<+jake-householder> Hi! I’m jake (they/them) – game designer, multimedia artist, and musician. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with Teddy since we were wee sprites in college making indie rock hits together
<+jake-householder> Now we’re making indie rpgs
<+jake-householder> I’ll let Teddy intro before we talk about the game, yeah
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Can do
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> So – I’m Teddy. I live in Cincinnati, OH currently. Jake and I go way, way back. Like 2004? That’s roundabout the same time I started realizing what kind of magic ttrpg’s could be. But only recently have we started dipping into design stuff here and there. Vigor: Into Dust is our first “fully realized” project.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> [i have spoken]
<+Garebear68> Well then, welcome Jake and Teddy.
<+jake-householder> Vigor: Into Dust is, to quote the Kickstarter, “Character-forward roleplaying in a world on the brink”.
<+jake-householder> To break that down – character-forward in our case means that what the characters are good at in the game and the direction the story takes is born out of who the characters are: what drives them, what grounds them, their instincts, desires, etc
<+jake-householder> The “world on the brink” is a withered land called Vest – where the odds are stacked against you, where you’re hunted by an impossible evil, held under the boot of an imposing machine, just longing for a taste of a world lost to memory.
<~Dan> Thanks, guys! The floor is open to questions!
<~Dan> What genre is the game?
<+jake-householder> I’ve seen it called “post-apocalyptic”, but I’d actually call it “apocalyptic” or “proto-apocalyptic”. The world is in a bad state, it’s a shell of what it once was, but it’s not all gone. There’s hope for life and rebirth
<+Garebear68> So “the world that was” is by design undefined in the game to give the GM a way to flavor the setting to thier own taste?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Yeah. I mean – truly – the whole setting is really loosely defined as a way to give the entire table the ability to pick it up and make it their own. It’s a part of the collaborative storytelling.
<~Dan> To drill down a bit, is this a fantasy apocalypse? Sci-fi? Something else?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> I think generally, it leans a little more fantasy than sci-fi.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> More mystical, wonder, limitless possibilities than TECHNOLOGY!
<~Dan> What is the tech level of the setting?
<+jake-householder> it is such a tough question to answer, because it’s so much about what the players make of it
<~Dan> (wb, Garebear682)
<+Garebear682> Sorry, my internet had a hiccup
<~Dan> (No worries!)
<+jake-householder> as in – depending on how the players define The World Before, the artifacts lying beneath the surface may be wildly different. depending on how they imagine The Hierarchy, the bleeding edge of tech may be different
<+jake-householder> I’ve played in games that were borderline neolithic and others that were akin to like the Horde from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
<+jake-householder> There’s no hard line by design
<+jake-householder> The Table collaborates to fill in those blanks as they go. We give prompts to facilitate that discussion
<~Dan> Who or what is the opposition?
<+Garebear682> Hmm… I was not sure if I was into this game’s idea, but the idea of the world before being whatever you want it to be is intriguing.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Yeah – there are times when I’ll explain the setting to people as potentially very much like Zelda: Breath of The Wild
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> As regards the opposition: again … it kinda depends which side the players wanna take up.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> But we’ve set out The Hierarchy as the big, real, people, baddie. And The Corruption as the mystical, otherworldly, life-ending baddie.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> The core of it being: The Corruption seems to be responsible for ending The World Before. And The Hierarchy forming sometime during or after that transition, and then using whatever machinery/force/etc. to bend the world and its people to their will.
<+Garebear682> It talks about the game using d6s, how does the main mechanic of the game work?
<~Dan> And before we get too deep into the system, do you have a character sheet that we can see?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> (Link: https://www.vigorrpg.com/resources)https://www.vigorrpg.com/resources
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> character sheet sits on the right
<+jake-householder> (Link: https://www.vigorrpg.com/s/Vigor-ID-Lead-Sheet.pdf)https://www.vigorrpg.com/s/Vigor-ID-Lead-Sheet.pdf
<+jake-householder> for download right here if you like
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> also that 🙂
<+jake-householder> As for the core mechanic, we use dice pools against a target number to generate a number of successes
<+jake-householder> The number of successes you hit determines the narrative outcome of your action. It can be:
<+jake-householder> No, and… (0 successes)
<+jake-householder> No, but… (1)
<+jake-householder> Yes, but (2)
<+jake-householder> Yes (3)
<+jake-householder> Yes, and… (4)
<+Garebear682> I like that scale
<~Dan> What forms the dice pool?
<+jake-householder> The dice pool is formed by your Qualities and Roleplay Prompts (if you’re looking at the sheet)
<+Garebear682> A quality and prompt would add?
<~Dan> The former look like attributes…. Are the latter akin to skills?
<+jake-householder> This is one area where we try to drive home the character-forward aspect of play. If you are doing something in play where one of your Roleplay Prompts (Threads, Natures, Roots) is helping or motivating you, you add 1d6 for each active prompt
<+jake-householder> With Qualities, you add d6 equal to their rating
<+Garebear682> (thumbs up) got it
<+jake-householder> And there’s a base dice pool of 2d6
<+jake-householder> So the roll is effectively: 2d6 + [Quality] + [Roleplay Prompts]
<+Garebear682> So the prompts are a little fate-esque
<+jake-householder> totally in that vibe yes
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> your roleplay prompts can also remove dice from the pool if they’re working against you in any way
<~Dan> What are Threads, Natures, and Roots?
<+Garebear682> I think I am going to be downloading that playtest… yep yep.
<+jake-householder> Awesome! Thanks, Garebear
<+Garebear682> Welcome. It sounds like an interesting system and premise
<+jake-householder> Here’s a blurb from the website re: Threads, Natures, Roots:
<+jake-householder> Threads – What drives your Lead? What’s tugging at them?
<+jake-householder> Roots – What grounds them?
<+jake-householder> Natures – How do they operate (for better or worse)?
<+jake-householder> The players use their Threads to help direct the lens of the story. There’s a lot of agency given to all players, not just the Stitch, to say “this is what I wanna see happening in the story” and direct the lens of the action around their Threads
<~Dan> I see… So are there anything resembling skills?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> like in the d&d sense?
* ~Dan nods
<+jake-householder> Not in that sense, no. But, you could look at Natures that way
<+Garebear682> Outlining what you character knows and can do… technical ability, knowledge, etc.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> in the traditional sense – those skills would kind of get housed under Qualities
<+jake-householder> Natures represent what’s become your M.O, your first instinct, your approach to dealing with obstacles
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> like – up against something like a ‘knowledge’ check – you’d probably be acting out of your Understanding
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> up against something like a ‘stealth’ check – you’d likely be acting out of your Guile
<+Garebear682> So the higer your qualities, the more skills you have and you can roll them in the direction you want them for your particular character.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> …that sort of thing
<+jake-householder> Yeah – what’s cool to me about Qualities is that their rating is improved by advancing your Roleplay prompts
<+jake-householder> So – when you earn an advancement by playing to your roleplay prompts, you can actually integrate something that’s just a circumstantial bonus to become a more reliable bonus as an improvement to a Quality
<+jake-householder> Say, for example, you have a Nature “Punch first, ask questions later” or something
<+jake-householder> And you earn an advancement
<+Garebear682> I am kind of getting a “Last of Us” + magic vibe from this game
<+jake-householder> you could then integrate that Nature into your “Brawn” or something to improve your brawn rating
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> totally Garebear
<+Garebear682> Is this game envisioned as a one book product or might there be other products to support it?
<+jake-householder> We totally plan on rolling out more Vigor
<~Dan> Does the system include difficulty levels, or is everything self-tests as in Powered by the Apocalypse?
<+jake-householder> one of the stretch goals for the current KS campaign is actually an isolationist horror setting called Rush of Blood
<+jake-householder> It’s 1849 California Gold Rush but with supernatural horror (like vampires)
<+jake-householder> Anyway, really hope we get to that Stretch Goal, cause I love the game in its baby form and I’d love to develop it
<+Garebear682> Nice 🙂
<+jake-householder> RE: Difficulty – Most actions will fall under the self-tests arena. But, there is a way to up the difficulty.
<~Dan> How’s that?
<+jake-householder> In the Beta, we call it a Montage – basically the table can set an extended difficulty of an action or complex string of actions (say, intense or prolonged combat or something of that sort). The Leads are given a number of actions to take, and the Stitch given a pool of dice to roll against their actions
<~Dan> The Stitch being the GM?
<+jake-householder> The difference is then judged on the Tiers of Success rather than just the leads’ individual actions judged on the ToS
<+jake-householder> (though, it’s not a traditional GM role – less authority and less exclusive responsibility for the world-building, etc)
<+jake-householder> The Beta Playtest is free, btw on the website right now. Montage is covered on p.56-57
<~Dan> So difficulty only becomes a factor in extended actions?
<+jake-householder> Not necessarily
<+jake-householder> Because with a Montage, the “number of actions” could just be one
<+jake-householder> So it could be “I’m trying to talk this village elder into letting us into the catacombs”
<+jake-householder> and the Stitch says “Yeah, that’s a no go. The catacombs are strictly forbidden to outsiders. If you wanna even try to get this, it’s gonna be a montage.”
<+jake-householder> So then the Lead might roll their one action against the “Easy” Montage pool of 3d6.
<~Dan> How does this opposed roll work?
<+jake-householder> Lead Rolls their action as normal, building their dice pool as with any other action. The only difference is that the Stitch rolls against them per the difficulty.
<+jake-householder> The *difference* between the Stitch’s roll and the Lead’s roll is judged on the ToS
<+jake-householder> The Leads total successes are then weighed against the Stitch’s total successes. • If the Leads generate a number of successes equal to or greater than the Stitch, judge the difference on the ToS and resolve the montage accordingly. • If the Stitch generates more successes than the Leads, the result is a “No, and…” for the Leads, and the Stitch can choose t
<+jake-householder> ran out of room – sorry:
<+jake-householder> If the Stitch generates more successes than the Leads, the result is a “No, and…” for the Leads, and the Stitch can choose to utilize the additional successes as follows: • Add a number of their extra successes as dice to the Corruption Pool. • Roll a number of their extra successes as a dice pool against the Leads for additional consequences, with the succ
<+jake-householder> successes from that roll determining the severity (see page 18 for more on consequences). • Some combination of the above options.
<+jake-householder> lol – obviously copy pasting
<~Dan> I think I missed something… What determines if an individual die roll is a success?
<+jake-householder> Dice pools have a target number. It starts at 6.
<+jake-householder> But you can use your Vigor to reduce the TN
<~Dan> So each die that comes up 6 is a success by default?
<~Dan> I see.
<~Dan> What is Heart?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> in simplest terms Heart is a kind of xp
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Heart is a measure of how much/how well/etc a Lead is playing their roleplay prompts
<+Garebear682> so you need to roll a 6 on a d6… how do you spend your vigor, is it a one for one exchange? I spend one vigor, now my difficulty is 5 instead of 6?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> lemme catch the Heart thing, and then we’ll hit the Vigor spend Garebear.
<+Garebear682> Then you run out of vigor and are exhausted?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> mechanically: Heart is a resource you earn and then can spend on advancement type things
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> there are a couple of other uses for Heart. but that’s the short of it
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> it represents your sort of strength of self
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> and so: Heart.
<+jake-householder> As for Vigor – you’ve got the long and short of it, yeah. But it’s 2:1. So you can spend 2 Vigor to lower the Target Number by one
<+jake-householder> Your Vigor may also be reduced as a consequence on a roll where you hit below a clear “Yes”
<+Garebear682> How many vigor would an average character have?
<+jake-householder> Starting characters usually have between 5-8 Vigor
<+jake-householder> When you’re out of Vigor, you pick one:
<~Dan> What are Assets?
<+jake-householder> Drop Max Vigor by 1 • Decrease the Rating of a Quality by 1 • Lose (Erase) a Roleplay Prompt • Take some degree of Conditions. • Take some degree of Corruption or Corruption Effects
<+Garebear682> Scoring sucesses is a little hard it sounds like… are there other ways to lower that difficulty numbers beside spending vigor?
<+jake-householder> There are other ways to improve your roll, and some Waypoints (special abilities) have the capability to lower the target number
<+jake-householder> Assets are one way to improve your roll:
<+jake-householder> They represent the “stuff” that you have
<+jake-householder> Divided into two categories, Assets can either be Prized or Packed
<+jake-householder> Either way, an Asset, when it is used, improves the face value of a single rolled die
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> (for those following along – the section on Assets starts at pg. 40 in the Beta)
<+jake-householder> Prized Assets improve a die by +2, and Packed by +1
<+jake-householder> You can also take Corruption – which gives you automatic successes for each hex marked in your track
<+jake-householder> So there are a number of ways that the basic roll can be modified
<+jake-householder> Success is almost always possible, it’s just a question of how bad you want it
<+jake-householder> And we tried to design in a way where a large spread of outcomes was possible. Not just “yes” or “no” but all the shades between as well
<~Dan> So under Pack, how does Combat work, for example?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Your Pack represents all the various odds and ends that you might require to do your thing across the landscapes of Vest.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> However, rather than itemize all of this potential minutiae, the Table simply assumes that you’ve managed to survive this long out here and therefore must have the bulk of what you need at hand.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> so – in the case of “Combat” – that pack might have any number of things related to Combat inside of it.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> if you’re up against a particular action where you wanna use a knife – that kind of thing is probably available to you
<~Dan> I see… So what is Peculiar?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> but if you’re trying to pull like a telescope out of your Combat pack.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> you probably don’t have that
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Peculiar is there as a way to give Leads an option that feels more strange, wondrous, magical – etc.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> so they might have gemstones, or scrolls, or ancient tomes,
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> it all kind of depends on what the Table has agreed to as regards the setting
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> like if the Table says that magic potions exist in the world – that kind of thing might show up in a Peculiar pack
<+Garebear682> How does Dust work and what is it? We have not brought that up yet.
<+jake-householder> The Dust is a seam between what is and what was. With the Dust, the lingering energy of the World Before may be brought forth into the present. This mystical, powerful connection may be used for incredible things: to raise lingering spirits, to transform the terrain, to shake emotions.
<+jake-householder> So it’s the “magic” of Vest, centered on one’s connection to a World Before crying out to be brought back to life
<+jake-householder> There are no requirements to trying to use The Dust, but there are serious repercussions if you are untrained
<~Dan> How does that work in terms of the system?
<+Garebear682> Is it a physical substance?
<+jake-householder> If you want to “do a magic” with The Dust, you build your roll as with any other Action Roll. The difference is, we consider what “Magnitude” the power being attempted is.
<+jake-householder> Mundane = 0 / Modest = 1 / Considerable = 2 / Profound = 3 / Legendary = 4.
<+jake-householder> If your Training (which you take as a Waypoint) is at or above the Magnitude, it works like an Action Roll
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> (just again for sake of reference, the section on The Dust starts at pg 22 in the beta)
<+jake-householder> If your Training is below the Magnitude, you also incur “Overreach”
<+jake-householder> For each degree you’re off, The Stitch will flip a coin (or roll a single d6). The Stitch will ask you to call Heads or Tails, or 1-3 / 4-6 depending on whether its a coin or die. If you call it wrong, you immediately mark one hex in your Corruption Track. Anything you call wrong also gets flipped/rolled again against another Lead (probably one that was narra
<+jake-householder> But to answer your question, Garebear, it might be. It might not be
<+jake-householder> That’s up to your Table
<~Dan> Can you say some more about Waypoints in general?
<+jake-householder> When you use The Dust in play, a good stitch might say something like “what does it look like as you do this? what’s happening? how do you connect to the World Before through the Dust?
<+jake-householder> And you get to take the lead on the narrative element of what your magic looks like
<+jake-householder> Waypoints are those skills picked up along the way that allow a Lead to bend the rules of the game in their favor. If it helps, you might think of them as a Lead’s super powers.
<+jake-householder> They’re categorized into “Journeys”, which you could think of like classes if it helps. Though they’re not rigid and we expect/hope for Leads to be a blend of different journeys
<+Garebear68> My internet is being a right pain
<~Dan> (Sorry to hear that, Garebear68. 😦 )
<+jake-householder> The Journeys in Vigor: Into Dust are:
<~Dan> (brb, please continue)
<+jake-householder> The Cuff // The Fold // The Hook // The Point // The Seam // The Sift
<+jake-householder> Cuffs are physical-forward. Folds are powerful supports. Hooks are charismatic manipulators. Points are the leading edge. Seams are Dust wielders. Sifts are matchless scavengers.
<+jake-householder> The Waypoints within each of those journeys are, predictably, special abilities that help in those particular purviews
<+Garebear68> What is the distinction between a Cuff and a Point?
<+jake-householder> Lots really
<+jake-householder> Here’s a blurb from each from the Beta:
<~Dan> (back, sorry)
<+jake-householder> Tough, imposing, and often short-fused, those on the Journey of the Cuff have a knack for getting themselves into situations that call for a bit of physicality. Luckily, they also have a knack for getting out of them. The Cuff is not typically familiar with the term ‘hesitation.’ Nor are they always the biggest fans of planning.
<+jake-householder> The Point tends to always be thinking a step ahead. They are diligent – meticulous. Whether scouting, leading, or strategizing, people tend to look to a Point for the way forward. Their Journey is marked by keen senses, instincts, and intuition.
<+Garebear68> It is their approaches
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> definitely. and the set of waypoints varies greatly
<+jake-householder> Really – it’s that one is more of a fighter and one is a strategist and guide
<~Dan> And these have dice ratings?
<+jake-householder> In what sense?
<~Dan> I mean, do they contribute to your dice pool when attempting an action?
<+jake-householder> No – The Journey is a collection of Waypoints – those special abilities are all different. Similar to Playbook Moves in PbtA
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> So — there are some Waypoints that tick down your Target Number for particular actions, making success more likely on those specific actions
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> but then other Waypoints that do completely different things
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> The section on Journeys starts on pg 33.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> and basically, the Waypoints allow you to bend the rules in all kind of ways.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> as an example (and on the earlier subject of other ways you might spend Heart):
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> “Strike True. If available, you may spend Heart to generate automatic successes on relevant actions (of the physical type, we would think). If you don’t have any Heart available, you may count it against your next Recount portion.”
<~Dan> Going back to opposed rolls for a moment, do NPCs have stats?
<+jake-householder> They do not
<+jake-householder> Consequences are applied as a result of the ToS you hit
<+jake-householder> Consequences start on p.18
<+jake-householder> But basically anything less than a clear “Yes” should be met with narrative and mechanical consequences
<+jake-householder> And the guide gives you prompts for deciding what type and severity to take
<~Dan> How does combat work?
<+jake-householder> There aren’t special rules for combat
<+jake-householder> it’s handled action by action like anything else challenging that requires a roll
<+jake-householder> And again, if you wanted to up the difficulty or show something as a string of events, you would use the Montage rules
<~Dan> So what are the consequences of combat?
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> consequences are measured in the same manner regardless of what action a Lead is taking
<+Garebear68> Dan, Jake, Teddy, thank you all for this Q&A. I have to go right now. I will certainly give this game a looking over and consider pledging to the kickstarter.
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> but what those consequences specifically are, and how they get applied is up to The Stitch, or the acting Lead, or some combination
<~Dan> Take care, Garebear68!
<+jake-householder> Thanks for the questions Garebear68
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> thanks Garebear
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> the point being that if you’re taking a consequence, it should be narratively relevant
* ~Dan nods
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> so if you totally bit it on an action where you were in fact in combat, you might wind up taking a life threatening condition – like a mortal wound for example
<~Dan> What sorts of creatures exist in this setting?
<+jake-householder> Again – it’s collaborative open world building. But we populate the world with a few kernels throughout the guide
<+jake-householder> Largely though, we try to use open-ended phrases that might be interpreted by the players: Aberrants, Sand-Voels, Maned Wolves
<+jake-householder> I think there are a couple places where we mention raccoons and/or crickets
<~Dan> Crickets? 🙂
<+jake-householder> why not?!
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> lucky crickets – always useful 🙂
<+jake-householder> something’s gotta survive out there!
<~Dan> Fair enough. 🙂
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> but yeah. the base setting, as we’ve set it down, could feel like just on the edge of our reality. or it could feel way, way out there as far as plant/animal life
<~Dan> (Howdy, Ettin!)
<~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
<+jake-householder> I think we’ve covered a lot of what’s on the character sheet, and some of the mechanics, but for me the excitement of the game is about the collaborative storytelling process. Watching the world unfold as you inhabit your character and “yes, and” each other around the table
<+jake-householder> There’s been so much really cool storytelling and memorable characters that have come out of this game for me just because people have surprised me, betrayed me, and been so utterly heartwarming at times that it’s a very memorable experience
<+jake-householder> I also wanna just highlight the awesome artist we’re working with – Minerva Fox
<+jake-householder> (Link: https://twitter.com/blue_troller)https://twitter.com/blue_troller
<+jake-householder> Teddy and I are working with Minerva to write several graphic novel vignettes that populate the Vigor: Into Dust guide
<+jake-householder> and they serve as prompts for stories you might want to pick up and run with in your game.
<+jake-householder> Each is just three pages and sets up a potential bit of trouble or plot and then just leaves it hanging
<+jake-householder> Minerva’s artwork is Manga-inspired and full of ink wash and she’s just a really excellent person to work with
<~Dan> Cool. 🙂
<~Dan> Thanks very much for joining us, guys!
<+Teddy-VigorRPG> Absolutely. Thanks for having us!
<+jake-householder> Very glad for the opportunity!
<~Dan> Shameless plug: If you’ve enjoyed this Q&A and would like to treat me to a coffee, you can do so at (Link: https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe)https://www.ko-fi.com/gmshoe . Anything’s appreciated!
<~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute here, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂