[18:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think it might help folks to see some stuff
[18:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Ok this is a link to the After Zombies PDF: (Link: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/169249/AZ-After-Zombies)http://www.rpgnow.com/product/169249/AZ-After-Zombies
[19:00] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> This is a link to the free character sheet which will give you a complete skill list if you’re interested: (Link: http://www.rpgnow.com/product/169282/AZ-Character-Sheet?src=slider_view)http://www.rpgnow.com/product/169282/AZ-Character-Sheet?src=slider_view
[19:00] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So, about me. I have been a gamer since the red box D&D days. I have an English Lit degree but always wanted to be a writer. I have been writing RPGs professionally since 2002.
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[19:01] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I’ve worked for companies such as RPGObjects and Ronin Arts, mostly the former.
[19:01] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong)
[19:02] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I wrote a bunch of modern and sci-fi sourcebooks to add onto d20 Modern, a game I really liked but a game I also felt could use some tweaks. Some of them sold really well and were nominated for Ennies, such as Blood and Fists.
[19:02] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> About 5 years ago, I dropped out of working in RPGs for a time, because I got a job at Mayfair Games, in marketing, a job which also involves a lot of writing.
[19:03] <+Lin_Chong> (good morning)
[19:03] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I got the itch to create a game from scratch about the zombie apocalypse. I’d never created a game from scratch and so spent about 3 years writing, playtesting and developing it, it’s not out and I am here to talk about it!
[19:03] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Done.
[19:03] <~Dan> Thanks, Chuck!
[19:04] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:04] <~Dan> So why zombies in particular?
[19:05] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well- it’s funny, I had always thought the zombie apocalypse, as a concept, was dumb. It’s a situation where the dumb, slow unarmed humans are successfully killing off the smart, fast humans with guns.
[19:06] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But, a friend of mine loaned me some Walking Dead trades and I was hooked. And so I started thinking about designing a game based around survival. As opposed to killing things and taking their stuff.
[19:07] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I also wanted the game to cover the psychological toll of the setting. And again, I felt like I had a big mountain in the RPG field I had never climbed: designing a game from scratch.
[19:07] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Done
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[19:07] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords)
[19:08] <~Dan> Is this a specific zombie apocalypse setting, or a toolkit like All Flesh Must Be Eaten?
[19:09] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I’d say more of a toolkit. Though it does include a small setting, set in a fictional Virginia valley called Solace. My goal was to create an old school sandbox game, in the sense that there are tables for, well, a lot of things that a GM would need to run adventures on the fly.
[19:10] <~Dan> Are there any built-in assumptions, though?
[19:10] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> What I found was that, in a setting like this, it was even more impossible than normal to predict what the PCs would want to do. If they needed medicine and I mapped out a hospital, they were going to try and find a mom and pop drug store because a hospital sounded too dangerous.
[19:11] * ~Dan nods
[19:11] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I’d say I tried to cover most of the assumptions and allow the GM to pick what they liked, or mix and match.
[19:11] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> For example there are slow zombies and fast zombies and stealthy zombies.
[19:11] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> There are rules for how the zombie virus spreads but a ton of ways for the GM to tinker with that.
[19:12] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I really wanted to make an old fashioned, 150 page all in one.
[19:12] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Done
[19:12] <~Dan> What is the core mechanic?
[19:13] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It’s a simple percentile based system. So ability scores range 1-100. You can attempt any skill. If you don’t have the skill, you operate at half its relevant stat. If you do have the skill, you are rolling under the stat. So if your Combat Ability is 40 but you have never fired a pistol before, you have a base 20% chance to hit.
[19:14] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If you had the skill, then 40%.
[19:14] <~Dan> Is there any way to be better than the base stat, or is it strictly have-it-or-don’t?
[19:15] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> There are two ways. First as you gain levels- and I suppose I should mention the game has no classes but it does have levels. You can improve ability scores. You can also gain perks, one of which will boost a single skill by +10.
[19:15] * ~Dan nods
[19:17] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> One of the things I worked really hard to address was the tendency in classless games for PCs to be very similar. So I added a lot of meat to the progression to the point that, fully mastering a single skill (getting all of its perks) is a lifetime goal.
[19:17] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Given that there are 25 skills, there’s a lot of room for variation.
[19:18] <+BrunoCarvalho> You mentioned that there are levels. How do you level up? Experience? And how do you earn it?
[19:19] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> You’re earning experience. You do not gain experience through combat however. Every week, a PC earns a small amount of XP- 1d10. If they used their skills that week, +1d10, if they found food and shelter, +1d10. So the goal is simply to stay alive. But you can just try to run and hide and improve your character.
[19:20] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If combat equals XP, you are basically forcing the PCs to fight on some level, and I didn’t want that.
[19:21] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I always felt experience points and levels were the secret sauce that made d20/D&D so popular.
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[19:21] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So I definitely wanted to use them.
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[19:23] <~Dan> Doesn’t that mean that the PCs could just hole up somewhere relatively safe?
[19:23] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Totally. In fact, that happens all the time. It also happens in zombie apocalypse fiction going back to Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Which is a big thing that informed the XP system.
[19:24] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> XP is basically a way for the game to shape PC behavior.
[19:24] <~Dan> Agreed, but how do you keep that interesting?
[19:24] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If you gain XP for killing, and only killing, guess what you’ll try to do.
[19:24] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well.. your character still needs food and water.
[19:24] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> The game details how much you need to eat and drink a day, and what happens if you don’t have it.
[19:25] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So the PCs adventure, typically scavenging for supplies, with a goal to get, say, food and water for the group for two weeks.
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[19:25] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> When they have it, they will then typically find a safe place and hole up for a week, gain XP, and then venture out again.
[19:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, jeffszusz)
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[19:26] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So you’re not sitting around, you’re essentially advancing time for a week in between adventures.
[19:26] <+BrunoCarvalho> That seems super appropriate for a zombie apocalypse
[19:26] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Right, I thought so too! 🙂
[19:27] <+BrunoCarvalho> There is any “downtime mechanic”? Or simply all weeks spent in-between scavenging hunts are just time-skips?
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[19:27] <~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion)
[19:27] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well, I am not dictating to the PCs when they rest or for how long. This brings us back to all those tables I needed to run the game on the fly.
[19:28] <&Silverlion> Allo Dan
[19:28] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> They are deciding how much supplies they are comfortable gathering before having their characters take a break to get XP and hopefully level up.
[19:28] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Of course, sometimes the adventure comes to them of course.
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[19:28] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Of course of course. I need an editor
[19:29] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[19:29] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Now something else about the XP you might have noticed is that it’s pretty variable too. If you’re getting 4d10 XP, you might get +4 XP. So sometimes the PCs push their luck, running low on supplies hoping to level before they venture back out.
[19:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Characters have Action Points, based on their Quickness stat. So if you have a 40 Quickness you have 4 AP.
[19:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> You’re spending those each round to attack, move, use skills and so forth.
[19:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Combat is a skill, based on your Combat Ability attribute. You’re rolling under your skill on percentile dice.
[19:31] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> You can spend more Action Points on an attack, to aim, and increase your chance to hit.
[19:31] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> With melee attacks, you can also spend more action points to up the damage.
[19:31] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Obviously that’s a risky strategy.
[19:32] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Now there are also very valuable PCs in combat who inflict no damage.
[19:32] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> One of the valuable skills in the game is distraction, which draws enemies to you.
[19:32] <+BrunoCarvalho> Apocalyptic_Chuck, being a RPG writer for more than 10 years, how do you felt the industry has changed in these years? How is the market open for indie developers/small publishings?
[19:32] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So a build my players have used is a fast PC with high Distraction, who is drawing zombies to him and running away
[19:33] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well it’s very different than it was in 2002 for sure. Back then, RPGNow seemed like a godsend because I wanted to take my crack at the industry but had no idea how.
[19:33] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So that was the first glimpse into the world we live in now, where the idea of a gatekeeper seems like it belongs in the 19th century.
[19:34] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> No one gets to tell us whether or not we can write RPGs.
[19:34] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Now in 2002 when I started, you were typically risking your own money to make that happen.
[19:34] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But now you can turn to things like Kickstarter and Patreon.
[19:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think it’s pretty great. A lot of people bemoan the state of the industry. But I’m an optimist.
[19:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That doesn’t mean you will be able to make a living doing this. I am ok with that.
[19:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I have paid my rent off RPGs however, but that’s not usually the default condition.
[19:36] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> In 2002 the idea of downloading a book off the internet seemed like the future. We take it for granted now.
[19:38] <~Dan> You mentioned rules for the psychological toll of surviving?
[19:39] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Yes the game actually has two “pools” of hit points.You have HP, which are your Strength and Health abilities added together. So if both were 100 (never seen that happen) you’d have 200 HP.
[19:39] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> There’s also Mental Toughness, which is Intuition and Leadership added together.
[19:39] <~Dan> (brb – please continue0
[19:39] <~Dan> )
[19:39] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> A lot of times you can come through an encounter physically unscathed but take quite a lot of MT damage.
[19:40] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> For example, some monsters, like the Lil Devil, which is a zombie child, inflict mental damage on you when you kill them.
[19:40] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If your mental toughness drops below 100 and goes down further, you have to check for a mental breakdown.
[19:41] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So if you had 80 MT and dropped to 60, you roll percentile dice, and if the roll is 61 or higher, you roll on a breakdown table.
[19:41] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Another way the game attempts to simulate the emotional side of the apocalypse is Unity.
[19:42] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Your group didn’t choose to be together. And they aren’t a calm, cool special ops unit.
[19:42] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So as a group, you share a Unity stat.
[19:42] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If it’s low, you suffer penalties working together.
[19:42] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> You might also argue all the time, preventing you from recovering mental damage when you rest.
[19:43] <~Dan> (back)
[19:43] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> WB
[19:43] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> and Done I keep forgetting that
[19:43] <+BrunoCarvalho> Lately, we’ve seen some big companies buying RPG developers (even the biggest ones) and then using their IPs more for toys/boardgames/other media and focusing away from the actual RPG books. In the other hand, as you say, it is more easier than ever to a indie developer, or even a solo writer to publish RPGs via Kickstarter/Patreon.
[19:43] <+BrunoCarvalho> Do you think we’re moving away from a traditional “company-job structure” to a “freeform, atomic developers” model?
[19:44] <~Dan> (And the “(done)” is optional. 🙂 )
[19:45] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think both can and will coexist. Fantasy Flight Games isn’t going anywhere. And I hope they continue making RPGs. And they’re a very large company. By the same token, I really enjoy the freedom to work on a RPG in my spare time until its done. And I decide when that is.
[19:45] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I worked on AZ for 3 years. I could never do that when I was counting on RPGs to pay a substantial portion of my bills circa 2006.
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[19:46] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Products needed to SHIP.
[19:47] <~Dan> (Howdy, Arcandio)
[19:48] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Even when I was running Vigilance Press, which I owned, I often made compromises. You just had to do it.
[19:49] <+BrunoCarvalho> What are your favorite RPGs? (you may not say AZ! :D)
[19:51] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well, I am running a d20 game right now. That would be on the list. I have a 2nd edition D&D campaign that has been ongoing for about 20 years. Outside of D&D, my all time favorite games would be Marvel FASERIP, FASA Star Trek, and the Fallout CRPGs.
[19:52] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If you looked at AZ, you’d see bits of all those games.
[19:52] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It might just be one mechanic in the entire book, but I could point to something from all those games in AZ.
[19:53] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Oo and add Champions to that list. Though I cannot deal with Champions anymore lol
[19:54] <~Dan> Too crunchy?
[19:55] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Yeah I feel like, the good of the system is outweighed by how long character generation and combat take. I can have as much fun running Marvel FASERIP and my prep time is about half an hour as opposed to 2 hours.
[19:56] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But I think Champions is one of the greatest games of all time, and Aaron Allston is probably my favorite RPG writer of all time.
[19:56] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But I am too old to run that game.
[19:56] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:56] <+BrunoCarvalho> Answer quickly: 3.x OR 4e OR Next ?
[19:57] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> 3.x
[19:57] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> 4e is a game no one asked for and no one wanted. Next is great but I have never ran it.
[19:58] <~Dan> Do you see the After Zombies system (and does it have a name) as a potentially generic system, or is it pretty hardwired for zombies?
[19:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> No one of my goals for the system was to have it be a house system. Again I took a long time on it. Playtested the heck out of it.
[19:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It will see use for other genres of games. If you look at the games I listed above you can guess.
[19:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Sci-fi for sure.
[20:00] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> In my head the engine is called APOGEE which is Apocalyptic Game Engine.
[20:00] <~Dan> Nice. 🙂
[20:00] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That’s probably trademarked by someone though lol
[20:01] <~Dan> So what’s your next priority: building on AZ, or applying APOGEE to other genres?
[20:01] <+BrunoCarvalho> Or maybe a third option unknown by us?
[20:02] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> My immediate priority is to support AZ. I have the artist who worked on the game with me, the fabulous Jon Gibbons working on a map for an adventure I wrote. I also have tagged Darrin Drader, who once upon a time worked for WOTC, to write an adventure.
[20:02] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> He was the game’s developer btw, and was a serious benefit in honing the rules.
[20:03] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Both adventures will either be free, or “pay what you want”.
[20:03] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I am still mulling it over.
[20:03] <~Dan> AFMBE showed that you can mix zombies with other genres successfully. Any plans to go that route, or will you stick with the “normal” zombie apocalypse?
[20:04] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> No. To me zombies is a thing I like on its own. Now I will say, one of my big interests is military adventures, and you could argue that AZ is already a bit of a hybrid, because the rules as written, minus the zombies are basically a military game in every way except the XP system.
[20:05] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I’d want a different XP system for a modern military game. In fact I guess I’d say the XP system is the thing wired into the genre most.
[20:05] * ~Dan nods
[20:05] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Each iteration of the game, to sci fi or modern for example, would need a different xp system in my opinion
[20:06] <~Dan> Well, to me, a good core mechanic can have genre-specific bits bolted onto it as needed.
[20:06] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> One idea I am toying with in my head is allow PCs to pick Values (stuff they care about) which would give them bonus XP when they pursue it
[20:06] <+BrunoCarvalho> Apocalyptic_Chuck: All your fav games are quite “traditional”, drawing from the core RPG gameplay established since D&D’s debut. The snippets of info you spread about AZ also point in that direction. What you think about some experiments we’ve seen in the last years, like GM-less gaming, story games, and colaborative narrative games?
[20:06] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> In that way I’m turning the concept of XP on its head
[20:06] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think they need to get the fuck off my lawn 😉
[20:07] <+BrunoCarvalho> You just earned +2 XP for sincerity 😀
[20:07] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Someone else’s fun is not my fun and that’s fine. I prefer relatively traditional games. I could play AD&D Rules as Written right now and be content.
[20:08] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> The closest AZ comes is in its XP and mental damage rules, but those are there strictly for genre emulation.
[20:08] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I don’t believe RPGs are art either. So there’s that.
[20:08] <~Dan> (Mind the language, please. Family-friendly chat, btw. 🙂 )
[20:08] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> This is an opinion almost no one agrees with me on.
[20:08] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> And oops.
[20:09] <~Dan> (No worries. 🙂 )
[20:09] <+BrunoCarvalho> Quack. Just quacking use quack when you need to quack.
[20:09] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Quacking A
[20:09] <~Dan> How many types of zombies does the game feature?
[20:11] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> There are 12 different types of zombies in the book, along with assorted human and animal opponents in “The Other” chapter
[20:11] <~Dan> Are the zombies kit-based?
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[20:12] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I am not sure what that means
[20:12] <~Dan> Well, I mean, do you have a list of zombie powers that you compile to create specific zombies, or do you just write up each zombie individually?
[20:13] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Ah gotcha. I designed them all by hand. As Bruno noted, I am somewhat old school in my design philosophy. I will also point out though that zombies have combat abilities only they can use, such as going into a frenzy state or mobbing a lone character…
[20:14] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> but for the most part they have had a lot of balancing and playtesting TLC in them. Obviously once you get familiar with how the game works, designing a new monster would be fairly easy.
[20:14] * ~Dan nods
[20:14] <~Dan> What traits do all of the zombies share?
[20:15] <~Dan> (Other than being dead, obviously.)
[20:15] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It’s actually a pretty streamlined system. Even though it has a lot of meat to it, you can design a PC from scratch in @ 15 minutes once you learn the system.
[20:16] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I actually worked hard to make all the monsters different, to fill different niches… either from a certain brand of fiction or to provide a certain kind of challenge. Off hand the only thing I can think of that they ALL share, is a sort of mook rule. If you inflict 20 points of damage to a zombie’s head, it’s down.
[20:17] <~Dan> Do you have zombie animals?
[20:17] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> One of the core design tenets is that human opponents are a much greater danger than zombies, as long as you are well equipped and careful.
[20:18] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> No, although most of the animal opponents in the book are more aggressive, and very disease ridden, because slow moving zombies would be an easy source of food for a carnivore.
[20:18] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So a common opponent in the game is the “devil dog” which is your common pet gone feral, who has been hunting other humans. It’s sickly, carries disease and its also lost its fear of humans.
[20:18] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> They are not nice dogs
[20:19] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Sorry hunting mostly zombies, not humans.
[20:19] <+BrunoCarvalho> Back in the early 2000s, when D&D 3e was launched, it swept the market and sprung a lot of other books. There were a time that seemed that d20 would dominate the RPG market. Do you believe we’ll keep this nowadays trend of several niche systems being released or do you think that there might be a new “One System” in the oven somewhere?
[20:21] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well, I think you could argue that d20 is still one of the most dominant RPGs on the market. Pathfinder and Mutants and Masterminds are both d20 games. Just ones that have forged their own brand identities.
[20:21] <~Dan> APOGEE FTW!
[20:21] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But no, I don’t think we’ll ever get closer than d20 did to a unifying field theory of games.
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[20:22] <~Dan> (wb, Silverlion2)
[20:22] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> BTW- as someone who was part of the “d20 glut” (as in a producer of it) I always thought that was one of the dumbest ideas ever
[20:22] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If only people would make fewer rpgs, rpgs will sell better!
[20:23] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:23] <~Dan> Assuming you go with a sci-fi game, what sort of sci-fi do you think you’ll make?
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[20:25] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Well, I wrote a game called Prometheus back in my d20 days, which was a near future sci fi where all the action was set in Earth’s solar system 200 years from now. Earth is in bad shape, and there are thriving colonies on the moons of Jupiter who are tired of being economically exploited. It was a sci-fi riff on the Revolutionary War.
[20:25] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That’s something I would love to go back to if possible. The IP is actually owned by RPGObjects.
[20:26] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I am also a huge space opera fan. Star Trek, DS9, Star Wars, Babylon 5.
[20:26] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So I wouldn’t rule that out either.
[20:26] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It’s just something in the back of my brain right now. After Zombies still needs more TLC.
[20:28] <~Dan> How do you plan on expanding the game beyond the adventures you mentioned?
[20:29] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That’s my main goal. Since my plan was try and do one of those great all in ones that I loved from the 80’s, I don’t want to lay on the splat.
[20:29] * ~Dan nods
[20:29] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I will say though, an old writing acquaintance of mine pitched an idea for a setting, one with a different apocalypse.
[20:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That idea has potential. Though any adventures we did for it, I would want notes to adapt them to AZ as well.
[20:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> He called it “cli fi” meaning a climate apocalypse. It would use almost all of AZ’s rules but in a different setting.
[20:30] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> It’s something I’m thinking about.
[20:31] * ~Dan nods
[20:31] <+BrunoCarvalho> Whats the part you like the least about being an RPG writer?
[20:32] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> The parts that make me say it’s not art. When I say that, I don’t mean there’s nothing artistic involved in the creation of a RPG. But there are severe limits because the thing needs to work. I consider RPG design to be a craft.
[20:32] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> If I am making a chair, I can put a lot of frills on it, but it needs legs, preferable four of them.
[20:33] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So I am not painting seascapes. I am building something that has things it MUST have to function and hold up.
[20:33] * ~Dan nods
[20:33] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So there are moments in every book where there are things I am not interested in, but I know the book needs.
[20:33] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That applied when I was writing books that built off d20 as well btw
[20:34] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> An example from AZ, I have no interest in vehicles in this setting. I wanted them to be something you’d occasionally find, fix and use to get somewhere. No need for stats right?
[20:35] <~Dan> Wrong-o, IMO.
[20:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Darrin Drader, my developer, basically told me I didn’t get to decide that for every game master and the game really needed vehicle stats and rules for using them and fighting in them.
[20:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Right
[20:35] * ~Dan nods
[20:35] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So I got to spend a couple weeks doing research on airplanes and boats and cars
[20:36] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Cue the sad trombone
[20:36] <~Dan> Yeah, that would make my brain bleed.
[20:36] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think it did
[20:36] <+xyphoid> that’s an interesting argument though – i mean no RPG can be exhaustive about covering all situations
[20:37] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> No, not totally. But again, going back to my “RPGs are craft not art” belief, there are some things you can feel that a book needs
[20:37] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> And that’s a gut thing for me. As soon as Darrin pointed it out, I knew I was quacked.
[20:37] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:38] <~Dan> I’m reminded of Deliria.
[20:38] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I didn’t fight it. He was 100% right. And bonus, it makes the game very adaptable to Mad Max style apocalypses
[20:38] <~Dan> The modern fairytale game.
[20:38] <~Dan> With no rules for fairies.
[20:38] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Huh
[20:39] <~Dan> Yeah. The author (Phil Brucato, for the record), just said that the GM should just make up that part.
[20:39] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Yeah, I also had a moment, and this one was me on my own, where I realized AZ had no rules for how the zombie virus would work, but did have rules for other diseases
[20:39] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Hm. Well, it’s hard to say without having read it, but that certainly seems like an odd choice.
[20:40] * ~Dan nods
[20:40] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But xyphoid you are totally right. At some point you have to stop, or your game never comes out.
[20:42] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> What’s the game, Duke Nukem Forever? It was development for like 20 years. Nothing is worth that lol
[20:42] <~Dan> I experienced this when creating a mini-setting for Unisystem. I can only imagine what it’s like for a full-blown RPG.
[20:43] <&Silverlion> The word is “challenging”
[20:43] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> For me there was just a point where I felt it was done. My playtesters felt it was done. My editor felt it was done. You just exhale and you know it’s ready.
[20:43] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Then you get to wait some more, on layout, which is maddening lol
[20:44] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:45] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Silverlion: it was certainly a challenge but I relished it, because I felt it was the one thing in RPGs I had never done
[20:45] <~Dan> So having hung out with us for a while now, you know that you’re always welcome to chat about your work here, so you’re free to continue chatting about AZ as long as you like this evening.
[20:46] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Awesome.
[20:46] <~Dan> That said, in what remains of “regular” Q&A time, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[20:46] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think we’ve covered it, unless anyone has a question about the book they don’t feel was sufficiently covered
[20:47] <~Dan> Anyone?
[20:47] <+xyphoid> skimming back over the unity thing
[20:47] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> ATTENTION WAL MART SHOPPERS THE STORE IS ABOUT TO CLOSE
[20:47] <+xyphoid> it’s a mechanic i haven’t seen used
[20:47] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Oh who am I kidding Wal Marts never close
[20:47] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Ah yes
[20:48] <+xyphoid> are you kind of incentivised to raise that as a group as much as possible, or are there mechanical reasons to get that inter-player conflict thing going on?
[20:48] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> That actually bothers me about RPGs sometimes
[20:48] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> You definitely want your group to be united… there are benefits for having a high unity…
[20:49] <+xyphoid> i talk about internal and external rpgs, where external rpgs are things like D&D where generally your players are a team against the world, vs internal rpgs like monsterhearts whre you have mechanical reasons to conflict within the group
[20:49] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> However, as you’re gaining levels your Unity can go down in a number of ways
[20:49] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Right and I definitely wanted to avoid the syndrome where players are always united
[20:49] <+xyphoid> and zombie apocalypse stuff is a case where an awful lot of the genre examples revolve around interpersonal conflict
[20:49] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> The game assumes you are thrown together and the genre features a lot of bickering, to put it mildly
[20:50] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> So one thing you can do with your skills, is temporarily raise Unity in combat, through Leadership skills, to increase the benefits it grants
[20:51] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But in so doing, if you fail an attempt to do that, Unity might actually go down permanently instead, because you’re yelling at people and they like you less
[20:51] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> We’ve all had that coworker who thinks they’re the boss of us
[20:51] <~Dan> Indeed.
[20:51] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> On the other hand, suffering a mental breakdown by losing MT can also hurt Unity
[20:51] <+xyphoid> the thing about party cohesion in RPGS is that it’s often very artificial – you have an elf and a dwarf and a thief and a paladin, but they hang out for clear out-of-character reasons – the table social contract is generally such that you make characters who’ll hang out
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[20:52] <+xyphoid> so to actually have PC vs PC conflict you often need a mechanical kick or clear game statement that hey, characters are supposed to conflict here
[20:52] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Right, so here, the players are encouraged to try and nurture their Unity and raise it… or at least they’re rewarded for doing so
[20:52] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> But one player can have a mental breakdown, start hoarding food, and the next thing you know they hate each other
[20:52] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Yes there are rules for that lol
[20:53] <+BrunoCarvalho> And does Unity goes down by means other than the player’s actions?
[20:54] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Typically no… in fact, the rules assume a “friendship through foxhole” mentality in that, as bad things happen to the party (as in you’re suffering mental damage) that causes Unity to go up
[20:54] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> because you’re sharing a hardship… of course, then that hardship gives you a mental breakdown and you’re a jerk and it goes down… it’s two steps forward one step back type situation
[20:54] <~Dan> Sounds a bit like the old fear mechanic in the Orrorsh setting for Torg.
[20:55] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Yes! Man I love torg, though it wasn’t a conscious inspiration
[20:55] <~Dan> You know a new edition is on the way, right? 🙂
[20:55] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I do. Can’t wait to see it
[20:57] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Unity, along with the XP over time mechanics, were actually the first things I decided for sure I wanted to do with AZ
[20:57] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I actually have always tried to pick a genre and emulate it in my RPG work and so I picked a particular flavor here, though a very long lasting one
[20:57] * ~Dan nods
[20:57] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> I think a lot of people fail to realize how specific D&D is in its mechanics
[20:58] <~Dan> Very much so.
[20:58] <~Dan> D&D simulates… D&D.
[20:58] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> A lot of folks, when I hear them talk about D&D, really seem to have no idea why its popular
[20:58] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> They’re usually the guys that say “it was first so it won”
[20:58] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> but I can’t think of a single instance where that has ever happened
[20:59] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Ultima and Everquest were both “first” in that they came out before World of Warcraft and got large (for their times) player bases
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[21:00] <~Dan> If you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and log the chat, Chuck. 🙂
[21:00] <+BrunoCarvalho> D&D fantasy a thing. It is a particular type of fantasy.
[21:00] <+Apocalyptic_Chuck> Sounds great
[21:00] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us!