[19:05] <+Ed> I’m Edward Little, currently physics teacher by day and gamer designer by… well, pretty much all of the rest of the time at the moment and lead developer on our first original game setting, Emissary
[19:05] <+Ed> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1973872220/emissary-tabletop-rpg)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1973872220/emissary-tabletop-rpg
[19:05] <+Ed> We recently ran a kickstarter for our project and it ended up being quite successful, raising close to double what we’d originally asked for
[19:06] <+Ed> You can see an overview of the project and some examples of artwork in the link above
[19:07] <+Ed> Emissary is what I’d describe as a science fantasy setting, being based on elements of real science but maintaining a strong fantasy theme throughout
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[19:08] <~Dan> (Howdy, BPIJonathan!)
[19:09] <+Ed> it’s heavily influenced by a variety of different sources that are near and dear to us a team, chief among which being the works of Alejandro Jodorowsky, specfically The Incal and the Metabarons
[19:09] <+Ed> (done)
[19:09] <~Dan> Thanks, Ed!
[19:09] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:10] <~Dan> So generally speaking, what is the setting about?
[19:10] <&Silverlion> What is the system like?
[19:10] <~Dan> Hmm. Which of those questions would be easier to tackle first, Ed?
[19:10] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:11] <+Ed> Both important ones, but quite different to address, I think I’ll give a quick overview of the setting first and then talk about the underpinning system and mechanics
[19:11] <~Dan> Sounds good
[19:12] <+Ed> The game is set in the very far future of our own Galaxy, where conflict over territory and resources drove the human race out among the stars on massive colony ships
[19:13] <+Ed> In some cases the colonists would terraform and adapt their new homes to suit themselves, while in other cases they would adapt their own biology to better suit their new environments
[19:14] <+Ed> By the time the game takes place, the Galaxy has been mostly unified under a fragile Empire, with vastly different and near-alien descendants of humanity making up most of the population
[19:15] <+Ed> Emissaries operate essentially as free agents, working as problem solvers and maintaining the balance of the various alliances and factions as they compete for power over each
[19:17] <+Ed> among the warriors of the galaxy they are uniquely capable, as they have inherited knowledge and technology beyond ordinary human science from an artefact of truly alien origin, giving them access to a range of powers that can’t be matched or replicated by other means
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[19:19] <+Ed> That’s the basic setup that leads to players taking on the role of Emissaries, although we have some quite extensive short stories and fluff pieces to flesh things out in a bit more detail in the book
[19:19] <+Ed> along with a timeline of the history of the galaxy up to this point and some of the major events
[19:20] <+Ed> If there are any follow up questions for that, I’m happy to answer those now
[19:21] <+Ed> if not I’ll move on to talk about the system we’re using
[19:21] <~Dan> Hmm. Why don’t we discuss the system, then we can loop back around to more detailed questions.
[19:21] <+Ed> ok
[19:21] <~Dan> Oh, before we do that, though — do you happen to have a character sheet posted?
[19:22] <+Ed> Hmm, I don’t think I have one posted up at the moment, although the latest update on the Kickstarter talked through the process
[19:22] <~Dan> No problem.
[19:24] <+Ed> The system we’re using is an original one that we’re calling the Shrike Roleplaying System, it’s been about two years in the making altogether
[19:24] <+Ed> Originally we were going to release it as a generic system with a collection of one-shot scenarios, but ultimately we decided that we wanted to create an entire setting along with our first release, which is where Emissary was born
[19:25] <+Ed> The basic system uses skill checks as the main of interacting with the game world and should be somewhat familiar to players of Traveller, d20 and other such systems
[19:26] <+Ed> We have the same general pattern of characteristic score + skill rank + die roll, although we differ significantly in some of the details
[19:27] <+Ed> For the die roll, we eventually settled on 2d10
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[19:27] <+Ed> Originally we spent a lot of time testing a 3d6 system, as it produces a distribution closer to a bell curve
[19:28] <+Ed> But for other reasons related to playability, simplicity and fitting in with other mechanics, 2d10 won out in the end
[19:29] <+Ed> A robust statistical system was a very important aspect for us from the start and something that we weren’t altogether happy with in other generic systems that were available for the kind of thing we wanted to do
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[19:30] * ~Dan nods
[19:30] <~Dan> (Howdy, Xenesis!)
[19:31] <+Ed> For example, we felt that it was very important that a character could be defined as ‘poor’, ‘mediocre’, ‘average’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ at any particular activity, and the results of their skill rolls should reflect that
[19:32] <+Ed> Ultimately we found that we needed a modifier of +2 to produce a meaningfully and statistically significant difference, so we settled on 2d10 with modifiers generally falling into a range of +0 to +10
[19:33] <+Ed> Splitting those modifiers between characteristics and skill ranks, each on a range of 0 to 5, allowed us to do that and also maintain smooth transitions when a character gets better at something
[19:34] <+Ed> We wanted to avoid situations where players would feel that their character’s characteristics and skill ranks didn’t have the impact that they expected
[19:35] <+Ed> That’s how we eventually arrived at the basic skills system anyway
[19:36] <~Dan> Sounds simple enough.
[19:36] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[19:38] <+Ed> So, at a basic level, there are various skills relating to combat, such as unarmed, weapons (ranged), weapons (melee), as well as combat related uses of other skills
[19:39] <+Ed> So to perform a basic attack, a character uses one of their actions to perform a combat skill, attempting to match of beat the agility score of their target (and any circumstance penalties or bonuses that might apply)
[19:39] <+Ed> Things can get a little more complicated at that point depending on what special traits or powers the character might also have
[19:39] * ~Dan nods
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[19:40] <+Ed> Traits function as extra abilities or skill modifiers, similar to say Merits from World of Darkness
[19:40] <+Ed> Although the method of obtaining them is a little different
[19:41] <+Ed> Each skill in the game has an associated characteristic, so ‘weapons (ranged)’ would use dexterity as its
[19:42] <+Ed> When a character, either during character creation or after, increases a skill to a rank of 4 or better, they gain access to a trait which shares the associated characteristic
[19:42] <+Ed> So a character with rank 4 in ‘weapons (ranged)’ would get to choose a dexterity trait
[19:42] <+Ed> One of the changes we made in Emissary from the original core system, after extensive playtesting
[19:43] <+Ed> was the addition of mastery bonuses to those traits, which are earned when the skill is increased to rank 5
[19:43] <+Ed> the mastery bonus is basically an upgraded version of the original trait, which is considerably more powerful
[19:44] <~Dan> What attribute is used for melee combat?
[19:45] <+Ed> as characters in Emissary had access to considerably more skill points, we wanted to encourage players to max out some skills, instead of raising too many of them to 4 and stopping there
[19:46] <+Ed> we decided to go with strength as the characteristic for melee combat, which, if you have a background in anything like fencing, isn’t entirely realistic
[19:46] <+Ed> but it worked out best in terms of keeping all of the characteristics balanced and useful
[19:46] <~Dan> Does strength affect damage as well?
[19:47] <+Ed> Yes, so melee weapons typically deal a single die of potential damage and the character’s strength characteristic is added to that
[19:48] <+Ed> whereas ranged weapons deal a single damage die at long range, two at medium range and three if you’re unlucky enough to be caught point blank
[19:48] <~Dan> So there’s no differentiation between weapons?
[19:49] <+Ed> the die type depends on the specific weapon, as would its range and any special qualities it might have
[19:49] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[19:50] <~Dan> Do you have a means to avoid what I call the “Ninjasaurus Effect” — the problem of huge, clumsy monsters being master combatants in strength-based combat?
[19:50] <+Ed> Although the end result is quite simple in terms of the stats players need to use, we actually have a system for designing weapons and armour that treats them almost as characters in their own right
[19:50] <+Ed> Definitely
[19:51] <+Ed> Combat was designed from the start to be very deadly and mobile
[19:51] <+Ed> we wanted to avoid static combat that would just turn into a slugging match
[19:52] <+Ed> unlike in some systems, armour and similar equipment doesn’t make a character more difficult to hit, it simply soaks up some damage going that would otherwise go through
[19:52] <~Dan> That’s good to hear.
[19:52] <+Ed> a large strong monster is definitely going to be dangerous, but it’s also going to be a very easy target unless it also happens to have the speed to back that up
[19:53] <+Ed> that’s also where some of the traits come in, allowing advantages for moving in combat
[19:53] <+Ed> which was something we very much wanted to give incentives for
[19:53] <~Dan> Cool.
[19:54] <+Ed> a melee focused character would definitely want to be strong, but they’d need to consider other aspects of their character as well
[19:54] <+Ed> likewise for the monsters we’ve designed
[19:56] <~Dan> Going back to the setting, you mentioned that the “aliens” are all actually modified humans?
[19:56] <+Ed> Yes, so, on a personal level, I very much like my aliens to be what I would call ‘properly alien’
[19:57] <~Dan> So are there “real” aliens as well?
[19:57] <+Ed> But Emissary is a setting that demands including or paying homage to some of the classic monsters and races of science fiction
[19:57] <+Ed> So although the majority of the denizens of the galaxy were at one point descended from humans, many of them are already more alien than things you’d find on, for example, Star Trek
[19:58] <+Ed> But yes, there are also some genuinely alien creatures as well
[19:58] <+Ed> though those are exceptionally rare and known mostly by what relics they’ve left behind
[19:59] <~Dan> How would you describe the tech level of the setting? Can you give some examples of technology in various areas, such as transportation, medicine, weaponry, etc.?
[20:00] <+Ed> Its one particular alien relic like that which grants Emissaries the various powers that elevate them above being merely skilled warriors
[20:00] <+Ed> Sure, so technology is very different around the galaxy and our biggest factions approach it quite differently
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[20:01] <+BPIJonathan> (Im sorry we had a network issue, I hope I have not missed too much about the game)
[20:02] <+Ed> One of our larger factions, the Technosapiens, are the most driven by the advancement of classical technology, robotics, cybernetics, artificial intelligence
[20:02] <+Ed> to the point that the majority of their population is so heavily augmented that they could easily be mistaken for machines
[20:02] <+GenoFoxx> mecha?
[20:03] <+BPIJonathan> That actually sounds pretty neat.
[20:03] <+Ed> and prefer to live on giant planet sized hive worlds, which utilize the entire volume of the structure, not just its surface
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[20:03] <+Ed> Mecha do make an appearance, we have a few that show up in the vehicles section
[20:04] <~Dan> Happy, GenoFoxx? 🙂
[20:04] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[20:04] <+Ed> although within the fluff text they’ve largely been supplanted by advanced personal armour
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> (Heya)
[20:04] <+Ed> they still have a role they can perform
[20:05] <+Ed> Medical science is generally very advanced, where it’s available, but living conditions can vary very heavily
[20:06] <+Ed> so while on one planet you might have people enjoying the benefits of life extending drugs and treatments that can cure virtually any illness, the same is most certainly not true everywhere
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[20:06] <~Dan> (Howdy, JamesGillen!)
[20:06] <+Ed> especially on the fringes of populated space, where things tend to be quite a lot rougher
[20:06] <+JamesGillen> Hi
[20:07] <~Dan> I’m assuming that FTL tech exists?
[20:08] <+Ed> Yes, so FTL technology was what really allowed the galaxy to be reunited, bringing all of the disparate descendents of humanity back into contact
[20:09] <~Dan> The colony ships weren’t FTL, I take it?
[20:09] <+Ed> and this was achieved through the discovery of a wormhole network that seems to spread out in nodes around the galaxy at a much later date
[20:09] <+Ed> indeed, some of the colony ships would have been travelling for exceptionally long periods of time
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[20:10] <~Dan> The wormhole network sounds suspiciously convenient.
[20:10] <+Ed> the official line is that it’s perfectly natural and safe, citizen
[20:10] <+Ed> but if you’re suspect aliens
[20:10] <+Ed> then you’re probably thinking along the right lines
[20:11] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:11] <+xyphoid> so from what i’ve seen the metabarons is incredibly weird and metal and ridiculous. it’s quite hard to design that kind of adventure and get that tone of weirdness – do you provide any support for how to do that kind of thing?
[20:11] <+JamesGillen> Never saw the comic but at one point I had the Metabarons RPG
[20:11] <+Ed> good description, yeah, Metabarons is very far out
[20:12] <+Ed> fantastic comic though
[20:12] <+Ed> we’ve pulled things back a bit from that, as it would be very difficult for a GM to manage characters with the same power level as a Metabaron
[20:12] <~Dan> I never Metabaron I didn’t like.
[20:13] <+Ed> but we’re trying to capture the same kind of feeling of adventure and something like that kind of scope
[20:13] <+Ed> wow
[20:13] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:13] <+Ed> that pun
[20:13] <+Ed> er, where was I
[20:13] <~Dan> While we’re on the subject, what sorts of powers do Emissaries have?
[20:13] <+Ed> oh right
[20:14] <+Ed> so quickly, before powers, yes, we definitely want to build in a lot of support for GMs
[20:15] <+Ed> we have some very extensive example scenarios, from a rather basic tutorial that ends up becoming something much more exciting, to some pieces could serve as the start of a campaign
[20:16] <+Ed> we’re also generally trying to fill the book with as much fluff, descriptions and ideas that could potentially be latched onto as possible, giving people plenty of inspiration and starting points
[20:16] <+Ed> also, to help people actually put fill in the blanks, we’ve got extensive location specific random encounter tables and suggested plot starters etc.
[20:17] <+Ed> we’ll also be looking to continue to support along those lines post release
[20:18] <+Ed> moving onto powers, Emissaries have access to their powers through the sympathetic connection between them and the alien technology implanted into their bodies
[20:20] <+Ed> when the two are in synch, they can achieve things outside the realms of traditional technology, though doing this places some stress on that bond, which corresponds to having a limited number of points to use on their powers before resting
[20:20] <~Dan> Akin to “magic points”?
[20:20] <+Ed> the powers they have access to depends on the ideology they follow, and we have a variety of these, each with its own branching tree of different abilities
[20:21] <+Ed> essentially yes, although these can be regained without resting if the character acts in line with their chosen ideology, as a kind of roleplaying incentive
[20:23] <+Ed> so, all Emissaries possess the ideal of Duty by standard, which is represents their commitment to enforce balance in the galaxy (though how they interpret that is quite open to them)
[20:23] <+Ed> and that ideology gives access to a basic set of self buffing, re-rolls and healing powers that are fairly mundane but easy to understand and use
[20:26] <~Dan> Is there a spiritual aspect to this technology, then?
[20:26] <+Ed> some of the other ideologies give access to considerably more esoteric powers though, such as being able to animate computer system and creating artificial intelligences from nothing, reassigning attacks to different targets in combat, locking objects in stasis and such
[20:27] <+Ed> that’s something that we’ve left somewhat open for players to interpret, certainly we have examples of characters in the setting who treat it that way
[20:27] <+Ed> and something like Metabarons, which we draw inspiration from, treats it in that way
[20:28] <+Ed> though we know that’s not for everyone, so it’s perfectly possible to treat it in a more grounded fashion
[20:28] * ~Dan nods
[20:28] <+Ed> ‘I am simply using technology beyond my understanding to do this, incredibly technology, but nothing more than that’
[20:28] <+TavelGorge> Can you build something akin to Steelhead? so cybernetically extreme that they have a robot head grafted to a gene spliced meat body?
[20:29] <+Ed> oh hell yeah, the augments section was a blast to write
[20:29] <~Dan> Piggybacking on TavelGorge’s question, what sorts of species are available to play?
[20:29] <+Ed> Stealhead was the inspiration behind a couple of the augments actually
[20:29] <+TavelGorge> Thats promising.
[20:31] <+Ed> So the playable races we have for this release are Avians, Humans, Insectoids, Reptillians and Mechanoids, which are intentionally quite descriptive and basically what you would imagine
[20:31] <+Ed> each of those further possesses three sub-types which have slightly different bonuses and backgrounds
[20:32] <+Ed> for example, the basic Humans, since we didn’t really want them to be that, can be either Spacers, Heavyworlders or Augments
[20:33] <+Ed> each with slightly different bonuses and abilities
[20:33] <~Dan> Nice touch.
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[20:33] <~Dan> (Howdy, Doctor!)
[20:34] <+Ed> so really there are 15 distinct options in total
[20:34] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:34] <~Dan> Can you describe the scope of the core book’s bestiary?
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[20:35] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[20:35] <+Ed> Sure
[20:36] <+Ed> So, the unillustrated version (we’re having it illustrated at the moment) of the bestiary weighs in at 30 pages, with two creatures per page
[20:36] <+Ed> for each creature we have a stat block for it
[20:36] <+Ed> a description of what it’s like in appearance and behaviour and where it could be found
[20:37] <+Ed> and another paragraph describing its aggression and personality in combat
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[20:38] <~Dan> (Howdy, Janana!)
[20:38] <+Ed> and amongst those we’ve got all sorts of creatures, psionic mind controlling alien moth-like monstrosities, something akin to cyborg Frankenstein’s monster, a living warmachine left by an alien race
[20:39] <+Ed> as well as some more ‘normal’ but also pretty unique creatures that could be considered wildlife on various planets
[20:39] <~Dan> I was just about to ask if psionics exist in the setting.
[20:40] <+Ed> psionics do exist, at the moment we’ve kept the rules for using them fairly simple as far as players go
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[20:40] <~Dan> Are they distinct from Emissary powers?
[20:40] <+Ed> it was something we discussed a lot while putting the game together, but ultimately decided not to have them feature too heavily
[20:40] <+Ed> partly for that reason
[20:41] <+Ed> yes, as far as player use of psionics go, it’s more a case of telekinesis and telepathy only
[20:42] <+Ed> though one of the factions in the game specialises more in psionic powers and have mastered them to the point that some of their abilities can start to approach Emissary powers, but we wanted to avoid that for players at the moment to keep things distinct
[20:42] * ~Dan nods
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[20:42] <+Ed> it’s possible that we might expand on that in the future, along with supplements for playing non-Emissary characters
[20:43] <~Dan> Emissaries put me in mind of Marvel’s Nova Corps or DC’s Green Lantern Corps. How would you compare them to well-known superheroes in terms of pure power?
[20:45] <+Ed> Emissaries can be exceptionally powerful and robust, if they apply the powers available to them wisely, but they also lack staying power compared to more traditional superheroes
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[20:45] <~Dan> Would you compare them more to powerful wizards, then?
[20:45] <+Ed> as long as they can burn through their resources to keep using their powers, they can negate most forms of attack or deal out some serious punishment
[20:46] <+Ed> but ultimately they’re still mortal when they run out of juice
[20:46] <+Ed> albeit
[20:46] <+Ed> they could be heavily augmented mortals
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[20:46] <+Ed> with cybernetics, powers armour and railguns
[20:46] <+Ed> so there’s always that
[20:47] <+Ed> I think the superhero comparison might be more apt that wizards in a way, it’s just a case of them not being able to use their powers indefinitely
[20:47] * ~Dan nods
[20:48] <+Doctor> Pragmatic question: as it looks like I missed the KS, is there a timeline as to when might I be able to give you my money?
[20:48] <+Doctor> ^when I might
[20:49] <+Ed> Currently we’re aiming for a launch around the end of August, though it’s possible we might run into delays related to printing
[20:49] <+Ed> it’s also quite likely that the digital version may be available before then
[20:49] <+Ed> but we’ll be selling through drivethru when we’re ready
[20:50] <+Ed> at the moment we’re aiming to put out two updates a month on our Kickstarter page, just to keep people up to date and informed
[20:51] <~Dan> In what remains of our regularly scheduled time, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
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[20:51] <~Dan> (And you’re welcome to stay as long as you like, although I suspect that you’re barely staying awake at the moment. 🙂 )
[20:52] <+Doctor> thanks. The artwork on the KS is beautiful and it looks like a very interesting universe. Does the Third Golden Empire encompass the known galaxy or is there a frontier?
[20:52] <+Doctor> (doh)
[20:52] <~Dan> (No, you’re fine, Doc. 🙂 )
[20:52] <+Ed> We’re having some maps made at the moment, mostly for our scenarios, but one of them is a galaxy map showing all of the key planets and the borders of the various factions
[20:53] <+Doctor> Makes sense, thanks
[20:54] <+Ed> The Third Golden Empire itself encompasses the about half of the galaxy, but it can be subdivided up into groups with their own borders
[20:54] <+Ed> there is something of a frontier still
[20:54] <+Ed> as the wormhole network doesn’t appear to access the other half of the galaxy
[20:54] <+Ed> or at least nobody has found the right nodes yet
[20:55] <+Ed> there are a few scattered hints about what might be found there, but we’re keeping that mostly to ourselves for now
[20:56] <+Doctor> For some reason I got a very “Chinese western (Warriors of Heaven and Earth)” type vibe and I’ve always like the “Imperial Emissary on the Frontier” motif. Also, thanks for answering my unasked FTL quesion 🙂
[20:57] <+Ed> I think I had better collapse now, but its been fun so I’ll most likely stop by again in future
[20:57] <~Dan> Please do, Ed! You’re always welcome.
[20:57] <~Dan> A couple of quick notes:
[20:57] <~Dan> First, if you can hang on just a moment more, I’ll get the log posted and link you.
[20:57] <+Ed> Sure
[20:58] <~Dan> Second, if any of you have enjoyed the chat and are feeling generous, my tip jar is here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[20:58] <~Dan> One moment please, Ed…