[19:32] <+greyauthor> Well hello and thanks for having me! I’m Chris Grey author of The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, which is a tabletop roleplaying game using the Powered by the Apocalypse framework. Have a few days left on the Kickstarter, but I’m funded and rushing toward the next stretch goal!
[19:33] <+greyauthor> The game takes place at Mouse Park, which is a theme park taken over by some horrible unspeakable terror. The nature of the terror the table defines and the nature of the park the table defines as well. The Narrator creates incidents that player characters react to and mayhem ensues.
[19:34] <+greyauthor> Some fun variations from typical PBTA fare, for example you essentially create your own playbooks through a Mouse Park employment application. There are also interesting moves that take advantage of the specific setting as well. I’m sure there’s a lot more detail here, but that’s the 30k foot view! (done)
[19:34] <~Dan> Thanks, greyauthor! The floor is open to questions!
[19:35] <~Dan> How do you see a game of this playing out? Is this strictly a one-off game?
[19:35] <~Dan> The premise seems relatively limited on the face of it.
[19:36] <+greyauthor> It works really well as a one-shot, however since you play employees at the park it can be a campaign. If done as a campaign, it works great in a Monster of the Week sort of set-up where you are dealing with different problems every session, but perhaps with a larger arc that ties it all together.
[19:36] <+greyauthor> It can vary wildly with regards to setting and incidents as well. Since you create the park and the dangers inside of it for every new session it can take on many shapes and sizes.
[19:37] <~Dan> How serious is the game?
[19:37] <+greyauthor> For example I’ve played sessions in 1950s-era Disneyland and in Jurassic Park-style islands
[19:38] <+EggEmbry> Can I trouble you for a link to the KS? 🙂
[19:38] <~Dan> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greyauthor/the-happiest-apocalypse-on-earth-roleplaying-game)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/greyauthor/the-happiest-apocalypse-on-earth-roleplaying-game
[19:38] <+greyauthor> It walks the line between humor and seriousness and is definitely dripping with satire. However, I’ve found the more serious you take the game at the table, the more hilarious it becomes. There have been non-humorous sessions I’ve seen that ignore the absurd, and take a sort of Creepy Pasta approach that can get very scary. (done)
[19:38] <+greyauthor> Oh yeah, the link 🙂
[19:40] <~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:41] <+greyauthor> This is from the alpha pack, but it generally gives you the idea (Link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/i3clxzhhz2mhk9r/HAoE-Character-Sheet.pdf?dl=0)https://www.dropbox.com/s/i3clxzhhz2mhk9r/HAoE-Character-Sheet.pdf?dl=0
[19:41] <+greyauthor> Oh maybe that link won’t work here
[19:41] <~Dan> Nope, it worked.
[19:41] <+greyauthor> Oh, good
[19:42] <+greyauthor> All players get the basic moves on the front, but based upon your Mouse Park application you’ll pick and choose additional moves that are the second page.
[19:42] <+greyauthor> Like most PBTA games, the moves work with a 2d6 roll and a spectrum of success and failure.
[19:43] <~Dan> I like your stat names. 🙂
[19:44] <+greyauthor> Thank you. They attempt to take on the flavor of the setting, and the moves are all Easter Eggs
[19:45] <~Dan> So I see. 🙂
[19:45] <+greyauthor> Some are more obscure than others, but certain Disneyphiles may catch them.
[19:45] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, BMurray!)
[19:46] * +BMurray bows
[19:46] <+greyauthor> I’m a big fan of your career Mr. Murray!
[19:46] <+BMurray> haha, thank you, such as it is.
[19:46] <+BMurray> Bit of a dry spell lately.
[19:47] <~Dan> (BMurray: Here for the Q&A?)
[19:47] <+BMurray> You bet.
[19:47] <~Dan> (Excellent. In progress, and the floor is open to questions. Ask at will! 🙂 )
[19:48] <~Dan> What sorts of resources to the employees have?
[19:49] <+greyauthor> There are basically two levels of resources, first are merchandise (gear that they get based upon their department and background), and Twinkle, which is an setting-specific mechanic that is, I think, pretty horrible and fun.
[19:49] <+greyauthor> When you want to reroll a die, or negate harm and shock, you can “Wish Upon A Star”
[19:49] <+greyauthor> This is basically calling upon the power of the Great Mouse and so you get those benefits. However when you do that, you accumulate a Twinkle.
[19:50] <+greyauthor> Whenever you Wish Upon a Star you subtract your Twinkle from the die roll, so the move gets harder and harder.
[19:50] <+greyauthor> On the third Twinkle a horrible doom befalls you.
[19:51] <+greyauthor> BUT! If you know some Mouse Park moves, you can use Twinkle as a positive to rolls and can produce certain magic and other special effects. So you are incentivized to accumulate Twinkle for your special moves, even though it’s dangerous (done)
[19:52] <~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the magic that’s available to PCs?
[19:53] <+greyauthor> The act of calling upon the Great Mouse is a magic of sorts, because you can change your fortune, heal yourself, stop insanity and even resurrect someone. But special Mouse Park moves can play with that further
[19:53] <+greyauthor> Some will assist others who are making a wish so that they don’t accumulate Twinkle
[19:54] <+greyauthor> But one in particular “Fill the World with Sunshine” actually produces magic that can cause harm, shock, add armor, wards, create magical energy, etc.
[19:54] <+greyauthor> The best use I’ve seen of this is when a player made rays of rainbows come out of their fingertips to blow up a bunch of attacking animatronics from It’s a Small World
[19:54] <+greyauthor> (done)
[19:56] <~Dan> That’s definitely what should happen to animatronics from It’s a Small World.
[19:56] <+greyauthor> That was a particularly creepy session. At one moment, one of those dolls was chewing a dismembered arm like a chicken drumstick. Not to be graphic.
[19:57] <~Dan> Wow. That IS creepy.
[19:57] <+greyauthor> Although the table was even more creeped out before the animatronics came alive and were just in motion while the music was off.
[19:58] <~Dan> Speaking of which, do you have any sort of bestiary?
[19:59] <+greyauthor> As it stands, yes there will be a bestiary but as part of example “incidents.” Those are simply pre-made adventure scenarios using a storytelling mechanic in the game. At present looking at about 20 incidents with different baddies in them.
[19:59] <+greyauthor> But there is a stretch goal to include a much bigger one, as well as mechanics for building an evil pantheon of elder gods.
[19:59] <~Dan> (Howdy, JamesGillen!)
[19:59] <+JamesGillen> hi
[20:00] <+greyauthor> Another table favorite is the princess who goes psychotic with a butcher knife.
[20:01] <~Dan> Heh. A table of Disney princesses?
[20:01] <+BMurray> Chris, how hard are you flexing the PtbA engine on a scale of, say, Apocalypse World to Blades in the Dark?
[20:02] <+greyauthor> I meant table of players, they love the psycho princess session.
[20:02] <+greyauthor> So on that scale it is definitely on the AW side. I would pin it somewhere around Monster of the Week
[20:02] <+greyauthor> The playbook process is the biggest departure, you essentially create your own through the character creation process
[20:03] <~Dan> Oh! Sorry. Totally misread that.
[20:03] <+BMurray> Oh cool; can you tell me more about that?
[20:03] <+greyauthor> Interesting how it came about actually. I had initially created playbooks for different departments in the park, but it was always contrived to get them together for the same reason.
[20:04] <+greyauthor> For example security would be up watching a monitor while maintenance was fixing a ride, while entertainment was out with guests…
[20:04] <+greyauthor> So after some frustrating playtests, realized that it works better if everyone is in the same department.
[20:04] * +BMurray nods
[20:04] <+greyauthor> So the variable array of moves is based upon your background, not your department.
[20:05] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Speedy!)
[20:05] <+greyauthor> That led to an employee’s application process, where you put in your job history, etc. To figure out what moves you can have access to.
[20:05] <+BMurray> haha, very cool!
[20:06] <+greyauthor> So essentially everyone gets to pick a primary set of moves and a secondary set. And that’s how you figure out relationships to (called Pal), by doing your “references”
[20:06] <+greyauthor> *too
[20:06] <+greyauthor> I hope we get the 10k stretch goal, because then I’ll have character creation and specific moves for guests as well. Which I play a stripped down version of that at cons a lot.
[20:07] <~Dan> Seems like playing as a guest would be a radically different experience.
[20:08] <+greyauthor> It is. I tend to play that way for kids (because what does my 9 year old know about working at a theme park). But I find all sorts of people like to play that model. It’s just that the mechanics would need to be very different
[20:08] <+greyauthor> And at the KS goal there was enough room for one. So I chose the one that was more replayable in campaigns.
[20:08] <~Dan> (wb, EggEmbry)
[20:09] <~Dan> (You there, Speedy? 🙂 )
[20:09] <+Speedy> Mentally or physically?
[20:09] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest20!)
[20:09] <~Dan> (Well, it’s a chatroom, so mentally. 🙂 )
[20:09] <+greyauthor> Speaking of which, you can take both physical harm and mental shock! You can die and also go insane.
[20:09] <+greyauthor> Good times.
[20:10] <~Dan> I know what you meant, but it’s funny the way you phrased that.
[20:10] <+Speedy> Sounds like a rough theme park.
[20:10] <~Dan> Pretty harsh, going nuts after dying.
[20:10] <+greyauthor> On the surface it’s just dandy.
[20:11] <~Dan> (wb, Drew)
[20:11] <~Dan> On a related note, what keeps the park open the first time that facade falls apart?
[20:12] <+Speedy> Also, is it run by InGen?
[20:12] <+greyauthor> There are Narrator mechanics for dealing with this and it varies by session/campaign. But there are an assortment of tags you can choose that describe how the park keeps the veil up.
[20:13] <+greyauthor> For example Pineapple Whip is drugged so park guests lose their memory of what happened. They engineer clones to replace people who died. They serve drugged Churros, etc.
[20:13] <~Dan> Mmm. Pineapple Whip.
[20:13] <+greyauthor> On the Mouse Park twitter (@visitmousepark), you can witness their PR people try to act normal publicly and cover things up. All kinds of crazy hijinks happen at that park.
[20:14] <+greyauthor> Speedy, I have run a Jurassic Park session. It was a riot.
[20:14] <+greyauthor> There was volcanic human sacrifice in that one too.
[20:14] <+Speedy> I’ve always felt that was missing in my theme park experiences.
[20:14] <+greyauthor> Haha
[20:15] <+greyauthor> When you sit down to play the whole group works together to design the park and the attractions. It’s amazing what turns up sometimes.
[20:16] <~Dan> Do they design the threats as well, or just the “normal” aspects of the park?
[20:16] <+greyauthor> They design a context for the threats, for example they design the nature of Mouse Park’s evil, who the Great Mouse is, and what the company behind Mouse Park is up to. But the specific threats (called dangers in this game) are by the Narrator
[20:18] <~Dan> That’s a lot of PC power!
[20:18] <~Dan> Are there listed options for the nature of the evil?
[20:19] <~Dan> (wb, EggEmbry)
[20:19] <+greyauthor> Yeah, it’s by design. Definitely falls into the player side of the spectrum. However the Narrator can make life very horrible during game play with Narrator moves and Danger moves.
[20:19] <+greyauthor> Yes there are “tags” that players choose to describe the evil
[20:19] <+greyauthor> My favorite tag available for describing the Great Mouse is “not a mouse”
[20:21] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:21] <~Dan> (brb)
[20:21] <+JamesGillen> ha
[20:23] <+greyauthor> As for Narrator moves (or why they can make life difficult), they can choose from several dangers: Weird (supernatural, evil, monsters), Mousineers (staff), Management, Guests, Mouse Park (the park itself is alive) and Big Picture (tone/tenor of game)
[20:24] <+greyauthor> Those moves can range from a guest getting in their way, a monster revealing itself, or destroying something innocent. Some moves are soft, meaning the characters have a chance to react to it, and some a hard, meaning they just happen.
[20:24] <+JamesGillen> ok
[20:26] <+greyauthor> The Big Picture Moves are especially nasty. As the book says “The best reaction after a Big Picture move is wide eyes, gaping mouths, and open pleas to something holy.”
[20:26] <~Dan> Nice description!
[20:27] <+greyauthor> Thanks!
[20:27] <~Dan> Can you give an example of that?
[20:28] <+greyauthor> A couple examples introduce insanity, kill or destroy, create doom, compel rage, etc. But needs to be something that can’t be easily mitigated or dealt with. And they’re perfect for setting the game’s tone.
[20:29] <~Dan> (Connection problems, EggEmbry? 🙂 )
[20:29] <+greyauthor> For example, you are on the attractions person for a roller coaster and as you look up the entire apparatus folds on itself collapsing, immediately killing hundreds of people. That would be a Big Picture move (done)
[20:30] <~Dan> Wow. I see what you mean.
[20:30] <+greyauthor> Or you are going up the water ride and someone drops down on a rope and hangs himself above you.
[20:30] <+greyauthor> (That would be “Create Dismay and Sadness”)
[20:30] <~Dan> Well, that’s noose to me!
[20:31] <+greyauthor> Hah!
[20:31] <+greyauthor> I love puns.
[20:31] <~Dan> You may have come to the right place…
[20:31] <~Dan> <.<
[20:32] <+greyauthor> As you can tell some of the themes get very dark, sometimes they get very absurd. But I’ve called out players to take advantage of the X card as it can easily cross a line with people. Especially at cons.
[20:32] <+FP_David> Puns? We never have puns here.
[20:33] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:33] <~Dan> Going back to PC resources again for a moment, what do they have access to in the way of weapons to combat the evil?
[20:34] <+greyauthor> By design, very little. Some have more than others (let’s say you are playing an ex cop). But as you are staff for Mouse Park you are just regular people. So characters have to improvise. It is generally a run away game, not a fighting game.
[20:35] <+FP_David> Also lemme get caught up here, just finished dinner
[20:35] <+greyauthor> I have heard of sessions run where players are more like MIB and are more resourced, but the mechanics aren’t really geared for that.
[20:35] <+greyauthor> Usually game play is about containing the threat and saving the poor guests.
[20:36] <+greyauthor> But there are some special pieces of gear that can add bonuses to harm or protect you from shock. (done)
[20:36] <~Dan> Like character stuffies? 🙂
[20:37] <+greyauthor> I have used stuffies that provide +ward which protects you from shock
[20:37] <~Dan> I knew it! 😀
[20:37] <+greyauthor> Hah!
[20:38] <+greyauthor> And you can have things like golf carts
[20:38] <+greyauthor> Characters with a government background can get “G-Man Stone Glare” which adds to their Wicked stat
[20:38] <+JamesGillen> ha
[20:39] <+greyauthor> Blue collar background can get a wife and kid(s) that’ll come to the park and follow you around giving you bonuses to either Sweet or Wicked, depending on how they are
[20:39] <+greyauthor> Anyway, the list goes on
[20:39] * ~Dan nods
[20:40] <~Dan> Can you give an example of PC improvisation that helped save the day?
[20:40] <+greyauthor> There are so many, let me think
[20:41] <+greyauthor> I think a good one is when we were playing in 1950s Disneyland, and there was a Russian spy posing as a tourist along with a family of tourists (one was a government contractor), long story…
[20:41] <+greyauthor> Anyway, the character meant to be Walt Disney had gone crazy (psychotic was a chosen tag the players made when creating the park)
[20:42] <+greyauthor> And he opened a new attraction which was an animatronic show with water featuring the Sorcerer’s Apprentice
[20:42] <~Dan> (Walt Ditzey)
[20:42] <+greyauthor> The Russian spy was trying to get to the defense contractor
[20:42] <+greyauthor> (I named him Elias Roy…)
[20:43] <+greyauthor> But the player improvised that he had a gun. Which, given his character, I believed he did. And pulled it on Walt. When everyone looked at him with shock, he lied and said it was standard Mouse Park issue
[20:43] <+greyauthor> Everyone believed him.
[20:44] <+greyauthor> And then he threatened Elias into giving him a job so he could get all of the U.S. secrets
[20:44] <+greyauthor> Took a hilarious turn.
[20:44] <+greyauthor> Anyway, kind of hard to explain in chat, but it was awesome. It’s the sort of game that can create hilarious scenarios
[20:45] <~Dan> Very cool.
[20:45] <+greyauthor> Oh! I forgot, Elias was killing guests with magic brooms using a 1950s style RC controller
[20:46] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:47] <~Dan> Is this your first attempt at a published RPG?
[20:47] <+greyauthor> Technically yes, although I did publish some adventures on DMs Guild. I wouldn’t call those serious publications. I’m an indy publisher so have published 12 books, this is my first game.
[20:48] <~Dan> Interesting choice for a first game! What has your gaming history been like?
[20:49] <+greyauthor> Played all throughout high school and college in the 90s, mostly D&D, RIFTS, and some horrible homebrew system we used to play a space opera. The setting is still alive actually on Wikia.
[20:49] <+greyauthor> After my home crew went separate ways I ended up in MMOs for a lot of years, before returning a couple years ago. Still play and love 5e, but I’m eating up all the indy games as fast as I can
[20:50] <~Dan> What appeals to you about PbtA?
[20:50] <+greyauthor> I play Savage Worlds, FATE, and others. Wish I had more hours to play them all
[20:50] <+greyauthor> I love the narrative-driven mechanics. As an author I can see the appeal of handing the controls over to someone else and react to them. Sort of like the creative writing games I used to play.
[20:51] <+greyauthor> I also like the “flavor” of game play. This sort of unexpected outcome, and spectrum of success, gives a very intense feel to the game.
[20:51] <+greyauthor> I also very much enjoy the concepts other creators have come up with, like Spirit of 77, Monster of the Week, the settings and games are a blast.
[20:53] <+greyauthor> It’s a good system for tackling interesting ideas, especially ideas that have a lot of tropes to explore. Like Masks is a good example of that. (done)
[20:54] <~Dan> One problem I have with PbtA is the lack of skill levels for the NPCs.
[20:55] <+greyauthor> I can see that. I tend to play games that are prone to short bursts so everything is sort of on the same playing field. I haven’t played a lot of Dungeon World (cause I’d rather just play D&D in that genre), but I could see that being a problem there.
[20:56] * ~Dan nods
[20:56] <~Dan> I do see the appeal, mind you.
[20:56] <~Dan> Just a personal bugaboo.
[20:57] <+greyauthor> I have a lot of pots boiling in a few systems, and I really believe that it’s less about the system and more about what system is best for the story/game you’re making.
[20:57] <+greyauthor> I like everything from crunch to story games.
[20:57] * ~Dan nods
[20:57] <~Dan> Nothing wrong with that!
[20:58] <+greyauthor> I did start on Rifts after all
[20:58] <~Dan> As an aside, that’s something that I love about this place: We have all sorts of gamers co-existing in a friendly atmosphere.
[20:59] <~Dan> Gamers tend to get ridiculously worked up over things sometimes.
[20:59] <+MonkofLords> We so cool
[20:59] <+greyauthor> I’m always surprised that there are “sides” to gamers. But I suppose some people really like a particular system and that’s it.
[20:59] <+greyauthor> I just don’t know why you need to argue about it on Reddit. But I mean, I still read those threads mind you.
[20:59] * ~Dan nods
[21:01] <~Dan> What (if any) are your future plans for the game?
[21:01] <+greyauthor> I’m hyper focused on Happiest Apocalypse at the moment, but I do have a game concept I’m preparing to start developing after I’m done and am shopping around for the best system. At this point it is looking like Fate.
[21:02] <+greyauthor> But it is the culmination of a dozen years of research I’ve done on Atlantis, in order to make a gritty and realistic version of the mythology involving several pantheons of gods Egypt, Greece, Babylonian
[21:02] <+greyauthor> It’s a huge undertaking and should I do that next, I’ll develop openly for a year or more on my Patreon
[21:03] <+greyauthor> Also doing a D&D module with 2CGaming called “Let’s Kill Strahd!” as well as an Egyptian-themed adventure path with them. And some other indy projects I can’t really get into yet.
[21:03] <~Dan> (wb, EggEmbry)
[21:03] * ~Dan nods
[21:03] <~Dan> Cool!
[21:04] <+greyauthor> As for Happiest Apocalypse, I’d like to do the things in the stretch goals if we don’t make the stretch goals. So that’s a next year thing.
[21:04] <~Dan> Awesome.
[21:05] <~Dan> Let’s see… I’m about tapped out on questions on my end… Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
[21:06] <+greyauthor> Also my wife and I are habitual ER watchers. We’ve seen the entire series over three times and watch a different episode every night. So I’m thinking an ER PBTA game would be awesome. Talk about something with tropes.
[21:06] <+greyauthor> We covered a lot, I don’t think I have much else to bring up
[21:07] <~Dan> Mind if we wrap up early, then?
[21:07] <+greyauthor> Fine by me. Excuse to pour a drink
[21:07] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[21:07] <~Dan> Usual reminder: My tip jar is at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ for those so inclined.
[21:07] <+greyauthor> Thanks for the spotlight, I appreciate it! Had fun
[21:08] <~Dan> And now, if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
[21:08] <+greyauthor> Great!