[20:00] <+MasonCrawford> Hello, I’m Mason Crawford, one of the designers for Through the Breach!
[20:02] <+MasonCrawford> Through the Breach is an RPG set in the world of Malifaux, a wild west steampunk fantasy horror game where the players take on the role of Fated, characters who have caught a glimpse of their destiny and thus have the ability to influence and change it (either for the better or the worse).
[20:04] <+MasonCrawford> Unlike many RPGs, Through the Breach uses a deck of playing cards as a conflict resolution mechanic, instead of dice.
[20:05] <+MasonCrawford> This means that, while characters can have runs of good luck or bad luck, it still evens out in the end, because once a good or bad card is played, it’s out of the deck (at least until it’s reshuffled).
[20:06] <+MasonCrawford> Players each have a hand of cards that they can use to “cheat fate” – which just means that they can replace cards they’ve flipped from the deck with cards from their hand, allowing them to turn failures into successes.
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[20:06] <~Dan> (Howdy, Serah!)
[20:07] <+MasonCrawford> Through the Breach is a narrative game, so while the players are sure to run into people that want to fill them full of lead or monsters intent on getting a warm meal, the focus is more on telling the story than on slaying hordes of monsters.
[20:07] <+MasonCrawford> (done!)
[20:07] <~Dan> Thanks, MasonCrawford!
[20:07] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[20:08] <~Dan> So why don’t we start with the basics… What is the setting about?
[20:08] <&Silverlion> How does the system work give me an example of say facing down a foe?
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[20:08] <+DyminoMonsters> How many players is Through the Breach? And long is game play?
[20:08] <~Dan> (Question pause after DyminoMonsters’s question, please.)
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[20:09] <+MasonCrawford> Through the Breach is set in an alternate timeline in the early 1900s. In the late 1700s, the shamans, mystics, wizards, and spellcasters of Earth gathered together to discuss what to do about the fading magic on Earth. They attempted a grand ritual to bring back the world’s magic, and instead ended up punching a hole into another dimension.
[20:10] <~Dan> Whoops.
[20:11] <+MasonCrawford> On the other side of the dimensional rift – which they called the Breach – they found an empty city called Malifaux, a name that they also gave to the world. Malifaux proved to be super magical, so in a way, the ritual sort of worked.
[20:11] <+MasonCrawford> More importantly, they found Soulstones in Malifaux, which are essentially gems that trap the soul of anyone that dies near them, allowing them to be used as rechargeable magic batteries.
[20:12] <+MasonCrawford> The whole world reshuffled overnight as humans did what humans do best and started digging up Soulstones and exporting them back to Earth. Only the native creatures of Malifaux – the Neverborn – weren’t happy about this and attacked the city, closed the Breach, and severed all connection with Earth.
[20:13] <+MasonCrawford> A hundred years later, the Breach mysteriously reopened, and humanity returned to Malifaux. Through the Breach takes place around a decade or so after that; long enough that Malifaux has become a frontier land that can make you untold riches or claim your life in a heartbeat.
[20:14] <+MasonCrawford> (done with that one!)
[20:14] <+MasonCrawford> The system is card-based, but it’s pretty simple. We use a normal deck of playing cards (1 through 13) with four suits.
[20:15] <+MasonCrawford> To attack, say, an evil animated doll, you flip a card from the top of the deck and add three values together. 1) value of the flipped card, 2) skill ranks in weapon, 3) relevant physical stat.
[20:16] <+MasonCrawford> If that number is higher than the target’s defense, you hit! The more you hit by, the better chance you have to deal more damage.
[20:16] <+MasonCrawford> All weapons have three damage values: weak, moderate, and severe.
[20:17] <+MasonCrawford> So a rifle, for instance, might deal 2/3/4 damage.
[20:17] * ~Dan nodnods
[20:17] <+MasonCrawford> You flip a card from the deck and look at the value to determine damage. 1-5 is weak, 6-10 is moderate, 11+ is severe.
[20:17] <+MasonCrawford> if you barely clip a monster, you might have to flip two cards and take the lowest. If you beat them by a lot, you might flip two cards and take the highest.
[20:18] <+MasonCrawford> Once the monster’s out of wounds, it’s (usually) gone.
[20:18] <&Silverlion> How do you deal with larger groups rapidly diminishing potential variable outcomes?
[20:19] <+MasonCrawford> Through the Breach generally works best with one GM and 3-5 players, but I’ve done games of 2 and 6-7 players. It works, but I think that 3-5 players is sort of the sweet spot.
[20:20] <+MasonCrawford> Diminishing outcomes mostly takes care of itself. The players each have their own personal decks – Twist Decks – which they use to generate their hands, and those can be customized with various character abilities and such. So the core deck – the Fate Deck – never ends up with cards “frozen” in players’ hands.
[20:20] <+Rems> When to you reshuffle the cards? Only once the deck is finished, or after each player’s turn?
[20:21] <+MasonCrawford> Plus, there’s a Red Joker and a Black Joker floating in the deck. If you flip the Red Joker, it’s really good. Black Joker, you’re going to have a bad day.
[20:21] <+MasonCrawford> The Fate Deck reshuffles when it runs out of cards, and then each player gets to draw a card from their personal Twist Deck. If a Twist Deck runs out of cards, then it just gets reshuffled.
[20:22] <+MasonCrawford> After a combat is finished, the players can discard any cards they don’t want and then draw back up to three cards, so there’s a card cycle element in there as well.
[20:22] <+MasonCrawford> Plus, the various classes – which we call Pursuits – have some card draw and cycling elements as well.
[20:23] <~Dan> Do you have that link to the character sheet handy? 🙂
[20:23] <+MasonCrawford> (Link: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54fe412ce4b0c449f7369857/55a2b322e4b0a8ce01051b33/55a2b331e4b0a8ce01051b6c/1437416781227/CTA-resources-TTB-charactersheets.jpg?format=500w)http://static1.squarespace.com/static/54fe412ce4b0c449f7369857/55a2b322e4b0a8ce01051b33/55a2b331e4b0a8ce01051b6c/1437416781227/CTA-resources-TTB-charactersheets.jpg?format=500w
[20:23] <+MasonCrawford> If that works, that’s the top 2/3 of a sheet. 😛
[20:24] <~Dan> Let’s see here…
[20:24] <~Dan> (Grrr… My browser is acting up.)
[20:25] <~Dan> (brb)
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[20:27] <~Dan> (back, sorry)
[20:27] <+MasonCrawford> (np)
[20:27] <~Dan> Okay, so…. what aspects govern what in combat, for example?
[20:27] <+DyminoMonsters> (Np)
[20:27] <+MonkofLords> (I need to head out, good luck with the rest of the Q&A!)
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[20:28] <+MasonCrawford> Generally speaking, Might handles most melee combat, while Grace covers ranged combat. There are a few exceptions, such as Martial Arts using Speed instead of Might.
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[20:29] <+MasonCrawford> So, for instance, if you were shooting someone with a revolver, you’d use your ranks in the Pistol skill + your Grace aspect. That value would be static, and it gets added to the card you flip for each attack you make.
[20:30] <+MasonCrawford> Aspects range from -3 to +3
[20:30] <~Dan> Hmm… Is melee damage based upon Might, or does Might simply increase the chance of getting a better hit (and therefore doing more damage)?
[20:30] <+MasonCrawford> so a clumsy character with Grace -2 and 1 rank in Pistol would have a grand total of -1 whenever he tries to shoot someone… not very encouraging, but still possible.
[20:31] * ~Dan nods
[20:31] <+MasonCrawford> The damage is based upon whatever weapon you’re using, so the Aspect mostly figures in with hitting your target. But since hitting by a larger margin gives you better chances for greater damage, it’s still relevant to damage in a roundabout sort of way.
[20:32] <~Dan> My concern with this sort of mechanic is that it makes what would otherwise be big, clumsy monsters into expert combatants — the “Ninjasaurus Effect”. Any thoughts on that?
[20:34] <+MasonCrawford> Fated are unique in that they get to flip cards. Monsters, however, don’t actually flip cards from the deck. Instead, they have a set Rank Value that determines what card value they flip ahead of time.
[20:34] <+MasonCrawford> For instance, take the humble ninja.
[20:35] <+MasonCrawford> Your average not-that-challenging ninja might have a Rank Value of 5. That means that whenever he’s supposed to flip a card – to attack or defend against attacks, for instance – he is considered to always flip a 5.
[20:36] <+MasonCrawford> However, if the GM decides that she wants a more challenging ninja opponent, just be increasing that Rank Value to 7 or 8, it’s suddenly a much more formidable opponent, without having to adjust its other stats.
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[20:36] <+MasonCrawford> It’s avoiding more attacks, hitting more often and by larger margins, and so on.
[20:37] <+MasonCrawford> Up that Rank Value to a 12 – so the ninja is essentially always flipping a Queen card – and it’s suddenly a very scary opponent.
[20:37] <~Dan> Right, but let’s try something else here. Does the setting have something that would pass for, say, an ogre? Some big, stompy monster?
[20:37] <+MasonCrawford> Sure. Let’s call it an Ogre for the sake of keeping this nice and tidy.
[20:37] <~Dan> (And I do follow you so far.)
[20:38] <~Dan> Okay, so! What I’m after is a way to make a creature that doesn’t hit often, but hits hard when it does. Can your system do that?
[20:38] <+MasonCrawford> (awesome)
[20:38] <~Dan> Because if I’m understanding you, the “ogre’s” Might would just make it more likely to hit by a higher margin.
[20:39] <+MasonCrawford> Yup. Essentially you just lower the Rank Value of a monster and keep its weapon the same. If your Ogre has a giant club that deals 3/4/5 damage, that’s pretty dangerous. Most Fated only have around 5-7 Wounds, so even a few hits is going to be dangerous.
[20:39] <+MasonCrawford> Even though the Might of the Ogre doesn’t change, if you pull it’s Rank Value down, you’re still lowering its accuracy, so it’ll hit less and by a lesser margin. But, because the weak damage is high, even a clipping hit will do a bunch of damage.
[20:40] <+MasonCrawford> We also have a thing called Triggers
[20:40] <~Dan> Oh?
[20:40] <+MasonCrawford> which are basically extra effects that happen if a character gets a specific suit on the card they flip on their attack (or, in the case of monsters, if the PC they’re attacking as that suit on their defending card flip).
[20:41] <+MasonCrawford> For instance, the Ogre might have a Critical Strike trigger, which deals +1 damage if the defender’s card is a Club suit.
[20:41] <+MasonCrawford> or maybe if they defend with the Diamond suit, the Ogre’s attack actually knocks them backwards and prone.
[20:41] <~Dan> (Appropriate. 🙂 )
[20:42] <~Dan> And I see… But what if the Ogre were unarmed? How would you determine its damage level then?
[20:42] <+MasonCrawford> It won’t happen all the time, but sometimes the creature gets these little bonus effects. And, of course, players have access to those too. It makes sure that the number of the card isn’t just important, but also its suit.
[20:43] <+DyminoMonsters> (Phone battery is about to die out. Be back in 30 minutes)
[20:43] <+MasonCrawford> There are two unarmed attack skills, Pugilism and Martial Arts. The damage a character deals with those attacks depends upon their ranks in the Skill, rather than their weapon.
[20:43] <~Dan> (No problem, DyminoMonsters!)
[20:44] <~Dan> Hmm. Interesting approach.
[20:44] <+MasonCrawford> So even with two characters of equal Might, the one that is more skilled at Pugilism is going to do more damage.
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:45] <~Dan> So there’s a steampunk aspect to the game, obviously… Does that technology all come from Malifaux, and if so, is it magic-based?
[20:47] <+MasonCrawford> Some of it does. There’s technology that people have dug up and managed to get working, of course, but there are also a fair number of inventors and engineers that have used magic and Soulstones to “kick-start” their own inventions.
[20:48] <+MasonCrawford> For instance, pneumatic replacements limbs are relatively common (though a bit spendy), so if you lose your arm working on the railroad or in the mines, the Union can give you an artificial replacement. Of course, you’re working off the price tag of that arm, but at least you’re working.
[20:48] <+MasonCrawford> Another staple are animated constructs, which can be animated briefly with magic, or indefinitely if you plus a Soulstone into them. They’re used for combat, mining, heavy lifting… all the things a giant steampowered clockwork machine is good for.
[20:49] <+MasonCrawford> (plug* a Soulstone)
[20:49] <~Dan> Does the Soulstone aspect mean that these devices can only work temporarily on the Earth side of the Breach?
[20:50] <~Dan> And more generally, how has the Earth been affected by Breach contact?
[20:50] <+MasonCrawford> Generally, magic is weaker on Earth, but Soulstones remain generally consistent on either side of the Breach. That makes them super valuable.
[20:50] <+MasonCrawford> The biggest change was the Black Powder Wars and the rise of the Guild.
[20:50] <+Motulev> I’m not sure if this was asked already but, how grimdark is the setting?
[20:51] <~Dan> (Oh, hey there, Motulev! 🙂 )
[20:51] <+MasonCrawford> After the Breach closed, everyone freaked out because it meant no more Soulstones, and all the various powers of Earth started fighting over the ones still on Earth. Eventually the Guild of Mercantiles – or just the Guild for short – ended up ending the wars and setting themselves up in charge of Soulstone regulation on Earth.
[20:52] <+MasonCrawford> When the Breach reopened, the Guild moved into Malifaux and laid claim to the city, so they’re the ones that are technically in charge. They’re all about keeping the Soulstones flowing back to Earth, cause that’s where their power comes from.
[20:53] <+MasonCrawford> Malifaux sort of has a sliding scale of grimdark. On the one hand, there are some bad people out there, and Resurrectionists – a loosely allied group of necromancers – can get up to some pretty dark stuff.
[20:54] <+MasonCrawford> Lots of monsters stalking the night, people meet very bad ends, and so on. However, it’s not hard-coded into the system, and lighter stories work fine for the setting, too.
[20:54] <~Dan> On a related note, is there any assumption regarding the heroic nature of the PCs?
[20:54] <+Motulev> good, I for one like dials. WH40k cranked everything to 11 and broke off the knobs
[20:55] <~Dan> Are they the “good guys” by defaul?
[20:55] <~Dan> default?
[20:55] <+MasonCrawford> The Free RPG Day adventure, Recruitment Drive, dealt with a faction of zombies coming up from the sewers to kidnap people and bring them below to be turned into steampunk zombie “recruits”
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[20:55] <+MasonCrawford> The PCs can be good, bad, in between… so long as your group is fine with it, so are we.
[20:55] * ~Dan nods
[20:55] <+MasonCrawford> Our next release is Under Quarantine, which lets players play those nasty Resurrectionists… or just undead characters.
[20:56] <+MasonCrawford> (which most living folk don’t like, but hey)
[20:56] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:56] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about how magic works?
[20:56] <+MasonCrawford> Sure.
[20:56] <+MasonCrawford> For the most part, you have two types of magic, Spells and Manifested Powers.
[20:57] <+MasonCrawford> The magic system is relatively free-form. Spells consist of a Magia, which is the core effect you’re trying to achieve (such as teleportation, damage at a range, healing, etc.)
[20:58] <+MasonCrawford> characters can also add Immuto to a spell, which are like metamagic effects that increase the difficulty of the spell for greater effect. Have it affect more people, do more damage, last longer, and so on.
[20:58] * ~Dan nods
[20:58] <+MasonCrawford> Each Magia has a set TN – teleportation might require you to hit a TN of 10, for instance – and each time you increase the range, it goes up by 2.
[20:58] <+MasonCrawford> Adding Immuto is done of the fly whenever you cast a spell, so it’s an organic process.
[20:59] <+MasonCrawford> However, in addition to a set number, most spells also require a specific suit
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[20:59] <+MasonCrawford> So even if you have a high card, if the suit doesn’t match the suit you need for that type of magic, the spell doesn’t go off.
[21:00] <+MasonCrawford> (As characters advance along magic-using classes, however, they gain the ability to ignore the suit requirements, making them much more versatile spellcasters)
[21:00] <+MasonCrawford> Beyond that, anyone can use magic if they have a Grimoire.
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[21:00] <~Dan> (wb, DyminoMonsters!0
[21:00] <~Dan> )
[21:01] <+MasonCrawford> Grimoires generally contain 2 Magia and 3-4 Immuto, and can be just about anything. It might be an ancient tome, or a talking skull, or even a constellation in the sky that appears on certain nights.
[21:01] <+MasonCrawford> Generally speaking, Grimoires *want* to be found, so the Fated tend to run across them at a reasonable rate.
[21:02] <+DyminoMonsters> (nope not yet,lol)
[21:02] <~Dan> Is the suit aspect the main limitation on spellcasting, or is there a magic point cost, “backlash,” anything like that?
[21:04] <+MasonCrawford> Some spells have restriction on them – healing someone in rapid succession is difficult because the healing spell increases in TN each time it’s cast one someone in the same hour – but otherwise, the only penalty to failing is that the spell fails.
[21:04] * ~Dan nods
[21:04] <+MasonCrawford> The suit aspect – and which spells you can access to – is the main limitation. Characters can generally only use one Grimoire at a time.
[21:05] <~Dan> I see. Cool.
[21:05] <~Dan> Now, I’m curious about something you said early on: The setting is the early 1900s?
[21:06] <+MasonCrawford> Yes. I believe the current year is 1906.
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[21:06] <~Dan> So is the “wild West” aspect mostly in Malifaux itself?
[21:07] <+MasonCrawford> For the most part.Malifaux City is a pretty big city, but beyond that, it’s very much the frontier. There are lots of mining boom towns that spring up around a vein of Soulstones, only to turn into ghost towns once the vein runs dry.
[21:08] <+MasonCrawford> There’s plenty of stuff out there that’s dangerous, so you’ve got your bandits and cattle rustlers and such, as well as hulking monsters and undead.
[21:09] <~Dan> Speaking of which, can you give us some idea of the sorts of creatures one might encounter in Malifaux?
[21:09] <+MasonCrawford> Sure
[21:10] <+MasonCrawford> The Neverborn are the primary threat, though that’s really more of a catch-all term for the natives of Malifaux.
[21:11] <~Dan> Do they fill the “Indian” niche in the setting’s frontier?
[21:11] <+MasonCrawford> Yes 😀
[21:11] <~Dan> What are they like?
[21:11] <+MasonCrawford> For instance, you’ve got the Nephilim, which are the most aggressive race of Neverborn
[21:12] <+MasonCrawford> The smaller ones are about the size of a child and tend to be mean and murderous, purple-tinted skin, little nubs of horn, pointed teeth.
[21:12] <+MasonCrawford> However, all Neverborn are shapeshifters to some degree or another.
[21:13] <+MasonCrawford> With Nephilim, whenever they get a chance to eat red meat, they grow larger and stronger, pretty much right on the spot. So a few of the little ones that get into a chicken coop or nursery can quickly grow to be the size of a man or even a barn
[21:13] <+MasonCrawford> And then you’ve got a situation.
[21:13] <~Dan> I’d think so, yes.
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[21:14] <+MasonCrawford> There are also Neveborn you are a bit more in control of their abilities and subtle in their plans, such as Dopplegangers, which enjoy copying humans and causing trouble
[21:14] <~Dan> Are they seen as “demons” by humans?
[21:15] <+MasonCrawford> In the sense that they’re very demonic in appearance, yes. But most people don’t think of them as “actual” demons.
[21:15] <~Dan> Are there “actual” demons? (Not to sidetrack your discussion of the Neverborn.)
[21:15] <+MasonCrawford> But there are still plenty of human-created monsters, too
[21:15] <+MasonCrawford> Not…as such.
[21:16] <+MasonCrawford> There are really powerful entities known as Tyrants that probably qualify.
[21:16] <+MasonCrawford> They’re essentially… well, the Neverborn fought a great war against the Tyrants long before humans came to Malifaux. Pretty much everyone lost, but the Neverborn managed to imprison the god-like Tyrants in various traps.
[21:17] <+MasonCrawford> They’re starting to get loose, but they need mortal hosts to act in the world.
[21:17] <+MasonCrawford> There are thirteen of them, and around…oh, a third of them are semi-active in some manner or another.
[21:17] <~Dan> So in general, it sounds like the creatures of Malifaux are more alien than they are the source for Earthly legends and so forth. Fair statement?
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[21:19] <+MasonCrawford> That’s fair, though it goes back and forth a bit. Malifaux tends to “borrow” from Earth a lot, even to the point of people finding buildings in the city that are eerily similar to those back on Earth. An Italian pavilion attached to a French townhouse, next to some clearly Gothic archtecture.
[21:19] <+DyminoMonsters> (I’m back)
[21:19] <~Dan> (wb!)
[21:20] <+MasonCrawford> The neverborn are a bit along the same lines. Some of them are similar to stories from back on Earth, but whether that’s because Malifaux is copying Earth or people on Earth are sensitive to Malifaux is unknown.
[21:20] <+DyminoMonsters> (Thank you. I got a glimse of what I missed before the page rebooted.)
[21:20] <~Dan> Are most of the monsters in the “horror” rather than “fantasy” bracket?
[21:22] <+MasonCrawford> I think it’s split up pretty evenly. You’ve got undead raised by necromancers which tend to be along the horror line, and the Neverborn can go either way depending upon the specific creature and its goals.
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[21:22] <+MasonCrawford> Also, Malifaux is a very magical world, and that sort of seeps into people. The longer someone spends in Malifaux, the greater chance they have to develop magical powers.
[21:22] * ~Dan nods
[21:23] <+MasonCrawford> Some people gain the ability to pour a glass of whiskey from an empty bottle, or to shake their cloths clean
[21:23] <+MasonCrawford> Others discover that they can teleport or throw fireballs or what-have-you
[21:23] <~Dan> What’s the general environment of Malifaux like? How “otherworldly” does it look?
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[21:23] <+MasonCrawford> When the Guild first started working the mines after the Breach reopened, they brought a bunch of convicts over to work the mines. That didn’t go so well.
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[21:24] <~Dan> (Howdy, LW!)
[21:24] <+DyminoMonsters> (Sorry, hit wrong button)
[21:24] <+MasonCrawford> For the most part, it’s very similar to Earth. Blue sky, single sun, average (if a bit severe) seasons.
[21:25] <+MasonCrawford> But there are two moons, and summers are annoying because the insects get people really sick, on account of nobody having much in the way of natural resistances.
[21:25] <+MasonCrawford> From the city, there’s a huge Badlands to the south, a Bayou to the east, a forest to the west, and rolling hills to the north
[21:25] <+MasonCrawford> (Link: http://www.gamewire.belloflostsouls.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MapofMalifaux.jpg)http://www.gamewire.belloflostsouls.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MapofMalifaux.jpg
[21:26] <~Dan> Pretty!
[21:26] <+MasonCrawford> Thanks!
[21:26] <+MasonCrawford> Most of the population tends to congregate around Malifaux City or the Northern Hills
[21:27] <+MasonCrawford> The latter because that’s where the richest Soulstone veins have been found
[21:27] <~Dan> Yeah, that was my next question.
[21:27] <+MasonCrawford> But once you get down to the Badlands, that’s when you get into the real frontier “dusters and frontier justice” towns
[21:27] * ~Dan nods
[21:28] <~Dan> By the way, what happened to the humans stuck on the Malifaux side of the Breach when it was shut in the 1700s? Were they all wiped out by the Neverborn?
[21:28] <+MasonCrawford> One of our Penny Dreadfuls – essentially a grouping of 4-5 sessions worth of adventures – deals with the town of Innocence down in the Badlands.
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[21:29] <+MasonCrawford> The Breach became opaque and nobody could cross from one side to the other, but the people back on Earth could hear the sounds of gunfire and screaming and fighting.
[21:29] <+MasonCrawford> It opened again just long enough for the Neverborn to throw a corpse with the word “OURS” carved onto its chest through to the other side before it collapsed.
[21:31] <~Dan> Speaking of which, where is the Earth side of the Breach? And where does that Second Breach on the map lead? 🙂
[21:31] <+MasonCrawford> When the Breach reopened, though, there wasn’t any sign of a struggle or a fight, other than a few bullet casings, so… that’s one of the in-game mysteries.
[21:31] <~Dan> I thougth it might be. 🙂
[21:31] <+MasonCrawford> Earthside, the Breach is in Sante Fe
[21:31] <+MasonCrawford> The Second Breach is somewhere in the Three Kingdoms (formed of former Japan, China, and Vietnam).
[21:32] <+MasonCrawford> The Second Breach is essentially controlled by the Katanaka Crime Syndicate, and they’ve managed to keep it a secret from everyone else so far
[21:32] <+MasonCrawford> they use it to smuggle Soulstones back to the Three Kingdoms, or to bring their own people into Malifaux and seed them into the ranks of the other factions.
[21:33] <+MasonCrawford> the plan being to strike when the time is right, assassinate the VIPs in control of Malifaux, and take control of it for themselves.
[21:33] <~Dan> The Three Kingdoms, you say? Wow…. How else does the world differ from our own?
[21:33] <~Dan> In terms of national boundaries and so forth, I mean.
[21:34] <+MasonCrawford> In broad strokes, the Great Powder Wars essentially kicked off the equivalent of WWI about a hundred years ahead of schedule, and then the Guild managed to keep the peace when the wars were over.
[21:35] <+MasonCrawford> Primarily by virtue of controlling Soulstones and having a lot of guns.
[21:35] <+MasonCrawford> So some big, pivotal events back on Earth just never happened.
[21:35] <+MasonCrawford> The US is much, much smaller, for instance.
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[21:36] <+MasonCrawford> I don’t want to get into too much detail, as much of that is being saved for a future supplement. 😛
[21:36] <~Dan> Fair enough. 🙂
[21:37] <~Dan> How large of a bestiary does the game include?
[21:39] <+MasonCrawford> The Fatemaster’s Guide has… *counts*… around 65 creatures, split between common Neverborn, Guild agents, mercenaries and outlaws, and so on.
[21:39] <~Dan> How alien are the “normal” plants and animals of Malifaux?
[21:40] <+MasonCrawford> Our first expansion, Into the Steam, is focused around the Northern Hills Region, the Arcanist criminal/magical organization, and constructs and magic, and that has… I’m going to guess and say 40, but I think it’s a bit more.
[21:40] <+MasonCrawford> And those tend to be Arcanist enemies, animated Constructs, and other creatures native to the area.
[21:40] <+MasonCrawford> Our upcoming Under Quarantine supplement, meanwhile, focuses on the sewers and Quarantine Zones of the city, and that has a focus more on undead enemies and various other denizens of those unpleasant places.
[21:41] <+MasonCrawford> The plants and animals are *generally* similar to those on Earth, but there are exceptions.
[21:42] <+MasonCrawford> The magic that seeps into humans tends to do the same to animals, and then tend to become larger and stronger.
[21:42] <+MasonCrawford> A few species have diverged quite a bit more, like Maulers, which are similar to bears, only much larger and meaner, with bone growths that jut out of their skin in places.
[21:43] <+MasonCrawford> And there are a few artificial species like Molemen that were created by humans and have since bred true.
[21:43] <~Dan> So instead of mountain lions, you get smilodons?
[21:43] <+MasonCrawford> Maybe more like a half-smilodon.
[21:43] <~Dan> So more of a smirkodon?
[21:44] <+MasonCrawford> Though, actually, there are sabertooth cerberuses, which are sort of like three-headed smilodons.
[21:44] <+MasonCrawford> (snrk)
[21:44] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:44] <+MasonCrawford> There are some plants which have various medicinal effects and are quite valuable
[21:44] <+MasonCrawford> as well as the sort that are intelligent enough to just want to kill you.
[21:44] <+MasonCrawford> Because plants are mean.
[21:45] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:45] <~Dan> Do people just learning about the game tend to draw comparisons to Deadlands?
[21:45] <+MasonCrawford> Yuuup.
[21:46] <~Dan> I can see that, although this seems much less campy.
[21:46] <+MasonCrawford> The mechanics don’t work quite the same, but thematically, if you’ve played Deadlands, you’ve got a good thematic place to start.
[21:46] * ~Dan nods
[21:47] <+MasonCrawford> Even though it’s a blender of setting, we try to approach it from a realistic point of view, or at least, as realistic of a viewpoint as you can.
[21:47] <~Dan> Sure.
[21:47] <+MasonCrawford> Yeah, there are monsters out there, but it’s never gets to the point of “well, another monster attack…I guess it’s Tuesday.”
[21:47] <~Dan> Making the setting internally consistent, yo umean?
[21:48] <+MasonCrawford> Right. People are still people, even in a dangerous new land.
[21:48] * ~Dan nods
[21:48] <~Dan> Seems like it would also differ from Deadlands in that all the weirdness is right out in the open.
[21:48] <+MasonCrawford> Most people don’t go down into the Bayou, because it’s dangerous and unpleasant… but are there are few bootleggers willing to risk it to smuggle Gremlin moonshine into the city? You betcha.
[21:49] <+MasonCrawford> Yes. The Guild tends to keep the people back on Earth in the dark about just how bad Malifaux is, but there’s no grand conspiracy to tell people that monsters aren’t real, because the Guild has a bounty on Nephilim heads.
[21:50] * ~Dan nods
[21:50] <+MasonCrawford> They do lie about a few things, though.
[21:50] <~Dan> Oh, you mentioned classes earlier. How restrictive are they?
[21:51] <+MasonCrawford> When they reclaimed the city, they only took a portion of it, and just built up walls to quarantine off other parts. The official word is that only necromancers and outlaws live in the lawless quarantined parts of the city
[21:51] <+MasonCrawford> But since the Guild’s policy of dealing with, say, tuberculosis, is to put a bullet it the person’s head before they can infect anyone else
[21:52] <~Dan> Yikes.
[21:52] <+MasonCrawford> there are also a fair number of sick people just trying to get by as best they can in a place where the Guild won’t shoot them.
[21:52] <+MasonCrawford> (the Guild are… not exactly a compassionate organization)
[21:52] <+MasonCrawford> So, classes!
[21:53] <+MasonCrawford> Sessions are essentially run a bit like a TV episode.
[21:53] <~Dan> (Clearly. “Doc Holliday, meet Doc Hollowpoint.”)
[21:53] <+MasonCrawford> (Hah!)
[21:53] <+MasonCrawford> First there’s the Prologue, where the GM does a quick preview of what the session is going to be like, akin to the cold open of a TV show before the credits roll.
[21:54] <+MasonCrawford> For instance, if the Fated are at a bar playing cards and someone kicks down the door, throws a dead man through, and demands to know who killed his brother… welp, might be a combat session.
[21:54] <+MasonCrawford> Or maybe something investigative?
[21:54] <+MasonCrawford> Either way, the Fated get a rough idea of what’s coming.
[21:55] <+MasonCrawford> At that point, they pick what Class they want to be for that session. Each Class gives the character a special ability for the duration of that session.
[21:55] <+MasonCrawford> And then at the end of the session, the characters gain xp to purchase skills and such, but they also gain a class ability from the class they played that session.
[21:56] <~Dan> In setting terms, is this something that only the Fated can do?
[21:56] <+MasonCrawford> So the characters end up being less about a list of abilities that your characters progess along, and more about being a collection of abilities they’ve picked up from their adventures.
[21:57] <+MasonCrawford> You can create NPCs with classes without any problems, but it’s mostly a PC Fated thing.
[21:58] * ~Dan nods
[21:58] <+MasonCrawford> There’s also a Destiny Step
[21:58] <~Dan> What’s that?
[21:58] <+MasonCrawford> When you make a character, you essentially do a Tarot Spread for that character, and each card determines some aspect of your character, whether that’s physical stats, what their parents did when they were growing up, and so on
[21:59] <+MasonCrawford> (Link: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-opJbwX11Zb8/VL0au-ZQGwI/AAAAAAAAm8w/ON2ocEPvnfM/s1600/The%2BCross%2BRoads%2BTarot.png)http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-opJbwX11Zb8/VL0au-ZQGwI/AAAAAAAAm8w/ON2ocEPvnfM/s1600/The%2BCross%2BRoads%2BTarot.png
[21:59] <+MasonCrawford> There’s an example spread, for instance
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[21:59] <~Dan> Huh. That’s cool.
[21:59] <+MasonCrawford> The Station card determines what sort of family you were born into, Western card determines the numbers you can assign to physical stats, Northern gives you points to put into skills you learned as a child
[22:00] <+MasonCrawford> Eastern determines points you can put into Mental skills, and Southern is skills you learned as an adult
[22:00] <+MasonCrawford> But, each card also comes with a unique “Destiny Step”
[22:00] <+MasonCrawford> (Link: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-H7gWgP-Twp0/VL0iTPa1X8I/AAAAAAAAm9Q/Q6Y4de8AJhw/s1600/Station%2BCard%2B%281%29.png)http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-H7gWgP-Twp0/VL0iTPa1X8I/AAAAAAAAm9Q/Q6Y4de8AJhw/s1600/Station%2BCard%2B%281%29.png
[22:01] <+MasonCrawford> So 10 of Rams on that example in the Station spot means that the character’s family were Enforcers… breaking limbs for the mob
[22:01] <+MasonCrawford> Once you’ve got all the stats assigned, starting with the last card, you find all the various destiny steps for each card and add them together.
[22:02] <+MasonCrawford> So for the example, starting at Southern and working around counter-clockwise, we’d have
[22:02] <+MasonCrawford> “When the gears turn upon the story best forgotten”
[22:02] <+MasonCrawford> “he will trust your falsehoods”
[22:03] <+MasonCrawford> “and she knows.”
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[22:03] <+MasonCrawford> “The sands of waters will make you clean”
[22:03] <+MasonCrawford> “and it dreams of you.”
[22:03] <~Dan> (Howdy, egyptian!)
[22:03] <+MasonCrawford> So taken together, at character creation, you know just what your character’s destiny will be (though the character can still attempt to change it)
[22:03] <&egyptian> (hi!)
[22:04] <+MasonCrawford> When the Fatemaster sits down to plan a session, then, she just picks one of these destiny steps to focus upon, and that character becomes the “star” of that session (again, much like a character-focused episode of a TV show)
[22:04] <+MasonCrawford> the other characters are still there, but the subject ties in with that character’s destiny and past.
[22:05] <+MasonCrawford> and as the campaign goes on, all of the characters end up involved in each others’ destinies
[22:05] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
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[22:05] <+MasonCrawford> the snippets help to inspire the Fatemaster towards ideas she might otherwise have.
[22:05] * ~Dan nods
[22:05] <+MasonCrawford> And then, at the end of a session, the character that resolved a step of their Destiny – for good or ill – gets to either increase one of their Aspects
[22:06] <+MasonCrawford> or gain a Manifested Power. Which is a magical power that ties in with the events of the session.
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[22:06] <~Dan> And that is an innate power, akin to a superpower, I take it?
[22:07] <+MasonCrawford> Essentially, yup. It might be a doctor that spends the session in surgery healing up his companions and then decides to pick up an innate healing ability
[22:07] <+DyminoMonsters> (Hi egyptian)
[22:07] <+MasonCrawford> or maybe a character who was trapped in a burning building can now walk unharmed through flames.
[22:08] <+MasonCrawford> There’s some framework, but it’s mostly working out something cool that fits with the story
[22:08] * ~Dan nods
[22:08] <+MasonCrawford> and that’s how we work in Malifaux’s magic seeping into players the longer they’re there
[22:08] * ~Dan nodnods
[22:08] <~Dan> That’s very cool. 🙂
[22:09] <+MasonCrawford> And then each book has a different Tarot Spread. Into the Steam has a way for players to play animated constructs that have become sentient
[22:09] <+MasonCrawford> and Under Quarantine has a way for players to die during character creation… and then just keep on going as undead.
[22:09] <+MasonCrawford> (though you can make normal humans with both just fine, too)
[22:10] <~Dan> Can players play Neverborn?
[22:10] <+MasonCrawford> In an upcoming book, yup!
[22:10] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
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[22:10] <+MasonCrawford> Next up after Under Quarantine is the Gremlin book
[22:11] * ~Dan nods
[22:11] <+MasonCrawford> so everyone can be boozahol-fueled little mayhem machines
[22:11] <~Dan> 😀
[22:11] <+MasonCrawford> and that book will focus upon (probably very strange) games out in the Bayou
[22:12] <+MasonCrawford> And, of course, all the supplements work together, so you could have a very strange A-Team thing going on with a Construct, Gremlin, Undead, and Neverborn joining together to fight crime
[22:12] <~Dan> So you’re welcome to hang out with us and field questions as long as you like, Mason, but before I log the “official” chat, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[22:13] <+MasonCrawford> Let’s see… Oh! We’re putting out monthly Penny Dreadful One-Shots via DriveThruRPG, which are essentially very cheap one-shot adventures, a lot of them with pre-generated characters to sort of ease people into the game.
[22:13] <+MasonCrawford> And we usually have free content in our bi-monthy Wyrd Chronicles (which are also free and available via DriveThruRPG)
[22:13] <+MasonCrawford> Beyond that, I think we did a good once-through. 😀
[22:14] <~Dan> Excellent!
[22:14] <~Dan> Thanks very much for spending time with us today!
[22:15] <~Dan> Again, no need to rush off, but if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll post the log and get you the link. 🙂
[22:15] <+MasonCrawford> Thank you for having me!