[22:04] <+JSerembe> I am John Serembe – my game is the Order of the Link, a tabletop RPG. I’ve been using it for about 35 years and thought it would be fun to throw it out there.
[22:05] <+JSerembe> Doing a kickstarter for it. The Order started in the 80s, I was using AD&D
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[22:05] <+JSerembe> But I just got tired of matrices – I wanted to have self-sufficient characters
[22:06] <+JSerembe> Also the psychosis spells of the order did not jive with the AD&D spell caster mechanic.
[22:07] <+JSerembe> Did I say psychosis? “Psychist”
[22:08] <+JSerembe> I have a playtest kit on the kickstarter as well as at RPGNOW
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[22:10] <~Dan> (Oh, just give us a (done) when you’re ready for questions.)
[22:11] <+Blarghedy> (I was typing the same thing)
[22:11] <+JSerembe> The Order is dedicated to righting dimensional imbalance. Members of the Order become involved in adventures that range in tech level, across time, and take the part of various alignments to get the job done.
[22:11] <+JSerembe> Done.
[22:11] <~Dan> Thanks, JSerembe! The floor is open to questions!
[22:11] <+Blarghedy> You say it can be used to play any genre (or at least that’s what I read into what you said). What genres have you played with it? While I suspect it lends itself to fantasy best, what else have you found works particularly well?
[22:12] <+APJeff> did you make a whole new mechanical system, or does it work as an voerlay kit for an existing rule set?
[22:12] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[22:13] <+JSerembe> I have used it for all 10 tech levels. It is it’s own system.
[22:16] <~Dan> Can it handle other genres than fantasy and sci-fi?
[22:17] <+Blarghedy> Are tech levels an explicitly defined part of the system?
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[22:18] <+JSerembe> Yes, it is good for almost anything. The system is (relatively) simple and geared more toward storytelling and less toward game mechanics. Tech levels are defined.
[22:18] <+JSerembe> Zalobs (members of the Order) must maintain balance – and therefore tech level is important.
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[22:20] <+JSerembe> They may be in a post-modern adventure one week and a medieval the next, they have to confine themselves to the tech level of the entry world.
[22:20] <~Dan> Are there explicit levels of supernatural power as well?
[22:21] <+JSerembe> Psychism is contained in seven schools, each power is learned in prerequisite order.
[22:22] <+JSerembe> There are branches (tomes) in each school, so lots of directions to go in.
[22:22] <+Blarghedy> So is psychism the only way of advancement in the game?
[22:22] <+APJeff> so why did you choose to do a whole new system as opposed to creating a tool kit or mod?
[22:23] <~Dan> Oh, I meant in terms of how much supernatural power is available in any given setting.
[22:23] <+JSerembe> No, you can acquire new Skills and improve the ones that you have.
[22:24] <+Blarghedy> What sorts of things can skills cover?
[22:24] <~Dan> Like, do all supernatural powers work equally well no matter where you go in the multiverse?
[22:24] <+Blarghedy> In fact, I’m curious to learn more about psychism as well. Is there anything more you can tell us about it?
[22:25] <+JSerembe> OK I’ll answer in order:
[22:26] <+JSerembe> I chose to do a new system because I wanted a simpler more ergonomic mechanic that is more GM (and story) friendly – yet with characters that self maintain and improve.
[22:27] <+JSerembe> Skills cover nearly everything that you would want to do. If you do not have a Skill for something – you roll the Attribute that sponsors the Skill
[22:28] <+APJeff> can you explain what you mean by self maintain?
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[22:29] <~Dan> (Howdy, Snoof!)
[22:30] <+JSerembe> They choose Skills, Psychism and Alchemy and improve without any GM intervention. Mine is not the only game that does this, I’m sure, but I do not need to keep any stats on the players besides their avoidance number.
[22:31] <+JSerembe> Now back to Psychism
[22:31] <+Blarghedy> “I” being the GM?
[22:31] <+JSerembe> Yes, sorry, the GM
[22:31] <+Lin_Chong> Please explain “GM intervention”?
[22:32] <+JSerembe> Maybe the wrong word – more like without GM input or involvement.
[22:33] <+Blarghedy> is there an experience (or some other discrete level measurement I guess) system?
[22:34] <+Lin_Chong> Can you explain how GMs are involved in in character creation traditionally, and how you do things differently?
[22:34] <+JSerembe> The game itself carries a rating from 2 to 4 “Ki”. All players that survive receive the Ki points. Ki is used to improve Skills and “purchase” phsychims
[22:34] <+Blarghedy> oooh neat.
[22:36] <+JSerembe> As players “become” members of the Order, they can come from anywhere – so the players determine their own backstory.
[22:36] <+Blarghedy> I like how that sounds. What exactly do you mean by “the game”? Is that like 1 session or more like 5?
[22:36] <+JSerembe> They come from different tech levels and worlds.
[22:36] <+Blarghedy> Yeah, so you could have a dude who grew up as a starfighter next to a dude who was a mage before stuff happened. Neat.
[22:37] <+JSerembe> Session time is generally per game. If the game lasts several sessions, they will receive Ki per game session according to what was accomplished.
[22:38] <+Blarghedy> and it’s spendable when they get it, not just in the uh
[22:38] <+Blarghedy> between space
[22:38] <+Lin_Chong> Do other games not let you determine your own backstory?
[22:38] <+JSerembe> Self-maintaining. They spend it when they get it – or save it up (Ki can also be used as temporary Life Points).
[22:39] <+Blarghedy> Life points?
[22:39] <+JSerembe> They might allow you to determine your own backstory – but often it is within the GMs scenario.
[22:40] <+Lin_Chong> “Ki” or “Qi” is a very specific idea to Daoism. How does Order of the Link use Daoistic principles in its world?
[22:40] <+JSerembe> Life Points are taken away by damage done.
[22:40] <+Blarghedy> Are they basically HP or is there another level of ‘health’ I’m missing?
[22:41] <+JSerembe> The Order is all about balance and harmony.
[22:42] <+JSerembe> Yes – just like Hit points. I just prefer the term Life Points.
[22:42] <+Blarghedy> alright, k. Neat system.
[22:43] <+Lin_Chong> I’d say Daoism is a little more complicated than that, but alright.
[22:43] <+Blarghedy> Do you have any defined settings already?
[22:43] <+JSerembe> Ki is Life force – so Life Points
[22:43] <~Dan> Speaking of which, can you describe the system, and is there a character sheet we can see?
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[22:44] <+JSerembe> Yes there are several settings – but as Link can be episodic, you may never visit the same setting twice.
[22:44] <+Blarghedy> right
[22:44] <+JSerembe> Check out the playtest packet on the Kickstarter or on RPGnow.
[22:45] <+Blarghedy> so the way I see it, running a game seems like it would require quite a bit of knowledge of and creativity with settings and stuff
[22:45] <+Lin_Chong> What themes or tones are you hoping to convey with Order of the Link?
[22:45] <+Lin_Chong> “And/or,” I should say.
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[22:46] <+JSerembe> Not sure what you mean there – the overarching theme is maintaining balance – this can be by playing “good” to battle “evil” or playing “evil” to battle good. Whatever it takes according to the imbalance.
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[22:48] <+Blarghedy> I’m not really sure if this is a question as much as an observation, but I can’t really see a long over-arching plot taking place with this game, aside from the obvious (which is ‘maintain balance’)
[22:48] <+JSerembe> There is a bit of metaphysic involved, but nothing overly complex.
[22:48] <+Blarghedy> It’s not really a good or bad thing, though. Just kinda how it is.
[22:48] <+Lin_Chong> Tones, as in emotions, moods, etc. Light, dark, grayish, excitement, despair, anxious, etc.
[22:49] <+JSerembe> I have several campaigns that lasted years, one futuristic, one rather western, one medieval fantasy and one victorian steampunk.
[22:50] <+Lin_Chong> How are players supposed to /feel/?
[22:51] <+JSerembe> As if they are on the road to achieving cosmic consciousness.
[22:51] <+JSerembe> A sense of order and harmony. Great knowledge and mastery.
[22:51] <~Dan> On a related note, perhaps, I have to wonder about the potential “squick” level of PCs attempting to tamp down imbalances in the Good column.
[22:51] <+Blarghedy> Oh, so one campaign will be a year (for example) of western, followed by a year (or whatever) with the same people in fantasy?
[22:51] <+Blarghedy> I was picturing something much faster
[22:52] <+Blarghedy> misconception on my end
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[22:52] <+JSerembe> No, some last only one session.
[22:52] <+Lin_Chong> What in the game do you feel supports these moods and ideas?
[22:52] <~Dan> I mean, is it possible that the problem with a reality is that it has to little rape, for example?
[22:52] <~Dan> too, rather
[22:52] <+Blarghedy> right, but the game doesn’t really require it to be short, I guess.
[22:52] <+JSerembe> It all depends on the nature of the imbalance and how long it might take to right it.
[22:52] <+Blarghedy> right
[22:52] <+JSerembe> No,
[22:53] <+JSerembe> As a GM, you can tell a long or short story, in any time period on any world.
[22:54] <+Lin_Chong> Dan: That’s going a little too far, man.
[22:55] <~Dan> Lin_Chong: Perhaps, but I’m using a deliberately extreme example.
[22:55] <~Dan> I’m a bit uneasy about the idea of there being “too much good” going on.
[22:56] <~Dan> And what the PCs might have to do to counter it.
[22:56] <+Blarghedy> the way I interpret this (and probably the way I would run it) is you’re preventing interference in these planes
[22:56] <+Motulev> the way I see this, is the Jedi council definition of “evil” where even emotions are evil
[22:56] <+Blarghedy> from other people who are also whatever planeswalkers are called
[22:56] <+Blarghedy> preventing/fixing
[22:57] <+JSerembe> Yes, the Zalob is preventing interference in these planes by negating or removing the interference.
[22:57] <+Lin_Chong> I personally dislike moral designations, but I can understand them.
[22:57] <+Blarghedy> so that the planes are able to grow on their own
[22:57] <+Lin_Chong> JSerembe: What is the Link?
[22:57] <+Blarghedy> instead of interference from some higher power or whatever
[22:58] <+JSerembe> I do not actually use “good” or “evil” in the game – just to make a point here.
[22:58] <+Blarghedy> nice
[22:58] <+JSerembe> It is referred to as “Altruistic” and “Egocentric”
[22:58] <+Lin_Chong> So selfishness vs. selflessness?
[22:59] <+JSerembe> Basically.
[23:00] <+JSerembe> To be neither selfish or selfless is to be balanced.
[23:00] <~Dan> Well, again, might the PCs have to murder a Mother Theresa to maintain balance?
[23:00] <+JSerembe> The same with Law and Chaos
[23:01] <+JSerembe> They might, if she travelled trans-dimensionally and was promoting a theology that did not originate there.
[23:01] <+Lin_Chong> Theresa was not a very nice person.
[23:02] <+Lin_Chong> I mean. She did some pretty bad things.
[23:02] <~Dan> Well, take any selfless, saintly person, then.
[23:02] <+JSerembe> What we profess and what we are can be different.
[23:02] <+Lin_Chong> Mmm.
[23:03] <+JSerembe> The saintly can balance the despotic egocentric, it is not necessarily an imbalance – unless it is trans-dimersional (at least in the game).
[23:04] <+JSerembe> We have to assume that the dimension contains a universal balance inherent in its nature.
[23:05] <+JSerembe> An trans-diensional imposition creates the imbalance.
[23:05] <~Dan> Oh, if you answered this question, I missed it: Are there explicit supernatural levels in realities in the same way that there are tech levels?
[23:06] <+JSerembe> Yes, but psychism is powered from the Neutral (cosmic consciousness) which transcends dimension – do to is usable anywhere.
[23:07] <~Dan> And is pychism akin to psionics?
[23:07] <+JSerembe> There is also low magic, high magic and alchemy – which are not necessarily effective and can create imbalances.
[23:08] <+JSerembe> Yes, pretty much. It is how it (and all magics) are powered that makes the different.
[23:08] <~Dan> How are the others powered?
[23:09] <+JSerembe> Low and high magic are powered by astral entities that reside within a particular dimension. Alchemy depends on the physics of the particular dimension.
[23:10] <+Blarghedy> neat
[23:10] <+JSerembe> Low magic has components, gestures, incantations, etc. to placate an entity to allow the caster to produce the effect.
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[23:11] <+JSerembe> High magic is “learned” in prerequisite order like Psychism, but is fueled by the astral entity. “You have to believe”
[23:12] <~Dan> So more like clerical magic and/or miracles?
[23:14] <+JSerembe> Yes, but “Spiritism” one of the schools of Psychism involves the manipulation of local astral entities in some of its tomes – it is like “clerical” magic, but is not powered by an entity.
[23:15] <~Dan> What is the core system mechanic of the game?
[23:16] <+JSerembe> Thus you could be a Low Magic cleric, a high magic cleric or a Psychist cleric – only one would not be beholding to an entity for their power.
[23:16] <+JSerembe> it’s a d20 system.
[23:16] <+JSerembe> Rolling your attribute (or Skill) number or less for success. Roll low enough and you get a Crit.
[23:17] <~Dan> What determines the range for a Crit?
[23:18] <+JSerembe> For Martial Skills the Crit divisor of the weapon. for Practical Skills the crib divisor is 5. You simply divide your Skill number by the divisor to determine Crit.
[23:19] <+JSerembe> So as your Skill improves, so does your Crit.
[23:19] <~Dan> A good thing, IMO.
[23:20] <~Dan> How do weapons and armor function?
[23:21] <+JSerembe> Weapons do various polyhedral damage. I like dice. Armor lowers damage done according to its rating.
[23:22] <~Dan> Speaking of which, how much do you offer in the way of equipment from multiple tech levels?
[23:22] <+JSerembe> Some post-modern battle armor has its own Life Points as well. Shields also lower damage.
[23:23] <+JSerembe> In the full rule set there is quite a lot. All rated by tech level. With descriptions of the futuristic stuff.
[23:25] <~Dan> What happens to items that the PCs try to bring back with them?
[23:25] <+JSerembe> I have to describe the nature of the Link itself to explain. I will do that now
[23:28] <+JSerembe> The Link is a point of enlightenment that appears to the Zalob. When they walk in – they are transported to the Neutral. The Neutral is infinite consciousness contained within the infinite void.
[23:29] <+JSerembe> In the Neutral they establish a “sanctuary” this is a place where they can experience thought not bombarded by infinite consciousness.
[23:29] <+JSerembe> In this place they are an idea made manifest – as are all of their belongings.
[23:29] <+JSerembe> They may bring things that they acquire to this place.
[23:30] <+JSerembe> They may, in effect, use it as a closet.
[23:30] * ~Dan nods
[23:30] <+JSerembe> Does that explain it?
[23:31] <~Dan> I think so… But you mentioned that they’re restricted to using only items allowed by the local tech levels?
[23:32] <+JSerembe> Yes, but as long as the thing taken out of the Link is the same tech level as the world they are going to – they will not create an imbalance.
[23:32] * ~Dan nods
[23:32] <+JSerembe> They can leave higher tech level things in their sanctuary in the Neutral.
[23:32] <~Dan> Does the game include any sort of bestiary?
[23:33] <+JSerembe> Only the scenarios do.
[23:33] <~Dan> Are all of the PCs human?
[23:34] <+JSerembe> It is assumed that GMs will use beasties from anywhere and everywhere on the destination dimension.
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[23:35] <+JSerembe> No, not all human. There are several “types” included that can be used – but the GM should feel free to take them from anywhere. The (free) Psychism “Zalob Alteration” takes care of the “what the $@#$ is that?” problem.
[23:36] <~Dan> What types are there?
[23:36] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian!)
[23:36] <@egyptian> (hi!)
[23:37] <+JSerembe> Reptillian, insectoid, various “Tolkein-esque” types, others taken from other archetypes “wookie-like”, etc. though they are not specifically called that.
[23:37] <~Dan> Ah, cool.
[23:38] <+JSerembe> Hello egyptian!
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[23:38] <~Dan> (Howdy, lucidfox!)
[23:38] <+JSerembe> Hello!
[23:38] <~Dan> What do you have planned next for the game?
[23:40] <+JSerembe> My big push at the moment is to get the rules out there on RPGNow and other places, and then create scenarios for it.
[23:41] <+JSerembe> I need the Kickstarter for artwork and other help.
[23:41] * ~Dan nods
[23:42] <~Dan> How powerful are starting characters, and how cinematic is the system in general?
[23:42] <+JSerembe> Check out the playtest packet if you get the chance.
[23:42] <~Dan> (As far as allowing for outlandish stunts and the like.)
[23:44] <+JSerembe> It’s somewhat reality based – though they can take on some heat and come back hitting. Lets say you want to do a really crazy acrobatic move – you might need to roll a Dexterity Attribute Crit (or Acrobatics Skill Crit) it’s going to be up to the GM really depending on the scenario.
[23:45] <+JSerembe> They start out as able – but not stellar.
[23:46] <+JSerembe> The GM is free to award more starting Ki if the scenario will call for it right from the start.
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[23:50] <+JSerembe> OK, guess I’ll check out now. Thanks for the chat!
[23:52] <~Dan> ,L’
[23:52] <~Dan> Whoops!
[23:52] <~Dan> Sorry about that — got distracted for a moment.
[23:53] <~Dan> Thanks very much for coming by!