[19:01] <+Mark_W> So my name’s Mark Wightman, just about still in my 40s, and I’m a director of a university research centre by day. About 9 years ago while moving house I realised how many unrealised game projects I had, scribbled in notebooks going back to the 80s
[19:02] <+Mark_W> Unlike the 80s there was now the interweb and sites like rpgnow, so I finished them off and started publishing them, one by one.
[19:03] <+Mark_W> One of them, my Great Unfinished Fantasy RPG, really caught the eye of my middle daughter, who asked me to finish it. That was 2007. Life and stuff delayed me a bit, but 7 years later I finally got there!
[19:04] <+Mark_W> And that’s what Argor is – the game that originally nearly derailed my BSc in Applied Physics. This time it nearly derailed my part time MBA.
[19:04] <+Mark_W> And…(done)
[19:04] <~Dan> Thanks, Mark_W!
[19:05] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:05] <~Dan> So what sort of setting is Argor?
[19:06] <+Mark_W> It’s high fantasy. Split across four main geographical regions. Some of them have very familiar elements – orcs, elves etc. Some of them less so.
[19:07] <~Dan> What are the latter like?
[19:09] <+Mark_W> The most “different” continent is the Southlands. There are humans in the east of it, rat-like beings called rodus to the west, and three saurian races in the centre, tain, yiggisa and sk’tuish
[19:09] <~Dan> Are these all PC races?
[19:09] <+Mark_W> It’s most hot – a bit like North Africa, climate wise, though with forested areas
[19:11] <+Mark_W> The game assumes the PC races are human, elf, dwarf or Halfling, but all the races are described in the same detail. There’s nothing to stop a character playing any of the ‘Aware’ races… that’s the name for the intelligent bipeds of Argor
[19:12] <~Dan> Are there any unusual aspects to your versions of the standard fantasy races?
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[19:13] <+xyphoid> so what do you *do* in this game? what’s a standard group of PCs look like?
[19:13] <+Mark_W> Yes, the humans are very fragmented, much more like our own world in having a range of cultures and histories
[19:15] <+Mark_W> I think a standard group of PCs will be looking for adventure – or maybe just survive – on one of the contested areas. The setting is mostly post-imperial – there is stability but a lot of land has been lost to hostile races
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[19:15] <~Dan> (Howdy, LW`)
[19:15] <+Mark_W> There are large areas that are dangerous but full of the promise of adventure, and I think these would attract the PCs
[19:16] <~Dan> How common are nonhuman races in the setting?
[19:17] <+Mark_W> The most ‘different’ humans are the Westeholmers, who are a bit like Atlanteans or Numenoreans before the destruction of their islands
[19:17] <+Mark_W> Non human races are very common. In some areas humans are very much in the minority.
[19:18] <~Dan> What are relations like between the main PC races?
[19:20] <+Mark_W> I was keen to have a strong flavour of Middle Earth, as I think Argor is suitable as an entry level game into the hobby for new gamers with a generic knowledge of fantasy.
[19:21] <+Mark_W> The main human-elf-dwarf-Halfling relationships are similar to Middle Earth, though complicated by interactions between the differing human cultures
[19:21] <+Mark_W> The valemen, for instance, are modelled on the ancient Greek city states – they distrust kings and emperors so find it hard to ally with more traditional human kingdoms
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[19:24] <~Dan> What is the core mechanic?
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[19:26] <+Mark_W> Pretty simple! There are five Attributes on a 3D6 scale – I like the normal distribution curve! According the value of an Attribute the character gets a modifier score, and this is used as the basis for deciding broadly what mix of skills they have
[19:27] <+Mark_W> There are five broad skill types broken down into further specific skills – the player gets to spend points on these to buy bonuses.
[19:27] <+Alaren> Five attributes you say?
[19:27] <+Mark_W> Resolving success at a skill – and that includes combat – is always found by rolling 2D6 and adding any bonuses
[19:28] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet posted that we could see?
[19:28] <+Mark_W> Yes, the attributes are Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Willpower and Intelligence. None for looks or wisdom, I’d like that to be part of the character’s back story and roleplayed rather than a number
[19:29] <+Mark_W> Yep…
[19:29] <+Mark_W> (Link: http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/DrakenGames/character-sheet-demo/1)http://www.slideshare.net/fullscreen/DrakenGames/character-sheet-demo/1
[19:30] <+Mark_W> Like I said, pretty straightforward, nothing startling mechanics-wise
[19:30] <~Dan> Hmm… So the attribute modifiers don’t add directly to skills?
[19:31] <+Mark_W> Not directly, they decide the broad Skill Type values. These are then multiplied by 3 and that number allocated among the skills in that skill type.
[19:32] <+Alaren> Perception looks like it covers a wide range of things. How is the value for perception derived?
[19:32] <+Mark_W> The Perception Skill Type is derived from the Willpower modifier
[19:33] <+Mark_W> Modifiers are in the range 0 to +8
[19:34] <~Dan> What governs Combat?
[19:35] <+Mark_W> Combat is the exception! There is a separate die roll for combat Skill Type value, which varies by race. High Elves and Great Orcs would tend to get higher Combat values than halflings, say!
[19:36] <~Dan> I see a space for Damage Bonus and Range Bonus… Are those based directly on Combat, or do those relate to Strength?
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[19:37] <~Dan> (wb, Silverlion!)
[19:37] <+Mark_W> Strength.
[19:37] <+Mark_W> Hi Silverlion!
[19:37] <@Silverlion> Hi Mark, Hi Dan
[19:38] <~Dan> (Silverlion is one of our “regular” game authors. 🙂 )
[19:38] <+Mark_W> One thing to mention is that there is no damage roll normally. Once you hit, you do the damage allocated to that weapon, plus your strength bonus
[19:38] <+Mark_W> Nice to meet you! And you too Alaren!
[19:39] <~Dan> Is there any sort of critical hit mechanic?
[19:39] <@Silverlion> How does armor work?
[19:40] <+Mark_W> Yes, a straight roll of 12 is called a Triumph… if you win that combat round your damage is doubled
[19:40] <+Mark_W> Armour is very simple – a deduction from the damage, depending on armour type
[19:41] <+Mark_W> Though you can use a shield as well, if you have one
[19:41] <~Dan> Hmm… I’m a little leery of flat criticals, because they remove the value of skill. Any thoughts on the subject?
[19:45] <+Mark_W> I think for simplicity sake it doesn’t do too much harm to say there’s a 1/36 chance of something extra happening (or for a straight 2, something bad happening). Also, very skilled fighter can quite often win the combat even against a critical hit. Say you have a weapon skill of +2 and roll 12 to give you 14, an opponent with +6 who rolls 9 still wins
[19:46] <@Silverlion> So its an opposed attack roll system? Highest Wins?
[19:46] <+Mark_W> In that case the straight 12 earns a ‘Mitigation’ – something less bad happens if you lose with a straight 12, usually a glancing blow for half damage
[19:46] <+xyphoid> do you use hit points or some other damage system?
[19:47] <~Dan> Ah, I see what you’re saying. Yes, that does address my concern a bit.
[19:47] <+Mark_W> Yes, silverlion, a straight contest, highest wins
[19:47] <+Mark_W> Hit Points Xyphoid
[19:47] <+Mark_W> Cool, Dan! 🙂
[19:47] * ~Dan chuckles
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[19:48] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:48] <+Mark_W> Hi MoL!
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[19:49] <~Dan> Speaking of damage, I noticed something a bit odd in skimming the rules… It looks like you do more damage unarmed than you do with a dagger.
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[19:52] <+Mark_W> Well that’s to reflect the “stunning” effect of a unarmed attack… half the points lost are temporary. So if you inflict 12 HP of unarmed combat damage on an opponent with 12 HP, rather than dying they are knocked out and deemed to still have half their HP really… ie if they wake up they’ll have 6 HP left
[19:53] <+Mark_W> I was going to have stunning rules but they were too clunky, so I used this to allow prisoners to be taken alive occasionally!
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[19:53] <~Dan> Right, I get that, but it means that in the short term, the unarmed guy is going to put down his foe faster than the knife fighter, doesn’t it?
[19:53] <~Dan> (wb, ArdentPurple)
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[19:54] <+Mark_W> Yes it does, if he’s good enough. Maybe that’s from my Viking re-enactment days, I was rubbish with a dagger.
[19:55] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:55] <~Dan> Sorry for being nit-picky. It’s kind of my thing as a reviewer. 🙂
[19:55] <+Mark_W> Not to worry!
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[19:55] <~Dan> (wb, Silverlion)
[19:55] <~Dan> What’s magic like in the setting, and in the system?
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[19:56] <~Dan> (Howdy, Canadork!)
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[19:56] <~Dan> (Howdy, Snoof!)
[19:57] <+Mark_W> Oh just to mention a good quality dagger foes 2 HP damage and could get a damage bonus too
[19:57] <+Mark_W> Ok magic is quite ironic, because I set out to totally change the paradigm for the use of magic in RPGs
[19:57] <~Dan> Ambitious!
[19:58] <+Mark_W> Yep! Then after a while I realised why no other games had gone down the route I was going down. Cos it was unplayably rubbish, basically.
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[19:59] <~Dan> (Hey there, Mostlyjoe! Welcome back!)
[19:59] <+Mostlyjoe> Yo!
[19:59] <+Canadork> j0
[20:00] <+Mark_W> So in the end I’ve gone for something that will be familiar to a lot of gamers – lists of spells that have to be learned, from one of three sources of magic
[20:01] <@Silverlion> Welcome to game design
[20:01] <+Mark_W> Yes indeed. Silverlion!
[20:01] <~Dan> What are the sources?
[20:03] <+Mark_W> Base magic – folk magic basically, very limited in what it can do but undemanding to learn. Occult Magic – magic that has to be studied and practised. And Deitic Magic – awarded for devotion to a deity or their attendants
[20:04] <+Mark_W> Also, spells drain mental power – Psyche, sort of a mental version of HP
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[20:04] <+Mark_W> A magic user could cast quite a few low-power spells but maybe only two or three really big ones
[20:04] <+Mark_W> So that introduces some decision making for them
[20:05] <~Dan> Can anything else drain Psyche? Does it serve as sanity as well?
[20:07] <+Mark_W> It could do but I haven’t included that in the core rules. Basically Ellen (middle daughter who pressed for the game to be finished) HATES undead… I was going to have all sorts of Psyche drain attacks from shades and ghouls etc, but I was vetoed! 😀
[20:07] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:07] <+Mark_W> Might sneak out a supplement when she’s not looking
[20:07] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:08] <+Mark_W> Kids these days!
[20:08] <~Dan> How powerful is magic? What can it accomplish on the upper end of the scale?
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[20:11] <+Mark_W> Not devastating. The rules only feature three levels of magic. The most powerful offensive spell would probably kill human or orc or whatever outright but would only annoy a dragon.
[20:12] <~Dan> Huh. That seems relatively weak for a high fantasy setting.
[20:12] <+Mark_W> Depending on Psyche a magic user could maybe fire three of those off that day, so, no, ‘powerful’ magic isn’t THAT powerful
[20:12] <+Mark_W> Yes it is. I’d rather magic was used for problem solving than as heavy artillery, I suppose.
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[20:13] * ~Dan nods
[20:13] <+Mark_W> Though magic artefacts are something else – they could give PCs the chance to go up against a real monster
[20:13] <~Dan> Nothing wrong with that approach.
[20:14] <+Mark_W> Phew! 🙂
[20:14] <~Dan> Well, IMHO, of course. 🙂
[20:14] <+Mark_W> Your opinion is appreciated!
[20:15] <~Dan> It’s not that different from Elric/Stormbringer, which required a sorcerer to summon and bind demons and elementals to get the real magical juice.
[20:15] <~Dan> Spells themselves aren’t that powerful.
[20:15] <+Mark_W> Quite, and that was one of my formative RPGs!
[20:15] <~Dan> Really? Interesting!
[20:16] <+Alaren> How does character advancement work?
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[20:16] <+Mark_W> A really powerful magic user can indeed come up with something devastating…. at some cost. But PC magic users are really using “field magic”
[20:16] <~Dan> Oh, this may be self-evident based upon our conversation so far, but I take it that this isn’t a class/level-based system?
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[20:17] <~Dan> (Howdy, Monochrome_Tide!)
[20:17] <+Mark_W> That’s right, it’s skill based, with skill’s improving with use
[20:17] <+Mark_W> and pretty much any mix of skills allowed
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[20:19] <~Dan> Can you describe the scope and contents of the bestiary?
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[20:20] <+Mark_W> Yes it’s the dangerous creatures of the world that aren’t intelligent enough to be classed as “Aware”. These creatures are given a reduced set of stats.
[20:21] <+Mark_W> Some are mundane…. boars, bulls, war horses… some are monstrous, like Dune-style sandworms.
[20:21] <+Mark_W> Also some dinosaurs. I really wanted dinosaurs!
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[20:22] * ~Dan high-fives Mark_W
[20:22] <~Dan> I love fantasy dinosaurs. 🙂
[20:23] <+Mark_W> Me too. And the sk’tuish get to ride the sauropods into battle too
[20:23] <~Dan> Nice.
[20:23] <~Dan> (One of my favorite fantasy RPGs, Arrowflight, presents dinosaurs as primitive proto-dragons.)
[20:24] <+Mark_W> That’s a great idea!
[20:24] <~Dan> It’s a very cool game. I highly recommend giving it a look.
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[20:24] <+Mark_W> Will do!
[20:25] <~Dan> Now, one thing I notice is a lack of undead or otherwise purely supernatural monsters like demons. What’s your thinking there?
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[20:25] <+Mark_W> Like I said, middle daughter veto!
[20:26] <+Mark_W> Though I do think there is scope for undead
[20:26] <+Mark_W> As for demons, the Bane are pretty demonic, and known to have come from ‘somewhere’ not of Argor
[20:28] <+Mark_W> In the religion section, it explains that there are numerous servitors of deities, and these could be seen as demons, elementals, etc. I’ve left that to the GM to interpret, no specifics
[20:29] <~Dan> Do you plan on addressing that at any point?
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[20:30] <+Mark_W> Yes I think the undead/supernatural aspect is something I can really expand upon. It would also stimulate a lot of ‘defensive’ deitic magic. Definitely something for the future I think.
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[20:31] <~Dan> I do notice you give quite a bit of attention to dragons.
[20:32] <+Mark_W> I like the idea of them not being too black-and-white. So, varieties of dragon, with a chance that maybe they don’t all want to eat you.
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[20:34] <~Dan> What sorts of dragons are there?
[20:35] <+Mark_W> Drakes are flyers…. both fire breathers and ‘cold drakes’.
[20:36] <+Mark_W> I’ve decided to count sea serpents as a dragon variety. Landsea is a good place for adventurers and having some marine dangers is good.
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[20:36] <+Mark_W> And finally wyrms, which are big, flightless ones, and they WILL kill you.
[20:38] <~Dan> Speaking of black-and-white, how clear-cut is the morality of the setting as a whole?
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[20:39] <+Mark_W> Malthok, the outcast deity, is Argor’s embodiment of evil, and sets his creations – orcs, trolls, bane, against the ‘good guys’. Also he’s succeeded in turning some human societies.
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[20:40] <+Mark_W> But elsewhere it’s more ambiguous. The Westenholmers are just starting to display that arrogance that brought nown Numenor.
[20:40] * ~Dan nods
[20:41] <~Dan> But there’s clear-cut good and evil?
[20:41] <+Mark_W> In the northern part of Argor yes.
[20:41] <+Mark_W> The Southlands are more subtle.
[20:42] <+Mark_W> Yiggisa, rodus etc would not see orcs as their natural allies, any more than they would humans or elves.
[20:42] <+Mark_W> You can reason with a yiggisa. Maybe get in quite well with a lower-cast rodus
[20:42] <+Mark_W> *on quite well
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[20:46] <~Dan> Are there many opportunities for dungeon crawling?
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[20:46] <+Mark_W> Oh heck yes! I really wanted to allow that old-school type of adventuring.
[20:47] * ~Dan nods
[20:48] <+Mark_W> There are whole regions… East March, East Melnethon, the lost Rydings in the Eastlands, say…. that are full of abandoned cities, ruined castles, lost temples, cave complexes
[20:48] <~Dan> Are there any built-in reasons for dungeons, tombs, etc.?
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[20:49] <+Mark_W> Basically historic… the canon in the game is that there has been about 2,300 years of recorded history. Empires have grown and fallen, prosperous regions are now lawless
[20:50] * ~Dan nods
[20:51] <+Mark_W> So you can base yourself in a city like Caradelm or Ellensium and have a very urban setting
[20:51] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:52] <+Mark_W> Or be hired to escort a trade caravan across wilderness and stumble across a ruined temple with hidden treasure in it. Maybe.
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[20:53] <~Dan> With about 10 minutes left in regular Q&A time, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up? (And please keep in mind that you’re more than welcome to stay as long as you like.)
[20:53] <+Mark_W> Thanks
[20:53] <~Dan> (Howdy, BlasterKyubey210!)
[20:54] <+Mark_W> I think just to say, despite my original hopes for the magic system, I doubt anyone will find anything earth-shatteringly different in the mechanics or Argor.
[20:55] * ~Dan nods
[20:55] <+Mark_W> What I’m most pleased with is how the game hangs together, with the history and geography of the world helping explain why the races are how they are
[20:55] <+Mark_W> and giving scope for all sorts of settings, from mercenary island-hopping to urban intrigues to old-fashioned hack’n’slay
[20:57] <+Mark_W> Plus I added some extras in the appendices thare are the sorts of thing I always wanted when I was starting out as first a player and then a GM
[20:57] <~Dan> Oh? Like what?
[20:57] <+Mark_W> So I hope people find them useful, even if they take those ideas to use in other games
[20:58] <+Mark_W> A crib sheet to give to total novices, hints on GMing for the first time, some ideas for scenario design
[20:59] * ~Dan nods
[20:59] <+Mark_W> Panels for a GM screen, some idea of how the stats pan out, that sort of thing
[20:59] <~Dan> Very nice!
[20:59] <+Mark_W> Plus a couple of ready to play scenarios, one of them solo
[21:00] <~Dan> Oh, that’s a nice touch.
[21:00] <+Mark_W> Well it’s frustrating to read through rules and then not be able to do something right away!
[21:01] <~Dan> I agree wholeheartedly. 🙂
[21:01] <+Mark_W> Plus a good way to show how the basic things like combat and skill checks work
[21:01] * ~Dan nods
[21:02] <+Mark_W> So I think while I would never claim Argor as a set of rules will change the face of RPGs, I think Argor the rules plus Argor the gameworld will be of interest to people.
[21:02] <~Dan> Thanks very much for chatting with us, Mark! Again, there’s no need to run off, but if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and get you the link.
[21:03] <+Mark_W> Sure, and thanks for asking me!
[21:03] <~Dan> Absolutely!