<+BEN> So my name is Ben Doran, I am from Upstate NY and have a very recent degree in stopmotion animation. Always loved beautiful games and I started slowly adapting a rough hack of Paranoia XP into a game that my friends and I really loved to play.
<+BEN> After a while and a bunch of sessions I would run this game for people that had never played RPG’s before because I could have them sit down and just start, without a a ton of preparation and number crunching.
<+BEN> I run a youtube channel where I started talking about Dead Halt (then named Beyond the Fall) and a bunch of people asked me if they could get a pdf of the rules to try it out.
<+BEN> I figured yeah sure, I’ll just write it down real quick.
<+BEN> Well, I got carried away and really started enjoying the process of creating the small rpg. Dead Halt started to emerge and get lodged deeper into my thoughts and so I decided to go all the way and really make it something I was proud of, and something that other people could enjoy. From those that love RPG’s to those that just want a relaxing night.
<+BEN> Dead Halt is now a ridiculous romp through an endless Hotel, where you create characters that take jobs as simple maintenance staff, and then slowly uncover the absurdity of the Hotel around them. One where Body parts are replaced by cybernetics and Computer consoles are very snarky.
<+BEN> Done ! 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks, BEN! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> So if the Hotel is endless, how do guests arrive? 🙂
<+Syfro> I’d love to look through the playtest document while we talk, but I can’t seem to reach zonware.net – do you have another link to it somewhere?
<+BEN> (Link: http://www.zonware.net,)www.zonware.net, it needs to have the www. hahaha that is probably why
<+BEN> The Hotel has endless amounts of floors, but only Up and down. Also the floors dont really follow the rules of reality, more of a Tardis type effect. However the Hotel is in NYC, you can just walk right in. People just tend to overlook it 🙂
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<~Dan> Does it exist in contemporary NYC, or a future version?
<+BEN> The Hotel also rarely gets “guests” it is more of an insane ecosystem than it is an actual Hotel.
<+BEN> 1996! but a bit alternate, there isnt really much mention of outside the Hotel. You can leave the Hotel sure, but there is no adventure out there. Leave the Hotel you leave the game haha.
<~Dan> So what kinds of adventures are to be had IN the Hotel?
<~Dan> (wb, TobyStrauss)
<+BEN> The main structure of the game is that the Bar is sort of a home base. The Bartender (who is an android) hires you to help out as maintenance crew, then offers you a reward in exchange for a job.
<+BEN> The job will usually entail going to a floor and doing a thing.
<+TobyStrauss> Hello, I’m back 🙂
<+BEN> So you gear up, take the elevator up to a floor and hope for the best.
<~Dan> (How did dinner turn out? 🙂 )
<+Syfro> So the different floors of the hotel seem to be able to house literally anything, does the computer system persist in these areas? How else do they tie to the hotel at large?
<+TobyStrauss> (It was really good! Stir fry. Easy to teach and good eating)
<~Dan> (Awesome. 🙂 )
<+BEN> The only caveat is that every single floor is ANYTHING. As in it could open to a grim shambled line of Hotel rooms with things moving about in the darkness, or it could open up to an entire fantasy landscape with weather and inahbitance.
<~Dan> So the interior has exteriors of its own?
<+BEN> Yep! The Hotel was once run by a central computer named FortRA, who was connected to a Terminal Console on every floor. The consoles hang from the ceiling or floor or whatnot, and are meant to keep the floors in check.
<+BEN> However FortRA went a bit mad and kept building insane floors so someone turned him off. Now all the consoles have been going a bit crazy in solitude on each of their floors!
<+Syfro> How is FortRA similar or dissimilar to Friend Computer?
<+BEN> good question! Technically he is dead!
<+Syfro> Oh, so FortRA is actually disabled
<+Syfro> and each floor is spinning on its own head, that’s cool. I can see why the place would need maintenance workers 😛
<+BEN> hahahah. He had much less control over the Hotel than friend computer, but mainly kept operations going and told the consoles what they should be doing. However he is very much offline, there are rumors that too many cybernetics will let you hear him whisper to you, but those are just rumors.
<+BEN> Exactly, everything has gone very wonky.
<~Dan> You mentioned gearing up… What sorts of equipment do the PCs have access to?
<+Syfro> It looks like the magic system uses playing cards which players get by gaining knowledge – is magic in this game something everyone knows how to cast if they have access to it, or is it restricted in some way? e.g. Do you have to be in some way wizardly to use magic?
<+BEN> So Items have a big R&D Paranoia influence.
<+BEN> There is a big Gashapon Vending Machine in the basement next to the ice machine.
<+BEN> And essentially the more coins you put in the “Better” equipment it will spit out, but it is entirely random. From glowing swords to flame rifles.
<+BEN> Gashapon are basically big Japanese gumball machines 🙂
<~Dan> Ha! This is awesome. 🙂
<+BEN> it is a bit crazy hahah
<+BEN> so there are like levels of tables to roll on depending on how much gold you put into the machine
<+BEN> As for magick, that is an area that I have to playtest a bunch. But the idea is that magick is based on Knowledge of the world. You read some books you find, or do some new things, you get Knowledge which is in the form of random playing cards.
<+BEN> The Reason for the playing cards is that Dead Halt is very much about using what you got. There are basically no ways to min max because things happen to you and your characters end up very different than how you originally intended.
<+BEN> With magicks you slowly build poker hands, the bigger the hand the more powerful the magick will be. However depending on what cards you have will determine what sort of magick you are able to cast.
<+BEN> So essentially you have to use what you got and make the best of it :)! 9done)
<~Dan> So there is weird science and magic… Any other strangeness to which the PCs have access?
<~Dan> And where do they get their cybernetics installed?
<+BEN> yes yes, so Basically you cannot die in DH
<+BEN> If you gain enough wounds to equal your Threshold (how tough you are) then one of your body parts are blown off.
<~Dan> I see room for grisly comedy here.
<+BEN> A medic Consoles slams down out of the ceiling and the floor parts beneath you. A thousand little probes poke and prod at you and in a few turns you pop out, good as new.
<+BEN> If you arm was blown off then you get a robotic one, with that sweet 90’s tech flare.
<+BEN> The cybernetics enhance your skills by an extra die for a relevant skill
<~Dan> So what happens if your head gets blown off? 🙂
<+BEN> however it will also glitch out.
<+BEN> They replace it! Well, parts of it atleast
<+BEN> Essentially if you get to a certain amount of Cybernetics then there will be a point where you are more machine than human and you fall prey to the whispers of the super computer, and run off into the Hotel’s Unknowns.
<+BEN> This is when you lose a character, they are still alive, but you no longer control them.
<~Dan> Ah, I was wondering what the threat is if there’s no death.
<+BEN> Then you reroll 🙂
<~Dan> What sorts of threats can one encounter in the Hotel?
<+BEN> Yeah haha, there is also no healing so you are forever on your way to death
<+BEN> well, not death but becoming a Clunkhead and running off
<+BEN> Threats are all sorts of things from rampaging Zambonies to like existential horrors. But most of the threats are things like Ratfolk and Clunkheads, who may in turn eventually become allies or even friends.
<~Dan> Clunkheads being PCs who’ve gone off the deep end? 🙂
<+BEN> precisely 🙂
<~Dan> Go me!
<+Syfro> What are Quirks?
<+Syfro> (if they’re not really in the game yet, what will they be?)
<~Dan> Do you have a character sheet posted somewhere that we could see?
<+BEN> Oh Quirks are just what I call almost Plot Points of the Lore.
<+Syfro> If you go to (Link: http://www.zonware.net)www.zonware.net there’s a link to the playtest doc, I can’t see the page on my PC but I got there on my phone
<+BEN> I was always very overwhelmed by pages and pages of lore so I am distilling them down into “Quirks” which are normally quirky things about the History of the Hotel that just make it feel a bit more lived in.
<~Dan> Oh, I forgot the 90’s style website. That’s awesome. 😀
<+BEN> Things like Gad the Business man who is fabled to have turned off FortRA, The Date and origin of FortRA, The bartenders history, things Like that that you can just add in as story arcs!
<+BEN> Yeah there should be one of the character sheets in the playtest or halfway down the Kickstarter Page! (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zonware/dead-halt)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zonware/dead-halt
<+BEN> There is actually a filled out charactersheet on the kickstarter page, not sure if I can send images here haha
<~Dan> I think there’s a way to do it. Maybe not via Mibbit, though.
<+BEN> okay well its there on the KS page anyway 🙂
<~Dan> Yup, I see it.
<+Syfro> So I guess the difference btween Quirks and Adventure Hooks are that Quirks are narrative prompts to inform you about what the hotel is like, and Adventure Hooks are things you might be sent to do?
<~Dan> What are the attributes?
<+BEN> the attributes are Strength, Speed , Focus, Constitution, and Knowledge
<~Dan> I take it that there aren’t skills?
<+BEN> most are what you would imagine. Some differences are Focus is for hacking computers as well as using guns, Con is for your wounds, and Knowledge lets you use magic
<+BEN> nope, no skills, I keep it simple haha. There are some Species Specialties but thats it.
<~Dan> What species are available to play?
<+BEN> Things like the Ratfolk can hold more items, Toadpeople can breathe underwater and have a higher Focus, Spawn are more durable.
<+BEN> Well! We unlocked the whole lot of them as a stretch goal, but you always start as a human. If you go clunkhead then you can reroll in one of the new species because you will have met them in the Hotel.
<~Dan> Ah, I was going to ask about how that’s possible if the exterior of the Hotel is “normal”.
<~Dan> What is a Spawn?
<+BEN> There are Humans, Ratfolk, Consoles, Undead, Goblins, Toadlings, Moles, Clones, and Spawn!
<+BEN> Yep outside is normal just the hotel is weird.
<+BEN> Spawn are literally little demons
<+Syfro> Yeeesss Molemen
<~Dan> Clones. Just the same old thing.
<+BEN> Without getting to deep into the very odd lore, Satan is literally in the bottom of the Hotel and he has a bunch of Spawn, but he isnt such a bad guy.
<+Syfro> Do you have an example of what Quirks & Adventure Hooks will look like? Are they just a jumping off point for the GM or do they give more detail?
<+BEN> Clones are actually called Blank Slate Clones! They were created to replace the Consoles and be more “Human”. They duplicated the bodies very well but could never get the features correct, so they look like unpainted ken dolls. The idea was shelved and the clones woke up years later.
<~Dan> Heh. Cool.
<+BEN> NOw they want to be unique and individual so they wear insane outfits and clothing ot stand apart from one another.
<~Dan> Reminds me of the Thralls in Talislanta, in a weird way.
<+BEN> Quirks are just little lore tid bits, Adventure arcs are like 1-2 page ideas for an adventure.
<~Dan> (If you’re unfamiliar, this is a Thrall: (Link: https://www.martinralya.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/pdbb.jpg)https://www.martinralya.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/pdbb.jpg )
<~Dan> (They’re a warrior race that are all identical, so they tattoo themselves wildly.)
<+BEN> Things like a few character, ideas, items,
<+BEN> (ooooh cool!)
<+BEN> but nicely designed, just to jump you in without making you railroad people
<~Dan> What is the game’s task resolution system?
<+BEN> What do you mean exactly by task resolution?
<~Dan> The die rolling mechanic, assuming that there is one.
<+BEN> Like the Dice resolution mecvhanic?
<+BEN> Oh yeah okay!
<+BEN> Dice mechanic is essentially you have a d6 pool for each attribute you have
<+BEN> a 6 is a success, and more than one will make “better” successes!
<+BEN> thats it in a nutshell!
<+Syfro> Ah, so that’s changed from the playtest doc?
<~Dan> On the example character sheet, what does the filled square at the end of the Speed row mean?
<+BEN> The goal of the dice in DH is to keep it simple and streamlined. TBH, the Playtest Doc and this system are being playtested currently but I havent decided 🙂
<+BEN> In the end the basic idea stands, roll d6 equal to your attributes and hope for high numbers haha!
<+BEN> Dan, That is a Cybernetic! If a cybernetic enhances a skill it adds a bonus die. If you chose to use that die however (utilizing your cybernetic) it could malfunction on a roll of 1 and go poorly!
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<~Dan> And you said that magic is card-based?
<+BEN> Yep, standard poker deck
<~Dan> How does that work?
<+BEN> You pick up cards in the hotel when you find bits of information or knowledge like books and stuff that you gain as rewards
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Guest74!)
<+BEN> then yoyu can use them to make poker hands, and each hand will make a differnt type of magic!
<~Dan> What types are there?
<~Dan> (And that’s a great mechanic, btw!)
<+BEN> Thanks! It still needs a bunch of work and playtesting but the base is there!
<+BEN> Two types of magick, Wine (red) and Ink (black)
<+BEN> Wine is all about cleansing, fire, destruction, ect
<+BEN> Ink is all about rewriting, the void, time, space, ect
<+Syfro> Why did you pick those names?
<+BEN> Wine might make fire, while Ink might turn back time
<+BEN> but combinations of the two change up things a whole bunch like fireballs and vortex’s
<~Dan> Are there specific spells? Or is it freeform?
<+BEN> Good question Syfro, To be honest, I just thought a Hotel would have some old lore about things like this, and the words just fit for me 🙂
<+Syfro> “They were cool names” is a perfectly valid answer 🙂
<+BEN> Currently there are specific spells with freeform mechanics. As in something may turn back time one minute, but it is up to the storyteller to enact that.
<~Dan> (wb, TobyStrauss 🙂 )
<+TobyStrauss> (I got dropped!)
<~Dan> (Glad you made it back!)
<+BEN> Hi TobyStrauss!
<+Syfro> Is there any character advancement, or do you keep going until you drive your character into the ground?
<+BEN> I am working on character advancement right now! Essentially I am keeping it simple. I may do small trees of bonuses for the more missions you go on. But right now the character advancement is a sort of odd bell curve. You get better when you get cybernetics, however you are also closer to death and way more volatile.
<~Dan> Maybe advancement could be some means of “paying down” the flaws in cybernetics to some degree.
<+Syfro> Or your adventures unlock benefits for your later characters
<+Syfro> beyond new races
<+BEN> Yes! I am actually building a system that you can expand the Fall Bar as your home base.
<+Syfro> Cool 🙂
<+BEN> So essentially you can go on missions to make the home base better, and it will unlock things like item storage, stations to actually heal, or maybe even to work back cybernetics
<+BEN> But you would have to adventure to get the materials to do so.
<~Dan> So it’s d6s, and you need a 6 to succeed? Seems awfully difficult. Am I missing something?
<+Syfro> Tales from the Loop uses an even harder system 😛
<~Dan> Does it? Wow…
<+BEN> Yeah tales is crazy hard haha.
<+Syfro> And that’s about kids on bikes, they’ve got no chance
<+BEN> So my current rules in the play test are 4,5,6 are all “Knocks”
<+BEN> The Knocks are looked at on a table and that decides how well you did.
<+BEN> So 0 is a failure and the DM will narrate your failure
<+BEN> 1 is only a Partial success, so you do what you intended but something may .not go prefectly.
<+BEN> 3 Knocks gets you the exact intention
<+BEN> And more than that are additional bonuses, like taking a bonus action or even giving another character another turn!
<~Dan> So in ability level terms, you have to be pretty skilled to get an exact success?
<+BEN> Right! There is a bunch of fumbling around, mainly because I want people that took points in one skill to really feel like they are needed in the team, that because they have 3 dice for strength they might be the only one that can solve their predicament!
<~Dan> How does combat work?
<+BEN> in this way characters really have to rely on each other’s skills to succeed.
<+BEN> Combat is basically using the ability that a weapon uses, Str for a sword, Foc for a gun, ect.
<+BEN> Weapon Items will give bonus dice
<+BEN> and then for every Knock (success of 4,5,6) you roll you deal the weapons wounding value.
<+BEN> Essentially a Wepon might be a gun with a WV of 3. If you roll 3 Knocks, each one does 3 damage, and in the end you Deal 9 total damage.
<+BEN> Most things have a tiny bit of armor though, which will block a damage or two.
<+BEN> thats it really 🙂 Combat is simple and extremely dangerous because it can go bad very quickly.
<+Syfro> Is it ever possible to have 0 armor?
<~Dan> Which symbol on the character sheet is for armor, and what are the other two?
<+BEN> Some creatures may have 0, but Players get atleast 1 armor because of a base 1 Constitution
<+Syfro> So players get higher armor for more constitution?
<+BEN> The triangle is your armor, circle is your current wounds, bottom square is your Wound Threshhold.
<+BEN> Also in the bottom right s your armor item, which might add one or two if you have some
<~Dan> Does the game include a bestiary, and if so, how extensive?
<+BEN> There will be a bunch of NPC’s and Enemies all illustrated by my two fantastic Guest artists! The Creature profiles are very simple though so making up your own is a piece of cake.
<~Dan> Are they the same as PC profiles?
<+BEN> No, they are actually super simple.
<~Dan> What do they look like?
<+BEN> They have a Wound Track, which essentially denotes what happens as they are wounded. 1 wound may give them a bruise, 5 may harm their tail, ten may break their arm, 30 may kill them or smash their screen in. Then they have a weapon profile jsut like normal, but it might just be a claw or bite attack instead of a gun.
<+BEN> they look almost like a Drivers liscence but for a Creature xD
<+BEN> I dont have a finalized version of that yet 🙂
<~Dan> What are some creatures that you’re currently planning on including?
<+BEN> I have a bunch of Clunkheads, some really wild technological monstrosoties, and a bunch of just little guys that arn’t necessarily evil haha
<+BEN> The main goal for all of the “enemies” in the hotel is that they could easily turn into friends under the right circumstances. I don’t believe anyone is evil, just have different goals haha./
<+Syfro> Will returning to the Bar be difficult sometimes? e.g. does the elevator back move around or disappear?
<+BEN> The elevator stays in one place (unless you dont want it too) but it does have an elevator boy, who is a tiny android. Treat him right because he is in control! haha
<~Dan> What are some adventures you’ve sent PCs on?
<+BEN> One of my favorites is “Rats in the Walls”
<+BEN> Which is about a console on floor 4 that is extremely paranoid about rats that are terrorizing the floor.
<+BEN> Turns out they are Ratfolk and human sized, but players dont usually know that until they are pointing guns at each other.
<~Dan> Do you plan on doing anything more with this setting beyond the core, or is this strictly a one-off?
<+BEN> haha Maaaaayyyyyybbbbeeee
<+BEN> I have a bunch of plans 🙂 I may or may not have teased them with the New Soundtrack CD-ROM I released as a stretch goal today.
<~Dan> Oh, how cool!
<+Syfro> Speaking of which, I think the most important question has to be:
<+Syfro> Where did you get that AMIGA shirt?
<+BEN> Yep :)! Eventually I would like to make Dead Halt into a full fledged book someday, btu i do have other Rpg plans in the same aesthetic!
<+BEN> ahhahaha! My brother just gave me the thumbs up from the kitchen, he bought it for me for Christmas this year!
<+BEN> I wore it today actually
<+Syfro> Good purchase 😉
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+BEN> Yeah I would say so! My hat in that video is actually an IBM PS/2 hat haha. On theme.
<+BEN> Just thanks! Everyone that has been so interested in Dead Halt really flatters me.
<+Syfro> Thank you for speaking with us 🙂
<+BEN> It is kind of a wild passion project that I didn’t really hold back on, so everyone that has connected with it makes me really happy.
<~Dan> Usual reminder: If any of you have enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee, you can do so here: (Link: https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe 🙂
<+Syfro> Dead Halt looks pretty awesome, congratulations on getting super funded!
<~Dan> BEN: It sounds outrageously fun. 🙂
<~Dan> I’ll happily review it for you when it comes out. 🙂
<+BEN> That being said if anyone ever has questions or anything or just want to talk they can reach me at email@example.com!
<+BEN> Sounds like a plan Dan! I’ll be in contact 🙂
<~Dan> BEN: Also, please know that you’re always welcome to hang out here with us! We’re always open. 🙂
<+BEN> Yay! Will do!
<~Dan> And, as Syfro has learned, promotion is always welcome as well. 🙂
<~Dan> Now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
<+Syfro> Indeed 🙂