[19:32] <+JasonTondro> Hey everyone. I am Jason Tondro, aka Doctor Comics. I have written various RPGs over the years for Icons, M&M, d20 and other systems, some of which are now lost to time.
[19:32] <+Shingan> mysterious
[19:33] <+JasonTondro> I am also an English professor; I live in southeast Georgia where I teach writing, film, comics, and cultural studies. My PhD comes from the University of California, Riverside, and my degree was in the literature of the medieval & Renaissance era, and also superhero comics.
[19:33] <+JasonTondro> So I come by “Doctor Comics” fair and square.
[19:34] <+JasonTondro> I’ve also written various academic books and articles and chapters on superhero comics as literature, which I won’t bore you with, but they were super fun to write.
[19:34] <+JasonTondro> Today I am here for “Arthur Lives!”
[19:35] <+JasonTondro> AL! (As I affectionately refer to it after spending most of my life working on it) is an urban fantasy game using the Fate Core system, in which Arthurian characters are reincarnated into a cinematic, supernatural present.
[19:35] <+JasonTondro> The first edition of the game came out in 2009 and was published by Vigilance Press. It used the True20 system, which was part of the d20 Open License.
[19:35] <+JasonTondro> It was a good game, but no one played True20. The #1 critique I got was: “I can’t wait to convert this to my favorite system!”
[19:36] <+JasonTondro> So I went looking for a better fit, and Fate Core came out, and it did what I needed it to do. So I did a complete rewrite front the ground up, and the book is done, and it’s about 150,000 words.
[19:37] <+JasonTondro> Fainting Goat is my publisher this time around, and we’re doing a Kickstarter to get the book through layout, get some art in there, and maybe more if we hit some of our stretch goals, like adventures.
[19:37] <+JasonTondro> Dan, could you drop the Kickstarter URL in here somewhere?
[19:37] <+JasonTondro> That’s me and my project. (Done!)
[19:37] <~Dan> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/412792115/arthur-lives-2nd-ed-a-modern-arthurian-rpg-for-fat)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/412792115/arthur-lives-2nd-ed-a-modern-arthurian-rpg-for-fat
[19:38] <+JasonTondro> Brilliant, thank you sir.
[19:38] <~Dan> Thanks, JasonTondro!
[19:38] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!
[19:38] <+JamesGillen> Too bad about True20 that wasn’t a bad system
[19:39] <+JasonTondro> I liked True20 a lot. And there were some things in that system which fit AL very well…
[19:39] <&Silverlion> So why Arthur, and not Charlemagne, or one of the other “legendary” sleeping Kings?
[19:39] <+Shingan> What did you mean by ‘reincarnated’?
[19:39] <+JasonTondro> In particular, True20 had only three classes: a combat specialist, a magic person, and a skill-based class. And this matched up pretty well with knights, magicians, and damsels, the three most common character types in Arthurian lit.
[19:40] <+JasonTondro> Also, the system was very easy to tinker with and had a lot of support. But, alas, it just did not become popular.
[19:40] <+JasonTondro> OK, the Charlemagne vs Arthur vs sleeping kings question:
[19:40] <+JamesGillen> It was basically the core of Blue Rose. Which is coming back as Fantasy Age
[19:41] <+JasonTondro> There are indeed, as you point out, many “sleeping king” myths. One of my favorite is Barbarossa, the German emperor, who has supposedly been sleeping at his table for so long that his beard has grown through the stone.
[19:42] <+JasonTondro> But Arthur has transcended all of these other myths. He is global in a way that Charlemagne, Barbarossa, and others aren’t. Yes, of course, he began as British, or even Welsh if you want to get specific, but he has since gone viral. America has claimed Arthur and Camelot for its own. And other countries have contributed to the Arthurian myth in ways few…
[19:42] <+JasonTondro> Can complete with. I’m an Arthurian specialist. Some of my earliest academic work was on Arthur, and I teach it to this day. My dissertation was called “Superheroes of the Round Table,” for Chris sakes. Arthur is my jam.
[19:43] <+JasonTondro> OK, reincarnation…
[19:43] <&Silverlion> Cool answer 😀
[19:43] <&Silverlion> I was curious.
[19:44] <+JasonTondro> In the world of Arthur Lives!, something happened back around, oh, 1946. (There may or may not have been Nazis involved.) The details are not known to the PCs at the start of the game. But regardless, Arthur and all the characters associated with him are all being reborn into the modern day. And many of them are coming back in multiple forms…
[19:45] <+JasonTondro> There’s more than one Arthur, more than one Merlin. Because, well, which Arthur is the “real” Arthur anyway? Each interpretation of the character gets its own incarnation.
[19:45] <+JasonTondro> The PCs are ordinary people who do not know they are reincarnations of Arthurian myth. And finding that out, and figuring out how to deal with it, makes up a lot of the early game.
[19:46] <+JasonTondro> This bit about multiple incarnations of the same character is counterintuitive for a lot of players. People figure there is only one Arthur and Gawain and Guinevere and so on. And I did run it that way at first.
[19:47] <+JasonTondro> But when players drop out of your game, or someone dies, suddenly you’ve just killed Merlin (or whatever) and this can be a big obstacle in play. Plus, everyone has their own spin on what these characters should be like. I wanted to embrace that.
[19:47] <+JasonTondro> So each player figures out their own take on whatever Arthurian character they are a reincarnation of … and by the way, you don;t have to pick a famous person.
[19:47] <+JasonTondro> You can totally just make up your own knight of the round table or enchanter or whatever, and say your Sir Henry lived back then, but no one has ever heard of him.
[19:47] <+JasonTondro> So if you don’t want to learn about an Arthurian character, you don;t have to. Just make her up.
[19:47] <+Shingan> How about Mordred or someone.
[19:48] <+JasonTondro> Yes, absolutely, you can play a reincarnation of Mordred.
[19:48] <+JamesGillen> Sir Not-Appearing-in-this-Film
[19:48] <+JasonTondro> OK, there was another question there…
[19:49] <+JasonTondro> I think I’m caught up. Please ask away, or I will just keep talking!
[19:49] <+Shingan> The green knight.
[19:49] <+Shingan> I’ll be a hit at Halloween.
[19:49] <~Dan> Are monsters and fairies and such showing up as well?
[19:49] <+JasonTondro> Yes, sure, the Green Knight. Are you asking, “Can you play him?”
[19:50] <&Silverlion> There were a LOT of nights in some of the tales.
[19:50] <&Silverlion> Including a couple of werewolves.
[19:51] <+JasonTondro> Dan: Yes. This is a supernatural present. So creatures from across the veil, from Faerie, are here and are coming across in increasing numbers. Most are “dressed” as mortal people or animals, though sometimes they only barely pass for human.
[19:51] <+JamesGillen> ooh
[19:51] <&Silverlion> IIRC
[19:51] <+JasonTondro> There are also supernatural creatures which are native to the world, like ghosts and vampires and things like that.
[19:51] <+JasonTondro> There are, in fact, three (3!) werewolf knights in the Arthurian legend. I kid you not,
[19:51] <~Dan> Does that tie directly to Arthur & Co. returning, or is that a separate phenomena?
[19:52] <+JasonTondro> They are, more accurately, Garwolves: men who turn into wolves, and then back again, as a kind of curse. My favorite is Sir Marrok, “who was a werewolf,” and we’re told nothing else about him. Like, you know, “who was a redhead,” no big deal.
[19:52] <+JasonTondro> Dan: good question.
[19:52] <+JasonTondro> Silver lion: There are a lot of knights. The Round Table had, in Malory, 150 seats. So, yeah. A huge cast.
[19:53] <+JasonTondro> In the setting of Arthur Lives!, magic and enchantment does seem to be on the rise. No one is quite sure why this is. (It’s detailed in the secret history chapter, for the GM.) But there is a theory…
[19:54] <+JasonTondro> Something like this happened before. After all, our historians tell us that the Arthurian age was actually not that interesting. We’re talking about the 5th-6th century. There were no knights. No plate armor. No Merlin and certainly no dragons.
[19:54] <+JasonTondro> But the PCs all remember all that stuff happening. And that;’s because of the Dolorous Stroke. Does anyone remember this thing?
[19:54] <~Dan> I do not.
[19:54] <+JasonTondro> The Dolorous Stroke is this terrible thing done by a knight, Sir Balin, where he takes the Holy Lance (the spear that stabbed Christ on the cross) and uses it on the Fisher King, who is the guardian of the Holy Grail.
[19:55] <+JasonTondro> And this is a big no-no. This is like matter meets anti-matter. And this strike with this spear is called the Dolorous Stroke, And it flattens the castle where it occurs, turns all the land for miles around into a wasteland, and kills hundreds.
[19:56] <+JasonTondro> Well, it also tore a hole in the Faerie Veil. And magic, which originates in Faerie, poured out of Faerie and into our world, and everything went magically bananas.
[19:56] <+JamesGillen> uh oh
[19:56] <+JasonTondro> And this is the source of all the magic in the Arthurian Age. The Dolorous Stroke even worked a little backwards and forwards in time, so there was magic before the Stroke.happened, and for a few years after the Stroke was healed by Galahad.
[19:57] <+JasonTondro> So the current theory, in AL!, is: there is, or is soon going to be, another Dolorous Stroke, and we’re seeing the early signs of it now, with enchantment returning to the world.
[19:57] <+JasonTondro> But that Stroke does not appear to have happened yet.
[19:57] <+JasonTondro> Please cue the forbidding music in a minor key.
[19:57] <+JasonTondro> Done.
[19:58] <&Silverlion> Who are the chief opponants of the Knights, what age group should the heroes be? (Since the art looks kidlike)
[19:58] <~Dan> So it’s sort of like the what’s-it-called event in Adventure!?
[19:58] <+JasonTondro> OK, multiple questions, good.
[19:58] <+JasonTondro> #1: Who are the antagonists?
[19:59] <+JasonTondro> There are a LOT of answers to that question.
[19:59] <+JasonTondro> First off, you have all of your PCs former enemies from their past life. So, let’s say you’re Gawain. Well, Sir Gawain and three of his brothers murdered two knights of the round table (out of revenge for one of those knights killing their father) and killed -their own mother- just because she slept with one of those other dead dudes.
[20:00] <+JasonTondro> Every Arthurian character has these old plot threads and enemies. And all of those people are back. Hell, they could be PCs at your table!
[20:00] <+JasonTondro> So you have to figure out what to do about that. First.
[20:00] <+JasonTondro> Then, though your PC does not know it at the start of play, there are other versions of your own incarnation out there. And some of them probably woke up before you did, and they’re prepared, and maybe they don’t like the idea of competing with you.
[20:01] <+JasonTondro> (There can be a little “There can be only one” theme here, if the players and GMs want to use it.)
[20:01] <+JamesGillen> This seems like Barry vs. The Tick
[20:02] <+JasonTondro> Then there is all the supernatural stuff that’s out there in the world. The dragon masquerading as an oil tycoon. The giant evil spider who has the body of an old woman and lives in a house in London and preys on slow salesmen and Girl Scouts selling cooklies.
[20:03] <+JasonTondro> And, finally, in what we might call “Season One” of Arthur Lives!, the early game, there is the Round Table Conspiracy. Which is a conspiracy of conspiracies, based on occult conspiracies in our world and history.
[20:03] <+JamesGillen> ooh
[20:03] <+JasonTondro> The Round Table Conspiracy was founded by Cecil Rhodes in the 19th century — the guy who founded Rhodesia and the Rhodes Scholars.
[20:04] <+JasonTondro> And now, in 2017, this round table combines the Freemasons, Illuminati, and so on, into a giant conspiracy of conspiracies. And if Arthur wants to have a Round Table, he’s going to have to break up the bad guys who are already using it.
[20:04] <+JasonTondro> There’s one other big bad in Season 1, who I will just quickly outline.
[20:04] <+Shingan> I’m sure he could pick one up at Pottery Barn.
[20:05] <+JasonTondro> A reincarnation of King Lot. Most people do not know this character, but he was Arthur’s first great rival. When Arthur drew the Sword from the Stone, Lot was the King of Scotland who said, “this is crazy. No way we are going to obey this 16 year old kid who is probably just Merlin’s puppe.”
[20:05] <+JasonTondro> Er, puppet.
[20:06] <+JamesGillen> Puppy would work too
[20:06] <+JasonTondro> So Lot has come back, and he does not want Arthur to screw everything up again. He is a retired General in the US Army and he is running for President. He has a reincarnation of Guinevere as his running mate, and this is the KOTUS (King of the United States) plot.
[20:06] <+JasonTondro> OK, so that’s some of the adversaries, More fantastic bad guys will appear later, if we get to Season 2, but that’s the start.
[20:06] <+JamesGillen> cool
[20:06] <+JasonTondro> Age group:
[20:07] <+JasonTondro> It’s funny, several people have seen Denise Jones’s character designs and figured this was a game for kids. I didn’t think that at all. But regardless, this is an adult game, and has some serious themes in it.
[20:07] <+Shingan> Is the future predetermined, then?
[20:07] <+JasonTondro> We are talking about a body of legend where adultery and incest and cold blooded murder are, well, right there in your face.
[20:08] <+JamesGillen> Like the Bible
[20:08] <+JasonTondro> So, for example, one of the antagonists is a Nazi who uses sexual tantric magic. She’s probably the most out there example, but this is not a kid’s game.
[20:09] <+JasonTondro> We have other artists besides Denise, and I think you’ll see a more mature feel to that art.
[20:10] <+JasonTondro> There was a question comparing the Dolorous Stroke to the big event in the game “Adventure!” Well, sort of. It’s like the Dolorous Stroke, which precedes Adventure by 800 years, but yes.
[20:10] <+JasonTondro> But in Adventure!, everything fantastic is traced to the event,. No, that is not true in AL!.
[20:10] <~Dan> I see.
[20:11] <+JasonTondro> There are plenty of supernatural things here on Earth, for example, that are unrelated to Faerie.
[20:11] <+JasonTondro> OK, the question was, “Is the future predetermined?”
[20:11] <+JasonTondro> No. PCs and the GM, at your individual game table, should tell the story your table wants to tell.
[20:12] <+Shingan> Presumably the Dolorous Stroke can’t be stopped, or else none of this would be happening.
[20:12] <+JasonTondro> This is one of the benefits of having multiple versions of all the famous characters. If that was not true, if there was only one Arthur, one Lancelot, and so on, there would be a lot less flexibility for the players. Some of these characters might become NPCs, and they’d be frozen.
[20:13] <+JasonTondro> I see what you are saying. Remember when I said that was a “theory”? If you and your table want to prevent the Dolorous Stroke, that would be awesome. Tell that story. You have to explain the return of enchantment in some other way, but I don’t think thats something your PCs are going to complain about. And that has nothing to do with why Arthur is back anywa
[20:13] <+JasonTondro> Arthur’s return was prompted by events in the past.
[20:14] <+JasonTondro> As the designer of the game, I have ideas about what might happen in the setting in seasons 2, 3, 4. But those are all ultimately just tools I am giving you and your table to use as you want.
[20:14] <+JasonTondro> Does that make sense?
[20:15] <+JamesGillen> yes
[20:15] <~Dan> Is the new Dolorous Stroke an exact replay of the last one, or is it something different? (Or is that determined?)
[20:15] <+Shingan> How else might a Wasteland be restored besides completing a grail quest?
[20:16] <+JasonTondro> It is not yet determined. In this first season, the PCs are mostly asking, “What happened? How did we get here? Why are we here now?” They have to get their lives in order, and find their friends and loved ones, find their magic swords and stuff…
[20:16] <+JasonTondro> … the Dolorous Stroke would be a season 2 event, if it happens at all. I have a worksheet with ideas on what it might be, and I am currently thinking I might give the GM a set of 3 or 5 options on it, and he or she can pick the one they like best.
[20:16] <+JamesGillen> Well, saying explicitly that there’s more than one Arthur parallels the point that there’s more than one interpretation of Arthur in media
[20:17] <+Shingan> Saber
[20:17] <+JasonTondro> Right, exactly. There have been multiple interpretations of Arthur since the 5th century.
[20:17] <+JasonTondro> Shingan, you asked about the wasteland. I don’t want to let that slip by.
[20:18] <+Shingan> If I were a player, I would want to prolong the period during which magic is available.
[20:18] <+JasonTondro> Especially in the 20th century, the Wasteland has become a metaphor for both spiritual and psychological damage, but also environmental damage. Does anyone read Dan Annette?
[20:18] <+JasonTondro> Dan Abnet, dumb autocorrect
[20:19] <+JasonTondro> Dan did this great 1990s comic called Knights of Pendragon, and in it Arthur and Gawain and Guinevere and others are all reincarnated. And the Wasteland is explicitly a question of environmental damage. His bad guy is basically made of pollution.
[20:20] <+JasonTondro> So the Wasteland could be a lot of things, but it has sort of gone global. There is no Wasteland in the world of AL yet. It’s hard to say what form it will take. But it’s likely that curing it, or fixing it, will be as much a symbolic act as anything else.
[20:20] <+JasonTondro> Magic is about manipulating symbols. Someone suggested Arthur could just go by another table at Pottery Barn. Well, sure. He can buy a round table. But it won’t be The Round Table as long as someone else has stolen his symbol.
[20:21] <+JasonTondro> On the idea of multiple interpretations:
[20:21] <+JasonTondro> The most obvious and simplest example of this is the difference between the British King Arthur and the French King Arthur.
[20:21] <+JasonTondro> The British King Arthur is a warlord. He invades Europe and conquers Rome, and is even crowned Emperor!
[20:21] <+JasonTondro> He kills giants single handed. Kills 960 men in his first battle.
[20:22] <+JasonTondro> The French King Arthur is nothing like this.
[20:22] <+JasonTondro> He is completely dependent on his knights to do everything. He is the King, and all wealth and honor flows from him, but he doesn’t fight people. That’s what Lancelot is for.
[20:23] <+JasonTondro> And this 100% mirrors the way the British and the French imagined kingship. In France, as I’m sure many of you know, the King had a very small piece of land around Paris., Most of France was held by his barons. They had all the power.
[20:23] <+JasonTondro> And you can draw a direct line from these early differences of opinion on what Arthur is like, all the way through Guy Ritchie’s upcoming movie, which is going to be totally bonkers.
[20:23] <+JasonTondro> I think I saw him controlling the air with Excalibur in the trailer. So, you know, there is a lot of room for player interpretation!
[20:24] <+JasonTondro> Done!
[20:24] <+JasonTondro> Sorry, I get a little academic at times. Mea maxima culpa.
[20:25] <~Dan> Are the assorted characters required to find their old weapons, or could a modern weapon be the “new” signature weapon of a knight? Like, could a knight be a gunslinger?
[20:25] <+JamesGillen> Well you mentioned how Arthur became international and how there’s a Nazi villain. The Nazis liked Arthur and they HAD Charlemagne and Siegfried to look at
[20:27] <+JasonTondro> Dan: Absolutely a knight can be a gunslinger. Magical items from the Arthurian Age appear in the 21st century as “echoes” of their former selves. So the Sword in the Stone might be a hockey stick frozen into a lake, or a baseball bat, or a crowbar. Or, yes, even a gun. Every Arthur gets his own echo. If there’s a “real” Excalibur out there…
[20:27] <+JasonTondro> … it hasn’t been discovered yet. Knights probably are not going to ride horses around on adventure; they’re going to drive Mustangs and Chargers and Colts. There is a very strong vehicle action vibe to playing a knight in AL. It’s a little Fast & Furious.
[20:28] <+JasonTondro> Of course if a knight wants to have a sword, then sure, by all means, he can have a sword, But this is not just a game for SCA re-enactors.
[20:28] <~Dan> Can faeries pack heat as well? Or do they have that iron problem going on?
[20:29] <+JamesGillen> heh
[20:29] <+Shingan> Well, Saber uses wind magic to disguise Excalibur.
[20:29] <+JasonTondro> James: Yes, the Nazi interest in Arthur actually appears in the book. So, for example, that Nazi tantric sorceress I mentioned, her role in the story is actually “unwanted ally.” She knows stuff the players will want to know, and she actually wants to help them. But, you know, she’s a Nazi! And not just a little Nazi. She is, like, 100% Nazi. So the players..
[20:29] <+Shingan> It could also be inspired by the kusanagi.
[20:29] <+JamesGillen> Awesome
[20:29] <+JasonTondro> … have to decide, “Are we going to tolerate accepting this woman’s help? Or is that a line I could not cross.”
[20:30] <+JasonTondro> Faeries packing heat:
[20:30] <+JasonTondro> Faeries do not have a universal allergy to iron in AL. Some could, certainly. But there is, for example, a Faerie Knight in the book, the Knight of the Moon, and he is a European race car driver, and he has a pistol. It might be silver, but the point is, yes, faeries can pack.
[20:31] <+JasonTondro> Trolls and Redcaps and other faerie creatures like guns. They’re not necessarily very good at using them, but they like them.
[20:31] <~Dan> Trolls with guns. Awesome.
[20:31] <+JasonTondro> There’s a little Shadowrun vibe in AL sometimes, with faerie creatures hiding out in the modern world, disguised.
[20:31] <+Shingan> How much of Christian myth is presumed to be true?
[20:32] <+JasonTondro> Good question.
[20:33] <+JasonTondro> There is a Heaven, and there is a Hell. There are angels and saints and demons. Christ himself does not appear in this game. But the Arthurian legend has some very strong Christian elements, like the Grail and the Lance, and so you kind of have to play along with that some. However…
[20:34] <+JasonTondro> … it is important to note that questions of religious diversity, for example, are addressed in the book. God does not care what religion you are, in AL. He cares if you are good or cruel. So if you’re an atheist, or a Confucian, or a Buddhist, you can absolutely achieve the Grail.
[20:34] <+JasonTondro> Because God does not care about all that fine print shit.
[20:34] <+JamesGillen> heh
[20:34] <+JasonTondro> I know this forum has a no religion rule, so please forgive me if I offend.
[20:35] <+Shingan> How do the players know there’s a heaven or hell or omnigod?
[20:35] <+JasonTondro> For example, Arthur Lives! Is very gender-bendy.
[20:35] <~Dan> JasonTondro: No, you’re cool. We’re discussing it in a game context.
[20:35] <+JasonTondro> One sec, and I’ll get to issues of cosmic awareness…
[20:36] <+JasonTondro> Nothing prevents a character from the Arthurian age coming back in a body which is a different physical gender than the character had originally.
[20:36] <+JasonTondro> So Lancelot can come back as a female cop. Or Guinevere as a frat boy. Whatever.
[20:36] <+JamesGillen> Yeah you mentioned the gender bending in a Facebook post
[20:36] <~Dan> Heh. Guinevere as a frat boy.
[20:36] <+JamesGillen> And someone was offended and I said, “If Camelot 3000 is an influence it makes sense.”
[20:37] <~Dan> Guinebeer.
[20:37] <+JamesGillen> HA
[20:37] <+JasonTondro> This creates a lot of open space for players to make characters that they identify with, which represent them, not just in terms of gender and sexuality, but race and ethnicity and class, and all that.
[20:37] <+JasonTondro> Guinebeer, nice. You win the Q&A.
[20:37] <+JamesGillen> You also mentioned today the damsel archetype. What cause is there to play that in this setting?
[20:37] <~Dan> \o/
[20:38] <+JasonTondro> Before I get to the Damsel, the Heaven and Hell thing:
[20:39] <+JasonTondro> Characters in the Arthurian Age saw, and felt, the obvious presence of God and the Devil during their adventures. They fought angels dressed as knights (and always lost to them), they wrestled with demons, they saw swords of fire descend from the heavens. They saw the Holy Grail and knew, somehow, what it was…
[20:39] <+JasonTondro> … Now, today in the 21st century, we can reinterpret a lot of that.
[20:39] <+JasonTondro> So if I want to introduce, say, a Buddhist who is a saint, sent down from Heaven to help the PCs, I would happily do that.
[20:40] <+JasonTondro> Religion is a toy box in AL. It’s there to be played with. Not to restrict your games.
[20:40] <+JasonTondro> And, heck, if a table decides they don’t want to deal with any of that, there is plenty to do in Faerie or here on earth without even getting into it.
[20:40] <+JasonTondro> OK, ah…. the Damsel.
[20:41] <+JamesGillen> yes
[20:41] <+JasonTondro> (Which is technically the Damosel in Arthur Lives!, just cause I like the original spelling.)
[20:41] <+JamesGillen> ah
[20:42] <+JasonTondro> First off, the damsel is the social and skill-based character. Women in Arthur brought a lot to the table. They knew things, and were sources of information. They had tremendous social power. And Fate has very robust rules for social action.
[20:42] <+JamesGillen> That is a good thing vs. D20
[20:42] <+JasonTondro> You have a Mental stress track, and can take consequences that force you out of the game for, for example, humiliation or whatever.
[20:42] <+JasonTondro> Yes, it’s one of the things that drew me to Fate.
[20:42] <+JamesGillen> Cause in Renaissance/Napoleonic games there seems to be more role for women characters
[20:43] <+Shingan> So, do pcs remember their pasts?
[20:43] <+JasonTondro> So even if you want to play a damsel in the classic, traditional mode: a woman who has no traditional combat skills, who influences people and is a knowledge base, and who recognizes reincarnations (damsels in Arthur always seem to know who people are the moment they see them, it’s weird)…
[20:43] <+JamesGillen> Oh that part is interesting
[20:44] <+Shingan> perilous
[20:44] <+JasonTondro> .. you still have a LOT to do. And then you add in all the modern stuff. Why can’t your damsel have a hunting license? Or be a cop or an FBI agent? The friction between the old you and the new you is what makes the characters interesting and exciting.
[20:44] <+JasonTondro> So a traditional damsel could also “pack heat,” as we say.
[20:45] <+JasonTondro> “Do PCs remember their pasts?” They don’t at first. Once they recognize themselves — “recognition” is when you realize something in the present is a reincarnation or echo of the Arthurian age —
[20:46] <+JasonTondro> … some of their memory returns. Most of it. But there might be blank spots. A lot of the Arthurian Age is contradictory. The stories don’t always fit the same continuity. So I’ve left most of that open for the table to decide what happened, and when you do, the PC remembers. Probably prompted by a current event.
[20:46] <+JasonTondro> Also, the Arthurian characters who lived the longest — they don’t remember what happened at the end. That’s to keep the mystery of the campaign, and force the PCs to explore and figure things out.
[20:47] <~Dan> Is the average person totally oblivious to the supernatural?
[20:47] <+JasonTondro> Most people have no idea the guy who runs the Circle K is actually a manticore on the run, no. But there’s no magical force keeping them from accepting the truth. If you want to show an ordinary NPC some magic, you can.
[20:48] <+JasonTondro> Getting a reincarnation to realize who he or she truly is, though, that’s a lot harder.
[20:48] <+JasonTondro> You can’t just say, “Hey, you’re Merlin!” Because that sounds insane. You have to somehow lead the person to come to the conclusion on their own. You have to Inception it.
[20:49] <+JasonTondro> Done.
[20:50] <+JasonTondro> Oh, let’s return to the Damsel a minute
[20:50] <+JasonTondro> Let me give some examples from playtest
[20:50] <+JasonTondro> The Lady of Shallot has been a very popular PC damsel.
[20:51] <+JasonTondro> For those who do not know this story, made popular by Tennyson but dating to the 13th century, the Lady of Shallot is Elaine of Astolat, who lives in a tower which she never leaves.
[20:51] <+JasonTondro> And she observes the world through a magic mirror. And she falls in love with Lancelot, and dies for him, and has her body put into a boat, and sent down the river to Camelot.
[20:52] <+JasonTondro> And Lancelot, never especially bright, sees the body in the boat and says, “Gosh, she sure is pretty,” and he is basically clueless and has no idea about anything.
[20:52] <+JasonTondro> Well, one of my PCs made a reincarnation of this character.
[20:53] <+JasonTondro> And she lived in the top floor of a Vegas hotel, and used her smartphone to spy on people. And she had all these detective-investigation skills based on analyzing the images on her smartphone.
[20:53] <+JasonTondro> So she became the group’s detective and technology expert. And she had enormous fun.
[20:54] <+JasonTondro> Done!
[20:54] <~Dan> What is magic like in the setting?
[20:54] <+JamesGillen> Awesome
[20:54] <+JasonTondro> Well! Magic is very robust.
[20:55] <+JasonTondro> For those who know Fate, Fate doesn’t have one specific magic system. Magic should reflect the setting.
[20:55] <+JasonTondro> So that meant I had to make up a magic system that represented the source material. And the result is “Enchantment,” which is a set of 15 different magical talents — like Binding or Weather Control or Necromancy.
[20:56] <+JasonTondro> Each talent has various “spells” it can be used for, which are very broadly defined effects like, oh, “The Spell of the Walking Dead” or “The Spell of the Invisible Hand.” And spells take a long time to cast, multiple rounds at least, sometimes minutes, But each talent also has “Words of Power”, which are one-round magic for combat.
[20:57] <+JasonTondro> But the real trick with Enchantment, what makes it different than other magic systems, is that it always works, at a cost.
[20:57] <+JasonTondro> In the source material, no one ever “resists” or “Saves against” a spell. If someone uses a spell on you, they do.
[20:58] <~Dan> Hmm. Interesting.
[20:58] <+JasonTondro> So, in AL!, Enchantment almost always works. Unless it’s fighting other enchantment or some other supernatural force. But in order to get that “always works,” the magician has to release more and more enchantment, more magic from faerie, and this has consequences.
[20:59] <+JasonTondro> Magicians build up “enchantment points,” to make up any required difference on a die roll. If you needed a 3 and you got a 1, then you get 2 enchantment points. And EP build up, and can “go off,” whenever the GM wants them to, resulting in uncontrollable magical effects.
[21:00] <+JasonTondro> Usually targeting the magician.
[21:00] <+JasonTondro> So, for example, at a low level, maybe your eyes turn into crystal orbs. Or your shadow is stolen by a faerie, and you have to get it back and sew it on.
[21:00] <+JasonTondro> At higher levels, maybe you are turned into an animal, or you can only speak Faerie for a while.
[21:00] <+JasonTondro> Or maybe magic erupts around you, and physical objects in your vicinity come to life.
[21:00] <+JasonTondro> Or you are just hunted by a demon, or whatever.
[21:00] <~Dan> “Be our guest, be our guest…”
[21:01] <+JamesGillen> hehe
[21:01] <+JasonTondro> The most famous examples are those which affect Merlin: You are forced to fall into a magical slumber, or you decide a given NPC is always trustworthy and means you well, no matter what that person does.
[21:01] <+JasonTondro> Yes, actually, now that you mention it, the Beast’s castle is a great example of Enchantment run amok.
[21:01] <~Dan> 😀
[21:02] <+JasonTondro> Most magicians will have 3 or 4 magical talents. Characters who are only occasional magicians may only have one.
[21:02] <+JasonTondro> But in general, the things you can do with magic are kept broad on purpose. Because Fate simulates our favorite novels and films, and there are no spell lists in those things.
[21:03] <~Dan> So it sounds like your magic system is akin to that in Buffy the Vampire Slayer insofar as casting magic isn’t the hard part — it’s getting it to work without something going haywire.
[21:03] <+JasonTondro> Well, good, yes.
[21:03] <+JasonTondro> It’s phrased like this in the game:
[21:03] <+JasonTondro> “The problem isn’t getting magic to work, it’s getting it to STOP.”
[21:03] <+JasonTondro> Which is a theme I actually took from Lord Dunsany’s marvelous fantasy novel “The King of Elfland’s Daughter.”
[21:04] <+JamesGillen> ah
[21:05] <+JasonTondro> If a magician makes all his rolls and doesn’t fail anything, he can keep his Enchantment point total low and under control. But if he rolls badly, or tries to use magic on something very powerful, he’ll have to release a lot of enchantment to do that, and the GM decides how that comes back to bite him.
[21:06] <~Dan> That’s rather cool.
[21:06] <~Dan> Very thematic.
[21:06] <+JasonTondro> And, by the way, enchantment is just the most detailed magic system. There are many other Magic systems in Fate, and there’s no reason you can’t use more than one of them.
[21:06] * ~Dan nods
[21:06] <+JamesGillen> nice
[21:07] <~Dan> Quick aside regarding one of my favorite magic systems: Are you familiar with Murphy’s World?
[21:07] <+JasonTondro> Thank you! I actually owe the basic idea of enchantment to a good friend, Graham Scott (Dungeon author, and professor!), who hashed it out with me one day in Panera years ago.
[21:07] <+JasonTondro> Murphy’s World…
[21:07] <+JasonTondro> … I don’t -think- so. Tell me.
[21:07] <~Dan> A fantasy comedy game about a world on which Murphy’s Law is, well, law.
[21:07] <+JasonTondro> It sounds like the Piers Anthony RPG.
[21:07] <+JamesGillen> hm
[21:08] <~Dan> Magic comes from the sentient sun named Ludo, who has a wicked sense of humor.
[21:08] <~Dan> All magic spells are really wishes to Ludo.
[21:08] <+JasonTondro> Nice.
[21:08] <+JasonTondro> Sure, and they always go wrong!
[21:08] <~Dan> And he’ll screw you over if given any chance.
[21:08] <+JasonTondro> Right, right. As long as everyone is in on the joke, that can be tremendous fun.
[21:08] <~Dan> Wizards are people who can include lots of disclaimers in their “spells”. 🙂
[21:08] <+JasonTondro> See, I’d be the guy trying to play a serious wizard in that game, and I’d be effing miserable.
[21:09] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:09] <~Dan> “I want to be able to fly, and I don’t want to BE a fly, and I want to be able to land, and I want to be able to land at a safe speed, and…”
[21:10] <+JasonTondro> I remember doing that sort of thing with Wish spells back in 1st edition AD&D.
[21:10] <~Dan> Anywho, sorry. That system just came to mind. Sorry for the digression.
[21:10] <+JasonTondro> My school friends and I were sort of perverse about intentionally mis-representing each other’s Wish spells.
[21:10] <+JasonTondro> Oh, it’s cool!
[21:11] <~Dan> So you said faerie creatures disguise themselves as humans or animals?
[21:11] <+JasonTondro> They can be “dressed” to barely fit in with the world. This is a term I stole shamelessly from Matt Wagner’s “Mage.”
[21:11] <+JasonTondro> In which the dragon Cromm Cruach is “dressed” as this freaky bald guy, and so on.
[21:12] <~Dan> Yeah, that’s what I was going to ask. How does something like a dragon disguise itself?
[21:12] <+JasonTondro> Dressing takes a few hours, and is exhausting, but a magician who summons something from Faerie could do it. The dragon doesn’t dress himself, unless he has that power. This is the power of Glamour, of creating illusions which are, for a time, real.
[21:13] <+JasonTondro> Typically, the magician summons something from Faerie with his Summon & Dispel power, and then he dresses it when it comes across the Veil.
[21:13] <+JasonTondro> But if a dragon just slips across the Veil, for example by accident or when hunting, it’s still very much a dragon. And maybe it hides in the nearest body of water, and now you have The Thing In The Lake.
[21:14] <+JasonTondro> Which is in the Bestiary, Chapter 10. 🙂
[21:14] <~Dan> What about giants?
[21:14] <+JasonTondro> Yes, good.
[21:15] <+JasonTondro> The three most common adversaries in Arthurian myth are dragons, giants, and witches. Seriously, this is like 90% of the bad guys. We have a lot more diversity in AL, but you have to cover the basics.
[21:15] <~Dan> Giants are a big deal.
[21:16] <+JasonTondro> They are indeed! Fate has a “Scale” system that can be used for things like Giants.
[21:17] <+JasonTondro> Human beings are Scale 1. So a Scale 2 giant is like, as big as a horse or a grizzly bear. A Scale 3 giant is huge. A Scale 4 giant is so big, it’s like Jack in the Beanstalk big. You can hide in its drinking cup.
[21:17] <+JasonTondro> And a Scale 5 giant is so big, you can’t even interact with it anymore. IT’s the giant that comes up out of the ocean, and your ship is parked on its head.
[21:17] <+JasonTondro> It’s a force of nature.
[21:17] <~Dan> So how would something that big be dressed?
[21:18] <+JasonTondro> Giants don’t make very good enforcers on this side of the veil because, when you dress them, they lose the thing that makes them unique. The giant isn’t giant any more, it’s just a big strong guy. It is stronger than an ordinary person, it has supernatural strength, but it’s just humanly big, though maybe barely.
[21:18] <+JasonTondro> Like, the biggest person you would believe.
[21:18] <+JamesGillen> And then some
[21:18] <+JasonTondro> And the bigger the faerie creature, the harder it is to dress. You couldn’t dress most giants. They’re just too big.
[21:19] <~Dan> Not even in a Big and Tall store?
[21:19] <+JasonTondro> But you can dress a small giant. In which case he becomes a really big, superhumanly strong, thug.
[21:19] <+JasonTondro> Maybe they have a special room in the Big and Tall store, like in Kingsman.
[21:19] <+JamesGillen> HA
[21:19] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:20] <~Dan> You mentioned your bestiary. How extensive is it?
[21:20] <+JasonTondro> Honestly, it’s so big, it probably should have been its own book.
[21:20] <~Dan> Is it too big to dress?
[21:21] <+JasonTondro> Because Fate doesn’t have a bestiary. In the True20 version, I could just point to the True20 Bestiary and say, “Use the giants from there.”
[21:21] <+JasonTondro> It is not too big to dress! Because we have hired Dan Smith to illustrate it!
[21:21] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:21] <+JasonTondro> For those who do not know Dan, Dan illustrated the entire In Nomine line for Steve Jackson Games, and many of their other books, including their World of Darkness conversions
[21:21] <~Dan> Nice.
[21:22] <+JasonTondro> Dan has this great vivid black and white style. Very exciting.
[21:22] <+JasonTondro> And when I told him, “We need 45 illustrations for the bestiary,” he was like, “I illustrated a book a month for SJG. You’re covered.”
[21:22] <~Dan> So in the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:22] <&Silverlion> That’s awesome.
[21:22] <~Dan> And please know that you’re more than welcome to hang out with us as long as you like.
[21:23] <+JasonTondro> But yes, the antagonists chapter has sections for rival incarnations, mundane threats like cops and assassins, animals like lions and bears and falcons, supernatural perils on Earth like vampires and werewolves, Faerie creatures like manticores and unicorns, representatives from Hell, and also Heaven.
[21:24] <+JasonTondro> I appreciate that, thank you! This has been fun, and I am very glad to have been invited.
[21:24] <+JasonTondro> Backers get the playtest PDF of the entire book at the $5 level. So, really, you can check out the whole game for a very modest buy in.
[21:25] <+JamesGillen> I’ll look into it
[21:25] <+JasonTondro> At $20 we have the PDF edition of the final book. The hardback, 250 pages in full color, is at the $50 level, and you get the PDF with that too of course. We have some high ticket items for fans of Michael Kucharski or Dan Smith.
[21:26] <+JasonTondro> If we reach our goal, we’ll start adding stretch goals: I’ve got two adventures I could write, to get player groups together, and we have some great writers on an adventure Anthology.
[21:26] <+JasonTondro> Richard Bellingham, Rob Wieland, both of whom have written many books for Fate and other games.
[21:26] <+JasonTondro> Chuck Rice, author of After Zombies, and an Arthurian RPG of his own back in the d20 day.
[21:27] <+JasonTondro> Here’s the link again: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/412792115/arthur-lives-2nd-ed-a-modern-arthurian-rpg-for-fat)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/412792115/arthur-lives-2nd-ed-a-modern-arthurian-rpg-for-fat
[21:27] <+JasonTondro> So, just check it out!
[21:27] <+JasonTondro> Thank you!
[21:27] <~Dan> Thanks for joining us, Jason!
[21:27] <+JasonTondro> My pleasure!
[21:28] <~Dan> As a reminder to folks, my tip jar is here for those feeling generous: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[21:28] <~Dan> And now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂
[21:28] <+JasonTondro> Brilliant!