[19:03] <+RobinCLea> Hi, I’m Robin Lea. I generally publish using my middle name, though, so the name you’ll see on my stuff is Christina Lea. I suppose I should just introduce myself that way, but I usually don’t. I started out with the intention of doing mostly fiction, but mainly I’m focusing on the Qalidar: Resistance RPG for Peryton Publishing, now.
[19:03] <+RobinCLea> There’s more about that at qalidar.com, and of course I’m here now to answer questions, but the tagline goes, “a role-playing game set in a crumbling multiverse full of nightmares and conspiracies.” The system is d20-based, but heavily modified, mainly for speed. (done)
[19:03] <~Dan> Thanks, Robin!
[19:04] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:04] <~Dan> Let’s see… Do you think it would make more sense to discuss the setting or system first, Robin?
[19:05] <+RobinCLea> Probably the setting.
[19:05] <~Dan> Okay then. Can you give us some idea of the scope of your multiverse? Is it completely “anything goes”, or are their specific genres represented?
[19:07] <+RobinCLea> GM’s could make it “anything goes” easily enough, but the default style out of the book is more horror/intrigue with sci-fi bits for glitter. I’ve described it as Charlie Jade meets Farscape, but it turns out a lot of people don’t know what Charlie Jade is. 😉
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[19:09] <+RobinCLea> You wouldn’t expect to see the massive space opera settings, though. The general atmosphere is more … eh… isolated.
[19:09] <~Dan> So is the multiverse composed more of alternate versions of our own, then? Or completely different realities?
[19:09] <~Dan> (Howdy, tech!)
[19:10] <+RobinCLea> Yes, the characters are assumed to start out in a world fairly similar to our own technologically, with more variance as you travel farther.
[19:11] <~Dan> A bit of Fringe then, too?
[19:12] <+RobinCLea> Yes! I should start using Fringe as an example.
[19:12] <~Dan> This is why they pay me the big bucks.
[19:12] <+RobinCLea> …although, unlike the other two, I saw Fringe after I had mostly developed my setting.
[19:13] <+RobinCLea> Not that that matters. I’m just babbling, now.
[19:13] <~Dan> No worries. 🙂
[19:13] <+RobinCLea> 🙂
[19:13] <~Dan> So based upon what you’ve described so far, is the “weirdness factor” fairly low-key?
[19:15] <+RobinCLea> Yes, at least at low to medium levels, and there’s no reason you couldn’t keep it low key even at high levels. In fact, it tends to assume that you won’t be generally be off beheading giant monsters.
[19:16] <~Dan> Speaking of monsters, is there anything supernatural going on, or is it all “weird science” type stuff?
[19:17] <+RobinCLea> Yes and no. The supernatural stuff is generally explained in pseudo-scientific terminology. For example…
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[19:19] <+Abstruse> So no space stations made out of sentient bacon then?
[19:19] <+RobinCLea> There are entities called vectors, which are an abstraction of the flaws in space/time. They’re explained as the manifestations we see when multi-dimensional shapes we can’t understand shift in front of us. Their function in the game, though, is very much like spirits.
[19:21] <~Dan> Are there abilities that resemble magic and/or psionics?
[19:21] <+RobinCLea> Heh. Well, I suppose there could be sentient bacon. There are places where things are… well, not *that* weird, but kinda close.
[19:22] <+RobinCLea> Psionic abilities are taken as a matter of course by Storm walkers (oh, I guess I should explain that – hold on) and there is a class that specializes in manipulating vectors, using what looks like ceremonial magic.
[19:22] <+RobinCLea> Okay, Storm walking…
[19:24] <+RobinCLea> The reason people can travel through the multiverse is that there is a violently shifting flaw called the Storm. Some people (by assumption, ALL player characters) are sensitive to this Storm and can manipulate it somewhat. Most other people are not.
[19:25] * ~Dan nods
[19:27] <~Dan> Is there an assumption about what the PCs do?
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[19:27] <~Dan> (Howdy, Kei!)
[19:27] <+Kei> (Dan! you rock!)
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[19:28] <+RobinCLea> Yes, and that has to do with conspiracy angle…
[19:28] <~Dan> (Thanks!)
[19:28] <+Kei> (of course!)
[19:28] <+RobinCLea> Oh, I’ve been using ellipses to indicate that I’m about to say more. Is that proper chat etiquette?
[19:29] <~Dan> Sure, that works, Robin. 🙂
[19:29] <+Abstruse> Is this a unique system? Or are you using another system as the base?
[19:30] <+RobinCLea> Abstruse: It’s based on the d20 SRD, so not all that unique. I’ve modified it to slim it down a lot, though.
[19:30] <~Dan> Abstruse: It’s a d20 variant. We’ll get to that in just a bit. 🙂
[19:30] <+RobinCLea> Okay, back to what the characters do…
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[19:31] <+RobinCLea> There are various organizations trying to exploit the Storm, and recklessly widening the flaws in the process. This is also something that can happen to a lesser degree if the players aren’t careful…
[19:33] <+RobinCLea> … but players are generally assumed to be working to stop this exploitation. There are rules in the game both for obtaining resources from and opposing organizations. In other words, certain things like scandals and the loss of a base can “damage” them a certain amount.
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[19:34] <+RobinCLea> Okay, done with that answer but happy to elaborate.
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[19:35] <~Dan> So is it the case that the PCs are basically having to use the “tools o fthe enemy”?
[19:35] <~Dan> (Howdy, Randy, Jetrauben_Mobile!)
[19:35] <+Randy> ((whoops)
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[19:36] <+RobinCLea> Yes, and how responsibly they use those tools can make a difference.
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[19:37] <+Abstruse> (By the way, I don’t think I introduced myself, I’m Darryl Mott Jr. from Ain’t It Cool News Tabletop and the Gamer’s Tavern podcast…)
[19:39] <~Dan> Is the opposition all human, with vectors just being manipulated?
[19:39] <~Dan> Or are their intelligent aliens, for example?
[19:41] <+RobinCLea> There are lots of intelligent aliens. Some are able to blend in with humanity, some can pass if they cover up enough, and some are giant insects or three-headed cyborgs that have to do their manipulating from afar.
[19:42] <~Dan> Wow. How much of a bestiary do you offer?
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[19:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, Monkoflords!)
[19:44] <+RobinCLea> Fairly substantial. It’s not aimed at dungeon-stocking or anything like that, but… hmm, let’s see if I can get a rough idea how many. I don’t think I’ve ever counted…
[19:46] <+RobinCLea> I dunno. Let’s say 30+ creatures. The more prominent of the sentient ones also have a section about their society and technology.
[19:48] <~Dan> So you have vectors and aliens… What other sorts of creatures are there?
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[19:52] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ!)
[19:52] <+RobinCLea> There’s also Corrupted. These are the result of distorted timelines and such. This includes, for example, some enthusiastically bionic parts looking for people to subsume, fungus-crazed cannibal dwarves, and piping spiders grafted to spare parts.
[19:54] <~Dan> How commonly known are these sorts of creatures? Or any of the creatures you mentioned, for that matter?
[19:54] <~Dan> Does it depend upon the dimension?
[19:55] <+RobinCLea> It does depend on the dimension, but, apart from hushed-up sightings, a lot of the people players interact with will have no idea that these creatures exist.
[19:56] <+RobinCLea> Some places are easier to get than others. It’s generally assumed that the worlds closer to ours are on the more difficult end.
[19:56] <~Dan> Are there dimensions in which E.T. contact has already happened?
[19:57] <+RobinCLea> I mean, they’re definitely harder to get to. I meant to say that it’s generally assumed that the PCs home is one of these.
[19:58] <+RobinCLea> Yes. Also, there is a central between-worlds space, which is where the game gets its name.
[19:58] <~Dan> Can you explain that a bit?
[19:59] <+RobinCLea> The Storm exists because there’s a hole in reality. Qalidar is what’s settled in the accretion disk around that hole.
[19:59] <+RobinCLea> more…
[20:01] <+RobinCLea> There are three main “roads” that form what is known as the Spiral of Qalidar. Worlds that are the same distance from the center generally have more in common.
[20:03] <+RobinCLea> The center is more of an assumption than a reality. As far as anybody knows, it’s impossible to reach. It just keeps getting weirder and more dangerous as you get closer.
[20:05] <~Dan> Can you give an idea of how weird things can get?
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[20:08] <+RobinCLea> In this case, I’m talking about weird as in hostile to life and sanity rather than weird as in giant bugs. Towards the center, the lucky characters are being hurled into alien landscapes while the unlucky or overly persistent ones are suffering random alterations.
[20:09] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:09] <~Dan> Would you say things get “Lovecraftian”?
[20:12] <+RobinCLea> Yeah, and I guess there is a Lovecraftian edge to the whole thing, in that there’s an incomprehensible reality impinging on this one.
[20:13] <+RobinCLea> Although the general assumption that the characters can do things that matter doesn’t feel much like Lovecraft.
[20:13] <~Dan> So there are a bunch of “normal” realities, and a really weird one busting in on them?
[20:16] <+RobinCLea> Yeah, although the degree to which those realities has been influenced varies, and the opposition will generally be other beings that are adapting to the same weirdness in… inconsiderate ways.
[20:17] <~Dan> So… reality mutants going over to the “dark side”?
[20:18] <+RobinCLea> Or totally un-mutated people taking advantage of the fact that there are reality mutants. Or not necessarily even taking advantage, maybe just recklessly making it worse through some other activity.
[20:19] <~Dan> Can PCs be mutated to any degree, or is that strickly baddie territory?
[20:19] <~Dan> strictly, even
[20:21] <+RobinCLea> No, not strictly baddie territory. One of the classes, the ascendant, even specializes in self-modification.
[20:21] <~Dan> Huh. Cool.
[20:22] <~Dan> So on that note, shall we switch focus a bit over to the system?
[20:22] <+RobinCLea> Sure.
[20:23] <~Dan> Can you give us a quick overview of the tweaks to d20 that you implement?
[20:23] <+RobinCLea> Oh, I guess I should start with … yeah, I just realized you were waiting for that. 🙂
[20:23] <~Dan> Nah. I was just deciding where to start. 🙂
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[20:26] <~Dan> (Howdy, kanobe!)
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[20:27] <+RobinCLea> The core mechanic is the familiar “d20 + bonus vs. target number” mechanic. The bonus will be an ability score bonus plus a level-based bonus. This will be either the generic action bonus, or a knack bonus. If you have a knack in something, you add your level (up to a point) instead of the generic action bonus. …
[20:28] <+RobinCLea> You can have a knack in anything you can attempt. It could be a skill like climbing, a particular weapon, some kind of combat maneuver, class abilities (if they require checks) or even things that are generally thought of as “saving throws.”
[20:29] <+RobinCLea> There are classes, but multiclassing is not penalized at all for two classes, and only lightly penalized beyond that, so dabbling is encouraged.
[20:29] <~Dan> Hmmm… So would it be correct to say that you dispense with class-based combat bonuses and make combat a “skill”?
[20:32] <+RobinCLea> Yes. Although some classes have built-in knacks or other bonuses for certain combat-related rolls.
[20:32] * ~Dan nods
[20:32] <~Dan> I like that approach.
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[20:32] <+RobinCLea> And I don’t think this is what you were saying, but just in case: you couldn’t have a knack in something as broad as “combat.”
[20:33] * ~Dan nods
[20:33] <~Dan> How broad are such knacks? Classes of weapons? Specific weapons?
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[20:34] <+RobinCLea> Specific weapons, although my weapons are often less specifically defined than other modern-world games. “Standard pistol” is an entry, for example.
[20:34] <~Dan> (Howdy, Anduwaithe!)
[20:35] <+Anduwaithe> (Heya 🙂 )
[20:35] <~Dan> Quick aside back to setting: How advanced does human tech get?
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[20:38] <+RobinCLea> Beyond a sort of cyberpunk-genre level, the worlds are very hard to get to. Also, part of the metaphysical background is that the Storm and Qalidar occupy what might otherwise be called hyperspace, so space opera-style faster-than-light travel is impossible.
[20:39] <+RobinCLea> Hyper-advanced tech does exist, but it’s more in the realm of “magic items,” if that makes any sense.
[20:39] <~Dan> Does that mean that all E.T.s on Earth counterparts arrived via generation ships?
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[20:41] <~Dan> (Howdy, rawr!)
[20:41] <+RobinCLea> Well, one of the ET races evolved from magnetic plasma patterns in our own sun, but generally aliens arrived or are found by Storm walking.
[20:41] <~Dan> Ah… So they’re from worlds occupying the same extra-dimensional space as Earth?
[20:42] <+RobinCLea> Well, that depends on which multiverse theory you subscribe to, but the short answer is yes. 🙂
[20:43] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:43] <~Dan> Okay, back to system…
[20:43] <~Dan> Do you use AC or DR for armor?
[20:44] <+RobinCLea> For armor I use DR. The target to hit someone is called their Active Defense, which is class and level based. While it adds to your damage-soaking capacity, armor also subtracts from your Defense to varying degrees.
[20:45] * ~Dan makes another mark in the “Cool” column…
[20:46] <+RobinCLea> It never reduces your Defense below the baseline, though, so for some people it’s a clear choice.
[20:46] * ~Dan nods
[20:46] <~Dan> How cinematic would you say the game is?
[20:49] <+RobinCLea> Only a little more than standard d20, I suppose. I mean, the rules mostly derive from the same philosophy. The XP mechanic is a little cinematic, I suppose. …
[20:50] <~Dan> Can you give us a general overview of the classes?
[20:50] <+RobinCLea> You gain XP by doing remarkable things (and you get a freebie for finishing an adventure) as interpreted by the GM. You can, in the course of play, burn those XP, which means you can’t use them, to do action-pointy-type-things. …
[20:51] <+RobinCLea> You level up when you have a number of XP equal to the level you’re trying to reach (character level, not class level).
[20:51] <~Dan> Cool, re: action points.
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[20:52] <+xyphoid> so you have to decide between spending points to do cool things, or levelling?
[20:54] <+RobinCLea> Classes: Ascendant (the previously-mentioned transhumanist type), Fixer (both a technological and mystical gadgeteer), karcist (vector-manipulator), mystic (psionic), scrapper (hand-to-hand specialist), and sharp (mostly ranged specialist)
[20:56] <+RobinCLea> xyphoid: For that particular group of cool things, yes. The game isn’t built to maneuver people into spending those points, though. I mean, no class ability will require you to spend XP or anything like that.
[20:56] <~Dan> Quick note: While you’re slated for 2 hours for the Q&A, you’re welcome to stay and answer questions as long as you like. For that matter, you (like all game authors) are welcome to visit here any time, whether just to hang out or to promote your work.
[20:57] <~Dan> That said, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
[20:59] <+RobinCLea> I think that covers it pretty well.
[21:00] <~Dan> I’ll go ahead and prepare the discussion log, then. 🙂 Do you have an image you’d like me to use in it?
[21:00] <+RobinCLea> Yeah. Hold on and I’ll grab a link to it.
[21:02] <+RobinCLea> (Link: http://www.qalidar.com/_/rsrc/1378744311250/home/QalidarSquare_sm.jpg)http://www.qalidar.com/_/rsrc/1378744311250/home/QalidarSquare_sm.jpg
[21:02] <~Dan> Posting now… Thanks very much for coming by to chat with us, Robin!
[21:02] <+RobinCLea> Or there’s this if it fits better: (Link: http://www.perytonpublishing.com/images/QResist.jpg)http://www.perytonpublishing.com/images/QResist.jpg
[21:03] <+RobinCLea> Thank you! It was fun.