[19:44] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Greetings, everyone! I am Elisa, head of the Blackwind Project. It is a new roleplaying games publisher, currently kickstarting its own set of Core Rules. Our purpose is twofold: to give the roleplayers who appreciate creativity and plot the tools to craft great game sessions, and to make quality modules, with complex stories and great art.
[19:45] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The Core Manual is complete, and the goal of the Kickstarter is to fund several future upgrades, ranging from unlocking color artwork to editing, to speeding up the rate at which modules will be published and the possibility to follow up with more extras, such as cards and dice.
[19:46] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The Core System itself is a “generic” or “universal” one, designed to be independent of setting and genre. The rules may fit any scenario, from epic fantasy to realistic adventures, including the worlds of games, novels, and movies.
[19:46] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The last is particularly relevant because the system pivots around creating immersive sessions and movie-like plots, with the general rule of thumb “story over mechanics”.
[19:47] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Blackwind is a more collaborative experience than classic tabletop, and while a Game Master (called “Director”) is still present, the foundations of the story are cast by the entire group, and every player will have a big role in shaping it.
[19:48] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> It is worth mentioning that this is not a narrative system: dice rolls, while simplified, are critical in determining the success or failure of an action, but the statistics behind them will shift (in better or worse across the course of the adventure) depending on who is contributing the most in terms of roleplay, story-building, coherence and immersion.
[19:48] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> A few useful links for the readers:
[19:48] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> (Kickstarter page): (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1047148810/blackwind-project-a-new-plot-driven-tabletop-rpg?ref=ev8nw1)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1047148810/blackwind-project-a-new-plot-driven-tabletop-rpg?ref=ev8nw1
[19:48] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> (Free Space Opera starter adventure, “Arena”): (Link: http://bit.ly/blackwind-free-module-arena)http://bit.ly/blackwind-free-module-arena
[19:49] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> (Latest review/interview, incidentally published today, by CHG. They explain the highlights quite well!) (Link: https://cannibalhalflinggaming.com/2018/06/22/the-independents-blackwind/)https://cannibalhalflinggaming.com/2018/06/22/the-independents-blackwind/
[19:49] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> And without further ado, ready for questions!
[19:49] <~Dan> Thanks, Elisa-BlackwindProject! The floor is open to questions!
[19:50] <~Dan> So first, just to be clear: There is no default setting, correct?
[19:50] <+Catseye> Elisa: I’m a book publisher and writer. I have 7 graphic novels and three prose books out.
[19:51] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> To Dan: There is no default setting. In fact, we wish to encourage roleplayers to try a wide variety of different settings, and the system definitely makes it easier.
[19:52] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The rules may even fit settings that are not directly related to canon roleplay settings. If you like something that only appeared in a game, or a movie, you may adapt it instantly.
[19:54] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Or you may keep using the ones you know and love. It works either way.
[19:55] <+FreeGamer> You mentioned stats changing based on how much everyone is contributing. How does that work, and does it put slower or shyer players at a disadvantage?
[19:55] <~Dan> I see… So let’s look at the system, then. First, I believe you said you have a character sheet that we can see?
[19:56] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> I will answer both questions at the same time, but bear with me, it will be a (slightly) longer explanation. Freegamer: no, actually there are ways to allow slower and shyer players to be extremely impactful and relevant.
[19:57] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Dan: Yes, absolutely. Our free starter adventure, “Arena”, (linked above) contains all game sheets except the one dedicated to building single episodes and steps.
[19:58] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> As for a more in-depth explanation of how “statistics” change in our game, I will need to frame a few concepts first:
[19:59] <+FreeGamer> True. I only realized a basic understanding of the system would probably help after I already asked. Oops.
[20:00] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Perfectly fine! If you do not mind, I will directly explain both how the dynamic system works, and how dice rolls work.
[20:00] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Keep these concepts in mind, for a quick overview:
[20:00] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Role/off role die: used to roll for role or off role actions.
[20:01] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Role: determines what actions are role ones, and which ones are not
[20:01] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Career (King or Queen) + Score position (dynamic) = Role die + Off role die, used to roll for role or off role activities.
[20:01] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Role die OR Off role die (depends on whether the attempt is a role or off role one) vs Director-determined difficulty (1, hardest, to 6, easiest – effortless is not checked, impossible/plot breaking is denied) + Modifiers, if any = Outcome of the action.
[20:02] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> And now a short explanation of these terms:
[20:02] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> ROLE: Decided while casting which characters will be played in the adventure. All activities strictly tied to the character’s ROLE are considered “role activities”. All those that are not are considered “off role activities”.
[20:03] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> All those that are not are considered “off role activities”. As an example, if your character is a THIEF “sneaking” and “stealing” will be role activities, while “dancing” or “fishing” will be off-role ones.
[20:03] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> POINTS: Points are granted for a number of things, directly to players. They are kept even if their character dies, and “translated” into statistics through the SCORE.
[20:03] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> A big list of points sources:
[20:04] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Contribute points (props, helping immersion, bringing/making soundtrack or artwork that may be used during the session)
[20:04] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Project element points (casting the foundations of the story, see the Arena adventure sheet for a list)
[20:05] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Director’s pool points (a limited amount that the Director may grant freely)
[20:05] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Casting list points (compiling the list of character roles that best fit that adventure)
[20:05] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Characterization (granted for picking, and subsequently showing or building on characterization elements, from characterizing skills to fatal flaws, character arcs, goals, background notes and a wide gamut of options detailed in the manual)
[20:06] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> – Voting (players voting for memorable, amusing or noteworthy moments/director may chime in if his pool isn’t empty)
[20:06] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Plus points granted for opening and handling subplots, plot points (way too many to list here, but ranging from closing character arcs at the right moment to defeating antagonists, to beating adventure specific challenges or riddles).
[20:07] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> SCORE: Used to assign a role and off-role die to characters by checking how many points their player has, plus the character’s CAREER.
[20:07] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> CAREER: King (specialist) or Queen (generalist). Defines whether a character is a master of their ROLE, at the expense of off-role activities, or a more well-rounded jack of all trades. Influences which role and off role die is assigned to characters.
[20:08] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> So the “statistics” or pair of dice assigned to characters is calculated by checking whether they are a specialist or generalist, and their score position, calculated through points that come from the sources mentioned above.
[20:09] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> They are dynamic, because players may and will “outstage” each others constantly in terms of who is contributing to the session and the adventure the most. As a consequence, so will change the pair of dice tied to their characters.
[20:11] <~Dan> Let’s see… Looking over the character sheet here…
[20:12] <~Dan> So all actions are either Role or Off-role? No attributes or skills involved?
[20:14] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Precisely. No levels, no attributes. Though it is possible to hone specific role or off role skills to a better die tier.
[20:14] <~Dan> Oh? How does that work?
[20:16] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Either through several successful rolls when testing the same skill, or by being trained by a mentor. You will notice that the character sheet has role and off-role “slots”.
[20:16] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Depending on the character’s CAREER the amount of role and off-role skills that may be honed to a better tier changes.
[20:17] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Specialists also have a “special” skill that they are particularly proficient in, by default. Something that characterizes them, and makes them stand out.
[20:17] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ!)
[20:19] <~Dan> What dice are used?
[20:20] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Since dice values scale, you will need an entire set to play. D4, D6, D8, D12 and D20.
[20:20] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Ahem, D10 too!
[20:21] <~Dan> And you’re trying to roll under the target number?
[20:22] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Yes. The Game Master, or “Director” will appraise any action a player character is attempting, taking into account all the circumstances and setting a difficulty that generally ranges from 1 (hardest) to 6 (easiest). Let me make a practical example of a typical Blackwind roll:
[20:23] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Let’s assume you are playing a King (career) Co-protagonist (score position) Thief (Role). He will roll all ROLE activities with a d8. You want to sneak past a guard.
[20:24] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The Director will evaluate the situation. Is it day, is it night? Is your character a master thief in an epic adventure, is he a novice in a realistic one?
[20:26] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> He will then set an approximate difficulty. The only exception to the 1-6 range are effortless actions, which are an automatic success, and impossible ones, which are either impossible for that character or in that context or plot-breaking. Impossible action checks are denied.
[20:26] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Director: “It is late at night, and the din of the nearby street will make it easy for you to sneak past. 5 or less to succeed.”
[20:26] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The player of the THIEF will roll a d8 against a difficulty of 5.
[20:28] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> There can be situational roll modifiers, usually no more than + / – 1 and 2.
[20:30] <~Dan> I see… So how does the player’s participation affect these rolls, again?
[20:32] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Player participation is quantified in points, points are used to calculate score position. Score position and chosen career (ex king of spades/queen of hearts) determines which die you will roll against difficulties.
[20:34] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> We are not touching some of the most important parts of the system, however!
[20:34] <~Dan> Oh?
[20:35] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Questions usually focus on pure roll mechanics. But plot-building represents a large part of the system (roughly half).
[20:35] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> It is also the feature that sets it apart from other generic systems the most.
[20:36] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ2!)
[20:37] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> In my opinion, it is what makes it most worthwhile. A great plot is an absolutely critical component of a game session.
[20:38] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Besides, generic systems usually grant masters and players a lot of freedom…
[20:40] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> … but fall short on giving them the tools to give structure to a session, and to channel that freedom into something interesting. The plot-making kit will really help in terms of adventure-building and improvisation.
[20:40] <~Dan> How does it work?
[20:42] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Every game goes through various stages, that resemble the way movies and novels are built. There is a (short) phase of casting the founding elements of the adventure that will be played later, then the adventure starts. The stages are setup, ascent, midpoint or midsection, fall and resolution.
[20:43] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Each has characteristic features, and we described all the ways they may be assembled, from the most typical examples to putting them together piece by piece.
[20:45] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The story is essentially assembled like a jigsaw. Using these templates means that even stories with a very simple structure (like Arena) will be enjoyable and will have a direction, but also means that it will be much easier to improvise large sections as you go.
[20:46] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> One of the available game modes, called “in progress” even allows you to improvise the story development completely, and just build it up as you play.
[20:48] <~Dan> Doesn’t that run counter to your philosophy of the importance of the plot?
[20:50] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Not at all. It just means that the plot and its structure will keep flexible and adaptable. They are still the backbone of the game, but they obviously need to keep pliable, since these stories are lived by the players rather than imposed on them.
[20:51] * ~Dan nods
[20:51] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> A good Director needs to be prepared to tweak anything that is not the story foundations, and the plot-making kit with its templates makes it very easy to do so, quickly and reliably.
[20:52] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> You need to re-build a Fall, because the characters came up with a great idea? It takes very little to set it up.
[20:52] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> You need to include a player-made sub-plot? Easy to weld it back to the main plot.
[20:53] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Having structures one side allows more player impact on the other, precisely because they make it easier to manage.
[20:54] <~Dan> So the system can handle players derailing the plot?
[20:56] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> More than handle, it has mechanisms in place to prevent derailing. Since story foundations are cast together (or in the case of modules, unanimously agreed on) before the story will even begin, both Director and players are bound by that agreement.
[20:56] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Additionally, the first section (setup) contains something called a “lock”. It is a particular moment that will tie player characters to the story.
[20:58] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Player characters may technically decide to exit the story, wandering off to do something else. But in that case, they will be essentially “put on a bus”, and the player will take up a new character.
[20:58] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Practical example: we all agreed we are going to play a story about a group of rebels fighting to defeat an evil emperor.
[21:00] <~Dan> So let’s say the players falsely believe that the clues are pointing toward an enemy base in Spain, when the GM had planned for them to go to, I dunno, Boston. How would you handle that?
[21:00] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> If one of the characters will decide to give up halfway through the adventure and leave the country, or do something unrelated, he will exit the stream of the story- perhaps with a short epilogue.
[21:02] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> It depends on the adventure, and generally plot-building will make sure that that example will never happen, but many things could be done about that.
[21:03] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Depending on where in the adventure they are (especially close to the beginning) that scenario might even follow the normal course of an adventure. The Director might include a detour to Spain, then make the characters find out the clues pointing them towards Boston.
[21:04] <~Dan> (Howdy, luc!)
[21:05] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> They might receive an anonymous heads-up, or the Director might include a short scene where they would be attacked on their way to the airport. Plenty of ways to resolve that, but to make a more concrete example we would have to define the adventure surrounding that scenario.
[21:06] <~Dan> (Howdy, BPIJonathan!)
[21:06] <+BPIJonathan> (Howdy Dan)
[21:06] <~Dan> Elisa-BlackwindProject: How does combat work?
[21:07] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> At its core, in the way we just described. Rolling assigned dice against difficulties. However, if you will leaf through Arena, you will find that there are many ways to build fights…
[21:08] <~Dan> (wb, BPIJonathan!)
[21:08] <~Dan> (Howdy, KJ!)
[21:08] <+BPIJonathan> (Sorry about that)
[21:08] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Given how simple rolls are, it is possible to personalize them. For instance, you might require a single roll, or an enemy could take three (consecutive or not consecutive) successful rolls to go down.
[21:09] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> You may craft special abilities that require a roll of [number] or less to avoid a stacking malus (ex, one of the enemies Arena uses poisoned weapons)
[21:10] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> It is even possible to mix and match board game rules and system rules for very special or very relevant encounters. This is something you will likely see in some upcoming modules.
[21:11] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Part of the fun on behalf of the Director will be to come up with interesting combinations and “choreographies”.
[21:12] <~Dan> How is damage handled?
[21:13] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> On a case by case basis, and in function of the plot. This is a more complex topic, that allows me to hint at “mechanics” such as plot armor or the hero’s luck.
[21:15] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> There are points in the adventure, especially early on, where all lethal consequences (one or multiple botched rolls that would normally lead to death) are turned into non-lethal ones. The characters will miraculously survive something that would normally kill them.
[21:15] <~Dan> That’s handy. 🙂
[21:15] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> This is something you often see in movies and novels. From the infamous Indiana Jones fridge to falling from a rooftop and surviving.
[21:15] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> But!
[21:16] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Later on in the adventure, or during particularly dark moments (specified in the plot-building templates) absolutely anyone can die.
[21:17] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> If being shot at the beginning of the adventure will very likely result in very mild injuries, it might be enough to kill a character during a climax or a showdown.
[21:18] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> The exact same negative outcome or failed roll will mean death or being saved by the plot armor, depending on “where” in the adventure you are.
[21:21] <~Dan> Hmm…
[21:21] <~Dan> So how do repeated non-lethal hits affect a character?
[21:23] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Again, it depends. If the plot allows lenghty pauses between one encounter in the other (both off-screen or what we call a “camping”) such as it happens in Arena, the characters may simply recover from these injuries.
[21:24] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> Or if you are playing a Die-Hard-like adventure, your character will be increasingly more battered and bloodied, but without affecting its actual performance.
[21:25] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> A character may reach the end of the adventure bruised and exhausted, and still beat the main villain. It is a classic of awesome stories, even.
[21:30] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:30] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> No, I think we have been quite extensive.
[21:31] <~Dan> Alrighty then!
[21:31] <+Elisa-BlackwindProject> But I would like to thank you for being our host tonight, Dan.
[21:31] <~Dan> I’ll just remind folks that gratuities are welcome at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[21:32] <~Dan> You’re very welcome, Elisa!
[21:32] <~Dan> I know it’s obscenely late there, but if you can on just a minute more, I’ll get the transcript posted and link you.