Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Five or So Questions on Spaceships and Starwyrms

Hey all, today I have an interview with Benjamin Quiggins (he/him) and Audrey Stolze (she/her), the creators of Spaceships and Starwyrms (Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook). Spaceships and Starwyrms is a Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition supplement "that brings science fiction to the gaming table in a system that is familiar to many seasoned players and very accessible to new players. The supplement is nearly 400 pages long, with new species, classes, backgrounds, equipment, and combat rules, including rules for spaceship combat and travel." It seemed different and cool, so I asked a few questions - here's what Benjamin and Audrey had to say!

--

The cover of Spaceships and Starwyrms with the title in white mod font and a spaceship flying next to a craggy, monstrous figure that looks to be a dragon.
Tell me a little about Spaceships and Starwyrms. What excites you about it?

Spaceships and Starwyrms is a sci-fi tabletop system built off the core tenets and philosophy of 5th edition. It’s an accessible d20 based system for people who enjoy the style of 5e but want to explore beyond fantasy into the realm of science fiction. The Core Sourcebook, which releases on December 11 on drivethrurpg, has the new combat rules, species, classes, equipment and everything else you need to jump right into a space adventure.

We’re excited to share the system and its setting with the gaming community. Neither of us have ever published something of this magnitude before, and it’s been a great learning experience. In particular, we’re really proud of all the work we put into creating unique spaceships and combat rules for spaceships. Plus, the setting (the Nacora Galaxy) really took on a life of its own during the creation process. It’s awesome to be able to put something out there that we’ve really poured our hearts and souls into. S&S is going to bring a lot of new opportunities and subtle changes to the d20 system everyone knows and loves, and we hope it has a broad appeal.


What made you decide to do a d20 system, and what have you added to it, including the combat rules?

We were aware that there are a lot of sci fi systems out there, and lots of them use special dice or unique systems. We wanted Spaceships and Starwyrms to be as accessible as possible, which is what informed our decision to create it as a 5e supplement. Our gaming table has been using 5e for a long time and Ben has been making homebrew for that system for a while. It only seemed logical to keep building on that system. Anyone who knows how to play 5e can play S&S without having to learn too many new rules.

The main rules changes involve cover and a new action, the Hack action. In addition, there is a whole chapter on spaceship combat that should be a new experience for every table.

A bug person in a pretty blue and gold robe, using a digital tablet, and somewhat resembling a grasshopper.

How did you come up with Nacora Galaxy setting, and what makes it exciting or unusual (or both!)?

When we first started working on this supplement, we were trying to keep the setting pretty generic. But as we made the species and started filling out the flavor of their homeworlds and cultures, we discovered we had a pretty strong foundation for an intriguing setting. We leaned into it 100%, creating planets, governments, religions, travel systems, and tons of other unique content for the setting.

One of the things we’re most excited about is the adaptability of the Nacora setting. We blended fantasy and sci-fi together to leave room for a slew of different genres of play. This came into play a lot in our spaceship-building section. We have options to create your traditional, tech-based spaceship, spaceships that run on magic, or a mix of both!

Plus, with a galaxy this big, there’s a lot of creative freedom for GMs and players to adapt to their preferences. In particular, we tried to turn some sci-fi tropes on their head to give the galaxy a vivid, fresh atmosphere. One of the best examples of this are the Ix, a playable species of humanoid insects. We wanted to counter the stereotypical monstrous attributes and attitudes given to bug species. The Ix of Nacora are a people who believe in community, friendship, and peace. They are inventors of the universal translator used across the Nacora and founders of the Galactic Coalition for galactic peace.

What is spaceship combat like, and how does it integrate with the 5e framework?

Spaceship combat uses the same timing and initiative system as normal combat, (i.e. each round is six seconds) which allows for simultaneous space and land combats mixed together. We find this really adds to the narrative for simultaneous fights while still keeping the pace moving. Combat feels different depending on situation and the size of the crew on the ship, as there’s different actions that can be taken on a spaceship. Using ability checks and attack rolls, your party can fire weapon systems at the enemy, pilot across the field with trick maneuvers, hack another ship, repair damage to their ship, and even boost the engine power. And those are just some of the highlights. There are also special rules for spaceship (and vehicle) chases.
a person with tusks and long hair wearing a red jacket and brown shirt and pants, with a metal forearm that ends in a glowing, bloodied sword
What kind of research and exploration are you doing to build up to cultures, homeworlds, and species in the Nacora setting?

With each of our species, we tried to consider the environment and evolution of the species first and foremost. That process involved a lot of research of biology. For example, we consulted with a botanist for one of our plant species, and we read articles about the effects of living without sunlight for another. Ultimately, we didn’t let the research hold us back too much - this is still a realm of fiction, after all.

As far as the cultures go, we tried to avoid direct parallels between our aliens and past and current cultures on Earth. We’re only human, however, which means that each species inevitably has some bits of our human experiences and knowledge in their cultures, no matter how much we tried to avoid that. The big exceptions to that rule are the Kygorans, who live in an extremely capitalist society, and the two cultures of Humanity in the setting, which both take aspects of real world humanity.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of science fiction for us is asking the big questions about how a species advances to the point of being a galactic power. We spent a lot of time asking ourselves about their belief systems and motives, their governments and economy, and what day-to-day life on their planets might be like. The Nacora Galaxy is a melting pot filled with pockets of deep cultural roots as well as areas where those cultures overlap and blend. Finding a way to have a variety of cultural experiences was very important to us.

The Core Sourcebook contains all the base information you need for planets, species, and cultures, but it does have a pretty broad focus on the history and cultural identities of the galaxy. We are already discussing plans for splat books that will dig into the individual cultures on a deeper basis.
A person with two separate flippers for legs and the look of coral growing out of their head, with spiny fins on their arms. They are wearing a powersuit that has gun gauntlets.

--

Thanks so much to Audrey and Benjamin! I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out Spaceships and Starwyrms, releasing today! Find more at their Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook, or email directly with any questions at spaceshipsandstarwyrms@gmail.com!



Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Turn Design Stream

Hi all!

I did my first Turn Design Stream and I'd love to hear your thoughts!




Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Five or So Questions on Erotia

I interviewed Ray Cox about Erotia, a game about sex, gods, and communication. It's currently available on itch.io, and is a super lightweight game materials-wise. Check it out!

--

Tell me a little about Erotia. What excites you about it? 

Erotia is a small Freeform LARP that I designed with the help of my friend Fin. It's about sex, gods, and communication. And it is small enough that the whole game fits on one side of a business card!

I've wanted to include more sex in my games for a really long time. I'm a professional GM, but the people I play with have never been super into it. Which is fine. Recently though I started Designing my own RPGs and LARPs. And I realised I wanted to make a game about sex, where you can have sex as part of that game. And after a lot of failed ideas, we have Erotia.


Let's talk about safety and consent. How do you handle these in Erotia? What tools and structure do you use to ensure that Erotia is safe and consensual?

Well so Erotia being a game about sex and flirting, it was really important for me to include some safety tools. It was difficult however to fit everything into the small format. What we went with though was framing the safety tools as the most important part of the game. You always begin with a discussion of comfort, limits, and what you're hoping to get out of the game. As well as electing a Safeword, which is a concept introduced to us through BDSM.
A person in a black tank top and a chain choker with a pink mohawk.
Ray Cox, the designer.
What is the narrative of Erotia like? What do you play out and do as characters in the game?

Once you have an idea of what everyone wants to explore, the game moves on to play. The play beginning with everyone introducing their gods, and then interacting. Your Erotia might be a dinner party, a picnic, or some divine friends cuddling up on a cold winter night. Part of your introduction of your divine role is telling others how you wish to be interacted with or interact with others. And those are mostly there as prompts for folks that might not be too sure of themselves. If my god likes having their neck kissed than someone could start by saying: "Hi, I'm Apollo; may I kiss your neck?"

The game lasts as long as there are people still in the play space. The game also ends for all players if the safeword is used. This is so that we can focus on giving proper aftercare to the person that needed play to stop.


Why did you include the gods as part of the game, and what do you think it brings to the table?

I really like narratives about gods; in particular gods as people with more confidence, and a clearer sense of purpose.

I wanted to make a game where you knew you were sexy. Where you had no choice but to feel confident. For me, pretending I'm a god brings that. And when ever I play RPGs where you get to be a god that is how I play it. So yeah, what I think it brings is a sense of power, and also the knowledge that everyone around you is bringing that too.


What are some positive experiences you've had while playing the game that related more to the emotional or social aspect of Erotia?

Well I've never played Erotia, and I have not met anyone that has. I do currently have a date scheduled with a Long Distances lover of mine to play the game when next we meet though. I've done the character creation part of Erotia a fair bit. I often use it as a creative exercise to help refine my gendermood, or to pump myself up before going out. You can also use it to flirt. Aforementioned lover and I have been sending each other fliracious letters with text like "I am Rei, the season. My domain of power is change. I am worshipped with loving praise, & offer submission in return that we might make out till sunrise."

But if you're reading this interview, and you've played Erotia, I'd love to hear what you thought?
--

Thanks so much Ray for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed it, and that you'll check out Erotia on itch.io today!



Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Monday, December 3, 2018

In The End (I'm okay)

Today, on the Twitters, Adam Savidan posted something that just really hit me.
I had a good weekend, but I seem to be fighting with this big empty hole feeling in my chest after I release any content, like I’m instantly irrelevant after it’s been finished.
- Adam Savidan @WakeUpSuper
 One, I want to state that Adam is awesome and absolutely still relevant. His current show Spectator Mode is an amazing celebration of eSports and is infused with Adam's enthusiasm. I love that! I don't even watch eSports, but I watch Spectator Mode. Two, I totally get this, and I get how even after making something a-maaaaaayzing, Adam might feel a little like... bad.

Here I'll talk about the bad feeling - what I'll call the suck, some of what I do to try to fix it, and some of where I think it comes from.

The Suck

I just finished a Kickstarter, the most funds I've raised in a month through any means in my whole life, for a project that I deeply and passionately care about. But the truth is, for me, Turn has been done for a while - the minute I sent it to the editor, I felt like the main project died. The Kickstarter just performed some necromancy, and the next eight months are just riding on that wave of lich-love.

And right, I'll get some bursts working on The Confidante (which is actually pretty much done) and a Moose, and doing dev work alongside the stretch goal writers. But like, I will be real with you, the editing process is basically hell for me, I will hate every minute of it ten times more than you hate gum on your shoe. But I'll do it, cuz it's what's necessary to make a product, and yeah.

a clip from Wayne's World showing Wayne eating Pizza Hut in a performative fashion
But when the stuff that keeps me going is done, like my design bits, that suck comes in like

"You're not a real creator"
"You're not making anything useful"
"No one cares about the work you're doing"
"Everyone's already forgotten about you"
"Nothing you make will last or be memorable"

And just. I can't tell you how! much! I! HATE! IT! And I feel like I can't do anything about it, and maybe, most of the time I can't. I can try, you know? Like poke at it and make an effort. The alternative is to wallow negatively and agree with it and be like yeah, yeah, I super suck and I'm not good at anything. And ugh, gross. Gross.

@that_MAZ also tweeted this video of Wentworth Miller, a gay actor who is super inspiring to me for many reasons, talking about how we talk to ourselves:

It's real good, and I'm grateful for the words. It's also challenging, because man, I can't imagine talking good about myself on a regular basis - I even did a semester-long mindfulness meditation dedicated to reducing negative self-talk. It helped, but it didn't fix it - probably only constant vigilance would make a difference, and that's...a lot.

I pretty aggressively beat up on myself for not doing well enough, not succeeding enough, not constantly working. It doesn't matter how hard I work, there is not enough work done, and the minute the project stops, it's the suck. This kinda one-two punch of things talking about how we feel about ourselves (that we are irrelevant if we are not creating) and how we talk about ourselves (hurtfully) really hit hard. So, I wanted to talk a little about how I fight the suck, both the better ways and the worser ones, and ways I am gonna try in the future.

Fighting The Suck, Part 1, AKA the Bandage Over the Void

One way I try to circumvent the suck is by lining up new projects of varying sizes and by working on projects alongside the main project. I worked on Ears Are Burning during the Kickstarter, worked on projects for Turn like The Confidante and The Opossum during the Kickstarter, and I announced my new project, The Unhurried Pursuit of Sloth (more soon) at the tail end of the Kickstarter. And I have work to do immediately after, too, like my project for Orun, a sensitivity read, Leading with Class, blog posts to prep, starting a Scion streamed game (as player), supporting the stretch goal writers & doing that dev work, edits for Turn, and a project I just signed on for with Glittercats Fine Amusements (signing the contract probably tomorrow).

Of these, only a couple of them seem like I'll feel that creative filling for them, and a lot of the others are either different brain space or just not as satisfying as one of my own projects. And even so, even if I get that burst for them, each will end in turn. There's a lot of fear here.

Where The Suck Comes From

Part of me fears that if I end one project without another lined up, I'll feel worse, and another project won't come. This is scary for me financially, too, because I do rely on a lot of this work for income to keep my lights on and ensure we eat. John works, so so much, but maintaining me as a functioning human is expensive. Like, without my income from Thoughty, we get very close to a scarier spot than we're already in.

Griffin McElroy saying "and let's just have a full blown panic attack together!"
And the other part of me fears two things:
  • that I have nothing left to create - I am no longer a creator
  • that I am not valuable to anyone anymore - I am no longer valid
I have this deep and terrifying anxiety about not being useful? As a disabled person, as a person who has lost their usefulness time and again in varying ways, I am so afraid of the day I stop being useful to people entirely. To the day I am put in the corner to die. That is a full-on constant fear. And not creating anymore would make me much less useful, too much less, in part because of how hard not-game-design work is, and I die a little inside every time I realize how easily it could happen (see also: my brain is broken and some days I can't words).

And the valuable thing? It's just the other side of the coin. It's where I'm nicer to myself about the reality and allow myself that people might see good in me, might benefit from being connected to me. But what if it is just because of what I create? What if they don't see me creating stuff and being present and being a non-stop content creator every single day and they decide I'm not valuable anymore? There's nothing good left to see in me? I'm no longer a valid investment of their time and energy.

And I get worried they're gonna go away. That the people, they will leave me. It's not like building an audience is easy, like, it's fucking hard. I'm an entire person on this here internet and I've worked hard to make content that brings people to me so I am not alone in this universe, in appreciating the work I've done, and so on. And when a project ends it's like, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh, I gotta try to keep them here.
A blonde woman saying "Okay, that's okay." nervously.
Losing your audience is a hard hit. I've had hits like that, where I fucked up or I was just not what people wanted and I bled followers like so bad. It can mean death to future projects, and it definitely means tons of work rebuilding, networking, trying to be enough. Sometimes finding whole new audiences. It ain't easy. And that's part of the fear: even if I manage to recover, if I ever make anything again, I have to redo all of what I've done and more, and it may never be enough.

This is even more complicated when you are friends with a lot of your audience, like I am, and like many creators are - you know they're your friends, but what if someone makes a better, cooler thing while you're sitting here, unable to create something amazing right now? Wouldn't you rather they be happy?

Sometimes I wanna dump pudding on my brain for how easily it digs in to try to hurt me like this.

I think part of the resolution of this is identifying what our root fears are that cause this sucking feeling. Looking over them, mine are clear: safety based (wellbeing, financial security), purpose/identity based (usefulness, ability to be creative), social based (losing my social support net which directly impacts the others). And you know... those aren't illegitimate fears.

And I'm feelin' them while I look at my planned December break (more on that in a sec).

Fighting the Suck, Part 2, AKA Using Your Words

Sometimes, I turn to Mr. Rogers. See, Mr. Rogers wouldn't have ever given me shit for not constantly working. He'd probably ask me to work a little less! Or just as much as I felt like was right for me.
And like...one thing I need to learn is that a lot of my audience is there for me as I am, even right after I finish a project, even when I haven't worked on a project for a while. They care about me more than they care about what I produce. This is contrary to my brain, and fights against my fears.

So let's start with that. Slam down some affirmations, right? Use the words that work for you. Try to address each of your fears.
  • It's okay to be afraid of all the things that could go wrong.
  • It's okay to want to feel useful and creative.
  • It's okay to feel lonely when all the good words slow.
Next step is to chase away the lies. I try to avoid absolutes and stuff when I do this, but your language might work better for you, as usual.
  • Your creativity isn't unlimited, but breaks are okay, and reinvigorate you.
  • Usefulness is not based on constant productivity.
  • Your friends and audience aren't here purely because of what you create.
Then I think it's important to put some good in. Go wild, be generous.
  • You can think up new projects when your brain and body have rested!
  • You look productive when you have completed projects!
  • Your audience can enjoy your work at their own pace if you take some time!
And now we can do the more action-y part. Here's where I'd make a plan for how to fill the void.

What Fills Me?

This part is a pain because you have to think of like, the way you feel satisfied as a person. I'm going to talk mine out here.

Obviously there's trying to do new projects. That helps! Ish. But there's also like, getting positive comments from people that have nothing to do with my work, like, focusing on me as a person and their feelings about our relationship (or on my selfies & appearance, which is still kind of a bandage instead of stitches but ya know). Loving time with my partners or friends, and fun activities (actually playing games and stuff) help to offset the suck. Other creative activities than design like drawing, photography, and so on help me both distract myself AND keep me creatively satisfied.

Neil Patrick Harris saying "It's like, I don't even care what happens for the rest of the day!"

Fighting the Suck, Part 3 AKA Filling the Void

If you have a project ending, it's a good thing to set up a schedule for how you're going to deal with the suck. Using a bandage like in part 1, and using your works like in part 2, both are steps to deal with it. But the final step is filling that void!

What I chose to do right after the Turn Kickstarter was to schedule the Kickstarter to end right when we get a paycheck so our bank account doesn't feel so starkly empty, schedule & go on a photography trip with John for both love & creative time, make sure I post selfies and stuff to social media within a couple of days so I could get some positive comments from friends, and have a plan in place for the work I'll be starting. I also did some stuff like drawing (I bought some new colored brush pens) and setting up for the Scion game. And I took some time off the Kickstarter! Like I haven't sat and did emails or comments or anything, just like I promised. BUT I have been available on social media and interacting.

This can't be it, though. The recovery has to be proportionate to my productivity, honestly. I did grad school, then did a Kickstarter, then did a Kickstarter. So, I'm also officially taking off the second half of December - from everything. I'll be making sure I do photography, draw, and spend time with my partners. I'm allowed to work on game design if I really feel like it, so only when I have inspiration and enthusiasm, but no big project work. To facilitate this, I'm doing a two-week period where I'm resolving all my loose ends (edits for Turn, Orun work, pending paid work, etc.), and then I'm going to work on filling my void with something other than productivity.

It's like a sucking chest wound, right, the suck? You gotta wrap it up and keep an eye on it, be ready to unwrap it if things get yikes inside.

Gina from Brooklyn 99 saying Ew.
To break down what I am doing, I'm addressing:
  • safety fears - scheduling of the Kickstarter near payday, arranging to get paid work done, maintaining my health by taking time off, separating myself from the Kickstarter so it's no longer my whole life
  • purpose/identity fears - doing other creative things and spending time with partners, getting validation through selfies, allowing myself to be creative in games when I want
  • social fears - connecting with social media and getting engagement on selfies and my tweets from my audience, planning social things that prioritize my deep relationships, ensuring I'm still being "public"
It sounds like a lot but it's challenging to take care of yourself, to fight your fears, and to find a pathway to deal with the suck! It's also important to remember how much you can do during a project to ensure it doesn't become all-encompassing. Like I didn't do enough, but I tried to balance it by having a consultant do some of the work, not responding to Kickstarter comments when I was supposed to be in bed (this died eventually), and being thoughtful with my scheduling. The initial part 1 with bandaging by doing some design work alongside and ensuring I'd have design work post-Kickstarter was part of this.

One last of these kind of things I'll be doing is I'll be letting my audiences know that I'm dealing with this (in part through this post), so that if they've got some free energy, they can send good vibes my way.

There's one more thing.

Fighting the Suck, Part 4, Unsuck Yourself

This is, I think, the hardest part - and it goes back to the Wentworth Miller video. We need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to not slide into telling ourselves we suck, and we need to speak to ourselves lovingly. So when our brain starts those bad things I talked about earlier, and like he says in the video, we gotta refocus. Talk to ourselves out loud, and make them good to us.
"If you do talk to yourself out loud... make sure that the words are loving, supportive, and nourishing. Start the work of being your own best friend." 
- Wentworth Miller
You aren't the suck. You're just a person who is done with a thing. An AWESOME thing! And you'll have the chance to do more things, you just gotta remember that you need a break, too.

Garnet from Steven Universe saying "There's one more thing I forgot to tell you. I love you! Bye!"


--

P.S. - Maybe this will not be useful to anybody, but it might be useful to somebody! I just tried to think of all the things that are helpful for me and that I've been working on to deal with this problem that is really hard for me.

P.P.S. - The title of this is in reference to Linkin Park's "In The End" which I've listened to constantly during periods of depression, which normally accompany the suck. Since Chester Bennington's death, I've been trying harder to fight my depression than I ever have, because it has been super hard for me to cope with losing him - and I was just a fan who identified with his music. It made me wonder who would care if I was gone, and not want to hurt them. It matters.

P.P.P.S. - I looked up sucking chest wounds for this. There was an autoplay video. I suffer for my art.



Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ears Are Burning

Ears Are Burning is now on
https://briecs.itch.io/ears-are-burning

a dark blue box with the text "Ears Are Burning by Brie Beau Sheldon, a game of superstition & the public eye"

Ears Are Burning is a single-player game using timed observation and body control (low-impact meditation) to explore our connection to the constant flow of input from others, and our own output in desperation to match it, and the way it impacts us physically. It's a simple experience, but everyone knows that when it comes to discourse, it's always possible to lose the game.

--

Ears Are Burning is super simple but it is expressing an experience I'm struggling with as I work through running a Kickstarter. It's not easy - in fact, it's super challenging - to let your ears cool down. I hope I can find more time to do it soon. Won't you join me?


Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Turn in Final Days

Turn is in its final days on Kickstarter!

The project ends near midnight on November 30th. As I look at it now, I wish I had left in an extra day or two, because we may be coming up short of some of the stretch goals. But, I'm glad that we've come so far!

Right now we are looking at Meguey Baker's Smeed Hill stretch goal,
Smeed Hill will explore a town cut in half by closing mills, then closing schools, and now empty storefronts on Main Street and overgrown houses in the hills. There are still opportunities, but also needs that have yet to be met. Meguey has proposed adding a squirrel and a skunk to the available beast archetypes, wonderful new additions to a small town!

Like the other stretch goals, Smeed Hill will introduce some local NPCs to help your story along, a new town type, new beast archetypes, and a new or altered human role.
It sounds like a wonderful town!

We're also in the running for the 525 backers challenge I issued last night! If we reach 525 backers, I'll release The Confidante,
You don't ask for much in life, just for some peace and quiet, and for people to listen to you once in a while. Well, nobody seems in on that plan, so you spend most of your days hearing pieces of everybody's secrets, even through walls. And yet, no one listens when you cry "wolf!" Though, maybe that's a good thing.
Just a sneak peek!

For the stretch goals that we don't reach, I still hope to pursue them in the future, it just depends on whether I can get the funds together, because I still want to pay people fairly! I want to release Gerrit's Halver, Germany ($18k) and Jaye Foster's Harmouth, South Devon ($20k), and my own work-in-progress, a Moose, which has been a secret goal for $20k for a while. What it means if we don't reach them is that they will take more time, and be dependent on things like future sales and success.

a bearded man using a tablet and a clipboard while on the phone
Much like the Overachiever, I'll be juggling a lot trying to make it happen.
However, hope ain't just a theme for way stations! We still have over 50 hours to make every bit of this happen that we can. So share, support as you can, and continue to have enthusiasm for Turn! If you can back, that's just swell. If not, raising awareness - especially on different social media and sites - makes a huge difference to Turn's success!

Thank you SO much for any support you have given and any you continue to give! 

Check out Turn on Kickstarter today!


Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Behold, Products! Taco Ninja Adventure

Today I'm highlighting a product that's currently on Kickstarter called Taco Ninja Adventure

Taco Ninja Adventure is a card & dice game for 2-6 players, and it's team based! It works for ages 10 and up, and has a bunch of fun art of various Taco Ninjas.

Ninjas with tacos for heads in the middle of a fight, with the words Taco Ninja Adventure!
When I asked the creators at Turn Sideways Games to tell me about the product, this is what they shared:

In November of 2016, my little brother William asked me for help with a board game he was working on. He called it "Taco Ninja Adventure" and it's based on a comic book series that he and his friends wrote. William and I have been developing Taco Ninja Adventure together over the past 2 years and it's been a lot of fun and great bonding experience. The little man has a knack for coming up with taco and ninja based puns. We're so excited that the Kickstarter is finally live and we want to share what we've been working on!

Taco Ninja Adventure is a team based, card and dice game that takes 15-20min for 2-6 players. It's definitely inspired by King of Tokyo and Magic the Gathering, and designed to be a light weight game that is approachable for kids and fun for adults. We also put a lot of time and effort into finding an artist that fit the style of the game. Sol Azpiroz (@azpimar) has created some really amazing Taco Ninja artwork and we're so lucky to be working with her. We'd love for you to check out our Kickstarter page to see it for yourselves!

A feminine ninja with a taco for a head and flames shooting out of the eyes and around the feet.

Rusty, who contacted me about the game, has created a game that appears pretty simple, and the theme is silly and fun. On the Kickstarter, the cards and materials all look really nice and they included a clear How to Play section right on the page, plus gif and video options for the rules. The rules are even available in Italian!  

A muscle-bound ninja with a taco head in a karate outfit.
Some of the upcoming stretch goals include an embroidered carrying bag and wooden trackers, and there are social media goals for higher production values (like writing haikus!). It looks like this project is on the right track for success, now that it's funded, but reaching higher production values as stretch goals is always awesome, and it looks like a fun product for a reasonable price!

If you think playing taco-headed ninjas with a team of other players sounds like a fun time, check out the Kickstarter today!




P.S. - The creators of Taco Ninja Adventure have shared social media posts promoting Turn in thanks for my posting this Behold, Products! This post will not be charged for on Patreon.

Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Five or So Questions on FlipTales

Hi all! Today I have an interview with Ryan Mather on the game FlipTales, which is currently on Kickstarter! It sounds like a fun experience, so check out what Ryan had to say below!

--

A group of people laughing while playing FlipTales with tokens and cards
Tell me a little about FlipTales. What excites you about it?

So the basics are that FlipTales is a super-accessible roleplaying game for all ages. you play as magical creatures going on adventures that feel like a mix between Disney and Miyazaki. It's for 4-6 players, takes 30-60 minutes, and ages 10+. What most excites me about it is how easy it is for new players to dig into. I loved roleplaying so much because it gave me a chance to try out different identities and personalities. How's it feel to play a femme character? How's it feel to be a bully? Or to be introverted? It's hard to find experiences that facilitate this kind of identity exploration through play. I always felt like TTRPGS were really powerful experiences, but so hard to get started. The community is focusing on accessibility more and more, and this is my attempt to contribute to that conversation.

I've seen some results in playtesting that I'm really excited about. Kids and grownups are able to play on equal footing because the mechanics are simple and story-focused. I've obsessively redesigned the rules so that people who have never played an RPG before can learn the basics in as little as 5 minutes (depending on how fast they read). I've watched players play their first game in one session, then write their own adventure in the next. I love the idea that we can enable all players to be not just consumers but also creators of games and settings.

Lastly, I'm excited about the beautiful art that Caroline Brewer has made for the game. It's gender-neutral and age-agnostic, so all players can find something they connect to.

One more thing! Thanks to some generous backers, I'm able to use funds from the campaign to pay creators from underrepresented backgrounds to make stories for FlipTales. These stories already look like they are going to be a ton of fun to play. It makes me really excited to see what other stories people will come up with

A box labeled FlipTales with a variety of characters on the cover, two cards laid out in front of it with the "arboroid" creature and the "fungus lord" and three tokens of different colors with x's and o's on them.
How is the game "super-accessible," and what did you do during design to make it that way?

I come from an industrial design background, so I was initially introduced to accessibility through the lens of usability. One of my first assignments was to design a toy for blind children, which led to me visiting a blind school and learning more about their students. When you design something to be usable for people who have some mismatch with their environment, it ends up being better for everyone. I'm borrowing the word "mismatch" from Kat Holmes, who does a lot of work in tech accessibility. I think it’s helpful to reframe “accessibility” from something that people with disabilities experience, to something that all people experience when they bump into a mismatch with their environment. For example, a person with vision loss will have a hard time reading text, but so will someone who has to glance quickly at their phone, or someone who just walked into a restaurant on a winter day and their glasses have fogged up.

So from that background, there are a number of things I've baked into the game so that all players can have a good time. Zero industry jargon. Straightforward instructions, with lots of visuals. Simple coins, simple character cards. Abilities and characters that are designed to appeal to players of all backgrounds. A format that requires zero preparation so that you don't need experience or bountiful free time to have a game—and adventures that are as easy to write as they are to play!

My hope is that all these features combine to make an experience that feels straightforward to everyone. Of course, no game is ever finished, so I'm constantly playtesting and gathering feedback. Players' feedback has driven design changes in every element of the game from the creatures and abilities, to how many stats the characters have, the colors of the coins, and how characters level up. I’ve deleted 75% of the game’s content over the course of development in order to hit a level of simplicity that worked consistently. I'm particularly interested in working with sensitivity readers to uncover mismatches that I can't see on my own.
Two cards, the "crustaceanoid" and the "necromancer" with three tokens with x's and o's on them next to the rule book.
What is play like in FlipTales? What do you do and how does it function structurally?

Play in FlipTales consists of two main phases. The prompt, and freestyle. The wiz reads out a prompt and then players "freestyle" by taking turns suggesting ideas for what they would like to do. When players have an idea for what they would like to do, they flip their strength, magic, or smarts coins, depending on what's most relevant. If they use a special ability they get extra coins. It's a lot of storytelling and decision-making interspersed with coin flips. Since the rules are very light, players often will come up with their own mechanics to suit something they want to do in the game, like assist each other or give a friend an upgrade.

Who are you bringing on to design additional stories, and what are some of the ideas on the table for play from the stories?

So far, Sharang Biswas and Clio Yun-su Davis have been confirmed as guest writers. Sharang's story is set in a kingdom where only boys are allowed to learn magic—your goal is to help a small girls’ school survive a visit from the superintendent. In Clio's story, players try to stop a floral arrangement from reaching the empress of a neighboring nation, because an incompetent florist accidentally arranged the flowers to convey a very insulting message that could start a war. I'm really excited about both and am looking forward to finding more :) I'm in the process of confirming a third writer.

A group of people at a table with cards and tokens, all playing animatedly.

What kind of characters are players able to play in the game, and how do the stories and accessibility make their narrative richer?

The creatures you can play as are Humanoid (magic shapeshifting human), Wingoid (bird), Arboroid (tree), Geoid (rock), Sauroid (snake in a wheelchair with cute little arms), Insectoid (any bug), Nucleoid (a single cellular organism), and Crustaceanoid (any crustacean!). There are sixteen abilities ranging from Scout to Fungus Lord to Elementalist to Assassin. They're all on the kickstarter page if you want to check em out.

The stories all invite players to world-build and flesh out their character according to what they care about. Since FlipTales stories are all one-shots, the depth of the characters isn't going to be anywhere near an episodic game. The richness in the storytelling happens as players try different combinations of creatures and abilities and hopefully get their feet wet writing their own adventures.

As a side note, if anyone reading this is interested in writing a FlipTales adventure, or would like to nominate a creator to write a story, feel free to reach out! As a part of the kickstarter, I'm providing funds for creators from under-represented backgrounds to make stories. You can also always submit a story through the website, which I'll playtest for free and help refine if you need.
A cartoon of four people at a table with tokens and cards, animatedly talking.

--

Thanks so much to Ryan for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed it and that you'll check out FlipTales on Kickstarter!


Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Five or So Questions on Thousand Arrows

Hello all! Today I have James Mendez Hodes back to talk about Thousand Arrows, which is currently on Kickstarter! James has written on his own blog quite a bit about Thousand Arrows, but I wanted to ask a few questions here, too. Check out his responses below!

--

An illustration of a Japanese man having sake and sushi.
Art by Rachel Quinlan.
Tell me a little about Thousand Arrows. What excites you about it?

Thousand Arrows is a tabletop role-playing game of samurai drama and action during the Japanese Warring States Period (1467-1603 CE). It’s powered by the Apocalypse and inspired by both real-world history and chanbara media like Kurosawa films. I’m excited about this game because it highlights an era in Japanese history which is rarely in focus in the West. Most samurai media that makes its way to the English-speaking world focuses on lone wolves and duelists in the Edo period, the centuries of peace which followed the Warring States Period. Instead, Thousand Arrows gives players the roles of military, religious, and political leaders: samurai generals, Buddhist monks, desperate rebel farmers, and even spirits and sorcerers in which the sixteenth-century Japanese believed. Their decisions decide the actions of vast armies, religious sects, and feudal states. This game has personal narratives and romance and duels, but it’s equally about rewriting history in your character’s own image.


I know you research a lot. Could you tell me about the research you did for this project, including any direct consultation you did? What were the challenging topics to approach here?

I’ve put deeper and broader research into Thousand Arrows than I have into any other project of any kind.
  • As usual, I read a lot of Japanese primary sources, history books, and religious texts. If you’ve heard about my research processes for Scion 2nd Edition or 7th Sea, you know what I’m talking about. Brennan and I also watched a lot of Kurosawa Akira’s period films, as well as their modern derivatives like Samurai Fiction.
  • In 2013 I graduated from St John’s College in Santa Fé, New Mexico with a master’s degree in Eastern classics. I learned classical Chinese and read and wrote about a literary tradition that traveled from India through China and into Japan. My undergraduate work focused mostly on African topics, but I had always wanted to study Asian history and religion in more rigorous detail. Reading the Tale of the Heike, the Tale of Genji, and the Pillow Book established the narrative and behavioral conventions underlying the game’s moves. Reading the Buddhist canon inspired Thousand Arrows’s tragic tone and attachment mechanisms. I think an accurate, respectful portrayal of Asia and Asians, whether fantastical or historical, requires understanding where continuities do and don’t exist between different Asian cultures. It makes the difference between cultural exchange and cultural conflation.
  • In 2006 I took up a Japanese martial art called Bujinkan budō taijutsu, which teaches traditional Japanese battlefield and espionage techniques. The Bujinkan's oral and written history begins in the tenth century CE and, like most martial arts’ histories, combines historical fact with fanciful myth—both of which influence Thousand Arrows’s historical fiction. Thousand Arrows weapon masters’ special moves come from my own experience with medieval and early modern Japanese arms and armor. The Kuki Spirit and Cloud-Hidden fighting styles, available respectively to characters from the Kuki Clan and the Iga Provincial League, come from the Bujinkan’s curriculum. But rather than presenting specific techniques and movements which would confuse and bore unfamiliar players, Thousand Arrows models fighting styles in terms of the narrative situations in which they offer special advantages. For example, since the Kuki Clan controlled the Kumano Navy, Kuki Spirit stylists get an advantage when fighting on the rocking deck of a ship, making them effective marines and pirates. Thick forest covered the Iga region during the Warring States Period, so Cloud-Hidden stylists from Iga gain a preternatural ability to leap and swing through a forest canopy, making them excellent rangers and scouts.
An illustration of a samurai in front of a burning pagoda, looking intense
Cover art by Yoshi Yoshitani.
What are actions like in game, in regards to how they feel and what you can do?

Thousand Arrows characters start the game as feudal Japan's movers and shakers. Even the actions they take on an interpersonal scale affect the fate of entire religions, states, and armies. This is wartime, and every character has a section of between a dozen and a hundred well-trained soldiers who follow their orders. Characters without personal skill at martial arts or generalship are crucial to the war effort as intelligencers, diplomats, chaplains, and saboteurs. 

The action also focuses on interpersonal drama via the attachment system: as you get more invested in a value that drives you or a relationship with another PC, you get better at helping or hindering their actions on or off the battlefield, as well as more vulnerable to losing control of your behavior and giving in to impulses related to that attachment. In keeping with Japanese historical narratives, Thousand Arrows’s social atmosphere is highly emotional and volatile. A few characters, like courtiers, may be polished, calculating, and restrained; but most samurai express themselves through passionate outbursts of torrid emotion, extemporaneous poetry, or sudden and uncontrollable weeping.


What is the character creation process like, to create these complex characters?

Two playbooks make up each Thousand Arrows character: an allegiance (what team you play for) and a role (your position on that team). Allegiances include various samurai clans (the Hōjō, Kuki, Oda, Shimazu, Takeda, Uesugi, and Yagyū), revolutionary leagues (the Single-Minded League and the Iga Provincial League), and belief systems (the Nichiren School of Buddhism, Confucian academy, and Catholic Church); or, if you want to play Thousand Arrows on hard mode, you could be a knight-errant (also known as a rōnin) and not really have an allegiance. Roles include the courtier, retainer, knight, secret agent, foot soldier, warrior monk, shaman, and farmer. PCs in the same game frequently share allegiances, but roles are unique. Both allegiance and role modify your stats and give options for your starting special moves, equipment, and followers. 

I’ve found that the process takes about as long as most other Apocalypse Engine games: longer than Monsterhearts, a little longer than Apocalypse World itself, a little shorter than The Sprawl or Masks. I think it’s worth it to help players make characters they feel are their own: a Takeda courtier, a Catholic courtier, and a knight-errant courtier feel very, very different to play. That said, the game comes with eight pre-generated characters in case you prefer to hit the ground running at a one-shot or convention.
What are some of the exciting stretch goals we'll see from Thousand Arrows

We’ve already unlocked Jenn Martin's Fox, a sneaky, sexy, and duplicitous nature spirit who can disguise themself as a human. The Fox is a more traditional playbook, counting as both allegiance and role, and is a good option for players who want to engage with Japan’s wilderness or supernatural landscape. The Corsair, Merchant, and Artisan roles are also coming up. But there are two stretch goals which are larger in scope, and which I’m most excited about.

One is “Dragon King’s Gambit,” a campaign set in winter 1592 CE during the contentious and tragic Japanese invasion of Joseon Korea, then a vassal state of Míng China. During this campaign, the Azure Dragon King of the East Sea attacks with an army of sea monsters, forcing Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian, and Korean combatants to work together against a common enemy. DKG is playable either as a standard campaign, or as a convention game: we’ve run it successfully with three sessions, three tables, three GMs, and fifteen players (five each loyal to the Joseon, the Míng, and the Imperial Regent of Japan).

Another is "Street Samurai versus Code Ninja," which takes Thousand Arrows to a dystopian future where samurai have traded their warhorses and lamellar in for hoverbikes and power armor, where ninja stalk the shadows of the Internet as well as those in the real world. This setting deconstructs the orientalist and Japanophilic tropes which dominate cyberpunk fiction and gaming from the 1980s and 1990s by modeling the cities of the future on early modern Japanese conventions instead of just appropriating Japanese terms to describe Western concepts and anxieties about a looming Asian economic threat. SSvsCN includes futuristic versions of the standard roles: the Social Engineer, Salaryman, Street Samurai, Code Ninja, Ganger, Cybermonk, Technoshaman, and Gold Farmer. It also features new allegiances to represent major immigrant groups in Japan, such as China, Korea, Brazil, and the Philippines.

I really like the way our stretch goals expand what Thousand Arrows is about and to whom it can appeal, with higher-fantasy and futuristic play. I want this game to bring together players who are usually interested in different things and grant them common ground they didn’t expect to have.

An illustration of a person in a white and red kimono, holding a fox mask
Art of the Fox by Rachel Quinlan.

--
Awesome, thanks so much for the interview, James! I hope you all enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out Thousand Arrows on Kickstarter today!


Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Five or So Questions on METAL WORLD

Hi all, today I have an interview with Nick Zachariasen on METAL WORLD! It's currently on DriveThru! I normally don't include game pitches here, but the METAL WORLD pitch is so rad, I had to!

METAL WORLD takes the breadth of the heavy metal genre and throws it all into one game world. It doesn’t care how much sense something makes as long as it’s awesome. It has a demon-possessed lawman who rides a rocket-powered robot horse and carries a pair of 666-shooters. It has an undead ship made of the bones, sinews, and skin of the sailors it kills. Hell is a continent you can get guided tours of from the MegaDevil himself. The cherry on top? It has a volcano made of dragons, which shoots lava and more dragons when it erupts. The game system— including character building— are as loose as possible to allow your group to play the way you want.

With that in mind, check out Nick's responses below!

--


A very large muscular figure with antlers, dragon's feet, and a tail in thigh armor is holding a large bladed weapon while kneeling next to a smaller individual with colors in their hair and horns, breast ornaments, and a deer-skull headed spear, all surrounded by rocky landscape and colorful sky.
Boris Vallejo's Kalevanpojat.
Tell me a little about METAL WORLD. What excites you about it?

The germ for the idea that became METAL WORLD came about when I looked at the Boris Vallejo painting Kalevanpojat (above). There’s this giant half-man/half-dragon thing posing like he’s trying to impress this only nominally-dressed woman who could not possibly be interested any less. She has an expression as if to say “Yeah, buddy, just get down the mountain, already. Three of whatever you are have passed through in the last half hour. They’re probably at the tavern.” I imagined what kind of world that must be for such a fantastic sight to leave her completely unfazed. Fast forward to after the premiere of Metalocalypse and I finally come up with the vague idea of a world of heavy metal in all its breadth. Of course, a couple weeks later I learn about Brütal Legend, which was sort of what I’d conceived spiritually but for the most part not even close aesthetically, although I did draw some inspiration from it all the same.

METAL WORLD, then, takes every kind of metal— whether basic, “classic” metal like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest or just about any subgenre you can think of like doom, black, pirate, or whatever— and throws it all into a blender so that you can have situations like a barbarian riding a nightmare steed charge a tank crewed by cyborgs and actually have a chance at winning! It’s everything Ronnie James Dio ever sang about. It’s anything you might see in a Dethklok video. It’s everything power metal sings about, with valiant heroes, fire, dragons, The Gods™, and all that. In short, METAL WORLD tries to bring everything awesome into one place without regard to piddly details like “Wait a minute, how does a region with this ecology sustain a tribe of human-hunting giants? They’d strip the population bare in months and then have no food source!”

 METAL WORLD ignores pesky things like so-called “continuity” or “travel time” unless it’s important for the overall story you’re telling with your group, and I think that’s what excites me most about METAL WORLD. I’m not aware of anything quite like it, where any play style your group could want is not just possible but encouraged so long as everyone’s on board, and the game actually mechanically encourages it with a rule set that’s just vague enough to be accommodating but specific enough to be playable while also having fun with its readers to keep from taking itself too seriously.


What are the mechanics of METAL WORLD like and how do they relate to the theme?

The mechanics try to be simple and stripped-down. You have five main stats, each named for a subgenre of heavy metal: Death (your health), Power (strength and “persuasion”), Prog (intelligence, perceptiveness, and actual persuasion), Speed (agility, reflexes, and overall coordination), and Thrash (combat ability). I kept it that simple because A) it keeps creation easy and B) on the eventual character sheet I can put each one at the point of a pentagram.

The design philosophy is that instead of worrying about how far you can move in a round, exactly how long a round is, and that sort of thing you see some other games get bogged down with, METAL WORLD tries to focus in the in-game exploits of the characters and what they bring about in the world around them. It didn’t grow out of a wargame and god-of-your-choice help me if it grows into one. METAL WORLD’s main concern is giving people a setting that facilitates telling an interactive story with evocative imagery. That’s one reason I don’t have classes; they pigeon-hole characters into a predefined type without allowing for a player’s creativity to show through.

You can have a band (METAL WORLD’s term for an adventuring party) containing traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy characters like elves, humans, dwarves, and so forth alongside robots, cyborgs, Atlanteans, and METAL WORLD’s gnomes, which are a race of mad geneticists called ge-nomes— essentially, they’re a race of Bioshock-style Splicers. The environment contains everything from fantasy’s quasi-medieval environment to near-ish future tech and references galore to metal, its inspirations, and occasional random other things. You need complete freedom to be able to have that kind of spread in characters and environment, so METAL WORLD focuses a lot on group consensus as to the tone of the game, which means the Metal Lord (the GM) has very wide latitude of what to allow or to rein in if it proves unbalancing.

Another important thing I think bears mentioning about that latitude is that the guiding metric of METAL WORLD is “as ______ as it needs to be.” Because everything worries more about the story than thinking about ensuring you have enough provisions for the trip or how much you can carry, let’s say an invading army approaches. Your story is about the epic battle that ensues like the battle of Helm’s Deep, so the band and NPCs have plenty of time to prepare defenses and have a grand old siege ahead of them. Now say you have a story in mind where the focus is more on evacuating those who can’t fight and making a stand to buy time. That same army leaving from the same place will take less time to get to the same destination. In METAL WORLD, space actually dilates or contracts depending on the needs of the narrative, though no character is ever aware of this— it’s just a cognitive blind spot created by reality itself. Similarly, a character can carry as much as (s)he reasonably could.

Then you also have Metal points, which reflect the favor of The Gods™ like Fate Points in d6 Star Wars or bennies in Savage Worlds. They serve two purposes. First, they fuel magic use for those who know how to do that that as well as other effects, like maybe the powers of a magical item. More generally, though, they serve to allow characters to (usually) unconsciously generate special game effects depending on what they want to accomplish. You get them by doing particularly impressive things or just because the Metal Lord feels like it.

A cover for METAL WORLD: The Rough Cut with a note that all art is conceptual/placeholder. The cover is black with an orange volcano design and metallic silver text.

What kind of player characters exist in the game, and what are they like?

As I said before, you can make pretty much anything you can think of within reason and even perhaps a bit beyond. Your band can have an axe-wielding barbarian who rides a nightmare steed, a mad scientist who raises and otherwise experiments on the dead, a lizard man martial artist, a shroom-addled shaman who drives a wicked van with amazing scenery painted on its side, and a dwarf who’s replaced both of his hands with chainsaws. Mind you, all of these are among the sample characters I’ve created— the dwarf is named Angus Mac Chainsaw Hands. You truly are bounded only by your imagination and what the Metal Lord will allow. I haven’t statted minotaurs for use as PCs, for example, but if you want to play one, work with your group’s Metal Lord and figure out how to run one so it’s balanced with the rest of your group’s characters. Maybe you want to play something I haven’t even provided for yet at all. Make it up and work it out! Again, I want people to be able to create the most awesome things they can imagine so everyone can have fun with it.


How do you handle topics like violence, sexual content, and so on in a game themed so wildly and intensely?

bviously, violence is going to be present given that heavy metal isn’t exactly known for diplomacy over tea and crumpets. I mean, Hell is a continent you can physically go to and get a guided tour of, possibly by the MegaDevil himself. As far as sexual content, I do make a note about that in the introduction when I mention the traditional scantily-clad women you’d see in the artwork of Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, and other fantasy staples who inspired much of METAL WORLD’s aesthetic. I tell people to play it up to their group’s taste. This game tries to encompass the breadth of metal in its entirety. Some of that will involve mature-audience content and if you end up playing those kind of things up to the point where they become ridiculous, that’s totally fine if you’re enjoying yourselves.

As you say, METAL WORLD is indeed wild and intense and I feel the form that takes should be subjective, determined by what you want out of it. It’s like how if you’re listening to metal and you want something dark and brooding you listen to doom metal while if you want something that fills you with a sort of positive energy, you’d listen to power metal. It’s clay in your hands. If you want to make that clay look like something you might not want your parents to see, what’s important is that it’s what you want, not what somebody else wants. When you get right down to it, that’s one of the classic themes of metal as a genre.


What is one of your favorite moments from playtesting or designing METAL WORLD so far, and why?

I honestly haven’t gotten to playtest METAL WORLD nearly as much as I’d like. I mean, having to work a full-time job will necessarily do that, especially when you have a family. That’s why I hope people run through some sessions on their own (via downloading METAL WORLD: The Rough Cut) and give me feedback so I know what makes sense to people who don’t already know what it’s supposed to mean.

That said, I guess I have a few— deviating from your question just a bit— favorite design moments. The first is when I was writing about skills. I mentioned meteorology and added a footnote (the work as a whole is peppered with them throughout as asides, whether for comedy or to clarify without disrupting flow) that the Meteorology skill also teaches you about space because that’s where meteors are. This game is at least 20% puns and that’s probably my worst/best. The one with the best result as far as the overall work is how I added a chapter between the world (the fourth) and the creatures (then the fifth) so that I could have Chapter 666: The Number of the Bestiary. That chapter lists some adventure hooks and an example of play, which I think it really needed. I think the ge-nomes are one of my most clever ideas, having come to me as one of those thoughts that pops into your head about 15 seconds or so after your head hits your pillow at night.

That said, though, I am aware of a moment from a friend of mine running a playtest session. Someone commented that METAL WORLD “reads like it was written by a madman with a law degree.” I don’t know what this person’s clue was, but apparently it caused “tear-inducing laughter” when my friend informed this person that it reads that way because it was written by a madman with a law degree!

The words METAL WORLD in metallic gradient silver text.
The METAL WORLD logo concept rough.


--
Thanks so much to Nick for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out METAL WORLD on DriveThruRPG pay-what-you-want!

Thoughty is supported by the community on patreon.com/thoughty. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, follow the instructions on the Contact page.