<+DustinDePenning> Hi! I’m Dustin DePenning, a board game designer. My day job is making mass-market board games for children and families, but my original passion is for hobby games and RPGs
<+DustinDePenning> Two hobby games I was involved on in the past was Battleship Galaxies, where I designed some of the game’s core mechanics and helped developed the Wretch Faction mechanics
<+DustinDePenning> I also helped with play testing and feedback on Risk Legacy
<+DustinDePenning> So now I’m trying to get back into that field by kickstarting my own RPG, called Synthicide: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/738399654/synthicide)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/738399654/synthicide
<+DustinDePenning> I’m focused on making the game playable and accessible similar to mass market games I help develop, but still deliver on the great tactical combat and fluid storytelling RPGs deliver
<~Dan> Thanks, Dustin! The floor is open to questions!
*** Agamemnon2 has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Lähdössä
<~Dan> Let’s start with the basics: What is the premise?
<+DustinDePenning> Excerpts from the kicstarter: Synthicide is a tabletop RPG that supports improvised storytelling, planned sessions, and tactical combat.
*** Ismellzombies has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v Ismellzombies
<+DustinDePenning> A Galaxy on the verge of collapse. Bullets are more common than food – and one of the best ways to keep your belly full. An evil mutant force called the Prodigravus attempted to absorb all of humanity. A millennium-long war ensued, destroying almost every civilized planet. Humanity descended into a dark age.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Ismellzombies!)
<+DustinDePenning> A tech cult called the Tharnaxist Church retained scraps of scientific knowledge. They used it to gain power over the surviving humans and mutants, but these cybernetic priests aren’t interested in the lives of organics. The Church’s only goal is discovering more technology and building synthetic beings to run their society. As a result, the highest crime on
*** Prince_Herb has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Just remember that the players always know less than you think they do.
<+DustinDePenning> With human life devalued, remaining social structures have descended into barbarism, extortion, and gang-rule. Anyone with the means has become a sharper: an independent agent that travels from world to world. Drifting through space and scraping by on dirty work is preferable to settling down on any Tharnaxist hellhole.
<+DustinDePenning> And finally: Too often, role-playing games discourage player imagination with overdone rules, unending source material, and limitations on character personalities. Just as often, these games never provide players with realistic motivations for going on adventures. Dealing with these problems is what makes Synthicide unique. It is a role-playing game that atte
<~Dan> (Cut off at “game that atte”)
<+DustinDePenning> that attempts to optimize simplicity, clarity, purpose, and tactical depth.
<+DustinDePenning> So it’s a gritty sci fi RPG where players planet hop looking for dirty work, while trying to survive a collapses society on the outer rims of the galaxy
<~Dan> Sounds almost like a multi-planet post-apocalypse setting.
<+DustinDePenning> It is, in a way! But think of it more like the dark ages in Europe rather than a mad-max sort of game
* ~Dan nods
<+DustinDePenning> Technology secrets are lost, and society is gripped by a corrupt theocracy
<~Dan> Can you give us some examples of the bleeding edge of technology in various areas, such as travel and weaponry?
<+Ismellzombies> how hard is the science, like are you using FTL drives and such or do you have some kind of story mechanic that allows travel between worlds
<+DustinDePenning> So FTL travel is accomplished via Jump Gates – they are wormholes pointed at specific destinations that send you there instantly
<+Ismellzombies> intersting, Im doing something similar in my next big game
<+DustinDePenning> It takes roughly two days of travel from a planet or entry point to arrive at the next jump gate
<+Ismellzombies> good choice
<+DustinDePenning> Thanks! Ship-based FTL travel used to be available, but is one of the technologies that was lost
<+Ismellzombies> well depending on how big your universe is, even if its ftl its still likely to be slower than gates
<+Ismellzombies> but Im writh you
<+DustinDePenning> There’s also a lot of disparity in weapon technology. Many people fight with knives and gun-powder pistols, but laser rifles, animatter pistols, and beam swords do in fact exist
<+DustinDePenning> and players will gain access to them as their wealth increases
<+Ismellzombies> ya I was about to ask, whats the currancy
<+DustinDePenning> A small synthetic crystal called a Luran
<+DustinDePenning> it was a hard currency invented pre-fall to prevent fraud on the outer rims of the galaxy
<+DustinDePenning> as people would abuse credit or hack bank accounts
<+Ismellzombies> I assume its controlled tightly by that elite church you mentioned
<+DustinDePenning> It’s actually not church backed – it’s an ancient currency that is still valued because each luran gives off a halo glow when hit directly with light, making it beautiful
<+Ismellzombies> ah the ol’ gold standard
<+DustinDePenning> It’s inherent beauty and existing social acceptance as a currency is what allows it to function
<+Ismellzombies> you prob already covered it, sorry If Im late to the party, but how many playable species
<~Dan> Are such things as laser rifles and beam swords still being manufactured, or are they more like artifacts/”magic items”?
<+Ismellzombies> *question mark button is broken
<+DustinDePenning> Beam weapons and the like are still manufactured
<+DustinDePenning> much more advanced weapons fall in the artifact category – such as gravity weapons or dimensional phasing cloaks
<+DustinDePenning> And all players are human, but have access to a few different archetypes of human:
<+DustinDePenning> Skinbag, which is fully organic. Some skinbags are also extremely mutated, creating a subtype within this category
<+DustinDePenning> Scrapheads, which are organic humans that have brain implants to increase their knowledge abilities
<+DustinDePenning> Hardshells, which are humans with an untouched mind but a body with cybernetic enhancements and slots for future body upgrades
<+DustinDePenning> and Plugfiends, which are so heavily modified they can get both brain and body upgrades, but cannot develop mutations of any kind
<+DustinDePenning> and have a difficult time learning General Traits, a category of cheap powers that are useful to most players
<+DustinDePenning> Sorry, let me clarify, by “cheap” I mean they have a low Trait Point cost. Trait Points are what players use to advance in level and gain abilities
<~Dan> I’ll be asking some questions to which I already know the answer for the benefit of our readers, Dustin. For example:
<~Dan> Are there aliens in the setting?
<+DustinDePenning> The default setting has no intelligent alien life. Only humans, mutants, and synthetics exist. This is an homage to some of my favorite books by Isaac Asimov
<+Ismellzombies> I assume you prob answered this already too, again sorry, Whats the system based on
<+DustinDePenning> It allows you to focus on the story arc of a human society drifting away from its organic origins
<+DustinDePenning> and simultaneously descending into barbarism
<+DustinDePenning> However, the players and the GM can decide to work aliens into the story. For example, the GM chapters talk about exploring and dealing with the game’s secrets
<+DustinDePenning> There’s a section on alien life:
<+DustinDePenning> Why are humans alone? There was SOME xenobiology discovered while settling the galaxy, but nothing resembling the power and intelligence of humans. Why is that?
<+DustinDePenning> This section then provides the following alternative answers:
<+DustinDePenning> *Sentience is a freak occurrence.* It was a one in quadrillion chance, and only humans got it. There’s just something unique about humans that’s only matched by in their creations, the Synthetics.
<+DustinDePenning> *Other sentient beings all died or left.* Something wiped them out or drove them away, leaving the galaxy ripe for the taking. But where is the evidence of their society? Did hapless human settlers destroy it, not knowing the significance? Will those who left come again?
<+DustinDePenning> *Humans AREN’T alone.* They’re among us, blending in, and they’re in the shadows, secretly controlling our every move. What are their goals? How long have they been with us? Did they cause the Prodigravus war?
<+DustinDePenning> And to answer your question about the system:
<+DustinDePenning> It uses a new custom 1d10 system called the Actions Engine
<+DustinDePenning> Whenever you attempt something risky, roll 1d10 + Attribute. If you beat the difficulty set by the GM, you succeed. Here are the seven Attributes:
<+DustinDePenning> Awareness (A). Awareness is used to glean sensory information. Noticing hidden enemies, concealed weapons, or picking up on suspicious body language are uses of Awareness
<+Ismellzombies> played a D10 a while back on the Mech Ton system, had a great time
<+DustinDePenning> Combat (C). This Attribute represents your character’s skill at harming opponents, either through brute force strikes or finessed attacks. Combat increases both your attack and damage modifiers.
<+DustinDePenning> Toughness (T). This Attribute represents your character’s health and physical prowess. You use Toughness to resist physical damage, as well as perform athletic feats such as jumping and climbing.
<~Dan> (Quick note: Do you have a link to a character sheet so that we can follow along?)
<+DustinDePenning> Influence (I). Deception, negotiation, and coercion fall under Influence. Influence also affects the strength of psychic powers.
<+DustinDePenning> Operation (O). Operation represents technical expertise. This is used when dealing with computers, piloting craft, repairing equipment, or other knowledge-related tasks.
<+DustinDePenning> Nerve (N). Nerve describes the level of willpower your character has. This applies to resisting social pressure, intimidation, and even psychic attacks.
<+DustinDePenning> Speed (S). Speed represents a character’s agility and dexterity. It also determines how many actions you get in battle.
<+DustinDePenning> Let me upload the character sheet on its own. I have it attached to the character creation preview, but that’s a very large file.
<+DustinDePenning> Just give me a moment to get the CS on its own for you all
<+DustinDePenning> (Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/f9qsaqfv0f7mxre/characterSheets5A.pdf?dl=0)https://www.dropbox.com/s/f9qsaqfv0f7mxre/characterSheets5A.pdf?dl=0
<~Dan> Okay, let’s see here…
<+DustinDePenning> So basically, the vast majority of actions your character can take are already covered by one of your seven attributes, so you just roll 1d10+attribute to gauge success
<+Ismellzombies> *Hey dan, how come I can never see pdfs in the viewer for this chat. Am Im issing something
<~Dan> You should just be seeing a link, Ismellzombies.
<~Dan> DustinDePenning: So are there skills as well, or is it all attribute-based?
<+Ismellzombies> Dan – ya I see it, I click it, it opens a second window in chat and gives me the html for it but no PDF.
<~Dan> Ismellzombies: Hmm. Not sure what the issue is there.
<+Ismellzombies> *no biggy, carry on
<+DustinDePenning> here’s a lo-res jpeg of the sheet: (Link: https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t31.0-8/s960x960/1496459_1508421072745755_1228318376465470843_o.jpg)https://scontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/t31.0-8/s960x960/1496459_1508421072745755_1228318376465470843_o.jpg
*** MonkofLords has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v MonkofLords
<~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
<+DustinDePenning> So the only type of actions that felt unusual to try and handle under this simple system were technical actions, like crafting weapons or hacking computers
*** Kage2020-AFK has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
<+DustinDePenning> general aptitude is not enough – you need to gauge if a character has hard knowledge of this
*** Kage2020 has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v Kage2020
*** Kage2020 is now known as Kage2020-AFK
<+DustinDePenning> So I implemented Knowledge Focuses, which give you access to very specific powers
<+DustinDePenning> All knowledge powers rely on your Operation attribute (essentially your knowledge stat)
<+DustinDePenning> So they still fall under the 1d10+Attribute scenario
<+DustinDePenning> except that you aren’t allowed to attempt these actions unless you have the specific power that allows you
<+DustinDePenning> So while a character can attempt to jump and tumble, or force open a gate, notice strange behaviors, all just by using their basic attributes
<+DustinDePenning> If you want to hack a computer, you must have the Computers knowledge focus, and the Hacking power
<+DustinDePenning> Here’s a quick excerpt
<+DustinDePenning> Cracking: You can crack security systems to access computers and their networks. To use this power, you must be connected to the computer. You can connect wirelessly, if available, and can always connect via hardwire. The GM sets the Operation AD based on how advanced the security measures are. If successful, you have unfettered access to the computer/network
<+DustinDePenning> To sum up, the game is very open ended an allows players to create their own story of how they want to attempt something or try something crazy – the only time you need hard defined abilities is in the realm of technical knowledge
<~Dan> Sounds a bit like Warhammer FRP 1e skills.
<+DustinDePenning> I actually never played Warhammer FRP. How did skills function?
<~Dan> Well, it’s been a while, but IIRC, everything was attribute-based, and a skill simply gave you the ability to do certain things with your attributes.
<+DustinDePenning> Yes, that’s a much more elegant way to express how these function haha.
<+DustinDePenning> And elegant expression is a goal of the Synthicide Rule Set, which is why I’m hiring writers and editors to help me clean up the documents
<~Dan> Always a good plan.
<+DustinDePenning> Solid mechanics that are poorly expressed can hold back a system, as Fate Core can be an example of
* ~Dan nods
<+Ismellzombies> ya thats a pretty hard thing to do well the first time
<+Ismellzombies> In my case I have an a captive audience and a wiki-like rule book, so over time we can slim it down
<+Ismellzombies> its just difficult to always know exactly how best to express it
<+DustinDePenning> That’s great
<~Dan> (Ismellzombies is one of your fellow Kickstarting game authors, Dustin. 🙂 )
<+DustinDePenning> Yes it takes a large audience to help you find the best ways to express ideas
<+DustinDePenning> What games are you working on, Ismellzombies?
<+Ismellzombies> I just finished a crowd built zombie apocalypse RPG called Remain Calm
<+Ismellzombies> Ill link you
<+Ismellzombies> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/remaincalmrpg/remain-calm-zombie-apocalypse-role-playing-game)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/remaincalmrpg/remain-calm-zombie-apocalypse-role-playing-game
<~Dan> DustinDePenning: I have a bit of a concern about the Combat attribute that I wonder if you could address.
<+Ismellzombies> Just finished it around a week or two ago, it was four years in the making. Currently Im working on a secret-project that Dan knows about an a not-so-secret space opera game
<+DustinDePenning> Congrats on funding!
<+Ismellzombies> *thank you!
<+DustinDePenning> Sure Dan, please ask away!
<~Dan> Well, I’m generally leery of systems that combine the chance to hit with the ability to cause damage, because it makes it impossible to create powerful-but-clumsy combatants.
<+DustinDePenning> Right, understood
<+DustinDePenning> That capability exists, but it is handled more by your choice of weapons and powers rather than the Combat Stat
<+DustinDePenning> For Example
<+DustinDePenning> A fossil rifle has +0 ATT and +3 DMG
<+DustinDePenning> and a fossile shotgun has +2 ATT and +0 DMG
<+DustinDePenning> These differences scale more greatly as you move up the ladder of shotguns vs rifles
<+DustinDePenning> And if you combine this with pistols, which can be duel weilded, you also have the choice of multiple attacks at a low bonus vs. one attack at a higher bonus
*** Ximni has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving.
<~Dan> Hmm… But how do you handle melee weapons? It doesn’t appear that the system accounts for combatants who rely more on brute strength than accuracy — indeed, it doesn’t appear that the system accounts for brute strength at all.
*** Ximni has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v Ximni
<~Dan> (Howdy, Ximni!)
*** DrNate has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v DrNate
<~Dan> (Howdy, DrNate!)
<+DustinDePenning> The ATT/DMG system is somewhat abstracted, but the system promotes brute vs. accurate by how you choose to pursue an ATT bonus
<+DustinDePenning> for example, you can use Gain Advantage to get +2 Att, but this causes you to sacrifice actions that could be spent attacking
<+DustinDePenning> Or you could use the general trait Running Attack, which gives you a bonus to ATT for each movement action taken before the attack
<+DustinDePenning> again increasing accuracy but decreasing attack opportunities
<~Dan> What about going the opposite direction?
<~Dan> Increasing DMG, I mean.
<+DustinDePenning> Increasing DMG is quite easy – weapon proficiencies increase DMG bonuses
<+DustinDePenning> weapon customizations increase DMG
<+Ismellzombies> can you give us an example of it
<~Dan> So that leads me to a combination system/setting question.
<+DustinDePenning> Though there is not currently a way to sacrifice your ATT bonus to then increase your DMG bonus
<+Ismellzombies> like I have X weapon and I want to give it ABC damage, how do I do so
<+Ismellzombies> ohp sorry didn’t mean to interupt
<~Dan> No worries!
<~Dan> Why don’t you cover Ismellzombies’s question first, Dustin.
<+DustinDePenning> Let’s start with a sword, which has +1 ATT and +2 DMG
<+DustinDePenning> If you have striking proficiency, this increases it to +2 ATT and +4 DMG
<+DustinDePenning> You can then take expert crafting for only §30 and increase it to +2 ATT +5 DMG
<+DustinDePenning> And then buy the Bio-mal weapon ehnancement, which assumes the weapon now incorporates some sort of toxins or radiation to harm its victims, increasing it to +2 Att +6 DMG
<+Ismellzombies> ok so this is part of the tacticle idea right
<+DustinDePenning> But again, things are somewhat abstracted for the sake of simplicity. Brute force can actually make it easier to hit someone as you overpower their defenses, it doesn’t always make you worse at hitting
<+DustinDePenning> so the game just abstracts into ATT categories and DMG categories, and the players can decide what sort of battle style their character is actually employing
<~Dan> So to my setting/system question… First, how much of a part do alien creatures play in the setting?
<+DustinDePenning> Like unusual human cultures? or xenolife cultures?
<+DustinDePenning> oh creatures
<~Dan> Neither — like “monsters”, for lack of a better term. Hostile fauna.
<+DustinDePenning> misread haha
<~Dan> No problem. 🙂
<+Ismellzombies> lol hostile fauna! lol stealing that for the secret-project
<+DustinDePenning> They are not a strong focus in the game, but there are story and mechanical representations of both
<+DustinDePenning> For example, one of the factions is called the Empyrean Hunters
<+DustinDePenning> They are a group of galaxy explorers that go around collecting trophies of unusual xeno-life
<+DustinDePenning> So it’s sort of a fictional diversion players can dive into
<~Dan> Do you include any examples of such creatures?
<+DustinDePenning> Also, a Knowledge Power that can be gained is Taxonomy: Xeno Organisms +1
<+DustinDePenning> This means that if your character rolls an Operation check that identifies a xeno creature, you and your allies get +1 DMG against it
<+DustinDePenning> But the core themes of the game are wrapped up in a Human vs corrupt society narrative, with Synthetics and Priests being the most powerful antagonists
<~Dan> Do you offer any examples of xeno creatures in the book?
<+DustinDePenning> Oh, and examples!
<+DustinDePenning> No, there are no hard examples right now. Xeno creatures are intended to be an area where the GM can exercise a lot of creative freedom. The NPC generator is flexible, focusing on game roles of a character rather than its hard fiction
<+Ismellzombies> I think that a man against man focus is neat, I just worry that it wont translate to some players that just want the blood of dragons….DAN 😛
<+DustinDePenning> so this allows the GM to create monsters that fit a specific role with completely original fiction behind them
<+Ismellzombies> lets say that your player base ends up focusing on the space dragons and not as much on the man against man storyline, is the game flexable enough to sustain under that
<+DustinDePenning> For example, you could generate an NPC with brutal claw attacks and the ability to fight back even when grappled
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Well, let me tie that back to the Combat stat, to bring in the system side of my question: How would you create a huge, dinosaur-like predator? A penalty to ATT and a bonus to DMG?
<+DustinDePenning> and decide that this creature is a feline-style ambusher. You can then dress it up with any other fictional expression you want, the number of limbs, the size, etc.
<+DustinDePenning> One thing you may notice from games like Pathfinder and DND is they have this system of scaling enemy/NPC size that then results in an odd mix of “not that different” and then “runaway grapple bonus”
<+DustinDePenning> In 3.5, the bonus to STR offset the penalty to ATT perfectly
<+DustinDePenning> as STR buffed both your ATT and your DMG
<+DustinDePenning> so the net result was just an increase in DMG
<+DustinDePenning> but then an effective +5 to grapple
<+Ismellzombies> On scaling, I have to tackle this coming up for the Kaiju expansion of RC and Im considering the same problematic mechanic
<+Ismellzombies> I have an idea but how would you hand it
<+Ismellzombies> handle* it
<+DustinDePenning> I was just never a firm believer that having rule systems to interact with NPC size did anything but create nominal differences with a few broken mechanics, simply because there is this gut reaction that
<+DustinDePenning> fictional differences such as a HUGE npc should then result in mechanical differences
<+DustinDePenning> So my theory behind the NPC generator works like this
<+DustinDePenning> At the end of the day, you want the enemy to take whatever form you think it should have, be it small, large, normal size, etc.
<+Ismellzombies> yup, agreed with that
<+DustinDePenning> And you have assumptions about how you want it to operate mechanically
<+DustinDePenning> So rather than create a system of hard rules that go “large creatures get X, small creatures get Y”
<+DustinDePenning> the NPC generator goes “create whatever sort of mechanical ability you want, be it a focus on ATT or a focus on DMG, and then decide what its fictional avatar looks like”
<+DustinDePenning> So this allows you to approach enemy design from two angles
* ~Dan nods
<+DustinDePenning> you can start with the story and choose mechanics that fit how you imagine it should behave
<+DustinDePenning> “this huge monster is probably a bosss NPC, so it gets extra HP and Extra Defense”
<+DustinDePenning> or you can start mechanically “i want a team of two monsters that work in tandem – one that overpowers enemies and the other that exploits their weakness”
<+DustinDePenning> and then create fiction around them that fits the story of game your players are pursuing
<~Dan> (brb – please continue)
<+DustinDePenning> There are NPC abilities that let you modify certain stat behaviors, though
<+DustinDePenning> For example, one power allows you to use a character’s Speed to calculate their defense instead of the Toughness
<+DustinDePenning> this is something you might use for a smaller creature
<+DustinDePenning> There is also a new ability that allows you to sacrifice a characters defense for increased damage
<+DustinDePenning> this is something you might use for a large creature
<+DustinDePenning> But yeah, the basic mission is to let you mix mechanics with story as you please, rather than feel the need to stay true to systems that over describe simulationist physics that in the end aren’t that accurate and not very helpful
<~Dan> Do I surmise correctly that you use AC rather than DR for armor?
<+DustinDePenning> Yes, but in a way AC and DR are rolled into your single Defense stat
<+GenoFoxx> I’m surprised there isn’t a more organized resistance to the Church considering how technophobic humans can be
<+DustinDePenning> This may seem non-intuitive, but it streamlines play and is actually quite fun from the dice side
<+DustinDePenning> So when you attack, you roll 1d10 + ATT
*** Kage2020-AFK has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
*** Kage2020 has joined #rpgnet
*** ChanServ sets mode +v Kage2020
<+DustinDePenning> if you hit, you then take the exact same result and calculate d10-reselt + DMG
<+DustinDePenning> So if you roll 6 + ATT and hit, you then deal 6 + DMG
<~Dan> Right, I follow you so far.
<+DustinDePenning> your attack quality linearly scales with the amount of damage dealt
<+DustinDePenning> So on this way, if you have low defenses
<+DustinDePenning> weak attacks in the 1-5 range deal you damage, as do strong attacks from 6-10
<+DustinDePenning> But someone with high defenses is immune to weak attacks and shrugs them off, only taking damage from the strong attacks
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Makes sense.
<+DustinDePenning> One mechanic the game uses that is similar to DR is you an gain equipment abilities that give you extra HP
<+DustinDePenning> personal fields are man-sized forcefields that absorb damage up until they overload, and then you take any remaining damage from then on
<+DustinDePenning> and psychics can summon a force barrier that has the exact same effect, and they even regain a little HP each round up until they are brought down
*** RandBrittain has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving
<+DustinDePenning> high level psychics can actually summon a force bubble which absorbs all damage originating out of the bubble up until it is overloaded and brought down
<+DustinDePenning> And to answer the question about an organized resistance:
<~Dan> Speaking of which, can you give us some idea of the scope of psionics and mutations?
<+DustinDePenning> The game is purposely silent on this matter. If the players feel this is something worth pursuing, they can decide to be the founders and organize their own resistance
<+DustinDePenning> It seemed more interesting to let the players shape what this means than have to adapt to a resistance I would describe on my own – one that may not be to their liking
<+Ismellzombies> I saw no answers = more open world
<+Ismellzombies> hints are good, but answers are bad
<+DustinDePenning> And the scope of psionics/mutations
<+DustinDePenning> all psychics are drug addicts! They use a powerful mind-altering chemical called Illuminix
<+DustinDePenning> And the more powerful psychic attacks they know, the more pills they have to pop to retain access to them
<+DustinDePenning> So starting off, psychics can learn to deal damage with a psychic attack, read minds, summon a force barrier, telekenetically push objects, even teleport very short distances
*** LW` has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
<+DustinDePenning> They can summon simplistic illusions
<+DustinDePenning> Or psychically block others from sensing their presence
<+DustinDePenning> These are all simplified broad powers that play into control style magic from classic RPGs as well as some damage focused ones like the mental attacks
<+DustinDePenning> At higher levels, psychics can debuff enemies by overpowering them mentally, causing a loss of defenses or att bonuses
<+Ismellzombies> *illuminix is a good name!
<+DustinDePenning> They can create more robust illusions, perform stronger telekenetic feats
<+DustinDePenning> Even dominate others to do their bidding temporarily
<+DustinDePenning> The highest level psychics can create temporary pocket dimensions! They last only a few seconds, but it’s a good way to escape massive threats or isolate enemies from each other as you try to finish them off
<~Dan> Pretty impressive.
<+DustinDePenning> Mutations are actually linked to psychic abilities
<+DustinDePenning> While this is a secret that characters don’t know starting off, illuminix is distilled from cloned mutant blood
<+DustinDePenning> and many mutations have psychic-style abilities
<+DustinDePenning> there are mutants that can levitate
<+DustinDePenning> summon lightning from their hands
<+DustinDePenning> mutants that can let out psychic shrieks that stun enemies
<+DustinDePenning> And the only way to learn psychic powers without being dependent on illumnix is to be a mutant yourself, and gain the “true psychic” mutation
<+DustinDePenning> But there are a gamut of other strange mutations to choose
<+DustinDePenning> such as night vision, anaerobic homeostasis, poison spit, etc.
<~Dan> Are most mutations in the form of powers like your examples here, or are there physical mutations as well?
<+DustinDePenning> Each mutation is a power you buy with Trait Points, but they come with descriptions of how your physical appearance may change when you gain it
<+DustinDePenning> for example, the mutation Fly Climber: You grow sticky microscopic barbs on your palms. When your hands are uncovered, You get +10 to any Toughness or Speed rolls made to climb and grip surfaces.
<+DustinDePenning> or Night Vision: Your eyes become completely white, but you do not go blind. You can see in total darkness, meaning availability of light has no effect on your ability to function or make Awareness checks.
<+DustinDePenning> And Shapechange: Your skin develops waxy sheen and an elastic quality. If you wish, you can change the shape of your body. This allows you to make your face or general appearance drastically different, granting you a +4 bonus to Influence rolls when trying to fake an identity or impersonate another individual. Your special powers also allow you to slip throug
<+DustinDePenning> through thin passages, down to a width of 8 inches, but any equipment you are wearing may offer resistance.
<~Dan> Hmm. So it sounds almost like a low-end superpower system.
<+DustinDePenning> very much
<+DustinDePenning> Mutations originate from the Prodigravus War – a virus was designed to mutate humans into feral, super-powered sociopaths
<+Ismellzombies> sounds like an expansion on the plot behind the original total recal
<~Dan> Mechanically, what is the advantage to playing a “normal” human?
<+DustinDePenning> When the war ended and the virus was eradicated, there was unimaginable genetic waste scattered about the galaxy from interbred prodigravus and mutants
<+DustinDePenning> as well as humans that were partially infected but cured of the virus before converting
<+DustinDePenning> Fictionally, “normal” humans are the absolute bottom of the totem pole
<+DustinDePenning> though they are xenophobic and lash out against mutants on occasion
<+DustinDePenning> there are mechanical advantages, though, because “normal” human PCs are assumed to be extraordinary people that rise above
<+DustinDePenning> Full organics (mutated or not) get this ability:
<+DustinDePenning> *Techless Will.* You never needed cybernetics and never trusted them either. All of that metal would just slow you down. Once per day, you can add +3 to any Attribute, even Speed. This bonus lasts for three turns once activated. You can activate it immediately before any die roll, including die rolls made by other characters.
<+DustinDePenning> If you choose to be a “genetically pure” human, you get the following ability:
<+DustinDePenning> Dying Breed.* You belong to the diminishing number of completely unaltered humans with a pure genetic history. You can still be affected by temporary mutations from toxins or poisons, but can never be permanently mutated through Character Traits. Increase any single Attribute by one, except Toughness. At the 4th, 7th, and 10th levels, you again increase any At
<~Dan> (cut off at “you again increase an At”)
<+DustinDePenning> Attribute by one. You also and gain a free General Trait that you qualify for at 4th and 7th level.
<~Dan> Speaking of levels, what was your thinking behind making this a level-based system?
<+DustinDePenning> It feels natural to have your Attributes and HP increase as your character increases in power and experience
<+DustinDePenning> levels however are a little different in synthicide than other level-based games
<+DustinDePenning> Levels only dictate how much HP you have, and how many bonus points you’ve had to increase your Attributes
<+GenoFoxx> I take it there is no neural ports for ordinary organics to link with computers in ‘cyberspace’?
<+DustinDePenning> And they determine what scale of powers you have access to, as some powers have level limitations (must be 7th level, etc.)
<+DustinDePenning> You do not automatically gain any powers by gaining a level, though
<+DustinDePenning> You hoard Trait Points by completing missions, and you spend this whenever/however you wish to purchase powers that you qualify for by having the right attributes and level
<+DustinDePenning> And for example, your ATT/DMG does not automatically go up when you level up, Only if you use your Attribute Point bonus to increase Combat will ATT/DMG increase
<+DustinDePenning> No, organics cannot link to cyberspace with a brainport
<+DustinDePenning> Only scrapheads at higher levels can turn their brains into computers that allow them to directly link to other machines
<+DustinDePenning> Wait sorry
<+DustinDePenning> scrap that last sentence
<+DustinDePenning> i forgot which edition of the rules I’m plugging haah.
<+DustinDePenning> I changed that – now anyone who has brain slots can by a computer interface
<+DustinDePenning> So that means only Scrapheads and Plugfiends can do that
<~Dan> Looks like we have about 10 minutes left in “regular” time, Dustin. While you’re welcome to hang out with us and field questions as long as you like, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
<+DustinDePenning> Sorry, that used to be an ability that a high level scraphead could choose to unlock, but it seemed overlimiting. So now it’s simply an ability you can purchase with money
<+DustinDePenning> let me think
<+GenoFoxx> so if you want to link with a computer directly you are no longer a ‘pure’ organic?
<+DustinDePenning> Right, GenoFoxx. The only way someone who started out as a pure organic can plug into a computer is with the general trait Plug Extension
<+DustinDePenning> Plug Extension: You gain a single cybernetic slot in either your body or brain. If you have Techless Will, drop its effectiveness by -2. If you gain a brain slot, rolls for Psychic Powers are penalized by -2, including damage. If a body implant conflicts with a natural ability you have (such as cyber eyes conflicting with the dark vision mutation), you lose a
<+DustinDePenning> you lose access to that ability while the implant is installed.
<+DustinDePenning> So I guess the only thing I’d like to share about Synthicide is again, its focus on playability
<+DustinDePenning> The system is straightforward for players, and tries to focus on meaningful choices rather than a menagerie of sub-mechanics that in the end don’t result in very different events
<+DustinDePenning> And the GM is given a toolhouse of automated PDFs (currently available in HTML form) that help him quickly create monsers/NPCs, traps, and Missions
<+DustinDePenning> Playing is clear and meaningful, and session planning/improvisation is streamlined and well supported
<+DustinDePenning> any other questions? 🙂 really enjoyed this!
<~Dan> Where do you see the line going in the future?
<+DustinDePenning> There will be very limited expansions to mechanical source material
<+DustinDePenning> We don’t want to end up in a situation where a character is using x ability from Y book and it’s confusing players at the table
<+DustinDePenning> however, there will be story expansions to illuminate different areas of the galaxy ripe for adventure
<+DustinDePenning> there will be additional and updated GM tools so the GM has more options to create mechanically surprising enemies to keep players guessing
<+DustinDePenning> and the ACTIONS engine may get adapted to other genres, such as modern day or fantasy
*** Mimi has quit IRC: Connection reset by peer
<~Dan> Very nice. 🙂
<~Dan> Again, no need to run off, but if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll log the chat and get you the link.
<+DustinDePenning> I’ll plug it on the facebook 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for visiting with us today!
<+DustinDePenning> I enjoyed it!