[19:01] <+HellcowKeith> Hi! My name is Keith Baker. I’ve been a game designer and writer for around two decades, and I’m best known for the card game Gloom and the Eberron campaign setting. My current project is Phoenix: Dawn Command, a card-driven RPG that’s up on Kickstarter now.
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[19:03] <+Abstruse> (Okay, I’m here)
[19:03] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, SeanG! Here for the Q&A? 🙂 )
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[19:03] <+HellcowKeith> In some ways, Phoenix is a bridge between Eberron and Gloom. It’s a fantasy RPG with a fully developed world, but it’s card-driven, encourages storytelling, and eventually you want your character to die… as that’s how you evolve and become stronger.
[19:03] <+HellcowKeith> (done)
[19:03] <~Dan> Thanks, HellcowKeith!
[19:03] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:04] <+Abstruse> What’s the setting like?
[19:04] <~Dan> So let’s see… The death thing is a standout, but yeah, I’d like to hear more about the general setting first.
[19:04] <~Dan> (Oh, and want to introduce yourself, Abstruse? 🙂 )
[19:04] <+HellcowKeith> You can find out a little more about the world in my latest blog post on Keith-Baker.com, but to hit some of the highlights…
[19:05] <+Abstruse> (This is Darryl from Ain’t It Cool News and Gamer’s Tavern)
[19:05] <+xyphoid> is this a sequel to Phoenix Command?
[19:05] <+xyphoid> (I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY)
[19:06] <+HellcowKeith> It’s a fantasy world where magic exists, but isn’t part of society; it’s something that was largely surpressed in the past, so the society overall is fairly low-fantasy.
[19:07] <+HellcowKeith> At one time the nations were bound together in a united empire, but it’s still disparate cultures – each of which had different magical traditions in the past.
[19:08] <+HellcowKeith> Now the world is facing a vast array of supernatural threats. These are collectively referred to as “The Dread”, but there’s no clear evidence that they are unified; part of the challenge of the game is trying to figure out WHY these things are happening, instead of just fighting them.
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[19:09] <+HellcowKeith> The world is at war and it is losing. Mortals can’t face most manifestations of the Dread. But you’re not mortal. You’ve died and returned imbued with supernatural power. You’re a Phoenix – and our best hope and understanding and defeating the Dread.
[19:09] <+HellcowKeith> As a Phoenix, you can die and return up to seven times… but there are various restrictions I can go into if people want.
[19:09] <+HellcowKeith> (done)
[19:09] <+HellcowKeith> (And no, not a sequel to Phoenix Command)
[19:10] <~Dan> So obviously, the supernatural is out in the open… Is it the case that magic traditions have just been supressed so long that they’ve been forgotten?
[19:11] <+Abstruse> So is everyone in the world able to resurrect this way, or is it just Phoenixes? (Phoenii? Or is it like Moose where it’s one Phoenix two Phoenix?)
[19:11] <~Dan> Or, to rephrase, is it possible that there could be mortal wizards, if only people remembered how?
[19:11] <+HellcowKeith> Essentially, yes. Magic is powerful but often dangerous. The first Phoenixes suppressed the practice of magic when they formed the Empire. Eventually people rose up against Phoenix rule, and after a bloody civil war the Phoenixes stepped down… and after that they stopped returning. So it’s been a few centuries since Phoenixes were active in the Empire.
[19:12] <+HellcowKeith> Yes, there are many traditions of magic and some people are starting to mess around with them looking for a way to fight the Dread – and that ddoesn’t always work out so well.
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[19:13] <~Dan> Are the powers of the Phoenixes distinct from learned magic, or an expression of it?
[19:13] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Damadar!)
[19:13] <+Damadar> Hi Dan.
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[19:13] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest83! Please set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan 🙂 )
[19:14] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse – no one is born a Phoenix, and anyone could become a Phoenix. When a remarkable person dies a death with some form of significance, their spirit can be drawn to what’s called the Crucible. There you undergo a series of trials and challenges, both to earn the right to return and learn the skills you’ll need.
[19:14] <~Dan> (Damadar: Here for the Q&A?)
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[19:14] <+Damadar> Or just to make jokes at Keith’s expense.
[19:14] <+Damadar> I haven’t quite decided yet.
[19:15] <~Dan> (Ah. Fair enough. 😀 )
[19:15] <+HellcowKeith> With that said, it’s been centuries since anyone has returned. In the height of the old Empire there were a thousand Phoenixes. Currently there’s around a hundred, and they aren’t yet officially recognized by the modern Empire. It’s sort of like King Arthur showing up at the Pentagon and offering to help with Afghanistan.
[19:15] <+HellcowKeith> So you’re a little more like the resistance in Terminator than space marines in 40K.
[19:17] <+HellcowKeith> Dan: Phoenix powers are distinct from other traditions, but many Phoenixes use the traditions of their culture as a way to express those powers – so a Grimwald Devoted may use the shamanic trappings and may actually be trained as a shaman, while a Skavi Devoted could be a warlock who deals with the Fallen Folk.
[19:17] <+BlasterKyubey210> A few John Conners having a rude awakeing, a bit scary
[19:17] <+Abstruse> Do you come back just once or can you come back multiple times?
[19:17] <~Dan> Can you explain the term “Devoted” in this context?
[19:18] <+HellcowKeith> As a Phoenix, you have already come back once. Part of character creation is establishing who you were in your first (mortal) life, how you died, and what gave you the determination to come back.
[19:19] <+HellcowKeith> As a Phoenix you can return up to seven more times.
[19:19] <+HellcowKeith> However, you don’t come back right away and you don’t come back at the spot you died.
[19:19] <~Dan> Ah. So it’s not a simply “respawn”.
[19:19] <~Dan> simple, rather
[19:19] <+HellcowKeith> Think of Gandalf in Moria – in Phoenix, a member of your wing could choose to hold the bridge against the Balrog, and you would return, but not for a while.
[19:19] <+HellcowKeith> Exactly.
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[19:20] <+Abstruse> Sounds more like beating Death at a game of chess.
[19:20] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, MikeSelinker! Here for the Q&A? 🙂 )
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[19:20] <+MikeSelinker> Just saw Keith’s note about it.
[19:20] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest80! Please set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan 🙂 )
[19:20] <+HellcowKeith> Most missions in Phoenix have high stakes, harsh odds, and time pressure; while death isn’t the end, you want every death to count.
[19:20] <+MikeSelinker> Wanted to say that I think Phoenix: Dawn Command is awesome and everyone should own seven copies.
[19:20] <+HellcowKeith> One for each life!
[19:21] <+Abstruse> What exactly is The Dread? Is it just a blanket name like “monster” to cover a lot of different types of malicious beings? Or is it a specific type of creature like “demon”?
[19:21] <+HellcowKeith> Dan, “Devoted” is one of the Phoenix Schools. You can see a little more about this here – (Link: http://keith-baker.com/phoenix-dawn-command-whats-a-phoenix/)http://keith-baker.com/phoenix-dawn-command-whats-a-phoenix/
[19:22] <+HellcowKeith> Your School determines your abilities. When you die, we look at what you are taking away from that death and your last life, and that determines the School you take your new lessons from.
[19:22] <+Damadar> One of the Kicstarter Stretch Goals is going to be 40 pages of additional content from you, Keith – will this be background information about the world, or will it pertain directly to the story the Game Master is putting out?
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[19:23] <+xyphoid> so how often do you expect these deaths to happen at the table – like if you have a group of five players, are there going to be PC deaths each session?
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[19:23] <~Dan> (Mr: You can’t use spaces, if that’s what you were trying to… yeah. 🙂 )
[19:23] <+HellcowKeith> “The Dread” is a blanket name to cover all the various threats that are happening. We have undead soldiers rising to prey on the living. Shapechangers. Ghosts. A chant that causes all who hear it to become homicdal. Anything terrible you can think of could be out there somewhere – and again, we don’t know how htese things actually relate.
[19:24] <+HellcowKeith> There are distinct monster types – the Fallen Folk, Bones, the Chanters – but right now we just call it all “The Dread.”
[19:24] <+Abstruse> So you said the game is card-based. How does that work?
[19:24] <+HellcowKeith> Damadar: The 40 pages of extra material will largely be additional setting information, though I may use some of it for additional GM guidance.
[19:25] <~Dan> Is it correct to say that the only manifesations of the supernatural in the setting are the Phoenixes, the Dread, and the magical traditions? (And yes, I realize that “only” is very relative, here.)
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[19:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, DrNate!)
[19:25] <~Dan> (Also, question pause.)
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[19:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:26] <+HellcowKeith> Xyphoid: It depends on the session, but 25% – 50% death rate is typical and it can easily be higher. Part of the point is that the odds are generally against you, and there will often be situations where you will have to make harsh sacrifices to succeed.
[19:26] <+HellcowKeith> Take the balrog example: one of you can hold the bridge, die and save the others… or you can try to all survive and possibly all die.
[19:27] <+HellcowKeith> It’s a game in which even a TPK isn’t the end – though it can certainly result in the failure of your mission and long-term consequences.
[19:28] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse: A good way to get a sense of how the cards work is to watch Rich Malena’s videos: (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh3rwKh5LtY)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh3rwKh5LtY
[19:28] <~Dan> (Oh, sorry, Mr_Squiggly, I forgot to ask if you’re here for the Q&A.)
[19:28] <+Mr_Squiggly> Yes, just listening right now.
[19:29] <~Dan> (No problem. 🙂 )
[19:29] <+HellcowKeith> In addition to a set of ongoing abilities, you have a deck of cards that you use when you want to perform actions. These are effectively the combination of your character’s capabilities and a random factor – so character and die roll combined.
[19:30] <+HellcowKeith> To accomplish an action, you play a spread of cards; the combined value of the cards has to equal or exceed the value of the task.
[19:30] <+HellcowKeith> Certain cards – Traits – have special abilities, and can be further enhanced if the trait can be narratively justified.
[19:31] <+HellcowKeith> Beyond this: You has a pool of magical energy – Sparks – that can let you boost the results of a spread. But when you run out of Sparks, you die.
[19:31] <+Abstruse> It’s a standard deck?
[19:32] <+HellcowKeith> So essentially, there is a random factor from round to round as you draw a new hand – but on any given turn you know exactly what you are capable of… and what it would cost you to go beyond that.
[19:32] <+HellcowKeith> No, not a standard deck at all.
[19:33] <+HellcowKeith> What this means is that you don’t make your dramatic speech invoking your ancestors, use your biggest attack, and roll a one… you know if you’ve got the hand you need to pull off that dramatic attack. And if you don’t, the challenge is to figure out what you can do with what you have – how to use the low roll.
[19:34] <+Damadar> I spoke to you at a convention a little over a year and a half ago, (October 2013) where you said a big part of the game was going to be what happens while the character is dead (between sessions) – did that get fleshed out more?
[19:36] <+HellcowKeith> When you die, GM and player discuss what School that death belongs in, and this determines your options for mechanically improving your character. From a story perspective you return to the Crucible and undergo new trials; you don’t just get a free ride, and it’s always a question of what gives you the strength and determination to return again.
[19:37] <~Dan> So you will likely return under a different School?
[19:37] <+Damadar> So not all characters will make it back all 7 times?
[19:37] <+HellcowKeith> This is something that’s handled narratively between player and GM, so it’s not something you handle mechanically. You can’t fail to return… unless you believe that this is a point where your character would give up.
[19:37] <+HellcowKeith> Not all Phoenixes make it back seven times. The only reason a player Phoenix wouldn’t is in the player felt their Phoenix would give up.
[19:38] <+HellcowKeith> Dan: Your first death provides you with your most defining abilities, and you’re always referred to as the School of your first death – so if you start as a Durant we’ll always call you a Durant.
[19:39] <+HellcowKeith> But yes, you could be a Durant how then died three Bitter deaths.
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[19:39] <~Dan> (Howdy, Gabriel!)
[19:39] <~Dan> HellcowKeith: Ah, I see.
[19:39] <+HellcowKeith> Essentially, in Phoenix there’s a big difference between a Fighter who takes a level of Wizard and a Wizard who takes a level of Fighter.
[19:39] <+HellcowKeith> (done)
[19:40] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet posted that we could see?
[19:41] <+HellcowKeith> You can see one here: (Link: http://keith-baker.com/creating-a-phoenix-elegy/)http://keith-baker.com/creating-a-phoenix-elegy/
[19:41] <+HellcowKeith> However, character sheets in Phoenix are more about recording the story of your character than the stats; your abilities are contained in your cards.
[19:42] <~Dan> What determines how many cards you have?
[19:42] <+HellcowKeith> So the mechanically significant parts of Elegy are the fact she’s Shrouded (which provides her with a set of core lessons), her Traits (which are additional cards she’s selected), and the additional lesson she’s chosen (Shadow Dancer).
[19:43] <+HellcowKeith> The number of cards in your deck is determined by your Rank, which is the number of times you’ve died and returned.
[19:43] <+HellcowKeith> A Rank 1 Phoenix begins with four lessons and a deck of 17 cards.
[19:44] <~Dan> And the cards include what could be called attributes?
[19:44] <+HellcowKeith> Each time you die you add a lesson and trait, and may either add a base card to your deck or remove an existing card. There’s a few other ways to modify your deck, and game events can add cards to it.
[19:44] <+HellcowKeith> Correct. Action cards have suits – Grace, Strength, Intellect.
[19:45] <+HellcowKeith> Here’s a video on Character Creation. (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQgIYUAdrkU)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQgIYUAdrkU
[19:45] <~Dan> I’m a bit confused, then… How do you determine how strong a character is if their Strength depends upon the cards in their hand?
[19:46] <+HellcowKeith> You determine how strong they are by the number and value of Strength cards that are in their deck.
[19:46] <+HellcowKeith> And then what you have in your hand represents what you are capable of on this turn.
[19:46] <~Dan> Oh! Okay, I see now.
[19:47] <~Dan> Which is why what’s in your hand is, in a sense, like the results of a roll.
[19:47] <+HellcowKeith> To compare it to a dice-based system, it’s as if you know your fighter will roll a 15 if he tries a Strength-based action right now.
[19:47] <+HellcowKeith> Exactly. The deck itself is your character sheet, and your hand is your dice.
[19:47] <~Dan> You’re more likely to have better Strength cards if you have more Strength cards in your deck, but you still aren’t guaranteed to have them just when you need them.
[19:48] <~Dan> Okay, I see now.
[19:48] <~Dan> That’s pretty slick. 🙂
[19:48] <+HellcowKeith> Exactly. Further, every School has the ability to change the suit of one card in a spread to a particular suit.
[19:48] <+HellcowKeith> So if you’re Durant or Bitter you will always have at least one Strength card available at any time.
[19:48] <+Motulev> I’m usually vehemently opposed to card based systems, but this sounds neat
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[19:49] <~Dan> Now, how are NPCs statted out?
[19:49] <+HellcowKeith> NPCs have stats the GM uses – speed, health, etc. They have sets of actions they can take, and it’s up to the GM to decide which ability an NPC will use and who it will use it on.
[19:50] <+Abstruse> How large is the game world? You said finding out what the deal with The Dread is becomes a major part of the story. If you figure it out, is that campaign over?
[19:50] <+HellcowKeith> However, there’s no random factor associated with this. Rather than saying “The creature attacks you and rolls a….”
[19:50] <+HellcowKeith> … It’s “The werewolf snaps at you – it’s an attack with a value of 10.”
[19:51] <+HellcowKeith> So defense is an active choice by the player – and defense means giving up cards you could use to act in your next round.
[19:51] <~Dan> Ah. So NPC stats are expressed as target numbers?
[19:51] <+HellcowKeith> So there are definitely times when a player will choose to be hit by an attack they could avoid because they want to do something amazing on the next turn.
[19:51] <+HellcowKeith> Largely, yes.
[19:51] * ~Dan nods
[19:52] <+HellcowKeith> Abstuse, there’s a map of the game world up at Keith-Baker.com.
[19:52] <+HellcowKeith> It’s a fairly small world. And no, figuring out the Dread doesn’t end the story.
[19:53] <+HellcowKeith> First, the Dread has many manifestations, and learning about one doesn’t give you the answer to the entire picture.
[19:53] <+HellcowKeith> Second, even once you do learn the answer to what the Dread is, that doesn’t actually make it go away… it simply means that you can now actually fight with strategy behind your actions as opposed to simply reacting.
[19:54] <+HellcowKeith> And as a spoiler, the Dread ISN’T just one single problem that can be cleanly resolved.
[19:54] <+HellcowKeith> However, even if it was – there’s more to the world than just the Dread.
[19:54] <+HellcowKeith> Again, the fact that people are starting to explore the old paths of magic is creating its own set of problems.
[19:54] <+Abstruse> I’m thinking back to the old Universal Brotherhood story arc in Shadowrun. You can’t really run it with the same group a second time since the players know what’s coming.
[19:54] <~Dan> On a related note, if you answered my question about the supernatural elements, I missed it. 🙂
[19:55] <+HellcowKeith> And one of the biggest questions is the role Phoenixes will play in the world: will you try to restore the old Empire the first Phoenixes ruled? Will you opposed those who wish to?
[19:56] <~Dan> Namely, whether the Phoenixes, the various manifestations of the Dread, and the schools of magic are the only supernatural elements in the world.
[19:56] <+HellcowKeith> Like I said, it’s not that sort of mystery – a) even if you know the answer, that doesn’t make the fight any easier… it just means you can choose logical targets.
[19:57] <+HellcowKeith> and b) we provide a clear storyline and answer to the Dread – but like much of Eberron, we also provide lots of ideas and alternatives for people who want to twist the story.
[19:57] <+HellcowKeith> So my Dread and your Dread may not actually have the same answer.
[19:57] <+HellcowKeith> Dan: Yes and no.
[19:57] <+HellcowKeith> Magic is a concrete part of the world.
[19:58] <+HellcowKeith> Phoenixes and the Dread are a manifestation of it.
[19:58] <+HellcowKeith> THe magical traditions reflect ways human cultures have learned to manipulate it.
[19:58] <+HellcowKeith> But that doesn’t mean there’s aspects of it people still don’t understand. And again, “The Dread” covers a very wide range.
[19:59] <+HellcowKeith> Part of the question is “Does that undead army actually have anything to do with those werewolves? If not, is it just coincidence that they are both active now? Or is there something else going on?”
[19:59] <~Dan> Well, this may be a spoiler, but… is the Dread a definitive categorization, or is it simply what people call “anything freaky”?
[19:59] <+Abstruse> Are there suddenly a lot of Phoenixes in the world now after a century or two without them? Or are they still fairly unique?
[20:00] <+HellcowKeith> Motulev – glad to hear it! This video gives some sense of how the card system works. (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh3rwKh5LtY)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh3rwKh5LtY
[20:00] <+HellcowKeith> The Dread is, in fact, just a term people are currently using for “Anything Freaky”.
[20:00] <~Dan> As in, if a dragon shows up, does it get called part of the Dread because it’s supernatural and scary, or is it a part of the Dread by definition? (If that makes sense.)
[20:01] <~Dan> Ah, okay.
[20:01] <+HellcowKeith> If a dragon shows up and starts burning things, people would definitely call it part of the Dread. But that doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the Chant or the Bones, which are also part of the Dread.
[20:02] <~Dan> So it’s akin to saying “the Cthulhu Mythos”, in the sense that the Mythos includes an infinite number of unrelated things that all happen to be unknown and scary?
[20:02] <+HellcowKeith> Looking at the seven-part adventure path that comes with the game, it focuses on one particular manifestation of the Dread – but finishing that doesn’t explain the whole thing.
[20:02] <+HellcowKeith> If the Dragon DOESN’T have anything to do with the Bones, where did it come from? Why is it here? How can you stop it from burning things?
[20:02] <+HellcowKeith> Exactly, Dan.
[20:03] <~Dan> Okay, cool.
[20:03] <~Dan> I rather prefer it that way.
[20:03] <+Abstruse> Do people consider Phoenixes part of The Dread? Or since they know more about what they are, are they just considered Phoenixes?
[20:03] <~Dan> I don’t generally care as much for settings that tie all of the weirdness together with a neat bow.
[20:03] <+HellcowKeith> And like the Mythos, there are coherent subgroups within the Dread – but again, part of the challenge is learning about them and how they relate to each other.
[20:03] <+HellcowKeith> No neat bow.
[20:04] <~Dan> (brb — please continue)
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[20:04] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse: There have never been more than 1000 Phoenixes. At the end of the Civil War there were around 500. As of 3 years ago there were around a dozen. Now there are close to a hundred.
[20:05] <+willows> When will the game be available for wider purchase?
[20:05] <+HellcowKeith> However, most of those hundred have only been Phoenixes for less than two years.
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[20:06] <+HellcowKeith> Willows: our target for release is January 2016, though we hope to get it out earlier than that. It will go to wide release shortly after being delivered to backers. However, it is likely a case where we will be dealing with stores directly, so we’ll see how wide that release is.
[20:07] <+Abstruse> How do normal people view Phoenixes? Does it vary by culture?
[20:07] <+HellcowKeith> Further questions?
[20:07] <+willows> What about PDFs? epub? etc?
[20:07] <+willows> (dead-tree books are for dinosaurs and collectors.)
[20:08] <+Damadar> Well. It’s a card game, too, so.
[20:08] <+HellcowKeith> Willows: Provided there is interest, we’ll release supplementary material in PDF form. We intend to make the main game book available as a PDF (and free to backers).
[20:08] <+Abstruse> (Or for people who can flip through a book faster than search a PDF)
[20:08] <+HellcowKeith> Right now Drivethrucards doesn’t do tarot size cards, but if they get that sorted out we’re open to PoD.
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[20:09] <+Abstruse> Does every player need an entire deck? Or can you get by with one deck for a group?
[20:10] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse: Yes, it varies by culture. Like I said, it’s a little like King Arthur showing up today. Some people are thrilled heroes have returned; some don’t believe the stories; and some remember the Phoenixes as the people their ancestors fought against.
[20:10] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse: The core game provides everything you need for four players and a GM.
[20:11] <+Abstruse> Is there any plans for supporting online play?
[20:11] <+HellcowKeith> So every player needs a deck – but the base game comes with enough cards to provide every player with a deck.
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[20:11] <~Dan> (back, sorry)
[20:11] <~Dan> Yes, I’d be interested in online play, as that’s how I play a lot of my games.
[20:12] <+HellcowKeith> We’re going to look into it. Mechanically it seems possible, as long as you trust your players – though in that case each player would need their own cards (or you could mail them a deck).
[20:13] <+HellcowKeith> Essentially, we have no intention to create some sort of deck-simulating program – but it would be quite easy to play over a connection.
[20:13] <+Abstruse> Have you looked into making deals with any of the virtual tabletops? I believe Roll20 has a card system for Savage Worlds, for example.
[20:14] <+HellcowKeith> Roll20 is definitely one we’re looking at. I didn’t know that about Savage Worlds, so I may reach out to them now.
[20:14] <+HellcowKeith> Like I said, I think it would be feasible to play it using a system like Roll20.
[20:14] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[20:15] <+Abstruse> Savage Worlds the RPG uses cards for Initiative. It’s the system behind Deadlands.
[20:15] <+HellcowKeith> … But at the same time, our primary focus is getting the core game into existence.
[20:15] <+Abstruse> (Fantasy Grounds looks to be the other big virtual tabletop on the market, especially with their deal with WotC.)
[20:15] <+HellcowKeith> Combat uses cards to indicate relative position, but it’s a casual system – certainly easily within the scope of most virtual tabletops.
[20:16] <+HellcowKeith> In terms of the system, you can see a breakdown of combat here: (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byzjHVB0dxI)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byzjHVB0dxI
[20:16] <~Dan> Oh, no, I meant how does the game’s combat system work, not how would it work on a virtual tabletop. 🙂
[20:17] <+HellcowKeith> NPCs have stats defined by target numbers (attack, defense). At its simplest level, if your attack spread exceeds the target’s defense, the difference is the amount of damage dealt.
[20:18] <+HellcowKeith> There is a system in place that encourages players to use elements of the environment to add narrative depth to their actions.
[20:18] <+HellcowKeith> So if you’re in a tavern, there might be a plate glass window, a chandelier, a roaring fireplace, a barstool….
[20:19] <+HellcowKeith> And you’ll get an extra card for trying to push a guy into the fireplace instead of just hitting him (as well as possibly setting him on fire).
[20:20] <~Dan> How do weapons and armor function?
[20:21] <+HellcowKeith> The health of an enemy is reflected by wound tokens, each of which has a certain value. This allows for some tactical differentiation between creatures. A ghoul might have three health tokens, each with a value of 3. A dragon might have a pair of 5s and a 10. Thus, to kill the dragon, someone will have to inflict 10 points of damage in a single attack.
[20:22] <+HellcowKeith> It’s not a gear-driven system, in part because you can’t take it with you. Every Phoenix has a signature weapon that remains with them and evolves as their power grows. Beyond that, weapons are largely cosmetic; as a Bitter Phoenix, you could hit someone with an axe or kill them with a spoon.
[20:23] <+Abstruse> Do you have any plans for expanding in the future?
[20:24] <+HellcowKeith> Certainly, but it depends on the demand. Part of the point of making a new world is to be able to develop it in the ways I can’t currently develop Eberron. I’d like to produce additional sourcebooks about the world and adventures, likely as PDFs.
[20:25] <+HellcowKeith> We could easily produce an expansion set of cards.
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[20:25] <+HellcowKeith> And there’s a few designers interested in creating alternate settings for the system.
[20:25] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, LonePaladin!)
[20:25] <+HellcowKeith> But that all depends on if htere’s a sufficient audience to justify it.
[20:25] <+LonePaladin> Hi, Keith!
[20:26] <+HellcowKeith> Hi, LonePaladin! Do you have a question?
[20:26] <+LonePaladin> Gimme a minute, I’m thinking (for once).
[20:26] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:26] <~Dan> How extensive is the game’s bestiary?
[20:27] <+HellcowKeith> That depends on stretch goals!
[20:27] <~Dan> Aha! 🙂
[20:27] <@Silverlion> How big is the starting one then?
[20:27] <+Abstruse> You’ve been well known for being very interactive with Eberron fans with your blog and other places. Are you planning official support for the game that way?
[20:28] <+HellcowKeith> The game ships with all the creatures used in the seven mission adventure path, most of which can be repurposed for other adventures – around thirty Challenges. Our stretch goals each provide a new Challenge.
[20:28] <+HellcowKeith> We can include new Challenges with new missions, and GMs can create their own challenges; as they aren’t place d in decks, they don’t have to be on official cards.
[20:29] <+HellcowKeith> Abstruse: Absolutely. My frustration with Eberron is that I can’t support it as fully as I’d like. Again, a big reason to create a new world is so I CAN support it fully.
[20:30] <+Abstruse> Any plans for fiction?
[20:30] <+HellcowKeith> With that said, I still hope that we’ll see some movement on new Eberron material – but I’ve been working with WotC on that for a long time and I still don’t have any concrete news.
[20:31] <+HellcowKeith> I think there’s a lot of potential in the setting for Phoenix, and I’ve already talked with some of the Eberron authors about it – but again, it really depends on the response.
[20:31] <+HellcowKeith> (Err, potential in the setting for FICTION.)
[20:32] <+HellcowKeith> (done)
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[20:32] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest57! Please set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan 🙂 )
[20:32] <+HellcowKeith> What else?
[20:33] <~Dan> Where would you place the game on a gritty-to-cinematic scale of 1-10?
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[20:33] <+Ulairi> hi all
[20:34] <~Dan> (Howdy, Ulairi!)
[20:34] <+Ulairi> anybody know if the chatroom will work on a chromebook? I’m selling my laptop and going to replace it with one.
[20:34] <+HellcowKeith> Highly cinematic. As I said, players are encouraged to help drive the narrative, and Phoenix are capable of impressive feats. With that said, it’s certainly a game where players will often be faced with difficult decisions.
[20:35] <~Dan> (If you can open a browser, it will work, AFAIK.)
[20:35] <+HellcowKeith> But it is a simple, flexible system – and one that’s easy for new gamers to pick up – as opposed to being a deep, detailed simulation.
[20:36] <~Dan> Speaking of impressive feats, that first video mentions “leaping over tall buildings”. Is that literally possible for Phoenixes? Are they essentially fantasy superheroes?
[20:36] <+Blarghedy> For comparison, HellcowKeith, how would you rate Eberron?
[20:37] <+HellcowKeith> It’s a good question, Blarghedy. My point is that there is some similarity in TONE between Eberron and Phoenix – both are places where things aren’t always black and white and there aren’t always easy answers. Phoenix does have both pulp and noir elements.
[20:37] <+Blarghedy> Ah, similar tone but different game style to create that tone
[20:37] <+HellcowKeith> However, it is the case that Phoenixes are superhuman – so it’s closer to Exalted than D&D.
[20:38] <+Blarghedy> I’d posit that action points allow a PC to be pretty super human in Eberron (at least in 3.5) too. Still, an interesting comparison.
[20:38] <+HellcowKeith> With that said, leaping over a building is probably a little excessive. A Phoenix can be very fast and strong, but we’re not talking about the Flash or the Hulk.
[20:39] <+HellcowKeith> Phoenix’s Sparks play a similar role to action points – except that you start with more of them, and when you run out you die.
[20:39] <+HellcowKeith> But the point is that you CAN push yourself beyond your limits when you need to – if you’re willing to make the sacrifice.
[20:40] <+HellcowKeith> The main point is that the overall tone of the world is fairly dark.
[20:40] <+HellcowKeith> You are facing a threat you don’t understand and which to this point has proven unstoppable.
[20:40] <+HellcowKeith> Innocents are dying.
[20:40] <+HellcowKeith> You have the power to face it, but it’s not a four-color superhero sort of thing.
[20:41] <+HellcowKeith> So you can perform cinematic actions – but you’re still in a grim scenario.
[20:41] * ~Dan nods
[20:41] <+HellcowKeith> To me it often feels like Aliens: you’re the best at what you do, but you’re going into a situation with little information and facing a deadly foe.
[20:42] <+HellcowKeith> A normal human wouldn’t stand a chance; as a Phoenix you have a chance, but it won’t be easy and you’ll have to make sacrifices to succeed.
[20:42] <~Dan> So fill in the blank here: “If you like [insert RPG], you’ll like Phoenix: Dawn Command!”
[20:42] <+Blarghedy> You might have said this above or on the KS itself, but how many players do you suggest for this?
[20:43] <+HellcowKeith> It’s optimal with four.
[20:43] <+HellcowKeith> … And the base game has enough cards to support up to four.
[20:43] <+Blarghedy> lol
[20:43] <~Dan> “Four shall be the number of the players, and the number of the players shall be four.”
[20:43] <+HellcowKeith> You can play with 2-6, but I don’t like playing over four; because of the narrative structure you can end up waiting a while for your turn with six.
[20:43] <+Blarghedy> Are the decks marked to differentiate between them?
[20:44] <+HellcowKeith> Between player decks? No. But your character sheet notes your unique cards, so it’s easy to reassemble a deck if it’s broken down.
[20:45] <+HellcowKeith> Dan: It’s hard to say, because it is a very different experience. Again, the cards provide you with a greater degree of control over your actions… and the story places you in situations where heroic sacrifice may be necessary to succeed.
[20:45] <~Dan> Fair enough.
[20:46] <+HellcowKeith> It lets you do things you’d just never do in D&D – but that doesn’t mean that someone who likes D&D won’t find that they like it.
[20:46] <+Blarghedy> aside from the decks, is there anything in there that would prevent a 6 player game?
[20:46] <+HellcowKeith> There’s certainly some similarity to a game like Lady Blackbird, but again, that’s very die-driven.
[20:46] <+Blarghedy> like… other physical things
[20:47] <+HellcowKeith> The only limit on players (up to six) is having access to cards. If we have infinite budget and knew there was demand, we could put out a 5-6 player expansion set.
[20:47] <+HellcowKeith> But as it is, if you have two sets in your group you could expand to six.
[20:47] <+Blarghedy> I’d be quite interested in buying an additional 2 decks, then
[20:47] <+HellcowKeith> You need to adjust some of the challenges, but the manual will talk about running for small or large groups.
[20:48] <+Blarghedy> because I rarely have only 4 players
[20:48] <+Blarghedy> but 2 full sets is a bit steep
[20:48] <+HellcowKeith> Understood. If Print on Demand becomes and option, we’d love to be able to sell indivudal decks.
[20:49] <+Blarghedy> Cool
[20:49] <+HellcowKeith> (and my typing is getting worse as I get hungry!)
[20:49] <~Dan> Okay, so on a related note…
[20:49] <+HellcowKeith> Right now DriveThruCards doesn’t print tarot size, but it’s something they’re working on – and again, if that became an option there’s lots of possibilities.
[20:49] <+HellcowKeith> Yes, Dan?
[20:49] <~Dan> HellcowKeith, hunger aside, you are more than welcome to hang out with us and answer questions as long as you like. 🙂
[20:50] <~Dan> That said, with 10 minutes or so left of “regular time”, is there anything you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
[20:50] <+HellcowKeith> I know – but I also have a wife who expects to eat dinner one of these days!
[20:50] <~Dan> (And come to that, you are also always welcome to hang out with use in general. An increasing number of game authors do so regularly. 🙂 )
[20:51] <+Blarghedy> it’s a good dozen or so, yeah?
[20:51] <+HellcowKeith> One thing I discuss in a post where it’s asked if someone could run Phoenix in Eberron… (Link: http://keith-baker.com/dragonmarks-phoenix-in-eberron/)http://keith-baker.com/dragonmarks-phoenix-in-eberron/
[20:52] <+HellcowKeith> Phoenix is a setting as well as a system, and the setting is part of what makes the premise work.
[20:52] <+HellcowKeith> The world is facing a dire threat. The odds are against you and the stakes are high – which means there is tension even when you know you’ll return.
[20:52] <+HellcowKeith> You could certainly drop Phoenixes in Eberron, but I wouldn’t just have them go through normal adventures.
[20:53] <+Blarghedy> (On a related note, I have one set of players fighting off a bunch of elementals who are attempting to invade the material plane, and my other group was being probed by Dal Quor before we stopped playing that campaign. It’s so easy to confuse the heck out of people with Eberron.)
[20:53] <+HellcowKeith> In Phoenix you want to feel that each death has meaning – and that you can’t afford to just waste one.
[20:54] <+HellcowKeith> Hurrah for elemental invasions!
[20:54] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:55] <+Blarghedy> Eberron has been my setting of choice since I started DMing, but one of my players stepped up and is now DMing PotA
[20:55] <+HellcowKeith> I think that’s basically it for Phoenix. There’s a lot of good videos out there and posts on my website. I hope that we can support it deeply – but with game material and the sort of support I’ve been giving to Eberron, but it depends on interest.
[20:55] <+HellcowKeith> So we definitely appreciate any help spreading the word about it.
[20:55] <~Dan> Alrighty then! Thanks very much for spending time with us this evening, HellcowKeith!
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[20:55] <+HellcowKeith> With that said: FIVE MINUTES FOR EBERRON QUESTIONS!
[20:55] <~Dan> Ah! Okay then. 🙂
[20:56] <+HellcowKeith> Anything anyone wants to discuss?
[20:56] <~Dan> I’ve only recently come back to D&D, so I know only 2nd-hand stuff about Eberron.
[20:56] <~Dan> You have dinosaur-riding halflings, IIRC?
[20:56] <+HellcowKeith> Correct!
[20:56] <+Blarghedy> That’s a thing I’ve… kind of ignored in 5e
[20:57] <+HellcowKeith> They aren’t exactly a huge part of the setting.
[20:57] <+Blarghedy> yeah
[20:57] <~Dan> Well, then it’s an awesome setting right there, sez I.
[20:57] <+Blarghedy> I didn’t see a good way to make it not seem absurdly powerful. Even horses are obnoxious to keep track of
[20:57] <+HellcowKeith> True, mounts can be pretty handy in low-level 5E.
[20:58] <+HellcowKeith> But now I want to make a razorclaw riding halfling 5E paladin!
[20:58] <+Blarghedy> I think most of the dinosaurs in 5e are CR 3 or higher, even
[20:58] <+HellcowKeith> Any questions, Blarghedy? Or shall we call it a night?
[20:58] <+Blarghedy> nah, I’m good
[20:59] <+HellcowKeith> OK, thanks everyone!
[20:59] <~Dan> You’re welcome, HellcowKeith! Can you hang on a sec while I post the log for you?
[20:59] <+HellcowKeith> Certainly.
[20:59] <+xyphoid> 5e is designed to start a lot of campaigns at 3rd anyway right?
[20:59] <+Blarghedy> no
[20:59] <~Dan> One moment, please…