[19:46] <+BenBaker> Im Ben Baker, im the Editor at Melting Point Publishing.
[19:48] <+BenBaker> Its a small company, at the moment im the only one working here, but i have asperations of growing the business naturally over time. I think its good to take my time and expand things rather than try to rush into growing too big too soon.
[19:48] <+BenBaker> Ive got some plans for settings and full campaigns that im working on, but in the meantime im focusing on releasing a number of one off adventures.
[19:49] <+BenBaker> Currently I have one adventure available from DrivethruRPG, called Still Life and Death, and a ‘pay what you want’ set of ready to use PCs.
[19:49] <+BenBaker> I recently started my first Kickstarter to raise funds to hire a professional proofreader and secure some artists for our next set of products.
[19:50] <+BenBaker> My background is that ive been roleplaying since i was 11 or 12, its been one of my favourite hobbies for as long as i an remember (i tried to deny my geekyness in my 20s, but i eventually embraced it again, and ive never been happier).
[19:52] <+BenBaker> I was studying for a PhD and working at a university a few years ago when i was the victim of a serious accident that left me disabled, i basically had to learn how to walk again and im now on very strong pain killers that prevent me from working. Rather than give up on life ive decided to set up my own company and be my own boss doing something i love.
[19:52] <+BenBaker> So, after a while – Melting Point Publishing was born, and ive been working to get myself established ever since.
[19:53] <+BenBaker> Its a very exciting time, and there are plenty of things ive been learning as im essentially a one man operation at the time, but ive always enjoyed learning new skills, so it really suits me very well.
[19:54] <+BenBaker> I have a few adventures ive essentially written up, and im ready to get them proofread, have the correct artwork secured, and the book layout completed – then i can get them out on DrivethruRPG.
[19:55] <+BenBaker> In the future I intend to release physical products, but due to the additional logistics involved, im sticking to PDFs until im more confident in what im doing.
[19:55] <+BenBaker> So, that essentially leads me up to the current day.
[19:55] <+BenBaker> done
[19:55] <~Dan> Thanks, BenBaker! The floor is open to questions!
[19:56] <~Dan> What game system are your adventures for?
[19:57] <+BenBaker> Currently im focusing on Savage Worlds, i really enjoy their attitude, and i like having a core system thats applicable to multiple settings. Im hoping to release our adventures for FATE sometime soon too.
[19:57] <~Dan> What are your adventures about?
[19:57] <~Dan> And what genre?
[19:57] <+BenBaker> I have been tempted to release them as D20, but ive not really been that much of a fan of DnD in the past
[20:00] <+BenBaker> Im enjoying trying out a variety of genres and archetypal settings. Still Life and Death is a mystery/horror story, with a lot of combat as the party find themselves dragged through a number of strange encounters with infamous opponents before coming face to face with the mastermind. The Kickstarter is for The Krell Effect, which is…
[20:01] <+BenBaker> A sci-fi type adventure where the party begin examining a very strange death, and are drawn into a race against time as they need to figure out whos trying to kill them, how they can use such strange methods to do it, and eventually stop the culprit before their megalomania risks bringing about certain doom.
[20:02] <+BenBaker> My adventures at the moment are either various kinds of mystery, or more traditional ‘heroes vs lurking evil’ type adventures.
[20:02] <+BenBaker> done
[20:03] <~Dan> Do you have any plans for creating full games?
[20:05] <+BenBaker> absolutely, when i was first given a licence for Savage Worlds, it was after i pitched them the idea of a setting where the party are essentially flung from their dome dimension deep into the depths of the multiverse and must either try to find a new home for themselves or fight to return home.
[20:05] <+BenBaker> Ive got a few other settings im working on, as it turns out that a campaign based on ‘the entire multiverse’ is a little larger than you might think ::p
[20:06] <+BenBaker> I think its best at the moment to work on some single adventures, as it allows me to find out whats popular, and work out any teething troubles on smaller books, then afterwards i can begin releasing the campaigns and full settings when ive got more of a team to work with me.
[20:07] <+BenBaker> As such, im focusing on the smaller adventures, and beginning to work on a few bigger ones more seriously, all the while im fleshing out a couple of campaign settings and allowing them to grow naturally without trying to rush them.
[20:08] <+BenBaker> done
[20:09] <~Dan> In Savage Worlds licensing terms, what’s the difference between a full game and a campaign setting? Is it possible to get a license that allows you to publish a self-contained game?
[20:10] <+BenBaker> As far as im aware, after you show the licensing people at Pinnacle that youre capable of producing work to the standard that they expect then they grant you a full licence. From that point onwards they trust that youre able to work on your own and produce the kind of high quality work they have come to expect from their licensees.
[20:11] <+BenBaker> There is a very friendly and welcoming community of developers that are pretty open to discussion.
[20:11] <~Dan> Right, but are you allowed to include the core rules in your book?
[20:11] <~Dan> And Shane’s a great guy, as an aside.
[20:12] <+BenBaker> Its nice being able to speak to other developers about ommon issues, and to have a group of other people who you know are going through, or have solved, the kind of problems you may well be facing.
[20:12] <+BenBaker> thats a good question
[20:14] <+BenBaker> Generally youre allowed to use some aspects of the core book and reprint them, but you cant just take entire sections of the core book and reprint them, so – for example, if youre writing a story about zombies then you can reprint the zombie stats from the core book, but they wouldnt be very happy if you just copy/pasted the entire beastry just because you wa
[20:14] <+BenBaker> wanted to
[20:14] <+BenBaker> also, if you want to use some sections then they ask that you talk to them first.
[20:14] * ~Dan nods
[20:15] <+BenBaker> i assume its so they can ensure you are using it for good reason, rather than reprinting entire sections of the core book.
[20:15] <+BenBaker> done
[20:16] <~Dan> I’m sorry — did you say earlier that you’re considering using Fate as well?
[20:17] <+BenBaker> thats right. I really enjoy the FATE system. I would like to offer our adventures as either Savage Worlds or FATE, but i have kind of mixed feelings. let me explain…
[20:18] <+BenBaker> For years ive been interested in the question of how a game’s rules set dictates the way the game flows vs the setting. Let me try to give a better example to explain what i mean.
[20:19] <+BenBaker> So, Savage Worlds has the tagline Fast, Furious, Fun – which really does encapsulate whats so good about their system – it genuinly is quick, its enjoyable, its easy to learn, and you can start using it pretty fast. Now compare that to FATE (for example)
[20:20] <+BenBaker> i personally enjoy playing FATE a lot, but its not so much interested in necessarily being fast paced and action focused as savage worlds is.
[20:21] <+BenBaker> Sure, combat can be fast and fun, but i feel the focus of the game system is a little different from Savage Worlds – so my question to myself is, if i take a game i wrote specifically for Savage Worlds and translate it to FATE then am i being fare to the systems involved, and is it what the players who know those systems will expect?
[20:23] <+BenBaker> I dont know if im explaining things very well, but do you know what i mean about how a setting and the system it uses become linked in a sense?
[20:23] <~Dan> So you wouldn’t do a dual-statted adventure?
[20:24] <+BenBaker> I dont think i would release one book with duel sets of stats
[20:24] <~Dan> And yes, I certainly know what you mean. The system is the physics of the setting.
[20:25] <+BenBaker> i would want to release, for example, a Savage Worlds edition – where i ensure im being faithful to the underlying concepts and expectations of the players who like that system, then a FATE version – that may be almost identical, but that has the opportunity to focus on different aspects of problem solving to ensure it remains faithful to what the writer…
[20:25] <+BenBaker> who created the rules set wanted.
[20:25] <+BenBaker> Let me give an example.
[20:26] <+BenBaker> About a year ago i had it in mind to run a superhero Savage Worlds story, so i bought Necessary Evil (of course – its great!), but i wanted to look at a few other settings out there.
[20:27] <+BenBaker> so, i bought a game that had been adapted from a different system and released as a Savage Worlds version. And it was SHOCKING!
[20:28] <+BenBaker> you could see where the author had essentially got a big knife, cut off the old system, slammed it into savage worlds, and tried to meld the two togehter. The setting went from the Fast, Furious, Fun of SW to a clunky, rules heavy, micromanaging system of points that was really, really out of place
[20:29] <+BenBaker> Looking at that, thats exactly what i want to work hard to avoid.
[20:29] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, B!)
[20:29] <+BenBaker> The core story should remain the same, but the emphasis must be altered to fit the rules youre using, otherwise it feels quite a lot like nothing but a cash grab.
[20:29] <+BPIJonathan> (dont know why it didnt take originally 😦 )
[20:29] <+BenBaker> Hi 🙂
[20:30] <~Dan> Are there any other systems you might want to use at some point?
[20:32] <+BenBaker> yes. I need to speak to the public more to see what’s popular – because its only sensible to keep aware and up to date on things. Part of me wants to get into D20 – but the problem is ive almost universally had bad roleplaying experiences with that system.
[20:32] * ~Dan nods
[20:32] <+FreeGamer> Same.
[20:33] <+BPIJonathan> Its not a system for everyone, I like it but I can see why others might not. There is a reason I write in more than one system
[20:33] <+BenBaker> As suh, im woefully uninformed about how best to adapt my work for that system. I think i need to go on roll20 and find some decent GMs to help me see why everyone else loves that system, as at the moment my bad GM memories make if difficult to really get interested in that system.
[20:34] <+BenBaker> I think DnD is kind of a huge net, it attracts all the new players, and because of that it means many of the bad players end up playing it more than anything else/
[20:34] <+FreeGamer> I like the way you think, though. Getting the system to work with your ideas without gutting the stuff that makes the system desirable in the first place.
[20:34] <+BenBaker> exactly. To me thats very important.
[20:35] <+BenBaker> If you feel like youre taking a hammer to the system to make your encounter work a certain way then you probably need to take a step backwards and think about how best to reframe the encounter, and ask if there are any mechanics youre misusing or that you dont even know exist yet.
[20:36] <+BenBaker> This is also why im very skeptical about me personally releasing any work in D20 for the forseeable future – i dont have the level of experience that many people do have – so theyre going to look at my work and think “he should have used XXXX mechanic” or “My Fighter/Druid wouldnt do that.”
[20:37] * ~Dan nods
[20:37] <+BenBaker> Im going to focus on the systems i personally enjoy, not only is it fun for me to work with those systems, but learning more about them doesnt feel like a job because i enjoy them so much.
[20:38] <~Dan> Do what you love. 🙂
[20:38] <+BenBaker> so true!
[20:38] <+BenBaker> Im very tempted by the system that Numenera uses.
[20:38] <+BenBaker> I bought the beginners boxed set, and the huge The Strange core book, to take a look at it, and it seems very interesting. its on my list of games to run sometime.
[20:39] <~Dan> That’s a quirky system.
[20:39] <+BenBaker> but is it fun?
[20:39] <~Dan> It can be, yup.
[20:39] <+BenBaker> (see, now the interviewer has become the interviewed :p )
[20:39] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:39] <+FreeGamer> Yeah, Cypher system seems pretty nice. I’d personally decouple XP from bennies, but other than that it looks solid.
[20:39] <+BenBaker> I think id run the starter adventure and see if my players take to it or not, theyre a very odd bunch.
[20:40] <+BenBaker> Although, the game that i got into maybe three years ago is Feng Shui.
[20:41] <+BenBaker> Im currently running Save Game (by Evil Hat), but i have a Slipstream campaign on hold at the moment, and a Feng Shui game that i really want to return to in the near future.
[20:42] <~Dan> The new edition of Feng Shui?
[20:42] <+FreeGamer> You like some neat stuff.
[20:44] <+BenBaker> Well, when i was a kid i played the card game that they made based in the world of Feng Shui, and I picked up the core rule book, but never had the chance to play it because my old gaming group died as we all grew up and went our separate ways. So ive been reliving something i always wanted to do as a kid but wasnt able to by running the first version at the
[20:44] <+BenBaker> moment.
[20:44] <+BenBaker> but i have plans to update it to V2 in time
[20:44] <+BenBaker> i figure itll be fun to play through the events as described in the books
[20:45] <+BenBaker> besides, im a sucker for any game where you can have a time travelling techno-chimp fighting vampire monks in ancient china.
[20:46] <+BenBaker> im sure thats the litmus test for most of us 😀
[20:46] <~Dan> Gonzo is fun. 🙂
[20:46] <+BPIJonathan> I picked up CS Rulebook and Predation at GenCon, anything where I can have a dinosaur is good by me.
[20:47] <~Dan> CS?
[20:47] <~Dan> Oh, Cypher System.
[20:47] <+BenBaker> oh, ive been trawling the bookshops wherever i go for reference books about dinosaurs. Ive got an idea for an adventure, but i need more source material to help me flesh it out before i start working on it.,,
[20:48] * +BPIJonathan is about to KS a Savage Worlds dinosaur game, and am working with some others on a dinosaur short story anthology, so if you need some help…hit me up 😀
[20:49] <+BenBaker> oh fantastic, that sounds great!
[20:50] <~Dan> Networking is awesome. 🙂
[20:51] <~Dan> What make your adventures stand out?
[20:51] <+BenBaker> Although, if youre looking for more of a post apocalyptic SW setting then theres currently one running by Marc Langworthy. Its well worth checking out (as long as you check out mine first :p )
[20:51] <+BPIJonathan> Im going to PM you with my contact info.
[20:51] <+BenBaker> good question
[20:52] <+BenBaker> im trying to set up two distinct game lines at the moment. Shadows of Horror – which is more about mystery and various kinds of horror, and Adventurers’ Anthology – which is more of a straight up ‘good vs evil’ line of adventures.
[20:53] <+BenBaker> Im trying to create storylines that really adhere to specific themes and concepts, so rather than write a sprawling story and hope the party find something they enjoy, id much rather write a smaller, more focused storyline, and provide the GM with help to expand it to respond to the PCs actions.
[20:54] <+BenBaker> so, in Still Life and Death (spoiler alert)…
[20:56] <+BenBaker> the party are victorian adventurers who are trying to find a missing person, it leads them to a grotesque travelling art gallery, where there are paintings of the missing people being hunted, tortured and even killed by horrific monsters – not what a decent man or woman would want to see…
[20:56] <+BenBaker> they soon learn that the victims are indeed being transported into the paintings and kileld by whatever monster is painted there – as you can imagine, its not long before the party find themselves inside a painting…
[20:57] <+BenBaker> ive given three examples in the story about what kind of encounters to run, and described it in full detail. But what if you want to do something diffrent? What if your party has just played an adventure similar to one of the three encounters i describe?
[20:58] <+BenBaker> well, at teh start of each act and scene i include a small fiction piece – its there to add flavour and help expand the world a little, in one or two of them i desribe the experiences of some of the unfortunates who were sent into the various paintings before the party.
[20:59] <+BenBaker> So if a GM wanted, they have a good narative idea for an encounter that they can take and adjust to fit their particular group.
[20:59] <+BenBaker> I rally enjoy adding some small pieces of fiction – it reminds me of the 90s style books, like the original World of Darkness, where you had a few pages setting the scene.
[21:00] <+BenBaker> If nothing else, they were always useful to refer to if you were stuck for a character to add to your session, or a storyline to ‘borrow from’. I think giving the GM extra tools like that can really help make their job easier.
[21:01] <+BenBaker> I think its my job as an author to make running the game as easy and fun for the GM as possible.
[21:02] <+BenBaker> sometimes that means breaking down everything and providing maps and stats and the like, but other times it means providing them with extra resources to draw upon for inspiration if the party do something unexpected
[21:02] * ~Dan nods
[21:03] <+BenBaker> incidentally – i realise i havent linked to my kickstarter yet – so let me to that now if possible
[21:03] <+BenBaker> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1762405716/new-tabletop-rpg-adventures-from-melting-point-pub)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1762405716/new-tabletop-rpg-adventures-from-melting-point-pub
[21:03] <~Dan> Certainly!
[21:03] <+BenBaker> take a look and feel free to pledge as much as you like 😀
[21:05] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:05] <+BenBaker> Im trying something a little different with my reward levels.
[21:06] <+BenBaker> Anyone who pledges at the £10 level will recieve a copy of all books we unlock during the kickstarter.
[21:06] <+BenBaker> so, if we hit enough stretch goals, then you could get 5 full adventures and other books for only £10
[21:06] <+BenBaker> as an example
[21:07] <~Dan> Very nice.
[21:09] <~Dan> Let’s see… I’m about tapped out of questions. Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:11] <+BenBaker> Id like to agree with something you mentioned before. The Pinnacle staff have been nothing but helpful and kind to me from the moment i first spoke to them. Jodi Black has been especially kind and helpful.
[21:11] <~Dan> Jodi is a princess. 🙂
[21:12] <+BenBaker> Its refreshing to find people who genuinely go out of their way to help others like that.
[21:12] * ~Dan nodnods
[21:12] <+BenBaker> Its been very enjoyable knowing i can speak to them, and to the other licensed developers.
[21:13] <+BenBaker> Well, my plans at the moment are to focus on one shot adventures, but as i gain more experience ill be expanding into the campaign settings and other books that ive got planned.
[21:14] * ~Dan nods
[21:15] <+BenBaker> Im enjoying not being fixed having to write multiple adventures for the same setting, i can go wherever my imagination takes me for the time being.
[21:15] <+BenBaker> The other adventures ive got in the works, other than those specifically listed in the Kickstarter, are…
[21:17] <+BenBaker> A WW2 mystery where an unnamed horror from World War One returns to strike terror in an allied hospital near the front lines. Theres also a pirate adventure where the party are attacked by slavers, and find that theres a vile black magician trying to build an empire for himself.
[21:18] <~Dan> Awesome!
[21:18] <+BenBaker> Ive got a fantasy story ive completed, but i need to get Images and proofreading for. It sees the party start out hired to retrieve a stolen artifact, and eventually sees them drawn into a near civil war.
[21:19] <+BenBaker> I thought it would be interesting with that one to see the party have to take part in a full scale medieval battle. They arent the focus of the conflict, and have to defend a specific location from aspects of both armies, and use the battle as cover to sneak into both camps to steal items of power.
[21:21] <+BenBaker> I generally prefer to play sci-fi and contemporary settings, but sometimes a bit of sword and sorcery fun is too good to ignore.
[21:21] <~Dan> Sure.
[21:21] <+BenBaker> I find taking the things you enjoy about those settings and applying them to other kinds of worlds can create interesting changes of pace.
[21:22] <+BPIJonathan> (I need to get back to finishing this book, on the last of the edits. Its been nice listening to you BenBaker, hope to talk again soon)
[21:22] <~Dan> By the way, if you enjoy talking to industry folks, hang out here! We have many game authors who are regulars in addition to our Q&A guests.
[21:22] <+BenBaker> thank you, it was nice talking to you too 🙂
[21:22] <~Dan> (Bye, BPIJonathan!)
[21:22] <+BenBaker> great, ill be sure to do that.
[21:23] <~Dan> Speaking of which, you’re welcome to hang out with us as long as you like, but do you mind if I wrap up the “official” Q&A?
[21:23] <+BenBaker> thats fine with me, Dan. Thanks for inviting me.
[21:23] <~Dan> Thanks for joining us!
[21:24] <~Dan> As usual, those interested in supporting my Q&As can do so at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/
[21:24] <~Dan> And now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll log the chat and link you!
[21:24] <+BenBaker> great, thanks