1:44 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Hi! My name is Kieran and I’m the creator of the Dark Peaks (hopefully) series of books. They are a character focused dungeon crawler, where brave peasants go into the dark of the mountain of Deep Maw to fight the evil.
1:45 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: It has a reactive combat system, a psychology system, and an experience system which promotes not just mechanical benefits for the character but also direct and trackable character development. Your character will change, and this is represented in the mechanics of the game itself.
1:47 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: At the moment, we’ve released The Dark Peaks: The Festival of Swords as a taster for the game, and that’s a stand alone adventure with a cut-down version of the rules for people to play. It’s on DrivethruRPG right now. We’re looking to get the core rules out by Q3 this year, and then a supplement by Christmas.
1:47 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Done ?)
1:47 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: 🙂
1:47 PM ~Dan: Thanks, Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks! The floor is open to questions!
1:48 PM ~Dan: How would you describe the subgenre of the game? (e.g., high fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy)
1:50 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Great question – it’s low to dark fantasy. The world itself is a place where evil has won, and without the players fighting against it, it will continue to win. In terms of the mood, it’s quite dark: character are expected to die.
1:50 PM ~Dan: As peasants, what sorts of resources do the PCs have to fight such overwhelming evil?
1:52 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Short answer: their background, their brains, and their risk dice! Long answer: The game allows you to add value to your rolls using a risk dice mechanic. As the game continues, you can use higher risk dice, but the chance of a critical failure is higher. However, if you get a critical success, you get a fate as well. The more risks you succeed at,
1:52 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: the better your luck becomes.
1:53 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: In addition to this, a lot of the creatures in the mountain hate the evil you are fighting. If players are smart, they can make alliances within the mountain which will help them upon their journey to fight the dweller.
1:54 PM ~Dan: When you talk about the mountain, are you talking specifically about the intro adventure, or about the game as a whole?
1:56 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: The game as a whole. The core rules are all based around the mountain of Deep Maw. That’s one of the Dark Peaks in our world. The game is quite small-scale in terms of the campaign. At the base of the mountain is the evil Dweller. There are other inhabitants of the mountain, including Taurs, Dusklings and other beasts. Your aim is to slay the
1:56 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Dweller, that’s the specified aim of the campaign. The GM develops what your campaign’s Dweller will be like, and how you get there to fight them.
1:57 PM ~Dan: I see… So the game has a definitive end?
1:59 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Yes. It’s not designed to be a great sprawling epic of a campaign. We want players to be able to meet (not defeat) the Dweller in about 12 -15 sessions of play.
1:59 PM ~Dan: That’s one big dungeon!
2:00 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: It’s a mountain! 🙂 Five different areas, 40 types of enemies, some which you don’t meet until the lower levels … it’s a sprawling place!
2:01 PM ~Dan: You mentioned the peasants’ backgrounds being an aid to the PCs. What sorts of backgrounds can they have?
2:03 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: We deliberately went for non-combat backgrounds, with the thinking being that they are even more heroic (and potentially extremely naive) in what they are doing. The background are village folks – for example in the Festival of Swords you can play as a poacher, a harvester, a fieldhand or a seamstress. Each has slightly different stats and a weapon
2:03 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: – the seamstress gets fabric sheers. Which, if you’ve ever met a seamstress, you will know are a pair of terrifying mini-swords.
2:04 PM ~Dan: Heh. Cool.
2:04 PM ~Dan: I’m assuming that none of the PCs have access to magic?
2:07 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Not at the start of the game. We have a magic system called the Art, which has two ways to play. One way, you literally sketch a symbol of power during the combat turn, and based on how well you do, the GM says how successful your spell is. If you don’t want that, you can roll dice for it. However, acquiring the art is potentially lethal process
2:07 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: (your head can explode) and you have to sacrifice a valuable object whether or not you get it.
2:07 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: We tried to make magic as powerful but as dangerous as we could. Some of the higher level symbols of power are really, really powerful things. But incredibly difficult to do perfectly.
2:08 PM ~Dan: How can the PCs learn the Art?
2:11 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: To gain the Art is a between expeditions activity. The Dark Peak is focused around expeditions, these are the attacks on the dungeon within the mountain that have set objectives. Out of these expeditions you have a hub village with various facilities you can use (like a very useful hospital!). One of the facilities is beseeching an ancient idol and
2:11 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: sacrificing an item of craft level or higher. This allows you to make a dice rolls, modified by the quality of item. Get the right score – get the art.
2:12 PM ~Dan: I see. Interesting.
2:12 PM ~Dan: Can you give us an idea of the sort of thing the Art can accomplish on the high end of the scale?
2:14 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Sure. You can mess with the actual rules of the game. The GM sets a challenge rating for an encounter, which is available for all the players to see. One of the Art spells at the highest level allows you as a player to alter that Challenge Rating. Armour is expressed as a collective value for the encounter, as well. Another spell allows you to
2:14 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: alter that score as well.
2:15 PM ~Dan: Cool.
2:15 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: There’s one experimental spell, which we are playtesting next week, which allows you to remove a rule from the game for a turn. We’re not sure about that yet, though.
2:15 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: It’ll probably come out.
2:15 PM ~Dan: The rule for the spell for removing a rule is probably going to be removed? 🙂
2:16 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Probably. It’s great fun but so prone to abuse. It’s like a limited wish spell in D&D except you’re screwing with the nature of reality. If we can balance it, we’ll use it. But … wait and see.
2:16 PM * ~Dan nods
2:17 PM ~Dan: I’m assuming that all of the PCs are human?
2:20 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: In The Dark Peaks: Deep Maw they all are, yes. Part of the story is that the creatures in the mountain, thought of as being monsters, are just living their lives in this rather strange eco-system. Then the Dweller appears and starts creating conflict within the mountain. After that, the humans arrive to fight the Dweller, invading someones home. A
2:20 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: lot of the creatures you’ll meet are generally just trying to survive in the middle of this chaos. Some of them are working for the Dweller, and some of them will fight you because they are territorial and you’re on their turf. But a lot are just trying to make it through. However, our first supplement will be playing as a pack of Wolftaurs, and
2:20 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: racing against time to defeat the Dweller before the humans even hear about it.
2:21 PM ~Dan: That’s pretty nifty. Is a Wolftaur half-wolf, half-human?
2:24 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Broadly speaking, yes. They are a hybrid creatures – one of many different types of Taur within the mountain. We took the term ‘Minotaur’ and then use the end of that to describe all these human animal hybrids. Ironically, that means we don’t have Minotaur in our system, because there’s no animal called a ‘mino’! The classic Minotaur is referred to
2:24 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: as a ‘Bulltaur’ … I think for obvious reasons.
2:25 PM ~Dan: Heh. 🙂
2:25 PM ~Dan: Do these hybrids make up the majority of the mountain’s population?
2:27 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: They are one of three separate species (not including humans) within the mountain. You have the Taurs – a loose alliance of animal hybrids who work together in clans. You have the Dusklings, who are grey skinned humanoids who have a collectivized society, and you have the Nightchoir who are just nightmarish.
2:27 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Oh, and you have the Dweller, obviously. So I guess it’s four species.
2:29 PM ~Dan: Are there any independent monsters as well, or has the whole mountain been “settled”?
2:31 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: We have the native wildlife, which ranges from little creatures like the Fetid Thing all the way up to Skinner Worm. These are less huge than DnD monsters, though. There’s no Krakens, Dragons or Purple Worms here; at least, not in this book.
2:32 PM ~Dan: Is the entrance to the mountain at its peak?
2:34 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: There are a lot of entrances; though the limit is really in the GM’s imagination. In the Festival of Swords, we say that the player characters walk past many caves with entrances in. I imagine that there are lots of entrances all over the mountain. The mountain in normal times has a small force of rangers which guard it. The adventurers can hire or
2:34 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: ask them for the best place to enter when looking for their chosen level.
2:35 PM ~Dan: Does the cave complex extend beneath the base of the mountain?
2:37 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Yes, it extends deep into the ground. The Dweller’s Depth – which is exactly what it sounds like – is several thousand feet below the top of the mountain and the village there. Imagine several thousand vertical feet of twisted maze and ancient tunnels, and that’s before you get the levels where the Nightchoir live.
2:38 PM ~Dan: Can you say some more about the Nightchoir?
2:41 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Sure. So the Nightchoir are the late game enemies you’re going to have to try and fight. They are nightmarish creatures – humans ruined by the Art and formed into choirs. Their mouths are chained open and they sing this awful atonal buzzing howl. These choirs make endless pilgrimage from sacred place to sacred place, but their power is such that
2:41 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: they can reform and reshape the tunnels which they live within.
2:42 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Imagine Pinhead from Hellraiser but doing modernist opera instead 😉
2:42 PM ~Dan: Creepy. 🙂
2:42 PM ~Dan: What sorts of combat capabilities do they have?
2:43 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: I hope so. I’ve got some of our original art for them if you want to see?
2:43 PM ~Dan: Certainly!
2:44 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: https://uploads.kiwiirc.com/files/05a55ea2d38b2d3e1eebe3eedbf94d5e/Chorister.jpg
2:44 PM ~Dan: Yeesh. Yeah, creepy.
2:45 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: In terms of combat abilities, they are Artists, which means they have abilities which ignore armour. They also can use their art in ranged and melee combat at the same time. Many of them have a range of abilities, including AOE attacks, and attacks which shuffle people around 🙂
2:45 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: You get physically knocked around when you fight the Nightchoir.
2:45 PM ~Dan: (Howdy, Silverlion!)
2:45 PM ~Dan: Sounds like it. 🙂
2:46 PM ~Dan: Do you have a character sheet that you can show us?
2:46 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: I do! I have the advanced character sheet for the Core Rules here – and this is exclusive. No-one outside the design team has seen this before 😀
2:47 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Uploaded file: (Link: https://uploads.kiwiirc.com/files/9c9b18b9c5b174ae0127fd183dcd3cee/Character%20Sheet%20Take%202.png)https://uploads.kiwiirc.com/files/9c9b18b9c5b174ae0127fd183dcd3cee/Character%20Sheet%20Take%202.png
2:48 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: What you can see on there is part of the experience system – motives and important experiences. These tie directly into how your character gains experience.
2:48 PM ~Dan: Cool, thanks! Let me take a look at that…
2:48 PM &Silverlion: Swords, axes, crosbows, more swords? 😀
2:49 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: sorry, not motives – ‘individual aims’
2:49 PM &Silverlion: I will admit, it is a decent looking sheet for its design.
2:49 PM &Silverlion: It doesn’t look like a plain typed in word sheet and its not overdesigned (like one of mine haha)
2:49 PM ~Dan: (Howdy, Motulev_backup!)
2:50 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Silverloin – why, thank you 🙂 Those are actually knives. It’s separated into weapon classes – cutting, bashing, stabbing, Archery, Missiles, and Staved.
2:50 PM ~Dan: So let’s see… Is this an attribute + skill system of some description?
2:50 PM &Silverlion: But swords fall under stabbing, and cutting?
2:51 PM &Silverlion: Pole might be better than staved.
2:51 PM ~Dan: (wb, Beelzedude!)
2:51 PM &Beelzedude: hi
2:52 PM &Silverlion: Though I get the aim for simplicity.
2:53 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Dan: the system is a stat+level dice. Now, the Dark Peaks uses a Level Dice system, where the core dice which is rolled for each test changes depending on the difficulty of the dungeon being played. In The Festival of Swords, it’s a D4. However, it will change to a D6, then a D8, all the way up to a D12. For a test, you just roll stat plus level
2:53 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: dice. Weapon skills are a stat, and you gain experience in those through fighting. Physical skills are another stat, but you gain those through surviving expeditions.
2:53 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: you know, pole is a better name that staved 🙂 I’ll think about changing it
2:54 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Swords are cutting weapons, sadly. I know that they aren’t but for the sake of the game we said they were. It ties into the way you gain advantage in combat. Different weapon types have advantages against other weapon types.
2:55 PM ~Dan: Hmm… So weapons are unrelated to the four main stats?
2:55 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Yes. You gain skills in those weapons after every fight, and your skill builds through combat. The other physical stats are used for other skill checks.
2:55 PM ~Dan: I see.
2:56 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Though, your archery range does depends on your strength.
2:56 PM * ~Dan nods
2:56 PM ~Dan: Our standard “test case” for task resolution is jumping over a gap. How would that be handled in this system?
2:58 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Well, depends on the GM to start with. For a D6 level dice dungeon, I’d say a physicality check, with a challenge rating of 6 or 7.
2:59 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: If you fail, you can roll a risk dice, but then you’re in critical fail territory! (Which could be instant death)
2:59 PM ~Dan: And how do risk dice work, again?
3:01 PM ~Dan: (Welcome back to #randomworlds, NiTessine! 😀 )
3:01 PM +NiTessine: Heya.
3:01 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: It ties together with the inspiration pool dice. Inspiration dice are dice, rolled in the centre of the table, which can be used by any player to replace the score on one of their rolls. They are also used when a player takes a hit which would kill them (you lose an inspiration dice instead).
3:02 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: To get a critical success, which returns a inspiration dice to the pool, you have to get double or more of the challenge rating.
3:02 PM ~Dan: (Everyone, NiTessine was a regular here ages ago. We’re very happy to have him back! 😀 )
3:03 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Risk dice are optional dice the players can take in order to either push for a critical success – or replace a terrible roll they’ve made. However, you can critically fail on a risk dice (you can’t on a normal roll), and that critical fail score is set by each dice you are using.
3:03 PM ~Dan: (NiTessine, we’re at the tail end of a Q&A at the moment. Topic: (Link: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311922/The-Dark-Peaks-The-Festival-of-Swords)https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/311922/The-Dark-Peaks-The-Festival-of-Swords . #randomworlds2 is open for general chat. 🙂 )
3:03 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: It’s 1 for a D6, but 1-3 for a D4.
3:05 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: *D12, sorry.
3:05 PM ~Dan: I was about to say, you’d have to be really desperate to use a D4!
3:06 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Well, the highest risk dice you can take is equal to the level dice – so in the Festival of Swords, the only risk dice you can roll is a D4 🙂
3:08 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: But yeah, if I hadn’t corrected it, it would be a bit WTF.
3:08 PM ~Dan: Indeed. 😀
3:08 PM ~Dan: Can you describe how combat works?
3:11 PM ~Dan: (brb — please continue!)
3:13 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Sure! It is, broadly speaking, absolutely chaos. 🙂 And that’s a feature, not a bug. One of the inspirations for the Dark Peak was to make the game faster during combat, rather than slowing down in most games. We have three stages: Declaration, which can, if your GM is feeling evil, be timed! This is where players say what they want to do. Then
3:13 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: you have the engagement phase, where players roll their checks and tell the GM if they hit and missed. Then the GM will narrate what happened, based on the creature’s actions and the players. Everything happens in the same six seconds: people collide, people strike each other, arrows strike opposing archers. It’s madness.
3:14 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: There’s no initiative steps or waiting for your turn. Declare your action, roll your check, say if you were successful or otherwise, find out how the melee happened.
3:14 PM ~Dan: (back, sorry)
3:15 PM ~Dan: (Welcome to #randomworlds, MIska! 😀 )
3:16 PM +Miska: Hi 😀
3:16 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: One of the great things is that nothing is hidden. The DM tells the players what the challenge rating is at the start of the turn, and the armour value. So there’s no secret rolls.
3:16 PM ~Dan: (We have a Q&A just about to wrap up in here at the moment. General chat is going on (including Jukka) in #randomworlds2 . 🙂 )
3:16 PM ~Dan: Does armor affect the target number or damage?
3:17 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Actually, neither. It affects your dice roll. You have to meet or exceed the armour value for your dice roll to count. If you get a dice roll lower than the armour value, your dice roll is negated.
3:18 PM ~Dan: I see… And how is damage determined?
3:19 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Damage is based (though I should say we’re still discussing this) on the quality of the weapon being used. Crude weapons, with bad design or poor edges, only do a single point of damage. After that, it climbs to D3, D4, etc.
3:19 PM ~Dan: And you said that different types of weapons have different advantages?
3:19 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: We’re discussing a bonus based on physicality or weapon skill, but that’s an ongoing debate.
3:21 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Yes! So we have six weapon types. Each of them has a specific advantage or they affect the encounter’s armour value. For example, cutting weapons get advantage when fighting bashing weapons. That means the base skill of the combatant is doubled.
3:21 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Stabbing weapons, being shorter generally, don’t get advantage upon anything – but they lower the AC for that player by 2. Which can be extremely powerful in the right hands.
3:22 PM ~Dan: I see… For what it’s worth, I’d like to see Physicality affect damage.
3:22 PM ~Dan: Oh, danhunsaker, are you present? 🙂
3:23 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: That would make sense, which is why it’s still a debate. But we also wanted a reason for people to invest in better equipment throughout the game.
3:23 PM ~Dan: Okay, doesn’t look like he is. So! I’ll ask his favorite question. Namely…
3:23 PM ~Dan: What is your LEAST favorite aspect of The Dark Peaks?
3:25 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: My least favourite? Well, I’ve been working with this system for a while and it’s two things. Firstly, the Dark Peaks is quite GM heavy, especially in combat. They have to improvise a story for each engagement phase – which for a veteran GM is easy. But for a newbie it’s challenging, and we can writing all of the advice but it just takes practise.
3:25 PM * ~Dan nods
3:25 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: The second thing is the generalisation of the weapon classes – as noted, swords are cutting AND stabbing. But for the sake of the game, we had to create that arbitrary distinction.
3:26 PM * ~Dan nods
3:26 PM ~Dan: Good answers! 🙂
3:26 PM ~Dan: Does the game include a bestiary, and if so, how large?
3:27 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Oh, oh yes. We are very proud of our creatures. We have … I think … 40+ original monsters? They’re all presented on monster cards as well, for ease of understanding. Shall I show you an example of a monster.
3:28 PM ~Dan: Sure!
3:28 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: I should note that all of these are original creations, drawn by our amazing artist Gemma Dass, Laura Le Fey and John Ridley.
3:29 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Uploaded file: (Link: https://uploads.kiwiirc.com/files/a7f3190c3bfe4514b167c531dc191fa1/Monster%20Card%20Duskling%20Worker.png)https://uploads.kiwiirc.com/files/a7f3190c3bfe4514b167c531dc191fa1/Monster%20Card%20Duskling%20Worker.png
3:29 PM ~Dan: Very nice!
3:30 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: So what we’ve got here is the most junior Duskling, a worker who really doesn’t want to fight unless they have to. You can use this creature in the game based on the stats on the card – you don’t need anything more.
3:30 PM ~Dan: That’s cool. 🙂
3:30 PM ~Dan: In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
3:30 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Thank you 🙂 We’ve got 39 … ish … more after this. We’re really proud.
3:32 PM ~Dan: (Usual reminder: 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 appreciated! :))
3:32 PM ~Dan: )
3:33 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Yes! I have an offer. We’re always looking to expand our playtesting team for the Core Rules, because we’re a tiny self-funded indie game and we want to make the best game we possibly can. If anyone here is interested and would like to join in, send me an email at email@example.com, or buzz me on Twitter @Talespeaks or Facebook or
3:33 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: *where-ever*. Playtesters can expect a free pdf copy of the game when it is released and credit in the book!
3:34 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: Or, you know, volunteer right now!! ;D
3:34 PM ~Dan: Cool! I would do so myself, but my gaming dance card is a bit full at the moment. 🙂
3:35 PM ~Dan: Thanks very much for joining us, Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks!
3:35 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: You’re very welcome. Thank you so much for offering me the chance to do this and for having really excellent questions.
3:36 PM ~Dan: Certainly! You’re always welcome to hang out with us here, by the way!
3:36 PM ~Dan: Now, if you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you. 🙂
3:36 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: I’ll hang out til the sun comes up, I think. It’s 4.36 in the morning now
3:36 PM +Kieran_of_the_dark_peaks: That’s great. Thank you so much.