<+Addie> Hi, I’m Addie, the lead writer for Waypoint Game Designs and Manifest the RPG (live on Kickstarter now!)
<+Addie> Manifest is a sci-fi western tabletop RPG, set on an alien planet that’s a little rough around the edges.
<+Addie> To fit the world of Manifest, we here at Waypoint Game Designs created a bespoke game engine called the Fistful of D20s system
<+Addie> It allows for robust narrative play, while still providing the crunch that so many classic RPG players love.
<+Addie> We’ve been working on Manifest (and playtesting it) for over 4 years, and we’re really excited and proud to be bringing it to the masses.
<+Addie> The kickstarter is 93% funded with just under 6 days to go.
<+Addie> I’ve been working as a writer for over a decade and have worked for many of the largest shops in the gaming space as well as traditional publishing, and my partner, the lead designer of Manifest, has been working in the gaming industry for just under a decade.
<+Addie> That’s the very short version of who we are and what we’ve created, happy to fill in any blanks and of course, answer any questions! (done)
<~Dan> Thanks, Addie! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> Can you tell us a bit about the game’s premise, and what makes it a sci-fi Western?
<+Addie> Sure! The characters are all post-future society, where space travel and high-tech everything has existed in the past.
<+Addie> However, about 400 years ago they were separated from the main contingent of humanity, and stranded on the planet of Manifest. Which lead to a loss of knowledge and degradation of forward progress. Much of the populace still lives in a Neo-futuristic society in the factory-towns, but many people have abandoned city life in order to make their fortunes
<+Addie> and/or find freedom on the frontier. So there’s a lot of future-tech that exists, but things like space travel and cutting edge science is limited to a few power enclaves or individuals if not completely lost
<~Dan> So there are still some spacecraft?
<+Addie> So that’s basically how it’s sci-fi, like borderlands and tri-gun, but how the western aesthetic comes into play is a little bit more straight forward.
<+Addie> The people who moved away from the cities have mostly moved into the Badlands, which is your stereotypical dusty frontier, with harsh climbs but ‘freedom just over every hill’
<+Addie> characters are known as Drifters, who are the highly-skilled wanderer who fix (or cause) problems as they travel wherever their horse (or hover bike) may lead
<+Addie> The game right now is completely terrestrial, if anyone has the knowledge of space travel, they’ve kept it to themselves as a closely guarded secret
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> How common are horses? Were people using them even before the stranding?
<+Addie> Other than some space junk and a few other uninhabitable planets and some defunct satellites, there isn’t much to do in space around Manifest, so there isn’t a huge drive to go back into the stars
<+Addie> Horses are very common. They were dropped onto the planet on mass before the mass transit infrastructure was put into place
<~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
<~Dan> What’s the native fauna like, speaking of animals?
<+Addie> There are many other weird cryptids and animals that are alien and can be tamed by someone skilled enough, horses are some of the only non-native fauna
<+Addie> The native fauna was inspired by the folklore of the americas
<~Dan> Intriguing. Can you give some examples?
<+Addie> so while distinctly alien, many have been named after the things they resemble from tales and legends
<+Addie> Sure, I’d love to!
<+Addie> My favourite animal is the hodag, a giant beast that is the size of a bus, and has the trait “unflappable”, which means that they cannot be riled up. “He’s gone a flapped a hodag” is a euphemism on Manifest for dying in an unexpected manor
<~Dan> I love hodags!
<+Addie> they look kind of like a fiercer Appa from Avatar the Last Airbender
<+Addie> They’re large furry ‘monsters’ that actually can be used as mounts and pack beasts, travelling across manifest because they are so resilient
<+Addie> another one I really love is the Hide-Behind, it’s a creature that when you look at it, it creates a sort of perception filter so that it cannot be distinguished from a tree, but when you aren’t looking at it, it will try to eat you.
<~Dan> I remember the Hide-Behind! This is awesome. 😀
<+Addie> It’s so creepy and awesome to think of Drifters travelling through the forest and being like “do you remember that tree being there?”
<~Dan> (I read a lot of monster lore when I was younger. 😀 )
<~Dan> I take it there’s no native intelligent life?
<+Addie> There are native animals that have a high degree of natural cunning or intelligence, but no true sentience. It was important to us that the story of Manifest was not a story of colonialism, so we very purposefully chose to have no Aliens on Manifest
<+Addie> it’s not something we’ve completely written out for the future, but for the core book, it’s humans or bust!
<~Dan> Are there any unusual abilities available to PCs, like psionics or cybernetics?
<~Dan> Interesting! What sorts of psionic abilities are available?
<+Addie> Due to the science-fiction part of sci-fi western, there are cybernetics available to enhance (or replace) any part that a drifter might want to
<+Addie> As for psionics, there’s a naturally occurring resource on Manifest (which is the original reason so many people travelled there) called Luminescence
<+Addie> it has a lot of amazing properties, and functions somewhat like an element zero
<+Addie> one of the side-effects of life on manifest and it’s luminescence, is that some people have developed powers
<+Addie> some are psionic/mental in nature, like being able to read thoughts, and being able to move things with your mind
<~Dan> (Howdy, BPIJonathab!)
<~Dan> (Heh. He entered his name incorrectly.)
<+Addie> while other are somatic effecting the body and powering it up, so that you could walk on walls, or become shadow or increase your strength ten-fold
<~Dan> Huh! So almost like superpowers.
<+Addie> there are a lot of options for someone who wants to make a sci-fi western wizard, we have a friend who did just that
<+Addie> yeah exactly!
<~Dan> (wb, BPIJonathan!)
<~Dan> What is the general tech level in the badlands?
<+Addie> it varies, actually… there are some bigger settlements and towns that are closer to the big cities that will have a full complement of electricity and amenities, while smaller and/or further out settlement may be what you’d more traditionally think of when picturing an old west town
<+Addie> it depends on the talents of the people of the town, and the resources that they have to work with
<+Addie> which is nice as a game runner, because it allows you to avoid the dreaded sameness of “you walk into a town, there’s a saloon…”
<+Addie> because the badlands are so vast, there’s a ton a variability that’s available for world building
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> I imagine a lot of jury-rigging goes on.
<+Addie> yes! almost everyone on manifest is used to repurposing ‘stuff’, it’s actually one of the inventory mechanics that I really dig
<~Dan> Oh? Want to touch on that a bit?
<+Addie> I’m not huge on inventory management myself, but so many of our friends and playtesters are, so we split the difference, and were able to create a inventory system based on building blocks we’ve called tentatively called ‘cubes’ that fall into one of four catagories
<~Dan> (Howdy, DLB_Chuck!)
<+Addie> and everything that you can craft or make or have on Manifest can be made from those materials
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, jeck!)
<+Addie> which means that you can collect generic ‘tech cubes’ and ‘machinery cubes’ and eventually in time create a laser pistol from those materials
<+Addie> but those materials can also be used to create something mundane…
<+Addie> If a character needs a ladder to climb somewhere, if they have a machinery cube, then they can expend that cube and in a few moment build that ladder, which is now populated in their inventory
<~Dan> Sounds simple enough.
<+Addie> it is, but it’s also really versatile, which is what we wanted, so all kinds of players could enjoy having stuff and managing as much as they like
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Oh, for the benefit of those who just arrived, would you like to post the link to your KS?
<+Addie> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/waypointgamedesigns/manifest-the-rpg)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/waypointgamedesigns/manifest-the-rpg
<~Dan> (DLB_Chuck is the author of horror/conspiracy game Don’t Look Back, and a previous Q&A guest himself. 🙂 )
<+GenoFoxx> is there mecha?
<~Dan> (And then we have GenoFoxx, our local mecha nut. 😀 )
<+GenoFoxx> (guilty as charged)
<+Addie> Haha 🙂 There aren’t huge gundams, but you could create a vehicle with the “walker” modification and strap some guns on there and you’ve got your own sci-fi western mecha
<+Addie> all the gear is intentional customisable to the point where you combine modifications and attributes and then describe to your heart’s content
<~Dan> Addie: Are you aware of the RPG “Westward”?
<+Addie> I have heard of it, but I’m not really familiar with it at all. We did some market research before deciding to bring Manifest to market, but that was not one that we delved into
<+Addie> It looks cool though
<~Dan> It has a similar premise, but is more steampunk and mech oriented.
<~Dan> My review of it is here: (Link: https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/review-westward/)https://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/review-westward/
<+Addie> neat! I’ll definitely have to take a look! Thanks!
<~Dan> You mentioned laser pistols earlier… What is the standard sidearm?
<+Addie> A light firearm of some kind, usually a gun or a crossbow
<+Addie> for instance an unmodified basic firearm is a sixshooter
<+DLB_Chuck> How long have you been doing the Essentials podcast?
<+Addie> yes, bullets for sure
<+Addie> We’ve been doing ENPCs for about 4 years, it’s been a crazy wild ride. Our most recent series was 21 episodes actually playing Manifest. 🙂
<~Dan> Would I be correct in guessing that the Hide-Behind’s illusion ability is a result of Luminescence?
<+DLB_Chuck> That’s pretty cool. How long have you been play testing Manifest?
<+Addie> yes, that is correct, many of the cryptids have been effected by luminescence, and subsequently have powers
<~Dan> Very cool.
<+Addie> We’ve been playtest the many iterations of manifest over the course of about 4.5 years
<~Dan> Hmm… Mind if I make a suggestion?
<~Dan> Well, if you DO decide to add intelligent natives but want to avoid colonialism aspects, I have one word for you:
<~Dan> Just a thought. 🙂
<+Addie> Haha, for sure, one day someone may be too greedy and dig too deep and unleash something from below, but we’ll have to wait and see 😉
<~Dan> I like having Luminescence as a weirdness “wild card”.
<~Dan> (For those who arrived late, Luminescence is an element that produces powers of various sorts in living beings.)
<~Dan> I’d like to discuss the system a bit, but before we go down that road, do you happen to have a character sheet we can see?
<+Addie> Thanks! We’ve had a great time creating what’s feasibly “real” enough to make the cut of basically believable superpowers
<+Addie> Yes-ish, we’ve sent it to a graphic designer to make it look pretty, so the one we have is functional, but not necessarily impressive at first glance
<~Dan> No worries. I just like to use a character sheet as a reference when discussing the rules when possible.
<+Addie> (Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tWAMdZp5thLzYZz_6qluw_pGmMWc8ndu)https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tWAMdZp5thLzYZz_6qluw_pGmMWc8ndu
<+Addie> That’s a premade character that we have been using for our “influencer” playtests
<~Dan> (brb phone)
<~Dan> (Sorry — it’s the boss)
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Lee!)
<+Lee> Thank you!
<~Dan> (Brief pause while I’m on the phone.)
<~Dan> (Howdy, Woo77!)
<~Dan> Okay, back! Sorry, the boss just called to let me know how her New York vacation is going. 🙂
<~Dan> Now, let me look over this character sheet… Could you please post that link again for those who just arrived?
<+Addie> (Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tWAMdZp5thLzYZz_6qluw_pGmMWc8ndu)https://drive.google.com/open?id=1tWAMdZp5thLzYZz_6qluw_pGmMWc8ndu
<~Dan> So at first blush, this looks like an attribute + skill system. Do I have that right?
<+Addie> yes, but not the traditional one you may be expecting. Attributes determine the number of dice you roll, and skills are the threshold you want to roll at or below on each die
<~Dan> I see… Interesting. What’s the number in the circle?
<+Addie> the number in the circle is the actual number of dice you roll, and the square above it indicate whether or not you have an natural reliability, which is the mechanic that allows you to reroll a failed die
<+Addie> the number of dice you roll is half your attribute rounded up. You gain that reliability, by not benefitting from the round up
<~Dan> What’s the full attribute used for, then?
<+Addie> There are a few attribute only tests, some of them also factor into derived stats like hit points and initiative
<~Dan> Understood… So can you give us an example of task resolution? Our old stand-by around here is “jumping over a gap”.
<+Addie> that’s funny, we typically use jumping over a table, so I can totally switch over to gap 🙂
<~Dan> Heh. 🙂
<+Addie> So for an unopposed test, like jumping over a gap, the degree of success is based on how the number of successful dice rolled
<+Addie> yes, all d20s 🙂
<+Addie> so typically running, jumping, climbing trees, would fall under athletics, which this carnie grifter is very bad at.
<+Addie> Or at least, below average
<+Addie> so they would roll 2 d20, trying to roll under or equal to 8
<+Addie> if all the dice they rolled rolled over an 8, then they would have 0 successes and the gap would gobble them up
<~Dan> I note that Melee and Unarmed are under Muscle. I’m wondering if and how you avoid what I call the Ninjasaurus Effect..
<~Dan> (i.e., big, strong creatures becoming master combatants.)
<~Dan> I suppose you could call it the Ninjahodag Effect here. 🙂
<+Addie> if only one die rolled equal to or below an 8, they would have a partial success, they would have crossed the gap, but the GM would introduce some sort of setback, like falling flat on their face, or hanging off the ledge, this is up to GM discretion and the tenor of the narrative
<+Addie> but they definitely achieve their main goal, if sloppily
<+DLB_Chuck> Are there criticals?
<+Addie> and rolling further successes above one are complete successes, and rolling excess successes allow the character to triumph or gain an edge while achieving their goal with style
<+Addie> As far a ninjasauruses, you could make a character who is really focused into an olympian smasher, melee specialist
<~Dan> Right, but how do you avoid a creature like the Hodag being a natural fighter?
<~Dan> Just by being strong, I mean.
<+Addie> however they would be basically non-functional in all the narrative things, plus HP and survivability is spread out over a number of different attributes, so if they’re not careful, they’ll end up being a big smashy glass cannon
<~Dan> Put another way, can you make something that’s big and strong but clumsy in combat?
<~Dan> (Sorry. I tend to poke and prod at new systems. 🙂 )
<+Addie> in respect to animals, they function on a different scale and don’t have the benefits of many of the skills that drifters have. So their uses are much more limited. There are creatures that are war-mounts for lack of a better term, but again, the game is a narrative first game, so min-maxing into combat doesn’t necessarily reap a ton of in game benefits
<~Dan> Oh, you have a scaling mechanic?
<+Addie> Sorry, lemme rephrase
<+Addie> So in respect to monsters/cryptids, and the hodag example, if a hodag were to be flapped (aka go into a berserker rage) they would be a fearsome sight to behold and would be very strong and smash really well. However, they are limited in action economy and also lack robust defence capabilities.
<+Addie> We’ve been really purposeful to create balanced creatures, some are more powerful than others in combat, for sure
<+Addie> but they have their own limitations by design
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Speaking of combat, how does it work?
<+Addie> @DLB_Chuck, yes there are critical of a sort. If you roll exactly your target number you get to roll another die, and this can continue on in perpetuity should the dice gods bless you in that way
<+Addie> combat is made comprised of opposed tests. instead of only trying to roll successes, a character is trying to roll as high as possible under their threshold (a la the price is right)
<+Addie> this is because the defenders highest successful die with remove any dice the attacker rolls lower than.
<+Addie> and damage is determined by the weapon’s power after the the rolls have been compared and the number of successes determined
<+Addie> which is a complex way of saying the number of net successes determine the damage levied
<~Dan> The successes add to the power?
<+Addie> multiply the power, limited by the accuracy of the weapon
<~Dan> I see… How is damage rated, and how does armor work?
<+Addie> so if this carnie grifter got four net successes, they would only be able to count 3, and then would multiply their throwing knife’s damage by that many
<+Addie> Armor is like additional hit point that takes damage before the character, and can be modified to reduce damage in a number of ways
<+Addie> I’m not entirely sure what you mean by how is damaged rated 🙂
<+Addie> it’s probably just a vernacular thing 😛
<~Dan> Well, you kind of answered that with “hit points” (as opposed to wounds or the like). 🙂
<+Addie> Well actually, if a character takes any damage they can elect to take an injury instead (the injury table is on the second page of the character sheet)
<+Addie> they’re harder to heal than hit points, but it’s better than dying or being so close to death that you’re rendered ineffective
<~Dan> I see. Cool.
<~Dan> So I don’t see a place on the character sheet for powers. Am I missing something?
<+Addie> this character is not illuminated, so they aren’t using the illuminated variant sheet
<~Dan> Ah, I see.
<~Dan> What are some of the more exotic powers, while we’re on the subject.
<+Addie> they don’t have the skills and powers that come with being illuminated, so we didn’t want to take up that real estate on this version of the character sheet
* ~Dan nods
<+Addie> There’s “blink” which lets you teleport to a place you can see, at the cost of some hit points
<+Addie> there’s also “final moment” where you can, depending on how successful your roll is, you can witness a persons final moments from a variety of perspectives
<+Addie> there’s sever sense, which can take away a the sight or hearing of a target for a period of time
<+Addie> and there’s also “consume” which allows you to regain hit points after killing someone
<~Dan> Huh. So pretty exotic, then.
<+Addie> those are some of the wackier ones, there are more typical ones like clairvoyance, or spider climb
<~Dan> Is there supposed to be a scientific explanation for these powers, or is it treated as something mystical?
<+Addie> to the average person, these are strange and unique and sometimes unsettling powers that are some how connected to the planet of Manifest, if not luminescence in particular
<+Addie> to the more scientifically minded, there are studies that would suggest that luminescence is augmenting the “facts” of what a human can do
<+Addie> sort of mutants, but with a clearer smoking gun (luminescence) rather than just ‘evolution’
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Oh, and we’ve run over our scheduled time… Are you okay, or do we need to wrap up?
<+Addie> I actually have a playtest that’s going to start in about 20 minutes, so if there are any final questions I’m happy to field them, otherwise, I’ll probably go grab a bite to eat 😀
<~Dan> Okay! Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<~Dan> And I’ll just remind folks that if you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a virtual coffee, you can do so here: (Link: https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://ko-fi.com/gmshoe 🙂
<+Addie> We got a pretty good sampling of what Manifest is all about. Of course I could talk forever about it! One thing we didn’t quite touch on was the levelling mechanic you see in the top right corner of the first page of the character sheet
<+Addie> Every character chooses a History and a Path at character creation, these inform some of your stats and skills, but your path also gives you a list of ‘advancement triggers’ to choose from. These are sort of narrative touchstones that give everyone at the table XP when they are reached
<~Dan> Ah, that’s clever.
<+Addie> So if the Carnie Grifter managed to talk themselves into a place they had no right being, all the players at the table would be rewarded with an experience point
<+Addie> Every time you level up, you have a chance to swap out an advancement trigger in case you think the narrative is heading in a direction that would make it hard to achieve
<+Addie> It encourages people to role-play to the path they chose for their character, and we’re super proud of how it’s been received among our playtesters 🙂
<~Dan> Nice. 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, Addie!
<+Addie> Anywho, Thank you so much for having me today, it’s always a blast talking about Manifest 🙂
<~Dan> I’d be happy to review this game when it comes out, if you’re interested.
<+Addie> That sounds great!
<~Dan> And please always feel free to hang out here with us! We’re always open. 🙂
<+Addie> Will do! Thanks again!
<~Dan> Now, if you can give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂