[20:02] <+RussellZee> Howdy folks! I’m Russell “Critias” Zimmerman, freelancer for assorted other stuff and regular Shadowrun contributor fella, and a little bit ago my new novel “Shaken (No Job Too Small)” launched, so I figured I’d swing by and chat with folks about it, my other SR stuff, and whatever else pops up. Thanks for having me!
[20:03] <~Dan> Certainly! 🙂
[20:03] <~Dan> (Oh, please give us a (done) when you’re ready for questions. 🙂 )
[20:03] <+RussellZee> (done)
[20:03] <~Dan> Thanks, RussellZee! The floor is open to questions!
[20:04] <~Dan> So I guess the obvious place to start is: what’s Shaken? (Pardon the pun.)
[20:05] <+RussellZee> Well, the Shaken trilogy is going to be the continuing (mis?)adventures of one Jimmy Kincaid, burnt-out mage turned paranormal investigator, and his various friends, contacts, partners, and work buddies. Jimmy’s first big story was the e-novella “Neat,” which has been out for a couple years now.
[20:05] <+RussellZee> (done)
[20:06] <&Silverlion> I liked that one. 😀
[20:06] <&Silverlion> Was pretty solid.
[20:06] *** KJ has quit IRC: Ping timeout: 484 seconds
[20:06] <&Silverlion> So how much of the setting comes into play in your works?
[20:07] <+RussellZee> As much of it as I can cram in without mucking up the story I’m trying to tell. Not counting (nigh-infinite) pdfs I have access to, I generally have a stack about a foot thick perched around my computer desk, looking stuff up in old books so I can name-drop as many correct details as possible, so I can use canon settings whenever possible, stuff like that.
[20:08] <~Dan> Jimmy appeared in any published adventures?
[20:08] <+RussellZee> For Shaken (NJTS) it was all the old Seattle sourcebooks, three old magic sourcebooks, two monster sourcebooks (had to look up the Latin names for stuff), all kinds of stuff.
[20:08] <+RussellZee> No adventures for Jimmy yet, no. A few OTHER npcs that started off in some adventures (the “Elven Blood” 5-adventure pack) show up in this one, though (and pretty early in the book, in fact).
[20:10] <+RussellZee> I like to have a sort of cohesive feel to the Shadowrun-verse, so it feels like the shadowrunner community should be small enough that sometimes people show up, at least on the fringes, of other folks’ stories, y’know? So I try to cram in canon stuff whenever possible.
[20:10] <+RussellZee> (done)
[20:10] <~Dan> Is Jimmy considered a shadowrunner himself?
[20:11] <+RussellZee> Not by Jimmy, no. He, Skip, and Trace (bounty hunter girlfriends, and his best friends) are all really stubborn about not being shadowrunners. Shadowrunners are criminals. They’re hard-working folks with a skill-set awful similar to a shadowrunner’s, maybe, but who try to use it for different stuff.
[20:12] <~Dan> As a burned-out mage, what are his capabilities?
[20:12] <+RussellZee> Jimmy doesn’t take a contract gig to break into a factory and steal protoypes, he has a contract to put wards on places, all above-board and legal. He gets by as an investigator day-to-day, and even though he can more than hold his own in a fight (along with his friends, for sure), he’s not your go-to illegal freelancer shadowrun type.
[20:14] <+RussellZee> The mage question I’ve gotta answer a little carefully, ’cause Shaken (NJTS) is pretty heavily focused on his magic, and I don’t wanna spoil anything. In it, I say just how many times he’s initiated, which some folks can use to work up what his Magic attribute COULD be, along with the ‘ware I’ve documented he’s got, etc, etc.
[20:14] <+RussellZee> But yeah, I know right where his Magic score is at, and it’s awful low compared to most anyone else with “mage” in their name…but I don’t wanna give away anything about what he goes through, and (partially) why, in Shaken. So he can cast spells still, he’s just lacking that OOMPH that comes from a high Magic score.
[20:15] <+RussellZee> Part of my research for him — heck, part of my idea for him — was finding how many things mages do that don’t include that Magic attribute. Stuff like Counterspelling? It requires you be able to cast spells (so you have to HAVE a Magic attribute), but it doesn’t include it in the roll. It’s a skill-based thing. So that, for instance, he’s still got.
[20:15] <+RussellZee> (done)
[20:16] *** UGEplex has joined #rpgnet
[20:16] *** ChanServ sets mode +v UGEplex
[20:16] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, UGEplex!)
[20:16] <+UGEplex> Hoi Chummers! ^_^
[20:16] <~Dan> (Here for the Q&A, obviously? 🙂 )
[20:16] <&Silverlion> Hoy Ugeplex
[20:17] <+RussellZee> (I lied, one last snippet: also, you can tell he “overcasts” a lot, pushing his magic past the normal limit to try and still cast what would be an average spell to everyone else. That’s why he gets those nosebleeds so often, he keeps straining in a pinch. Like a dad with a bad back, who still wants to move his own boxes.)
[20:17] <+RussellZee> Heya, UGE.
[20:17] <~Dan> What kind of cyberware does he have? Or is that a spoiler?
[20:18] <&Silverlion> Heh. Interesting.
[20:19] <+UGEplex> ‘sup Rusty, just dropped the word again
[20:19] <+RussellZee> Jimmy’s got a skull packed full of chrome, all stuff Lone Star thought a hotshot Department of Paranormal Investigations up-and-comer should have. Cybereyes (he likes the black and white color filter), cyberears, and a top-notch commlink implanted (basically a smartphone-plus, in his skull).
[20:19] <+UGEplex> careful not to step on it. ^_^
[20:19] <~Dan> Ah, so he’s an ex-cop?
[20:19] <+RussellZee> So he’s headware-heavy, with this great sensory package, a supercomputer bolted onto his brain, and has a ton of information available to him all the time, while also being able to record everything he sees and hears, that sort of thing.
[20:20] <+RussellZee> Yup, he got started on the fast track to Lone Star’s top field ranks. Partially due to his dad being a long-time LS employee, partially due to him having a high magic attribute (once upon a time), Lone Star tossed him a ton of bennies, scholarships, training, etc, etc.
[20:20] <+UGEplex> Chromed out mage ~_^
[20:21] <+RussellZee> Just check that old Lone Star Sourcebook; their DPI combat mages are pretty badass. So I kind of took one of those, and then…just…broke him. And that was Jimmy, about fifteen years ago in-universe, and since then he’s fallen into this noir, black-and-white, PI schtick, as he’s slowly learned to rely on others instead of himself.
[20:22] <+RussellZee> Because once a vampire nom nom noms on that sweet Essence score and you lose most of your magic? Lone Star starts to want you to pay back those loans and stuff, all while kicking your ass out the door.
[20:23] <~Dan> Ah, so he didn’t burn out the usual way?
[20:24] <+RussellZee> His Essence took an “acceptable expenditure” sort of hit from the chrome, but no, most of his burny-outiness comes from a failed Lone Star attack against a vampire nest.
[20:25] <+RussellZee> Which left him down a ton of Essence (and Magic, as a result, and arguably a lot of his sanity, sense of self, that sort of thing), and with a chip on his shoulder against the Infected. The Infected, the cover art gives away (so I’m not spoiling), play a pretty big role in Shaken (NJTS). So it’s kind of cathartic for him, this book, maybe.
[20:25] <~Dan> All Infected, or just vampires?
[20:25] <+RussellZee> (done)
[20:26] <+RussellZee> A little from column a, a little from column b. The Sixth World’s a big place. There’s room to have a chip on your shoulder about lots of people. 😉
[20:26] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:26] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about the plot of the book?
[20:26] <+RussellZee> Sure!
[20:27] <+RussellZee> Someone dies, and most everyone else in the big ol’ Seattle Sprawl decides it’s not too big a deal. What’s one more corpse, right? A dead academic, no big whoop. Old guys die, some new bookworm’ll come along to get his job, the world keeps spinning. One dead person in the core Shadowrun setting city is no big deal.
[20:29] <+RussellZee> But it’s Jimmy’s old mentor-figure, one of his original magical instructors. So another guy from that arcane order (Jimmy’s “initiatory group” in Shadowrun lingo) reaches out to get Jimmy to investigate it, looking into the death to see what happened, get to the bottom of it since the cops aren’t taking it very seriously, that sort of thing.
[20:29] * ~Dan nods
[20:29] <+RussellZee> And then hilarity ensues!
[20:30] <+RussellZee> By which I mean some vampires, some ghouls, some shadowrunners, some Mafiosa, a rival magical order, old friends and enemies, all that type of stuff.
[20:30] <+RussellZee> Just another day in Seattle.
[20:30] <~Dan> Very nice. 🙂
[20:31] <~Dan> How concious are you of what’s happening in “game terms” as you write?
[20:32] <+RussellZee> You mean the game mechanics, or like the big metaplot stuff?
[20:32] <~Dan> The former, but sure, the latter as well.
[20:33] <+RussellZee> Mechanics-wise, I always keep it in mind. I’ve got full stats all up in my head for Jimmy, Ariana (his ally spirit), his buddies Skip and Trace, etc, etc. I always keep the basic rules in mind, and how combat turns work, how spells work, what cyberware does, stuff like that. I got into writing from gaming, so I’ve always got this gaming core.
[20:34] <~Dan> Do you find that restrictive or inspiring?
[20:34] <+RussellZee> There are times I fudge it a little (because weird stuff can happen, thanks to that Edge/luck stat), and will have someone shoot a gun really fast, or whatever. But I try to always leave people with at least an idea of why and how various pieces of gear, or certain spells, or magical abilities, etc, are affecting any given fight or whatever.
[20:34] <+RussellZee> Inspiring, to me.
[20:34] *** DemonsArePeopleToo has joined #rpgnet
[20:34] *** ChanServ sets mode +v DemonsArePeopleToo
[20:34] <+RussellZee> Game rules and setting stuff is what gives me my ideas, not the other way around.
[20:35] *** Aeolusdallas has joined #rpgnet
[20:35] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Aeolusdallas
[20:35] <+RussellZee> But yeah, you’ll never have Jimmy (physically basically a normal dude, albeit a tough ‘maverick ex-cop’ type of guy) outrunning a car on foot, y’know?
[20:36] <~Dan> (Howdy, DemonsArePeopleToo, Aeolusdallas!)
[20:36] <+RussellZee> I don’t describe the fights in terms of individual combat rounds (because it’s a first-person narrative and you’re getting Jimmy’s perspective, so he’ll often only talk about what he’s doing in any given fight), but it’s stuff I keep in mind. And thanks to all that headware I mentioned, he often has a good idea of how his buddies are doing in a fight.
[20:36] <+Aeolusdallas> Hi there!
[20:36] *** Opti has joined #rpgnet
[20:36] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Opti
[20:36] <+RussellZee> Heya, Aeolus, Opti, and anyone else I missed.
[20:36] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Opti!)
[20:37] <+Opti> Thanks!
[20:37] <+UGEplex> Hoi Opti! ^_^
[20:37] <+RussellZee> And the historian in me makes me fact-check. Like I said, I keep that stack of research books handy. So if I name-drop a brand and model of a popular Shadowrun gun from some gear book, you can bet that baddie’s gonna fire that many rounds before a reload, all lined up with what’s in the book.
[20:38] <+UGEplex> Rusty, is there a back-story for Ariana, prior to being summoned by Jimmy? ^_^
[20:38] <+RussellZee> I try to never forget that my “game engine” is Shadowrun, and that arguably my job — along with telling a story that’s fun to read — is reminding people it’s a Shadowrun book.
[20:38] <~Dan> (Aeolusdallas, Opti, here for the Q&A?)
[20:39] *** Sorry, your external IP is unknown, so you can’t send a file or initiate a DCC CHAT. Please set your IP in the Preferences.
[20:39] <&Silverlion> …and that they too can have fun with 100d6?
[20:39] <+UGEplex> (I know Opti is)
[20:39] <+RussellZee> Nah, not really. I’m of the opinion allies don’t really exist until they’re summoned (I’m sure other imaginary meta-theorists have different opinions). He wrote a formula and performed the ritual, and that created her. She was spun up from nothing, and started from there. Like a kid being born, made up of stuff from other people, able to grow after that.
[20:40] <+UGEplex> Wiz
[20:40] <+RussellZee> Bah. I’m a Champions/HERO player. Shadowrun’s rep for huge handfuls of D6’s is nothing compared to a bunch of superheroes throwing down, HERO style. 😉
[20:40] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:41] <+UGEplex> I miss the exploding d^’s ~_^ Buckets ‘o D6’s!
[20:41] <~Dan> In general, how does Shadowrun fiction account for edition changes?
[20:41] <+RussellZee> That said, Ariana IS about the only one without a back-story. I’ve got Skip, Trace, Pink — and Jimmy, of course — all with pretty well-realized histories.
[20:42] <~Dan> For example, in 1e, mages summoned elementals and shamans summoned spirits. I understand that’s no longer the case?
[20:42] <+RussellZee> Messily? 😉 Right now, for instance, things’re a little weird because Jimmy’s “mentor spirit” (what we called a “totem” in earlier editions, a sort of magical archetype you follow and embody) hasn’t been statted up in SR5 yet. And he started as an SR4 character. So I’m just chugging along as though it’s still the old rules.
[20:43] <+RussellZee> When we can, metaplot sourcebooks smooth over that sort of thing. Going back several editions (on the shaman/mage split), there were hints and rumors and research about in-universe “universal magic theory” stuff, bridging that gap. And then when the new edition hit (SR4 in that case), ta-da, universal magic worked and that spirit/elemental gap went away.
[20:43] <+RussellZee> Or at least became purely cosmetic.
[20:44] <~Dan> Ah, so there’s no real difference between mages and shamans beyond style now?
[20:44] <+RussellZee> So I try to show that cosmetic difference (with hermetics summoning very kind of “classical D&D looking” elementals, while a shaman might have a different looking spirit, even of the same element or whatever). But yeah, we just…smooth over that sort of thing when we can.
[20:44] <+Opti> When can we change it back, lol?
[20:44] <+RussellZee> They do use a different attribute for their casting. Mages are logic-based, Shaman use charisma. Formulas and practice against gut-checks and force of personality.
[20:45] <+UGEplex> lol
[20:45] <+RussellZee> And there are other Traditions out there, too, which can use different attributes, too.
[20:45] <+RussellZee> So it’s still a stylistic change, and — at least in fiction — I can try to make it still FEEL like it’s a stronger mechanical change, too.
[20:45] * ~Dan nods
[20:46] <+RussellZee> I didn’t play a huge role in the rules-crunch side of SR5, so I just gotta roll with punches and try to write cool stuff.
[20:46] *** Songtress has quit IRC: Connection reset by peer
[20:47] <+DemonsArePeopleToo> oops logged in and went to some other tab, so hello guys
[20:47] <+UGEplex> Hoi DAPT ^_^
[20:47] <~Dan> (I sent you a PM, DemonsArePeopleToo. 🙂 )
[20:47] *** Songtress has joined #rpgnet
[20:47] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Songtress
[20:47] <+RussellZee> And that shaman/mage thing has been the case for about 10 years now. That wasn’t an SR5 thing (just to clarify). I’m not out to throw my coworkers under the bus or anything, it was an older decision. 😉
[20:47] <~Dan> (wb, Songtress!)
[20:48] <~Dan> Oh, I figured it was. I’m a bit out of the Shadowrun loop, obviously.
[20:48] * ~Dan brandishes his cybercane.
[20:48] <&Silverlion> I played 1E, tried 3E, then didn’t play again until 4E.
[20:48] <+RussellZee> I’m an old timer with every edition under my belt, to varying degrees.
[20:49] <+RussellZee> So a lot of the changes feel more gradual to me, I guess.
[20:50] <~Dan> Have you used Jimmy personally as a PC?
[20:50] <+RussellZee> I haven’t!
[20:50] <+RussellZee> Bull’s gettin’ on me right now, in fact, encouraging me to.
[20:51] <~Dan> Bull?
[20:51] <+RussellZee> Sorry, Stephen Raktovich (sp? crap, he’s gonna hit me for butchering that), a Shadowrun writer, SR-Missions guy, etc. We’re kicking around a freelancer game at GenCon next week, and lots of folks are bringing “their” characters.
[20:51] <+RussellZee> RL King is gonna sling dice as her character Winterhawk, for instance.
[20:52] <+RussellZee> Just a fun little “let’s hang out and roll dice!” thing.
[20:52] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:52] <~Dan> Will you be at the Shadowrun booth at GenCon?
[20:53] <&Silverlion> Steven Ratkovich is the proper spelling 😀
[20:53] <+RussellZee> But I’m a dork. I’m like “Why’s Jimmy not in Seattle? Bringing his ally spirit means we’ll have like half mages, leaving Ariana at home means Jimmy kind of sucks. This doesn’t make sense. Jimmy should be in Puyallup, photographing some deadbeat dad or cheating spouse or something, not running across country on some shadowrun!”
[20:53] <+RussellZee> So I’m gonna bring someone else. 😉
[20:54] *** Songtress has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving
[20:54] <+RussellZee> But yeah. I’ve got Jimmy’s stats all done in my head, but I’ve never played him. I think the only one of “my” characters I’ve ever played was when I grabbed Gentry for a Missions game a few years ago.
[20:54] <+RussellZee> The table needed a decker, I had my rough draft of his sheet (for the Intro Boxed Set) on my phone, so I scribbled him down and we had a good time.
[20:55] <+RussellZee> But yeah, these folks I’ve statted up, even the ones that were statted up specifically for publication, to be played (Gentry, Sledge, Coydog, etc)…I’ve never really PLAYED any of them.
[20:55] <~Dan> Huh. Interesting.
[20:56] <+RussellZee> (and thanks for the spelling, SilverLion. Like I said, Bull’s gonna run into me on his GenCon scooter for how I mauled his name)
[20:56] <~Dan> Do you think of them as your PCs, though?
[20:56] <+RussellZee> They might get playTESTED, just slinging dice and seeing how they work, mind…but I’ve never really “played” them in what I’d call a “real” game (even when I was using pseudo-Gentry, I came up with a new name).
[20:57] <+RussellZee> I think of them as “mine,” I guess, because I named ’em, created ’em, statted ’em up, and I’m writing with them now (in this and other stuff).
[20:57] * ~Dan nodnods
[20:57] <+RussellZee> But not the same as I do with a player character, as a gamer, I guess. A fiction character isn’t quite the same as a player character, in a weird way.
[20:57] <~Dan> Oh, did you see my GenCon question?
[20:58] <+RussellZee> Nope, I did not…
[20:58] <~Dan> Are you going to be at the Shadowrun booth?
[20:58] <+RussellZee> …I am not officially scheduled for the booth (at least not that anyone’s told me about 😉 ), but I’m often FOUND at the booth, yeah. Just hanging out with folks.
[20:58] <+RussellZee> GenCon’s a magical four day affair where lots of us get to actually emote at one another, or shake hands, or make eye contact while speaking.
[20:58] <+RussellZee> So lots of the time, a bunch of us tend to congregate (and the CGL booth is a natural gathering space), and chat, compare notes, etc, etc.
[20:58] <&Silverlion> Yeah. Fiction characters are often–odd by gaming standards and wander different places.
[20:59] <~Dan> I’ll be there. Perhaps I’ll catch you there. 🙂
[21:00] <+RussellZee> It would be weird to meet at GenCon instead of Madness, but I’d love to hang out and say howdy, absolutely.
[21:00] <+Opti> Rusty, if i give you lots of money, will you buy gencon exclusive SR stuff for me? Lol
[21:00] <+RussellZee> “Hey, let’s travel across the country to meet one another.” We’re dorks. 🙂
[21:00] <~Dan> Indeed. 🙂
[21:01] *** LW has joined #rpgnet
[21:01] *** ChanServ sets mode +v LW
[21:01] <~Dan> How often do you go to Madness?
[21:01] <+RussellZee> Hit me up on FB about that, Opti. I’m always limited by how much I can get home (flying, so suitcase limited), but I’m always game to grab someone cool stuff, if I can.
[21:01] <~Dan> (howdy, LW!)
[21:02] <+RussellZee> Not nearly as often as I’d like. We’re still about an hour and a half away, so it’s tough to make it up there real often. We’re moving up that way next year, though, PLUS I’m quitting my day job to write full time, so odds’re good I’ll be up there hanging out and slinging dice and stuff pretty often.
[21:03] <~Dan> Oh, really? You’re moving up to North Dallas/Plano?
[21:03] <+RussellZee> I’m even planning to start doing some signings or launch-day stuff up there in the future (once I’m up in that neck of the woods), yeah. But yup, we’re looking into places all over Collin County.
[21:03] <~Dan> Sweet. We’ll definitely have to hang out once you get over this way.
[21:04] <+RussellZee> Close to our gaming buddies and Madness, so I can keep my creative juices flowin’ and churn out lots of Shadowrun stories and stuff.
[21:04] <+RussellZee> Absolutely, man.
[21:04] <~Dan> Is Shadowrun the only game for which you’ve written?
[21:05] <+RussellZee> Nopers! Not by a long shot, though they ARE the folks I’ve done the most work for.
[21:05] <+UGEplex> Speaking of your switiching to full time writing. What’s next in the Shadowrun pipeline for ya now that Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small) is in the bookstores? ^_^
[21:06] <~Dan> Hmm… DriveThruRPG only pulls up two books based on your name. Am I doing something wrong there?
[21:06] <+RussellZee> I started out with Spinespur (a little skirmish-scale horror game), and then did several pieces for Warmachine (and even a little Monsterpocalypse stuff, also for Privateer Press). I did an old Earthdawn fiction back in the day, then got in on Shadowrun, and in between I’ve done fiction for Psionics (recently released), did stuff for the Satellite Reign —
[21:06] <+UGEplex> (also waiting for Shadowrun: Strained (Hard On The Rocks) *grin*
[21:06] <+RussellZee> –video game (in-game text and also a tie-in novella), and…and…and…I dunno.
[21:07] <+RussellZee> Hrm. I get 17 hits at DTRPG. (Link: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?x=0&y=0&author=Russell%20Zimmerman)http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?x=0&y=0&author=Russell%20Zimmerman
[21:07] <+RussellZee> (which is missing a few things, like the Intro Boxed Set, the Crossfire intro fiction, just a couple little things)
[21:08] <~Dan> Oh, you wrote for Psionics? I know those guys. 🙂
[21:08] <+RussellZee> But yeah, Shadowrun’s kept me the busiest, by far.
[21:08] *** Abstruse has joined #rpgnet
[21:08] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Abstruse
[21:08] <+RussellZee> Yeah, Mik and Devon are good people. I was a Kickstarter reward for them, I put some fic in there.
[21:08] <+Abstruse> (Wow, I’m really late…)
[21:08] <+UGEplex> Hoi Abstruse
[21:08] <~Dan> Howdy, Abstruse!
[21:09] <+RussellZee> I’m in a Saturday night Psionics game with ’em (I bought a ticket and stuff), looking forward to trying it out. I didn’t do any mechanical work on the game, so I wasn’t in on the playtest or anything, just fiction.
[21:09] <+RussellZee> Heya, ‘Struse.
[21:09] <+RussellZee> But yeah, I’ve started to spread out a little bit more recently, largely thanks to Shadowrun getting my name out there. BattleTech is up next, the two lines share a novel line editor (John Helfers), and I’m looking forward to some giant stompy robot actions.
[21:09] *** Opti has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:10] <+Crazy-Cabal> Mmmm sour mike & ikes.
[21:10] <+RussellZee> Plus my own humble game, Strays, which Kickstarted last summer and SHOULD be getting sent to the printers in August.
[21:10] <~Dan> Want to link to that?
[21:11] <+RussellZee> But largely I’m transitioning to fiction only with novels and stuff, so not so many sourcebooks for me lately.
[21:11] <+RussellZee> boop: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1382542560/strays-a-friendly-fuzzy-fate-accelerated-rpg/description)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1382542560/strays-a-friendly-fuzzy-fate-accelerated-rpg/description
[21:11] <+RussellZee> I’ve got my first run at layout almost done, and I’m hoping to send the compiled text to my editor while I’m away at GenCon!
[21:12] <~Dan> Cool!
[21:12] <~Dan> So do you just find fiction more gratifying in general?
[21:12] <+RussellZee> It has — literally — nothing at all to do with my general dystopion future cyberpunk and sci-fi stuff. It is, in fact, maybe the exact opposite of my normal stuff. 😉 But I think folks’re gonna dig it, and working on it’s been fun (especially seeing the artwork roll in from my freelancers).
[21:12] *** Opti has joined #rpgnet
[21:12] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Opti
[21:13] <+UGEplex> (Strays Backer. Got some youths waiting to play)
[21:13] <~Dan> (wb, Opti!)
[21:13] <+RussellZee> Yeah, absolutely. Lots of my RPG credits are for fiction pieces, anyways (like the intro fic for SR5). I’m a story-telling guy, moreso than a crunch-and-numbers guy. Fiction and setting details and telling cool stories wedged into the cracks of a canon setting, using someone else’s sandbox and playing in it myself? That’s good stuff.
[21:14] <+UGEplex> Though they may not be youths by the time it coems out *grumble* *poke* [Cracks whip~]
[21:14] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:14] <+Abstruse> What’s one part of the Sixth World you’d like to give more attention to?
[21:14] <+RussellZee> But, yeah, Shaken is gonna be a trilogy, and I’m starting to dip my toes in the BattleTech pool (they just announced that the BTech novels line is launching again, so I can talk about it now), too, and I’m eagerly looking forward to diving into that and getting some more novels out.
[21:15] <+RussellZee> Off the top of my head? I’d like to tackle Tir na nOg (Ireland). I’ve had folks ask me about it, since I did the Tir Tairngire book, and I’d like to give it the same love, ’cause I’m an elf junkie.
[21:15] <&Silverlion> That be cool.
[21:15] <&Silverlion> (So am I.)
[21:16] <&Silverlion> Heck my facebook splash page is my Elf Shaman…so
[21:16] <+UGEplex> I’m not, fraggin leaf-eaters….but I enjoy the fiction around the Tirs. Have at it! ^_^
[21:16] <+RussellZee> I was able to give Adepts some love back in SR4A, I got some cool stuff in Tir Tairngire (between the e-book and my adventures), I got to write an adventure about Urban Brawl (always a favorite of mine, back in the day), I got to give the Ancients looooots of love…I’m pretty content, really. I’m a simple guy.
[21:17] <+RussellZee> I like the elfy nations and the goofy elven gangs and stuff, all that really 90’s crap. Leather pants, green mohawks, the absurdity of crossing Legolas with some zany theme gang? That’s the core of the setting, to me. Loving it FOR the absurdity, not despite it.
[21:17] <+Abstruse> So an Irish immortal elf playing Urban Brawl tangled up with the Ancients and the Unseelie Court…
[21:17] <~Dan> The Ancients are the elf motorcycle gang, IIRC?
[21:18] <+RussellZee> You gotta embrace that stuff, man. Elves with longswords and motorcycles, dragons running corporations, all that goofy crap. I feel like SR4 took itself way too seriously and tried to be too cool and professional, leeching a lot of the FUN out of the setting, making everyone into a merc.
[21:18] <+RussellZee> Yup, Dan, that’s them. Bright green mohawks, black racing leathers, roaring street bikes, all that stuff.
[21:18] * +UGEplex agrees
[21:18] * +UGEplex skipped 4th Ed
[21:18] <~Dan> Yeah, I think you have the right idea, RussellZee.
[21:18] *** azander has joined #rpgnet
[21:18] *** ChanServ sets mode +v azander
[21:19] <+RussellZee> One of my first SR4 products was “Ancient Pawns,” which was a convention-only mission (but then I talked Bull into sneaking it into “Elven Blood,” my adventure compilation)…and it had players working as proxies for the Ancients.
[21:19] <~Dan> Sounds like the same sort of problem Gamma World had in that one edition that tried to make everything make “sense”.
[21:20] <+RussellZee> So you had an hour in-game to rampage all over the neighborhood, wearing their gang colors, and doing their gang’s type of stuff — hassling some anti-elf humans, freeing some kidnapped elves, fighting the Spikes (their enemy gang) — and ended with you kung-fu fighting on top of a moving truck you were hijacking.
[21:20] <+RussellZee> ‘Cause I just wanted people to do that sort of goofy, awesome, over-the-top stuff again. Gritty, cool, professional stuff is all cool (like in “Heat” or “Collateral” or lots of other great movies), but sometimes so is The Expendables, y’know?
[21:21] <~Dan> Oh, certainly.
[21:21] <&Silverlion> Indeed you do.
[21:21] *** Opti has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:21] <+RussellZee> One problem we have is that lots of players still don’t like that goofy stuff, though. Especially in Missions, they want to be cold-eyed professionals in it for the paycheck, and stuff.
[21:21] * +RussellZee shrugs.
[21:22] <+maxmahem> “Pink Mohawk” vs “Mirrorshades”
[21:22] *** KJ has joined #rpgnet
[21:22] *** ChanServ sets mode +v KJ
[21:22] <+RussellZee> But I figured I’d at least try to balance the scales. Offer some of the goofier stuff, focus on the more ridiculous aspects of the setting, stuff like that.
[21:22] <~Dan> Do you think Shadowrunners should be heroes at heart?
[21:22] <+Abstruse> I’ve always liked a balance. Burn Notice/Leverage style games…
[21:22] <+UGEplex> They’re not even mirrorshades. They want to be playing Cyberpunk 2020, but they hate the rules for it
[21:22] <+RussellZee> Sometimes it’s called “black trenchcoat” instead of mirrorshades, but yeah, Max. That’s exactly it.
[21:22] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ!)
[21:23] <+UGEplex> So they play Shadowrun, and criticize everyone else’s fun
[21:23] *** Janus has quit IRC: Ping timeout: 602 seconds
[21:23] <+RussellZee> Yeah, ideally I like it somewhere in the middle.
[21:23] *** Opti has joined #rpgnet
[21:23] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Opti
[21:23] <+RussellZee> There’s no wrong way to play, as long as folks are having fun, though.
[21:23] * ~Dan nods
[21:23] <+Abstruse> Next Shadowrun book, you get to kill any one long-time NPC and they’re guaranteed to stay dead. Who gets the bullet?
[21:24] <+RussellZee> And yeah, Dan, I like my shadowrunners to be…rebels. Good-natured rebels. They shouldn’t be embracing the soulless corporate setting, they should be trying to make ends meet in the shadows of it, and sometimes they should be actively fighting against it.
[21:24] * ~Dan nods
[21:24] <&Silverlion> Yeah. That’s where I stand 😀
[21:24] <+RussellZee> But that’s a tough sell to gamers. I got weird looks in a recent D&D-type game ’cause my guy found a Dwarven Thrower, super awesome magical hammer that only he, in the whole party, could use. And then he didn’t use it. He talked to a Dwarven NPC with ties to the homeland, and he asked the dude to get it back to the family/clan it belonged to.
[21:25] <~Dan> I know an awful lot of the 1e adventures would have been hard to pull off if the PCs weren’t good guys.
[21:25] <&Silverlion> That’s awesome.
[21:25] <+RussellZee> And, I mean, this is my wife, and my very story-driven GM, and other folks I’ve gamed with for years, that looked at me half-surprised by this. Right?
[21:25] <+RussellZee> So look at Shadowrun, now. Look at how much new Wired Reflexes costs, or a new cyberdeck, look at how much karma it takes for a mage to get more power.
[21:25] <+UGEplex> In-over-your-head street level shenanigans are the best
[21:26] <+RussellZee> And then try to tell a player that it’d be really cool if they gave half their money to a local charity that feeds homeless kids, or that a mage should spend some of his experience to learn a new language or invest in a Cooking skill or something.
[21:26] <&Silverlion> The last campaign I started was all about being a part of the neighborhood (and protecting it, belonging to it, its expectations)
[21:27] <+RussellZee> I think gamers are often naturally inclined to a sort of “min maxing” type attitude or whatever, and sometimes they’re inclined towards that BY the mechanics of a game. Shadowrun’s dangerous. It’s lethal. It always has been. Glass hammers or glass cannons, right? Dying happens, man.
[21:27] <~Dan> Would you say that Jimmy has a heart of gold?
[21:27] <+RussellZee> So it’s tough to make a setting that’s dangerous, and have combat that can be dangerous, and have cut-throat corporate security teams after you, and badass stuff like that…and then to expect players to not really focus on their character being mechanically “better.” So I love the old neo-anarchist mindset, I like the good guy/heart of gold ideal.
[21:27] <+RussellZee> I just don’t know how to sell it to players.
[21:28] *** Janus has joined #rpgnet
[21:28] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Janus
[21:28] <~Dan> (Howdy, Janus!)
[21:28] <~Dan> Hmm. As trite as this sounds, I think it really depends upon the group.
[21:29] <~Dan> For some groups, altruistic behavior like that is appealing.
[21:29] <+RussellZee> Oof, that’s tougher. Jimmy’s a weird case. He’s got some problems. Low, low, Essence. Kind of disconnected from the world around him (like that black-and-white color filter he uses, seeing everything as though it were an old movie). Stuff like that. He’s got some issues, and, like lots of gamers, he solves most of life’s problems with violence.
[21:29] *** azander has quit IRC: Connection reset by peer
[21:29] *** MonkofLords has joined #rpgnet
[21:29] *** ChanServ sets mode +v MonkofLords
[21:29] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[21:29] <+RussellZee> But I think Jimmy…tries. He’ll grouchily deny it — in Shaken, in fact, he hangs up on someone who calls him a good man — and he’ll insist he’s not a good guy. But I think he wants to be.
[21:29] *** egyptian has joined #rpgnet
[21:29] *** ChanServ sets mode +ao egyptian egyptian
[21:29] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian!)
[21:30] <+RussellZee> One of the big things in “Neat,” a really important scene that was actually a very short one — a flashback scene of young Jimmy talking to his dad — was his dad laying down some life rules.
[21:30] <+RussellZee> That old-school “this is how to be a man” talk. I picture his dad as the actor Ed Harris, FWIW. And it’s this list of rules. How to treat people, how to do a good job, stuff like that.
[21:30] <+RussellZee> Jimmy tries to live by that.
[21:30] *** Aeolusdallas has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:31] <+RussellZee> But sometimes that list of rules, of what to do? It means shooting a bad guy in the back, absolutely. It can mean lying to someone, if telling the truth would be worse.
[21:31] <+RussellZee> So maybe his heart isn’t “gold,” but he’ll take silver or copper or something, maybe. 😉
[21:31] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:32] <~Dan> I think the problem you’ve run into is that if a setting is morally messy, many players see it as an opportunity to wallow in the muck.
[21:32] <+RussellZee> The problem (with “good guy” PCs) as it’s often described to me — and described to me by good role players, not “munchkins” or whatever — is that they feel obligated to be good at their job.
[21:33] <+RussellZee> Like, if you were a private military contractor, and you could have one of two dudes on your fire team on the next op. You gonna want the best shooter in the unit, or you gonna consistently want the nice guy who’s a good cook to be the one watching your back?
[21:33] <+Opti> How much of Rusty is in Kincaid? It seems like Kincaid has an attitude you admire.
[21:34] <+RussellZee> So someone makes a decker, they want to be the best decker, because decking is their job, in Shadowrun. The team needs them to deck. Matrix stuff, that’s their responsibility. So they focus on it, they want to be good at it. That’s a tough mindset for a gamer to shake, I think.
[21:34] <+UGEplex> Role Play, Vs the Game
[21:35] <+RussellZee> Hah! I’m not badass enough to be much of Kincaid. I mean, I’m a CCWer and did some Escrima and stuff, but he’s got that old-school movie-guy cool, the Steve McQueen, the Paul Newman, the Bogart, y’know?
[21:35] <~Dan> Who would play him in the movie? 🙂
[21:36] <+RussellZee> I can respect someone who lives by a code, especially one that’s tough to follow. But I don’t think there’s much of me in Jimmy, or vice versa. Not consciously, at least. Maybe in pre-Essence-loss Kincaid, if that makes sense? When he was a little more human, like.
[21:36] *** DemonsArePeopleToo has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:36] <+RussellZee> Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Hands down. That one’s actually an easy answer for me.
[21:37] <+RussellZee> And I think it shows in the cover artwork.
[21:37] <+RussellZee> He did this show — only got one season, which is a shame — called New Amsterdam.
[21:37] <+RussellZee> He was this immortal guy who’d been living in New York since it was, well, New Amsterdam.
[21:38] <+RussellZee> And he’s got this great mix of PI lantern jaw and elven pretty boy good looks, and all through the show he’s got a great sense of PLACE, a sense of connection to the city he’s in, a sense of belonging and protectiveness.
[21:38] <+RussellZee> So, yeah. Jaime Lannister’s actor is Jimmy Kincaid, in my head. That version of him, from that show.
[21:39] <~Dan> Oh, Jimmy is an elf?
[21:40] <+RussellZee> “Not much of one,” as he puts it, but yeah.
[21:40] <+RussellZee> After getting a rep as the elfy guy, I wanted to play with that some. Make this grizzled, grouchy, scruffy, blue-collar, guy an elf.
[21:40] <~Dan> Ah, so he is. I missed the pointed ears in the pic.
[21:41] <+RussellZee> No ties to the Tir (and doesn’t particularly want them), has to slot a language-chip to understand Sperethiel/Elven (doesn’t want to learn it), stuff like that. He’s just a guy. He’s not an ELF-elf, he’s just a dude, that happens to be elven.
[21:41] * ~Dan nods
[21:41] <+RussellZee> I like that aspect of Shadowrun, I like being able to do that. So I thought it’d be fun to run with that.
[21:42] <+RussellZee> And there’s some fun interplay with Gentry in this one.
[21:42] <~Dan> I also didn’t suspect him of being an elf because it looks like he has a 5 o’clock shadow in the cover pic.
[21:42] <+RussellZee> Because Gentry’s a human born in the elven country, the Tir. And Gentry really wants to be an elf. He peppers his conversation with Sperethiel all the time, etc, etc.
[21:42] *** Opti has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:42] *** KJ has quit IRC: Ping timeout: 485 seconds
[21:42] <+RussellZee> It takes an elf weeks to get a 5 o’clock shadow, but luckily they age slowly so they’ve got time.
[21:43] <~Dan> Oh? I didn’t think they could grow facial hair at all.
[21:43] <+RussellZee> Yeah, they can. Their hair is very fine and tends to be rich and luxurious on top while being thinner and sparser on their body, but Earthdawn/Shadowrun elves have always been able to grow beards and mustaches an’ junk.
[21:44] *** Opti has joined #rpgnet
[21:44] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Opti
[21:44] <~Dan> You know, that’s funny… I knew that Earthdawn elves could, but I never mentally carried that over to the Shadowrun versions.
[21:44] <~Dan> (wb, Opti!)
[21:45] <+RussellZee> But yeah, I like playing with that silliness of “elven culture.” One the one hand there’s folks born into Tir Tairngire and stuff, who buy the hype and want to be very “elven” all the time, and then there’s actual elves who’re like “What? I’ve got pointy ears and I can see in the dark, big whoop. We aren’t brothers.”
[21:45] <~Dan> Speaking of which, any opinions on 1879 or… darnit, I can’t recall that game that was originally supposed to be Shadowrun in the future…
[21:45] <+Abstruse> So Gentry is basically an elven weeaboo?
[21:46] <+RussellZee> Dan, not really. I’m not sold on the whole new-FASA thing, and I’ve got enough on my plate with the Sixth World, so I haven’t really kept up with either game.
[21:46] *** Opti has quit IRC: Disintegrated: (Link: http://www.mibbit.com)http://www.mibbit.com ajax IRC Client
[21:46] <+RussellZee> And yeah, Abstruse, he totally is. He’s even got the Elf Poseur flaw.
[21:46] *** opti has joined #rpgnet
[21:46] *** ChanServ sets mode +v opti
[21:46] <+RussellZee> JEEZE OPTI NOW YOU’RE JUST DOING IT FOR ATTENTION.
[21:46] <+RussellZee> 😉
[21:46] <+Abstruse> Do you normally create character sheets for your characters when writing fiction?
[21:47] <+opti> heh. I was on my phone, now I’m home, lol.
[21:47] <~Dan> opti is no longer a capital fellow.
[21:47] <+RussellZee> Sorry, that’s what I say to students that sneeze more than twice in a class, so I had to take a jab. 🙂
[21:47] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:47] <+Abstruse> For some reason, it seems more appropriate for opti to be lower case…seems more in character somehow…
[21:47] <+RussellZee> And yeah, Abstruse, I do. Sometimes details’ll change (gear upgrades that I work into other stories, or stuff’ll happen in a story) so they’re not “locked in” forever…but yeah, I always have a pretty solid idea of what they can do in-game, when I write.
[21:48] <+opti> indeed. Opti has no use for capitals!
[21:48] <+RussellZee> I think it’s because I first started writing fiction as just “this is what my character’s doing in between jobs” back in the day, so I’m so USED to having stats in my head.
[21:48] <+Abstruse> It’s so cryptofascist.
[21:49] <+RussellZee> Did I miss someone’s question? If I did, holler.
[21:49] <~Dan> Quick note, RussellZee: You’re more than welcome to hang out with us and/or answer questions as long as you like, but in what remains of “regular time”, is there anything you’d like to mention that we haven’t covered?
[21:50] <~Dan> For that matter, I hope those of you who showed up for the Q&A will hang out with us in the future as well. 🙂
[21:50] <~Dan> I promise not to hassle you about the capital thing, opti. 🙂
[21:51] <+RussellZee> Uhhhhh….dunno, off the top of my head! I guess I’ll just do what’s probably the standard author thing, and desperately ask for feedback, for folks who’ve picked up the book (or picked up “Neat” for that matter, or anything else I’ve done). Some days I feel like I do this more for the Amazon Reviews than for the paycheck, but feedback is a big help.
[21:52] <+UGEplex> What do you think about the new Shadowrun video games? Have you had a chance to play them?
[21:52] <+RussellZee> If folks like Shaken (No Job Too Small), awesome, I’d love to hear why. If folks didn’t dig it, that sucks, but I’d still love to know why, what pushed the wrong button, what pissed off your politics or whatever, y’know? I dig feedback. So please post a review if you pick it up, ’cause it all helps with my next project.
[21:52] <~Dan> I forget… Did you already link to the book on Amazon?
[21:52] <+RussellZee> (Link: http://www.amazon.com/Shadowrun-Shaken-Job-Too-Small-ebook/dp/B011GJZU9Y)http://www.amazon.com/Shadowrun-Shaken-Job-Too-Small-ebook/dp/B011GJZU9Y
[21:52] <+RussellZee> (I still had it ctrl-c’ed so I just did it again in case) 😉
[21:52] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:52] <+UGEplex> Also link to the dead-tree version on B&N or the other sites ^_^
[21:52] <+RussellZee> I’ve played all the way through Shadowrun Returns a couple of times (and contributed to their fiction anthology, shameless plug, and my short piece is currently on their tumblr).
[21:53] <+RussellZee> I’ve played…like…a half hour of Shadowrun Online/Chronicles.
[21:53] <+UGEplex> Chronicles is getting better
[21:53] <+RussellZee> I kept holding off ’cause I wanted to play with other people, and then my schedule’s so weird over the summer that I just never got back into it.
[21:53] <+Crazy-Cabal> I thought the company folded.
[21:54] <+UGEplex> No, they had some major obstacles to overcome, but the company that actually does Chronicles is recovering. Their sister company folded
[21:55] <+RussellZee> On the novel front, BattleShop has the e-book OR the hardcopy OR a bundle of both: (Link: http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=28_196&products_id=3475)http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=28_196&products_id=3475 DrivethruRPG has the e-book: (Link: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/152750/Shadowrun-Shaken-No-Job-Too-Small)http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/152750/Shadowrun-Shaken-No-Job-Too-Small
[21:55] <+RussellZee> And B&N has the hardcopy: (Link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadowrun-russell-zimmerman/1119642326?ean=9781936876839)http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadowrun-russell-zimmerman/1119642326?ean=9781936876839
[21:55] *** LW` has joined #rpgnet
[21:55] *** ChanServ sets mode +v LW`
[21:55] <+RussellZee> There, enough shameless links for ya, Dan? 😉
[21:55] <~Dan> Certainly. 🙂
[21:56] <+RussellZee> I even played the old XBox game a little.
[21:56] <+RussellZee> It wasn’t a terrible game, it just wasn’t Shadowrun.
[21:56] <~Dan> Oh, and for those going to GenCon, remind folks which booth you’ll be hanging around? 🙂
[21:56] <~Dan> (Booth number, I mean.)
[21:56] <+UGEplex> You need to play Shadowrun Dragonfall ^_^
[21:57] <+RussellZee> The main Catalyst Game Labs booth is #417, in the vendor’s hall.
[21:57] <+Abstruse> I finally got around to preordering Hong Kong. Think I’m going to start streaming me playing Dead Man’s Switch and Dragonfall until it comes out in a month.
[21:57] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[21:57] <+UGEplex> Abstruse, wiz ^_^
[21:57] <+MonkofLords> We will see you there then.
[21:58] *** LW has quit IRC: Ping timeout: 487 seconds
[21:58] <+RussellZee> For folks who wanna meet up at Gencon, there’s also this, Wednesday night: (Link: https://www.gencon.com/events/80777)https://www.gencon.com/events/80777
[21:58] <&Silverlion> Cool.
[21:58] <&Silverlion> I wish I could go..
[21:58] * +UGEplex is kinda sad Rusty’s doing Mechwarrior
[21:58] <+MonkofLords> I will see you at that as well then
[21:59] <+RussellZee> I set up a “seminar” for folks that I know to just meet up and hang out if they wanna. Shadowrun folks from various SR forums, or RPG.netters, Facebook friends of mine, Twitter followers, whoever.
[21:59] <+UGEplex> err, Battletech
[21:59] <~Dan> Thanks very much for spending time with us, RussellZee!
[21:59] <+RussellZee> Sad I’m working on some BattleTech stuff? Why’s that, UGE?
[21:59] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and get you the link.
[21:59] <+UGEplex> Because it means less time for you to work on more Shadowrun content ~_^
[21:59] <+Abstruse> You’ve gone to the Dark Side.
[21:59] <+RussellZee> Hey, no problem at all, Dan. Thanks for having me! Hopefully I was able to answer some questions and stuff.
[22:00] <~Dan> Certainly!