The Hardboiled GMshoe's Office

[Q&A] Frank Mentzer & Ted Fauster (Worlds of Empyrea)


[13:08] <+Frank_Mentzer> Frank Mentzer, roleplaying

[13:08] <+Ted_Fauster> Ted Fauster, assistant to the man

[13:09] <+AnnaBMeyer> Anna Meyer, cartography

[13:09] <+Darren_RC> Dan. RPG’s, Chess, Texas Hold’em, Parenting.

[13:10] <+Frank_Mentzer> (go all in with kids, eh?)

[13:10] <+Darren_RC> Small pair.  Twins. 🙂

[13:12] <+Frank_Mentzer> MikeMyler is handling Crowdfunding and Social Media mechanics for the Empyrea project.

[13:12] <+MikeMyler> *quietly waves*

[13:13] <+Ted_Fauster> Magic Mike

[13:13] <+Frank_Mentzer> In general we’re talking Empyrea. Lots of details coming right up. 🙂

[13:14] <+Frank_Mentzer> Whatcha want first, Danboss?

[13:14] <~Dan> Thanks, guys! The floor is open to questions!

[13:14] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Spencer1!)

[13:14] <~Dan> So let’s start with the basics: What is Worlds of Empyrea? 🙂

[13:16] <~Dan> (Welcome, Guest!)

[13:16] <+Prince_Herb> Aloha!

[13:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Prince_Herb!)

[13:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> Maybe I should ramble a bit to set things up.

[13:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> My company Loxley is trying a new way to publish RPG accessories.

[13:17] <~Dan> Ramble away!

[13:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> Most Settings are made by Game Companies, to promote and support their games. That’s normal. They’re also jam-packed with game-specific stuff, which is also normal.

[13:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> Nobody has the extra cash to promote OTHER people’s games. But we’re all in the same Hobby, all sitting around tables and roleplaying, all fighting dragons and giants and such. The rule differences are minor, yet they’ve become walls, to some extent.

[13:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> Settings don’t really HAVE to be system-specific. The crunch is, sure, and a lot of procedures, but for a setting that’s a small percentage of the whole.

[13:18] <+Frank_Mentzer> That’s where we come in. Empyrea will be published for 10 game systems, and 8 of them are D&D or variations (Open Game License). Two aren’t: Runequest and Savage Worlds.

[13:18] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, b3, Edwin!)

[13:18] <+Spencer1> *raises hand*

[13:18] <+b3> hi back

[13:18] <~Dan> Yes, Mr. Spencer1? 🙂

[13:19] <+Frank_Mentzer> The others are D&D 5e, Advanced (1e/2e), BECMI, and OGL versions Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, and Hackmaster.

[13:19] <+LaggingDice> So what is Empyrea?

[13:19] <+Frank_Mentzer> Each set will have ONE System Book with the crunch you select. You can add other System Books for minimal cost; don’t buy extra sets, most of them are the same. 🙂

[13:19] <~Dan> (I think he’s getting to that, LaggingDice. 😉 )

[13:19] <+Spencer1> (that answered my question, keep going Frank)

[13:20] <+Frank_Mentzer> Empyrea is a Fantasy RPG setting for use with various FRP systems.

[13:20] <+Ted_Fauster> Keyword: Setting

[13:20] <+Frank_Mentzer> In the future, space near Empyrea will be the setting for SF RPG systems. And then there’s Steampunk, Mutants, Supers… we have worlds to explore.

[13:20] <+PyroArrow> So basically like World of Calidar from Bruce Heard?

[13:21] <+PyroArrow> I can see it now, airships from calidar in space above Empyrea

[13:21] <+Frank_Mentzer> When you first arrive in Empyrea, it may seem unexciting. We try to make the learning curve short and easy. Most of the cool stuff is lurking off in the background, ready to jump you after you’re settled in. ;>

[13:21] <+Edwin> Will the Setting be in its own book with the crunch being in a seperate book? Or will they be integrated into one book?

[13:22] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Edwin!)

[13:23] <+Frank_Mentzer> Exactly, Edwin. (heya, btw.) One simple System Book with all your crunch, and tips on some of the rough parts. Over 95% of every game system works here, but there are always a few quirks. We’ll present the user (DM) with lots of advice and tips.

[13:24] <+Frank_Mentzer> For PCs, there will be 3 general Backgrounds to choose from (Urban, Farm, Wilderness life/family) and quickstart adventures to introduce the basic structure of the Realm.

[13:25] <+Frank_Mentzer> No weird or oddball stuff at first; as ‘vanilla’ as we can make it (up front). Later, you deal with Orcs trying to reach civilized status, Dragons who are fed up with being hunted, Giants who may be offworlders, and lots of other lurking challenges.

[13:25] <+b3> How much of the back history of the Realm will you be putting in your first release?

[13:25] <+Frank_Mentzer> AS much as we can fit, without confusing the issue. Some of its 300 year history is very relevant, but the focus is on your adventuring party, your heroes, within this context.

[13:26] <+Darren_RC> I understand you are going to let players write and populate certain parts of Empyrea.  Will the author need to do the crunch for any or all systems, or will you folks add it ?

[13:26] <+Frank_Mentzer> We don’t mix genres. We won’t present SF and Fantasy mixed. That choice is yours, not mine. 🙂

[13:26] <+Frank_Mentzer> Darren, the long-term idea includes Worlds of Empyrea sites/pages for each of the game systems. These are effectively different worlds, and they’ll change through input from users.

[13:27] <+Frank_Mentzer> Some of that will include: jury of peers (volunteers like you) to review submissions, handle tweaks; once approved, they get logged in as Official Parts of Empyrea (that edition/system), and placed on the Online map.

[13:27] <~Dan> Welcome, Guest! Please set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan 🙂

[13:27] <+Frank_Mentzer> With millions of square miles to fill, this can go on for quite a while. ;>

[13:27] <+Darren_RC> IC.  So D&D 5 Empyrea and AD&D2 Empyrea and Pathfinder Empyrea will develop separately?

[13:28] <+Frank_Mentzer> Correct, Darren. The game system details actually imply (with close analysis) notably different realities, variations on the base Empyrea.

[13:28] <+Frank_Mentzer> The base isn’t like Amber, its reflections being the others; each is an independent design base, a reality in itself.

[13:29] <+Spencer1> So, as things become official, are there plans down the line to publish the more fleshed out version of the world(s) with that extra development baked in?

[13:29] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, smarmy1!)

[13:30] <+Frank_Mentzer> ** The boxed set includes: Darlene Map (like 1993 Greyhawk box) in 2 parts, 2 big books (350 pg at least) for Core Player & DM info, the System book, and 3 little brown books with cool stuff. Still working out exactly what goes in those. The intro adventures & backgrounds will prolly be in the Player & DM big books.

[13:30] <+Frank_Mentzer> Spencer, exactly so. If it goes well. of course.

[13:31] <+Frank_Mentzer> Coming up soon after Set 1 are two more sets, adjacent areas (a high plateau Northeast, another realm Southeast, and the Sea Itself, realm of the Sef, rulers of the waters of the entire planet).

[13:31] <+Frank_Mentzer> Accessories include detailed city books for the 7 Royal Cities, a guide to the massive City of Empyrea itself (2100 square miles!), and more.

[13:32] <~Dan> What makes this setting special among all the fantasy settings currently available?

[13:32] <+Frank_Mentzer> Adventures, otoh, have to be system-specific. We’ll try to route those through the various publishers already out there. We want to stay a Design House and feed the system as it exists, rather than competing directly, (Kickstarter is our best beginning, tho.)

[13:33] <+Frank_Mentzer> No other major setting in RPG history has been specifically aimed at multiple FRP systems. They’re either very generic (requiring work) or dedicated to 1 system.

[13:34] <+Frank_Mentzer> No other product has offered a lineup of Legends of RPG history like this one. A massive reunion project (mostly TSR folks from the 1970s/80s).

[13:34] <+Frank_Mentzer> I guess we can name specific names at this point, everyone’s confirmed and committed. Hey MikeMyler, what do you think?

[13:35] <+MikeMyler> At your discretion, boss.

[13:36] <+Frank_Mentzer> Finally, Darren, on a subtler point, no other major product has been designed for hobby unification, instead of promoting one particular game or company.

[13:36] <+b3> Having played with Frank for several years, one of the special things were the highly developed NPC’s that really breathed like into the world.

[13:36] <+Frank_Mentzer> So Empyrea is a very different thing than what we’re accustomed to.

[13:36] <+Murazor> evening

[13:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Murazor!)

[13:37] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Wyndyn!)

[13:38] <+Wyndyn> Good to be here, hope I didn’t miss too much

[13:38] <+Spencer1> I, for one, am definitely anxious to hear the names of some of the other individuals working on the project.

[13:38] <+Frank_Mentzer> * Okay, here’s the Team. I’m a CEO type and author, I don’t do web, art, or any of the other dozens of things that something this BIG has to have.

[13:38] <+b3> The answer is 42

[13:38] <+Darren_RC> (That was Dan’s Q, not mine.  But I know why you confused us.)

[13:38] <+Frank_Mentzer> We’ll start with the core and work out to Guests. Pardon the copy/paste…

[13:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> CEO & Principal Author: Me

[13:39] <+Edwin> Frank can you describe how Empyrea is different?

[13:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> Co-Producer & Graphics Manager: Darlene

[13:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> Art Team: Peter Bradley, Don Higgins, Mark Quire, Ogmios

[13:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> Development: Ted Fauster & Tim Beach

[13:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> Editing: Steven Winter & Anne K. Brown

[13:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> The Map: Darlene

[13:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> Cartography: Alyssa Faden & Anna Meyer

[13:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> Crowdfunding EngineerMike Myler

[13:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> Business StuffChris Wiese & “Doc” Wilson

[13:41] <+Frank_Mentzer> That’s the core group. Still looking for a house Musician (keyboards MIDI etc) and a Business Manager with extensive game industry experience.

[13:41] <+Frank_Mentzer> Guest Artists: Clyde Caldwell Liz Danforth Jeff Dee Jeff Easley Larry Elmore Jennell Jaquays David S. “Diesel” LaForce Erol Otus Stephen D. Sullivan

[13:41] <~Dan> Impressive!

[13:41] <+Frank_Mentzer> Guest Authors  Ed Greenwood Allen Hammack Tracy Hickman Harold Johnson Tim Kask “Leomund” Len Lakofka Steve Marsh Douglas Niles James M. Ward “Skip” Williams

[13:42] <+Frank_Mentzer> (Team list ends)

[13:42] <+Spencer1> Only one name I was also hoping for that I didn’t see listed.. impressive, indeed!

[13:42] <+Frank_Mentzer> SO as you can see we’re going big, REALLY big.

[13:42] * ~Dan nods!

[13:42] <+Frank_Mentzer> Spencer, who’d I miss? 🙂

[13:42] <+Spencer1> James M. Ward

[13:42] <+Frank_Mentzer> He’s in there. All alphabetical.

[13:43] <+Spencer1> Oh, cool! Missed it

[13:43] <+Frank_Mentzer> Len’s doing a cool Inn at a crossroads. Steve’s writing a magical Art shop with portals to other realities (game systems). Lots more…

[13:43] <+Frank_Mentzer> I’m betting everything on the incredible array of talents that have come on board for this huge project.

[13:44] <+Darren_RC> What do you need a musician for?

[13:44] <+Frank_Mentzer> Unlike anything every before in RPG history, I believe. Since I’m over 65, I’m in my “give back” phase before I exist the gaming stage. ;>

[13:44] <+Frank_Mentzer> -y

[13:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, StatMat!)

[13:45] <+StatMat> Watcha Dan!

[13:45] <+Frank_Mentzer> Darren, I envision a lot of classical works as applicable to Empyreal themes & stories. Best to have someone dedicated to both straight recording and hip reinterpretations, to maximize our resources for online animations, vids, and other support materials & projects.

[13:46] <+Darren_RC> Cool.

[13:46] <~Dan> What fantasy races/species are available to play?

[13:47] <+Frank_Mentzer> Hey, I just wanted to publish my campaign world. I asked a couple of folks to help, and… and… it kept snowballing. One other Famous Name wants in, but has to get job clearance first; he’s well known in computer gaming atm.

[13:47] <+Frank_Mentzer> SO, that’s basically what we’re up to. 🙂

[13:47] <+Frank_Mentzer> A lot to digest; take your time. Questions?

[13:48] <~Dan> [13:46] <~Dan> What fantasy races/species are available to play?

[13:48] <+Frank_Mentzer> Recap: One box 2 maps 2 huge core books 3 little brown books 1 System book; extra Systems easy to add during ordering.

[13:49] <+Frank_Mentzer> Dan, whatever you prefer. The entire idea is to use Empyrea as your Second Campaign World. (We can even provide the transporters.)

[13:49] <+Frank_Mentzer> Just import the races, classes, deities, spells, and everything else you already like, use, and know.

[13:49] <+Frank_Mentzer> We’ll get along fine. 🙂

[13:49] <+Edwin> For an extra System, do you just add the System book or do you have to get a second boxed set?

[13:50] <+Frank_Mentzer> Edwin, you select the added System Book when ordering. Physically it’s one the least expensive components (deliberately; all black & white, text and re-used graphics, plus guidelines for use)

[13:51] <+Edwin> Thank you Frank.

[13:51] <+Frank_Mentzer> It’s also stapled, not bound, so it’ll lay flat and be usable when you’re running a combat. Been there done that got the Tee, and I HATE it when the books won’t behave.

[13:51] <+Spencer1> That, actually, is a really novel idea! Makes it accessible to those of us who play/prefer multiple systems.

[13:51] <+Frank_Mentzer> Thank you. I’ve been playing RPGs for 40 years. That will show. ;>

[13:52] <~Dan> In terms of type of fantasy, how would you describe WoE? (High fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, swords-and-sorcery, etc.)

[13:53] <+Frank_Mentzer> The combined resources of just our core team add up to many decades in publishing RPGs. Counting the guests, it’s many centuries — and the hobby has only been around since 1974.

[13:53] <+Ben> I’m also liking the idea of SF elements

[13:54] <+Frank_Mentzer> Dan, the basic setting is Average Fantasy. We don’t go into ANY extremes, because it has to work for everybody. YOU can go to extremes, whatever trips your trigger…. but I have to start easy, vanilla, usable, fast learn, no conflicts with individual styles.

[13:55] <+Frank_Mentzer> As I said, the background stuff — approaching evil armies, the fall of Empyrea foretold, giants north, squids west, barriers east, pissed-off Dragons, civilized orcs — will catch up soon enough.

[13:56] <+Frank_Mentzer> The basic style of your game (dark, low, high, S&S, whatever) continues as you prefer. And yet we’ll hand you the ways — free or low-cost PDFs — to try new games. You’ll have a common Setting, and an introductory low-cost way to try others.

[13:56] <+Spencer1> By “catch up,” do you mean future products?

[13:56] <~Dan> So say I’m only interested in one of the systems you’re supporting… What’s the selling point to lure me away from already-supported settings for that system?

[13:56] <+Frank_Mentzer> There’s another goal that I don’t share with game publishers, encouraging folks to try more games.

[13:57] <+Frank_Mentzer> Your PCs will have plenty to do, despite the apparent ‘vanilla’ easygoing nature of the setting at first. Things are in motion, out there in the background. You’ll have time for a few dungeon adventures before issues land on your doorstep.

[13:58] <+Frank_Mentzer> Dan, we encourage you to continue to support the game and setting you prefer. Empyrea is offered as an option, another tool for your use. Simple as that. 🙂

[13:59] <+Frank_Mentzer> I don’t want to lure you away from anything, or make you pay for a new game system. I want to give you tools, options, more stuff to try. Make this your Other world,not your primary.

[13:59] <~Dan> (Howdy, Axiomatic!)

[13:59] <+Axiomatic> Yub yub

[14:00] <+Ben> The more I hear about it, the more I have to applaud the approach

[14:00] * +Ben likes malleable content 🙂

[14:01] <+Frank_Mentzer> We’re quite willing to tweak en route. Gamers are smart, gamers have great suggestions. We’ve already modified the approach significantly in the last 6 week (pragmatic reasons), and all team members are actively encouraged to provide input on EVERYthing, not just their specialties.

[14:01] <+Ben> Spot on

[14:02] <+Spencer1> Sure, why not, with all that great talent you got working on this. 🙂

[14:02] <+Ben> Some of the best ideas come from when players do what you didn’t expect after all 😉

[14:02] <+Frank_Mentzer> I love Monte Cook’s stuff. Numenera2 KS is doing great. Yet it requires such immersion, time and expense and thought. I’m trying the opposite, an easy-to-use-right-away setting with the oddball stuff ‘way in the background. You can play in Empyrea exactly like you’ve been playing all along, and ignore that stuff. Or you can go get ’em.

[14:03] <~Dan> Are there any obvious Big Bad Guys in the setting?

[14:03] <+Axiomatic> …does Numenera do that? I’m admittedly operating from a lot of ignorance here, but my impression was that it had a lot of super weird stuff in the background but the actual boots-on-the-ground situation was very pseudomedieval

[14:03] <+Frank_Mentzer> I’ve run Empyrea for the last 25+ years online (with DarrenRC and many others). I’ve learned that it’s THEIR story, and I just do the background, the history, the environment. I’m not writing to impress you with my ‘cool ideas’; I’m writing to give you tools, because after 40 years that’s what *I* want the most.

[14:04] <+Frank_Mentzer> Numenera is that to a great extent, and a great job as I said, Axiomatic. Imperfect example. You know of some settings that are so work-intensive they discourage use, right?

[14:05] <+Frank_Mentzer> So whatever the comparative, we’re going for Easy, Fast, Second Home, Your Rules.

[14:05] <+Axiomatic> Oh, absolutely. It’s why I adore reading Transhuman Space but could never actually play in it.

[14:05] <+Frank_Mentzer> A bestiary isn’t in  the cards for us; you’ve got plenty in the books you use already. We have a few oddities, sure, and they’ll be described (in 10 game system languages!)

[14:06] <+Ted_Fauster> Dibs!

[14:06] <+Frank_Mentzer> I’m really looking forward to one online tool we’ll have, once things are going strong.

[14:07] <~Dan> What’s that?

[14:07] <+Ben> Absolutelym. As an occasional GM with a young family, I don’t have too much spare time to prep. Something that only requires a few seeds/plot ideas and then play it out makes perfect sense to me.

[14:07] <+Frank_Mentzer> You enter your character data, using the system you like. You push a button. Suddenly you have 10 PCs, all You, but written in the 10 game systems. You have avatars, alternate lives & realities.

[14:07] <+Wyndyn> Nice

[14:08] <+Edwin> Frank – appreciate the Easy, Fast, Second Home, Your Rules.

[14:08] <+Ben> All sounds very well thought out, over a long period of time! 😉

[14:08] <+Frank_Mentzer> That really encourages trying those other systems, that and an abbreviated ruleset (often free from the publisher). Take out ALL the obstacles, and you have no more excuses. ;>

[14:09] <+Frank_Mentzer> Empyrea the Setting IS different in a lot of ways. It developed over 25 years starting with 3 basic Premises.

[14:09] <+Wyndyn> Which systems are in the core?

[14:09] <+Frank_Mentzer> 1. The gods said “no tech, none of that hubris stuff; worship us, obey us, rely on magic.”

[14:10] <+Frank_Mentzer> 2. The planet said “You CAN get along but I don’t care, I’m going back to sleep.” But the druids get clues, like “you can talk to animals, so ask THEM what they want, idiot.”

[14:10] <+Frank_Mentzer> 3. The people said they want peace, meaningful lives, knowledge, and peace some more.

[14:11] <+Frank_Mentzer> One of the obvious results is a network of highways made of rock (mud to rock), the arteries of the realm… with animal crossings at predictable locations, often tunnels.

[14:12] <+Darren_RC> (“No tech,” is fuzzy.  You have big ships, bits and bridles, slings and arrows, ploughs.

[14:12] <+Frank_Mentzer> Wyndn: Runequest and Savage Worlds; D&D 5e BECMI and Advanced; and D&D OGL games Pathfinder Dungeon Crawl Classics, Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, Hackmaster

[14:13] <+Wyndyn> Guess I’ll have to work out my own for WFRP

[14:13] <+Frank_Mentzer> You get one System book in each set (pick) and can order extras at affordable rates.

[14:13] <+Frank_Mentzer> Yeah, we considered WFRP, LotFP, ASSH, Eastmark, and others; second wave praps. 🙂

[14:14] <+Wyndyn> Fair enough

[14:14] <~Dan> Eastmark?

[14:14] <+Frank_Mentzer> I’d like to get to Fate and Burning Wheel as well (major), but we’re not real good with those; gotta find experts first.

[14:14] <+Edwin> Looking forward to ASSH, Eastmark

[14:14] <+Frank_Mentzer> East Mark was a Spain product that successful imported (English version). A setting again, but using my RedBox (BECMI) ruleset, minor OGL variation. Outrageously cool art from Spain.

[14:15] <+Frank_Mentzer> Also wanna look at Dark Eye, which recently arrived in USA in English; longstanding great German variation on AD&D.

[14:15] <+Wyndyn> Zweihander is a WFRP clone(ish) if you do dark and gritty

[14:16] <+Frank_Mentzer> We hope that, with a big enough star-studded splash, we can fund well enough to continue to expand, embracing more and more RPGs.

[14:17] <+Ben> I second the WFRP/Zweihander notion for future use if possible 🙂

[14:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> Some cool stuff in Scandinavia, too. I have this fan base in 20 countries since my RedBox sold 40-50 million copies in 14 languages. Not like most other designers I guess. ;>

[14:17] <+Frank_Mentzer> So noted, Wyndn & Ben, and we’ll get on that. Thanks.

[14:17] <+Ben> 😀

[14:17] <+Edwin> Can you add Trudvang Chronicles as something to look at in the future.

[14:17] <+Wyndyn> 😀

[14:18] <+Ben> You should probably have a chat with Daniel Fox re Zweihander

[14:18] <+Ben> At some point anyway 🙂

[14:18] <+Frank_Mentzer> So I pay more attention to Europe, Philippines, Singapore & Indonesia, Oz, etc etc. than most folks. Chaosium moves in those circles, but Wizards went real lite on their international front for 5e. Odd.

[14:19] <+Frank_Mentzer> Please feel free to submit game suggestions for the future via the website (up but still expanding):

[14:20] <+Frank_Mentzer> Did you know that there’s a huge Pathfinder club in greater Moscow, Russia?

[14:20] <+Spencer1> AS&SH would be awesome

[14:21] <+Frank_Mentzer> Jeff Talanian is an old friend, no prob there. His style in that reminds me SO much of Gary…

[14:21] <+Frank_Mentzer> Other questions? 🙂 I

[14:21] <+Frank_Mentzer> (gee, hardly any typos today; had enough cofay I guess)

[14:21] <+Wyndyn> Is it done yet? JK

[14:22] <+Frank_Mentzer> (Cofay is the Empyreal name for coffee, a dangerous imported drug that can make you shaky but feels really good)

[14:22] <~Dan> What is the tech level of Empyrea?

[14:22] <+Frank_Mentzer> (Not illegal but for adults only, with warnings)

[14:23] <+Spencer1> Did I see somewhere where you said either Spring or Summer of 2018 for a delivery timeframe?

[14:23] <+Frank_Mentzer> Tech is utterly forbidden. They’ve used magical solutions in place of technological for about 3 centuries.

[14:23] <~Dan> Right, but is it Stone Age? Bronze Age? Medieval?

[14:24] <+Frank_Mentzer> So of course there’s bootleg tech, and various in-game effects (you can shoot a demon in the head if he makes his magic resistance, antimagic=pro-tech, allowing the tech to work)

[14:24] <+Frank_Mentzer> Ah. Pseudo-medieval boosted by magic for decades.

[14:24] <+Wyndyn> Chariots would be tech to some

[14:25] <+Frank_Mentzer> Explosions (gunpowder) don’t work at all. Something about the plane of fire. Magical explosions are fine.

[14:25] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, punkeedo!)

[14:25] <+Ben> Any tool external to the body is tech at some point 😉

[14:25] <+Frank_Mentzer> Chariots, mills, and other ‘tech’ designed to augment mortals, rather than replace them, is generally fine.

[14:26] <+Frank_Mentzer> Yep, the tech thing requires explanation and discussion. My solutions hold up in the long term, tho. Feel free to change ’em. It’s YOUR campaign once you buy it. ;>

[14:26] <+Frank_Mentzer> In the cities, communal latrines are normal, habitual, and actually mandated.

[14:26] <+Wyndyn> distilled alcohol won’t expolde? No fun!

[14:27] <~Dan> Mandated? The Powers that Be don’t put up with your crap!

[14:27] <+Frank_Mentzer> It’ll burn but it won’t explode. Direct result: personal skill is required for survival. Unskilled attacks rarely succeed (unlike guns, bombs, etc).

[14:28] <+Wyndyn> <groan>

[14:28] <+Frank_Mentzer> Correct, Dan! Because of mass sanitary systems that route it all out of town to a field where magic detoxifies it, and dries it. The farmers collect the free fertilizer and the eco-wheel goes ’round and ’round.

[14:29] <+PyroArrow> Will there be different pledge levels or just one and then add-ons for the various system books?

[14:29] <+Frank_Mentzer> MikeMyler, wanna handle that? The full boxed set with all PDFs is 75 $US. Various levels below & above.

[14:29] <+MikeMyler> If you like there’s also a PDFs-only option (with a few other perks) at $50

[14:30] <+Frank_Mentzer> You can also order a spare set of Darlene maps NOT folded, tube-mailed.

[14:30] <+MikeMyler> and for anyone that can’t commit immediately, there’s pledges with Loxley store credit (and *any* pledge can be increased on the back end of the Kickstarter during fulfillment through our pledge management service).

[14:30] <+Frank_Mentzer> One set to hang, another to game with…

[14:30] <+MikeMyler> and additional system books too

[14:31] <+Frank_Mentzer> A bunch of royal titles for the rich seats with lots of perks ;>

[14:31] <+MikeMyler> The pledge levels ramp up to include your character in Empyrea, get your face illustrated on one of the NPCs ^^

[14:32] <+MikeMyler> and the highest pledge levels are tops but I think we might want to save the specifics of “Games with Frank” for Monday when the KS launches 😀

[14:32] <+Frank_Mentzer> I apologize for the PDF-only price, but it’s costing me a fortune to buy works from all these legendary people.

[14:33] <+Frank_Mentzer> I do seem to have a lot of friends in the industry…

[14:33] <+MikeMyler> I think 6 PDFs of the size and scope of Empyrea is a very fair deal at $50. Most Kickstarters don’t offer that broad a spectrum of malleable content at a comparable price, let alone with a roster like Frank’s.

[14:34] <+Frank_Mentzer> And a real special deal, if you want extra PDFs after you buy a set, just ask! We’ll send ’em free!

[14:34] <~Dan> (Howdy, Beelzedude!)

[14:35] <+Frank_Mentzer> (I don’t anticipate coding the PDFs to the buyers, so just make your own copies. a dadjoke I guess)

[14:36] <+Frank_Mentzer> In the beginning of all this I had to be harsh with myself, face the many aspects of all this that I can’t do, and build a Team. And wow what a team… I’m very lucky.

[14:36] <+Edwin> Will there be a sneak preview of the KS available? Or will we first see it live?

[14:36] <+Frank_Mentzer> “Doc” Wilson is known in gaming but works as a Project Manager in daily life. So I hired him to be our Projects Manager, to keep all this crazy stuff organized. Since he’s a gamer that’s a bonus.

[14:37] <+Frank_Mentzer> There is a sneak preview available for personal friends and certain media & other contacts. Pls msg me on FB if you are in that category. 🙂

[14:38] <~Dan> How would you briefly describe the setting to someone unfamiliar with it?

[14:38] <+Edwin> Frank – we are lucky to have you and the team assembled to bring this great product to the masses.

[14:39] <+Frank_Mentzer> Your second Fantasy Campaign World. You use the game system, style, and other details you want; we provide an easy-to-add backdrop for more variety in your games. You can use the thrilling plot elements from the background and the setting, or just stick with your own story. In either event — welcome home. 🙂

[14:39] <+Darren_RC> Frank: The first 100 homeless shelters, inner city libraries, or other non-profits that serve a population that cannot afford this set gets one on me. That’s official.

[14:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> Thank you sir. Please state your SSN, credit card number, and home address, so I can be sure. ;>

[14:40] <+Frank_Mentzer> (will follow up later on methodology, and thanx Darren Ranger-Cleric)

[14:41] <~Dan> What are some of those thrilling plot elements you mentioned?

[14:43] <+Frank_Mentzer> The Old One is the BBG, and he’s off down south somewhere in the Deepwood, raising armies. He don’ like this Empyrea thing too much. And the Dragons are about to get uppity and band together as a Race (!), orcs have been working toward civilization but have a long way to go (regular interaction), the squids rule the seas, and more and more.

[14:43] <~Dan> The squids?

[14:44] <+Frank_Mentzer> Worst of all, street-corner prophets are yelling about how the rich will be thrown down, Empyrea will vanish utterly destroyed by the gods, etc etc.

[14:44] <+Frank_Mentzer> And that all turns out to be true. 🙂

[14:44] <~Dan> Like, literal squids?

[14:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, Frankto!)

[14:44] <+Frank_Mentzer> Ah yes, the squids. Long story short, the oldest most powerful being on the planet is the Sea Mother. She designs races, has since the dawn of the planet.

[14:45] <+Ted_Fauster> Shhhh. It is not wise to speak of those who dwell beneath the waves…

[14:45] <+Darren_RC> (They are behind this whole release.  It’s Sef-Published.)

[14:46] <+Ted_Fauster> lol

[14:46] <+Frank_Mentzer> Firm believer in gods and magic, she does it with her mind, serious evolution in just 1 gen. Hundreds of tailor-made sentient races who all serve Her. The dominant form used is a giant cephalopod, ie squid. Landers call them the “Sef”.

[14:46] <+Frank_Mentzer> I’m sure y’all won’t spread that around, so it’s all good.

[14:47] * ~Dan golfclaps re: Sef-published 😀

[14:48] <+Frank_Mentzer> I forgot to mention that Gary Gygax and I planned to publish all this back at TSR, but he got ousted and it all dumped. Later I hoped to do it with Eldritch Enterprises, but we were understaffed and underfunded. Third time’s the charm, as the hobniz say…

[14:48] <+Frank_Mentzer> We’ll include the TSR memo (Dec 12 1982) in which he approves this in his own handwriting.

[14:48] <+Ted_Fauster> mic drop

[14:49] <+Frank_Mentzer> That’s an historical footnote, not my lead selling point. It’s just part of the story.

[14:49] <+Frank_Mentzer> I get along great with the Gygax family and have no wish or need to capitalize on an old friendship, however germane it may be. 🙂

[14:49] <~Dan> 🙂

[14:50] <~Dan> Ernie seems like a good guy. I’ve tried to get him in here, but he doesn’t like typing. 🙂

[14:50] <+Frank_Mentzer> And my 25 years in a chatroom are showing. ;>

[14:51] * ~Dan chuckles

[14:51] <~Dan> So what is the Old One? Can you say, or is that a mystery?

[14:52] <+Frank_Mentzer> You won’t meet the Sef. You may meet some Quimari, kinda like mermen/mermaids but with legs and a lung for going lander.

[14:52] <~Dan> …Isn’t a merman with legs a man? 😀

[14:52] <+Frank_Mentzer> Ah, the Old One… he goes by another name, back in the old country. This is a side job for a century or so, just something he’s doing to kill some time before his own Age back home.

[14:53] <+Frank_Mentzer> All details of the old one, however, are strictly top secret throughout this set. His identity is revealed in part 2 of the story. Empyrea is doomed; can it be returned? (DarrenRC played in part of that story.)

[14:54] <+Frank_Mentzer> My own PCs didn’t find out until they had played about 18-20 years realtime.

[14:55] <+Frank_Mentzer> Dan, imagine a mermaid, make it male, give it legs, add one smallish lung central with ancillary plumbing; move the gills back for cosmetic placement. Increase leg strength for speed & agility; save on torso & arm musculature.

[14:55] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, BigMac!)

[14:55] <+Frank_Mentzer> Relocate brain to upper abdomen under max physical security, add sensory capacity to cranial vacancies. Emulate lander physiology for maximum acceptance in interface.

[14:56] <+Frank_Mentzer> That’s a basic Redesign per the Sea Mother.

[14:56] <~Dan> Weird.

[14:56] <+Frank_Mentzer> She usually gets all that right in 1 generation. Sometimes +1 to iron out bugs.

[14:56] <+BigMac> Thanks Dan.

[14:57] <~Dan> (BigMac: Here for the Q&A? 🙂 )

[14:57] <+Frank_Mentzer> Ted and I call it “Science Fantasy”, taking a basic logical premise (or series) and going in fantastic directions. He’s got a whole Trilogy of fiction out, and it could almost be Empyreal.

[14:57] <+AnnaBMeyer> Hi Big Mac 🙂

[14:57] <+BigMac> Hi AnnaBMeyer

[14:57] <+Frank_Mentzer> Anna, Mac, howdy

[14:57] <+AnnaBMeyer> 🙂

[14:57] <+Ted_Fauster> Very weirdly similar.

[14:58] <+Frank_Mentzer> We’re gabbing on Empyrea and fantasy design and all kinds of stuff. Open Q&A, feel free.

[14:58] <+Frank_Mentzer> Was this a 2-hr? If so, been 1:55…

[14:58] <+BigMac> I saw a link, while looking for the Worlds of Empyrea Facebook page and clicked on it, to see what was here, Dan. 😉

[14:58] <+Darren_RC> Your CNS center is mad close to the heart. Gonna need a lot of internal abdominal bone structure or you’ll risk breaching the blood/brain barrier every time you take a punch.

[14:59] <+Frank_Mentzer> But it’s prolly BigMac from Piazza so he’s hardcore already and we chat a lot. If so, heya Mac.

[14:59] <~Dan> Frank_Mentzer: Ah, good point. I’m used to running these rare daytime Q&As from 1:30-3:30 my time. In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?

[14:59] <+BigMac> It is indeed David “Big Mac” Shepheard, from The Piazza.

[15:00] <+Frank_Mentzer> Darren, vertical alignment with shock-absorbing membrane (often uses) between. Designed like earthquake-proof buildings, plenty of give.

[15:00] <~Dan> That said, you all are more than welcome to hang out as long as you like. 🙂

[15:00] <~Dan> I just have to log the chat at some point. 🙂

[15:00] <+Frank_Mentzer> Happy to gab, help, and comply, boss. ;>

[15:00] <+Frank_Mentzer> Hope it went okay for you and observers…

[15:01] <~Dan> Absolutely!

[15:01] <+Darren_RC> Seeya on the other side of the GM screen, Frank.

[15:01] <+Frank_Mentzer> This really is an all-new type of product, and a first-ever major Reunion of TSR superstars.

[15:01] <+Frank_Mentzer> tnx Darren

[15:01] <~Dan> Oh, as per my usual reminder, any of you wishing to support my Q&A series can do so here: (Link:

[15:01] <+BigMac> Have I missed a lot of Q&A?

[15:01] <~Dan> BigMac: Two hours of it. 🙂

[15:02] <+Frank_Mentzer> Most in fact. But they’ll post it I believe.

[15:02] <+Agamemnon2> BigMac: all ‘Q&As are logged for posterity.

[15:02] <~Dan> Yes, I’m about to post it now, in fact. 🙂

[15:02] <+Agamemnon2> Dan there will po— well, like he just said.

[15:02] <~Dan> And thank you, Frank, Ted, and Anna, for joining us!

[15:02] <+Frank_Mentzer> The full story of Empyrea spans all of time and existence itself. For this set, we’ll focus on one decade. ;>

[15:02] <+BigMac> Yep. I saw something about that. I’ll have to crosspost the URL of that to the Aquaria forum at The Piazza. 🙂

[15:03] <~Dan> Please know that you’re always welcome to hang out here whenever you like, and that goes for the rest of you as well. 🙂

[15:03] <~Dan> One moment, please, while I log the chat as promised…

[15:03] <+Ted_Fauster> Thank you! And please don’t forget the Empyrea Kickstarter this Monday!