[20:25] <+Derek_Chappell> Hello everyone! I’m Derek Chappell, I publish under the name “Newstand Press” on DriveThruRPG, and I’m here to talk about my game of comedic adventurer incompetence, Clerical Error!
[20:28] <+Derek_Chappell> It’s a D&D 3.5 inspired light game which strips the d20 system to bare bones and adds a social elements overtop; each player plays a Cleric, and also the god of another player at the table
[20:28] <+Derek_Chappell> (done)
[20:29] <~Dan> Thanks, Derek_Chappell! The floor is open to questions!
[20:29] <~Dan> So how does the game play if everyone is a cleric?
[20:30] <+Derek_Chappell> Well, it’s D&D at the most basic. Go into a dungeon, kill the monsters, loot the bodies. The joke is that Clerics are unbelievably overpowered; an exaggeration of the way they actually were in D&D 3.5. The clerics are also a bit more customizable than vanilla D&D, under the premise that rogues, fighters, wizards, etc all abandoned their underpowered classes and took up Clericing.
[20:31] <+Derek_Chappell> and pretty much any problem you could possibly want to solve can be solved with a Divine spell… but to do that, you have to talk to your god, and your gods are all awful. 😀
[20:31] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:32] <+Derek_Chappell> the player playing your god is mechanically incentivised to, basically, make you grovel and beg and put you in cosmic debt for your spells. They make up and enforce arbitrary rules they want you to break so you have to pray your way back into good graces. You as a cleric want to succeed at dungeoncrawling and level up… as a god, all you want is to blackmail your cleric into devotion.
[20:33] <+Derek_Chappell> Of course, if a player is being particularly awful as a god, then another player at the table playing their diety might be pretty mean to their cleric!
[20:35] <+Derek_Chappell> (done?)
[20:35] <~Dan> Can you describe the core mechanic?
[20:36] <+Derek_Chappell> Sure! The basic elements of interacting with the game are all basic d20 stuff, you know it all. I didn’t really change that much, save that Skills don’t exist because the game is very narrow in scope.
[20:36] <+Derek_Chappell> But the real meat of the game, and where the funny comes from, is talking to your God
[20:37] <~Dan> Do skills not exist because everyone just prays to accomplish everything?
[20:38] <+Derek_Chappell> Partially, and also because most of the stuff that skills are for don’t really matter too much. Some of it is papered over with the pseudo-equipment mechanic, like if you want to be stealthy.
[20:38] <+Derek_Chappell> but generally the GM just adjusts the average DC down a bit and you only use your ability modifier.
[20:38] <+Derek_Chappell> when you set up your character, somebody else gets to make your God. The only influence you have over that process is setting your alignment, because they need to be within a step of it, just like D&D 3.5
[20:39] <+Derek_Chappell> Your God’s profile is three Commandments you aren’t supposed to break, which the players set completely arbitrarily within a few guidelines.
[20:39] <+Derek_Chappell> Test games have had stuff like “Never Run” or “Don’t speak with words with more than two syllables”, or “Don’t open doors.”
[20:40] <~Dan> 😀
[20:40] <+Derek_Chappell> When you break those rules, you build up cosmic Debt. When you go to talk to your God to beg them for a spell, the God can call in the debt, which you generally need to pay off by giving them Victory Points. As you want the god you are playing to win, not the god of your cleric, that’s not great!
[20:41] <~Dan> There’s a winning condition?
[20:41] <+Derek_Chappell> Yes. It’s a semicompetetive roleplaying game, like many of my smaller games.
[20:42] <+Derek_Chappell> I find having a mechanical win condition adds the kind of perverse incentivies that lead to redicious, hilarious behavior.
[20:43] <+Derek_Chappell> In this case, Clerics level at an out of control pace; once every main room of the dungeon, basically, /providing they are still alive/ when the room is cleared. Death is extremely cheap because ressurection spells are commonplace, but if you die in a room, you don’t level up when it’s cleared.
[20:43] <+Derek_Chappell> The first Cleric to reach level 20 achieves godhood and “wins” the cleric side. At that point, whichever Diety has got the most Devotion “wins” the deity side
[20:44] <+Derek_Chappell> actual winning and losing doesn’t matter too much, of course, but having the goal there to drive bad behavoir is the idea
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:44] <~Dan> Are spells distinct from prayers in this game?
[20:44] <+Derek_Chappell> Clerics are constantly sabotaging each other hoping to be the lone survivor of a room, and gods are constantly sabotaging clerics at the worst possible times. Of course, if you are too predatory in either case, there might be a party wipe, and nobody wins.
[20:45] <+Derek_Chappell> Not really. Divine Spells are attached to your alignment, so everyone has two lists of 6 spells avaliable (i had to tweak the chart a little; there’s a distinction between “neutral” and “true”)
[20:45] <~Dan> (Howdy, Crazy-Cabal)
[20:46] <+Derek_Chappell> you don’t need to prepare spells or anything like that; instead, any time you want to cast any of them, you have to talk to your god, exposing yourself to their machinations.
[20:46] <+Derek_Chappell> “Please, Great One, grant me the spell “Polite Knock” so I can open this door.” “What have you done for me lately?”
[20:48] <~Dan> How much of a bestiary do you have?
[20:49] <+Derek_Chappell> Right now, nothing! The system is, if you squint, compatiable with D&D 3.5, so I figured rather than trying to lay out a pathetically small number of monsters, I pretty much directed people to their monster manuals and GM handbooks for traps and monsters. I figured they were going to do that /anyway/ given how I wrote the book, so I made it the official recommendation.
[20:50] <+Derek_Chappell> I plan on writing a Critter Compendium at some point with monsters specialized for humourous effect, but, well, the monsters are kind of the straight men to the antics of the party for the most part.
[20:50] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:50] <+Derek_Chappell> So the best solution is to use the techniques one would use to make an interesting D&D dungeon, and then let the party implode tackling it once placed under some small restrictions.
[20:52] <~Dan> How long does a typical game take?
[20:54] <+Derek_Chappell> Ideally, a game lasts about as long as a regular D&D session. If you’re powering through, you can “finish” a game in 3 hours. But by the nature of it, though, you tend to get sidetracked into silly things and lose a lot of time to joking around… which is perfect, given the intent. About half the playtesting games ended with players nowhere near their goals, but having had a great time.
[20:55] <+Derek_Chappell> This isn’t a game to play with the guy at your table who is always complaining about not advancing the story. This is the game to play with the guy who can find a relevant Monty Python quote for any tabletop situation.
[20:55] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:57] <~Dan> You mentioned other classes having become clerics?
[20:57] <+Derek_Chappell> Yeah, it’s kind of a background conceit. “It is the 3.5th Age” and all. The adventurers in-fiction realized how overpowered clerics are and all rushed to convert.
[20:58] <~Dan> But is there any mechanical advantage to being a former (whatever)?
[20:58] <+Derek_Chappell> A lot of the specialty features you can start with are obviously elements of other classes; a fighter’s oversized weapons or a rogue’s stealthy cloak
[20:58] <+Derek_Chappell> but it’s not really focused on that much, so much as it’s a good starting point for jokey backstories.
[20:59] <+Derek_Chappell> There are also optional rules at the back of the book for playing other classes, but they are all as deliberately underpowered as the Cleric is overpowered. Like an exaggeration of the power dynamics of 3.5, the Fighter is almost useless while the Cleric can solo entire encounters.
[21:00] <~Dan> Wouldn’t having someone play a non-cleric ruin the dynamic of the game?
[21:02] <+Derek_Chappell> That player would still be controlling somebody’s god, but yes, it would trip things up a bit. Hence why I tucked it away at the back of the book.
[21:03] <+Derek_Chappell> if you have somebody in good enough humour, though, the contrast can be entertaining.
[21:04] <~Dan> I can see that.
[21:05] <~Dan> Hmm… I fear that I’m running out of questions. Is there some aspect of the game we haven’t touched on?
[21:06] <+Derek_Chappell> Uh, well, the text of the game itself is funny I guess?
[21:06] <+Derek_Chappell> i tried to make it an entertaining read.
[21:06] <~Dan> It would almost have to be. 🙂
[21:07] <+Derek_Chappell> Oh! The game codifies Hirelings into basically like, almost robotic behavior patterns for maximum entertainment.
[21:07] <+Derek_Chappell> There’s a guy you can hire to find traps for you whose primary benefit is that he’s cheaper to ressurect than another cleric. 😛
[21:08] <+Derek_Chappell> It’s also filled with a lot of D&D memes and stuff, made manifest.
[21:08] <~Dan> Nice. 🙂
[21:09] <+Derek_Chappell> You can build a peasant railgun, there’s a truly immovable rod that will demolish a good chunk of dungeon, there’s an inverse portable hole that just makes a section of wall, basically..
[21:11] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:13] <+Derek_Chappell> I think that’s probably everything, if there aren’t any other questions.
[21:13] <~Dan> Sounds good! Thanks very much for joining us, Derek_Chappell. 🙂
[21:13] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and get you the link.
[21:13] <+Derek_Chappell> No problem! Mind if I plug some stuff real quick?
[21:14] <~Dan> Please do!
[21:14] <+Derek_Chappell> Cool!
[21:14] <+Derek_Chappell> Well, first of all, if you want to follow the progress of my many, many games, you can follow this thread on the Sufficient Velocity forums.
[21:14] <+Derek_Chappell> (Link: https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/in-which-sketch-makes-games.5932/)https://forums.sufficientvelocity.com/threads/in-which-sketch-makes-games.5932/
[21:15] <+Derek_Chappell> Right now I am working on a Punk Magical Girl game called 5 Across the Heart, a Star Trek inspired storygame called New Frontiers, and an engine for running play-by-post “nation games” called Hegemony
[21:16] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[21:17] <+Derek_Chappell> You can find everything I’ve released, including my full-sized game PATROL and my Buffy-inspired lite RPG, Must be Tuesday, at Newstand Press on DriveThruRPG
[21:18] <+Derek_Chappell> This includes a series of very silly one-age games about Arnold Schwarzenegger
[21:18] <+Derek_Chappell> http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/4945/Newstand-Press
[21:19] <+Derek_Chappell> and finally, I have a Patreon i guess!
[21:19] <+Derek_Chappell> https://www.patreon.com/opensketch?ty=h
[21:19] <+Derek_Chappell> That’s it! No other plugs. I have plugged all the plugs.