[19:02] <+NathanRMaher> I’m Nathan Reese Maher, indie game designer and author of “Spooks! Welcome to the Great Beyond”, co-author of “Mortal Intrusion”. I’ve decided to embark on a journey to create “Blades & Ballet” …
[19:03] <+NathanRMaher> a tabletop RPG set at the birth of civilization, only recently having been made possible by training exceptional ballet-knights called the chevalieres from childhood to defeat the titantic monsters that feast on their race.
[19:04] <+NathanRMaher> Instead of being set at lower levels, characters are placed at the pinnacle of their power, where they must build relationships with their party members instead of gaining levels, where they must work together in the pas de deux (or trois or higher) to boost themselves to their limits
[19:05] <+NathanRMaher> in order to land powerful enough blows to fell monstrosities otherwise impenetrable.
[19:07] <+NathanRMaher> The players take the role of the chevalieres and beyond fighting nightmarish horrors, they are sent into the wilds to search for lost tribes, relics of legend, pantomines (magic) or even ancient technologies to help grow a stronger future for the finni (their species).
[19:07] <+NathanRMaher> (Done with introduction)
[19:07] <~Dan> Thanks, NathanRMaher! The floor is open to questions!
[19:08] <+AmyL> Does it start off in a French-esque kingdom? Psuedo-French?
[19:08] <+AmyL> Who and where trains the ballet-knights?
[19:11] <+NathanRMaher> Good question, but no. I want the world to be as far removed from European-style fantasy and instead focus on aspects less traveled. The present civilization is ruled by a matriarchal philosopher called the Aness, a position that has been handed down through the generations, to symbolize – and embody – the survival of their species.
[19:13] <+NathanRMaher> It was through the original Aness – Anessa – who was able to gather the splintered tribes together and unite them under a self-ruled federation. There are different bodies of rulership, but everything is still tribal in nature with each tribe presided over a sheif (she+cheif).
[19:14] <~Dan> What are the finni like?
[19:14] <+AmyL> What races can you play?
[19:14] <+NathanRMaher> The world itself is ruled by passions, fueled by the Glass which is a borderland between the real world and the realm of the gods. There are spirits who taught the finni how to utilize ballet, to train and eventually break through the Glass to harness the powers the gods themselves wield.
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[19:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
[19:16] <+NathanRMaher> Under the supervision of the Aness, children are taught ballet at the Royal Dance Academy, which is the only known one in existence.
[19:18] <+NathanRMaher> There are two races, the Finni (which is named after the females of the species) who are humanoid and have varying types of horns that jet from their heads (determined by tribe). Male finni are called finae and they shed their horns to adapt to their mates. Female finni do not shed their horns.
[19:20] <+NathanRMaher> As far as the other species, there is the Fauni who are also humanoid but have antlers. The fauni are outcasts to society and are nomadic in nature. They are often feared due to belief that they worship the Narghoulim who are the gigantic abominations that hunt the Finni.
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[19:21] <~Dan> What do the Narghoulim look like? How diverse are they?
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[19:22] <+NathanRMaher> The finni are separated into approximately 13 tribes, possibly more, each with their own unique traits (outside of their horns). Most finni live in small farming communities, but there are large cities that have been built. Finni have the advantage that they all may use pantomines which is magic that cannot harm finni or fauni but
[19:22] <+NathanRMaher> can make life easier for them – as well as build quickly.
[19:24] <~Dan> What sorts of things can it accomplish?
[19:25] <+NathanRMaher> The Narghoulim were once ancient creatures that roamed the Orabelle (the planet) well before the finni were created, they are as diverse as dinosaurs, with all different species and sub-species that exist. The Narghoulim died out long ago, but were later resurrected – by fell spirits.
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[19:25] <+AmyL> Bullets? What is the tech level of the setting?
[19:25] <&Doctor> Okay, I came in late, so maybe this was addressed, but I hear ballet-knights and there is something of a disconnect. The average gamer hears “ballet” and thinks Swan Lake, when he (the demographically appropriate but hardly the exclusive pronoun) hears “knight” he thinks plate mail…
[19:25] <+NathanRMaher> You got it Doctor! Both!
[19:25] <+Monochrome_Tide> These don’t seem contradictory
[19:26] <&Doctor> Ever tried ballet?
[19:26] <+Jezibel> Fencers?
[19:26] <&Doctor> it’s essence is lightness
[19:27] <&Doctor> Im not knocking it, it’s just two very divergent imagry sets and I am curious how they reconcile
[19:27] <+NathanRMaher> Dan – Pantomines are based off action verbs such as clean, lift, open, douse, ignite – and are mostly regarded as a tool.
[19:28] <+NathanRMaher> AmyL – the tech level is roughly early Mesopotamia with some enhancements due to their ability to use pantomines.
[19:28] <&Doctor> Pre-bronze?
[19:28] <+AmyL> So where do the bullets come in?
[19:29] <+AmyL> If I am a ballet-knight, I am imagining I can fire bullets from my wrists
[19:30] <+AmyL> A pirouetting ballet-knight delivering death to my enemies
[19:30] <+NathanRMaher> Doctor – I have trained professionally. What makes a ballet dancer “light” is muscle tone, strength and grace. It takes a lot of effort to make it appear that way. Normally, ballet dancers could not feasibly wear armor. However, in this game, after breaking through the Glass, a ballerina (and ballerina)’s physical powers are beyond measure which allows
[19:31] <+NathanRMaher> them to leap hundreds of feet into the air, weild gigantic weapons, and wear armor as if it were clothes.
[19:31] <+NathanRMaher> AmyL there are no bullets. Haha.
[19:31] <~Dan> Sounds almost anime-like.
[19:31] <&Doctor> That’s what I was looking for. And yes, It’s all about lift to mass
[19:31] <+NathanRMaher> But there are weapons such as a gigantic pirou-lance that acts like a giant drill with enough rotations.
[19:32] <+AmyL> Do you have any concept art we can view?
[19:34] <+NathanRMaher> The game concept is new so there isn’t any “professional” art pieces, lots of sketches and me playing around with paint. But sure: (Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B04f3zxXi7D8LTNPY0syeVk2Y2s)https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B04f3zxXi7D8LTNPY0syeVk2Y2s
[19:34] <+NathanRMaher> New as in, still in its infancy.
[19:35] <~Dan> That appears to be ballet photography, NathanRMaher.
[19:35] <+Abstruse> What’s the adventuring paradigm of the game?
[19:35] <+Abstruse> (By the way, I’m Darryl from ENWorld)
[19:35] <+NathanRMaher> Weird regarding the link. Try this one: (Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B04f3zxXi7D8alFUUTVDQ0d6RkE)https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B04f3zxXi7D8alFUUTVDQ0d6RkE
[19:36] <+NathanRMaher> Yup. That one works.
[19:36] <~Dan> Yeah, there we go.
[19:36] <~Dan> Wow. That IS a big weapon.
[19:36] <+NathanRMaher> The metallurgy is more advanced than the rest of civilization but that’s due to the nature of their means of survival.
[19:37] <+NathanRMaher> I’m glad you asked Abstruse and Hi!
[19:38] <+NathanRMaher> The game is designed so that you can take adventures anywhere, from involving in heavy politics, to mini-quests to build “sync” with NPCs, adventuring out into the wilds, exploring ruins, delving into dark caverns and even engaging with the savage aspects of the world. It’s not every game that you have to face a Narghoulim.
[19:39] <+NathanRMaher> What makes it shift, is that in order for the chevalieres to boost themselves up, they need to partner – in essence syphon – energies from others.
[19:40] <+Lin_Chong> So is this like. Ballet magical girls?
[19:40] <+NathanRMaher> When they face the Narghoulim they utilize the corps de ballet who willingly offer their energies to them, but once in a fight, the energies start to dwindle, so it’s very important that player characters work together and partner back and forth to ensure that at least one of them is powerful enough to land the final blow
[19:41] <&Silverlion> So are there guns at all?
[19:42] <+NathanRMaher> This game is a little dark, chevaleries are highly trained death machines, the trade off of their godly like powers is that they only have 35 ish years of life. After their 35th year, they are eventually burnt up. Think Dragon Age with the Grey Wardens.
[19:43] <~Dan> Wow, that IS dark.
[19:43] <+Lin_Chong> That’s pretty much what most athletes get, yeah. Or less.
[19:43] <+NathanRMaher> No guns Silverlion. Guns wouldn’t be powerful enough to deal the damage these ladies (and men) deal.
[19:44] <+NathanRMaher> We’re talking 3d100 x 400 points of damage in some cases.
[19:44] <~Dan> Do they use ranged weapons of any kind, or are they strictly melee fighters?
[19:45] <+NathanRMaher> There are ranged weapons in the game, some are useful if they aren’t supercharged, but when fighting the Narghoulim they need to utilize their Strength and power so bows are an option.
[19:45] <+NathanRMaher> Or anything that can be thrown.
[19:46] <&Doctor> Okay, got to jump in here… why all the zeros?
[19:46] <&Doctor> as a mechanics guy “3d100x400” makes me cringe
[19:48] <+NathanRMaher> The game runs off all dice (well non-science dice) where power levels can increase from 1d4 all the way up to 3d100. 3d100 is not your average roll, likely that roll is around 1d20. The multipliers come into play when the character makes use of their power.
[19:48] <&Doctor> so the jump is d20 to d100?
[19:49] <~Dan> You mentioned lost technology earlier… Where does that come from, and what is it like?
[19:49] <+NathanRMaher> Simply rolling 1d20 doesn’t consume a power level, but at 1d20 you have the option of increasing your damage by x20. If you use the x20 modifier, it drops you down to a 1d12 for all rolls afterwards until you can gain more power levels through partnering or drawing the right movement card.
[19:50] <+NathanRMaher> When you take damage, you may have it drain from your power level instead of your health. Health isn’t healed easily in this game.
[19:50] <&Doctor> no, I mean the progression is d4 d6 d8 d10 d12 d20 d100?
[19:50] <+NathanRMaher> That’s right!
[19:51] <&Doctor> a swing of 80 (10 times the previous swing) doesn’t strike you as mathematically questionable?
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[19:51] <+NathanRMaher> Ah! I see what you’re saying now.
[19:52] <+NathanRMaher> The progression runs as follows (starting from 1d4 – 1d20) then it steps 2d20, 3d20, 4d20, 1d100, 2d100, 3d100
[19:53] <+Lin_Chong> How often are you rolling the d100s?
[19:53] <+Lin_Chong> How often /can/ you roll them, I mean.
[19:54] <+NathanRMaher> Not very often and only when fighting the Narghoulim. Without the corp de ballet, most characters are playing off 1d20 and may reach 3d20 but it would take several rounds in normal combat
[19:54] <&Doctor> How have you dealt with issues of scaling?’
[19:55] <+NathanRMaher> What do you mean by issues of scaling Doctor?
[19:57] <+NathanRMaher> Do you mean like levels or challenges?
[19:58] <&Doctor> I mean that any fight which would be remotely interesting to characters rolling d8s is pretty much over the first time anyone drops an “x20” move or jacks up to 3d20. By “problems of scaling” I mean that the bottom end is _really_ far from the top, so much so that it looks like any mid-level combat would be a race to drop the epic power, then it’s over
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[19:59] <+NathanRMaher> That really depends on the challenge of the opponent.
[20:00] <+NathanRMaher> But lets say that the player decides to drop the x20 right in the middle of battle against a single opponent.
[20:01] <+NathanRMaher> Against a non-chevalière, such as like a guard or maybe the hate-mongering cultist boss, one would expect that individual to drop fairly quickly.
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[20:02] <+NathanRMaher> However, damage isn’t based on hit points, but based on health levels. For example, I have a health level of 1d10. You deal 20 points of damage that my armor couldn’t absorb, so my maximum roll is 1d10 which isn’t enough to meet 20 so it’ll drop 1 level.
[20:02] <~Dan> (Howdy, Frankto!)
[20:03] <&Doctor> my point is that either it’s a race to the x20 or the d8s are futile, you see what I am saying? If I can drop 400 damage in one attack, that means the bad guy is either toast or the d8s will take 10 years to drop him.
[20:04] <+NathanRMaher> So therefore the health level is now 1d8, possibly 1d6 (I’m still playing with that aspect). Now with the Narghoulim, they too have health levels and instead of dealing x20 damage, you can instead create x20 attacks to drop them further.
[20:04] <+NathanRMaher> I’m not following you regarding the d8s.
[20:06] <+NathanRMaher> The bad guys have different options like threshold (which is like a permanent damage absorber), armor, and their own power levels to reduce attacks from players. So dropping 400 damage may not be enough.
[20:06] <&Doctor> plink (8 damage) vs boom (400): either boom kills baddy or the plinks are pointless.
[20:07] <+NathanRMaher> Plinks are good against characters who aren’t chevalieres (or who have high power levels), but plinks are futile against Narghoulim.
[20:07] <+NathanRMaher> And Narghoulim take a lot of heavy hits, there is no 1 hit wonders in this game.
[20:08] <&Doctor> so what is the economy for booms?
[20:08] <~Dan> (Heh. Booming economy.)
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[20:08] <~Dan> (Howdy, Le_Squide!)
[20:08] <+NathanRMaher> I don’t understand the question Doctor.
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[20:08] <&Doctor> i.e. how do I get them? why not boom all day everyday?
[20:08] <~Dan> (Howdy, jeffszusz!)
[20:09] <&Doctor> what is the limiter
[20:10] <+NathanRMaher> I talked about that briefly earlier. Chevalieres rely on the energy provided to them by others through the use of a corps de ballet at the beginning of fighting a Narghoulim to boost them up. Without a corps de ballet, they can’t reach those high power levels. Even when they do, each action, each attack, each hit they sustain they lose power levels and
[20:11] <+NathanRMaher> only way to boost themselves back up is through partnering, but the partner has to have the right pas a deux cards to transfer the right energies, and it’s always at a sacrifice of his own power.
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[20:11] <~Dan> Did you see my lost technology question earlier, Nathan?
[20:11] <+willows> So let me get this straight – When you resolve an attack, you have a damage number and the target has a ‘health level’ which is a dice expression rolled against the damage number. If the target’s roll doesn’t at least equal the damage number, the health level is lost. Is that all correct?
[20:12] <+NathanRMaher> I did not Dan. What was the question?
[20:12] <~Dan> I think I saw you mention searches for lost technology. I just wanted to hear more about that.
[20:12] <+NathanRMaher> That’s right willows. Same formula works with armor.
[20:12] <~Dan> What it’s like and where it comes from.
[20:15] <+NathanRMaher> These people weren’t technologically advanced, but towns and villages did exist – at least for awhile – long enough for a couple generations before being wiped out. There are technologies such as new ways to fold metals, ways to increase crop rotations, medicines that were forgotten, and ways of harvesting resources or building stronger buildings. Not all
[20:15] <+NathanRMaher> are aimed at improving the character’s abilities, but can benefit society overall.
[20:15] <~Dan> Ah, okay. I was imagining ray guns and such. 😀
[20:16] <+NathanRMaher> I may be coming from an archeological standpoint when I say technologies – haha. It’s like what happened when Rome fell and everything was lost and had to be rediscovered.
[20:16] <~Dan> Right, gotcha.
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[20:17] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet we can see?
[20:18] <+NathanRMaher> I have an ugly character sheet you can see. It’s still under revision and was thrown together so I have an idea of what I want to add, and what I want to subtract. My goal isn’t to have a multi-page character sheet like this one.
[20:18] <+NathanRMaher> (Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B04f3zxXi7D8QVBfR29hbWdkYlk/view?usp=sharing)https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B04f3zxXi7D8QVBfR29hbWdkYlk/view?usp=sharing
[20:18] <~Dan> Well, that should help us discuss the system.
[20:19] <~Dan> Hmm… I don’t see any attributes. Is this a purely skill-based system?
[20:24] <+NathanRMaher> There won’t be any attributes as its centered around the Power Level system which focuses on the physical attributes of the character. The professions each have a lump set of skills that come with them and they each have their own proficiency levels. Charisma based rolls are influenced by someone’s traits and their sync rolls.
[20:24] <+NathanRMaher> Sync duals as a relationship meter as well as a character’s “level”.
[20:25] <~Dan> So the power level is a holistic physical stat?
[20:26] <+NathanRMaher> The higher the relationship with a player character, the higher bonus you gain on rolls while fighting next to them.
[20:26] <+NathanRMaher> Yes, very much so. There is a way to determine one’s ability to carry items, lift, push and pull based on a character’s power level.
[20:27] <~Dan> What about agility?
[20:27] <+NathanRMaher> That as well. If you wish to dodge an attack, power level is what helps you do it.
[20:28] <+NathanRMaher> For non-chevalière characters, traits can help round out someone who is agile but otherwise physically weak.
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[20:30] <~Dan> What is the core mechanic?
[20:32] <+NathanRMaher> It depends what you’re doing honestly, your physical, skill and diplomatic options vary between die rolls. In most instances it’s Power Level (physical, skill or otherwise) die roll + bonuses + Sync.
[20:33] <+NathanRMaher> If you have 1d10 for your profession as a carpenter, and you’re trying to determine if a bridge can hold your weight, you roll 1d10 check for bonuses and if you’re nearby a fellow comrade who you share a 1d8 sync with it’s 1d10 + 1d8
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[20:34] <~Dan> So professions serve as holistic skills?
[20:34] <~Dan> (wb, Doctor)
[20:35] <+NathanRMaher> Correct, each profession has a list of skills beneath it, all of which were crucial for the job the character learned. Further, the chevaleire is also a profession, so additional skills are beneath that. Skills do take awhile to improve over the course of the game. But players are able to take up additional professions if they have time.
[20:36] <+NathanRMaher> There will be “hobbies” the character can take up, or specializations that she can take in order to have a skill that she excels at outside the rest.
[20:37] <~Dan> Are there combat professions, or is all that handled by power levels?
[20:37] <+NathanRMaher> That’s not on the character sheet, and frankly not written out.
[20:39] <+NathanRMaher> There are combat professions, and furthermore there are weapon proficiencies that can be learned separate of the profession. It’s only been recently that tribes are switching from being nomadic to living in cities, so there are still several professions that focus on combat.
[20:40] <~Dan> So how to skills interact with power level?
[20:40] <+NathanRMaher> Some tribes encourage combat-readiness in all their members, just in case the whole “society-thing” doesn’t pan out.
[20:42] <+NathanRMaher> They are separate from one another but utilize the same die progression. Children learning their mother’s trade will start off at 1d4 and increase the more time they apprentice. This skill die doesn’t ever drop (unless the character has amnesia or something). If the character sustains injury, she won’t suffer a penalty at all to her 1d10 in a profession wh
[20:42] <+NathanRMaher> when her power level has dropped to 1d6 or gain a bonus when a chevalière boosts up to 1d100.
[20:43] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[20:46] <+NathanRMaher> Combat is based off a weapon proficiency roll, then one made against a defense roll. Damage is rolled by the weapon after a successful hit, then power level is rolled to “shrug off” the damage. Armor is then rolled to reduce the damage and then whatever remains is assigned against Health.
[20:47] <+NathanRMaher> There is also movement cards that are used. Player draw 5 cards and can either hold some back or use the bonus right away.
[20:47] <~Dan> You like your cards, don’t you. 🙂
[20:47] <+NathanRMaher> I do.
[20:47] <+NathanRMaher> 😀
[20:48] <+NathanRMaher> I was actually trying to get away from it, but I saw them as the best way to depict the ballet element.
[20:48] <~Dan> What’s the significance of the musical skills?
[20:49] <+NathanRMaher> I was wondering if you were going to ask about that. I’m still developing it, but everyone is born with Voice. Voice measures an individual’s ability to evoke emotion with song. The higher the voice, the more powerful the effect.
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[20:50] <+NathanRMaher> Chants can boost morale, or improve attacks, some melodies can create attacks, or paralyze foes.
[20:50] <~Dan> So everyone is effectively a bard?
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[20:51] <+NathanRMaher> Eh… very few reach the level that is necessary to have any major effect. I do know the husband of the Aness is chosen based upon his ability to master all three disiplines (pantomines, music and ballet) with emphasis on his Voice.
[20:52] <+NathanRMaher> It is said that, with the proper chorus, he can destroy armies.
[20:53] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[20:53] <+NathanRMaher> Players can roll for Voice. It’s something you’re born with and can be improved by some training.
[20:55] <+NathanRMaher> The game is still in development and could very well take a year to complete. There will be heavy emphasis in diversity, genders (as it will include a 3rd gender) and body shapes. My goal is to hire female only artists. While this game seems very female oriented, the society is still very equal and I hope to bring ballet awareness and appreciation to those
[20:56] <+NathanRMaher> who look at it. The cards will dual as job aids for teachers and students to assist with learning ballet terms. Make no mistake, you don’t need any ballet knowledge to play the game.
[20:57] <+NathanRMaher> If you’re interested in following it’s progress, I plan on mass promoting it at conventions and reaching out to major ballet names and companies for feedback.
[20:57] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:57] <+NathanRMaher> Not to mention gamers such as yourselves to help move it along. It’ll be extremely affordable.
[20:58] <+NathanRMaher> That’s all I got for now.
[20:58] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, NathanRMaher!
[20:58] <~Dan> As a reminder to my readers, my tip jar is here, if you’re so inclined: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[20:58] <+NathanRMaher> Thanks for having me. I’ll check in periodically to let you know how it’s progressing.
[20:58] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you, NathanRMaher.