[13:33] <+GregSaunders> So a bit about me. I’m a long term RPGer who cut my teeth on AD&D, WHFRP, and just about anything else we could find back in the eighties. I’ve been writing games for about ten years, and have released two in recent times, Exilium and Summerland – both through KS. I now have a new game called Esoeterica up on KS.
[13:35] <+GregSaunders> Whoops, I meant Esoterica. It’s a game of occult mystery and the quest for power set in the modern world. I’ve sometimes referred to it as ‘Aleister Crowley the RPG, without the nasty bits.’. It uses the D6 system like my other games, and has a similar ‘drive-chain of play’ as all my games. (done).
[13:35] <~Dan> Thanks, GregSaunders! The floor is open to questions!
[13:36] <~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the setting? In what time is it set, for example?
[13:39] <+GregSaunders> I can. It’s set in the here and now. The game focuses on secret societies and magical Adepts in what’s called the Secret World. Being part of the Secret world means understanding that the world we see is only a facet of a greater reality, hidden from mortals by something called the Veil. The aim of the game is to ascend…
[13:39] <+GregSaunders> …to break through to whatever lies beyond. So it’s a world of mobile phones nand the internet, and ancient grimoires and relics too.
[13:41] <+FreeGamer> Driving home now. TTYL
[13:41] <+GregSaunders> I should say something about these artefacts – in the game they are called Soul Jars, and they are where Adepts store the corruption that comes with magic use. The real drive of the game is to gain enough Soul Jars to actually be able to ascend. I can say more on the drive chain of the game if folks like (done)
[13:41] <~Dan> (Bye, FreeGamer!)
[13:42] <~Dan> First, what kind of magic does the game feature?
[13:42] <+FreeGamer> (Sorry, didn’t realize there’s a Q&A going on. It’s so early you all took me by surprise!)
[13:42] <~Dan> (Surprise!)
[13:42] <~Dan> (Midwoka!!)
[13:43] <~Dan> (Talk about surprises! Where have you been??)
[13:43] <+Midwoka> (Oh, y’know… Around)
[13:44] <~Dan> (We can chat in #randomworlds2 while this Q&A is going on. 🙂 )
[13:44] <+GregSaunders> So it’s what you might call the more subtle magic of occultists than fireballs and the like. Adept characters have three Arts, called Dominate, Mastery and Insight which grant bonus dice to tasks involving those kind of actions, but come at a potentially high price. They then gain access to Mysteries, which are powers like telekinesis, farsight…
[13:45] <+GregSaunders> …astral travel, that kind of thing. Finally there are Rituals, which allow Adepts to use Mysteries they don’t normally have access to. (done)
[13:46] <+GregSaunders> When you use any of these powers you have the potential to gain essence and therefore power, which is how you ascend. But you’re more likely to gain stains and corruption, hence the need for Soul Jars – you need to get ridf of the corruption while trying to gain power (done)
[13:46] <~Dan> (Howdy, RayM!)
[13:46] <+RayM> (Heyoo!)
[13:46] <~Dan> So when you use magical powers, you have the chance to gain more power?
[13:47] <~Dan> (Howdy, Tenbones!)
[13:47] <+Tenbones> Hey Dan
[13:47] <~Dan> (Tenbones: Current topic: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120854352/esoterica-tabletop-roleplaying-game?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=esoterica)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120854352/esoterica-tabletop-roleplaying-game?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=esoterica )
[13:47] <+Tenbones> yeah I was looking at that. Looks fun! Like Hunters: Hunted without the baggage
[13:48] <+GregSaunders> Yep, but as I say it’s a gamble – you’re more likely to gain corruption, which manifests physically (mild corruption might be a limp, bad corruption might be an eye that weeps blood). Corruption also draws Hungers -beings from beyond the Veil that feed on corruption…
[13:49] <~Dan> What forms to Hungers take?
[13:49] <+Tenbones> Oh hey Greg! I dig the concept of it. I’ll likely be backing it.
[13:49] <+Tenbones> in fact… lemme take care of that right now 🙂
[13:50] <+GregSaunders> There’s a 50/50 chance if you go up what’s called a Tier in corruption you’ll be the target of a Hunger, like ‘the fleshy man’ or ‘the horned people’. Basically supernatural nasties that eat your power. (done).
[13:50] <+GregSaunders> Awesome Tenbones, thanks a lot!
[13:50] <~Dan> So you’re saying it will all end in Tiers?
[13:51] <+Tenbones> Gotta get this in hardback, natch.
[13:52] <+GregSaunders> So Hungers can take many forms. Examples int he book are a kind of virus that skips from host to host and is marked by a small horny protrusion on the head, or a snake that lives inside the guts of a host until close enough to attack. Think a bit like the various things in the films Jacob’s Ladder. (done)
[13:52] <~Dan> So monsters in the game are fairly subtle as well as the magic?
[13:52] <+GregSaunders> Dan… [tumbleweed blows across the screen, a distant church bell tolls…] 🙂
[13:52] <+Tenbones> Did you already go over the dice-mechanics. This is OpenD6 right?
[13:52] <+Motulev> Dan: that pun was just beastly
[13:52] * ~Dan bows
[13:53] <+RayM> So how do you acquire magic in the first place? If using magic makes you powered up or corrupted, what’s the catalyst?
[13:53] <+GregSaunders> Yes. It’s the real world as the backdrop. As an example, killing someone, a fairly common occurence in an RPG, is treated inthe game like the real world – it would have major consequences. It’s about hidden powers, hidden enemies. (done)
[13:54] <+Tenbones> Are there a lot of organizations directly tied to the acquisition of magic?
[13:55] <+bpmasher> Is there a Crowley -like NPC in the game? 🙂
[13:55] <+Tenbones> or the prevention of that acquisition? The video mentions the government as an example. How deep does it go?
[13:55] <+Tenbones> sorry if we’re carpet bombing you LOL
[13:55] <+GregSaunders> Yes, open D6 (MiniSix to be exact). The mechanics of magic etc. is driven by the dice results obtain, just like in my other games. For example, when you use an Art, any result of 6 on any dice gives you essence (which leads to power) unless you roll any 1s, in which case it’s no essence but a stain for each 1 (which leads to corruption). (done).
[13:55] <+Tenbones> ahh ok
[13:56] <~Dan> (Howdy, Frankto!)
[13:57] <+GregSaunders> No worries! There are lots of Cabals, which is groups of Adepts (it’s what your characters part of, their own Cabal). Examples include the Thesperous society, the circle of seven and the temple of the hidden sun. These are secret societies with initiation rites, that kind of thing. Think Hermetic order of the golden dawn…(done)
[13:58] <~Dan> Other than gaining corruption, are there any other limits on spellcasting, like spell points or fatigue?
[13:58] <+GregSaunders> One of the PCs biggest enemies in the game are other adepts – no one knows how to make Soul Jars, but everyone needs them to have a hope of ascending, so they are one of the three groups of enemies you’ll be combating, along with government agencies that fear you and the Hungers… (done)
[13:58] <+Tenbones> Sounds cool. Definitely looking forward to this
[13:59] <+GregSaunders> You can only use your Arts dice once before they need refreshing, and Mysteries are even more dangerous in terms of corruption. So not really – it’s about whether you risk magic to make your life easier, or play safe but make ascension harder – i.e., what will you risk to ascend? (done)
[14:00] <~Dan> (Tenbones: btw, general chat is still open in #randomworlds2, if you’re interested.)
[14:01] <~Dan> So I gather that there aren’t really any “good guys” in this game?
[14:02] <+GregSaunders> About the ‘drive chain’, it goes like this. You need to use your magic to get more power, but that generates even more corruption, which means you need soul jars, which s they are a limited resource puts you into conflict with other Adepts, which means you’ll need your powers, which brings the risk of more corruption etc. etc.
[14:03] <+bpmasher> So the magic system is a freeform type thing as opposed to spell lists?
[14:03] <+GregSaunders> Not really, but Adepts aren’t necessarily bad, they are just focused on one thing – getting to the paradise beyond. To them, what happens in this world isn’t really of consequence, as it’s just a facet of a greater reality. But you have to be careful – get in trouble, lose access to Soul Jars, and you’ll never ascend… (done)
[14:05] <+GregSaunders> Yes. There are a load of example Mysteries, with different parameters so you can power them to different levels (called Force) in the game, but you can create you’re own mysteries with the GM if you want – you get one every time you go up a Tier in power. If you get to Tier five in power, you’re ready to ascend.
[14:05] <~Dan> What happens then? Is that the end of the game for the PC?
[14:06] <+GregSaunders> You as the player get to describe what happens when you ascend – that’s the rewward if you like. But yes, that’s the end game.
[14:06] * ~Dan nods
[14:07] <~Dan> Does the game feature any ascended NPCs?
[14:09] <+GregSaunders> No one knows where the ascended go, but the game does discuss the rumors of the Ascended masters – ascended Adepts who contact mortals in dreams and direct them somehow. There are three mentioned in the book – Wyrm, the Master of Keys, and Thirteen – each with their own agenda…
[14:10] <+GregSaunders> …there are also otherworldy beings like the Prince of Spears, that apparently come through the Veil from the otherside. Most Adepts try to avoid contact with these guys if they can. (done).
[14:11] <~Dan> (Howdy, Gimmick!)
[14:11] <+Gimmick> ‘lo
[14:12] <+GregSaunders> Soul Jars by the way are thing like the Skull of John Dee, the Helios Stone, the Sword of Morning, the Scroll of Magnun Knut – mysteical objects, grimoires, scrolls, statues, weapons… all those kind of occult accoutrements that you can imagine (done)
[14:12] <~Dan> (Gimmick: Current topic: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120854352/esoterica-tabletop-roleplaying-game?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=esoterica)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2120854352/esoterica-tabletop-roleplaying-game?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=esoterica)
[14:13] <~Dan> (Gimmick: Open chat is continuing in #randomworlds2, if you’re interested. 🙂 )
[14:13] <~Dan> So Soul Jars are magic items that do more than store corruption?
[14:15] <+GregSaunders> Yes. You need to use Rituals to use them, which is one of the reasons you need a Cabal – you can’t do a ritual by yorself. But they can have other powers, or other requirements for use. You need to have access to them to use them, so you can’t just bury them in a vault either (done)
[14:16] <~Dan> (Howdy, Akyla!)
[14:17] <+GregSaunders> A bit of background – the inspiration for the game is all of the secret societies and occult groups that exist, and the (in many cases) squabbling that goes on between members. Just have a read of what happened wit the Golden Dawn and Crowly, Maters for example. In Esoterica, these people have a real reason to fight – Soul Jars. (done)
[14:18] <~Dan> What does a typical adventure look like (insofar as there is such a thing)?
[14:18] <+bpmasher> I was hoping you’d bring that up. How much research did you do on these “real” magic groups?
[14:18] <+bpmasher> oh Dan went already
[14:19] <+GregSaunders> I can recommend the element encyclopedia of secret societies – it’s a great read!
[14:19] <&Akyla> (hiya)
[14:20] <~Dan> (brb)
[14:20] <+GregSaunders> A typical adventure might be following up a lead from the occult underground – folks involved in the occult, but not adepts – about an artefact they have info on, which might be a Soul Jar. Of course you’re not the only people interested, so how do you get it and stop these rivals from doing so?..
[14:21] <+GregSaunders> …another might be a classic investigation of a tomb in the hope of finding a lost relic – a bit like a grail quest (not that would be a very powerful soul jar!). There are a load of adventure seed in the back of the book. (done)
[14:22] <+bpmasher> Have you included secret sigils in your book to grow your magical powers?
[14:23] <+Tenbones> bpmasher is on the path of power. Tell him no secrets!
[14:23] <+GregSaunders> Not as such. You grow your powers by using them, and can research new mysteries and rituals in those dusty old grimoires… (done)
[14:23] <+bpmasher> haha
[14:23] <+Tenbones> Don’t worry bp – we’ll make the proper sacrifices. Power will be ours.
[14:23] <+GregSaunders> A rival! Grrrrrrr!
[14:24] <+Gimmick> Sort of tangential, but given all the research you’ve done, which of the real world secret societies is your favorite?
[14:24] <+bpmasher> I was half-kidding
[14:25] <+Tenbones> My favorite secret society is the Cult of the Brown Serpent. As well as the Church of the Sub-Genius. KAOS!
[14:25] <~Dan> (Howdy, Teylen!)
[14:25] <+GregSaunders> The golden dawn is very interesting, as is theosophy. Really though for me it’s the people that are the most interesting. Take Crowley, he’s a fascinating chap.
[14:25] <+Teylen> (Howdy)
[14:26] <+GregSaunders> Ah, the old chaos magic? I was reading about that today! (done)
[14:27] <+GregSaunders> (Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Element-Encyclopedia-Secret-Societies-History/dp/0007220685/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532028387&sr=8-1&keywords=the+element+encyclopedia+of+secret+societies)https://www.amazon.co.uk/Element-Encyclopedia-Secret-Societies-History/dp/0007220685/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532028387&sr=8-1&keywords=the+element+encyclopedia+of+secret+societies as I say, a great book.
[14:28] <+Tenbones> Ooo I love that kinda stuff
[14:28] <+GregSaunders> Esoteric knowledge covers everything from alternative religions and world views to atlantis, thelema and all that conspiracy theory alternative-hostory stuff, so the game can cover a lot of ground 🙂 (done)
[14:28] <~Dan> Do you include any kind of hero points?
[14:30] <+GregSaunders> Nope, although i use a slight alternative in my D6 version where you have skill tags that can give you rerolls. But having no fate/hero points makes using Arts to boost skills and abilities more tempting. (done)
[14:30] <~Dan> How does the latter work?
[14:32] <+GregSaunders> Arts? Lets pick one of the three Dominate. You’ll have some dice in that decided at character creation, say 2D. Any time you are doing something which involves trying to dominate someone (so persuading them to do something is the most obvious example), you can assign arts dice to boost the roll so you’re more likely to succeed…
[14:33] <+GregSaunders> But that makes all of the dice do the 6 or 1 thing to grant power or corruption, so it can be dangerous but it is necessary to ascend. Also, it will trigger your reveal, which is a physical manifestation of your power. Perhaps your eyes glow, or there is a burning smell. The focus of your attention doesn’t experience the reval…
[14:34] <+GregSaunders> …but anyone else does, so doing things in public is a real risk. Does that make sense? (done).
[14:34] <~Dan> It does.
[14:34] <~Dan> You mentioned the government. How much does the government know about the occult?
[14:36] <+GregSaunders> There are various agencies that interact with Adepts, like Agency 32 and the Secretariat. Some seek to gather adepts for military purposes, some seek Soul Jars so their own adepts can ascend and give the government a foothold in beyond, some don’t know what adepts are but think secret societies are dangerous, so it really varies (done)
[14:38] <~Dan> Is there anything else supernatural in the setting beyond Adepts and Hungers?
[14:40] <+GregSaunders> I mentioned the otherworldly beings like the Prince of Spears and the Black King, which have their own agendas. There are also guardians and other summoned beings to some extent. But the main interactions the characters would have is with Soul Jars, other Adepts and hungers. (done)
[14:45] <~Dan> Assuming the game funds, do you see this as the start of a game line, or is it more of a one-off?
[14:46] <+GregSaunders> Fingers-crossed… I hope to put out some smaller supplements that suport the game, like I have with Summerland and Exilium. So adventures, new rival cabals, new hungers, mysteries etc.
[14:46] <+GregSaunders> missed off the (done)!
[14:48] <~Dan> Does the game itself include an adventure?
[14:50] <+GregSaunders> Yep, there’s one called ‘The Nusku blade’, with the titular blade being an ancient Assyrian knife once owned by Nabu-musis, one of the famed astrologers to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (look him up!) (done)
[14:51] <~Dan> Is there a bestiary of Hungers?
[14:52] <+GregSaunders> There are some examples. Stat wise they match the Adept they hunt, except they have combat skills where the Adept may not – they are a ‘dark mirror’ of the adept. Hungers are the one time when the PCs are likely to end up fighting for their lives… (done)
[14:52] <~Dan> (Howdy, Woo!)
[14:53] <+Woo> (hello )
[14:54] <~Dan> What do you think make this game stand out from other modern hidden-occult settings, like, say, Unknown Armies?
[14:56] <+GregSaunders> I’m familiar with unknown armies, and I’d say it doesn’t have all the kind of heavy background of that game, or of mage (from what I know of it). I would say it’s the fairly light mechanics that specifically drive the game forward, and the tone – the Crowley-esque and golden dawn overtones which are unique. (done)
[14:58] <~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the Crowley-esque elements?
[15:00] <+GregSaunders> I guess it’s his belief in his hidden knowledge that runs through the game, and that he is destined for greater things that mere man can understand. Also, his fascination with secret groups – he founded a fair few himself! I would say when you think of him, that’s what a lot of Adepts inthe game would be like, but perhaps a bit quieter about it! (done)
[15:01] <~Dan> Heh. Cool. 🙂
[15:03] <~Dan> So I’m about out of questions at the moment… Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[15:03] <+GregSaunders> You know what, I think that about covers it! 🙂
[15:04] <+GregSaunders> Just for me to say thanks as always Dan for the opportunity to speak to you guys, and maybe see a few of you over on the project!
[15:04] <+Tenbones> Thanks Greg!
[15:04] <~Dan> You’re very welcome, GregSaunders! Thank you for joining us!
[15:04] <+Tenbones> Looking forward to your game
[15:04] <~Dan> Quick reminder: Gratuities are always welcome at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[15:04] <~Dan> Now, if you’ll give me a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
[15:05] <+GregSaunders> Oh there is one other thing… the first stretch goal is an alternative version of the setting, showing how you can adapt it to a different ‘tradition’… in this case the Cthulhu Mythos. Should be fun!