<+AndrewGronosky> Thanks for having me! I’m the founder of a fledgling RPG publishing company, Shewstone Publishing.
<+AndrewGronosky> Our first product is called Magonomia, the RPG of Renaissance wizardry!
<+AndrewGronosky> In this game, everyone plays a wizard in a fantasy version of 16th century England.
<+AndrewGronosky> The magic and the fantasy elements of the setting are based on period folklore and literature.
<+AndrewGronosky> Many of the spells are inspired directly by real-world magical texts from the period.
<+AndrewGronosky> I used to think historically-themed magic meant low magic, but actually that’s not true at all. Wizards have plenty of power!
<+AndrewGronosky> Magonomia is live on Kickstarter right now. (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry?ref=creator_nav)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry?ref=creator_nav
<~Dan> Thanks, AndrewGronosky! The floor is open to questions!
<+AndrewGronosky> Oh, for the record I do not believe in real world magic but it is fascinating to read about!
<~Dan> Why did you choose to go with the Renaissance in particular?
<+AndrewGronosky> There was a major movement in historical magic called Hermeticism that began in Italy in the early Renaissance.
<+AndrewGronosky> Hermeticism is very interesting to me.
<~Dan> Did you know about it going in to writing this game, or did you learn about it over the course of research for the game?
<+AndrewGronosky> I played and freelanced for Ars Magica for many years so I knew what historical medieval magic was like and I knew the coolest magic was actually developed later.
<+AndrewGronosky> I settled specifically on Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England once I realized it was the time when magic was taken seriously and permitted at court.
<~Dan> Ah, I see. Makes sense.
<+AndrewGronosky> I think queen Elizabeth was the last English monarch to have an official court astrologer so I knew that was a kind of high water mark for historical magic.
<~Dan> John Dee?
<+AndrewGronosky> Choosing England as a setting was an easy choice because I am writing for an English speaking audience.
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes, John Dee. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> Fun fact, John Dee did intelligence work for the Crown and his code sign was 007.
<~Dan> What sorts of aspects characterize hermetic magic?
<~Dan> Heh. Cool!
<~Dan> On Her Majesty’s Hermetic Service
<+AndrewGronosky> Back to Hermetic magic: it’s very systematic.
<+AndrewGronosky> There are three components of Hermetic magic: alchemy, astrology, theurgy.
<+AndrewGronosky> Theurgy is spirit magic that is considered “white” or “good” … well kind of … depends who you ask.
<+AndrewGronosky> The difference between “white” and “black” magic was very much debated in the period.
<+AndrewGronosky> Another interesting thing about Hermetic magic is you cannot learn it by reason alone. It requires a mystical revelation.
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, Guest36!)
<~Dan> Is that something that just happened, or could it be sought out?
<+AndrewGronosky> Definitely sought out.
<~Dan> How would one go about doing that?
<+AndrewGronosky> Take John Dee for example. He experimented for years to find the right regimen of fasting and meditation that would unlock his magical powers.
<+AndrewGronosky> In the game Magonomia, you gain the mystical insights when you achieve part of your destiny, that is, when you complete an adventure.
<+AndrewGronosky> And you level up!
<~Dan> What sorts of feats can hermetic magic accomplish in this game?
<~Dan> What can it do on the high end of the scale, for example?
<+AndrewGronosky> Turn someone into a toad.
<+AndrewGronosky> Well actually, that’s folk magic not Hermetic but it is in the game.
<+AndrewGronosky> Let’s see … other high degree spells are projecting an image of yourself to a distant place.
<+AndrewGronosky> Much like the D&D spell Project Image.
<+AndrewGronosky> Invisibility is a very common spell in the historical texts.
<+AndrewGronosky> Forecasting the future.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Eainix!)
<~Dan> (Andrew, Eainix here has a free service of his own that he offers game authors. You might want to talk to him about it after the Q&A! 🙂 )
<+AndrewGronosky> Call down lightning from the sky.
<+AndrewGronosky> Oh, and create illusions that totally rewrite someone’s perception of reality, so they think they’re in a golden castle or something.
<+AndrewGronosky> That’s the high end.
<~Dan> How much time and effort does it take to cast a spell?
<~Dan> Can anything be cast on the spur of the moment?
<+AndrewGronosky> No, spellcasting takes time and preparation.
<+AndrewGronosky> Well it depends.
<+AndrewGronosky> Some spells are powered by spirits. You set those up in advance by conjuring the spirit and trapping it inside a ring or a bottle. Then you unleash the spirit to cast the spell. The activation is fast.
<+AndrewGronosky> Other spells like alchemical potions may take weeks of setup but again they are quick to cast.
<+AndrewGronosky> For something like astrology you usually need to sit down with your star charts for 10 minutes or so.
<+AndrewGronosky> what we don’t have in Magonomia are limits on how many spells you can cast in a day.
<~Dan> That’s good.
<+AndrewGronosky> The limit is how many spells you can have going at a time.
<~Dan> (Howdy, BryanDonihue!)
<~Dan> AndrewGronosky: For the benefit of those just arriving, would you like to share your KS link?
<+AndrewGronosky> (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry
<+AndrewGronosky> That is really for my benefit too, thanks Dan. 🙂
<~Dan> Certainly. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> The main video is less than 2 minutes long, you might want to view that for context.
<~Dan> If everyone is a magician, do they require NPCS in adventuring groups to handle the non-magical stuff?
<+AndrewGronosky> Great question! The answer is no.
<+AndrewGronosky> Since everyone is a magician, there is no reason to prevent magicians being good at non-magical stuff.
<~Dan> Really? I’d think magic would take up the majority of one’s focus.
<+AndrewGronosky> Not to the exclusion of other skills.
<~Dan> I see… So you could have magicians who are also warriors, for example?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes, I’ve seen it done.
* ~Dan nods
<+AndrewGronosky> There was a werewolf hunter wizard in one of our playtest games.
<+AndrewGronosky> You can make a swashbuckling wizard.
<~Dan> That’s cool. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> Or a burglar wizard, like this sample character: (Link: https://shewstonepublishingcom-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/andrew_shewstonepublishing_com/EqvfZw9SbQRBk7FSIPTCoSIBgIuxHx6JEeeiq83ZA6cdRw)https://shewstonepublishingcom-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/andrew_shewstonepublishing_com/EqvfZw9SbQRBk7FSIPTCoSIBgIuxHx6JEeeiq83ZA6cdRw
<~Dan> Speaking of werewolves, how fantastical is the setting beyond the wizards?
<+AndrewGronosky> Well if you were to go there it would look normal but you would soon find out it is full of invisible spirits and the faeries come out at night.
<+AndrewGronosky> I read somewhere the last dragon sighting in England was in 1614 but unfortunately I forgot to write down which book that was in.
<~Dan> So are there dragons still about, then?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes but the ones in England are on the small size, horse sized or less.
<+AndrewGronosky> The big ones live at the edge of the world map …
<~Dan> Ah, where There Be Dragons?
<~Dan> What about giants?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes, for sure. Yorkshire and Wales.
<+AndrewGronosky> Giants are about 20 feet tall.
<+AndrewGronosky> What’s interesting is these creatures, even faeries, do not live in some parallel “magic world.”
<+AndrewGronosky> That concept didn’t exist at the time.
<+AndrewGronosky> Faeries live in hollow trees, or in those oddly shaped hills (ancient burial mounds).
<~Dan> Are there trolls?
<+AndrewGronosky> I don’t have troll statistics in the current draft of the core book, but I would expect you’d find them in the Scottish islands.
<+AndrewGronosky> There are ghosts. Lots of ghosts.
<+AndrewGronosky> Ghosts aren’t always evil (but they certainly can be)!
<~Dan> So what motivates the PCs to adventure, generally speaking? Does it tend to be magic-related in some way?
<+AndrewGronosky> I think most RPG players want to be heroes and to save the world, and in Magonomia your character has the powers to do that.
<+AndrewGronosky> But exploring your magic, seeking your destiny to advance your magical powers, is also a powerful motivator.
<~Dan> Speaking of saving the world, what are some major threats the wizards face?
<+AndrewGronosky> Other wizards 🙂
<~Dan> Makes sense. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> They might want to steal your secrets or just get rid of you because you’re a rival.
<+AndrewGronosky> Wizards also can run into trouble with evil spirits.
<+AndrewGronosky> In literature wizards usually create their own problems by conjuring something they can’t control, but that is not fun in an RPG. It is fun to have an NPC lose control of a spirit and you have to clean up the mess they made.
<+AndrewGronosky> You can also face non-magical human threats. For instance, a witch hunter might come after you.
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Are there demons in this setting? Or is that what you mean by “evil spirits”?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes, evil spirits conform more or less to what a character in period would call a demon.
<+AndrewGronosky> I made a decision not to make historical cosmology verifiable or falsifiable in the game.
<+AndrewGronosky> Sorry if that’s a bit geeky or academic sounding. I’ll explain.
<~Dan> Please do, you geeky academic, you. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> The wonder of magic and also the thrill of it is that it’s outside of what people were supposed to think.
<+AndrewGronosky> Period magicians disagreed on what exactly you conjure when you cast a spell out of a book.
<+AndrewGronosky> We wrote the magic system so that there’s no way to tell if you have summoned an angel or a demon or if angels and demons are artificial labels made up by humans and applied to essentially amoral spirits.
<+AndrewGronosky> Wizards can disagree.
<+AndrewGronosky> This means magic detection spells and the like are few and limited.
<~Dan> Are there other magic practitioners in the setting other than hermetic wizards?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes. Every village has a potion lady or a fortune teller who can cast a first or second degree spell.
<+AndrewGronosky> Most NPCs stop there but folk magic is a fully developed variety of magic. It’s available to PCs and is designed to be equally powerful to Hermetic magic.
<~Dan> What can folk magic do that Hermetic magic can’t?
<~Dan> I see. Is folk magic what witches use?
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes. In Magonomia the kinds of magic are called Sciences and folk magic is called the Science of Witchcraft.
<+AndrewGronosky> Witches can be male or female.
<+AndrewGronosky> Doesn’t matter.
<~Dan> What other Sciences are there?
<+AndrewGronosky> Actually I should say “any gender,” don’t mean to exclude non-binary folks.
<+AndrewGronosky> The Sciences are: Astrology, Alchemy, Theurgy, Witchcraft, and Sorcery.
<~Dan> Ah! And what is Sorcery, in this context?
<+AndrewGronosky> It’s an older, pre-Hermetic, medieval form of magic.
<+AndrewGronosky> Openly and knowingly conjuring “demons.”
<~Dan> So is it mostly used by the Bad Guys?
<+AndrewGronosky> That’s what I expected when I started developing the game.
<+AndrewGronosky> It turns out, sorcery is an awful lot of fun to play!
<~Dan> How so? 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> Well, cursing your enemies is very cathartic.
<~Dan> I would imagine so.
<+AndrewGronosky> I don’t like that guy’s attitude, so I’ll give him warts!
<+AndrewGronosky> Also sorcery is how you do the most flashy, impressive spells.
<~Dan> Like what?
<+AndrewGronosky> Flying through the air without the aid of a broomstick.
<+AndrewGronosky> Scrying on a distant place through a crystal ball.
<+AndrewGronosky> Basically it’s commanding spirits and telling them to affect the world in a certain, narrow way.
<~Dan> That sounds pretty impressive. What’s the advantage to Hermetic magic, then?
<+AndrewGronosky> It’s also the easiest magic to defend against. Every village wise man knows charms and wards to protect against sorcery.
<+AndrewGronosky> So you don’t want to show off too much or everyone in town will be sporting spells of protection.
<~Dan> Makes sense.
<~Dan> What is the game’s system?
<+AndrewGronosky> Fate Core
<+AndrewGronosky> With a rich, custom magic system that will be OGL
<+AndrewGronosky> based on Extras, for those who know Fate.
<+AndrewGronosky> I read some other Fate games and decided the way they did magic was not quite what I was looking for so I built the magic system from scratch using the tools Fate gives you.
<+AndrewGronosky> I guess I should mention, you can download a playable basic version of the game from DriveThruRPG.
<+AndrewGronosky> It has over 40 spells and shows you how the magic works.
<+AndrewGronosky> (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/273361/Magonomia-Starter-Rules)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/273361/Magonomia-Starter-Rules
<+AndrewGronosky> Sorry, I missed the question “what’s the advantage to Hermetic magic.”
<+AndrewGronosky> Every Science is different, has different strengths and weaknesses.
<+AndrewGronosky> Sciences are a lot like character classes in D&D, designed to complement one another.
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> For those unfamiliar with Fate Core, can you describe task resolution?
<+AndrewGronosky> Fate looks like a regular TTRPG but it is subtly different.
<+AndrewGronosky> Dice do not decide between success and failure. They decide between success and “something interesting.”
<+AndrewGronosky> Where “interesting” means some kind of increase in dramatic tension.
<+AndrewGronosky> So when you, the player, attempt a task, the GM first decides whether there is something interesting that could increase the tension.
<+AndrewGronosky> If no, then generally they just let the task succeed.
<+AndrewGronosky> Dice are used for turning points in the scene.
<+AndrewGronosky> Like casting a spell. Spells can always go sideways in interesting ways. 🙂
<+AndrewGronosky> That said, you figure out which skill applies and then add that skill rating to your dice roll.
<+AndrewGronosky> Roll four Fate dice.
<+AndrewGronosky> Fate dice are six-sided and marked with +, -, and blank faces. You can use regular d6s instead but they are a bit more awkward to read.
<+AndrewGronosky> Add the dice total to your skill and compare to a target number.
<+AndrewGronosky> If you exceed the target, congratulations, success!
<+AndrewGronosky> If you tie, you get a partial success or success at a minor cost.
<+AndrewGronosky> If you fall short, then you can either choose to simply fail, or you can succeed at a serious cost, or you can try to use one of your Aspects to modify the dice resul.t
<~Dan> Are there attributes as well as skills?
<+AndrewGronosky> Not exactly. What people think of as attributes, like strength or whatnot, are considered Skills. This took me a while to get used to but from a mathematical perspective, you’re adding up numbers either way.
<+AndrewGronosky> Anything that can be rated on a scale and increased with experience is a skill.
<+AndrewGronosky> There are also important attributes of a character called Aspects that do not have numbers associated.
<+AndrewGronosky> An Aspect is a short statement of narrative importance. for example, our burglar sample wizard has the aspect “Burglar with convictions” that describes their character concept and a bit of personality.
<+AndrewGronosky> You spend Fate Points to activate your aspects to use them in your favor, to affect dice rolls favorably.
<+AndrewGronosky> You can gain Fate Points by roleplaying your aspects in a way that adds to the story but isn’t to your direct advantage.
<+AndrewGronosky> I’ve taught this system to a couple of dozen people and everyone picked it up very quickly when we were actually playing.
<~Dan> How does combat work?
<+AndrewGronosky> Opposed dice rolls, Attack vs. Defense.
<~Dan> And damage?
<+AndrewGronosky> If the Attack wins, it inflicts stress points.
<+AndrewGronosky> Every character has a number of stress boxes determined by their skills.
<+AndrewGronosky> Physical stress is determined by the Physique skill and mental stress is determined by the Will skill.
<+AndrewGronosky> When you run out of stress boxes, you can take Consequences, which are some kind of lasting harm that stays with your character
<+AndrewGronosky> Consequences are detrimental aspects.
<+AndrewGronosky> They can be healed.
<+AndrewGronosky> There are firearms in this game but they’re single-shot and not much better than arrows or melee weapons.
<~Dan> I know in some Fate games, weapons don’t have damage stats. Is that the case here?
<+AndrewGronosky> I wanted cool gear so weapons have damage stats in Magonomia.
<~Dan> That’s good. That always bugged me about Fate.
<+AndrewGronosky> In Fate Core, weapons and armor stats are optional but Magonomia uses them by default.
* ~Dan nods
<+AndrewGronosky> I figure, if you don’t care about weapons and armor, just play a low-combat game.
<+AndrewGronosky> I mean run your game in a low-combat way.
<~Dan> Yeah, I agree.
* ~Dan nods
<+AndrewGronosky> Something that takes some getting used to is characters don’t necessarily die in Fate.
<+AndrewGronosky> When you are defeated in combat, you are what’s called Taken Out.
<+AndrewGronosky> Yes that can mean dead but death is usually not very interesting from a story perspective.
<+AndrewGronosky> Unlike D&D, death cannot be fixed in Magonomia.
<+AndrewGronosky> What Taken Out really means is you lose narrative control of your character for a while and the GM decides what misfortune befalls them.
<~Dan> Oh, is that sample character not a Hermetic mage at all? I see Sorcery there but not the other Sciences.
<+AndrewGronosky> Right! Every wizard PC has only one Science.
<+AndrewGronosky> They’re like character classes and there is no multi-classing, by design.
<+AndrewGronosky> Magic is not resource intensive because I don’t let you take more than one Science. 😉
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+AndrewGronosky> Since everyone in the party is a wizard, I want the wizards to have different powers so they can each shine in their own way.
<+AndrewGronosky> We have been playing Magonomia continuously through 3 years of development and it has evolved very far from where it started.
<+AndrewGronosky> Experience with the system and feedback from playtesters have made this game enormously better.
<+AndrewGronosky> The final version of the magic rules are Version 14.
<+AndrewGronosky> Yeah this is not design that came out of our heads, it’s design than has been vetted through continuous play.
<~Dan> Oh, is this the beginning of a game line from you?
<+AndrewGronosky> You can’t fit Enchanted England and the core rules all into one book, so yes.
<+AndrewGronosky> Plus Europe is more than just England.
<+AndrewGronosky> And players need adventures to play, I understand not everyone wants to make 100% of their own adventures.
<~Dan> Good for you. That’s very true.
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us this evening, AndrewGronosky!
<+AndrewGronosky> Thanks for having me!
<~Dan> As a reminder to folks, tips are welcome at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Thanks!
<~Dan> Now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!
<+AndrewGronosky> Final plug, Magonomia is live on Kickstarter right now! (Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry)https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/shewstonepublishing/magonomia-the-rpg-of-renaissance-wizardry