<+Jordan> Absolutely! My name’s Jordan, I usually design games inspired by PbtA.
<+Jordan> Right now I’ve got Arcana Academy on kickstarter, basically a magic school RPG
<+Jordan> It was heavily inspired by works like Harry Potter and The Magicians with a big focus on solving mysteries and deep relationships since that’s what I felt was the core of those works
<+Jordan> It takes a lot inf inspiration from other PbtA games like City of Mist, Monsterhearts, and Masks
<+Jordan> That’s the basics at least
<+Jordan> Done with my introduction unless there’s more detail people want me to go int
<~Dan> Thanks, Jordan! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> So this is a Powered by the Apocalypse game?
<+Jordan> Yep! Though it doesn’t use playbooks like most other games. This is where I took inspiration from City of Mist. It’s more tag based than playbook based.
<~Dan> Can you say some more about that?
<~Dan> What does “tag based” mean in this context?
<+Jordan> Playbooks are great for different archetypes, but when everyone’s a student it doesn’t work quite as well so I had do differentiate them more.
<+Jordan> First there’s the characteristics, things like their talents, status, etc. There’s also freeform magic that are also broken down by what they do
<+Jordan> Basically when you can apply a trait or a spell in a situation is when you get bonuses and determine how your character approaches problems
<~Dan> Do you have a character sheet that we can see?
<+Jordan> I don’t have a formal character sheet yet, but it’s broken down like this.
<+eezo> (not wanting to interrupt the Q&A, just wish to say hi *waves*)
<~Dan> (Howdy, eezo! #randomworlds2 is open!)
<+Jordan> Traits cover 4 things, a Belief, Your Personality, Your talents, and Resources. Then their are 6 different kinds of spells Power, Influence, Creation, Knowledge, Mobility, and Change.
<+Jordan> there are also relationships which are a huge part of your character. One for the person you hate, one for the person you look up to, and one for the person your fond of
<+Jordan> that’s everything that goes into a character. fairly simple
<+Jordan> I can link a sample of the rules if that would be helpful
<~Dan> Couldn’t hurt!
<+Jordan> Sure, it doesn’t cover everything, but it does cover enough to try the game out. You can check out the sample here: (Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1faVLjArRAk_3OjeQn1vVc-ZvsqoCKK76/view?usp=sharing)https://drive.google.com/file/d/1faVLjArRAk_3OjeQn1vVc-ZvsqoCKK76/view?usp=sharing
<~Dan> So what covers physical activity?
<+Jordan> physical activity is covered by one of the moves (basically the way that all actions are resolved in PbtA games) The move in particular is Take Action which is very similar to the catch all moves that many games of this style have
<~Dan> For those unfamiliar with PbtA, could you describe the basic mechanic?
<+Jordan> for those unfamiliar with PbtA and moves they have three outcomes, Success, Partial Success, and Failure. On a partial success there’s some condition that happens, or some limiting factor, and a failure means that the GM gets to do something bad to your character.
<+Jordan> Basically it’s designed so that no matter the outcome of a roll is the story moves in an interesting direction
<+Jordan> usually the moves are specific to the genre and type of game so that they represent the most common things done in that setting and genre
<~Dan> What dice are used?
<+Jordan> 2d6 + some bonus that way most of the results are the partial success where both the GM and the player get to make something interesting happen
<+Jordan> We used moves like sneaking around, looking for clues, lashing out at people, convincing them etc. The game focuses pretty heavily on the mystery so looking for clues and using them is a big part of the game
<~Dan> One issue I’ve had with PbtA in the past is that there aren’t really skill levels for NPCs. Is that the case in this game?
<+Jordan> yep, that’s the case for this game, and it’s something that tripped me up when I first started playing these games too, it’s a different style of game that takes some getting used to, let me try and explain the idea behind it
<+Jordan> In many games the GM will tell you how wide a chasm is and the DC is set by how far it is. In PbtA the game doesn’t want to know how wide the chasm is, it cares more about the outcomes. It’s not for everyone, but basically the idea is that the outcomes are more important to the story than the small details
<+Jordan> it seems backwards and first, and takes some getting used to, but it takes a lot of the load off of the GM and that’s why I started liking it
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> You said that magic is freeform?
<+Jordan> Yep! Instead of set spells there are six questions. To create a spell you just answer the question. If the spell could be useful you gain +1 to the roll. I’ll give you an example
<+Jordan> For example mobility spells are all about getting to different places. That could mean you have a spell that lets you fly, or you could have a spell that let’s you unlock doors. They both revolve around getting to places.
<+Jordan> The freeform way allows the players to create whatever spells they want and use them in creative ways.
<+Jordan> It’s really cool to see what kind of spells the players come up with
<~Dan> If magic is freeform, what are the students being taught>
<+Jordan> While the magic is freeform, they only have a few spells. As you play you’ll get to learn more spells. The game actually doesn’t focus a lot on what’s happening in the class, but more about what the players are doing. The action always focuses on the players.
<+Jordan> the mysteries and relationships are what most of the game cares about
<~Dan> Can you say a bit more about the setting?
<+Jordan> There are two ways to use the game. You can create your own setting by answering a set of guided questions or you can use the books defualt setting. I’ll cover some of the coolest aspects
<+Jordan> The school is very into open study so most of the school is one giant library maze that people have to learn to navigate just as much as they have to learn about magic
<+Jordan> they also allow the students pretty much all access to any ingredients they’d need for various spells and rituals. I wanted to create a setting that would allow the players to experiment with as much of it as possible
<~Dan> Is the setting modern day?
<+Jordan> yep! there’s even a section on how technology has been used throughout the school’s history, and while it’s not a huge focus I’ve had a few players use cell phones to do things just as much as using magic
<~Dan> How aware of magic is the general public?
<+Jordan> I tried to keep it hidden from the general public since that’s very common for the genre. The game doesn’t often take you outside of the school, but I wanted it to be an option since works like The Magicians allow for that as well
<~Dan> How is magic kept secret?
<+Jordan> Isolation mainly. That’s the reason for a magic school, to keep people away from the general public while they learn and grow
<~Dan> Are there magical creatures?
<+Jordan> Yep! another staple of the genre, though what kinds are left pretty open to the GM there’s a guide to setting up the various creatures, items, etc. a lot of the game is very open to GM interpretation
<~Dan> What keeps the magical creatures out of the public eye? Seems like dragons would be kind of hard to miss.
<+Jordan> Honestly, I don’t worry about it too much. The game focuses on the goings on at the school and note the outside world. Focus is important to me in game design
<~Dan> Fair enough.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Silverlion!)
<~Dan> What sorts of adventures do the PCs get up to?
<+Jordan> The adventures are focused entirely on mysteries. Mysteries are set up in a 3 phase structure.
<+Jordan> A GM chooses a question the players are trying to answer. The first step is the players trying to find out what the question is. When they gain clues they can ask any question. When they ask the question they move onto the next phase.
<+Jordan> They then have to find the answer to the question, but the GM won’t answer the mystery question directly so they have to find questions that are related, but not directly.
<+Jordan> The last stage is facing the challenge directly and trying to overcome it. They can still use clues to ask any question they want to help them find weaknesses or ways around the problems. The GM might layer mutliple mysteries together, but that’s the structure
<~Dan> Can you give an example of a mystery you’ve used in your games?
<+Jordan> yeah, one of the mysteries was centered around the question “who is cursing the library books” the cursed books were dragging students into the pages, each mystery also has a specific consquence. For example this mystery would take one of the people closest to the players if they failed a roll or took too long
<+Jordan> basically, haha
<+Jordan> but the questions can be anything, it’s up to the GM what questions they want to create
<~Dan> What grade levels does the school cover?
<+Jordan> it’s designed to do anything from kids to adults depending on what the players want, but the default setting is kids because of the popularity of Harry Potter
<~Dan> Can you describe the upper limit to what magic can accomplish?
<+Jordan> There are two kinds of magic. The freeform spells that each player learns has a set of limits that basically means it can’t be so broad it can apply to all of the moves. There is also a second form of magic that has virtually no limit. The players say what they want to do, and the GM tells them what they need to gather and do to make it happen.
<~Dan> (Howdy, Lee!)
<~Dan> So the latter is ritual magic?
<+Jordan> basically yeah, it covers rituals, potions, etc. Anything that isn’t a spell, but the players need a solution that doesn’t normally cover. And it usually spawns it’s own mini quest to fulfill the requirements
<~Dan> Is magical ability inherent or learned?
<+Jordan> learned, the players will pick up more spells as the progress in the game, that’s the main way they gain more power is in spell versatility
<~Dan> So anyone can learn magic?
<+Jordan> well it’s a mix of inherent and learned, it takes both
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> Does the default setting have any built-in antagonists?
<+Jordan> There are a lot of different characters, but there aren’t any that I would call antagonists.
<+Jordan> It’s more about the characters that you can interact with than those that you are against. I left most of the plot points to the GM
<~Dan> How many NPCs do you flesh out?
<+Jordan> There are about a dozen that are included as samples in the setting, but the NPCs that are actually fleshed out are the ones that are a connection to the characters. When the players want a character to be important to the story they can label them as a connection (someone they hate, are fond of, or look up to)
<+Jordan> the GM can then use that NPC to influence the PCs in different ways
<~Dan> Is there a bestiary?
<+Jordan> the game doesn’t really have set stats for any of the enemies, because it’s a PbtA game there are no actual difficulties
* ~Dan nods
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+Jordan> We’ve touched on a lot of it. I would add that the relationships are meant to adapt and as you act for or against them they have their own arcs. That way things like the classic villain to friends trope and the like can be used.
<+Jordan> Other than that I think most of the system was covered
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, Jordan!
<+Jordan> thanks for having me
<~Dan> Standard reminder: Tips are welcome at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Anything’s appreciated!
<~Dan> Now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll log the chat and link you!