently, I've been playing a lot of games that are Apocalypse World adjacent. I've been watching and listening to people play on YouTube and podcasts. I'd started work on a huge game, maybe 200 pages, called 100 Clones of Hitler!!. Lots of setting stuff. I had a big pack of beautiful, pulpy artwork done up for it (for a fair price, but more than I was used to spending on my own projects). I took 100 Clones to Forge Midwest (Madison, WI) in the spring of 2016 to playtest, and to my great shock, no one wanted to play the Hitler game. I started to question everything: Maybe these people weren't as transgressive as I had hoped. Maybe the title causes such visceral disgust that no one can get past it. Maybe I should have pitched it in a different time slot. Maybe I should have called the game what it's now called, specifically, Might Makes Reich: Stop the Nazi Menace!!, to make it clear that you're fighting against (not with or as) the clones of Hitler. So, that's where I'm coming from.

I took the core dice mechanic out of 100 Clones and polished it up a bit. I started thinking about minotaurs. I started writing a fantasy rule set. I had some new and different and beautiful art commissioned. I took the religion system that I've been sitting on for a few years and mechanized it. I think that these three things are the most exciting to me: the dice-and-details-and-allies-contributing mechanic, the art, and the Goddesses.

In essence, it's 28 pages of dungeon-delving without HP or d4s or XP. There's a stronger focus on players saying how they do things and what happens because of it, rather than saying what they do.

You have a number of games cited in the front of the book as inspirations or as places you borrowed from (the best designers know how to borrow & recontextualize, imo, as much as do something new). What about these specific games really wormed into your design concept?

I borrowed aspects of many different games. Of course, The Black Hack was the main impetus; I was drawn in by the extreme minimalism of it.

I love the statistics of the dice rolling in Apocalypse World, but almost everyone retains the 10+/7 to 9/6- results and I didn't want to do that; I made each result have a different effect, such that rolling a 2 and a 6 is slightly better than rolling a 2 and a 5. Naturally, I liked the deadliness, and the fraught relationships, trading in Barter/Jingle, and the only-ever-hinted-at setting.

I really like Dungeon World, as a game and as a text, and it has a high place on my shelf. I'd run it over 5e or Pathfinder any day. The approach to relationships between the characters is great. Ranged combat (all combat, really) is great. It takes a few steps down the path toward minimalism, whereas The Indie Hack runs.

Into the Odd helped me to re-think monsters and magic items. Monsters aren't really monsters, they're more like magical or strange animals; they become monsters when we have tales of them biting the heads off adventurers. And I'm guessing that the adventurers started it.

I debated what to do with alignment. I think it's usually done poorly in games. And players often use it as an excuse to be jerks. Why would you want to look down at your character sheet and be reminded that you should be at odds with the goals and desires of the other characters? I'd been reading the PDF of My Life with Master and figured a good way to get people to reluctantly do good (or evil) was to give them bosses.

In a lot of fantasy games, you can run into issues of repetition, so what differentiates The Indie Hack? What would players find in this game that they wouldn't find in, say, D&D or Pathfinder?

Yes, there are thousands of fantasy games out there. The Indie Hack is novel in a few ways.

Character creation for three players who have never played takes about 30 minutes, including the time in which they form relationships and tell the GM some facts about the world. This isn't novel, just rare.

The dice mechanic is really neat: you have degrees of success, some of which ask your fellow players for input. Once you roll successfully, you did the thing you were trying to do, and you spend "details" to enrich the fiction: I didn't just hit the Skeletal Soldier, I shattered eight of his ribs, the GM writes "Eight missing ribs" on the monster's sheet, so that the players and the GM can work that fact into the story later if they wish. Details like this count towards defeating the creature.

In terms of time at the table, unlike 5e and Pathfinder, no one has their nose in a book for more than a few seconds. Nearly all of the information used in play is written down somewhere on a sheet or index card on the table, usually written in pencil, and usually written by one of the players. The GM doesn't need to shuffle through a lot of books and papers or hide dice behind a screen. Don't even give the GM the dice.

Regarding the question of repetition, as it's the players who enrich the narrative, it's only repetitive if the players give out the same details time and time again. My bet is that the players will get more and more confident and creative.

I personally love gear in games, but it often can get a little cumbersome - literally and figuratively. Can you talk about how The Indie Hack handles gear and how it might appeal to people who like the concept of gear, but get burnt out with doing complicated math to see how many candles they can accommodate in their haversack?

Gear is lovely, as is the wordplay in this question. In most games, I get a lot of enjoyment out of selecting gear, and a lot of pain out of managing it. When adventuring in The Indie Hack, you'll probably have between 5 and 10 items. For all of the fiddly stuff, you can get 'kits'. If you're playing an Occultist, take "Flasks of Foul Liquids", which contains "Acid, poison, ether, lye, etc." And if you want to have some glue, grease, fertilizer, bat fur, or snake bile for your evil rituals, there's probably some of that also. The candle (one big candle or a bundle of little candles) can take 3 'narrative damage' before it's out, which can be from a long time spent burning or being dropped in a puddle. You can watch as it slowly takes these points of 'narrative damage' and plan out your packing for next session, assuming your characters survive the catacombs. You might take "1 Candle" or "2 Candles", but you absolutely will not have to figure out how many pounds of candles to take.

Finally, can you tell me about some of your archetypes and how they interact with both the setting/fiction of The Indie Hack and the mechanics themselves?

The classes were really fun to write. I took the standard fantasy archetypes and give each one a slight twist. The classes are Veteran, Exorcist, Hunter, Scoundrel, Elementalist, Occultist, and Outlander.

The characters provide information about the fictional world. For example, the Scoundrel might tell us a little bit about the economy and crime of the world. The Veteran might tell us about a great battle (and thereby, the nations or factions of the world). The Outlander is an enigma, here are some of his/her questions: "You can hear them too, can't you (what do they say)? What lies buried deep beneath these hills? Where can you never go? Where must you always return?" You don't have to answer all of them, just a few. Just enough to get the GM's mental gears turning.

The players want a very different type of game if they answer "Where can you never go?" by saying "The Blood-splashed Crags of Southern Tybis, where I can hear their time-hollowed bones whistle in the wind" versus "The bawdy house where I let my second cousin die of tuberculosis four winters ago". The players establish locations and personages in the fiction and set the initial tone.
The initial skills and spells should be familiar to those who've played the classic fantasy RPGs. Typically, the spell gives a guide on writing the "details" that are created by the effect. In essence, spellcasting is little different from combat or diplomacy or stealth or navigation.

I just love the classes. Certain players might have favorites, but I'd be equally happy to play as any one of them.

Thanks so much to Slade for talking with me about The Indie Hack. You can check it out on DriveThru and hopefully take it to the table! 

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Behrend Bernhard, Esq. Version 1 - A Performative Party Game

Hello All!

It's your friendly neighborhood Brie with a new game! This is, as with my previous games, a text-only version 1, so if I need to make edits I will do so and update the original file with a new version.

It's a performative party game* where you get together friends and play out a court scene where one player gets to play a larger performative role as the title character, Behrend Bernhard, Esquire, one plays a court reporter who handles record taking, tallying records, and so on, and the rest of the players are witnesses providing testimony. All of the players have a small chance to roleplay, while Behrend's character is the most active and asks questions of the witnesses. However, at the end, there's a chance that any of the players could have a final dramatic scene. Yes, there is a twist, but it's clearly detailed, and it is at the forefront that everyone is making up their stories. :)

I've been exploring player involvement and how much players want or need to participate in games, and at what level they're most comfortable, as well as how to integrate different levels of power or authority in a game. I've also been looking at how we can make lies and secrets public while still playing within the fiction we've concocted.

Here it is!

*Some might consider this a live action roleplay game, and in some ways it is, but I think it's a step away from that, personally, and you can argue about it if you want.

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