Wednesday, September 25, 2013

12 Questions from the Octopi Lord

Click here for source!

1. What is your favorite villain you ever challenged players with?
Caine is an NPC wizard originally written up in the Birthright campaign setting (circa 2nd edition AD&D). He's described as a wizard who exchanges spells and magical protection to the ruler of Endier, where his tower resides, in exchange for military protection so that no one attempts to raid his tower. From this brief description, and his listed alignment of Neutral-Good, I envisioned him as a benevolent wizard hoboing about the countryside and occasionally bumbling his way into other peoples' problems and helping them out, Doctor Who style. In the expansion material for the country of Endier it describes Caine in more detail, but for the campaigns I ran I only used the description as a vague idea of what the public thinks Caine does.
I always introduced Caine as a helpful wizard for the PCs to be doing "good works" around the countryside. His stated intentions were always to protect the status quo of Endier's independence, and if this meant assisting a group of mercenaries with some helpful magic to get their jobs done along the borders of Endier's neighbors then he would be happy to oblige. In truth, Caine viciously eliminated any rivals to his own power and always used subordinates or underlings to do it. If somebody's guild or temple was moving into a region where Caine held power he would immediately find ways to portray them as bad people and try to keep them disorganized and ineffectual. Caine's stated objective of maintaining the status quo was still pretty accurate, but it was his power base he wanted to maintain, not Endier's.
In practice, this meant that Caine would appear to the PCs occasionally and give them information that was just false enough that on the surface it seemed true but deep digging would reveal the deception. This information would always send them off on some personal quest or vendetta to stop an interloper or destroy or corrupt organization. I always expected that as Caine's lies would become more elaborate and easier to see through the group might begin to question him more openly or confront him but no, they would continue to work for him and nobody would ever question his stated motives even when he took magic items away from them (that he thought they shouldn't have) or lavish them with gold coins (which he didn't need but had in abundance), probably because the players would believe wholeheartedly in the trope of the helpful wizard.

2. What is your favorite organization behind wrong-doing in your setting?
The Northern Imperial Temple of Haelyn. Birthright again.
The setting tried to use mortals squabbling over religion as a theme, and it didn't always work because of the way AD&D structures the way clerical spells work, but I still embraced the concept of warring churches and infallible priests. The Northern Imperial Temple (NIT) were fascists and fanatics and would not accept the worship of any other deity before the worship of Haelyn, the Patron God of all Anuire. Their influence had spread to other countries in the region and they fought openly with some of their neighbors, and fought deceptively against some of their distant rivals. The NIT used doppleganger assassins whose sole purpose was to remove anybody whose influence was spreading into the NIT's home or ally territory. A major theme of my Birthright campaign was a large-scale multiple country war that was started by a minor noble being assassinated by a doppleganger that worked for the NIT.

3. What is the most interesting location you ever staged a battle in?
Inside a pocket dimension shaped like a 4-sided die where gravity pushed outward. There were fleshy tendrils rising from the center of each of the four sides which met to a small meaty sack in the center, and inside the meaty sack was a sleeping demi-goddess. Wolves made of shadow prowled the maze on the surfaces of the dimension's walls, and a constant storm pulsed around the center of the dimension with random lightning bolts and fireballs.
Either that, or a tavern.

4. What is the most interesting chase scene you ever had in a game?
A PC assassinated another character, an NPC, in broad daylight in a bustling city's dockside harbor. The NPC's personal guards, as well as city patrolmen, chased the PC through the dock and into a marketplace and then up onto the rooftops of the city. It was a brief, exciting and intense scene, with the player announcing he would jump across a horse or stab a guard in the leg in order to get away from his pursuers. He was never caught.

5. What is the most evocative scenic location you have used in a game?
The Spiderfell, from Birthright again. Probably. I ran a Planescape game a long time ago, but none of the settings I used stick out in my memory. Taking players into the Spiderfell was something I relished and still remember. The trees had grown to incorporate spiders in almost every aspect, the goblins who hunted the forest bore spider-like features, and the oppressive darkness of the place was fun to describe. Nobody ever wanted to go very far into the place, and very few ever ventured farther than a few trees.

6. What is the most interesting one-of-a-kind unique monster in your games?
Imagine a centaur, but instead of a horse the bottom half of the creature is a mountain goat, and instead of a human head it's an eagle's head. They are wild, feral creatures who will attack anyone for the meat on their bones, but are also mesmerized by magic and will attempt to kidnap anybody who shows a display of magic in the hopes they can learn this arcane art. A failure to communicate or an unwillingness to teach magic means the kidnapped will eventually become dinner.
I never came up with a name for these guys. I never come up with names for most of the things I create. I just called these guys eagle-centaurs. Eagletaurs? Nah.

7. What is the most tantalizing artifact, relic or tech you have ever used in game?
The Dragon's Amulet. I ran Birthright three times and I used it every time. It's an amulet split into pieces that gets more powerful as the pieces are brought together. It can detect dragons, it can protect the wearer from flame, it can allow you to speak draconic languages, it can regenerate flesh. It can do a lot more but nobody ever managed to get all of the pieces. Oh! They looked for them, but they never found all of them. As the pieces become stronger, they begin to pull nasty things toward the owner. Rabid dogs. Hungry goblins. Lizardmen. The longer the owner has a piece of the Dragon's Amulet, the stronger the pull gets and soon creatures are showing up almost every day looking for a little piece of ceramic that never chips and never breaks.

8. What is the most world shattering thing a player has ever got up to in your settings?
Birthright again. The one time players ventured deep into the Spiderfell, I designed a dungeon for them to explore. The Spider is a powerful hundreds-of-years old monster who resides deep within the Spiderfell, and I gave him a lair. The PCs managed to work their way into his throne room under the pretense of a parlay and then fought him. He tried to escape as his flesh succumbed to their spells and weapons, but he was too slow and they killed him. One player stole his Bloodline and another kept his body in a bucket to make sure it would never regenerate back to life.

9. What is the strangest death of a character in game you have run?
Nobody has ever died in a strange way. They were always predictable affairs, except the time I rolled a random encounter for a pack of jackals in a swamp and a group of low-level characters were overrun by the pack with a TPK. That was pretty strange and unexpected. Also, very unsatisfying even for me, I've never used random encounters since.

10. What is the most intriguing challenge, trap, or non combat obstacle in your games?
The NPCs. The players either never spend enough time learning an NPC's true motives and they get blindsided by their actions, or they simply underestimate the NPC in some crucial way.

11. What is most interesting ability or character option you have added to your game?
I've always allowed players to have their characters start with dark powers from a secret pact with a demon or similar malevolent spirit. No takers yet.

12. What is the strangest mash up or weirdest system hack you have made in gaming?
My third time running a Birthright setting I used World of Darkness rules with my own added houserules for playing elves, dwarves, halflings, wizards, and/or clerics. I also had to write up how Bloodlines worked, which wasn't that hard, but getting the rules for how Bloodlines grew and gained power were difficult to keep as a slow progression. The game lasted for over a year before the group split due to players moving so I must have been doing some things right!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kickstarter + Indiegogo update

After I wrote a summary of all of the games I had contributed to on Kickstarter, one of my friends was curious about all of the non-gaming related things I kickstarted as well, and I did one of those too. This is an update to that.

I've funded a few more projects and have seen a few others delivered. These projects are listed in the same order that they display on my Kickstarter profile page. I've also inserted Indeigogo projects into the lineup according to when I funded them. There are a couple of projects I funded just to support and follow their updates, those are marked as $1 recipient.

So here's the format:
Name of the project is a link to the project but these words are a link to my KS profile:
Estimated Delivery: May 2013, brief description of project and whether or not it was delivered on time

Green delivered on time or early
Blue not delivered yet but not late either
Yellow means late but delivered
Red means late and not yet delivered

LotFP Hardcover Referee Book:
Estimated Delivery: January 2019, another RPG book, estimated delivery is obviously a joke, just started

The Agents:
Estimated Delivery: November 2013, card game, just finished, I'll be surprised if they aren't late

Estimated Delivery: September 2014, an open world fantasy RPG video game, almost didn't fund, but has a long time to gather extra donations via paypal

Becoming: A Game of Heroism and Sacrifice:
Estimated Delivery: September 2013, an RPG, these guys have three weeks to release on time

The Name of the Wind Playing Cards:
Estimated Delivery: December 2013, plenty of time, via updates it almost looks finished

Estimated Delivery: September 2013, Burning Wheel + OSR game, the books are shipping now!

TARDIS Eruditorum:
Estimated Delivery: November 2013, essays about Doctor Who, this guy is a workaholic, my suspicion about it being late has evaporated

NUIA eyeCharm:
Estimated Delivery: Jul/August 2013, use your eyes to control a Kinect sensor, looks like these guys hit a legal snag, $1 recipient

The Doom That Came to Fiddle Creak:
Estimated Delivery: October 2013, a Lovecraft marionette play, $1 recipient

The Secret Order of the Black Diamond:
Estimated Delivery: June 2013, a not entirely serious secret society in Kansas, $1 recipient

America: Witnessed:
Estimated Delivery: August 2013, a photography book, $1 recipient

Estimated Delivery: May 2013, avant-garde fashion designer, $1 recipient

The Union Project Dance Company:
Estimated Delivery: May 2013, dance company needs a space to perform, $1 recipient

Small World 2:
Estimated Delivery: December 2013, iOS version of board game, on time as far as I know

Torment: Tides of Numenera:
Estimated Delivery: December 2014, a video game, I will be pleasantly surprised if this arrives on time, it's a long wait!

Angels, Daemons, and Beings Between: A Patron Sourcebook for DCC RPG:
Estimated Delivery: December 2012, self-explanatory, the books have been printed but we're still waiting for delivery

Deadwood Studios USA:
Estimated Delivery: September 2013, deluxe version of old board game, it was almost early

Achtung! Cthulhu:
Estimated Delivery: August 2013, Cthulhu + World War 2 rpg, hit lots of stretch goals but it's looking slowed down from feature creep

Dungeon Roll:
Estimated Delivery: August 2013, dungeon delving dice game, it's a fun little game, this is one of the best Kickstarters I've backed

Sea Dracula: Judicial Inquest at Gamestorm 2013:
Estimated Delivery: March 2013, I only funded this for the Apocalypse World playbook offered but I put in a decent amount of money

Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons' final EP:
Estimated Delivery: July 2013, a local band wants to do one last album before they split up, two months late

Drinking Quest 3: Nectar of the Gods:
Estimated Delivery: April 2013, a card game, an RPG, a drinking game, and a sequel, for a game about getting drunk this project was run very professionally

God Hates Astronauts:
Estimated Delivery: May 2013, webcomic printed into deluxe graphic novel, exactly on time!

Rifftrax wants to Riff Twilight Live in Theaters Nationwide:
Estimated Delivery: August 2013, self-explanatory, sort of late but they couldn't get the rights to Twilight... it's disappointing but not their fault

The Last Days of Coney Island:
Estimated Delivery: May 2013, animated film by Ralph Bakshi, I don't think he understood what "estimated delivery" meant

The Green Girl:
Estimated Delivery: February 2014, documentary about Susan Oliver, on time as far as I know

Alas Vegas:
Estimated Delivery: June 2013, weird horror rpg, we are assured progress is being made for a finished product

Lamentations of the Flame Princess Free RPG Day Adventure:
Estimated Delivery: July 2013, self-explanatory, a successful funding campaign even if the finished product didn't end up in everyone's hands

Fate Core:
Estimated Delivery: March 2013, got some pdfs but the printed book was very late

Tavern Cards:
Estimated Delivery: April 2013, a deck of cards + rpg resource, regular progress and updates but still late

Estimated Delivery: April 2013, tribal African rpg, slow moving but consistent, it arrived 5 months late

Adventures Dark and Deep Players Manual:
Estimated Delivery: June 2013, an OSR rpg book, delivered two months early!

PĆ³stumo - The Deck of the Dead:
Estimated Delivery: February 2013, a deck of cards with zombie iconography, delivered two months late

"The Goon" movie:
Estimated Delivery: December 2012, a movie based on a comic book, the movie isn't finished yet but low-level backer rewards have been delivered

Spears of the Dawn:
Estimated Delivery: March 2013, an African-inspired OSR rpg, was delivered 2 months early!!

The Art of Brom:
Estimated Delivery: June 2013, a book of Brom's artwork, only ran one month behind

The Power Principle:
Estimated Delivery: September 2012, 1st issue of a self-published comic book, on time

Horror on the Orient Express:
Estimated Delivery: August 2013, Call of Cthulhu rpg scenario, success has delayed the project

Bos Meadery:
Estimated Delivery: September 2012, local business, on time and so far they've been very successful - GOOD MEAD!

Estimated Delivery: July 2013, a new rpg from Monte Cook, AMAZINGLY after everything this project added it still delivered on time!!!

+5 Food of Eating Cookbook:
Estimated Delivery: September 2012, gamer-themed cookbook, inexcusably late

Axes and Anvils:
Estimated Delivery: November 2012, a dwarf-obsessed rpg, a total fucking debacle! I will be surprised if this ever gets delivered

Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy album:
Estimated Delivery: October 2012, a new album by BMSR, everything was either early or on time

Estimated Delivery: February 2013, Neal Stephenson's swordfighting video game, I only funded this to support the work but I think they could have gone through an established game studio for assistance

LotFP Hardcover and Adventures Project:
Estimated Delivery: October 2012, a hardcover version of one of the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rulebooks, woefully late!

The Horror in Clay:
Estimated Delivery: October 2012, a Cthulhu tiki mug, it was a little late but was otherwise a huge success

Champions of ZED:
Estimated Delivery: August 2012, an OSR rpg, updates are few and far between and this project still hasn't been properly delivered, inexcusable!

Drifter: A Space Trading Game:
Estimated Delivery: November 2012, a video game, 6 months late but there's a "beta" build for the game (version 0.3)

Our Last Best Hope:
Estimated Delivery: August 2012, GM-less rpg about saving the world, delivered late but I have it and for some reason still haven't played it yet

Amanda Palmer: record, art book, and tour:
Estimated Delivery: September 2012, self-explanatory, on time and I actually got more than I paid for so her critics can go fuck themselves with razorblade dildos because she treats her supporters well

Phil Tippet's "MAD GOD":
Estimated Delivery: December 2013, weird apocalyptic animated film, production is moving faster than expected!

New Fire:
Estimated Delivery: July 2012, an Aztec-inspired rpg, super late but eventually delivered

Weird West Miniatures:
Estimated Delivery: None listed, I chose the cheapest reward and I've still never received it

OGRE Designer's Edition:
Estimated Delivery: November 2012, a new 6th edition for the OGRE board game, production difficulties and bloated stretch goals have really delayed this game but frequent updates are informative and show that lots of work is being put into the final product

Estimated Delivery: September 2012, a zombie board game I liken to Left 4 Dead, delivered super EARLY

Estimated Delivery: June 2013, a video game where you play a necromancer, infrequent updates, releasing next year

Curse the Darkness:
Estimated Delivery: August 2012, a horrific post-apocalyptic rpg, still haven't played it yet (what's wrong with me?!)

Shadowrun Returns:
Estimated Delivery: January 2013, Shadowrun video game, I always thought their estimated delivery date was optimistic

The Banner Saga:
Estimated Delivery: November 2012, a combat strategy video game, super late, the game is still in "multiplayer beta" which for some reason I've never been able to access

Wasteland 2:
Estimated Delivery: October 2013, post-apocalyptic video game, super excited for this one and it looks like it might actually be on time

Estimated Delivery: August 2012, an OSR megadungeon, LATE but it's moving forward again now that James Maliszewski has been divorced from the project

This is Not a Conspiracy Theory:
Estimated Delivery: December 2013, a multi-part documentary explaining modern politics from the same guy who did Everything is a Remix, appears on schedule

Estimated Delivery: July 2012, a farm-building card game, got it one month late

Return of the Deck of the Living Dead:
Estimated Delivery: April 2012, zombie-themed deck of cards, delivered two months late

Double Fine Adventure:
Estimated Delivery: October 2012, Tim Schafer's next video game, like Ralph Bakshi I don't think these guys understood the phrase "estimated delivery" when they set their kickstarter up