<+JackRosetree> Hi there! I’m Jack Rosetree and I’m a solo designer of board, card, and role-playing games. Lately I’ve been launching small digital-only micro-RPGs through Kickstarter and my latest is called Antimatter.
<+JackRosetree> Antimatter is a rules-light role-playing game where characters don’t have successes and failures. They have successes and antisuccesses. But just as the creation of matter results in antimatter, successes beget antisuccesses and vice-versa.
<+JackRosetree> Here’s a link: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/antimatter-a-cosmically-balanced-rpg)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/antimatter-a-cosmically-balanced-rpg
<+JackRosetree> There’s a sample character sheet and a complete rules document available on the campaign page.
<+JackRosetree> That’s the short of it. (done)
<~Dan> Thanks, JackRosetree! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> What can you tell us about the setting of the game?
<+JackRosetree> The setting is a little spartan… not tons of elaborate details… but enough to get a group going and inspired.
<+JackRosetree> The starter adventure takes place on a 700,000-population galactic freighter called Neo Vegas and the crew goes after some prized possessions of the Black Hole Cartel.
<+JackRosetree> Beyond that, there is more detail and less macro-scale info… for example, because it’s space, high proof alcohol is highly controlled… stealing it from the Cartel is a huge hit to their rep.
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Guest!)
<~Dan> What is the tech level of the setting?
<+JackRosetree> There’s also a bit about interplanetary travel… which destroys most ships in a matter of jumps… so ships are made to be highly disposable.
<+JackRosetree> Medium to high depending on how the storyteller chooses to describe things. I envision it in the range of Star Wars, Firefly, Minority Report, and such… but it can go much higher or lower because the system is not mechanically complex enough to make tech an imposing thing to arbitrate.
<+JackRosetree> A player can be an android or alien just fine if they choose. The only thing that matters is your expertise and specialty.
<~Dan> Hmm… Sounds like we should focus on the system, then.
<~Dan> Is there a character sheet that we can see?
<+JackRosetree> Sure. So there’s two ways to resolve a check or challenge… The first is simply the flip of a coin… heads is a success and tails is an antisuccess (kinda like a failure but with wider potential for story impact)…
<+JackRosetree> The second is when a player has what is called “control” of a check. If a check is within a character’s expertise or specialty, then the player simply decides whether they want to succeed or not.
<+JackRosetree> There are six expertises… Captain, Pilot, Medic, Merc, Engineer, and Auxiliary.
<+JackRosetree> It might seem broken to let players choose whether they’d like to succeed or not… but that is where the friction system comes into play.
<+JackRosetree> For each success, an antisuccess is added to a pool and vice versa…. at the end of a mission these outstanding “debts” resolve as positive or negative post mission events.
<~Dan> So the mission can only be a success if it involves mostly failures…?
<+JackRosetree> So a mission could go great only to have a last minute betrayal steal all the loot… or a mission could be a tumbling fiasco the whole way through and a Deus Ex Machina could save the day in the end.
<+JackRosetree> Not necessarily… the friction pool can affect things outside the mission… like character relationships, injuries, whether they survive altogether…
<+JackRosetree> For example: The mission to stop illegal mining good complete fine… but then crew gets blamed publicly for the media calls a terrorist attack.
<+JackRosetree> Some of the best shows on the air of the last decade have used this formula to create very interesting drama.
<+JackRosetree> Boy… that example line was a bit of a mess… let me take that again…
<+JackRosetree> For example: The mission to stop illegal mining could complete just fine… but then crew gets blamed publicly for what the media calls a terrorist attack.
<+JackRosetree> Good enough. =)
* ~Dan nods 🙂
<~Dan> So I take it that there are no challenge levels of any sort? Everything is either 50/50 or an auto-success?
<+JackRosetree> It’s not unlike the fiasco system… which drives really interesting story and lets the players and the storyteller fill in a lot of the blanks.
<+JackRosetree> It can’t be 100% snakes and ladders for most roleplayers.
<+JackRosetree> So that’s where antisuccesses come in.
<+JackRosetree> A lot of games have something called “fail forward” which pushes the idea that a failure shouldn’t be a stop to the story or the action.
<~Dan> (Howdy, GrimmgardTodd!)
<+GrimmgardTodd> ( Couldn’t miss a good space RPG! )
<+Mick> (Link: https://wordery.com/judge-dredd-helter-skelter-martin-wallace-9781472836694)https://wordery.com/judge-dredd-helter-skelter-martin-wallace-9781472836694
<+JackRosetree> Antisuccesses expand on that by allowing for the possibility to have “planned failure”
<+JackRosetree> (Link for new folks: (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/antimatter-a-cosmically-balanced-rpg)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/antimatter-a-cosmically-balanced-rpg | Quick Explanation: Story-focused space heist RPG where galactic rogues fight the odds in a cosmically balanced universe. | by Jack Rosetree, writer of In Name Only and Pretty Fairy Princesses.)
<+Mick> Just thought I would put that out there again Dan
<+JackRosetree> A simple example for a planned failure is failing to hide in order to lead someone into a trap.
<~Dan> (Thanks, Mick!)
<+JackRosetree> Ultimately, the players will have to decide what’s worth failing and what isn’t.
<~Dan> It seems like players would try to game the system by failing at inconsequential things in order to “safely” succeed at the major stuff.
<+JackRosetree> Putting success and failure into the hands of players (particularly new ones) also reveals quite a lot about that player’s role-personality.
<+JackRosetree> So I guess I need to fix something I said before… there are challenge levels… sort of…
<+JackRosetree> It’s still all 50/50 or choose success or fail… but everything is rated as minor, major, or critical.
<+JackRosetree> This has nothing to do with how difficult something is to achieve and everything to do with how important to the story it is.
<+JackRosetree> And yes… you could fail a bunch of minor actions to build up some positive karma… but a single major success is worth three of them.
<+JackRosetree> Minor generally affects a component of a scene… major affects the resolution of a scene… and critical affects the resolution of the whole mission.
<~Dan> Is combat handled holistically?
<+JackRosetree> Pretty much like everything else. Each expertise has 4 specialties… The Mercenary (which is mostly combat oriented) has Lasers for ground combat, Turrets for space combat, Brawling for non-lethal combat, and Recon.
<+JackRosetree> So the resolution of a combat comes down to how important it is… a drunken bar brawl is likely to be a minor impact to the story, a “distraction” fight could be a major story piece, and literally saving everyone from certain death would be critical.
<+JackRosetree> One of the nice things about the system and the simplicity of resolution is that the Merc and Pilot can be fending off troops in one area while the captain plays mind games with a space pirate while the engineer and medic try to decouple the docking lock.
<+JackRosetree> It’s not just that you CAN split the party… the best stories virtually require it.
<~Dan> Just to be clear, is combat handled strictly as an overall win/lose, or does it actually play out as a series of win/lose actions?
<+JackRosetree> It really depends on its place in the story. Think about some of the best combat moments in movies… some literally just show someone walk into a place and then fade to black and reveal a devastated opponent. Others have combat as the entire second half of their story.
<+JackRosetree> In the starter adventure, there’s 2 targets that are fairly combat oriented… one can be obliterated in a matter of seconds while another requires successful combat while extracting the target.
<+JackRosetree> Even is the merc chooses to have an antisuccess… they might win the combat but walk away with a bad laser blast.
<+JackRosetree> Later on, if the friction pool is bad enough, they might not survive the injury.
<~Dan> Is that as close as the game comes to having a damage mechanic?
<+JackRosetree> Everything else is primarily descriptive.
<+JackRosetree> It’s closer to something like Fiasco.
* ~Dan nods
<+JackRosetree> The goal is to tell an interesting story before telling something mechanically balanced… which is a bit funny given the cosmically balanced nature of the game.
<~Dan> I guess there’s not really any room for character advancement?
<+JackRosetree> And since I know you love aliens and robot… the Auxiliary expertise has the Immunity specialty which can be used to survive environments and effects that would kill normal folks.
<+JackRosetree> It’s not written into the system as it stands… but you could give characters additional specialties or let them fiddle with the friction pool a bit.
<~Dan> How would the latter be done?
<+JackRosetree> Character death and betrayal are both written in as a very real possibility… so I don’t want people getting too attached to their characters.
<+JackRosetree> You could let a player ask whether the pool is more positive or negative maybe once.. or let them have one minor success without a minor antisuccess getting added to the pool.
<+JackRosetree> This is stuff I thought about but chose to focus on a more narrow perspective for the game.
<+JackRosetree> The final version is going to be somewhere around 30-40 pages.
<~Dan> I take it the game is mostly intended for one-shots?
<+JackRosetree> It certainly plays ideally for that… but the starter adventure ends with a kind of “If you want to keep going…”
<+JackRosetree> Which I did for the starter adventures in Pretty Fairy Princesses and In Name Only… which seemed to go over well.
<+JackRosetree> In Name Only – A name based fantasy RPG where the letters in your name determine your skills – (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1610277086/in-name-only-a-name-based-fantasy-rpg-system)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1610277086/in-name-only-a-name-based-fantasy-rpg-system
<+JackRosetree> Pretty Fairy Princesses – exactly what it sounds like… your core traits are Pretty, Fairy, and Princess – (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/pretty-fairy-princesses-an-unapologetically-dainty)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackrosetree/pretty-fairy-princesses-an-unapologetically-dainty
<+JackRosetree> Some links in case anyone is interested. =)
<~Dan> So what’s next on tap from you, RPG-wise?
<+JackRosetree> I have 2 projects in the chamber… The most likely one to come next is a sock/paperbag puppet-based RPG and the other is a 1940’s adventure serial-inspired RPG.
<+JackRosetree> Once this one is completed I’m going to be trying to figure out how best to get art for the sock puppet one. It’s going to be really kid-friendly and the system is even designed to teach good table-rp ettiquette like not interrupting the DM, remembering to speak in character, etc.
<+JackRosetree> It’ll also probably come with some sowing designs. =)
<~Dan> Let’s see… Is there anything about the game that we haven’t covered? I confess to being a bit tapped for questions.
<+JackRosetree> No worries. It’s a small little game.
<+JackRosetree> It’ll be great for killing an afternoon and can be played in settings where other RPGs would need too much space.
<~Dan> I can certainly see that.
<+JackRosetree> Just like with my previous campaigns, there’s a version available right now (without the intro adventure).
<+JackRosetree> So you can check out the whole system.
<+JackRosetree> It’s $4 from goal right now… so it looks like I will be spending some time soon getting it all hammered out. =)
<~Dan> Heh. Cool. Congrats in advance. 🙂
<~Dan> Shall we wrap up early, then?
<+JackRosetree> If anyone has any questions or comments, the are always welcome to reach out to me through Kickstarter or on Facebook.
<+JackRosetree> Sounds good.
<~Dan> Okay! Thanks very much for joining us, JackRosetree!
<+JackRosetree> Thank you!
<~Dan> To those of you who’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee or two, you can do so at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe 🙂
<~Dan> Now if you’ll give me just a few minutes, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂