[19:04] <+Ken_Spencer> I am Ken Spencer, author of Chaosium’s Blood Tide, a BRP supplement of pirates, voudou, and stranger things. You might be more familiar with my work for Cubicle 7 as line developer and lead writer for Rocket Age, and contributor to WW Cthulhu.
[19:10] <~Dan> (Still typing, Ken? 🙂 )
[19:10] <+Ken_Spencer> Oops, <done>
[19:10] <~Dan> Ah! Cool. The floor is open to questions!
[19:11] <~Dan> So is this a historical game? Historical fantasy? Pure fantasy pirates?
[19:14] <+Ken_Spencer> The rules are tied closely to the setting, which is what I call history plus in style. While based strongly in real world history, a secret battle is going on for control of the New World. Various supernatural factions have arisen and are vying for control of the magical energies of the New World.
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[19:15] <~Dan> Interesting. So Blood Tide has its own specific setting?
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[19:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Sam!)
[19:17] <+Ken_Spencer> It all goes back to John Dee and a group of sorcerers in the late 16th Century. In an effort to alter the Unseen enrages of Europe and give England control of these powers. Sadly, the best laid plans backfired, and after the sacrifice of the Roanoke Colony the energies of the Old World were pulled into the New, creating a mixed and very powerful magical
[19:17] <+Sam> (Hola.)
[19:17] <~Dan> (Cut off at “powerful magical”)
[19:17] <+Ken_Spencer> situation. Basically, all the magic in Europe, Africa, and Asia got sucked into North and South America, wrecking the native magical energies and mixing to form something new and uncontrolled.
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[19:17] <+Ken_Spencer> <done>
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[19:18] <+Ken_Spencer> While you can use the book to build your own historical or semi-historical campaign, the core setting con taints a fair amount of magic and the supernatural <done>
[19:18] <~Dan> Wow. So how does that fit together with piracy?
[19:18] <~Dan> (Howdy, GrimTheWanderer!)
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[19:21] <~Dan> (Howdy, Janus!)
[19:21] <+Ken_Spencer> The Golden Age of Piracy, which is at its height during the campaign time frame, plays into the supernatural battle. First, Voudou, as a syncretic tradition that draws from European, African, and New World religious and mystical traditions, can tap into this energy. Second, pirates and privateers can act as freelance operatives for the various factions,
[19:22] <+Ken_Spencer> are less picky about who is on board (and thus draw on multiple nationalities), and are at the front of the weirdness going on. <done>
[19:23] <~Dan> Is the supernatural hidden or open?
[19:24] <+Ken_Spencer> Largely hidden in the sense that the natives and colonists don’t know what is truly going on. However, the people of the era were highly superstitious, and in Blood Tide this is increased. Belief fuels magic, and with uncontrolled energies floating around, if enough people in an area believe something, it can manifest.
[19:26] <+Ken_Spencer> For example, one of the factions is the militia of the Divine, led by Cotton Mather. He and many of his congregation believe in witches and devils, their belief is strong enough to cause a few manifestations. Mather investigates, defeats a few monsters, and is convinced that these things are very real and a major threat. Thus, he forms a secret order to hunt
[19:26] <~Dan> (cut off at “to hunt”)
[19:26] <+Ken_Spencer> down the supernatural. As more and more people are exposed to the Militia’s beliefs, the manifestations increase, which drives Mather to greater and greater furor. <done>
[19:27] <~Dan> Are you using an existing BRP magic system for Voudou, and are there any other magical traditions at play?
[19:29] <+Ken_Spencer> Voudou in Blood Tide is a new system, created after a great deal of research and consultation with actual practitioners of the Vodoo religion (notice the spelling difference). It is a rather open ended system whereby the practitioner uses their connections to the Loa (spirits) as their skill.
[19:31] <+Ken_Spencer> Each Loa, be it one of the greater Loa such as Baron Samedi, an ancestral Loa, or a common nature spirit has a sphere of influence. You create a working based on who you are asking for help from, perform a ritual (and get bonuses based on ritual components), and try to make things happen. There are no spell lists, but a lot of example workings are given. <don
[19:32] <+Ken_Spencer> e>
[19:33] <~Dan> Huh… I would say that this sounds like BRP’s first freeform magic system, but I guess that honor would go to… gah, can’t recall the name… The Unknown East, for Elric?
[19:35] <~Dan> How powerful is Voudou? Are there any blanket rules about what it can and cannot accomplish?
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[19:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Monochrome_Tide!)
[19:38] <+Ken_Spencer> The primary limit is what the Loa want to do, and the power of the Loa you are dealing with. No Loa can alter time or create life, other than that it is how far you can push things. There is the Power Point cost to keep in mind (though sacrifices and ritual spaces help), but the big thing is the Loa themselves. <done>
[19:39] <~Dan> Is flashy magic possible, or is it more slow and ritualistic?
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[19:41] <+Ken_Spencer> The bigger effects are slow. There are three basic workings, Commune with the Loa, which allows the bokor to simply talk to the spirits. Summoning brings a Loa across the boundary between the Seen and Unseen, usually as a spirit riding the bokor (which can be very flashy and dangerous). Finally, there is Negotiaion, which is slower but gets bigger effects
[19:41] <+Ken_Spencer> as you ask the Loa for a favor. <done>
[19:42] <&Le_Squide> Is this using the BRP rules as is, or are there non-magical rules hacks in there too?
[19:44] <+Ken_Spencer> There is another power system, Stunts, which allows for all that Errol Flynn type stuff. Stunts work like other poets in BRP, you spend Power Points and things happen, only these things are not supernatural. Examples include Bang Heads let’s you trap two targets and smack their noggins together. <done>
[19:44] <~Dan> Oh, now that’s pretty cool. 🙂
[19:45] <+BlasterKyubey210> So you can get into some fun classical shenangians
[19:45] <+Ken_Spencer> Oh, and there are a lot of rules for piracy style gaming. New character creations options, spot rules for everything from scurvy to keel hauling, full rules for detailed ship to ship combat, and how to ride out a hurricane. <done>
[19:45] <~Dan> Do you have to purchase specific Stunts, or do you just say what you’re trying to do and spend the requisite Power Points?
[19:47] <+Ken_Spencer> You purchase stunts like other powers, which let’s the player customize their character and build backstory (and keeps them from having to recall pages and pages of stunts). For example, if your PC has I Left Part O’ Me in Porto Bello as well as I’ve Seen the Terrors of the Deep, that says something about them.
[19:48] <+Ken_Spencer> In short, the first allows the character to temporally function at full effectiveness despite the loss of a body part (thus ignoring the penalty for one eye, ex.). The second negates SAN loss from seeing some of the really nasty things out there. <done>
[19:48] <+GrimTheWanderer> Love those names.
[19:49] <~Dan> How big of a part do historical figures play, and what sorts of supernatural twists have you given them?
[19:49] <+Ken_Spencer> Thanks, you might also like I’m Not Here, I and that Right Here, Fists Like Hams, and Follow Me Lads!
[19:50] <~Dan> Very cool. 🙂
[19:52] <+Ken_Spencer> There are a lot of historical figures in the book. it is no secret I am a history nerd, and it shows in Blood Tide. Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Henry Morgan, and L’Olonnais all make appearances. One of the major players in the conflict is JuanPonce de Leon, the Undying King of mystical (and rotting) Bimini who found the Fountain of Youth was not all it offered.
[19:53] <+Ken_Spencer> Even the supernatural nasties are based on history, of a sort. I researched the superstitions of English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Carrib, Arawak, West African, and other cultures. <done>
[19:53] <~Dan> So there are supernatural creatures from other parts of the world involved?
[19:55] <+Ken_Spencer> Yes, but transported through the lens of mixing systems of belief. For example, in Spain a common bogey man of the time was El (or sometimes La) cuco, a pumpkin headed monster that hunts children. The colonists in Spanish conquered portions of the New World brought this belief with them, told their children, and maybe held some slight fear themselves.
[19:56] <+Ken_Spencer> Boom, manifestation and El Cucos wander the wilds looking to pick off anyone alone. <done>
[19:56] <+Ken_Spencer> Er, Los Cucos, sorry.
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[19:57] <~Dan> Speaking of which, how extensive is the bestiary?
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[19:58] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian!)
[19:58] <+Ken_Spencer> Very broad, it os one of the larger portions of the book. It includes mundane foes, the followers of the various factions, the Loa (for when you simply must bring one through in its own body), wild animals, and independent supernatural entities. Also, historical figures are stated out. <done>
[19:59] <+Ken_Spencer> Pick a letter and I can give you a list.
[19:59] <~Dan> Q
[20:00] <~Dan> Okay, okay…. M. 🙂
[20:00] <+Ken_Spencer> There is no Q, you cheeky git.
[20:00] <~Dan> 😀
[20:02] <+Ken_Spencer> Mary Reade, Mather’s Automaton (the Militia Divine uses clockwork tech), Mather’s Hounds (bred to hunt and sniff out the supernatural), Maybouya Cultist (shaman, warrior, and pirate), Mermaid, Mothmen.
[20:02] <~Dan> Wow… Clockwork tech, you say?
[20:04] <+Ken_Spencer> Yes, repeating pistols and rifles, autmomatons, greek fire throwers, truth serum, explosives, and night vision spectacles.
[20:05] <~Dan> Are there rules for building that stuff?
[20:06] <+Ken_Spencer> Mather has this young man working for him, an errant genius, Franklin I believe, first name starts with a B. Buck? Bartholomew? Brian? I can’t recall.
[20:07] <+Ken_Spencer> There are no rules for building your own clockwork, it is the fruits of a lone genius, at least as written and for now.
[20:07] <~Dan> That’s awesome. 🙂
[20:08] <~Dan> Wouldn’t that be a bit before Franklin’s time, though?
[20:09] <+Ken_Spencer> The core setting date is 1716, making the young Franklin 10, and a child prodigy.
[20:10] <~Dan> Ah! That makes sense.
[20:11] <+Ken_Spencer> I also feel it amps the horror factor, the mad scientist behind Mather is a ten year old boy, and one of the Founding Fathers.
[20:11] <~Dan> Heh. Yeah, I can see that. 🙂
[20:12] <+Ken_Spencer> Which gives me an idea, if I ever do a supplement that includes more inventions, I might have my son draw up some ideas and use those as the model. The mind of a small boy is fiendishly inventive.
[20:12] <~Dan> No kidding. Just look at Ax Cop. 🙂
[20:13] <+Ken_Spencer> Yes. Or the minecraft ‘Flaming Zombie Flinger’ he built the other day. It flung flaming zombies for blocks and blocks.
[20:14] * ~Dan laughs
[20:15] <~Dan> Now, BRP can bet a bit brutal. Other than the aforementioned stunts, do you include any rules to make swashbuckling less suicidal?
[20:17] <+Ken_Spencer> 36 Point buy attributes, access to Stunts, Voudou, or if you really want, Sorcery (which is wakened in the New Worlds due to the mixing of energies), Personality skill points, extra skill points, the option to trade body parts for soil or attribute points in character creation.
[20:18] <~Dan> For soil…?
[20:19] <+Ken_Spencer> Other than that, well, I have always considered BRP’s lethality to be a feature, not a flaw. And that should be skill points. Soil points will be in the BRP Epic Farming supplement, available absolutely nowhere. <done>
[20:19] <~Dan> Trading your body parts for soil sounds like a dirty trick.
[20:20] <+BlasterKyubey210> Ha ha ha ha
[20:21] <+Ken_Spencer> 🙂
[20:21] <~Dan> Are there any BRP optional rules that you recommend for use with Blood Tide? For example, IIRC, there’s a rule for using Power Points as luck points?
[20:22] <+Ken_Spencer> I always liked double hit points or hit points by location. the latter lets PCs lose body parts. When we play tested we mostly played it with only a set list of optional rules, the character creation rules given in the book.
[20:23] <&Le_Squide> Are there any other BRP compatible books you’d recommend to go along with Blood Tide?
[20:23] <~Dan> I’m a big fan of the attribute modifiers for skills. What are your thoughts on those?
[20:25] <+Ken_Spencer> I originally wrote Blood Tide in 2009, and the Big Gold Book was fairly new at the time. There is nothing you need to play Blood Tide. The magic system is fairly unique, but there dis the option of playing a native or European sorcerer, though your powers are severely hindered.
[20:27] <~Dan> Hindered in what sense?
[20:27] <+Ken_Spencer> Less PP, skill rolls required, and difficulties raised. It is just not your mana anymore, and bending it into shape is hard.
[20:28] <+BlasterKyubey210> But nothing too catastrophic
[20:28] <~Dan> You mentioned native shamans earlier… Are they sorcerers as well?
[20:30] <+Ken_Spencer> The School of Night’s failed spell birthed some nasty creatures that have god like power, they have sorcerers that do not have restrictions placed on them. Old World sorcery is nearly extinct, with the witch hunts, rise of the Age of Reason, not to mention having their power source drained away. <done>
[20:30] <+BlasterKyubey210> Whoops
[20:31] <+BlasterKyubey210> Those hotheaded Christians
[20:31] <+BlasterKyubey210> Sometimes it takes Sorcery to fight Sorcery…
[20:34] <~Dan> So shamans are New World sorcerers?
[20:36] <+Ken_Spencer> Rules wise yes. Other than those beholden to Maybouy the Hunger that Wakes, Queen Nar’ith of the Mermaids, or the Undying Ponce de Leon, they are in the same boat as Old World sorcerers, the magic is all messed up and doesn’t respond well, or the same. <done>
[20:38] <~Dan> Is it assumed that the PCs are pirates?
[20:39] <+Ken_Spencer> Yes, or privateers. The standard campaign concept would be to get a ship, find a crew, and keep sailing. Adventures can include a mixture of mundane and supernatural, or be focused on only one or the other.
[20:42] <~Dan> Given that it would seem like they’re the folks with the access to the big magical juice, what is the status of African slaves in the setting?
[20:44] <+Ken_Spencer> Historical, but with more uprisings. The whole setting is designed as a powder keg about to ignite. African Slaves would have access to the big magical juice if they were raised in the slave system, i.e. not fresh from Africa but part of the synergistic
[20:44] <+Ken_Spencer> culture that developed in the slave quarters and spread out historically.
[20:45] <~Dan> In setting terms, are Voudou abilities literally tied to the religion, or are there other practitioners who happen to be tapping into the same magical well, so to speak?
[20:45] <+Ken_Spencer> If you look at Blood Tide and Rocket Age, you would probably see that one of my setting design elements is to create powerful, conflicting factions and have them just about ready to go head to head. Then, add PCs.
[20:46] <~Dan> Yup, I can see that.
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[20:46] <~Dan> (Howdy, WonderRat!)
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[20:47] <+Ken_Spencer> Voudou is not necessarily tied to the religion in game. I would imagine it would be hard for a voudouist in Blood Tide to not be also a religious follower, given that the power let’s you talk to the Loa. I am rather solid in my Atheism, but if Baron Samedi showed up for a chat, I might be convinced to convert. <done>
[20:48] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:48] <~Dan> Are you familiar with Cakebread & Walton’s game Pirates & Dragons?
[20:50] <+Ken_Spencer> No, I love their work in the Renaissance system and Clockwork and Chivalry. I would have loved to have been involved in Pirates and Dragons. One of these days I need to pick it up and read through it.
[20:50] * ~Dan nods
[20:50] <~Dan> I’d be curious to see your thoughts on it.
[20:51] <~Dan> It takes place in a vaguely New World-ish fantasy setting.
[20:51] <~Dan> More Harryhausen than horror.
[20:51] <+Ken_Spencer> Sounds good.
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[20:52] <~Dan> So, as usual, I’d like to turn the last 10 minutes over to you to cover anything we haven’t touched on. 🙂
[20:53] <+Ken_Spencer> The naval combat rules are rather involved, you can streamline them and use the vehicular combat rules in BRP Gold Book if you want. As is, Blood Tide gives a system that is nearly a war-game in detail. I come form a navy family, I might have gotten a little too into the naval combat system.
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[20:56] <~Dan> You have a sinking feeling that you made naval combat complicated?
[20:56] <+Ken_Spencer> If you want to skip the supernatural aspects, or even go with something more pulpy in feel, there is more than enough in Blood Tide for that. A campaign can be ran with only the stunts as a power, and have a lot of fun. We tried it in playtesting, and it worked out great.
[20:58] <+Ken_Spencer> As far as the naval combat, I have moved on as a writer and gamer towards a less detail orientated and system deep style. However, BRP is rather old school. the Run Out the Guns chapter fits the system well. We tried to break it in playtesting by doing fleet actions, and it can get very wargaming like with twenty ships of the line on the table.
[20:59] <~Dan> Wow. O.o
[20:59] <~Dan> Totally random question: Do you have stats for the duck’s foot pistol?
[21:01] <+Ken_Spencer> Yes, as well as a volley gun. We had to add the volley gun during playtesting for the player who wanted to try out the experimental sea troll and were shark hybrids. The rules for those critters worked, but they never really fit the system well and were dropped.
[21:01] <~Dan> Excellent. 🙂
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[21:02] <~Dan> Thanks very much for coming by, Ken! No need to run off, but I should go ahead and log the transcript.
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[21:02] <+Ken_Spencer> Excellent, great to be here and willing to be back again, Lure of Venus might be the next release for me, though it is still in playtesting.
[21:02] <~Dan> (Oh, and by the way: The cover kicks serious ass.)
[21:03] <~Dan> Well, you know you’re always welcome, Q&A or not. 🙂
[21:03] <+Ken_Spencer> Thanks