[19:40] <+Ettin> Hi! I’m Paul Matijevic; I wrote Retrocausality, a card-based time travel game. In the past I wrote the horror game Breakfast Cult and the Fate conversion of Inverse World.
[19:40] <+Ettin> I’m also a moderator at RPGnet and Something Awful’s tabletop forum, which some folks probably know more about.
[19:41] <+Ettin> That’s about it, I think!
[19:41] <~Dan> Thanks, Ettin! The floor is open to questions!
[19:42] <~Dan> Can you tell us some more about the setting?
[19:44] <+Ettin> There’s no specific setting, though the implied setting is something like Bill & Ted. I wrote the mechanics with the assumption that groups can add time travel rules to suit them so a detailed setting would have gotten in the way.
[19:44] <+Ettin> The main reason is there are a million ways time travel can work in fiction and this way Retrocausality can cover more.
[19:45] <+Ettin> Bill & Ted is definitely The Best Way though, so.
[19:46] <~Dan> (Howdy, Jezibel!)
[19:46] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:47] <+Ettin> There’s the sheet for the old version! The new KSed version is mostly an art/layout update so it should cover everything
[19:47] <+Ettin> I don’t think I have a PDF with just the sheet but I can just link the old copy and you can flip to the end, I’ve been sending it to backers for free anyway
[19:47] <~Dan> That’ll work!
[19:48] <+Ettin> (Link: http://www.mediafire.com/file/5ov8915jph4hlm4/Retrocausality.pdf)http://www.mediafire.com/file/5ov8915jph4hlm4/Retrocausality.pdf
[19:49] <~Dan> Let’s see here…
[19:50] <~Dan> Looks like characters are all skills? No attributes?
[19:50] <+Ettin> Yep! I tried to keep it simple. (This is partly because the original game was made for a month long design contest and this was faster)
[19:50] <~Dan> How broad are the skills?
[19:51] <+Ettin> Skills work like they do in 13th Age, where you write down backgrounds that suit your character (like History Undergrad) and you use those skills whenever they would be relevant.
[19:52] <~Dan> I see… So very holistic.
[19:52] <+Ettin> Yeah, they can be pretty broad! You’re expected to not write like “best at everythinf” obviously
[19:52] <+Ettin> everything* even
[19:53] <~Dan> How many such skills do you get?
[19:54] <+Ettin> IIRC you usually have around 3 at the start, ranked from +3 to +1. They’re mostly used for non-time travel things.
[19:55] <+Ettin> When you’re taking an action that doesn’t involve time travel you just draw a card and check the number, if that + your bonus beats a set difficulty you win. The face cards do specific things like automatic success/fail etc.
[19:57] <~Dan> What are Complications?
[19:58] <+Ettin> In the original version everyone wrote down something their character was bad at, or something that hindered them, like Slacker or Anger Issues, and if they were also relevant you drew two cards and took the worst result instead.
[19:58] <+Ettin> I’m considering tweaking that one for the new edition, I feel like it didn’t get much use as it is.
[19:59] <~Dan> Really? What do you have in mind?
[20:00] <+Ettin> Originally it was there because I Like Fate, right now I’m thinking about making it more mechanical by tying it to one of the character’s time travel skills instead.
[20:00] <+Ettin> I think they’re down as Specialty on that sheet
[20:02] <~Dan> What are the time travel skills?
[20:04] <+Ettin> Time travel is simpler, so you just draw a card and try to match a specific suit. You go for Hearts when you’re mostly manipulating people, Diamonds if you’re collecting or exploiting information, Clubs if it’s mostly a physical action, Spades if you’re messing with other time travelers or doing other things that don’t perfectly fit in the others
[20:04] <+Ettin> Normally if you match the suit it’s a success and if you just have the same colour it’s a partial success
[20:05] <+Ettin> Each character has one specific use of time travel they’re good at: setting up stunts with your past/future selves, interacting with important historical figures/events without changing anything, taking things from one time period and using them in another without changing anything, or observing and finding things
[20:06] <+Ettin> When you’re doing something covered by that skill, you only need the same colour to succeed and one of the other two suits is a partial success.
[20:07] <~Dan> Hmm… So these aren’t all skills at time traveling, but rather things that you might do while time traveling?
[20:07] <+Ettin> Yeah, basically
[20:07] <+Ettin> So if you’re, say, gaming the stock market to get rich, you want to draw Diamonds but Hearts will be a partial success (maybe you get money but accidentally make someone else rich and they accidentally change some things)
[20:08] <+Ettin> But if you’re good at observation you can figure out how you need to do it easier, so Diamonds/Hearts are both successes and Clubs is a partial success
[20:09] <+Ettin> It’s a little harder to succeed with time travel actions than regular actions but trying to patch up your mistakes makes the game more interesting, I think
[20:09] <~Dan> How are time travel skills rated? In the number of cards you draw?
[20:10] <~Dan> (Howdy, MikeStewart!)
[20:10] <+MikeStewart> Hey Dan
[20:10] <+Ettin> There’s no real rating, you just have that one skill and its improved chance of success
[20:11] <~Dan> (MikeStewart: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/ )
[20:11] <+Ettin> You can change it between adventures if the GM okays it though, so if you’ve used that skill a ton and you’re getting bored of it you can try something else
[20:12] <~Dan> I’m not clear on how having the skill increases your chances. Is taking the action impossible if you don’t have the skill?
[20:14] <+Ettin> You can take any time travel action you like
[20:14] <+Ettin> So like, in that stock market example above, the target suit is Diamonds and that’s what most people would need to draw to succeed
[20:15] <+Ettin> And Hearts is the same colour, so it’s a partial success
[20:15] <+Ettin> And Spades/Clubs are just failure
[20:15] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, it looks interesting, though I’m not big on card-driven games.
[20:16] <+Ettin> But if your skill is observation you can use that to gather the data you need, and Diamonds+Hearts are both successes, Clubs is a partial success, and Spades is failure
[20:16] <~Dan> Right, I follow you there… So there aren’t actual skills to govern these actions?
[20:16] <+MikeStewart> Dan, I just reminded Liz to send you that pdf. Hopefully it’ll be there soon. 🙂
[20:16] <+Ettin> Yeah, it’s also broad
[20:16] <~Dan> MikeStewart: No rush! Thanks!
[20:17] <+Ettin> Although the game assumes that you can also write down some extra rules if you like
[20:17] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[20:17] <+Ettin> So if your group decides you want time travel to work like it does in Doctor Who, you just flat out can’t do anything that the Doctor couldn’t
[20:17] <+Ettin> Mike: I can understand that! I mostly went with cards since the design contest that spawned this game had a “no dice” theme.
[20:18] <+MikeStewart> Ettin <nod> I can understand that. 🙂
[20:19] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, rankly without cards I don’t see what other resolution system you could’ve used.
[20:19] <+Ettin> The combat rules focus on time travel, since I didn’t think detailed rules for positioning and fisticuffs were necessary in a game where you can go get a Gun From The Future and undo the combat if you don’t like it
[20:20] <+Ettin> Normally in Retrocausality you represent the timeline you’re messing in with a series of index cards, which you can swap out or add to as things change
[20:20] <+Ettin> In combat, you make a special one for the fight and figure out the major events that would play out if you didn’t time travel
[20:21] <~Dan> How do you do that?
[20:21] <+Ettin> “This soldier throws a grenade and kills Sam, whoops” etc
[20:21] <+Ettin> I think you drew cards but I haven’t checked lately. If you didn’t I’m going to go back and change it so it looks like I meant to say that
[20:22] <+Ettin> (I’m stuck in my phone while the office gets renovated so I’m missing some materials!)
[20:22] <~Dan> No worries!
[20:22] <+Ettin> After that everyone uses their time travel skills to affect the fight, and the GM gets actions as well to represent the enemy changing things up etc.
[20:23] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, did you ever see the boardgame Time War by Yaquinto? Late 70s, early 80s?
[20:23] <+Ettin> Beforehand the GM sets a number of rounds the conflict is allowed to go for, and after that it’s assumed that the whole thing is such a huge mess that you can’t change it now
[20:24] <+Ettin> So once you run out of rounds whatever the timeline looks like now is what you’re stuck with. Ideally it works well enough for you!
[20:24] <+xyphoid> so can i run dancers at the end of time with this
[20:24] <+Ettin> I basically run them like this (Link: https://youtu.be/CBawCe6du3w)https://youtu.be/CBawCe6du3w
[20:24] <+Ettin> Mike: I don’t think so, how is it?
[20:26] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, basically its 4 agencies from the future sending agents back into time to change the “Time Track” in a way to benefit their agency. Naturally, opponents try to change the track to directions that favor them, and so on.
[20:27] <+Ettin> Also, that said I kept it simple enough that if you want you can lay it over, say, Pathfinder and run a combat in that before time travelling around
[20:27] <+Ettin> (running that might drive a man mad but I wouldn’t mind seeing it!)
[20:27] <+MikeStewart> There are mission cards to go to certain times and do certain things, like “Give firearms to the Aztecs.” or “Prevent Da Vinchi from painting the Mona Lisa.” and such like. Your descript of the time track made me think of it.
[20:27] <+Ettin> Haha that sounds cool actually
[20:28] <+Ettin> I used to play a bunch of Chrononauts if it’s like that
[20:28] <+MikeStewart> Its pretty complicated, yours sounds a lot easier! 😉
[20:29] <~Dan> Ettin: Who fills out the stack of index cards of events? The GM?
[20:30] <+Ettin> The GM handles most of it. Usually if a PC succeeds at something they can rewrite a card, and the GM decides what other cards that might affect
[20:31] <~Dan> Can the PCs see all of the cards, essentially knowing everything about how things play out pre-interference?
[20:31] <+Ettin> Yeah, you lay out the timeline on the table so players can see it and can discuss what they want to do
[20:32] <+Ettin> Usually I write them on index cards and put them in a line, I’ve used a whiteboard and a flow chart too
[20:32] <~Dan> Seems like could be a slow process. How does it work in play?
[20:32] <+Ettin> The timeline’s mostly there so the group can track what’s going on easily
[20:33] <+MikeStewart> Here is BGG’s view of the game Time War: (Link: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1857/time-war)https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1857/time-war
[20:33] <+MikeStewart> Ok, I’ll stop interrupting now. 🙂
[20:33] <+Ettin> Haha it’s fine, I like looking at other games
[20:34] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:35] <+Ettin> It’s worked out alright so far! The main cause of slowness for me was the players doing something incredibly unexpected and off the wall that just stumps me for a minute, and that happens in a lot of my other games too 🙂
[20:36] <+Ettin> The main trick is that you don’t need to write down everything, you can stick to important stuff and short descriptive phrases like “the Battle of Hastings” or “punched Baby Napoleon”
[20:36] <~Dan> So it sounds like there’s not much difference between combat and other time travel activity.
[20:37] <+Ettin> More or less, the “rules” are mostly there to keep the game from being slowed down by too many do-overs
[20:38] <~Dan> Is the assumption that every activity will always be opposed by other time travelers?
[20:39] <+Ettin> Not necessarily, since the setting is only implied it’s up to the GM whether they exist and what form they take
[20:40] <+Ettin> Usually the main problem for the PCs is trying to get the timeline into a state they like without too many side-effects
[20:41] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ2!)
[20:43] <+Ettin> I’ve run a game where the antagonist was some dude in the future who was sending back robot doubles of the PCs to try and replace them, so the opposition was their murderous robot doubles
[20:43] <~Dan> How much interaction takes place in a typical game session? It seems like the PCs are almost removed from the flow of the action.
[20:43] <+Ettin> I’ve also done a convention game where they mostly just had fun messing around across time though
[20:43] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest41!)
[20:44] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, <heh> A “Bogus Journey”? 😉
[20:44] <+Ettin> Haha yeah
[20:46] <+Ettin> Usually I roleplay out the time travel scenes, like if the group finds out Lincoln left the theatre early because he thought the play sucked they’ll be roleplaying convincing him to go back and the cards decide how that works out
[20:49] <+Ettin> You can also decide that a specific action is big enough that it can require multiple time skills across multiple PCs and/or several scenes of roleplay to get through
[20:50] <+MikeStewart> Ettin, so a bit of the 80s TV show Voyagers thrown in too?
[20:50] <+Ettin> Mostly it depends on what your group finds interesting to zoom in on, so if you’re Lincoln fans that could turn into hours of get-in-the-theater-Abraham fun
[20:50] <+Ettin> Haha yeah
[20:51] <+Ettin> My ideal Retrocausality adventures play out like an episode of a TV show or a Saturday morning cartoon
[20:54] <~Dan> It seems like this could be a party game.
[20:56] <+Ettin> Yeah! Originally it was simple for contest-deadline reasons but I really liked it as a game you can just take to a con/party or run as a one-shot when your GM is away or something.
[20:58] <~Dan> I think it has potential as a drinking game, too. 🙂
[20:58] <+MikeStewart> Time travel is always better as a drinking game!
[20:58] <+Ettin> Haha
[20:58] <+Ettin> Oh man I could put a page of drinking game rules in there too
[20:59] <+Ettin> Killed your own grandfather – finish your drink
[21:00] <~Dan> Howdy, NM_Alan!
[21:00] <~Dan> Ettin: You really should. 🙂
[21:01] <+Ettin> Most of the changes in the new book will just be tweaks like clearer terms for success/failure, but there are a few pages that are mostly jokes and I should replace them with Better Ones
[21:01] <+Ettin> Drinking rules would be a nice fit
[21:01] <+MikeStewart> Well, its 9pm and I gotta go grade student discussions. See ya later!
[21:01] <+Ettin> Later!
[21:01] <~Dan> Take care, MikeStewart!
[21:01] <+Ettin> Mind if I do that and credit you for the idea, Dan?
[21:02] <~Dan> I would be honored!
[21:03] <+Ettin> Heck yeah
[21:03] <~Dan> I think PCs should have to phrase what they want to do as a question, like, “Can I try to stop Lincoln’s assassination?”
[21:03] <~Dan> And the GM would say, “Sure, give it a shot.”
[21:03] <&NM_Alan> Hi people?
[21:04] <+Ettin> Hahaha
[21:05] <+Ettin> Man I need to sit down and work this out, do some research
[21:05] <~Dan> Does the game feature any kind of bestiary? Or would that not make sense?
[21:06] <+Ettin> “Research”
[21:06] <&NM_Alan> what game is this
[21:06] <~Dan> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/
[21:06] <&NM_Alan> oh is this a QA?
[21:07] <~Dan> Yup!
[21:07] <+Ettin> Not exactly, most NPCs/encounters would just have a difficulty rating needed to deal with them (if appropriate) and their own time travel skill if they’re likely to use it
[21:08] <+Ettin> Though you can assign different difficulties to different things to make an NPC easier to defeat if you’re bribing them or something
[21:08] <+Ettin> Oh dang, just clicked that and we’ve blown past the first stretch goal
[21:08] <~Dan> Congrats!
[21:09] <+Ettin> Nice, all the stretch goals are awful
[21:09] <~Dan> Awful?
[21:09] <+Ettin> Take a look at the next two at 2.5/3k 😉
[21:09] <+Ettin> Actually just take a look at the 2k one we hit haha
[21:10] <+Ettin> (Really I’m avoiding complicated stretch goals because I want to avoid extra work that would interfere with my other projects)
[21:11] <~Dan> Ha! I see what you mean. 🙂
[21:12] <~Dan> How many pages is the book?
[21:12] <+Ettin> The old one was about 64, but the new one might be smaller. Partly because I’m deleting some joke pages, partly because the layout we’re planning at the moment fits a bit more text into each page
[21:13] <+Ettin> There’s a WIP example here: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/posts/1855893)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ettin/retrocausality-1st-edition-a-time-travel-roleplayi/posts/1855893
[21:14] <+Ettin> Though several pages involve example timelines so it won’t be that much smaller, probably
[21:14] <~Dan> To what degree do you delve into means of time travel?
[21:15] <+Ettin> Besides the group writing down any time travel rules they want to use, you’re expected to write down what your actual method of time travel is
[21:16] <+Ettin> (Delorean, washing machine, watch, that weird thing C°ntinuum does, etc)
[21:17] <~Dan> (Hot tub?)
[21:17] <+Ettin> Also good!
[21:17] <+Ettin> In the original you also noted whether it was portable, something huge like a van, or a part of you
[21:18] <~Dan> (Howdy, Ampersand!)
[21:18] <+Ettin> But that’s probably something we can do without since it’d be implied
[21:19] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:19] <+Ettin> Hmm
[21:20] <+Ettin> I can probably mention the changes to how the game describes success/failure since it’s mentioned in that layout I linked
[21:20] <~Dan> Sure!
[21:21] <+Ettin> So right now there are four different outcomes you can get when you draw a card
[21:22] <+Ettin> The first two are success and failure, every outcome you get is one of those and the other two are things they might also be
[21:22] <+Ettin> The first is Bogus, which means things didn’t work out quite how you wanted or had an unintended side-effect
[21:22] <+Ettin> So a bogus success is a partial success, bogus failure is just a really bad failure
[21:23] <+Ettin> (Or success at a cost depending on what games you like)
[21:23] <~Dan> Please tell me that the other is “Excellent”…
[21:23] <+Ettin> Originally bogus success automatically happened when you drew a Queen card so it was just called a Queen, that’s clunky thouhh
[21:23] <+Ettin> It is! Excellent is the opposite, so slightly/even better than you intended
[21:24] <+Ettin> Excellent success is basically a critical, it’s possible to get an excellent failure which basically means you get a consolation prize
[21:24] <~Dan> Woohoo!
[21:25] <+Ettin> It can also mean you sort-of succeeded but only by accident depending on whether that sounds funny enough
[21:25] <+Ettin> Like you’re trying to stop someone shooting a baby President and accidentally cause a huge car accident that injures both of you
[21:26] <+Ettin> (usually it happens if you draw a Joker, so)
[21:26] <+Ettin> I like doing it this way a lot better, it’s clearer and fun to say
[21:27] <~Dan> It really is. 🙂
[21:27] <+Ettin> That’s it I think!
[21:27] <~Dan> Excellent! 🙂
[21:27] <~Dan> Thanks so much for joining us this evening, Ettin!
[21:28] <+Ettin> Thanks for having me!
[21:28] <~Dan> Usual reminder: My tip jar is here for those so inclined: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[21:28] <~Dan> Soon to be a Patreon!
[21:29] <~Dan> And if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you, Ettin!
[21:29] <+Ettin> Oh nice, patreon is great
[21:29] <+Ettin> Sure!