[19:02] <+AlecFromVarza> Little intro: I’ve created an RPG called Tox, it’s about the side-effects and problems that come from having superhuman powers.
[19:03] <+AlecFromVarza> It’s cross genre, you can play in fantasy, horror, sci-fi, superhero… anything that has extraordinary powers.
[19:03] <+AlecFromVarza> (Done)
[19:04] <~Dan> Thanks, AlecFromVarza! The floor is open to questions.
[19:04] <~Dan> So let’s see… Does the game have one or more settings?
[19:04] <~Dan> Or is it more of a toolkit?
[19:05] <+xyphoid> is it for sale, or is it a KS, or what?
[19:05] <+AlecFromVarza> Right now, it’s more of a toolkit… I’m working on the core rules.
[19:05] <+AlecFromVarza> Right now there are some demo rules that you can pick up: (Link: http://bit.ly/toxdemorules)http://bit.ly/toxdemorules
[19:06] <~Dan> Is there a character sheet that you have posted?
[19:06] <+AlecFromVarza> I’m also in the process of developing other resources, such as story prompts: (Link: http://bit.ly/toxpromptmodern)http://bit.ly/toxpromptmodern (Link: http://bit.ly/toxpromptfantasy)http://bit.ly/toxpromptfantasy
[19:07] <+AlecFromVarza> The demo rules has a character sheet at the end, and some quick character creation templates.
[19:07] <+AlecFromVarza> I’ve created some scenarios for playtesting that are more elaborate: defined characters, scenes, world history.
[19:08] <+AlecFromVarza> Current, I’m working on publishing those.
[19:08] <~Dan> Trying to get to the file… Doesn’t seem to be working.
[19:09] <~Dan> Yeah, got an error trying to access it.
[19:09] <+AlecFromVarza> Thanks, it’s currently hosted by Adobe, but if adobe is flaking out, I’ll have to host it myself.
[19:09] <~Dan> No problem.
[19:10] <~Dan> What are the main elements that make up a Tox character (e.g., attributes, skills, and so forth)?
[19:10] <+AlecFromVarza> The core elements are Gifts, which is a design-it-yourself power, and Tox, which are custom weaknesses or side effects.
[19:11] <~Dan> (Howdy, Ettin!)
[19:12] <+AlecFromVarza> Gifts let you 1) pick a game mechanic you like (extra damage, mind control, access inaccessible places, etc), 2) Write in your own theme about how it power appears in the story and then tweak properties like power and skill.
[19:12] <~Dan> So is everything positive about the character defined as a power?
[19:13] <+AlecFromVarza> No, but it’s like the bread and butter. I do have broader Trainings (roughly, attributes) and Specialties (individual skills).
[19:13] <+AlecFromVarza> There are also Fortunes and Misfortunes (i.e. positive or negative history, social status, or other advantages that might have to do with your character’s context more than their personality).
[19:14] <+AlecFromVarza> One special feature of Trainings, is that they are contextual… meaning you can be smart at one thing, and ignorant in other. Or graceful in situation, clumsy in another, etc.
[19:14] <~Dan> How is that defined mechanically?
[19:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, CapRap!)
[19:16] <+AlecFromVarza> Trainings are 2 parts. There’s the more traditional attributes (Charming, Deft, Smart, Strong, Wise) paired with a role that signifies the type of problems you’re trained to solve…
[19:16] <+AlecFromVarza> …(Creator, Manipulator, Seer, Soldier, Traveler)
[19:17] <+AlecFromVarza> So there’s 25 possible combinations, by default they are 0 (no modifier to your rolls) and you don’t have to list them.
[19:17] <+AlecFromVarza> You can take a Training at a negative value (penalty to a roll of 2d10, totaled) or a postiive value (bonus to your roll).
[19:17] <~Dan> Hmm…. What would a Strong (Seer) be like?
[19:18] <+AlecFromVarza> So Strength has to do with physical power, and Seers understand and communicate things, so that would be someone who understands and teaches about physical strength (or health)
[19:19] <+AlecFromVarza> Doctors, personal trainers, etc.
[19:19] <~Dan> I see. Cool.
[19:19] <~Dan> How broad are Specialties?
[19:20] <+AlecFromVarza> They are narrow: they represent a bonus with one particular skill-set, tool, or subject.
[19:21] <+AlecFromVarza> So a Strong Solder is has a bonus to all sorts of melee weapons, shields, armor, blocking, etc. A specialty might be “Swords”… or depending the GM and campaign you might get even more specific “Rapiers
[19:21] <~Dan> Is there any penalty to taking an action without the associated Specialty?
[19:21] <+AlecFromVarza> ”
[19:21] <~Dan> Ah… That answered my last question.
[19:22] <~Dan> You touched on this earlier, but what is the game’s core mechanic?
[19:22] <+AlecFromVarza> Not by default, the GM would probably just assign a high difficulty so that it would unlikely for someone untrained to succeeed.
[19:23] <+AlecFromVarza> The Trainings and Specialties are somewhat mundane, in the sense that the just result in bonus or penalty to actions that normal humans could already take.
[19:23] * ~Dan nods
[19:24] <+AlecFromVarza> Gifts players to achieve the impossible by opening up a new game mechanic or set of rules.
[19:24] <+AlecFromVarza> Changing how many actions you have per turn, where you can go, what information you have access to, what properties of your environment you can tinker with.
[19:25] <+AlecFromVarza> But when you use you Gifts, you raise your Tox Level, which is like a karmic debt that the game master can call due at any time.
[19:25] <+AlecFromVarza> When you design your character, however, you get to choose the game mechanic for your Tox (Does it hurt you, make you go crazy, make your powers short out? Etc.).
[19:26] <+AlecFromVarza> When you have some Tox built up, the GM is free to spring that mechanic on you to add extra challenge or excitement to the story.
[19:27] <+AlecFromVarza> The side effect can happen right after you use your powers (direct cause and effect) or the GM can wait awhile.
[19:27] <+AlecFromVarza> (done)
[19:28] <~Dan> Can you give an example of Tox in a fantasy setting?
[19:28] <+AlecFromVarza> Sure. Any Sword of Shannara watchers here?
[19:29] <~Dan> I watched a bit of it.
[19:29] <+AlecFromVarza> Basically, as portrayed in the show magic has a cost.
[19:29] <+AlecFromVarza> But its different from person to person.
[19:30] <+AlecFromVarza> One character’s father became an alcoholic via magic use, while that character appears to get burned when using magic.
[19:31] <+AlecFromVarza> The father (powers unspecified) had a Psyche tox, that compelled him to drunk after using powers… but maybe not immediately. The son would have had a Blast power (the ability to zap things, do damage at a distance)
[19:31] <+AlecFromVarza> The son’s Tox Type would have been Damage, and generally throughout the story would have occurred immediately after use.
[19:32] <+AlecFromVarza> I’d set the rules down before the show came out, but that’s pretty much exactly Tox.
[19:32] <~Dan> What prevents players from choosing the most harmless Tox possible?
[19:33] <+AlecFromVarza> There always game balance issues to tweak, but they are theoretically all comparable.
[19:34] <~Dan> Oh, there’s a predetermined list of possible Tox?
[19:34] <+AlecFromVarza> Each Gift has 5 power levels. Using a gift at a hire power level generates Tox. Side effects have 5 power levels that correspond, so the more powerful the gifts you use, the bigger the side effect.
[19:34] * ~Dan nods
[19:35] <+AlecFromVarza> Ultimately, the GM can serve as balance, since they choose when to trigger the side effect. It ends up being a pretty handy way to 1) balance game play if one character is spamming powers a lot and…
[19:36] <+AlecFromVarza> …2) a great way to introduce interesting challenges or plot twists to spice up the game.
[19:37] <+AlecFromVarza> Great stories are made up of great problems. Normally GMs are on the hook to think up interesting problems, but the Tox system makes players design some of their own obstacles and challenges at character creation.
[19:37] <+AlecFromVarza> Gives players more input into the story, makes the burden of story creation a little lighter on the GM.
[19:37] <+AlecFromVarza> (done)
[19:38] <~Dan> What is the game’s dice mechanic?
[19:38] <+AlecFromVarza> 2d10, added together. You try to get higher than a GM-set difficulty or another players roll.
[19:39] <~Dan> Does degree of success matter?
[19:40] <+AlecFromVarza> By default, there are certain systems where that’s explicit (specifically damage is the amount you exceed someone’s defense roll). Other than that, there are some guidelines for the GM, but it would be in their hands.
[19:40] * ~Dan nods
[19:40] <+AlecFromVarza> Epic fail on 2 or 3, epic win on 19 or 20… generally degree of success for just rolling a ton over the difficulty.
[19:41] <~Dan> Speaking of damage, how does combat work?
[19:41] <+AlecFromVarza> I wanted to design Tox for quick play, so I tried to not make too many special systems for combat.
[19:42] <+AlecFromVarza> One piece that I’ve enjoyed is tweaking initiative. Rather than being a preset bonus or quickness stat, you actually just roll for whatever your intended action is.
[19:43] <~Dan> Better outcomes happen first?
[19:43] <+AlecFromVarza> If I’m attacking with a sword, that might be ‘Strong Soldier’ Training + ‘Sword’ Specialty, but if I’m picking a lock, it would be ‘Deft Manipulator’ + ‘Locking picking’
[19:44] <+AlecFromVarza> Better outcomes happen first… I.e. if you’re well trained at something, you’ll be able to do it faster.
[19:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, Lin_Chong!)
[19:44] <+AlecFromVarza> (Yo!)
[19:45] <~Dan> Is weapon damage a flat bonus to the degree of success?
[19:45] <+AlecFromVarza> Attack / Defense is just a typical contested roll… use the appropriate training and specialty for your attack or defense, if the attack succeeds they do damage equal to the amount they succeeded by + weapon bonus.
[19:45] <+AlecFromVarza> Character’s don’t have hit points, they just take damage.
[19:45] <~Dan> How does that work?
[19:46] <+AlecFromVarza> Every 8 points of damage, you roll to stay conscious.
[19:46] <~Dan> (Howdy, jcfiala!)
[19:46] <+AlecFromVarza> Again, use the Training and Specialty appropriate. If you’re just a beefcake trying trying to shrug off damage, that might be “Strong Soldier” + “Pain Tolerance”
[19:47] <+AlecFromVarza> If you’re actually using an action to bandage yourself, that might be “Strong Seer” + “First Aid”
[19:47] <+AlecFromVarza> If you’re using funky herbs, it might be “Wise Seer” + “Alchemy”
[19:48] <+AlecFromVarza> There are generally suggested or base rolls, with the understand that if characters get creative the GM can reward that by allowing them to use other skills or specialties.
[19:48] <+AlecFromVarza> *understanding
[19:48] <+AlecFromVarza> (Hi jcfiala)
[19:49] <+AlecFromVarza> @Will did you have any questions?
[19:49] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)
[19:50] <+Will> No, thank you
[19:50] <~Dan> What’s the power scale? How powerful are characters on the high end?
[19:53] <+AlecFromVarza> So gifts are rated 1) slight, coincidental 2) uncanny 3) clearly supernatural 4) best in region 5) world-class. What that means for specific powers depends. For example…
[19:54] <+AlecFromVarza> … level 5 powers allow for creating animate illusions so real that people can take damage, near invulnerability to mundane weapons, complete mental programming, the ability to take 3x as many actions as a normal person per turn.
[19:54] <+AlecFromVarza> Travel thousands of miles per second, and even alter the powers of others
[19:55] <+AlecFromVarza> So it ranges from slightly tweaking something with your powers to being a Justice League headliner
[19:55] <~Dan> So pretty darn powerful, but not quite “cosmic”?
[19:56] <+AlecFromVarza> Yeah, that’s something I’ve been playing around with… an optional level 6.
[19:56] <~Dan> Can powers modify Trainings, for things like super-strength?
[19:56] <+AlecFromVarza> I haven’t quite deciding, when, how, or if the level 6 should be introduced.
[19:56] <+AlecFromVarza> Yep.
[19:56] <+AlecFromVarza> So Trainings cap out at 5, but you can enhance them beyond that with one of the Gifts.
[19:58] <+AlecFromVarza> One character had a gift to Enhance other people with a theme of “Rock Opera”… so they could boost whatever Training would be most relevant to Rock Operas at the moment.
[19:58] <~Dan> I don’t generally like RPGs having hard universal stat caps — supers RPGs, doubly so. There’s always someone more powerful.
[19:58] <+AlecFromVarza> He combined that with the ability to make people share is delusion that they are living in a rock opera.
[19:58] <+AlecFromVarza> That was a fun play test.
[19:58] <~Dan> Sounds like it. 🙂
[19:59] <~Dan> Would you treat cybernetics as powers?
[20:00] <+AlecFromVarza> Yes
[20:00] <+AlecFromVarza> In that case, side effect might be glitchy hardware (powers misfire) or limited energy (powers short out).
[20:01] <~Dan> (Howdy, ChadDubya!)
[20:01] <+ChadDubya> Hi Dan!
[20:01] <+AlecFromVarza> In some sci-fi, cybernetics reduce your humanity, so they could have psychological component.
[20:01] <+AlecFromVarza> Hi Chad!
[20:02] <~Dan> Chad is one of our resident game authors, and a past Q&A guest himself. 🙂
[20:02] <+ChadDubya> Hi AlexFromVarza!
[20:02] <+AlecFromVarza> Well met!
[20:02] <+ChadDubya> Alec, sorry
[20:02] <+ChadDubya> Was their a Q&A tonight?
[20:02] <+AlecFromVarza> No problem.
[20:03] <+AlecFromVarza> Yeah, Dan’s Q&Aing on an RPG I’m developing called Tox.
[20:04] <+ChadDubya> (Sorry for stumbling in late, catching up)
[20:04] <~Dan> If players determine Tox, how can the GM create a magic system, for example?
[20:04] <~Dan> Or does that run contrary to Tox in the first place?
[20:05] <+AlecFromVarza> Good question, this really has to do with the duality of Tox: powers have a game mechanic element, and an open ended theme (as do side effects).
[20:06] <+AlecFromVarza> The game mechanic changes the actual rules of the game, but it’s up to the GM when the theme of a Gift or a Tox applies, and this is definitely a judgement call since themes are open ended.
[20:07] <+AlecFromVarza> This question is really, how do you come up with the right theme for a power or a side effect?
[20:07] <+AlecFromVarza> In a loose game, players might come up with whatever and run it past the GM to see if it works. There are some guidelines on what might be to broad or to narrow, but a lot of this will depend on the campaign.
[20:08] <+AlecFromVarza> But the first edition of the rules will definitely include guidelines on how GMs can create things like classes or magic systems by creating house rules around the theme elements.
[20:09] <+AlecFromVarza> For example, a more restrictive magic system might be based on Avatar: the Last Air Bender… you must choose “Fire” “Air” “Earth” or “Water” as your theme for a power.
[20:10] <+AlecFromVarza> The GM could also go a step further and allow or disallow certain powers from the game, or for certain themes. Or even cap certain powers or skill levels if they don’t exist in the game world.
[20:10] <~Dan> Well, I was thinking more in terms of “all magic causes fatigue” or the like.
[20:10] <+AlecFromVarza> Yep
[20:10] <+AlecFromVarza> You can do the same thing around Tox.
[20:11] <+AlecFromVarza> There are also gift mods that affect when or how you can use gifts… like whether there’s a required memorization component, etc.
[20:11] <~Dan> (Howdy, Monochrome_Tide!)
[20:11] <+AlecFromVarza> You could make certain gift mods required, or simply state that they are prevalent but not mandatory.
[20:12] <~Dan> How would you handle racial/species abilities?
[20:12] <+AlecFromVarza> This is really where the customization of Tox shines. By baking an open-ended theme element into the game along with the ‘hard rules’ you have a lot ability to create your own world.
[20:14] <+AlecFromVarza> That depends on the ability, but the basic idea is that its just a character template. Character creation is a point based system, so you would just create a template that starts with Charming Traveler +3 , and the superpower Sense (heat vision) at power 2
[20:14] <+AlecFromVarza> That template would use up a precalculated X points, leaving another X to spend.
[20:15] <~Dan> But would a racial ability have to have associated Tox?
[20:15] <+AlecFromVarza> And you could either go hard line (You must have X stat at X level, or you’re no longer an ogre) or just leave it as a suggestion: here’s where you start, but you can modify as desirerd.
[20:16] <+AlecFromVarza> There are provisions for 1) permanent powers (with permanent tox) or even reducing the level of tox of an ability.
[20:16] <+AlecFromVarza> Both of those are ‘use with caution’ gift mods, because they substantially change the way the game is played.
[20:16] <+AlecFromVarza> One reason you might not do that, is because races typically do have weaknesses as well as super powers.
[20:18] <+AlecFromVarza> Since the GM doesn’t have to trigger the tox immediate after the Gift use, the tox and the gift can be somewhat dissociated. If you have low-light vision (Sense gift) and the undying enmity of Orcs (Hatred Tox)…
[20:18] <+AlecFromVarza> … That doesn’t necessarily mean that an orc pops out of nowhere and attacks you every time you see in the dark.
[20:18] * ~Dan nods
[20:19] <+AlecFromVarza> It means that you happen to have Elfish lowlight vision. The same thing that gives you your lowlight vision (your Elvishness), also earns you the ire of orcs at some point in the story.
[20:20] <~Dan> Hmm… That works.
[20:21] <+AlecFromVarza> As noted, if that’s not sufficient for a particular case, there are mods. You can make a particular gift cost less tox… for example giving you free Gift use at power 1 or 2, and only slight inconveniences at power 3 (a substantial supernatural power).
[20:22] <+AlecFromVarza> The mod does make the gift expensive, but it’s up to the GM how many points characters should start with or NPCs should have.
[20:22] <+AlecFromVarza> You might have low-rent elves that have tox with their powers (but don’t cost as many points), or superpowerful, Tolkienesque elves that would require a lot of character points.
[20:25] <+AlecFromVarza> Last time I popped in the chat room (about a month ago) another good question I got was ‘What is Batman’s Tox?’
[20:25] <~Dan> That IS a good question.
[20:25] <+AlecFromVarza> Again raising the idea that maybe not all powers direct side effects.
[20:26] <+xyphoid> producing mad supervillains, clearly
[20:26] <+AlecFromVarza> Yep, exactly… that what the Dark Night plays with.
[20:26] <+AlecFromVarza> The theme that just by being a superhero (not even a mutant or alien!) you invite villains to be super to
[20:27] <+AlecFromVarza> (Thanks Xyphoid)
[20:28] <+AlecFromVarza> So it comes back to the idea that most great stories about great problems. And the best stories are usually about the problems that arise from the heroes themselves, they’re not just a string of random adversities.
[20:28] <+ChadDubya> I think that’s a really compelling idea
[20:31] <+ChadDubya> Dude couldn’t catch a break
[20:31] <+AlecFromVarza> In a lot of ways, Beowulf was a sort of proto-Batman. Saving people, but somehow also attracting monsters over and over again.
[20:30] <+AlecFromVarza> Mythology was one of those genres that I check the rules against when I was trying to see if they made sense. Could I model hubris, or the madness of Hercules?
[20:29] <+AlecFromVarza> That’s really the idea the sprouted Tox, it was just finding the right game mechanics to encourage players and GMs to create that flaw, curse, or problem.
[20:29] <+ChadDubya> Many of the Greek heroic characters had tragic flaws, which is why they were interesting
[20:32] <+AlecFromVarza> And most genres have perpetuated that somehow. Superhero weakness like kryptonite, or vampires and crosses, or glitches in the ‘perfect’ sci fi machine.
[20:32] <+AlecFromVarza> Even crime fiction with incredibly perceptive and lucky (but somewhat broken) private eyes.
[20:33] <+AlecFromVarza> Really, the use case Tox is ill-suited for is the James Bond phenomenon.
[20:33] <+ChadDubya> flaws in most games aren’t of the tragic sort… it’s usually an impairment of some type that let’s you buy a power/benefit
[20:33] <~Dan> How are your powers put together?
[20:33] <+AlecFromVarza> You can get some mundane misfortunes that works as you describe.
[20:34] <+AlecFromVarza> What’s unique about Tox is the stipulation that using non-mundane powers results in some kind of side effect… that you can customize.
[20:34] <+AlecFromVarza> Lots of systems have side-effects baked in to powers, but you can’t customize them.
[20:34] <+AlecFromVarza> Others give you powers that never have side-effects.
[20:35] <~Dan> Do you offer any sort of bestiary?
[20:35] <+AlecFromVarza> What’s unique here is that using a Gift raises your Tox level, which then is an invitation (or inspiration) for the GM to throw in a plot twist or activate a new game mechanic based on your chosen Tox.
[20:35] <+AlecFromVarza> Not yet.
[20:36] <+AlecFromVarza> That’s definitely in the plans… as the rules seem to have really gelled, phase 2 is to create lots of resources such as sample settings, classes, magic systems, characters, and bestiaries.
[20:36] <+AlecFromVarza> I’ll probably start with familiar creatures (like vampires) and show how they could be Toxified.
[20:37] <+AlecFromVarza> Be default though, it’s very customizable.
[20:38] <+AlecFromVarza> You can be a ‘werewolf’ that just gets a little hairy and heals fast, or a full-transformed wolf that does extra damage, or some mystic shapeshifter like in WoD that travels between spiritual realms.
[20:38] <+AlecFromVarza> GMs are free to codify these things for their worlds, but anything I put together would just be an example or a jumping off point.
[20:39] <+AlecFromVarza> Blog is up here: (Link: http://varza.net/)http://varza.net/
[20:40] <+AlecFromVarza> The next post is a post mortem on our Kickstarter, but I’m working on a regular schedule to start providing Tox resources in my posts.
[20:40] <~Dan> Hmm… I’m running out of questions here. Is there something we haven’t covered?
[20:43] <+AlecFromVarza> I could rant about it all day, but people should feel free to check out the blog or the FB group: (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToxRPG/)https://www.facebook.com/ToxRPG/
[20:43] <+AlecFromVarza> I’ll make sure there’s a fixed link for the demo rules et. all, so you’ll find that info either place.
[20:43] <~Dan> Fair enough!
[20:43] <~Dan> That would be great, re: the link.
[20:44] <~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, Alec!
[20:44] <+AlecFromVarza> My pleasure. Thanks for the invite Dan.
[20:44] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and get you the link.
[20:45] <~Dan> Also, just a reminder to folks that my tip jar is here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[20:45] <+AlecFromVarza> It was also nice to recognize a few friendly faces from my last chat @xyphoid and @MonkofLords. Cheers!
[20:45] <+MonkofLords_> 07