[19:04] <+Rebecca> So, Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca VanAcker. I work with Universal Horizons tabletop RPG. I’m an artist and writer. You can check out my website here – (Link: http://www.rebeccavanacker.com)http://www.rebeccavanacker.com
[19:04] <+Rebecca> The writers of Universal Horizons came to me roughly three years ago and asked if I’d do some illustrations and stories for their game. Of course I had to play it first…and quickly became addicted to it.
[19:05] <+Rebecca> Universal Horizons is a fluid genre-shifting tabletop RPG. Written by A. John Schmidt and Dr. John Teske. Illustrated by several people – including me. 🙂 We are currently Kickstarting a Universal Horizons (UH) genre called “Bloodtooth,” which is a retro-gothic alternate reality 1980’s Earth, where vampires, werewolves, and magic exist.
[19:05] <+Rebecca> I’ve written three novels set in this genre. The novels are titled “Wolf’s Heart,” “Wolf’s Heart 2: Fenfang,” and “Wolf’s Heart 3: Leyenda.” I’ve also written three UH game modules which are set in the world of the novel (Bloodtooth genre) – meet some of the characters from the novel, walk in their footsteps, solve problems they could not or were not aware of
[19:05] <+Rebecca> Here’s the Kickstarter link: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/228651704/bloodtooth-a-gothic-fantasy-to-read-and-role-play)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/228651704/bloodtooth-a-gothic-fantasy-to-read-and-role-play The pledges/rewards are broken up into a variety of packages. You could for instance just get artwork, or a just T-shirt, or just the novels, or just the games – or EVERYTHING. 🙂 (do it)
[19:05] <+Rebecca> We were just at Gencon and had a lot of interest in the game. Not so sure the Kickstarter will go through at this point (ends tomorrow…), but we’ll try smaller campaigns. It’s a learning process.
[19:05] <+Rebecca> This is the first tabletop RPG game I’ve ever played. I don’t know other systems all that well… But I’ll do my best to answer your questions. I’ve been the DM (we call it “Guide”) for my own modules and for modules AJ Schmidt has written, so I know a bit about how UH works.
[19:05] <+Rebecca> Done.
[19:06] <~Dan> Thanks, Rebecca!
[19:06] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:06] <+Rebecca> Thanks Dan.
[19:06] <~Dan> So what can you tell us about the premise of the setting?
[19:07] <+Rebecca> For the Bloodtooth genre, its an 80’s conspiracy theory. There are a couple of cool things about the 80’s – like very limited cell phone availability and no internet.
[19:08] <~Dan> And mirror shades!
[19:08] <+Rebecca> And SheRah.
[19:08] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:09] <+Rebecca> The novels start out in L.A., where there is a large vampire house, called a “Vrachi.”
[19:09] <+Rebecca> The vampires stay underground for the most part. They have rules about randomly killing humans.
[19:09] * +Geek2theRight whispers “For the honor of Greyskull.”
[19:10] <+Rebecca> off topic slightly – did you see that Robot Chicken episode with SheRah? so good.
[19:11] <+Rebecca> There are werewolves too, who tend to form packs, but they’re not nearly as organized as the vampires.
[19:12] <~Dan> What are vampires and werewolves like in your setting?
[19:13] <+Rebecca> Vampires are extremely strong, but cannot tolerate sunlight (UV) or faith/blessed places/items.
[19:14] <+Rebecca> Werewolves go through a scary and dangerous transition during which they can’t control their transformations. It is possible to be bitten and allow yourself to become a werewolf in the game.
[19:15] <+Rebecca> But you basically have to eat like 5 sessions of play before you can advance again, due to the transition period. Otherwise, it’s assumed you will attack your teammates.
[19:15] <+Rebecca> Werewolves can get size and strength bonuses, as well as a few other powers, like regeneration.
[19:16] * ~Dan nods
[19:17] <+Rebecca> Vampires can “evolve” by choosing an animal shape (typically the creature that scared them the most when they were human). The novels feature an evil character (among other characters) who transforms into a large spider. She’s very good at hiding.
[19:18] <+Rebecca> Since it’s an alternate reality Earth, it’s fun to play around with history. For instance, Cortez was a vampire, who actually failed to conquer the Aztecs. Mexico is now a world superpower.
[19:19] <~Dan> What other supernatural elements are there other than vampires and werewolves?
[19:19] <~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
[19:19] <+Rebecca> Good question -thank you! The genre offers several magical skill areas.
[19:20] <&Silverlion> (Allo Dan)
[19:20] <+Rebecca> We have Wicca, Herbalism, Alchemy, and Theology, for example.
[19:21] <+Rebecca> There are witches and warlocks. One of the downsides of being a vampire is actually that they can’t easily learn magic. Humans are the best with magic.
[19:22] <~Dan> How “flashy” is magic in this world?
[19:22] <+Rebecca> Shamanism, Voodoo (there are some Voodoo Bloodtooth mods)
[19:22] <+Rebecca> Magic is not flashy.
[19:22] <+Rebecca> The game creators are very interested in/careful about not overpowering magic.
[19:23] <+Rebecca> Powerful magic here is like Foretelling, and dominating people. Working with stones to identify materials. Curing Lycanthropy is an extremely high level spell.
[19:24] <~Dan> Mostly ritualistic, then?
[19:24] <+Rebecca> The magic system involves using components, which must be located and/or purchased.
[19:25] <+Rebecca> Yes, though the spells are described with casting time. Some are instant. Some require a round of play. Some require a ritual, etc.
[19:26] <+Rebecca> We also have range and target size and type limitations. here’s a link to some spell block examples. (Link: http://www.rebeccavanacker.com/uhspellblock.html)http://www.rebeccavanacker.com/uhspellblock.html
[19:26] <+Rebecca> So as you advance your skills, those limitations become less.
[19:27] <~Dan> Is the supernatural commonly known or hidden in this setting?
[19:28] <+Rebecca> Spells also cost you Soul resource. Basically your character resources are broken into Mind, Body, Soul, and Wealth. Casting spells causes you Soul damage.
[19:28] <+Rebecca> The supernatural is hidden from most people.
[19:29] <~Dan> Are there any other sorts of monsters in the world?
[19:30] <+Rebecca> Ghosts comes to mind. We have zombies.
[19:30] <+Rebecca> magically enhances animals
[19:30] <+Rebecca> enhanced
[19:31] <+Rebecca> Ghosts are very tough because they are ethereal. You have to be able to attack their Soul, or you can’t kill them. That means blessed weapons… not that easy to get.
[19:31] <+Rebecca> Dominated animals.
[19:32] <~Dan> Is there inherent animosity between vampires and werewolves?
[19:33] <+Rebecca> Yes. Vampires disdain werewolves. They have an ancient rivalry. Generally vampires are more powerful, so if a vampire house occupies an area, they keep it clear of werewolves. The first module in the series I wrote, Save the Soul, is set in a neighborhood where a vampire house has fallen a werewolf gangs have recently moved in.
[19:34] <+Rebecca> One of the main characters in the novels is an ancient werewolf named Eyana, who was born for the precise purpose of taking out vampires. At that time, vampire populations had gotten out of hand.
[19:36] <+Rebecca> Eyana has a sun stare attack that paralyzes vampires by doing Soul damage. Vampires have high Body resources, but not very good Soul resources.
[19:36] <~Dan> How common are exotic powers like that among werewolves?
[19:37] <+Rebecca> Not common. Her tribe basically prayed to a deity and performed a ritual sacrifice to get her born among them.
[19:38] <+Rebecca> But there are werewolves who have pledged themselves to certain faiths. In the second novel, you meet the Tewas – a group of holy werewolves aligned with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
[19:38] <~Dan> Huh. That’s interesting.
[19:39] <+Rebecca> 🙂
[19:39] <~Dan> Speaking of gods, does the setting have any explicit cosmology?
[19:40] <+Rebecca> Think of how it is here now. It’s like that, but perhaps with more nature gods and minor gods.
[19:41] <~Dan> Any angels or demons?
[19:41] <+Rebecca> It’s not the particular faith one has that matters – it is the presence and fervor for that faith.
[19:42] <+Rebecca> Not yet – not really. Only legends. We’re toying with some Nephilim things. One of the main characters in the book, Kire, is associated with the Angel Micheal, but only in myth, not in reality.
[19:44] <+Rebecca> Some very powerful vampires may claim to be gods… 🙂
[19:44] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:45] <~Dan> What keeps vampires and werewolves in check?
[19:46] <+Rebecca> Vampires have realized that every time they are exposed, a war goes down. They don’t like wars because usually a few of the main players get killed, or lose their power, and they don’t want to risk it. That, and lots of human cattle die.
[19:46] <+Rebecca> Werewolves are very pack oriented. If they get out of hand, vampires are happy to get rid of them.
[19:48] <~Dan> (wb, Monochrome_Tide)
[19:48] <+Rebecca> There have also been vampire purges – for instance when Eyana first appeared. Her pack took down a lot of vampires.
[19:48] <+Rebecca> The vampires do have clandestine wars among themselves also.
[19:50] <~Dan> So let’s pivot to the system… First, do you happen to have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:51] <+Rebecca> Yes! here’s a link. (Link: http://www.rebeccavanacker.com/uhcharactersheet.html)http://www.rebeccavanacker.com/uhcharactersheet.html
[19:51] <+Rebecca> I chose the Nerd pregen character.
[19:52] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[19:52] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:52] <+Rebecca> So basically, we have a book called Bloodtooth Vocations with a lot of pre-generated characters. But you can roll up a new character if you want to.
[19:53] <+Rebecca> I rolled up my first character.
[19:53] <~Dan> Is Bloodtooth self-contained, or is there a Universal Horizons core rulebook that’s required?
[19:53] <+Rebecca> There is a Player’s Handbook, which covers the basic rules for all genres.
[19:54] <+Rebecca> Non-Bloodtooth genres will have their own and different spells and exclusive skills.
[19:55] <+Rebecca> If you have time/want to watch a movie made by an amateur (me), here’s a link to an explanation on how the game works. (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z54mp3mje9g)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z54mp3mje9g
[19:56] <~Dan> What is the game’s core mechanic?
[19:57] <+Rebecca> Not exactly sure what you mean by that – we roll percentile dice. The number next to the skill is how good you are at it. You then roll percentile and add what you get to the skill.
[19:57] <~Dan> Hmm….
[19:58] <~Dan> (Looking back over the character sheet here.)
[19:59] <~Dan> To clarify what I mean, I’m referring to the mechanic used for basic task resolution.
[19:59] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[19:59] <+Rebecca> So, say you have a situation where you need to hotwire a car. You need electronics. But it’s not easy. Your target is 100. Your skill level is only 30, so now you need a 70 or higher to be successful.
[20:00] <~Dan> Ah… so it’s a roll-and-add system rather than a roll-under percentile system.
[20:00] <+Rebecca> Generally, a combat Target Number (TN) is 100, while a non-combat TN is 50. But the module may alter the TN’s based on how hard the Guide wants things to be.
[20:01] <+Rebecca> Yes. The game writers wanted it to be as simple as possible. They tried to stick with addition whenever they could. 🙂
[20:01] <~Dan> Why the big difference between combat and non-combat target numbers?
[20:01] <+Rebecca> Because your character is stressed/under attack.
[20:02] <~Dan> Fair point.
[20:02] <+Rebecca> So you might try to first aid someone during battle. It’s TN100. When all of the enemies are gone, however, it’s TN50
[20:04] <~Dan> What is the relationship between attributes and skills?
[20:05] <+Rebecca> Okay, so you have the character resources – Mind, Body, Soul, and Wealth. These can be attacked/damaged. They also determine how high a particular skill level you can achieve. The handbook lists all of the skills and each is associate with a particular resource.
[20:06] <+Rebecca> So if you are trying to get Foretelling at 50, your Soul must first be 100, because you can’t get a soul-based skill higher than half of the Soul resource.
[20:06] <+Rebecca> However, you can raise your Resources in the exact same manner as you raise any other skill.
[20:07] <+Rebecca> You raise your skills using what we call “HoPs” (heroic opportunity points) – experience points – which are earned during each session.
[20:08] <+Rebecca> Also, when you attack with a melee weapon, you add 10% of your strength to the attack. Strength is part of Body.
[20:09] <~Dan> What about ranged combat?
[20:10] <+Rebecca> How to raise skills: when raising from 0 to 19, it costs one HoP per 1 point raised. When raising from 20-29, it costs two HoPs per 1 point raised. 30-39 = 3 HoPs per point, etc.
[20:10] <+Rebecca> Ranged combat: I love ranged combat. My character is into handguns.
[20:10] <+Rebecca> You don’t get to add anything to that… But if you throw something, you do add your strength modifier
[20:11] <~Dan> Can you walk us through the process of combat?
[20:11] <+Rebecca> Sure!
[20:12] <+Rebecca> So, an encounter is about to happen. The Guide calls for the party to roll Perception checks – do you notice your enemy?
[20:13] <+Rebecca> Perception is the P/I number under each resource. You always use your highest P/I, roll, and add what you rolled to it.
[20:13] <+Rebecca> Now say you noticed some muggers about 10 spaces away. That’s 20 meters in this system.
[20:14] <+Rebecca> They are attacking. The Guide says to Roll Rally.
[20:14] <+Rebecca> Everyone rolls percentile dice and adds the RM number on the right side of the sheet (near wealth).
[20:15] <+Rebecca> The Guide rolls for the bad guys.
[20:15] <+Rebecca> Whoever has highest Rally goes first.
[20:15] <~Dan> What does RM mean?
[20:15] <+Rebecca> Rally Modifier. You take all of your P/I scores, add together, and divide by ten.
[20:15] <+Rebecca> So if you invest a lot into your core resources, your RM goes up.
[20:16] <+Rebecca> Mine’s at 23 now. 🙂
[20:17] <+Rebecca> Note that you may be, or you may have someone in your party who is very good at persuading people with their skillset – notably Deception, Presentation, and Ettiquette. They may be able to talk their way out of this fight, or bribe the opponent with Profiteering. But that person must attempt this “attack” on their turn.
[20:18] <+Rebecca> The party can discuss out of game and decide on a plan of action – they may defer or hold their turn until the turn of the person they want to go first.
[20:19] <+Rebecca> But say that fails, or the group just wants to fight. Now people use their turns to attack or get positions for support or hiding.
[20:21] <+Rebecca> So, I have Combat One-Handed Projectile (COHPJ) at 40. This is where facing and position becomes critical. A front shot – where your opponent is facing you – is TN100. A flank shot is TN75, and a back shot is TN50. We move around in battle a lot.
[20:22] <+Rebecca> But say the enemy is too far away to move around for better position. On my round, I can ask for information (perception or other skill roll to find anything you can think of – like a way out, or other hidden muggers, etc.). I can then move twice. A move is six spaces. So I can move 12 if I want to . I can also move once, then attack.
[20:23] <+Rebecca> So I can move 6, then fire.
[20:23] <+Rebecca> I start moving around to the side and shoot three times. I get three shots because the skill is at 40. For ranged weapons, its one shot from 1-19, two shots at 20, three shots at 40, and four shots at 60.
[20:24] <+Rebecca> It’s still a front shot, so it’s
[20:24] <+Rebecca> TN100
[20:24] <+Rebecca> I have to roll 60 or higher. I roll three times. 23, 70, 50. Miss, Hit, Miss.
[20:24] <+Rebecca> Now I roll for damage. Normal handgun damage is 3d6.
[20:24] <+Rebecca> That’s the end of my turn. Attacking is always the end of the turn.
[20:26] <~Dan> Can a combatant actively defend?
[20:27] <+Rebecca> Yes. You can call for Full Defense or Partial Defense, but that is your turn. Full defense means every side of you counts as a front shot. You have no back or side.
[20:27] <+Rebecca> Partial Defense adds what we call a “shift” to each face. Therefore, a back shot is now TN75, side is now TN100, and front is now TN125.
[20:28] <+Rebecca> You can also retreat six from any one opponent, but that is your turn. You can’t do anything else (except call for information).
[20:29] <+Rebecca> Talking is always free, by the way.
[20:30] <+Rebecca> So you can be taunting or planning, etc. The game writers want to facilitate role-playing as much as possible.
[20:30] <~Dan> Of course it is.
[20:30] <~Dan> Talk is cheap!
[20:30] <+Rebecca> and useful.
[20:31] <~Dan> Do you have rules for armor?
[20:31] <+Rebecca> yes. armor in Bloodtooth is not very common though.
[20:32] <+Rebecca> We played a fantasy genre where some armor rules were better resolved.
[20:32] <~Dan> How does armor work in the system?
[20:32] <+Rebecca> It’s the 80’s in bloodtooth. You can’t really get Kevlar vests. You get ceramic vests. The most I’ve seen is a DR5.
[20:32] <+Rebecca> Werewolves and vampires can have increased DR.
[20:33] <+Rebecca> in the fantasy genre, some armor causes slow movement.
[20:33] <+Rebecca> I’m not a big expert on armor…
[20:33] <~Dan> Well, to be more specific, does it reduce damage?
[20:35] <+Rebecca> Yes. Damage Reduction. For each physical hit you take, you subtract whatever your armor DR is. In the Araqunidia genre, we had flack jackets at DR5.
[20:35] <+Rebecca> Then the Guide sprayed us with acid vomit from a giant spider. Flack Jackets sundered.
[20:36] <+Rebecca> Physical armor generally does not protect from spell damage.
[20:38] <~Dan> What is Araqunidia?
[20:38] <+Rebecca> Araqunidia is a high tech offworld genre created by A.J. Schmidt – game designer.
[20:39] <+Rebecca> A planet inhabited by humans has been invaded by giant alien spiders.
[20:39] <~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
[20:39] <+Rebecca> It’s very intricate.
[20:40] <+Rebecca> Magic is rare in Araqunidia, but very powerful.
[20:40] <+Rebecca> You can also access high tech weapons and machines.
[20:40] * ~Dan nods
[20:40] <~Dan> Sounds cool. 🙂
[20:41] <+Rebecca> It’s fun. It can be hard to find things though.
[20:42] <+Rebecca> The first module in that genre is called Bug Hunt. It’s pretty much complete – printed, available. We’ve run that one a lot.
[20:42] <~Dan> So if I can play Devil’s advocate for a moment, why do you think someone would choose Bloodtooth over, say, the World of Darkness games.
[20:43] <+Rebecca> I’m not familiar with World of Darkness… sorry. I can only say that the core rules and system make this game very fun to play.
[20:44] <~Dan> That’s okay. World of Darkness is a setting with (among other things) modern-day werewolves and vampires.
[20:44] <+Rebecca> We are also trying to push storylines a lot with Bloodtooth. Read the novels – get to know the setting and the characters – then play in that world.
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:45] <+Rebecca> We have several Bloodtooth writers and we’re always collaborating for consistency and ideas.
[20:46] <~Dan> That’s important.
[20:46] <~Dan> Does the game have a bestiary, and if so, how extensive?
[20:47] <+Rebecca> It sounds like a werewolf-vampire genre, and it is, but pretty much anything can happen in Bloodtooth. For instance, in Quest for the Spirit Sever Dao, you end up in an alternate dimension created by a 15-year-old boy who is trying to stay alive (he’s an alien and needs your help). You wander through an 80’s era arcade game.
[20:47] <~Dan> Huh. That’s pretty off the wall. 🙂
[20:47] <+Rebecca> Not yet. Each module kind of describes its monsters.
[20:48] <+Rebecca> thanks!@
[20:48] * ~Dan nods
[20:49] <~Dan> So in the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[20:50] <+Rebecca> thinking..
[20:50] <+Rebecca> The fluid genre-shifting thing is important. I’ve taken my character into four different genres and it’s worked splendidly.
[20:50] <+Rebecca> Even in an anamorph campaign.
[20:51] <+Rebecca> If you look at the skills on the Character sheet, you will see a little u, a, or x next to the skill. If it’s “u,” that means the skill is universal and you can use it anywhere.
[20:52] <+Rebecca> If it’s an “a,” that means the skill is adaptable and can be adapted with a little effort to the new genre.
[20:52] <+Rebecca> If it’s an “x,” that means you can’t use the skill beyond the genre listed. On this sheet, we have x, BT, which means exclusive to Bloodtooth.
[20:54] <+Rebecca> Also, if you want to know a little bit more about the novels and that plot, you can watch my video here: (Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq0U7PSmDA8)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wq0U7PSmDA8
[20:54] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:54] <+Rebecca> Thanks Dan!
[20:55] <~Dan> Thank you for joining us this evening!
[20:55] <+Rebecca> Also – Kickstarter! support us if you’re interested. Or if you want to wait, we’ll probably have a smaller Kickstarter a bit later. (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/228651704/bloodtooth-a-gothic-fantasy-to-read-and-role-play)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/228651704/bloodtooth-a-gothic-fantasy-to-read-and-role-play
[20:56] <+Rebecca> Thank you. It was fun. 🙂
[20:56] <~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/ 🙂
[20:56] <~Dan> I’m glad you enjoyed it!
[20:56] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the chat logged and give you the link.
[20:56] <+Rebecca> awesome.