[19:02] <+Nicholas_Willett> Hello, I am a human analogue named Nicholas Willett, author-designer of Egodrift, a tabletop RPG of crime and conspiracy in a transhuman setting. Egodrift draws influence from Ghost in the Shell, Shadowrun, GURPS: Transhuman Space, Mass Effect, Eclipse Phase, Fate, Stars Without Number, and various other works of sci-fi splendor.
[19:03] <+Nicholas_Willett> Egodrift is currently on Kickstarter, and available here: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/409632248/egodrift)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/409632248/egodrift
[19:04] <+Nicholas_Willett> An in-depth portrayal of the universe is provided, in as concise a way as I can offer it, so visit the page if you’d rather I not draft you a lite novel here.
[19:04] <+Nicholas_Willett> (done)
[19:04] <~Dan> Thanks, Nicholas_Willett!
[19:04] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:04] <~Dan> So let’s start with the basics. Can you say a bit more about the premise?
[19:07] <+Nicholas_Willett> Certainly. Egodrift is set several centuries in the future, long after the emergence of augmentation, whole-brain emulation, nano-manufacturing, and genetic engineering. Players are involved in a galaxy-spanning network of criminal specialists, the best freelancers from rim-to-rim.
[19:08] <~Dan> Who are their employers?
[19:08] <+GenoFoxx> why are they ‘criminals’ and not white-hats?
[19:08] <+Nicholas_Willett> Using whatever is at their disposal, and their tightly-honed skills, players will hack, assassinate, cover up, sabotage, steal, and generally crime their way to success, all the while propping up the galaxy’s elite.
[19:10] <+Nicholas_Willett> Generally, employers range anything from popular singer-songwriters who hold massive sway in the galaxy’s social networks to an anarchist militant group seeking to liberate territories from ultracorporate dominion. Anyone, regardless of their stance, morals, or position can hire a player -provided they have the means to supply a reward.
[19:13] <+Nicholas_Willett> Players are labeled as ‘criminals’ because their actions are almost always strictly illegal, and usually not backed up by any sense of morality; the players’ actions may be driven by morality, but the nature of their work is inherently amoral. Crime is a means to the ends of the wires themselves, and to the organization.
[19:14] <~Dan> So it’s not plausible for the PCs to be Robin Hood types, for example?
[19:14] <+Nicholas_Willett> For example, in the same campaign, a group may be tasked with rescuing the kidnapped synthetic slave of a ranking politcian, and the next day be leveling the life-support systems of a space station to suffocate the population.
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[19:14] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:15] <+Nicholas_Willett> Not during missions, no, Dan. However, Egodrift affords players plenty of downtime to pursue their own agendas and act as they please; character’s aren’t simply put into stasis when a mission ends. They’re living people/xenos/synthetics, and most have lives they lead apart from their work.
[19:16] <~Dan> Hmm. Well, let me rephrase: Is it not feasible to play PCs who have a code about what missions they’ll take?
[19:17] <+Nicholas_Willett> It’s feasible, but it’s likely that the character in question would simply sit the mission out or offer support from the sidelines to ensure their party isn’t horribly murdered, at the least.
[19:18] <+SolutionCat> So it is like Shadowrun (play style) but in a much farther future?
[19:18] <+Nicholas_Willett> Morality doesn’t play a huge factor, not as it does in many traditional RPGs. The nature of the game somewhat demands players reject morality and ethics, and focus on the logical back-end of their work. Some can’t afford to be moral, at that.
[19:19] <+Nicholas_Willett> In a sense, though it borrows effectively none of Shadowrun’s systems, with the exception of movement in virtual spaces (to a limited extent)
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[19:19] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[19:20] <&Le_Squide> (Hey Dan!)
[19:20] <~Dan> Can you give some idea of the scope of PC types?
[19:20] <+Nicholas_Willett> Hah, that’s a challenge. In terms of characteristics, playstyles, backgrounds, what?
[19:21] <~Dan> Hmm. Well, let’s try “species”, for a start.
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[19:24] <+SolutionCat> id vote roles next
[19:24] <+Nicholas_Willett> ‘Transhuman’ is an exceedingly broad term, within the setting; it’s used as an umbrella term for aliens, altered humans, uplifted animals and synthetics. You could picture “transhuman” as being an analogue to the taxonomic “kingdom”. What you might see are humans which are genetically, cybernetically, or nanotechnologically augmented, bipedal apes with…
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[19:24] <~Dan> (wb, duxck!)
[19:24] <+Nicholas_Willett> …above-human intellect, any size and shape of robotic chassis you could imagine. And all of these forms are within the scope of what PCs can obtain.
[19:26] <+Nicholas_Willett> The largest category is that of “altered humans”; you’ll find more options of rigs (or the bodies that minds are slotted in to) in that field than others.
[19:26] <~Dan> So characters can swap out bodies?
[19:26] <+Nicholas_Willett> (done)
[19:26] <+Nicholas_Willett> Yes, using digital backups of their minds.
[19:27] <~Dan> Can they run more than one body at once?
[19:27] <+Nicholas_Willett> In a sense. Their consciousness can operate in more than one body, but aside from a few, rare hive-mind rigs, it’s not an option.
[19:28] <+Nicholas_Willett> So, it’s more along the lines of cloning the brain than it is their running more than one body.
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[19:28] <~Dan> What sorts of uplifted animals are possible?
[19:28] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, WunderWerks!)
[19:29] <+Nicholas_Willett> Ravens, crows, larks, hawks, some bird of prey in general; cephalopods, anything ranging from miniscule squids to giant, atlantic octopi; gorillas, orangutans, chimps; those are generally what are listed in the book, but if a GM wishes to invent, say, a barracuda rig, it’s an option.
[19:30] <+Nicholas_Willett> The obvious, fairly-intelligent animals have established rules and stats, but this isn’t rigid and gives GMs the tools to use their own imagination.
[19:31] <~Dan> Wow… I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game with uplifted birds before. Huh.
[19:31] <+Nicholas_Willett> You want a giant space-whale that breathes through oxygen stores in its gut? Go ahead!
[19:31] <+Nicholas_Willett> With propulsion systems, of course. Costs extra.
[19:31] <~Dan> But worth it!
[19:32] <~Dan> And you mentioned aliens?
[19:32] <+Nicholas_Willett> And yes, that does sound a bit ridiculous and doesn’t gel with the aesthetic. I wanted the option there for those who weren’t so concerned with sticking to the universe.
[19:32] <+xyphoid> can you contrast this game against EP? I can see a few obvious differences but i’m curious what you think was important
[19:34] <+Nicholas_Willett> Indeed. Transhumanity has managed to partially restore some alien races it has encountered in its travels across the galaxy, though all of these have been found to be either dead or near-extinction. Xenos rigs are difficult to produce and very rare, but possess unique attributes and modifications not found in other rigs.
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[19:34] <~Dan> Is there a reason given why those found are extinct or nearly so?
[19:35] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, manwhat!)
[19:36] <+manwhat> Hi – I’ve been an RPGnet member for a loooong time under a different username, figured I spend enough time there to pop in here once in a while.
[19:36] <~Dan> manwhat: Cool! Here’s what we’re discussing at the moment: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/409632248/egodrift)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/409632248/egodrift
[19:37] <+Nicholas_Willett> The most important difference I like to note is likely in the nature and focus of the players. Firewall is, by all rights, a moralist organization with an agenda and a goal; you can argue the means of Sentinels justify the ends, but their is clearly an idea that what the players are doing is “good”, and that they are the “good guys”, even when doing ill.
[19:38] <+Nicholas_Willett> That, and the universe itself, but that’s a bit too broad.
[19:38] <~Dan> (manwhat: Sending you a PM.)
[19:39] <~Dan> ( WunderWerks: You there?)
[19:39] <+xyphoid> how about on the system side? EP has some real problems mechanically at the table, how have you reacted to that?
[19:39] <+Nicholas_Willett> The reason for the seeming extinction of every race is unknown. There is no logical pattern; they were all at varying stages of technological advancement and space colonization. Thus, its a hanging mystery that GMs can explore in whatever way they want, and give whatever answers they choose. Maybe it was a galactic plague. Maybe it was Reapers.
[19:40] <~Dan> Reapers?
[19:40] <+Cassiemouse> Great Filter style extinction stuffs?
[19:40] <+Nicholas_Willett> Mass Effect’s reapers
[19:40] <+Nicholas_Willett> If you want that to be the answer, sure, Cassiemouse.
[19:41] <+Nicholas_Willett> The game provides some options as to what the reasoning might be and encourages players to make their own answers.
[19:41] <+Nicholas_Willett> Until I come out with a supplement that buggers everything.
[19:41] <+Nicholas_Willett> He said sarcastically.
[19:41] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:41] <+Cassiemouse> Buggering things is pretty fun.
[19:42] <+Nicholas_Willett> (Spoilers, it was the Imperium)
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[19:42] <+Nicholas_Willett> As to Xyphoid, what problems are you referring to specifically?
[19:42] <~Dan> (Still there, manwhat?)
[19:45] <~Dan> While we’re waiting for xyphoid, can you give an example of the status of a discovered alien race near exitinction?
[19:45] <~Dan> extinction, even
[19:46] <~Dan> As in, are they reduced to one world? Part of a crumbling multisystem empire? Something else?
[19:46] <+xyphoid> a few of the major ones for us were the skill proliferation, the chargen issue where you’d put resources into a morph and then need to farcast, and the way speed in combat was really wacky
[19:47] <+Nicholas_Willett> Usually, it’s less than a handful of surviving members that are typically either infertile or incapable of mating, near death to disease, or impossible to interact with due to biological barriers. All of them have only been found to be inhabiting a single planet.
[19:48] <+Nicholas_Willett> Yes; skills are tightened and streamlined (plenty of diversity, but there aren’t eight networking subskills, for example), and farcasting is an option, but FTL travel is the more widespread means of movement, so that’s not an issue.
[19:48] <+Nicholas_Willett> Combat flows as it does in games like Dungeon or Apocalypse World; it’s smooth, and actions are logical in the time they take up
[19:49] <+Nicholas_Willett> I always took issue with farcasting, myself. You need a morph on every planet to be remotely viable.
[19:49] <~Dan> Since we’re talking about the system now, do you have a copy of the character sheet that we could see?
[19:50] <+xyphoid> i quite liked the way it worked when you had to pull strings to get morphs in places, but it fell down badly with the heavy emphasis on custom implants on morphs in play
[19:50] <+xyphoid> do you expect bodyswapping to be something that happens routinely in play?
[19:51] <+Nicholas_Willett> Not readily available, no. I’ve been tinkering with skills and traits over the past few days and it’s not in a state worth viewing. But, that said, you can expect your character to have skills, stats, motivations, incentives, traits, backgrounds, and more.
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[19:52] <+Nicholas_Willett> And to Xyphoid, I expect it will more for people’s interest in testing out styles of play than out of necessity.
[19:53] <~Dan> Can you describe the core mechanic?
[19:53] <+Nicholas_Willett> You’ll run into situations where, say, a 2-inch synthetic millipede-like rig will be useful for moving around the vents, but it’s likely people will make their own opportunities with what they have.
[19:55] <+Nicholas_Willett> Players resolve tests in social, skill-intensive, and combat situations. The difficulty of the test determines the target number a character needs to beat, and they roll to beat that value using 1d10 + or – all relevant modifiers.
[19:55] <+Nicholas_Willett> Modifiers come from environmental factors, the skill of the player, traits, the qualities of their rig, etc.
[19:55] <~Dan> Is this an attribute + skill system at its base, or something different?
[19:55] <+Nicholas_Willett> Yes
[19:56] <~Dan> Yes to which one? 🙂
[19:56] <+Nicholas_Willett> Oh, sorry, haha, it’s an attribute+skill system, yes.
[19:56] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:56] <~Dan> What are the attributes?
[19:57] <+Nicholas_Willett> Cognition, Kinetics, Intuition, Charisma, Resistance
[19:58] <~Dan> What does Kinetics cover?
[19:58] <+Nicholas_Willett> Any sort of physical actions such as dodging, freefalling, climbing, swimming, etc.
[19:59] <~Dan> What covers strength?
[20:01] <+Nicholas_Willett> Kinetics. It’s just used to broadly cover…athleticism, if you want to call it that. There’s no division between agility and strength, in this sense.
[20:02] <~Dan> Hmm. How do you simulate a creature that’s strong but clumsy or weak but agile?
[20:02] <+Cassiemouse> I imagine Cognition covers slow thinking and Intuition covers fast thinking?
[20:02] <+Nicholas_Willett> That would more be reflected in its skills.
[20:02] <+Nicholas_Willett> And yes, Cassiemouse, it’s effectively the difference between wisdom and wit.
[20:03] <~Dan> How broad are skills?
[20:03] <+Nicholas_Willett> So, a strong but clumsy character might channel their points into having high climbing skills or something of that nature and large weapon skills, while an agile but weak character would focus their points into movement-based skills and ranged weapons
[20:05] <+Cassiemouse> I noticed that in transhuman games that mental abilities are really the only ones that matter because you are swapping bodies often.
[20:05] <+Nicholas_Willett> Skills cover specific sciences, operating of certain types of advanced tech, vehicle piloting, any physical activity that requires some skill to pull off, hacking, stealing, weapons skills.
[20:05] <+Nicholas_Willett> They are important, yes. They’re the only things that carry over.
[20:06] <+Nicholas_Willett> Your brain might remember how to do operate a minigun, but your body won’t necessarily have the strength to lift it.
[20:06] <~Dan> How specific are weapon skills?
[20:07] <+Nicholas_Willett> Clubs, knives, swords, and everything on up; any class of modern firearm, and some variants.
[20:07] <+Nicholas_Willett> Most weapons are either plasma or thermal.
[20:07] <+Nicholas_Willett> So ammo itself isn’t a concern unless you happen to be using an antique.
[20:08] <~Dan> Well, I mean, is the ranged weapon skill “Ranged Weapons”? “Firearms”? “Pistols”?
[20:09] <+Nicholas_Willett> Oh, no, you’re looking at “bows”,”pistol”,”SMG”, and so on.
[20:09] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[20:09] <~Dan> While we’re on the subject, how does combat work?
[20:12] <+Nicholas_Willett> Simple, multi-phase system. Initiative is rolled for on an individual basis and determines the order of combat. Players are afforded a free movement action, and then must choose between Renewing, Half, or Full actions. Renewing actions recur during the turn of the character using it, and the others are self explanatory.
[20:13] <+Nicholas_Willett> Characters can move again as a half-action, and have a variety of options for what to do; throwing objects, aiming shots, going into overwatch, using an items, firing in bursts, etc.
[20:13] <+Nicholas_Willett> If a character attacks, and is successful, their damage is mitigated by any active armor, shielding, or cover their target has. There is no “dodging” of bullets
[20:14] <+Nicholas_Willett> Melee combat is slightly different, it works on a system of opposed tests. The attacker rolls, and the defender decides whether to block, dodge, or parry; these are all skill-based, and are measured against the roll of the attacker.
[20:15] <+Nicholas_Willett> Parrying generally takes a negative penalty, but has an element of risk-reward in that it gives the defender an immediate counter attack.
[20:15] <+Nicholas_Willett> And of course, there are rules for ambushing, grappling, etc.
[20:16] <~Dan> How is damage determined?
[20:18] <+Nicholas_Willett> Every weapon has a damage value based on dice rolls. The damage is rolled for, and increased depending on the type of ammo the character might be using or any other effects; it is then weighed against the armor value, shield value, and cover value (if the target is behind cover) of the target, and the difference is applied to the attacker.
[20:18] <~Dan> Does degree of success affect damage?
[20:18] <+Nicholas_Willett> If a certain amount of damage is dealt past a threshold, the target is critically wounded in some way, and the GM rolls on an injury table to determine this.
[20:19] <+Nicholas_Willett> You can get a critical, if you beat the difficulty of the test by a certain value, but that’s the extent of it,
[20:19] <+Nicholas_Willett> It’s mostly about the weapon and what you augment it with.
[20:19] * ~Dan nods
[20:20] <~Dan> What dice are used for damage rolls?
[20:21] <+Nicholas_Willett> Some weapons are specified as using d10s, 12s, or 20s, but all of them can be supplemented with simple d6s
[20:21] <+Nicholas_Willett> Or d10s, or whatever you prefer.
[20:22] <~Dan> How gritty is combat? How likely are one-shot kills?
[20:23] <+Nicholas_Willett> Depends on the weapon. If someone on the team decided to funnel their coin into plasma grenades or a tachyon rifle, they’re likely to gib any entry-level goon, thug, or militant.
[20:24] <+Nicholas_Willett> The game’s difficulty is determined by the players, largely. Low-tier enemies can be torn to shreds by a simple SMG if you nail the roll, and high-tier enemies might shrug off an anti-material shell
[20:25] <+Nicholas_Willett> It all depends on what you’re up against
[20:25] <+Nicholas_Willett> And the weapon’s damage.
[20:25] * ~Dan nods
[20:25] <+Nicholas_Willett> Combat itself isn’t much of a slugfest unless the GM or players decide to make it that way.
[20:26] <+Nicholas_Willett> The flow of combat is determined wholly by the actions of characters, so if everyone decides to hunker down behind a piece of titanium rubble, you can expect to have a long fight,
[20:28] <+Nicholas_Willett> (done)
[20:28] <~Dan> Switching gears for a moment, does the setting include psionics?
[20:30] <+Nicholas_Willett> I deliberately opted out of using them. They’re rather gimmicky and are a bit heavily proliferated in modern sci-fi RPGs. Much of the time, they’re just tossed into the game without a lot of logic or reason as to how they work or why. And I get it, magical powers, who cares? it’s just not something I’m a fan of.
[20:30] * ~Dan nods
[20:30] <+Nicholas_Willett> There is TECH that can influence the mind and is, in some forms, controlled by it.
[20:31] <+Nicholas_Willett> Such as telepathically-controlled nanite swarms, which are coordinated using wireless relay implants.
[20:31] <~Dan> Given the presence of nanite swarms, how close is technology to being “sufficiently advanced,” speaking of magic.
[20:33] <+Nicholas_Willett> Close, but you’re not to the point where you’ll be conjuring be-tentacled fiends from some stygian maw. But you could produce the equivalent of a frostbolt, let’s say, by having a swarm release cryogen fluid on a target, or getting combustible nanites.
[20:33] * ~Dan nods
[20:34] <+Nicholas_Willett> If your first-level wizard in D&D can do it, you can probably manage it in Egodrift.
[20:34] <+Nicholas_Willett> That’s a decent, generalized rule to follow.
[20:34] <~Dan> To what extent do you cover alien ecosystems?
[20:35] <~Dan> And how common is terraforming?
[20:36] <+Nicholas_Willett> There’s a full suite for fleshing out your own extra-solar worlds, and solid descriptions of various exotic locales across the galaxy sufficient enough to give you an idea of how they operate in-universe. Terraforming is ubiquitous, and used to bring any planet to life that was not previously capable of supporting it.
[20:36] <+Nicholas_Willett> Terraforming was in its infancy when transhumanity began to flee the solar system, and its commonplace now.
[20:37] <~Dan> Do you include sample alien life forms?
[20:37] <+Nicholas_Willett> Yes, and tables to create your own, as well a simple random-generation system for them. Granted, these are very basic, non-sentient life forms.
[20:38] * ~Dan nods
[20:38] <+Nicholas_Willett> All sapient species are covered in character creation, as rigs
[20:38] <~Dan> What sapient species are playable?
[20:40] <+Nicholas_Willett> I’m not really ready to unveil them all here, but you’re looking at an aquatic biped, a symbiotic fungal species, a human-sized parasite -ten in total, most being non-humanoids.
[20:41] <~Dan> Gotcha. Cool.
[20:42] <~Dan> What does starship combat look like in the setting?
[20:43] <+Nicholas_Willett> It actually functions in a pseudo-three-dimensional style; ships are all modular in their design, and weapons can be affixed anywhere on the ship. So position is important, and you cannot simply target anything with any weapon.
[20:44] <+Nicholas_Willett> It’s fast or slow, depending on the ships; faster ships are capable of dodging their larger counterparts, but larger ships have tremendous hull point pools to abosrb Damage.
[20:44] <+Nicholas_Willett> absorb*
[20:44] <~Dan> What sorts of weapons do they use?
[20:44] <+Nicholas_Willett> So the system breaks down into zippy dogfights and huge slugfests, when the ships are of equal size.
[20:45] <+Nicholas_Willett> Thermal chaingun cannons, mass-propellant weapons, electroomagnetic disruptors, focused microwave beams that pass through a hull and cook the crew within.
[20:46] <+Nicholas_Willett> (done)
[20:47] <~Dan> On a gritty-to-cinematic scale of 1 to 10, where would you put Egodrift?
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[20:48] <~Dan> (Howdy, Mike_Myler!)
[20:48] <+Nicholas_Willett> Looking at around a 3 or 4. Egodrift is more inspired by the tech/punk works of cyberpunk literature and artwork than it is the sweeping galactic vistas of Asimove or Mass Effect.
[20:49] <+Mike_Myler> (Yo)
[20:49] <+Nicholas_Willett> It’s a very character-driven game, very much about the struggles of its characters and the conflict between them.
[20:49] * ~Dan nods
[20:50] <~Dan> In what remains of regular time, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
[20:50] <+Nicholas_Willett> You won’t see a tremendous space battle spanning dozens of worlds, ship carcasses falling into the orbits of random planets; you’ll see a single hacker alone on the fiftieth floor of a virtual building, desperately trying to breach a security system to earn money for her dying brother.
[20:50] <+Mike_Myler> Kovacs?
[20:51] <+Nicholas_Willett> Ahh, we’ve covered most everything, although the Incentive system is important.
[20:51] <+Nicholas_Willett> Players choose what they wish to be rewarded with after the completion of a mission, and the rarity of those items. The higher the quality of the rewards, the more difficult the missions become.
[20:52] <+Nicholas_Willett> So it has an adaptive difficulty that is determined by the players more than it is the GM, although the GM is still left to populate a mission with challenges that measure up to the difficulty
[20:53] <+Nicholas_Willett> Let’s say you have a character who wants social currency, weapons, and rigs, and she wants exotic-quality rewards of each type. The missions that open up to her would be exceedingly difficult and long, but not beyond her skill range, if she is resourceful.
[20:54] <+Nicholas_Willett> She likely couldn’t brute force her way into the ultracorporate research facility that becomes the destination of her mission, but she could root out an access point to the sewage system of the building and infiltrate their.
[20:54] <+Nicholas_Willett> there*
[20:55] <+Nicholas_Willett> And the players can change their incentives and the quality of them during a camapign, so they’re never stuck with exceedingly hard missions because one person happened to want nothing but exotic goods.
[20:56] <~Dan> That’s cool.
[20:56] <+Nicholas_Willett> In real terms, it works more like this: Players can choose between 2-3 incentives, at qualities 1-4 (these have titles). The sum of the qualities of all of these incentives is added together, and this determines the difficulty.
[20:57] <+Nicholas_Willett> A sum of 48 or higher would be the highest possible difficulty (3 incentives per avg. group size of four, all at quality 4)
[20:58] <+Nicholas_Willett> Lowest would be a sum of 8
[20:59] <+Nicholas_Willett> It ensures players don’t get useless items or money while allowing them to determine how hard of a time they’ll have.
[21:00] * ~Dan nods
[21:00] <+Nicholas_Willett> That’s about it, I believe.
[21:00] <~Dan> Excellent!
[21:01] <~Dan> Thanks so much for joining us this evening, Nicholas_Willett!
[21:01] <+Nicholas_Willett> Thanks for having my flesh proxy here. My mind has been busily developing a neurotoxin in another stretch of the galaxy.
[21:01] <~Dan> 😀
[21:01] <+Nicholas_Willett> Also, now on Kickstarter.
[21:01] <+Nicholas_Willett> Staff Pick, at that.
[21:02] <~Dan> Give me just a moment, and I’ll get the log posted and get you the link.
[21:02] <~Dan> Congrats!
[21:02] <+Nicholas_Willett> Oh, I’m not, I was just goofing around.
[21:02] <+Nicholas_Willett> IF ONLY.
[21:02] <~Dan> Ah. 🙂