[19:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> Warm salutations everyone! I’m Joshua Ulmer, the sole writer and developer for the upcoming Noir themed RPG Nightcrawl. Recently the Kickstarter reached its funding goal of $1000, and I’m looking forward to making an enjoyable RPG.
[19:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> To summarize my drive for this project and the project itself- my KS profile shamelessly copy and pasted: “Programmer by day, game master by night, for the past 10 years I’ve run too many campaigns to count. From DnD 5e to Mouse Guard and everything in-between I finally had it with being the consumer instead of the creator.
[19:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> For once I’d like to give back to the RPG community with my own creation “Nightcrawl”, a mystery-driven film noir RPG. Of course there’s always more than meets the eye in a great detective story, and the twists will be sure to intrigue you.”
[19:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> (done)
[19:33] <~Dan> Thanks, JoshuaUlmer! The floor is open to questions!
[19:33] <~Dan> What is the setting?
[19:35] <+JoshuaUlmer> It’ll be open to interpretation should the DM have a particular location in mind, but otherwise the system will provide for a campaign set around the 1920’s – 1930’s. Current historical events of the US at that time won’t necessarily be intrinsic to the progression of the plot, but I’m definitely going to consider them- and proffer setpieces that fit into…
[19:36] <+JoshuaUlmer> that time period for the DM. I’ll also provide a map of a (Non-existent) bustling city somewhere along the east coast if they’d rather not design their own.
[19:36] <+JoshuaUlmer> Long answer short- 1920’s “New York”.
[19:37] <~Dan> Is it a realistic setting, or are there any fantastical elements?
[19:39] <+JoshuaUlmer> One question I was asked on Reddit when I posted my KS to /r/rpg is (Paraphrased.) “What can I get from your game that I couldn’t get from… [List of Noir RPGs.]” My answer (Also paraphrased.) was unlike most Noir themed games such as Savage Worlds, Noir World, etc, is that I’m going for a gritty and ‘dark’ themed system. So, definitely more realistic…
[19:39] <+JoshuaUlmer> than most is the current goal.
[19:39] * ~Dan nods
[19:40] <~Dan> Do you happen to have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:40] <+JoshuaUlmer> Sure. Nightcrawl is based off of a one-shot that turned into a multiple session campaign that I did with friends, so I have a rough approximation of what the character sheet will be. Of course during development if I happen to come up with some better ideas, I’ll move things around.
[19:41] <+JoshuaUlmer> (Let me upload an image to Imgur.)
[19:41] <+JoshuaUlmer> (Link: https://i.imgur.com/HHxfvHK.png)https://i.imgur.com/HHxfvHK.png
[19:42] <+JoshuaUlmer> If this looks rather drab I do plan on adding a more “thematic” copy in the final version of Nightcrawl for those with plenty of ink to spare.
[19:43] <~Dan> Let’s see here…
[19:43] <~Dan> So this appears to be an… attribute + skill system, maybe?
[19:43] <~Dan> (Howdy, Kei!)
[19:44] <+JoshuaUlmer> Yes, that is the kind of system I’m going for, at least for one set of variable rules. The attributes will be more hardset, while the skills will adapt and improve as the character does.
[19:45] <~Dan> What is the dice rolling mechanic?
[19:47] <+JoshuaUlmer> In my one shot I used a basic 1d20, and the rolls were simply 1d20+Attribute+Skill, with the target difficulty adjust by the DM based on what the character was doing/trying to do/capable of doing. Though for the final version of Nightcrawl I’m going to try and offer three styles of gameplay: number heavy, hybrid, and number light, so that if a particular…
[19:47] <+JoshuaUlmer> group doesn’t want to deal with dice they won’t have to. Though that would of course put more work on the DM.
[19:48] <~Dan> Can you give an overview of what these three methods would look like?
[19:49] <+JoshuaUlmer> Definitely. What I have in mind currently for the three styles are that a lot of the rules in Nightcrawl will be “adjustable”, and during the typical session 0 the DM will be able to quickly go over with the players what they want / expect out of the game and can modify the system for their use case accordingly. Number heavy will keep track of things as…
[19:50] <~Dan> (brb — please continue)
[19:51] <+JoshuaUlmer> small as hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, carry weight to the pound, every single wound and the extent of the wound, and it’d also affect how experience was gained in relation to tasks. IE The tasks would generally skew a lot more towards hard completion rather than say, merit. For hybrid it’d be a nice balanced between the two, with an example being-…
[19:52] <+JoshuaUlmer> say- “I can only carry 50 of these bullets before going over my limit.” instead of “I can carry about 60 of these and not worry.” And for number light many of the rules would simply be up to DM and player discretion. Instead of rolling dice persay, you would complete actions based upon merit. If the DM agrees with your plan of action, it simply happens…
[19:53] <+JoshuaUlmer> free of charge. In most systems I’ve played, and I don’t mean to criticize other systems, they seem to skew too heavily towards relying on dice, or not relying on them enough. Hybrid will be the default of Nightcrawl, but I will offer a myriad of adaptations if the system doesn’t suit their playstyle. Every group plays / has fun differently. 🙂
[19:54] <+xyphoid> doesn’t this mean that you’re basically writing 3 different games?
[19:55] <~Dan> (back, sorry)
[19:55] <+xyphoid> like a game that works well with counting every bullet and weight to the pound is going to require a quite different approach to something freeform
[19:55] <+JoshuaUlmer> Not necessarily, while balance will certainly be a primary focus the work it offloads on me is rather minimal. When I write a rule, I won’t have to completely rewrite it, instead I can simply note “You can do it that way, or you can also do it this way!” This will keep things hopefully streamlined.
[19:58] <+JoshuaUlmer> I agree- which is why I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep the three sets coherent with each other. If it sounds rather blasé, that’s not the intent. I’ll be trying to keep them simple rather than bog down the DM / player with too much.
[19:59] <~Dan> Hmm… I’m trying to visualize how this would work, going from hyper-detailed to freeform.
[20:00] <~Dan> How large is the book going to be?
[20:00] <+JoshuaUlmer> Hopefully well enough. I’m sure I’ll have to revise things during development, but while the adjustments can be drastic the amount of rules won’t be extensive. Beyond say, combat, exploration, handling situations, inventory, there isn’t too much more that needs the variability that I plan for.
[20:02] <+JoshuaUlmer> I plan on 100-200 pages. For a sense of scale it’s not going to be as intensive as say, DnD 5e (I’m still only one developer.), but not as small as Lamentations of the FP either.
[20:02] <+JoshuaUlmer> I’m shooting for something in the middle of that range, with most of the book being taken up by the campaign rather than the rules.
[20:03] <~Dan> How is that possible, though, with one of the three options being hyper-detailed?
[20:05] <+JoshuaUlmer> Maybe I gave the wrong impression, the detail will be in the say- approach to the rules, rather than purely in the numbers / rules themself.
[20:05] <+JoshuaUlmer> Instead of merely accounting for your wounds, you would make sure they were properly taken care of too. The difference between wrapping them in bandage, and cleaning, santizing, then wrapping them in bandage.
[20:06] <+JoshuaUlmer> Not that many more steps, but not something I’d need to play 20 pages of rules to either.
[20:06] <+JoshuaUlmer> *account 20 pages of rules to either.
[20:07] * ~Dan nods
[20:07] <~Dan> Will you be sticking with the 1d20 mechanic?
[20:08] <+JoshuaUlmer> It worked well enough for our campaign, but I may swap to 3d6. I’ve heard that it’s statistically better for kinds of systems(?) To be determined during playtesting of the rules. I will probably use different dice amounts for weapons and such, or other extrema that would fall outside of a 1d20.
[20:09] <~Dan> How will combat work?
[20:11] <+JoshuaUlmer> Number heavy would include things such as turn order, and range, ala your typical DnD style of progress, hybrid would simply concern turn order and ignore edge cases, while number light would be pretty close to vanilla “roleplay.”
[20:11] <+xyphoid> mechanically caring about how you sanitize your wounds is way off the edge how current even crunchy games treat injury, tho
[20:12] <+JoshuaUlmer> That’s fair, and I apologize, it’s hard for me to put into words a system I’m mentally designed but haven’t fully played out. If it turns out things are too wonky, I’d admit a misstep and go back to the drawing board.
[20:12] <+JoshuaUlmer> *I’ve mentally
[20:12] <~Dan> Based on the character sheet, I take it that you’re using wound locations?
[20:13] <+JoshuaUlmer> Either way, adaptability is a huge concern of mine with Nightcrawl, so in one form or another it will be present in the system. 🙂
[20:13] <+JoshuaUlmer> Yes, though during my campaign with friends that box did turn out to be entirely too small, I’m probably going to have to rework the size of those boxes, or expand to two pages for a character sheet.
[20:14] <~Dan> How will those function in the light version of the rules?
[20:16] <+JoshuaUlmer> A character would say- sleep off pretty much anything short of a life threatening wound, or “Just go to the hopsital and be back in action in a few days.” Maybe describe how their characters walks funny. It wouldn’t affect much, and would probably amount to “flavor text”.
[20:17] <~Dan> But how would you determine if a wound is life-threatening?
[20:18] <+JoshuaUlmer> GM discretion. I’d proffer that there is a large difference from being within 5 feet of a grenade than 20 feet of a grenade, and let the GM decide what- if any- affect the wound had. The light version of the rules is less “This is how it should go.” and more “How do you think it should go?”
[20:20] <~Dan> Hmm… I have an observation that I’m afraid may sound snarky, and I don’t want it to be, so bear with me here.
[20:21] <~Dan> My fear with rules that are this light is that there’s no point in having rules at all. Like, why pay for rules that tell you to make everything up yourself?
[20:21] <+JoshuaUlmer> Shoot- any and all criticism is valid, and I’m appreciative of advice.
[20:23] <+JoshuaUlmer> That will only be for the light-version of the rules, for hybrid and number heavy the game mechanics will be harder defined in numbers and terms. The light approach is only included so that players are aware of their options.
[20:24] <+xyphoid> i’d worry you’re trying to be all things to all gamers instead of picking an approach and being good at that
[20:25] <+JoshuaUlmer> That’s fair, and hybrid will be the default, and recommended way of handling things. The extra rules won’t see less love, but hybrid will be seeing the most.
[20:26] <~Dan> What does the “Operate” attribute mean?
[20:28] <+JoshuaUlmer> Operate was used for handling vehicles and tools that didn’t fall into the other categories. It’d didn’t see that much use however apart from a car chase in my campaign, so I may reword it into something different.
[20:29] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:29] <~Dan> I see that there’s a spot for Sanity. How does that work?
[20:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> One of my stretch goals was for a Lovecraftian-esque addtional campaign that would delve into more supernatural elements, and was one of the things that my personal campaign delved into. It doesn’t look like I’m going to reach that spot in funding though, so I’m probably going to chuck it from the sheet and possibly offer it later on as an additional…
[20:31] <+JoshuaUlmer> campaign if any were interested.
[20:32] <~Dan> Gotcha.
[20:33] <+JoshuaUlmer> It worked similarly to how health did, except instead of bullet holes it was emotional trauma, hah.
[20:34] <~Dan> What does “Evaluation” refer to on the character sheet?
[20:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Geek2theRight!)
[20:38] <+JoshuaUlmer> It’s a mental evaluation. During the character creation process players can describe general personality, phobias, obsessions, and provide more depth for the general thought process of their PC. During the progression of the campaign players are also given the opportunity to note how certain events affected them. While the investigators of Nightcrawl may…
[20:38] <+JoshuaUlmer> be pretty experienced detectives, after one body too many or a particularly harrowing case it’s nice to note how your PC develops in reaction.
[20:40] <~Dan> It sounds as though the players bear some responsibility for the noir feel.
[20:41] <+JoshuaUlmer> Definitely, an RPG is a story every person tells together, and I want to provide as many opportunities for everyone to color it in their own way during the campaign.
[20:44] <~Dan> What would you say makes the game particularly noir?
[20:46] <+JoshuaUlmer> Giving players an overarching feeling is difficult to achieve, but the aesthetic of the campaign and its gameplay will hopefully impart the Noir genre. From the darkened and smoky back rooms of a Jazz club, to the overall dreary and downtrodden feeling of a detective trying to find that missing thread in a city that doesn’t really care.
[20:47] <+JoshuaUlmer> The campaign will be soley centered around the general Film Noir theme, and that kind of aesthetic is what defines Nightcrawl as such.
[20:48] * ~Dan nods
[20:48] <~Dan> Do you have a mechanic specific to investigation?
[20:51] <+JoshuaUlmer> Players will be able to roll and implore the DM for hints if they hit too difficult a roadblock, but investigation will typically be defined as progression through clues. Interviewing witnesses, searching the scene of a crime for specifics, and good ol fashion guesswork.
[20:52] <+JoshuaUlmer> Though in each “scene” of a campaign I’ll offer a lot of different threads that the players would conceivably be able to find and follow. They wouldn’t necessarily have to find the small strip of cloth caught on a tree branch, working off of a different clue they found will also usually lead to the same amount of progress.
[20:52] <~Dan> How detailed are the skills?
[20:54] <+JoshuaUlmer> I’ll provide a lengthy list of skills, but both the players and DM are allowed leeway in coming up with their own per the situation. Not as specific as “Juggling 4 balls”, or as broad as “Throwing things in the air”, but just “Juggling” would be acceptable.
[20:55] <+JoshuaUlmer> Experience with pistols instead of firearms in general / a specific type of revolver.
[20:55] * ~Dan nods
[20:56] <~Dan> Will you include an adventure with the game?
[20:56] <+JoshuaUlmer> (A campaign?)
[20:57] * ~Dan nods
[20:58] <+JoshuaUlmer> Yes, I plan on including one full A -> B -> C -> D -> E length campaign with possible branches based upon player choices at certain crucial moments. (The affects will probably be HOW things progress rather than WHAT they progress to.) In addition to this I plan on including several smaller mysteries that the DM can pepper in here and there while the…
[20:59] <+JoshuaUlmer> players are figuring the “big” mystery, as well as a set of guidelines and my advice on designing your own once you run out of content or want to just play out your own mystery that you have in mind.
[20:59] * ~Dan nods
[20:59] <~Dan> That’s cool.
[20:59] <&Akyla> What made you chose Noir as your setting?
[21:01] <+JoshuaUlmer> I’m… really cheesy. I must admit. I binged watched all of the Twilight Zone (I plan on watching even more classics in prep of filling out the experience, I’ve never seen Casablanca.) And I absolutely love the idea of a rainy city with dark secrets, that a stoic hero / group of heros uncovers one twist at a time.
[21:02] <~Dan> Have you seen the Maltese Falcon?
[21:03] <+JoshuaUlmer> It’s now on the list! A lot of black and white classic Noir movies are now public domain too, so Nightcrawl will probably feature frames from movies like those to add to the theme.
[21:03] <&Akyla> Have you played any of the already existing Noir systems?
[21:05] <+JoshuaUlmer> Somewhat, I had a DM that tried to play Noir World and Helly wood(?) with me, but due to a collection of problems they fell apart before they even began. I’ll probably be taking a personal look at established Noir RPGs to see what I can do hopefully try to do better.
[21:06] <+JoshuaUlmer> If I may ask a question of my own, is there anything any of you would like to see in this kind of setting? I’m very much open to ideas. (If this role reversal is allowed for this quick indulgence.)
[21:08] <&Akyla> Personally I’d focus on the core Noir and avoid anything related to your stretch goal ideas. I’ve got a few systems already to play lovecraftian horrors and zombies and such. I’m actually interested in a non-fantasy/sci-fi Noir
[21:09] <+JoshuaUlmer> Noted! Thank you. 🙂 Since the goals weren’t funded I will focus all of my attention on fleshing out a pure Noir experience instead of deviating. (Barring later options.)
[21:09] <&Akyla> It sounds like your idea is going to be like reading a good mystery novel. I’m picturing the ST:TNG episode with Dix
[21:09] <&Akyla> Which really interests me
[21:12] <+JoshuaUlmer> It’s been a while since I’ve seen ST, but I understand what you mean, and that’s certainly what I’m going for.
[21:13] <~Dan> Do you feature any kind of “bestiary” of stock characters?
[21:13] <+JoshuaUlmer> A good gritty Noir mystery has always appealed to me personally.
[21:14] <~Dan> (wb, Akyla1)
[21:14] <+Akyla1> (thanks, laptop froze and phone doesn’t like mibbit. Did i miss an answer?)
[21:14] <+JoshuaUlmer> Yes, my backer rewards at the $20 and $30 tier allowed for your name to be used for characters. So their will definitely be a list of “people of interest” situated in the city and intrinsically tied to the events of the campaign at some points. Examples being a mafia boss, famous actress, police chief, etc. The people you’d generally assume to be present…
[21:15] <+JoshuaUlmer> in the setting.
[21:15] * ~Dan nods
[21:15] <+JoshuaUlmer> *there will. (Apologies for minor mistakes.)
[21:16] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:17] <+JoshuaUlmer> Sure, for any interested I didn’t necessarily know how to offer physical copies of the book when I started the KS- but on the advice of someone who chimed in I completely forgot about DriveThruRPG. At the end of the KS and development Nightcrawl will be offered as a PDF download or on-demand-print. I’m unsure of how I’ll execute it, but I plan on…
[21:18] <+JoshuaUlmer> Offering discounts to those who pledged a lot to me.
[21:19] <+JoshuaUlmer> Additionally, I wanted to thank you all for chiming in with your questions, and for hosting this kind of Q&A in the first place. I’ve already been funded but this definitely helped me order my thoughts, and realize where people would have concerns. IE my variant rules. I know where I need to put in additional effort now.
[21:20] <+JoshuaUlmer> Also… Trilbies only in my system. Fedoras lost out. 😉
[21:22] <+Akyla1> works for me, I already own two.
[21:22] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:22] <+JoshuaUlmer> Are they any other questions? About my system, me, and the answer to the universe?
[21:23] <~Dan> I think I’m good!
[21:24] <+JoshuaUlmer> Then, I suppose that wraps this up. Thank you for having me. 🙂
[21:24] <~Dan> Thanks for joining us!
[21:24] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you.