[18:40] <+MaxBantleman> Thanks Dan, I’m Max, the game I’m here to chat about is PainKiller, a pen and paper rpg.
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[18:42] <+MaxBantleman> Some blurb about the game you say?
[18:43] <~Dan> Yup! You can say as much as you like. Just give us a “(done)” when you’re ready for questions. 🙂
[18:43] <+MaxBantleman> The game is about playing characters that have been biogenetically engineered by beings known as the ‘OverLords’ (the game is full of cheesy names like that) and being trained to fight their Nemesis. done.
[18:44] <~Dan> Thanks, Max! The floor is open to questions!
[18:44] <~Dan> So is this a sci-fi game?
[18:44] <+technoshaman> What type of system is the game? I class based or not… i hope not. And your typical what type of dice mechanic?
[18:45] <+MaxBantleman> It’s set in a sealed environment, the ship, ‘the Deliverance’ so it can cater for games set in different game-worlds like sci-fi, fantasy, whatever the GM wants to run. They can be discrete sessions, each in a different genre, linked by a big story arc or all set in the same genre
[18:46] <+MaxBantleman> It’s a stand-alone system using d10. Not sure about ‘class based,’ each Species of PainKiller has a unique set of special abilities but can learn any skills they want
[18:47] <~Dan> I don’t follow you on the game-worlds aspect, Max. How would you introduce fantasy elements, for example?
[18:47] <+MaxBantleman> Dice mechanic is attribute / characteristic + result of dice roll to reach target number for difficulty level. It’s not a straight roll with 1d10, but a number of d10 that are then worked out
[18:49] <+MaxBantleman> Man… just erased a big answer… bear with me…
[18:49] <~Dan> No problem. Take your time. 🙂
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[18:50] <+MaxBantleman> Each Sector of the Deliverance is constructed to resemble the HomeWorld of the race that inhabits it (that have been kidnapped by the OverLords), and it has the attendant social / tech level so that they feel at home. There are Sectors that resemble medieval Earth, some that resemble a fantasy environment, some completely alien, each sealed away from the
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[18:51] <~Dan> (Cut off at “sealed away from the”)
[18:51] <+MaxBantleman> others. The PainKillers enter each Sector to carry out a mission for the OverLords and interact with it for that mission.
[18:51] <+technoshaman> Are players escapees or are like gladitor type characters that can go to other sectors or are they stuck in that sector/genre?
[18:52] <+technoshaman> ahh you just answered my question lol
[18:52] <+MaxBantleman> Different GM run it their way: some run whole campaigns in one Sector, doing a slow burn development and reveal of the big-picture, while others use the PainKillers like special forces units that jump from Sector to Sector as they are needed, having much more knowledge of the truth.
[18:52] <+BlasterKyubey210> So the ship feels like an endless one
[18:53] <+BlasterKyubey210> Infinate Sectors
[18:53] <+MaxBantleman> PainKillers can of course break free from the OverLords, but they become hunted real quick.
[18:53] <+BlasterKyubey210> and no idea where the truth is
[18:53] <@Silverlion> It kinda seems a bit limited in terms of types of adventures. Do you feel there is a way to expand upon that frame of “trouble shooter slaves?”
[18:53] <+technoshaman> so a scifi version of the ultimate dungeon, what the title was
[18:54] <+MaxBantleman> Yeah, the ship is as big as it needs to be. The truth that the PainKillers may not know at the start of the game is that they are on a ship and that there is more than one Sector.
[18:54] <~Dan> So it’s sort of a Metamorphosis Alpha scenario?
[18:54] <+MaxBantleman> The adventures run in the play-test campaigns have been going a long time and have different focuses: similar limits to other games I guess.
[18:54] <+MaxBantleman> MA was mentioned earlier, not sure what that is 🙂
[18:55] <~Dan> Ah! It was the first sci-fi RPG and the precursor to Gamma World, about a generation ship that experiences some kind of disaster that mutates the humans, flora, and fauna.
[18:55] <+MaxBantleman> The game is dependent (as all games are) on the players wanting to discover more about the world around them: at the start of the game they only have limited memories of their past, which return fully as they develop.
[18:56] <~Dan> Years later, nobody knows that they’re on a ship at all.
[18:56] <@Silverlion> I can’t believe no one mentioned it before this–it was the ancestor to Gamma World, written by Ward, and basically mutants living on a spaceship who don’t know it. Sort of in the ultimate dungeon, its odd no one in your circles could bring that up. Its pretty well know (for gamers)
[18:56] <+MaxBantleman> Man, I need to get MA! 🙂
[18:56] <~Dan> Jamie Chambers is finishing up a new edition of it.
[18:56] <+MaxBantleman> Ah. I’ll go check it out…
[18:57] <@Silverlion> Its had several editions and was published by TSR originally
[18:57] <@Silverlion> It might be worth it for going “Man, I didn’t know someone else is as ingenious as I..”
[18:57] <+MaxBantleman> Totally passed me by…
[18:57] * ~Dan chuckles
[18:57] <+MaxBantleman> 🙂
[18:57] <~Dan> So in the fantasy sectors, is there actual magic?
[18:58] <+MaxBantleman> Yep, magic exists in some Sectors, and in some Sectors there are powers that are similar but natural to inhabitants.
[18:58] <~Dan> Huh. That’s interesting.
[18:59] <+technoshaman> and what and is the magic explained. both systen and fluffwise?
[18:59] <~Dan> So it really is a multi-genre game.
[18:59] <+MaxBantleman> Magic is just a way to make things happen using energy: well it is in the game…
[18:59] <+MaxBantleman> We’ve run full blown fantasy mini-campaigns and games based on Neuromancer… pretty wide ranging…
[18:59] <+technoshaman> so energy manipulators
[19:00] <+BlasterKyubey210> Hmm, basically, the flow of Energy is everywhere, and that each Sector has their own tricks
[19:00] <+technoshaman> the energy must flow… 😛
[19:00] <+MaxBantleman> The OverLords provide the energy to fuel the PainKillers abilities and the citizens needs / abilities – it’s all about energy manipulation BlasterKyubey210 – spot on
[19:01] <+BlasterKyubey210> Example, from Sector A, you may have Spells out of Warhammer Fantasy but when you take that “short” walk to Sector B, you find out that the Spells are more… benelope
[19:01] <+BlasterKyubey210> (Ok, short being a metaphorical use but be fair, you can’t really call distance can you?)
[19:01] <+MaxBantleman> Or Sector B might be completely underwater and inhabited by fish…
[19:02] <~Dan> When you say that different sectors have different tech levels, does that refer to local tech advancement, or does it mean that certain levels of tech simply don’t work in certain places?
[19:02] <+MaxBantleman> Each Sector has its own level: the only transfer between Sectors are the PainKillers, not the citizens or their tech.
[19:03] <+technoshaman> Torg anyone?
[19:03] <~Dan> Ah. So a mega-super-blaster would work in a Medieval sector… if you were allowed to bring it there?
[19:04] <+MaxBantleman> Yep, but the point of the PainKillers being biogenetically engineered is they are powerful without Tech: they are living weapons being groomed to face the big-bad.
[19:04] * ~Dan nods
[19:04] <~Dan> Could you give us a quick rundown on the types of PainKillers?
[19:06] <+MaxBantleman> Sure, worth mentioning that the game is based on the idea that tropes work! 🙂
[19:06] <+MaxBantleman> MetalHead – Need to ingest metal by inserting it in to their bodies: it acts as a fuel. Take minimal damage from all metal weapons, including bullets, heal incredibly fast from wounds from metal.
[19:06] <@Silverlion> What’s the system like?
[19:06] <+MaxBantleman> FleshMelt – Can mould the shape of their bodies, can be done with speed if pounded in to shape. No damage from bludgeoning wounds.
[19:06] <+MaxBantleman> MindShock – Can leave their bodies and travel astrally within the Deliverance, must return to beacon that appears from their body when they leave it.
[19:07] <+technoshaman> are the overlords similar to nobles or CEOs or a mix of both?
[19:07] <+MaxBantleman> System is stand-alone, dice pools drawn from stats+skills used to hit target numbers…
[19:07] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:07] <+MaxBantleman> CravenBeast – Has bestial features, can rip skills and powers from beasts that it assimilates (smothers and kills), and can use them for limited time.
[19:08] <+MaxBantleman> RipFiend – Similar to Craven Beast but can rip skills / memories from people – most it takes from die.
[19:08] <+MaxBantleman> VeggieHugger – Plant-like, has skills and powers similar to any plant it mimics, can assimilate properties from plants it comes in to contact with.
[19:09] <+MaxBantleman> OverLords are similar to demi-gods. They have an agenda – destroy their Nemesis and they are using the PainKillers to try and engineer the ultimate fighting being.
[19:09] <+MaxBantleman> That’s all the PainKiller species…
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[19:09] <~Dan> To follow up on Silverlion’s question, what are the stats, and how broad are the skills?
[19:10] <~Dan> (Oh, and Silverlion is one of our “resident” game authors. 🙂 )
[19:11] <+MaxBantleman> There are 3 Stats – Willpower, Dynamic and Soulstore. The skills are pretty broad, ‘Blade-1H’ rather than individual weapons for instance.
[19:11] <+MaxBantleman> Hi Silverlion, be gentle with me! 🙂
[19:12] <~Dan> Silverlion is a kind and gentle soul. 🙂
[19:12] <+MaxBantleman> All game authors are!
[19:12] <~Dan> 😀
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[19:12] <~Dan> So I’m guessing that Willpower is self-explanatory and that Dynamic is sort of a holistic physical stat… Am I correct? And what is Soulstore?
[19:13] <+MaxBantleman> Indeed, Sulstore is the connection to the energy of the OverLords, fuels ethereal skills (MindShock has) and magic such as it is. It’s kind of the wisdom / mysticism connection.
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[19:14] * ~Dan nods
[19:15] <~Dan> Regarding Dynamic, I have to ask you what I always ask when presented with such an attribute: How can you simulate something that’s strong but slow or weak but fast?
[19:15] <@Silverlion> Interesting. Is the game meant to be somewhat harsh/brutal? Those powers seem to be somewhat negative in function (ripping, smothering)
[19:16] <+MaxBantleman> Good question. It came down to a matter of sacrificing strict representation for the system streamlining: couldn’t think of a way to do it to be honest.
[19:17] <+MaxBantleman> The game is pretty brutal in many aspects: sort of ‘the monsters we are…’ kind of thing. The PainKillers have four non-number characteristics: Origins, Instinct, Desire, Fear, and much of the game is taken up with them reconciling these with their current situation / actions.
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[19:20] <~Dan> Could you describe how combat works? That might address the Dynamic question.
[19:22] <@Silverlion> Interesting.
[19:22] <+MaxBantleman> It really won’t… 🙂 it’s based on opposed skill rolls using the combatants weapons skill plus their Dynamic – each round one is the attacker , one the defender (exchange of blows), the attacker has to best the defenders score to score a hit
[19:22] <+technoshaman> was my question answered?
[19:23] <+MaxBantleman> PainKillers are really deadly compared to 90% of ‘normal’ citizens…
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[19:23] <+MaxBantleman> Technoshaman, the one about the OverLords?
[19:24] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian, ipsi!)
[19:24] <~Dan> How is damage determined?
[19:24] <+technoshaman> yeah
[19:25] <+MaxBantleman> Damage is by weapon type (diff damage types: pierce, bludgeon and slash) and Dynamic.
[19:26] <+MaxBantleman> OverLords have god-like powers on the Deliverance, they do not interact with the normal citizens, only the PainKillers, the others citizens are not aware of them, so they could be thought of as Nobles to the PainKillers.
[19:27] <~Dan> Hmm… So wouldn’t it have been possible to have a separate Strength attribute to govern damage?
[19:29] <+MaxBantleman> The limiting factor for me was wanting 3 game stats: it could be ‘house-rules,’ possibly by splitting Dynamic in to Agility / Strength…
[19:29] * ~Dan nods
[19:30] <+MaxBantleman> In fact that would work quite easily…
[19:30] <~Dan> I’d think so.
[19:30] <+MaxBantleman> But then 4 stats 🙂
[19:30] <~Dan> Well, yes. 🙂
[19:31] <~Dan> It’s just a pet peeve of mine that creatures get more accurate as they get bigger and stronger, you know?
[19:33] <+MaxBantleman> I know what you mean. I had to supress a lot of my instincts to get it down to 3… I wanted a fast, simple game that was frantic and fun more than it was realistic. It’s a valid peeve…
[19:33] <~Dan> Well, but it’s not a universal one. I’m under no illusions that my tastes are the One True Way. 🙂
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[19:34] <+MaxBantleman> 🙂 but still… a peeve!
[19:34] * +JP notices Dan quickly hide away the arm badge emblems and firearms for his One True Way movement
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[19:34] <~Dan> At the very least, though, I would strongly suggest adding some sort of scaling mechanic, so that as things get larger, they get more clumsy but more powerful.
[19:35] <~Dan> That way, you could stick with your 3 stats but could have enormous monsters that don’t fight like Bruce Lee. 🙂
[19:35] <+MaxBantleman> Looking at splitting Dynamic, that would do it: it could be developed separately for some creatures.
[19:36] * ~Dan nods
[19:36] <+MaxBantleman> Godzilla Lee…
[19:36] <~Dan> Godzillee
[19:36] <+MaxBantleman> 🙂
[19:36] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:36] <~Dan> Anyway, everyone’s got their own comfort zone when it comes to abstractions. 🙂
[19:36] <+MaxBantleman> I’m nicking that…
[19:36] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[19:37] <+MaxBantleman> Indeed, and the play-tests really focused on the premise and background rather than the mechanics.
[19:37] <~Dan> Looking at the character sheet, it appears that each of the three stats has its own hit points?
[19:37] <+MaxBantleman> (Not that we didn’t test the mechanics!!)
[19:38] <~Dan> (In my post-Q&A report: MaxBantleman said, “…we didn’t test the mechanics!!”)
[19:38] <+MaxBantleman> Yep, each is worked out using a mix of the three: each can be attacked.
[19:39] <~Dan> And each has its own store of points as well… are those akin to “Fate Points”?
[19:39] <+MaxBantleman> Kind, gentle souls… <sighs>… 🙂
[19:39] <~Dan> 😉
[19:40] <+MaxBantleman> They can be used to add to the skill rolls, sort of Fate-Pointy.
[19:40] * ~Dan nods
[19:40] <~Dan> Does the game feature a bestiary, and if so, how large?
[19:42] <+MaxBantleman> It does, it’s pretty small. Some inhabitants of Sectors, some ‘monsters’ and a guide to designing beasts and humanoids.
[19:43] <~Dan> How many Sectors are detailed?
[19:43] <+MaxBantleman> 3 Sectors in detail, with scenarios, and 5 story seeds – rough outline plus scenario ideas.
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[19:45] <~Dan> And how many Sectors are there in total? Or is that even defined?
[19:45] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:46] <+MaxBantleman> It’s not defined: as many as are needed. There is lots of room for the GM to mould the game as they see fit. The rough Description of the Deliverance is that it should be about the size of North America, so lots of room, plus the OverLords can wipe and re-make Sectors if needed.
[19:47] <~Dan> That’s… a big ship.
[19:47] <+MaxBantleman> It is! It needs to be 🙂
[19:48] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:48] <+MaxBantleman> It makes ‘Dark City’ look like a shuttle craft…
[19:49] <~Dan> How are the PainKillers able to interact with the natives of various Sectors? It seems like they don’t belong in any of them and would cause the locals to run screaming.
[19:50] <+MaxBantleman> The OverLords keep their memories and perceptions fuzzy: to allow them to get them to remain ‘happy’ in the Sectors, and the PainKillers are not fully perceived. If the PainKillers act out of synch with the local culture, they can rouse the citizens and they can get restless.
[19:51] <+MaxBantleman> The PainKillers are accepted in the Sectors by the locals as long as they don’t rock the boat too much.
[19:51] <~Dan> Weird. So even though they look like a herd of freaks, the locals don’t see them as such?
[19:53] <+MaxBantleman> Nope. It’s a perception thing. They are perceived as being ‘one of us’ unless they act wildly out of synch with the local culture. The dulling of the citizen’s perceptions is the only way they could be kept unaware of where they really are.
[19:53] * ~Dan nods
[19:53] <~Dan> You know, it occurs to me that another game you might find interesting is Whispering Vault, which has a similar premise in some ways.
[19:54] <+MaxBantleman> Good game, don’t remember too much about it, but liked the look and feel of it when I bought it – it got consigned to the ‘must play that one day’ shelf, and, like many on that shelf, never got the look ir deserved.
[19:55] <~Dan> The heroes in that game are humans who’ve been turned into freakish monsters by mysterious Powers That Be in order to fight supernatural incursions. And humans don’t see them as monsters, normally.
[19:55] * ~Dan nods
[19:55] <+MaxBantleman> I really need to read more! 🙂
[19:55] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:56] <~Dan> You touched on this earlier, I think, but what is the overarching plot behind the game? The Deliverance is on its way to fight some Big Bad?
[19:58] <+MaxBantleman> Yep, it’s on the way to the centre of the galaxy to fight the OverLords arch enemy. Buuuut… it’s a premise for the game, it never really happens, or it could do, but it hasn’t yet. In some games the PainKillers break away from the OverLords and try to rest control of the ship away from them,
[19:59] <+MaxBantleman> in others the PainKillers are involved in a much more nitty-gritty game on a local level and the ship and its journey barely enter in to it.
[19:59] <+MaxBantleman> I was stopped from calling the ship ‘Plot Device’ by some people early on in the game’s development…
[20:00] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:00] <~Dan> What sorts of missions do the PainKillers go on?
[20:02] <+MaxBantleman> Depends on the GM: some focus on local issue – find the serial killer, quell the uprising, slay the local beastie, find and retrieve the rogue PainKiller, while some Sector-hop looking for artefacts. As the PainKillers are so powerful compared to the locals, a lot of games focus on the PainKiller’s background and how that comes back to them,
[20:03] <+MaxBantleman> breaks through in to who they are now, hampering their control from the OverLords, so a lot of games are investigative in Sectors that are familiar to them.
[20:04] <~Dan> How can there be artifacts on a spacecraft?
[20:05] <+MaxBantleman> The locals bring up things when they are brought aboard: things from their culture and background that have significance to the OverLords, or gain some significance once aboard the Deliverance, artefact in the sense of ‘thing’ I guess.
[20:06] <+MaxBantleman> One of the themes of the game is that the Nemesis can affect things on the ship, taint them, infect them with negative energy, some of these are to be retrieved.
[20:07] <~Dan> Huh. So the Nemesis knows the ship is on the way?
[20:08] <+MaxBantleman> Yep, the Nemesis is akin to a Cthulhu god though, so it doesn’t care. Well, it is in my campaign. In another game, the Nemesis is a whole society.
[20:09] <~Dan> Doesn’t sound like there are really any “good guys” in the setting.
[20:10] <@Silverlion> (BBIAB)
[20:10] <+MaxBantleman> The citizens are just trying to get by: they are the only good guys. The PainKillers become aware of themselves as more than servants of the OverLords as the game progresses, and they can choose to make the lives of those they meet better, rather than be indifferent to them.
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[20:10] <+MaxBantleman> In some games, where the PainKillers stay in one Sector, they can develop families and social ties, becoming a good guy in the community.
[20:11] * ~Dan nods
[20:11] <+MaxBantleman> It can be a very dark game.
[20:12] <~Dan> Sounds that way.
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[20:12] <+MaxBantleman> I prefer the slow reveal to the PainKillers, focusing on them becoming aware of where they are over a number of games.
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[20:13] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[20:13] <+MaxBantleman> They then have choices to make, most choose to be as good as they can be.
[20:13] <~Dan> Is this your first game?
[20:14] <+MaxBantleman> No… but first one for a long time: I designed the DreamWorlds rpg (fantasy and sci-fi) in the mid-80s. Releasing another two in the coming year.
[20:15] <~Dan> What was DreamWorlds about?
[20:16] <+MaxBantleman> It was the germ of an idea that I’ve recently returned to with the guy I first worked with: a game about a realm that sits along-side our own that is accessible via various portals and gates, even computers – designed for younger gamers and first time rpg people.
[20:16] <~Dan> And what are the two you’re working on?
[20:17] <+MaxBantleman> We didn’t have the funding to get it beyond small-press UK release, and the time wasn’t right for it then…
[20:18] <+MaxBantleman> One is ‘Cursed Empire 3rd Edition’: going in to layout at the moment, the other is ‘Hidden Realms’ a game for younger gamers, final art and edit underway now.
[20:19] <~Dan> What were some of your influences in designing PainKiller?
[20:20] <+MaxBantleman> I wanted a game I could play with friends that enjoyed Dark City, Metropolis, Hell Raiser, general World of Darkness stuff for the background, but that would let us play with the idea of characters emerging from a memory-fog and realising what they were doing and who they really were
[20:21] <+MaxBantleman> and that they were both powerful and vulnerable to their ‘masters’… it started as a much darker game than it ended up: it became a lot of fun, if at times a bit crazy.
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[20:22] <~Dan> (Howdy, Teller!)
[20:23] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:23] <+MaxBantleman> I thought so! 🙂
[20:24] <+MaxBantleman> Plus, playing biogenetically engineered super-beings… sounded like a good idea at the time…
[20:24] <~Dan> 🙂
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[20:26] <~Dan> So a quick note: You’re welcome to hang out with us as long as you like and answer questions, or just hang out. Game authors are always welcome to discuss their work here. A Q&A just gives you the floor. 🙂
[20:26] <~Dan> That said, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up before I log the chat?
[20:27] <+MaxBantleman> Dan, cheers. Enjoyed it much more than I expected, but as I haven’t done it before, I don’t know what I expected! 🙂 I think that’s about it, happy to come back and chat more other times… thanks for the opportunity to spread the word about PainKiller!
[20:28] <~Dan> You’re very welcome!