<+DiasExMachina> My name is Chris from Dias Ex Machina, publisher of RPGs. Our magnum opus is Amethyst, which has been released in full color thanks to our Kickstarter for 13th Age, 5th Edition D&D, 4th Edition D&D, Pathfinder, Fate, a Savage Worlds with a second book, Factions, due out quite soon for all those systems.
<+DiasExMachina> Amethyst deals with the collision of magic and technology in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world. DEM also produces Ultramodern5, universal sci-fi and modern rules for 5th Edition, which is out most successful book. It was only the second 5E 3rd party book to go platinum on DriveThruRPG, and we are working on 2.0 for that right now.
<~Dan> Thanks, DiasExMachina! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> What was the cause of the apocalypse?
<+DiasExMachina> That has no be specified in the setting yet. I mean I know, obviously…but the people within the setting have differing theories. The most common one was the return of magic itself did it. In this setting, magic breaks down technology, so a sudden swell of magic could send industrialized nations back 200 years.
<+DiasExMachina> However, that does not account for loss of life…so there are gaps. More to be revealed later.
<~Dan> If magic breaks down technology, how does tech still exist?
<+DiasExMachina> So there is this thing called the EDF, or Echan Disruption Field. Those born of magic, that create magic, radiate more of it. So regions devoid of magic create null zones where magic can operate. As a result, bastions of technology walled in from the outside world exist across the world.
<+DiasExMachina> Think ….Judge Dredd…but instead of the Waste Earth outside MegaCity one, it’s Middle Earth.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Lee!)
<~Dan> I assume you meant “where magic can’t operate”, correct?
<+DiasExMachina> Yes, I type very fast,
<~Dan> No worries. 🙂
<~Dan> How high tech are the tech areas? Is Judge Dredd a good comparison there?
<+DiasExMachina> It is for one of the Bastions, especially the recent film with Karl Urban. Angel is very much like that, though without the gripping unrelenting crime and totalitarian regime. That’s Mann, another city. There is also York, Selkirk, and Sierra Madre in North America–each one different in their own way
<~Dan> Is there anything that can protect tech from breaking down in magic areas? Or are techies outside the city pretty much screwed?
<~Dan> (Howdy, DMFitzgerald!)
<~Dan> (DMFitzgerald: (Link: http://www.diasexmachina.com/index.php/newgames/12-games/amethyst/5-amethyst)http://www.diasexmachina.com/index.php/newgames/12-games/amethyst/5-amethyst)
<+DiasExMachina> The lower the tech, the safer it is. A windmill is immune. A printing press…relatively ok. There are two problems concerning disruption–one is that disruption interferes with electronics like an EMP; and two–magic loves to retard violent chemical reactions. As a result if your device uses electricty, eventually it will fail.
<~Dan> (Howdy, DLB_Chuck! (Link: http://www.diasexmachina.com/index.php/newgames/12-games/amethyst/5-amethyst)http://www.diasexmachina.com/index.php/newgames/12-games/amethyst/5-amethyst )
<+DiasExMachina> If you employ a firearm, it may not work.
<+DiasExMachina> There are ways to insulate tech but it is costly and extremely heavy–basically, you have to wrap it layers of cold iron, which causes issues when it’s a watch.
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> So your promo text mentions driving cross-country in an armored transport. How is that possible?
<+DiasExMachina> There vehicles called ETVs. These are vehicles designed from the ground up to survive as long as possible in open fantasy. They are clad in layers of iron. They can recharge via solar power. But there are still risks and some roads are strewn with stripped wrecks of techan adventurers that believed themselves immune.
<+DiasExMachina> Some are the size of houses
<~Dan> Are there any humans native to fantasy, or are they all techan (if that’s the right term)?
<+DLB_Chuck> Sorry for joining late. Have goblins that have to be put to bed. This may have been covered already but which version of the game is in active development? I saw versions for 4e, 5e, Pathfinder etc.
<+DiasExMachina> Yes. Humans can employ magic. They are the only ones able to make that choice. However, once you wield magic, or depend on it in some way, or even bond (mate) with a magical creature, that human turns to magic and radiates disruption. There are stories of people leaving their modern cities and being unable to return.
<+DMFitzgerald> Sorry…fell off
<~Dan> (wb, DMFitzgerald!)
<+DiasExMachina> We are working on Amethyst Factions for Fate, Savage Worlds, 4th Edition, 5th Edition, 13th Age and Pathfinder
<~Dan> Right, but did any humans come from wherever the elves and goblins came from?
<+DiasExMachina> Yes. Originally, back in 2008, it was for 3.5. Then we jumped on the 4E bandwagon. From there, we developed Pathfinder. When we our Kickstarter, we updated the 4E and Pathfinder editions, then Chris Stilson developed Savage Worlds and Fate while I did 13th Age, which itself was based off the 4E edition.
<~Dan> Sorry about that. Lost my connection. Did I miss the answer to my question?
<+DiasExMachina> When I did the 5E edition, I used the Pathfinder version as the base. For Amethyst Factions, the new book, it was in reverse. We did the 5E first, then when backwards to the others.
<+DiasExMachina> Ask away
<+DMFitzgerald> Why so many systems?
<+DiasExMachina> Because I’m an idiot.
<+DMFitzgerald> Same here
<+DMFitzgerald> I don’t think you are an idiot
<+DLB_Chuck> What’s the breakdown in terms of sales — like what proportion is 5e compared to Pathfinder or Fate etc.?
<+DiasExMachina> We wanted to please everyone and years ago, NO ONE knew what 5E would become. Back then, it was a free-for-all. 4E was fumbling, Pathfinder was soaring, and everyone else was developing their own OGL games to fill in the gaps. Who knew that 5E would plow like a freight train and take it all back.
<+DMFitzgerald> Some of those systems are VERY different from the others. Will a person get the same background game play of the world from different systems?
<+DiasExMachina> Good question, It’s a little difficult because the game came out in B+W originally for 4th Edition and Pathfinder, then got re-released in color. But those releases had the others by two years. So sales are not entirely reflective.
<+DiasExMachina> Technically, the 5E sells better than Pathfinder, then Savage Worlds and Fate are neck and neck, 4th Edition, then 13th Age in the rear
<~Dan> (Howdy, Alex!)
<+Alex> Howdy Dan
<+DiasExMachina> When it comes to setting, especially in the new book, the settings are identical. There were some changes between the old 2008 D20 edition and it is not longer considered canon, but the new books–all the ones in color, are effectively the same. I know Chris Stilson added a few things to his Fate and SW versions
<+DMFitzgerald> That makes sense
<+DMFitzgerald> Okay, thank you.
<+DiasExMachina> But when it comes to rules, yes, there is no doubt there are differences. 13th Age and Fate have WAY fewer rules than the others, so naturally there is less game there.
<~Dan> Seems like the Fate and SW versions would impact the setting, given the differences in the magic systems if nothing else.
<+DiasExMachina> That always bothered me because there are these massive background creation tables in 5th Edition, but they are exclusive to that game because there is no equivalency in the others without breaking their rules philosophy.
<+DiasExMachina> That falls to Chris Stilson, and he admitted it was a challenge. My systems are are functionally similar. He took some flack for some of his design choices from the Fate community, but I back his play
<~Dan> Can you give an example of a flack-causing design choice?
<+DiasExMachina> I just asked Chris if he wanted to join in the conversation….still waiting on that. So I couldn’t tell you. I just did the layout on those. But I remember him taking some heat. I got heat when I did the original 4th Edition versions. Some of those had merit; I felt others did not.
<+DiasExMachina> I think setting comes first. If rules can’t fit that setting…change the rules, not the setting.
<+DMFitzgerald> Yeah I agree
<+DMFitzgerald> I always say that setting trumps rules.
<~Dan> I always find it jarring if something exists in the setting simply because of the rules.
<+DLB_Chuck> Setting is what makes it fun. Rules help or get in the way. My preference is that the rules should be in the background.
<~Dan> DiasExMachina: Did you make and rules tweaks to any of the systems under your purview?
<+DiasExMachina> I agree with that. I am pretty adept with rules but writing the setting is what’s fun. Any GM worth his or her salt wants to be a storyteller, not a PC killer.
<+DMFitzgerald> Which Dan is the current problem. Mayn players seem to think they can dictate to the GM.
<+DMFitzgerald> As well as thinking that GM’s are some sort of public service.
<+DMFitzgerald> or maybe servants.
<+DiasExMachina> I believe in keeping with the core system and adding to it, not taking away. So some systems need more love than others. For 4th Edition, I truly felt that was a sandbox but others felt it had been blasted in stone. I have no issues removing rules–I just prefer not to get into a fight with armchair quarterbacks. 🙂
<~Dan> In all of the D&D variants, did you keep Vancian magic?
<+Alex> I apologize if this was asked, but I came in a bit late, In terms of game systems did you or are you considering making a version for GURPS? The reason I ask is the system is pretty broad in its rule sets and leaves allot of it up to dm discretion or at least the edition I played did.
<+DiasExMachina> Well, that was the one concept I had to bend to the setting. So the magic system still employs the base rules as defined in those books. However, I do alter a few ideas, like the use of totems and the rarity of magic in Amethyst. If someone is a wizard in a group, that may be the only wizard for 500 miles.
<+DiasExMachina> But yeah, I had to wince when it came to magic because the novels explain it a little differently….but yeah…game.
<+DiasExMachina> Uhh…well, how do I put this. I dislike GURPS. I wrote for GURPS in the 90s, and I stopped enjoying it. My issue at least back then was that it said “play any world you want”, then gave a lot of rules that I felt was restricting. RTG’s FUZION was a lot better for that
<~Dan> You mentioned magic being rare. Why is that? Seems like it would be plentiful in the magic areas outside of the cities.
<+DiasExMachina> Ok…long answer. Most magic in Amethyst is a force of chaos spewing forth from this portal in space called Attricana. It alters the universe and allows dragons to exist. But those rules to make dragons exist can also stop a computer from working. Magic is just a word used to describe these random effects.
<+DiasExMachina> A long time ago, the dragons and elder elves figured how to slightly convert this chaos into something slightly under their control. It became the magical language, Pleroma, in which all spellcasting is derived from. Speak the word, alter the world. However, to understand how this happens and how it works, is extremely difficult.
<+DiasExMachina> As a result, some people never figured it out, or do and don’t manage past a few cantrips. I can count the number of epic spellcasters in all of Amethyst on I think on both hands. And only two are human.
<+DiasExMachina> So when someone creates a high level mage in Amethyst, they’re number 11.
<~Dan> Are there clerics?
<+DiasExMachina> Short answer. No.
<~Dan> What other tweaks did you make to classes?
<+DiasExMachina> Long answer. Yes…they’re spellcasters just like wizards…just a different system that endorses a theistic approach. You can be an atheist cleric in Amethyst.
<+DiasExMachina> Fantasy classes? Nothing. I added, gave them more options. I had to add (at least for the d20 based systems) 10 new technology classes. There was enough work, I didn’t want to mess around with the base models. But to jump to another answer to something not asked, in the beginning we cut out bards, rangers, and paladins.
<+DLB_Chuck> So all magic — clerical and wizard types come from that same force of chaos?
<+DMFitzgerald> Gotta go…night folks.
<~Dan> Bye, DMFitzgerald!
<+DiasExMachina> Later we altered their fluff to justify their existence. We added a few rules, but that was it. So druids, clerics, bards–they all use the same totem rules in addition to their own.
<+DiasExMachina> Yup. If you want to cast spells, everyone uses the same base system–Pleroma. They just focus it in a different way.
<+DiasExMachina> So with clerics, you need to pick a domain, but not a faith
<+DiasExMachina> Jumping to the next answer, yes, some spells don’t exist in Amethyst
<~Dan> I gather that the gods aren’t objectively real in Amethyst?
<+DLB_Chuck> When you have the versions for 4e, 5e, etc. how many spells do you use from the SRD and how many are totally new?
<+DiasExMachina> That’s one of the biggest statements in Amethyst–it’s set in the real world, estimated 500 years from now. So there cannot be Pelor or Weejas or any of those, and I wasn’t about to put Odin or Zeus back in…so Amethyst is agnostic. If God/gods are real, they are silent, and their involvement easily dismissable and a matter of faith.
<+DiasExMachina> If we confirmed religion was fact, which one do we use, Judaism, Shintoism? So those faiths are present, but there is no proof of God.
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Seems wise.
<~Dan> On the flipside, are there demons?
<+DiasExMachina> For 4E, we took out very little because there are few spells in 4E. For 5E, we took out a few, but not many. Basically anything relating to talking to gods or divinity. Resurrection spells are modified; some fluff changed. When you summon a monster, you are creating it out of thin air, not pulling it from another plane.
<+DiasExMachina> Nope. I mean people call the shemjaza demons. But the demons and devils in D&D would be more like abominations of chaos, which is a byproduct of the “good” magic. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but the EVIL force in Amethyst is the opposite of the magic of chaos–it’s pure order.
<+DLB_Chuck> In retrospect, if you had it to do all over again do you think it was better to spread out your time or effort to develop the game for so many systems over focusing on just one or two and using that saved effort to work on new products or supplements?
<+DiasExMachina> Yes. I mean, I don’t know if our Kickstarter would have succeeded if we had not promised it for those systems, but I would have preferred to have kept with 5E, 4E, and Pathfinder. And going forward action Amethyst Factions, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Although I can see phasing 4E eventually.
<~Dan> So does that mean techans are agents of evil?
<+DiasExMachina> Oh no no…I don’t ever make absolutes. Even the shemjaza have their moments of civility. Techans can be good or evil just like anybody. I love groups of mixed ideologies in my games that find a way to work together. It does deal with the collision of these two systems, but there is no right or wrong in their debate.
<~Dan> Is pure order a supernatural being?
<+DiasExMachina> No. I mean there are avatars of the extremes of these ideals. Amethyst is the one for Attricana. The opposite side, Ixindar, has Mengus. But they are only manifestations, perhaps channels, of that power. Some refute them as being gods.
<~Dan> What twists do you offer on standards fantasy species like elves and goblins?
<+DiasExMachina> I took the standard tropes of fantasy throughout literature and mythology and claimed they were all based on these real creatures from our distant past. But these are the real versions of them. So there is something both romantic and realistic about them. They each have something good and something bad about them. There are no evil races.
<+DLB_Chuck> Are there any races that PCs can’t play?
<+DiasExMachina> They all got renamed though. We may call a damaskan an elf, but they find it pejorative. A narros is a dwarf, and so forth. They all have their own unique rules. Orcs in this setting are pagus and don’t look or act anything like orcs.
<~Dan> What do pagus look and act like?
<+DiasExMachina> I should make it clear that I never say dictate what player’s can’t do in their own games. I have rules in my own personal games, but don’t enforce those in print. I know people that play tieflings in Amethyst. They don’t exist canonically, but it’s their game.
<+DiasExMachina> But I offer up way more races than staple D&D. Gimfen, damaskan, tenenbri, laudenian, narros, chaparran, shemjaza, pagus, tilen…
<+DiasExMachina> Pagus are pale-skinned 7-foot tall corruptions of order. They were once normal elves corrupted by Ixindar. Now they are almost clones of one another. And they’re strong and violent, and subservient to their lords. However, the corruption wasn’t perfect…and they are unstable and prone to violence.
<+DLB_Chuck> You mentioned that the 5e version was most popular (I think). Didn’t you originally create Amethyst pre-5e? So did it do a major catchup or something?
<+DiasExMachina> Yup. Same thing with Ultramodern5. When UM5 came out, it caught up and passed the sales of UM4 which had been out for two years in only a month.
<+DLB_Chuck> Do you do distribution or is it mostly Drivethru?
<+DiasExMachina> UM5 is available through your FLGS. Amethyst is only available through OBS sites like DriveThruRPG.
<~Dan> Can you give some examples of your tech classes?
<+DiasExMachina> Depending on the book, its between 5 and 10.
<+DiasExMachina> They are all military classes. We have a medic, a sniper, a gunslinger, a man-at-arms, a heavy weapons specialist, a techie, a martial artist, and a marshal
<+DiasExMachina> Most of the time, it’s those. With 4E, Man-at-arms and heavy were one class with branches, but for 5E, they were pulled apart
<+DiasExMachina> Martial artist is a monk sans the whimsy
<~Dan> Did you add any fantasy classes?
<+DiasExMachina> No. There were so many, there was little I could contribute in that regard. We added to the classes heavily–new prestige classes, no feats, subclasses. But the techan classes were enough work. Besides, everyone and their dog has fantasy classes
<~Dan> What is the cutting edge of techan personal weaponry?
<+DLB_Chuck> There are many different perspectives on what you can do with OGL in terms of 5e. Is the 5e book a full game with the rules to play and create characters or is it a sourcebook for people who know how to play D&D?
<+DiasExMachina> We have tech levels from 0-5. Zero is basically immune while 5 is antigravity and plasma weapons. Each bastion advanced at a different rate. So Angel is TL1, Mann is TL4. They don’t share–they couldn’t even if they wanted to given disruption prevents communication. You can have powered armor to.
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+DiasExMachina> We don’t reprint the rules like some people. Back in the 3.5 days, you could, but with 4E, you couldn’t. 5E is flexible, but I don’t like filling pages with rules everyone knows. So we only print what pertains to our setting and don’t reprint unchanged content
<+DiasExMachina> Quintessence is over 400 pages without the OGL reprinted. If we included the OGL rules, it would be 600+
<+DiasExMachina> Just a reminder that Factions, the sequel to Amethyst, will be out either February or March, and after that, we are developing Ultramodern 5 2.0.
<+DLB_Chuck> What’s new in UM5 2.0?
<+DLB_Chuck> Will you do another kickstarter?
<+DiasExMachina> Yeah, that’s the pl an. UM5 will have a construction system for making giant robots and include three settings as well as advanced rules for grittier combat.
<~Dan> Usual reminder: Gratuities are welcome at (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/the-gmshoes-tip-jar/ 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, DiasExMachina!
<+DiasExMachina> Thank you!!
<+DLB_Chuck> Thanks! and Thanks Dan for putting these together!
<+DiasExMachina> See you guys later.
<+DLB_Chuck> I’m out too
<~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted.