[19:32] <+Peter> Hello, my name is Peter S. Williams and I work at Flatland Games with my buddy John. We have released three games: a small tile placement boardgame called Wizard’s Museum, Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures (for which I suspect we are here, largely), and a PbtA games called Action Movie World.
[19:32] <+JohnC> Hi all, my name is John Cocking.
[19:33] <+eezo> I apologise for sounding like I am 12 but I giggled
[19:33] <+JohnC> Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is a game about kids growing up together and saving their village.
[19:33] <+Peter> and being friends
[19:34] <+JohnC> Beyond the Wall uses the chassis of D&D to provide a base for a collaborative character creation session that ensures everyone’s characters care about each other, and the place they live.
[19:35] <+Peter> some people call it OSR, some people dont. i like “OSR-ish” myself
[19:35] <+JohnC> (Eezo, you wouldn’t believe the embarrassed telemarketers who call.)
[19:35] <+Peter> done
[19:35] <~Dan> Thanks, guys! The floor is open to questions!
[19:36] <~Dan> Which do you guys think it would make the most sense to cover first: the system, or the setting?
[19:36] <+eezo> (JohnC I can imagine xD I guess we are all immature xD)
[19:36] <+JohnC> I’m happy to chat about any of it. To a large extent, we try to use the character creation session to let the players build their own special setting to play in.
[19:37] <~Dan> Hmm… Perhaps it would be best to start with how that works, then./
[19:38] <+Peter> we have a few things that people seem to like the game for, and the character creation is a big one
[19:38] <+Peter> weve got a really simple basic premise, using a d20 base relatively similar to BECMI, with only three classes, warrior, mage, and rogue
[19:38] <+Peter> however!
[19:39] <~Dan> (Howdy, Viktyr!)
[19:39] <+Peter> we have lots and lots and lots of more specific Character Playbooks for archetypes from our type of fiction, like the Noblemans Wild Daughter, the Assistant Beast Keeper, or the Witch’s Prentice
[19:39] <+Peter> so, players nab the playbook that seems interesting to them, then they sit in a circle at the table and discover events from their childhoods together, one at a time
[19:40] <+Peter> along the way, the books help them develop connections to one another, but also ask for them to populate a village map with interesting places and NPCs
[19:40] <+Peter> the GM has his own playbook, called a Scenario Pack, and he is using those places and NPCs to build out an adventure that immediately ties to the characters
[19:41] <~Dan> Interesting.
[19:41] <+JohnC> We’ve found that, by discovering their characters’ stories, together, from young childhood through to the first adventure, the players are quickly invested as if they’d played the character for multiple sessions.
[19:42] <+JohnC> Even better, each character cares about their compatriots, and has reasons to care about the village. And the players themselves have helped shaped the problems that threaten their characters’ home.
[19:43] <+Peter> yeah, im biased i know, but ive actually never seen the playbooks and group creation fail to make some interesting characters that folks are ready to play immediately
[19:43] <+Peter> but maybe im just lucky 🙂
[19:44] * ~Dan chuckles
[19:44] <~Dan> So are there any built-in assumptions about the setting other than that the PCs grew up together in a village?
[19:46] <+JohnC> The game really tries to work from implicit assumptions and nudges as much as possible, but it _is_ emulating stories from a particular era, and so takes on a few of those characteristics.
[19:47] <~Dan> What era is that?
[19:47] <+JohnC> The village has a witch, and apart from her, magic is frequently rare.
[19:47] <+Peter> we really like young adult fantasy of a certain age
[19:47] <+Peter> earthsea is big for us
[19:47] <+Peter> susan cooper, the prydain books
[19:47] <+JohnC> We are greatly inspired by the works of Ursula K. LeGuin (Wizard of Earthsea), Susan Cooper (The Dark Is Rising), and Lloyd Alexander (The Chronicles of Prydain)
[19:48] <&Silverlion> I’ve a hard time getting my players to try it. But its definately, my favorite iteration of an OSR game. I love it so much. It’s exactly what I want if I’m doing zero to hero sort of game play. I’d hug you both. I just need print copies.
[19:48] <&Silverlion> Heck, its early folktales in many ways–the heroic ones.
[19:48] <+Peter> i agree with that last bit silverlion
[19:48] <+JohnC> Exactly, Silverlion.
[19:48] <+Peter> theres a lot of straight myth and folklore in our bags of tricks
[19:49] <+Peter> silverlion, are you one of those for who the character creation is a big draw?
[19:49] <&Silverlion> I even “planned” and adventure inspired by the random charts to use.
[19:49] <+JohnC> Neat. Did you use a scenario pack?
[19:49] <~Dan> Silverlion is one of your fellow game authors, btw.
[19:49] <&Silverlion> Yes. I love how you build the village, and how it interconnects them and creates NPC’s PC’s should have emotional attachments too.
[19:50] <+Peter> i certainly agree!
[19:50] <~Dan> You do the same thing in your supers game Hearts & Souls, don’t you, Silverlion?
[19:50] <&Silverlion> I’ve not gotten the chance. Honestly. I’ve got several FTF play groups (3) but they’re all broken down at the momen for 1) Burnout 2) Work and 3) Baby.
[19:50] <+Peter> i dont know hearts and souls, but its on the list now 🙂
[19:51] <&Silverlion> The KS is being worked on right now!
[19:51] <+Peter> oh nice
[19:51] <&Silverlion> I litterally wanted to launch it tomorrow, but I’ve more work to do sighs.
[19:51] <+Peter> i know the feeling
[19:51] <&Silverlion> and their three day approval killed that last minute launch chance…ah well.
[19:51] <+Peter> we have lots of stuff that is being held back by the day job now
[19:52] <~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Tacostain!)
[19:53] <~Dan> You said that magic is frequently rare… Why a mage class, then?
[19:54] <+JohnC> Well, NPCs with levels are also rare.
[19:54] <&Silverlion> I think he means “magic in PC’s hands is rare, the world is full of strange and dark wonders.”
[19:54] <+JohnC> Yes – I would say that’s fair.
[19:54] <+Peter> yeah, and the PCs are our heroes, its great if they know a little bit of magic
[19:54] * &Silverlion loves love Beyond the Wall.
[19:54] <~Dan> It shows. 🙂
[19:54] <+Peter> another element for me is the style of magic, and saying that it is rare isnt quite right, its also often (but not always) subtle
[19:55] <+Peter> our mages dont shoot lightning bolts
[19:55] <&Silverlion> Nope.
[19:55] <+Tacostain> Going to the village and locale creation, have you considered expanding it? Or using the system for or in other settings?I think it’s one of the best bits.
[19:55] <+JohnC> The PCs grow up in a world where people fear the unknown – the dark of the woods, the dangers of the deep sea – that magic is part of the world that is outside human ken…
[19:55] <&Silverlion> A friend hacked it for Gamma World!
[19:56] <+Dan_> (Sorry, lost my connection for a sec there.)
[19:56] <+Peter> the project is dangerously far along, to the point that I am embarrassed that we have not released
[19:56] <+Tacostain> Oh neat! Can you talk about that a bit or is it too early?
[19:56] * &Silverlion grabs them and gives them his TV
[19:56] <&Silverlion> “I’ve got no cash, take this.”
[19:56] <+Peter> yeah, sure thing
[19:56] <~Dan> Can you copy/paste what was said after Silverlion’s mention of Gamma World?
[19:57] <+Peter> so, just as earthsea and prydain informed Beyond the Wall, Through Sunken Lands is all Moorcock, Lieber, and Howard
[19:57] <+Peter> mighty barbarians, cunning sorceresses, etc
[19:57] <+Tacostain> So what are the Sunken Lands?
[19:57] <+JohnC> Dan, Peter wrote: tacostain, we are working on a sword and sorcery version called Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures
[19:57] <+Peter> they all live in “the Great City” and go adventuring together
[19:57] <~Dan> Thanks, JohnC!
[19:58] <+Tacostain> Is that to mean an urban focus?
[19:58] <+Peter> whereas BtW characters are building a home and relatives together, Sunken Lands characters are talking about their previous adventures and rival sorcerers during character creation
[19:58] <&Silverlion> ….
[19:58] <+Peter> so, some of the scenario packs will be urban focused
[19:59] <+Peter> but others will be about hopping from island to island, raiding lost temples, raising armies to fight slave traders
[19:59] <&Silverlion> No cults out in the wilds to fight, or pirates to join?
[19:59] <&Silverlion> Ah!
[19:59] <+Peter> things that Conan does 🙂
[19:59] <&Silverlion> Hehe!
[19:59] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:00] <+JohnC> While the heroes in BtW want to save the people they care about, the heroes of Through Sunken Lands save the people they care about while seeking their fortunes.
[20:00] <+Tacostain> That sounds so cool. Are the classes largely the same or did it require some tweaks?
[20:01] <+JohnC> We have the same base classes as BtW, but different playbooks.
[20:01] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about what’s included in a playbook?
[20:01] <+JohnC> Sure.
[20:02] <+JohnC> Each playbook creates a particular type of character, and includes random tables to tell their story from birth until the start of play.
[20:02] <+JohnC> The character’s stats are filled out along the way, tied to the events of their formative years.
[20:02] <+Peter> each playbook has a class (or multiclass) associated with it
[20:03] <+Peter> so, The Untested Thief is a rogue, the Fae Foundling is a warrior/mage, the Knightless Squire is a warrior, etc
[20:03] <+JohnC> And the player is guaranteed to end up with a character appropriate to the type they set out to play.
[20:03] <+Peter> yeah, youre not gonna pick the Squireless Knight and end up with someone who cant fight or ride a horse
[20:03] <+JohnC> So, where BtW has a playbook for The Assistant Beastkeeper, who keeps a talking animal for the village witch, Through Sunken Lands has the Pirate Captain. Just as an example.
[20:04] <+Tacostain> I want to be a pirate captain
[20:04] <+Peter> and the Cosmic Champion, and the Eldritch Sorcerer King
[20:04] <+Peter> when you use a playbook, your going to find out who your parents were, what you did as a kid, how you “became” your class, etc
[20:05] <+Peter> and youre going to have shared experiences with the other characters being generated at the table
[20:05] <+Peter> you get your equipment, a spcial item or two
[20:05] <+Tacostain> Are you taking questions on Action Movie World, your compny’s other game?
[20:05] <+JohnC> Beyond the Wall has also seen some fans do some really fun stuff with this formula – producing sets of playbooks for the Abhorsen series of novels, and for lovecraftian investigators as well.
[20:05] <+Peter> yeah sure
[20:05] <+Peter> but i still wanna know about gamma world
[20:06] <+Tacostain> I’ll let that one go first before I ask
[20:06] <+Peter> cough it up silverlion 🙂
[20:08] <&Silverlion> Well, hang on, a friend did these, not me.
[20:10] <&Silverlion> Sharing privately…don’t know he wants his work “out their”
[20:10] <+Tacostain> That makes sense
[20:10] <&Silverlion> Check your PM Peter.
[20:10] <&Silverlion> Nope that’s the wrong one, hang on
[20:10] <+JohnC> Ah well… We encourage people to build on to BtW much as possible, and have used the OGL to that end.
[20:11] <+Peter> pm received!
[20:11] <+Peter> alright, commence the questioning again
[20:12] <+Tacostain> So Action Movie World is kind of far afield from BtW. How did you end up doing that? I heard a podcast where the creator talked about it, but he didn’t go much into it.
[20:13] <+Peter> AMW is my brothers game, and it gave us a chance to do a project from a different angle
[20:13] <+Peter> i did editing, john did layout, etc
[20:13] <+Peter> we all played musical chairs, it was fun
[20:13] <+Peter> and the game is a hoot
[20:14] <+Peter> it lets you play through really cheesy 80s action movies, both as a character in the movie and as an actor playing multiple roles (often badly)
[20:14] <+JohnC> I had a lot of fun working in a supporting role on that.
[20:14] <+Tacostain> It’s such a radically different way of thinking about drama in RPGs.
[20:14] <+JohnC> The game taught me a lot about 80s action movies.
[20:14] <+Tacostain> Me, too, and I didn’t particularly get into them but the game is cool.
[20:15] <+Peter> it let me relive the kickboxer movies
[20:15] <~Dan> 🙂
[20:16] <+JohnC> The thread that ties ACTION MOVIE WORLD: First Blood together with Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures is that both work hard to encourage play in their own particular genre.
[20:16] <+Peter> yeah, i agree with that
[20:16] <+Peter> i think we like doing deep dives on genre at flatlandgames
[20:17] <~Dan> Do you include nonhuman PCs in BTW?
[20:17] <+Peter> yes, though not immediately
[20:17] <~Dan> How so?
[20:17] <+Peter> the appendix for the core game has rules for the species
[20:17] <+Peter> and then we added some nonhuman playbooks in a free supplement
[20:17] <+JohnC> But we didn’t introduce them until a later (free) supplement.
[20:17] <+JohnC> This encourage the low-magic feel of the game’s implicit setting.
[20:18] <+Peter> weve got lots out now, most or all of them free
[20:18] <+Tacostain> I demand a kobold supplement
[20:18] <+Peter> i particularly like the Gnomish Godparent
[20:18] <+Peter> oh, kobolds are not a bad idea
[20:18] <+JohnC> You might like our goblin supplement, The Wicked Dark.
[20:18] <+Peter> oh, we also have a freebie with an intelligent talking bear
[20:18] <+Tacostain> That’s one of the ones I don’t have
[20:19] <+Peter> hes fun and i think most people miss that one, because its just a download on our website
[20:20] <+Peter> ive got a talking fox with lots of tails somewhere on my hard drive
[20:20] <+Peter> we should probably release that some time
[20:20] <&Silverlion> Now its in a file folder for access.
[20:20] <+Tacostain> Like the sidekick from Sonic?
[20:20] <~Dan> Who are the baddies pictured on the cover?
[20:20] <+Peter> which cover?
[20:21] <+Peter> the core?
[20:21] <~Dan> Right.
[20:21] <+Peter> ah, those are bad orcs
[20:21] <+Peter> and a wicked horned king
[20:21] <+JohnC> That is the Horned King and some…
[20:21] <+Peter> i think jon hodgson knocked it out of the part with that one
[20:21] <+Peter> i still see that sometimes and go “oh god, is that the cover for our game!”
[20:21] <~Dan> Oh, is that his art? It’s gorgeous.
[20:21] <&Silverlion> Yeah he’s as great artist
[20:22] <+Peter> yeah, he does all of our full color covers
[20:22] <+Peter> and working with him was a joy
[20:22] <~Dan> What can you tell us about the Horned King?
[20:22] <+Peter> well, we just picked an archetype
[20:22] <+Peter> since the game has a strong implied setting but not a specific one
[20:22] <+Peter> hes a bad faerie man, hes bringing evil things to the village
[20:23] <+Peter> but those brave young heroes are fighting him off!
[20:23] <~Dan> Huzzah!
[20:23] <+Peter> actually, if i recall correctly, the first pass at that cover was just orcs as baddies
[20:23] <+Peter> but we wanted a little extra oomph, and jon hodgson very much delivered
[20:24] <+Tacostain> I love Hodgson’s art
[20:24] <+JohnC> We were happy to get Jon Hodgson to come back for Further Afield, our campaign-focused supplement for Beyond the Wall.
[20:25] <&Silverlion> My adventure idea an Ogre was going to kidnap a baby in fall, and the woman (who’s the local seemstress) offers to sew them great coats for winter. If they work it right and talk to the ogre about how he can’t properly care for a wee human baby, but CAN visit with the mother’s blessing, he brings giant acorns for buttons and they get a very minor magical effect (coat of warmth.) But…
[20:25] <+Peter> oh im in so far
[20:25] <+JohnC> That sounds neat!
[20:26] <&Silverlion> I just want it to feel like 2E AD&D always did for me, start small, start local, stick close. Less world spanning (though I did do that too) but more intimite you know these people community.
[20:27] <+Peter> thats where we were too silverlion
[20:27] <+JohnC> I do think the best adventures happen close to home! System Matters, in their German-language edition, introduced a scenario pack called the Troll Saga, in which a troll builds a dam that blocks the village’s river, and the players have to negotiate a solution.
[20:27] <+Peter> john was big for me on that as a GM in our personal games, he loved running those small, intimate locales
[20:28] <+Peter> someone in my playgroup one time said “i just wanna play some D&D! i want to inherit my fathers sword and then go check out a scary hole in the ground”
[20:29] <+Peter> thats not precisely what BtW feels like, but its not far off either
[20:31] <+Peter> i think thats out time, folks. any final questions?
[20:31] <~Dan> Oh, do you guys need to head out?
[20:31] <+Peter> day jobs in the morning!
[20:32] <~Dan> I have you scheduled until 9:30, but we can wrap up early if we need to.
[20:32] <~Dan> Ah! No problem, then.
[20:32] <+Peter> oh, i had us down for one hour!
[20:32] <+Peter> my calendar lied to me
[20:32] <~Dan> No worries!
[20:32] <~Dan> I appreciate you guys taking the time to hang out with us, regardless. 🙂
[20:33] <+Peter> ah, my apologies for any confusion
[20:33] <~Dan> No problem at all.
[20:33] <+JohnC> Thanks for having us, even with our eastern time-zone problems
[20:33] <~Dan> I’ll just give my usual reminder that gratuities are welcome at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
[20:33] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂
[20:33] <+Peter> excellent, thanks very much for having us, always happy to chat games!
[20:34] <~Dan> If you can stick around for just a moment, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
[20:34] <+Peter> awesome
[20:34] <~Dan> And please know that you’re always welcome to hang out with us here!
[20:34] <+Peter> sure thing, are folks on more or less at all times? whats your peak time?
[20:34] <~Dan> It varies wildly, but we’re always “open”.
[20:34] <~Dan> We have a very active daytime (U.S. time) crowd as well.