<+darrenwatts> Hi everybody! I’m Darren Watts, rpg writer, and I’m here tonight to palaver about Explorers Of The Fantastic! It’s a new setting book for Savage Worlds Adventure Edition, by myself and Jess Nevins from Battlefield Press, and it’s been described as “the love child of Jack Kirby, Gerry Anderson and Godzilla” which I think is a pretty nice elevator pitch. (done)
<+darrenwatts> If you vaguely know my name, I used to be the President/Owner of Hero Games and Indie Press Revolution. I’ve also written for Star Trek, Doctor Who and a bunch of other stuff.
<~Dan> Thanks, darrenwatts! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> What is the premise of the setting?
<+darrenwatts> The third bomb the allies drop on Japan in World War II wakes up several giant monsters, confirming their existence to the public. An organization, the Explorers Of The Fantastic, dedicates itself to the study of kaiju and other weirdness, kind of a National Geographic Society of monsters.
<+Lassek> I wanted to play Europa Universalis 4 but this piece of junk can’t run it so I settled for EU3
<+Lassek> I had clocked an insane amount of hours on both eu4 and eu3
<+darrenwatts> They travel the globe, seeking to capture or kill monsters before their communist rivals in the USSR and China do. So it’s the Cold War, but kaiju science largely takes the place of the nuclear race.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Lassek!)
<+Lassek> (O, sorry D: )
<+darrenwatts> The very existence of kaiju pretty much proves we know nothing about physics – even the square-cube law is out the window. So Kaiju-derived tech and science changes the world.
<~Dan> (No problem!)
<~Dan> How is tech derived from kaiju?
<+darrenwatts> This allows us to have flying subs and ray guns and even start to explore space! Of course, we’re always dealing with alien invasions, mad scientists and lost tribes of talking gorillas from the hollow earth. (done)
<+darrenwatts> Kaiju have an innate mastery of gravity and inertia, which we are just starting to understand so we can also make, for examples, preposterous vehicles fly. Also we get medicine from their organs, derive new materials from the linings of their internal nuclear organs, stuff like that.
<~Dan> (Howdy, JeremyTangman!)
<+darrenwatts> Basically it’s goofball science that lets us have the tech we wanted anyway with a barely-plausible explanation.
<~Dan> How common are kaiju in this setting?
<+darrenwatts> Well, as much as the GM and players want, of course. The book will have about a dozen different examples, and assumes that there are more in the various hard-to-get-to parts of the planet. (done)
<+darrenwatts> Common enough to show up regularly, but rare enough to still be mysterious and cool.
<~Dan> How are they combatted?
<+darrenwatts> There are basically two kinds of giant monsters, those of human scale and those not. SOme are like the Blob or the Giant Gila Monster in the movies, and can be killed by finding out their weakness or just driving a car full of explosives into them.
<+darrenwatts> Others are true giant monsters, hundreds of feet high, and they basically ignore anything short of the most absolutely advanced super-tech or each other. Finding a weapon against thwem becomes a campaign-scale problem. Or maybe the PCs will have to make alliance with Godzilla in order to defeat Ghidorah! (done)
<~Dan> Are there kaiju-scale mecha?
<+darrenwatts> The PCs are basically the humans in a Godzilla movie most of the time in the latter case, right? They have to find the Oxygen Destroyer, or penetrate the alien base, or do whatever, and the giant monsters themselves basically are weather, they’re the dangerous environment. OTOH, it’s frequently fun to let the players handle the giant monsters…
<+darrenwatts> Especially if it’s an all-out monster rumble. We have rules and guidelines for that as well.
<~Dan> How do the PCs get involved in a monster rumble?
<+darrenwatts> No mecha in this book. But we’d love to do one if this takes off and justifies a sequel.
<+darrenwatts> The same way humans do in a Godzilla movie. A well-done scenario has things to do at both scales. They have super-tech and cool vehicles and bases and enemies at their own level. Some of the biggest kaiju have weaknesses that can be exploited. Or it’s Destroy All MOnsters and the real problem is aliens mucking around with Earth’s kaiju. (done)
<~Dan> (Howdy, kiwi_14!)
<~Dan> Speaking of aliens, how many alien races of alien invaders are there?
<+kiwi_14> Live from the hospital, makes me a super fan of dan
<~Dan> I hope you feel better soon!
<+darrenwatts> It’s not done being written yet, so I’m not certain. I know I’ve written three so far. One looks just like humans but with crazy tech, one are weird glowy starfish-creatures, and one are mobile plants, like smarter Triffids.
<+darrenwatts> We’ll see what makes the final text.
<~Dan> What’s their interest in Earth?
<+darrenwatts> Heh. Our women! No, mostly it’s either that were about to enter interplanetary society and might be useful or dangerous, or that we’re a resource to be exploited. Or our kaiju are – at least one race seems to think the kaiju are what makes Earth notable.
<+darrenwatts> One of the things that separates kaiju specifically from other giant monsters is that they’re unique. Each one is different, and there generally seems to be only one at a time of each. There are notes for GMs wishing to make this a plot point. (done)
<+darrenwatts> It’s possible, for example, to play a baby kaiju as a PC in the game. (done)
<~Dan> Really? How doe sthat work?
<+darrenwatts> Or a robot, or an alien. My current playtest has a talking gorilla.
<+darrenwatts> It’s just a scale issue. Minilla is human-sized or slightly larger in a couple of Godzilla movies. He’ll grow up, eventually – if he survives.
<~Dan> What sorts of abilities can robots have in this setting?
<+darrenwatts> Well, anything they can afford in character creation, given that it’s a genre firmly set in the 50s (and particularly in the 50s of the movies/tv/comics.) So robots tend to have lots of blinking lights and wave their arms a lot.
* ~Dan chuckles
<~Dan> Are the players limited to playing one of the three alien invader races?
<+darrenwatts> But they can be terrifying in combat, if somewhat slow. (done)
<+darrenwatts> Not by us. If the GM’s on board, make your own alien. (done)
<+darrenwatts> The Challengers Of The Unknown had a weird little alien sidekick for a while.
<+darrenwatts> If it fits in a 50s Kirby comic it fits in our game. 70s Kirby might push us a little. 😉
<~Dan> Heh. 🙂
<~Dan> Are the Challengers the template for the baseline PCs?
<~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
<+darrenwatts> They’re excellent examples of Action Scientists, yes. Down to the matching jumpsuits. Or Cave Carson, the Sea Devils. Henry Pym when he’s exploring anthills.
<~Dan> Cave Carson?
<+darrenwatts> Also the Steed/Peel Avengers.The Third Doctor Who back when he was stuck on Earth consulting for UNIT. Indiana Jones or Tarzan trudging through the jungle looking for lost worlds.
<+darrenwatts> Never read Cave Carson? He has a crew and a giant drilling machine to explore caves, always finding monsters and stuff.
<~Dan> Ah, cool. 🙂
<+darrenwatts> 50s DC comics.
<~Dan> Speaking of caves, you mentioned the Hollow Earth. How well is that developed?
<+darrenwatts> We have a big sample cave which is pretty habitable by humans, which has natives and weird dinosaurs and whatnot. Like the modern Godzilla movies, we also suggest there are tunnels kaiju use to get around from place to place.
<~Dan> (Howdy, RayM!)
<~Dan> Human-scale dinosaurs or kaiju-scale dinosaurs?
<+darrenwatts> Some of these tunnels seem to go to entire other dimensions, places where the laws of physics are different, which may be why kaiju are the way they are. We don’t give solid answers for most of this – it’s up to GMs and players to settle what’s real. (done)
<+darrenwatts> In that particular cave human-scale, because they’re also dealing with native tribes and stuff.
<+darrenwatts> It’s a savage land kind of setting, with both dinos and sabertooths and other wierdos.
<~Dan> Cool. 🙂
<+darrenwatts> One of the sample PCs was born and raised there, then came to civilization like Tarzan.
<~Dan> Nice. 🙂
<+darrenwatts> Another sample PC set has two 12-year-old kids, who have adopted/been adopted by a sabertooth.
<~Dan> Awesome. 🙂
<+darrenwatts> They call it “Stinky,” It’s adorable and terrifying.
<~Dan> Can the human PCs have any unusual capabilities? Or is that pretty much covered by access to weird science?
<+darrenwatts> Almost entirely tech, but there is the possibility of minor psionics. Poorly understood and very low-powered, but absolutely part of the genre – seeing the backs of playing cards, empathy, stuff like that. Again, one of the PCs is a mathematical super-prodigy. That sort of pulpy ability fits fine.
<~Dan> Did you design this setting with Savage Worlds in mind?
<+darrenwatts> In the 50s becoming superhuman is almost uniformly monstrous, you know? Superheroes haven’t really made their comeback.
<+darrenwatts> No, we didn’t. We considered a few different ones as we were starting. I very much wanted a rules set that was fast and pulpy, but I also wanted it to be crunchy enough that your gear mattered. I didn’t want characters to have “pistols 1d6.” I wanted it to be possible to have an argument about the tactical merits of one gun over another, or one plane or boat.
* ~Dan nods
<+darrenwatts> So Savage Worlds seemed to be a reasonable compromise. Crunchy but fast, and SWADE had just done its big Kickstart.
<~Dan> Do you add any tweaks to the system?
<+darrenwatts> We’re adding a couple of new Edges, but for the most part it seems to do what we wanted it to do out of the box. Mostly we’re adding new gear. We’re making Sciences more complex, and languages.
<+darrenwatts> Explorers have their own martial art you can buy in stages depending on your training, with three levels.
<~Dan> What can it do?
<+darrenwatts> Basically gives you maneuvers that do more or different damage/effect. It’s Kirk-fu, basically – the sort of terrible martial arts as performed by hollywood actors. Double fist punches, that sort of thing. Of course, in our setting they work perfectly well.
<~Dan> How do you handle scaling issues?
<+darrenwatts> Jon Pertwee Venusian Aikido.
<+darrenwatts> SW already has a damage scale, so that no matter how well you roll your knife wont hurt a tank because it does the wrong sort of damage by definition. We’re just expanding that concept up a level. Tanks will never hurt Godzilla, they can by definition only annoy or distract him.
<+darrenwatts> But they work fine on the Giant Gila Monster. So monsters have a Rank that determines that, but allows them to be interesting and plausible against each other wihtout rolling Hero levels of dice.
<+darrenwatts> I mean, I love Hero and rolling cubes of dice at a time, but I am reliably informed not everybody does. I wrote Galactic Champions, after all.
<~Dan> (Howdy, TroyEndGameGaming!)
<+TroyEndGameGaming> Good evening!
<+Oopserator> Evening, Dan, and A/all!
<~Dan> (Howdy, Oopserator!)
<~Dan> (For those joining late: (Link: http://explorersofthefantastic.com/explorers.html?fbclid=IwAR3UQVrvyMAzCU4HfqdJ9DWhbG1lFeUfD-NnjaqIyxfIckb93tZt6XF74ws)http://explorersofthefantastic.com/explorers.html?fbclid=IwAR3UQVrvyMAzCU4HfqdJ9DWhbG1lFeUfD-NnjaqIyxfIckb93tZt6XF74ws )
<+Oopserator> oops (erator)
<~Dan> Would it be accurate to say that the setting is a mix of Japanese and American 1950s sci-fi?
<+darrenwatts> And British, yes. All three
<~Dan> (#randomworlds2 is open for general chat, btw! 🙂 )
<~Dan> What are the British aspects?
<+RayM> Good stuff!
<+darrenwatts> Like I said, there’s a run of the Third Doctor Who where he’s stuck on modern-day Earth fighting aliens and monsters with UNIT. Or monster cozies, like Day Of The Triffids. Quatermass & The Pit is totally an Explorers plot.
<+TroyEndGameGaming> Sounds intriguing!
<+darrenwatts> Several Peel/Steed Avengers plots would work for Explorers.
<+darrenwatts> Our book ends its timeline in 1965. I’d love to do a sequel, but first we’ve got to get this one moving. So go back it, gang!
<~Dan> Are the Commies the main bad guys?
<+darrenwatts> Of course. The joke answer is that I was griping on social media a year or so back that I had just done Golden Age Champions and the Iron Sky movie rpg back to back, and I was sick of Nazis, Nazis weren’t funny any more, and hey didn’t anyone want to punch some Commies?
<+darrenwatts> And Jess kind of raised his hand and said “I have a thing about punching Commies.”
<+darrenwatts> My response was “Don’t break my heart. I’ve wanted to work with you for twenty years, so you better not be lying.” And that turned into this.
<~Dan> Awesome. 🙂
<~Dan> As an aside, is that Iron Sky RPG out now?
<+darrenwatts> No, but the quickstart is. There was an extended delay waiting for the sequel movie, there was a lawsuit, a whole mess but it seems to be moving again. Hopefully this summer. Not my problem, I got paid already. 😉
<~Dan> What system will that use?
<+darrenwatts> It was a fun project. As usual, I had nothing to do with the rules – I wrote the material about how and why the Nazis went to the moon in the first place. The Dora projekt, the Flugenrad, all that stuff.
<+darrenwatts> New system. It’s a Belgian publisher.
<~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
<+darrenwatts> Hey Jonathan!
<+darrenwatts> I hope it’ll be at GenCon. There’s some good stuff in there.
<+darrenwatts> You could do a lot of it in Explorers – there’s a Hollow Earth in the sequel movie too.
<~Dan> Howdy, BPIJonathan!
<+BPIJonathan> Sequel to what?
<~Dan> Beyond the example Kaiju, is there a bestiary in the book, and if so, how extensive?
<+darrenwatts> Iron Sky, the Nazis on the moon movie.
<+BPIJonathan> I have both of those, backed the KS for the sequeal and the rpg.
<+darrenwatts> Yes. We’ll see when it’s done. Battlefield has already done a Dino book, Dinosaur Protocol, so we’ll namecheck that if you need more detail.
<+darrenwatts> But we have some monster in neither SWADE or DP.
<~Dan> Can you give some examples?
<+darrenwatts> Of other monsters/beasts? We have talking gorillas, who I guess are more sort of a race because they’re playable. Some things SWADE inexplicably left out, like hippos. A whole bit about how to scale up smaller creatures to giants – giant rats, insects, turtles, etc.
<+BPIJonathan> Not related to EP, but we are doing a new book for TDP next year, which will go well with this book.
<+TroyEndGameGaming> Very cool
<~Dan> What book is that, BPIJonathan?
<+darrenwatts> Dinosaur Protocol, which has all the dino information and a setting where they come back today (or tomorrow!)
<+BPIJonathan> Codex Dinosaura
<~Dan> What will the Codex feature?
<+BPIJonathan> Something Chris Halliday and I have been working on, will contain information on dinosaurs that are not in the core book.
<+BPIJonathan> Most of them will be dinosaurs discovered since we wrote TDP
<+BPIJonathan> Plus the Kaiju rules for EF could be ported into Savage Rifts 😀
<~Dan> Cool. 🙂
<~Dan> darrenwatts: In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+darrenwatts> That’s about it about the book.I think it’s tremendous fun and I hope people get behind it. It’s off to a bit of a slow start on Kickstarter, so show it some love if you agree!
<~Dan> Cool! Thanks for joining us, darrenwatts and BPIJonathan!
<+darrenwatts> Oh, and while you’re there please also consider Haunted West by Darker Hue Studios. I’m a stretch goal for that one and I wrote a really cool scenario I’d love to see get out, about Mexican zombies in 1875.
<+darrenwatts> Thanks for having us! Let us know where the log will be and we’ll get it out.
<~Dan> As always, if you’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 . Anything’s welcome!
<~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log up right now, darrenwatts!