<+MattStevens> With pleasure. I’m Matt Stevens, a part time statistician and adjunct professor who lives in New York with his wife and three cats.
<+MattStevens> I’ve loved writing RPGs since I was a pre-teen. Wrote my first when I was 13, called “the egg of coot.” Yes, it was awful, and a ripoff. But I got better at it.
<+MattStevens> In the late 90s a friend introduced me to pulp magazines of the 20s-40s, and started a pulp campaign, but no existing system seemed right to me.
<+MattStevens> So for the next several years, whenever I was frustrated with my dissertation, I’d work on the game that became Two-Fisted Tales.
<+MattStevens> It’s designed, first of all, to have a fast and furious combat system. I always hated the fact that combat is often the dullest part of an RPG, so I made sure 2FT’s was as fast as possible.
<+MattStevens> I also worked hard on the GM section. One of my favorite RPGs, growing up, was the science fiction game Traveller. It offered the possibility of a world that could be generated from scratch, with randomly generated adventures and everything
<~Dan> (Howdy, Kspencer!)
<+MattStevens> With 2FT I tried to provide a table for everything from villain names to McGuffins to random locations on the maps. I wanted stuff that a GM could *use*
<+Kspencer> Is there a random pulp plot line generator? That would be very useful.
<~Dan> (Please hold questions until we get a (done) from our guest. Thanks! 🙂 )
<+MattStevens> Yes! And the second edition went even farther than the first. Obviously, to make a *good* plot you need to fill some details in yourself, but it’s getting close to a full system
<+MattStevens> Overall I hope GMs find the game a good resource as well as a well-developed game system
<+MattStevens> Anything you’d like me to talk about?
<~Dan> Thanks, MattStevens! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> First, what does “pulp” mean to you in this context?
<+MattStevens> Well to start, it refers to the literary medium: It was a style of magazine that began in the 1890s, and continued into the 1950s
<+ChrisBrady> Is that a Done?
<+MattStevens> They were fiction magazines, printed on cheap wood pulp paper
<+MattStevens> Not sure, what’s a Done?
<~Dan> ChrisBrady: Might as well be. Fire away with any questions. 🙂
<~Dan> MattStevens: Ordinarily, you say (done) when you’re ready for questions after an intro. 🙂
<+MattStevens> Sorry it’s taking a while for me to type answers
<~Dan> No problem.
<+ChrisBrady> Does it have it’s own ‘setting’ or is it based on real world situations? And if the latter, do you have a timeline listing major events?
<~Dan> (Let’s have a question pause after ChrisBrady’s question while our guest catches up.)
<+MattStevens> It doesn’t have an official setting. The default is 1930s Earth, but I also suggest having adventures in Lost Worlds, pulp sci-fi, or even sword and sorcery
<+MattStevens> I didn’t write a time because I felt that info could be found anywhere else. I wanted stuff that was specifically necessary for 2FT, or was suited for RPGs in general
<~Dan> (Howdy, GrimmgardTodd!)
<+MattStevens> I felt that if you wanted basic history you could turn to Wikipedia or some other source
<+GrimmgardTodd> (Thanks! Really glad I didn’t miss this one!)
<+MattStevens> *write a timeline, sorry
<+ChrisBrady> Fair enough. 🙂 Thanks, Mr. Stevens.
<+MattStevens> My pleasure, thank you!
<~Dan> So there’s no official setting, but is there an implied setting based upon the rules that you provide?
<~Dan> Like, what sort of world are we talking about if you make full use of the system?
<+MattStevens> Yes, the implied setting is 1930s USA. But that only really determines equipment and prices
<~Dan> Well, let me drill down a bit: What sorts of weird abilities are present?
<+MattStevens> Well what I suggest is that a GM decide what kind of world system you have. For example, does it have magic? Super-tech? Super hypnotism>
<+MattStevens> I try to provide a wide range of abilities. So there are gadgets, AND spells, AND mystic abilities (like kung fu), and even superpowers. But I tell GMs to choose what they will or won’t allow
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Superpowers are new to this edition, correct?
<+MattStevens> They’re provide as much to help GMs and players design their own gandgets, spells, etc.
<+MattStevens> My design philosophy is “Tunnels and Trolls up front, and Hero System in the back”
<+JamesGillen> Good philosophy
<+MattStevens> Not *literally* of course, but in the way it’s presented
<~Dan> Can players really design their own gadgets, or is there just a list of items that can be built?
<+MattStevens> There’s both!
<~Dan> Ah, cool. That’s new as well, isn’t it?
<+ChrisBrady> Can you give a basic of how the system works?
<~Dan> You can’t see it, but I’m giving you a thumbs-up. 🙂
<+MattStevens> Sure Chris. The basic mechanic is add a D10 and subtract a D10
<+eezo> *ALL THE THUMBS UP!*
<+eezo> I’m not this place’s kind of gamer, but I whole-heartedly support everyone!
<+eezo> (and I’ll shush now, but know y’all have my support!)
<+MattStevens> Whenever you roll a 9, they “explode” and you roll another d10. (0 = 0, not 10)
<+MattStevens> So the average roll = your ability score
<~Dan> What is the ability score range for a normal human?
<+MattStevens> The range is standard RPG 1-20, with 10 being average.
<~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
<+MattStevens> Sure! Dan, did I send it to you, or do you want me to get one?
<~Dan> Well, I have a PDF of the game, but for the benefit of our readers, it would be good if you happen to have one posted somewhere.
<+Brett> Not to interfere, but: (Link: http://www.pigames.net/store/articles.php?page=521)http://www.pigames.net/store/articles.php?page=521
<+MattStevens> One moment… let me get one
<~Dan> It’s not vital, mind you.
<~Dan> Oh, is that one, Brett?
<+MattStevens> Thanks Brett
<+Brett> Yes. Downloadable sheet.
<~Dan> Hmm… Where do I click to download?
* ~Dan feels dumb.
<+Brett> Green button on right.
<~Dan> Ah, yeah, just found it. Thanks!
<~Dan> By the way, MattStevens: A lot of these issues I already know about. I’m just making sure that the right questions get asked. 🙂
<+MattStevens> Hey no problem!
<+ChrisBrady> So what makes this game unique? I can already do a Pulp game (for example) in Savage Worlds, what about this game do you offer that would make someone who loves pulp adventures?
<+MattStevens> Well I don’t want to put down SW which is a fine system … but I’d say that 2FT does everything SW does, and does it just as elegantly and smoothly, with more resources specifically designed for a pulp setting
<+MattStevens> I think 2FT combat is faster than SW, although SW *is* pretty fast
<+MattStevens> So don’t quote me on that one! You’d have to do a full stopwatch breakdown
<~Dan> Am I correct that Concentrations and Specialties are akin to skills and skill specializations?
<+MattStevens> Yes, more or less. They kind of work like skills in 4-5e D&D, which is odd b/c the system was written before they came out
<+MattStevens> But yes, they’re skill and specializations
<+GrimmgardTodd> I saw the mini-preview of the sheet earlier. Really intrigued by the character sheet. Can you talk about these attributes/skills like Savvy and Mind, and what Concentrations are?
<+MattStevens> Sure! Savvy is one I’m pleased with. It’s like Common Sense or schooling in the school of hard knocks
<+MattStevens> So I use Savvy for everything from fast talk to picking locks, anything you’d learn in “the streets”
<+ChrisBrady> Interesting. I’ll consider picking it up.
<+MattStevens> Mind is sort of like Instinct. A wild animal might have a high Mind score. Also stands for willpower
<~Dan> Do I remember correctly that for the most part, anyone can attempt any action?
<+MattStevens> Yes. That’s something I felt was in the spirit of the pulps. So Doc Savage could perform brain surgery *and* write a symphony
<+MattStevens> Concentrations improve your abilities, but they aren’t necessary to perform them
<+ChrisBrady> There was literally nothing Doc Savage couldn’t do.
<+MattStevens> ChrisBrady Exactly!
<~Dan> Do you have any concerns about that making EVERY character into polymaths?
<+ChrisBrady> Drove me nuts.
<+ChrisBrady> (I don’t mind polymaths, I don’t like flawless ones)
<+MattStevens> Dan Well I only think that would be an issue for extremely high level characters
<+MattStevens> Like the Superhero power levels. At those levels, it should be *possible* to build Batman
<+MattStevens> But I think some players would be just as likely to build the Flash, and pour all their points into one ability
<+ChrisBrady> It’s always possible to build Batman, it just takes a while to be as experienced as modern Batman.
<~Dan> How does combat work?
<+MattStevens> ChrisBrady Of course, and I should add that these are not the default power levels. The defaults are Gritty and Escapist, which are tough but not modern Batman tough
<+eezo> 03:30:29 <~Dan> How does combat work?
<+eezo> One would hope well. 😛 (sorry, had to)
<+MattStevens> eezo At its most basic, which occurs under certain narrow conditions:
<+MattStevens> Both sides make Reflexes (effectively Dexerity) rolls. High roll hits, low roll misses.
<+MattStevens> You then determine damage, based on weapon and loser’s Resistance score
<~Dan> Is damage fixed or random?
<+MattStevens> Largely fixed, although different levels of success change damage. If you beat opponent by 10 you add 1d10 to damage
<~Dan> I see.
<~Dan> How does magic function?
<+MattStevens> Largely by ritual. There are two kinds of spell, “book” spells or memorized spells
<+MattStevens> And most take several actions, those there are a couple that just go zoom! you’re dead
<+MattStevens> Generally, though, if you want to kill someone, use a gun
<+MattStevens> If you want to turn them into an octopus, use a spell, but tie the guy down first
<~Dan> What sorts of superpowers doe 2e feature?
<+MattStevens> Well I tried to have a fairly comprehensive list. My criteria for inclusion was (a) is it replicated in a gadget, spell, hypnotic ability, or any other power?
<+MattStevens> or (b) was it used in any Golden Age comic I’d read? If the answer to either was “yes” I included it
<+JamesGillen> Well, the Spectre was a Golden Age comic, so…
<~Dan> Contrary to popular belief, many Golden Age heroes were ridiculously over-powered. Ibis the Invincible, for example, could do pretty much anything. And yes, the Spectre, too.
<~Dan> Are you able to handle such “omni-powers”?
<+MattStevens> JamesGillen True! And I have read many Stardust the Super-Wizard comics…
<+JamesGillen> oh yeah
<+MattStevens> Dan I don’t have the equivalent of a Hero System power pool, partly because I think that Weird makes it a little less necessary
<~Dan> Ah, yes — would you mind describing how Weird works?
<+MattStevens> But IIRC many of them could be based on Transformation attacks , that was my conclusion reading the StarDust stuff
<+MattStevens> Dan Yes, certainly! Weird’s main role is determine how high the other ability scores can go
<+MattStevens> So for example, if your Weird is 18, the highest your other ability scores could go would be 19
<~Dan> How is that calculated?
<+MattStevens> If your Weird is 24, your other abilities can go up to 22
<+MattStevens> Max ability = 10 + 1/2 Weird
<+MattStevens> And for superpowers there are other formulae based on Weird, as to how much damage you can do, how fast you can move, etc.
<+MattStevens> It’s another way to reward generalists, and discourage one-stat wonders
<+MattStevens> without making those one-stat wonders impossible
<~Dan> What would you say is an example of the most powerful superhero your rules can simulate?
<+MattStevens> I enjoyed those sample Champion characters, like Bomb-Man who put all his points in blowing himself up, but I didn’t want to *encourage* that sort of thing
<+MattStevens> Dan Hmmm, there’s no hard limit on how many points a character can have. The highest I mention is “Mythic,”
<~Dan> What would be an example of a Mythic character?
<+MattStevens> Honestly … I’m working on that right now. We’re going to have a mini-supplement with stats for public-domain superheroes, and while we can’t give you the Spectre, we can see how many points some others are worth
<+MattStevens> All I know that golden age Superman and the Flash are less than Mythic level
<~Dan> Oh, sweet! Will you have the Black Terror? 😀
<+MattStevens> Dan If he/she is in the public domain, I will be happy to include her!
<~Dan> Him, he is, and awesome!
<~Dan> Have you ever seen the Black Terror?
<+MattStevens> Dan No, but I stop by the public domain super sites, and will be happy to download his stuff
<~Dan> Check him out. He’s like Pirate Superman. 😀
<+MattStevens> Dan Awesome!
<~Dan> (Link: https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/959001.jpg)https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/959001.jpg
<~Dan> ^ check him out 😀
<+MattStevens> Heh! I will!
<~Dan> (Howdy, Akyla, ArdentPurple!)
<~Dan> (Howdy, Geno!)
<~Dan> Does the game feature a bestiary?
<+Geno> hiya Dan, everybody
<+MattStevens> Dan It does. The basic beasts are pretty simple, just a list, but I have many guidelines for making them into giant creatures, dinosaurs, etc.
<~Dan> Ah, so you don’t feature actual dinosaurs, just mods to normal creatures to make them dinos?
<+MattStevens> I mispoke, there’s no rule to turn rabbits into dinos or anything, but I have a list of dinosaurs, and rules for giant versions of creatures
<+MattStevens> as well as magic creatures and the like
<~Dan> Ah, cool. Although I’d love to see rules for making bunnies into dinos. 😀
<+MattStevens> Dan Heh!
<~Dan> What sorts of magical creatures do you feature?
<+MattStevens> Not that many, because most “weird fiction” of the time didn’t use classic creatures like minotuars or anything. H.P. Lovecraft was influential in this way
* ~Dan nods
<+MattStevens> They’d be freaky cosmic monstrosities, even in ostensibly medieval fantasy story
<+MattStevens> So I defined those monsters that are specifically summoned by spells, but otherwise encourage GMs to use a standard set of stats, and use description for the rest
<~Dan> You mentioned other possible setting, like swords and sorcery. What allowances do you make for doing so?
<+MattStevens> I tried to make it fully possible to run a S&S campaign, although obviously it’d take a litle work. I have a set of three templates for s&S characters, though, along with the spells & monsters
<~Dan> (Howdy, Crazy-Cabal!)
<~Dan> What are the S&S templates?
<+MattStevens> I believe they’re Barbarian, Lord and Rogue, along with some villain templates like Sorceror that could be used for PCs
<~Dan> Do you have sci-fi templates as well?
<+MattStevens> There are also some Swashbuckling templates like Pirate that could be used in S&S
<+MattStevens> I only had one — the Robot — because I felt that many standard templates, like Tough Scientist, would already work in SF
<~Dan> (wb, Brett)
<~Dan> That’s probably true.
<~Dan> 1e was just one book, AFAIK… Do you plan on making a whole game line out of 2e?
<~Dan> (Welcome to #randomworlds, MPTH!)
<+MattStevens> I would like to! Much of 2e was going to be a 1e supplement, called Worlds of Wonder, until Brett suggested I incorporate the WoW stuff into a new edition
<+MattStevens> But if folks buy 2e I would love to write more for the game
<~Dan> How might you expand the game line?
<+MattStevens> Dan I have notes for a setting, tentatively called City of Crime, that would largely be mini-scenarios
<+MattStevens> But I could also write space-opera and other materials
<~Dan> That would be cool.
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+MattStevens> Dan Hmm, I wish I hadn’t just driven 200 miles, because if I was a little less car-lagged I think I’d have more to say
<~Dan> Wow, where did you go?
<+MattStevens> But I appreciate the offer! 🙂
<+MattStevens> Dan It was coastal Maine, and my wife loved it, but I’m happy to back in NY
<~Dan> Ah, very nice.
<~Dan> (Well, I assume so. I’ve never been there myself. 🙂 )
<+MattStevens> Dan Heh, it’s a beach place, they all seem kind of the same to me 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, MattStevens!
<+MattStevens> My greatest pleasure. Thank you Dan!