[19:02] <+RobertTurk> Hello folks! My name is Robert Turk. I run the independant design and publishing company, Wicked Clever, with my wife and am myself an independent author, game designer, and entertainer (not the adult variety.)
[19:02] <+RobertTurk> In a nutshell, I create quirky games.
[19:02] <+RobertTurk> My latest creation, Are You Mental?, is now on kickstarter with only 2 days left! We are fully funded and have unlocked several stretch goals. And the game itself is a silly no prep rpg about lunatics with superpowers. The black and white pdf of the game (and the first expansion) is available only through the kickstarter for one US dollar!
[19:03] <+RobertTurk> mental.wicked-clever.com
[19:03] <+RobertTurk> <done?>
[19:03] <~Dan> Thanks, RobertTurk!
[19:03] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:03] <~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the game’s setting?
[19:05] <+RobertTurk> Sure. But I should maybe preface that with a sidebar. I never intended to make this a commercial product. I created this game to run at conventions. I wanted something that was a breeze for a group of 4 to 8 strangers to pick up, get going, and have an absolute blast for 2 to 4 hours. It was only after those players started pestering me to come to X,Y, & Z co
[19:05] <+RobertTurk> Whoops. Buffer limit.
[19:06] <+RobertTurk> It was only after folks started pestering me to come to other cons and run it there that I realized it needed to be a publically available product. So setting…
[19:08] <+RobertTurk> To me this is the ultimate pickup game. There is not a thick rule book, world book, etc. Setting is like a cracked cartoonish version of modern day (unless you want to get totally nuts and set it in some historical period) life. The characters and the adventure for the night are created on the fly at the start of each session.
[19:08] <+RobertTurk> In my mind the characters usually start the game at Arkham Asylum (the cthulu kind, not the batman one) and then set off all over the world. We have had games take place in Dinsey World, Norway, New York CIty, The Grand Canyon etc.
[19:09] <+RobertTurk> As the game goes, things get weirder and weirder. So you might end up in Norway fighting ninja penquins while you try to rescue… what were they trying to rescue… Oh! They were looking for a pokestop.
[19:10] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:10] <+RobertTurk> Does that answer the question?
[19:10] <~Dan> I think so, yup.
[19:10] <~Dan> Is there a character sheet?
[19:10] <+RobertTurk> Yes! But it does not have traditional stats like STR STAM CHAR etc.
[19:11] <+RobertTurk> The character sheet is blank boxes with labels on them. Delusion, Paranoia, Obsession, Catchphrase and Superpower.
[19:12] <+RobertTurk> So what happens at the start of the game is everyone sits down and I put a huge bucket of dice on the table. Then I pass around 5 blank cards to each person. On four of those cards they write an answer to specific questions. Such as…
[19:13] <+RobertTurk> What is something absolutely terrible? What is the coolest/dumbest superpower in the world? And they answer those queastions as the players. Then all those answers get shuffled up together and passed randomly back out. The players use the answer they get (which might not be the ones they gave) to fill in the blanks on their character sheets.
[19:14] <+RobertTurk> Any nswer to any blanks. So you get stuff like ROger thinking he is a Bus driver, terrified of toenails, obsessed with things that can kill him, and he has the ability to summon sharks.
[19:14] <+RobertTurk> And that is the character. Everything else is up to roleplaying or comes about as the game plays.
[19:15] <~Dan> So each character gets exactly one superpower?
[19:16] <+RobertTurk> Yes. But those could be really narrow or broadly defined. The last game I played at Gencon this year, we had a guy who summoned fire. But he used it to make a flame bridge, a fire car (that needed a fire key to start) and then started shooting fireballs at his RL father (who was across the table) He dad’s superpower was incredible backhair.
[19:17] <+RobertTurk> And he used that to pick stuff up, make doc occ style legs, and float to the ground with a hairy parachute.
[19:17] <~Dan> A hairachute!
[19:17] <+RobertTurk> I love it!
[19:18] <+RobertTurk> So really, the appeal of this game is that you can let loose. Seriously. There are no wrong things to do at the table (Well, in character that is.) It is amazing to see people realize that the game is totally fun based and that they aren’t confined by rule books or this power does X. They get to just use their imagination and play again.
[19:18] <~Dan> What is the basic game mechanic?
[19:19] <+RobertTurk> Now, that said – there is a system of resolution. It is still a game after all, not just storytelling.
[19:20] <+RobertTurk> The mechanic is a card and dice based system of my own invention (I really need a good name for it.) The game uses any and all dice you happen to have. If this is a block of d6, thats fine. If this is traditional d&d polys, ok! If it is scavanged from dragon dice, zombie dice, heroquest, even better!
[19:21] <+RobertTurk> There are two decks of cards (in the base game) a Challenge Deck and the Deck of Very Bad Things. When a character wants to do something that involves risk (jumping out of a plane, using their superpower, stealing a cellphone from a little old lady) they draw a card from the challenge deck. To succeed, they have to do what the card says.
[19:22] <+RobertTurk> Most of these involve dice, but not all of them. My favorite is the one that says “Eat something at the table.” Invariable the one who draws that card doesn’t have something to eat and has to beg it from a table mate, or resorts to eating their character sheet. Then everyone reaches in their bag and finds something to eat in case they get that card.
[19:22] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:23] <+RobertTurk> But yeah, you might get a card that says “Roll all of your dice and get two pairs.” Everyone starts with 5 randomly selected dice. If you have a bunch of 4 siders, that card is easy. If you have all 20s, not so much.
[19:23] <+RobertTurk> Now, if you succeed the challenge – what you wanted to do happens, and the game moves on. If you fail, reality cracks and you draw from the deck of Very Bad Things. The GM (we call it the Warden in game) has to interpret the bad thing card to add a curveball to the scene.
[19:24] <+RobertTurk> In the example of the stealing the old lady’s cellphone, the player failed the challenge and drew “Jackpot Winner”. Now, how does that play out to prevent him from snagging that lady’s cellphone? I had the publishers clearing house van squeal to a stop beside her, and people jumped out with camera and a really big check.
[19:25] <+RobertTurk> He was caught on the nightly news stealing her phone and had to flee. The Warden does need to be flexible and thing on their feet, but to me, that is part of the letting loose and having fun. Also, the Warden keeps a set of answers from cgen, that they use to create the adventure and pull ideas from when they need a new element.
[19:26] <+RobertTurk> *think on their feet (I am typo prone. My editor certainly earns her paycheck.)
[19:26] <~Dan> 🙂
[19:26] <+RobertTurk> <done… I think>
[19:27] <~Dan> So the ability to do something really has nothing to do with the abilities of the characters?
[19:29] <+RobertTurk> The success in doing something doesn’t depend on the characters abilities. But they certainly do inform what the character can do. For instance, Fire Car guy. He had to think in that framework to use his abilities. The girl that was terrified of blood had to run away screaming when the penguin bit her partner in the leg.
[19:29] <+RobertTurk> So the “stats” on the character sheet form more of a personality profile. Vaguely like approaches or whats the word in Fate…
[19:31] <+RobertTurk> They define what you can do and how you act. But success failure comes down to the whims of the cards and dice. In the 90s this was called Beer and Pretzels. Kobalds Ate My Babies was a pretty good example of the style. Ultimately, this makes it a game ANYBODY can play, even if they never touched a d100 before.
[19:32] <+RobertTurk> It also means this game is better for one shot evenings, breaks between larger more heavy campaigns, and when you have outsiders over to join the group. It is not really a campaign style game.
[19:32] <~Dan> I wouldn’t think so, no.
[19:32] <+RobertTurk> Though, at Origins this year I had several people come back to play a second time after the first night. I was kinda shocked, but the game was totally different the second time for them and they still had a blast.
[19:33] <~Dan> So they kept their same characters in this case?
[19:34] <+RobertTurk> They all chose to make totally new ones. They enjoyed the reveal of community cgen. I have also started adapting this core system to do other styles of games. For instance, our first expansion “Are You Zombies?” adds a brain deck but uses the same basic mechanics. Instead of being lunatics with superpowers, you are zombies trying to eat more brains.
[19:35] <+RobertTurk> I suggest if you want to keep characters from game to game, that you still answer all four questions in cgen, and then chose to replace one thing on your sheet when answers are passed around.
[19:37] <~Dan> So I’m assuming that there aren’t really stats for adversaries?
[19:37] <+RobertTurk> This way nobody gets shorted and still has a full contingent of answers to chose from, and you get to try something a little bit different. After all, you are supposed to be a madman, so wild swings in personality from game to game is just part of the madness.
[19:38] <+RobertTurk> Re: Adversaries, not so much. Too open form for that really, and such would require advanced prep. I wanted to make sure everything really could happen at the table on the fly (except for making copies of the character sheet)
[19:40] <+RobertTurk> But there are adversaries in the game. Those come about from the answers the players give during cgen. There is a final card that is done madlib style before play begins. On it are blanks for object, place, person, animal, and obstacle. So bad uys that have shown up were Hilary and Trump as Terminators in Its A Small World.
[19:41] <~Dan> How is combat handled, then? Is it simply a win/lose result based on one card?
[19:41] <+RobertTurk> The Petshop Janitor and his army of Thumbtacks. There were some aliens in a game that thought the key to nuclear weapons was creating a theme park where people would come and tell them how it all worked. (no clue how that one happened) Oh, and the Kardashians (whomever they are) had a pool party that needed infiltrating.
[19:43] <+RobertTurk> Not one card. There is initiative that changes each turn (though you can hold an action) and the dice (your insanity) also act as health points. If you lose them all, then you go stark raving sane. So lets say the PCs are fighting an army of penguins in Norway (I think it was Norway). We had one girl fighting back with her army of cats.
[19:44] <+RobertTurk> Backhair man trying to block the sun so they would go to sleep. i forget what the others were doing. FIre guy was probably melting the ice below them and watching them fall through.
[19:45] <+RobertTurk> But this isn’t resolved with a single Challenge Card, that would be boring! One card per attempt per person. So in that particular combat, cards were flying. You don’t want to load in too many though, or the Bad Things get harder to manage.
[19:46] <+RobertTurk> I think everyone in that scene did two. But at a table of 7 people, that was still a lot of chance for things to go horribly wrong.
[19:47] <~Dan> So what causes loss of dice/insanity?
[19:48] <+MonkofLords> 0/
[19:48] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:48] <+RobertTurk> Damage. Lets say you jump out of a plane (happened in a game) expecting to fly. You do a challenge, you fail. A bad card is drawn and happens. But you didn’t fly also. You fell. And hitting the ground hurts, even for a madman. So that cost a die back to the pot,, Which makes challenges a little bit harder.
[19:48] <+RobertTurk> And you still have the opportunity for self sacrificing heroics. It has only happened once, but we did have a player give up his very last dice to save the party. Poor guy ended up normal.
[19:49] <+RobertTurk> We tested early versions with having failure take a die away. But it became to serious and too deadly.
[19:49] <+RobertTurk> The ultimate goal is silly fun.
[19:49] <~Dan> So no matter what, a mishap can only cost one die?
[19:50] <+RobertTurk> Hello MonkofLords!
[19:50] <+RobertTurk> Yeah.
[19:50] <+RobertTurk> ANd only mishaps that actually do damage. So getting caught stealing the old lady’s cellphone, that didn’t hurt. Other than pride. So he kept all his dice.
[19:51] <+RobertTurk> They other mechanic here is that after each challenge you must swap out a dice, win or fail. So your dice pool is always changing. People will try and game this, which is just part of the fun. I had a guy decide that having blank die (i have 5 totally blank cubes in by bucket of about 100 dice for cons) was the best bet, so he built up a pool of 4 blank die.
[19:52] <+RobertTurk> Then he drew a card that should have been easy – add your dice together and get a total of more than your age. He had a d4.
[19:52] * ~Dan snickers
[19:52] <~Dan> (Howdy, Jezibel1!)
[19:52] <+Jezibel1> Hi.
[19:53] <~Dan> Other than the zombie version, do you have anything else planned for the game?
[19:53] <+RobertTurk> I have had a game go to the edges. That was the one with the Kardashians. They were kicking the PC’s butts. Everyone was down to one or two dice running for their plane.
[19:53] <+RobertTurk> Well, the zombie version came about as I was tearing down my rotting back porch and hit myself in the head…
[19:54] <+RobertTurk> I started thinking about what else I could do with the game and for whatever reason fell on zombies. I recall being disapointed in my WoD days that All Flesh Must Be Eaten was not actually a game where you were trying to eat all the flesh. So on a whim, I decided to see if I could do a zombie game with the same mechanic, and I think it works!
[19:56] <+RobertTurk> Had to add an additional deck, but that kinda opened the door to other possibilities. So there is a wacky WB cartoon style expansion in the works, and a Cthulu one as well. But! This would be about playing the cultists trying to raise up and elder god and end the world. Not the reverse that most people play.
[19:56] <+RobertTurk> Hello Jezibel1!
[19:57] <~Dan> Now, based on the nature of the game, I think I’m running dry on questions. Are there any angles to the game that we haven’t covered?
[19:57] <+RobertTurk> Those expansions are all I have come up with thus far, and are stretch goals on the current campaign. I have other games in the works, so I don’t want to make this my ultimate focus (ie expansion after expansion) but if something off the wall and casual seems to work, I will certainly take the time to explore it.
[19:59] <+RobertTurk> Hmmmn. I have had some confusion re: the title and terminology. This is NOT a gritty modern game about mental illness. Those games exist, but it is not what I wanted to create or play. This is in the tradition of Kobals Ate My Baby, Toon, Paranoia, Munchkin, etc.
[20:00] <~Dan> Oh! And I don’t think you’ve linked us to the Kickstarter.
[20:00] <+RobertTurk> The ultimate goal is to break the mold, have fun, and explore the silly aspects of this hobby that we don’t get to play week after week.
[20:00] <+RobertTurk> Doh! (Link: http://Mental.wicked-clever.com)http://Mental.wicked-clever.com
[20:00] <+RobertTurk> There is a ks short link too. Lemme look that one up.
[20:01] <+RobertTurk> (Link: http://kck.st/2c5aXvF)http://kck.st/2c5aXvF
[20:02] <+RobertTurk> The other thing I will touch on real quick is that to me, this is a game for players 13+. I don’t set out to make kids games (though I am designing a rpg for my own kids), and in my mind this is intended for grown ups. However, I did run a game at Gencon at the request of some parents. I was torn. I thought it was totally out of control.
[20:03] <+RobertTurk> But the parents and the kids loved it. I talked with one of the parents afterwards about my concerns and he was like, “Man, you made a game that I can use to teach my kids to RP. They get to do crazy silly things, explore their imaginations, and not kill the party!”
[20:04] <~Dan> Good points!
[20:04] <+RobertTurk> So, with that in mind, the game works for parents to play with kids IF you are willing to play with kids 🙂
[20:05] <+RobertTurk> I still don’t let kids in my con games (because I have no control over who sits down to play) but I have started scheduling a single game each con that is specifically for parents and their children.
[20:05] <~Dan> That’s a nice idea.
[20:06] <+RobertTurk> And my own kids have not played it. Maybe some point this winter. We are all really busy right now.
[20:06] <+RobertTurk> But my family is not great at playtesting. They try it once, and don’t like when the rules are different the next time we play 🙂
[20:07] <+RobertTurk> So they don’t wind up playing most of the things I create…
[20:07] <+RobertTurk> Heya Guest70!
[20:07] <~Dan> Too slow. 🙂
[20:07] <+RobertTurk> Already gone? Wow.
[20:08] <~Dan> Any other thoughts before we wrap up?
[20:08] <+RobertTurk> So yeah. Thats about it. Fun, silly, RPG. $1 for the full pdf and zombie expansion. On kickstarter through Friday evening.
[20:09] <+RobertTurk> Oh, and I have not posted this yet, but if we don’t manage to hit the next big goals…
[20:10] <+RobertTurk> I will send out the playtest pdf versions when I get them done to backers that did $10 or more. I mean heck, if nothing else, that gives me a whole bunch of people playing and giving feedback!
[20:10] <~Dan> Cool. 🙂
[20:10] <+RobertTurk> We might still hit them though. Had a nice bump today.
[20:10] <~Dan> Really? Good deal!
[20:10] <~Dan> As a reminder to the folks, my tip jar is here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[20:11] <~Dan> (If anyone is so inclined.)
[20:11] <+RobertTurk> Yeah. Its a long shot, but not impossible. Really, I am very happy where we ended up. Tip the hosts!
[20:11] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and get you the link. 🙂
[20:11] <+RobertTurk> Drinks on me! Whatever you find in your own fridge!
[20:11] <+RobertTurk> Cool. Thanks!