Thursday, September 20, 2012

[Q&A] Jeff Combos (Hollow Earth Expedition, DeadFellas)

[19:02] <+jcombos> Hi everyone. I'm Jeff Combos, president of Exile Game Studio and creator of the Hollow Earth Expedition RPG.[19:03] <+jcombos> You may also know me from such Kickstarters as Deadfellas: the zombie mafia card game and the most recent Perils of the Surface World.
[19:04] <+jcombos> But my day job is in the video game industry. I'm a Narrative Producer working for Microsoft Studios--which basically means I get to help craft stories for games and other media.
[19:04] <+jcombos> Done. You can start throwing rotten fruit now. Or questions. Whichever.
[19:05] *** Gyr|Laptop has quit IRC: Ping timeout
[19:05] <~Dan> Any questions, folks, or shall I get the ball rolling?
[19:05] <~Dan> Okay then!
[19:06] <~Dan> Just to be clear, I've known Jeff since he was first getting started and have reviewed Hollow Earth Expedition...
[19:06] <~Dan> much of what I'll be asking will be stuff Jeff knows I know. :)
[19:06] <~Dan> Jeff, can you give us the Reader's Digest version of Hollow Earth Expedition?
[19:06] <+jcombos> Sure.
[19:07] <+jcombos> Hollow Earth Expedition is a pulp adventure RPG. It's set in the 1930's, so I often describe it as Indiana Jones meets Jurassic Park.
[19:07] <+jcombos> But it's all about feeding Nazis to dinosaurs.
[19:08] <+jcombos> But as a pulp game, I tried to do something a little different with it.
[19:08] <+jcombos> Instead of trying to cram every pulp trope into a single book, I narrowed the focus and made the core book all about exploration. It's basically the Indiana Jones-style book.
[19:09] <+Murazor> Time to retire for the night
[19:09] <+jcombos> And then I made two more sourcebooks that covered the other pulp flavors.
[19:09] <+Murazor> Zleep
[19:09] *** Murazor has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving
[19:09] <+jcombos> Secrets of the Surface World is weird science and secret societies, so it's the Shadow and the Rocketeer-style book.
[19:10] *** WonderRat has joined #rpgnet
[19:10] *** ChanServ sets mode +v WonderRat
[19:10] <~Dan> (Howdy, Wondy!)
[19:10] <+jcombos> Mysteries of the Hollow earth was next, and it was all about half-human beastmen and savage creatures. So it was the Pelucidar-style book.
[19:10] <+jcombos> Next up is Revelations of Mars, which will cover the Barsoom flavor, sword-and-planet-style pulp.
[19:11] <+jcombos> So this means you can pick and choose the style of pulp that is right for you and not have to unhinge your jaw to try and swallow it all.
[19:11] <+jcombos> That's HEX in a nutshell.
[19:12] <~Dan> (Just a sec while I go upstairs, here...)
[19:12] <~Dan> Actually, while I'm doing that... want to tell the folks how Ubiquity works?
[19:12] <+jcombos> You bet,
[19:13] <+jcombos> Ubiquity is the game system that powers HEX. I started work on it back during the d20 madness because I figured people would get tired of that and want something different.
[19:14] *** technoshaman has quit IRC: Broken pipe
[19:14] <+jcombos> And that's pretty much what happened, even though I never thought the bubble would burst like it did.
[19:15] <+jcombos> In any case, Ubiquity is an enhanced dice pool system, which means it's got the nice, reliable results but I've fixed a couple of things I don't like about dice pool systems.
[19:15] <+jcombos> First, you often end up rolling dice too often.
[19:16] *** Gemini has quit IRC: Disintegrated: ["Textual IRC Client: (Link:"]
[19:16] <+jcombos> So if you pick a lock, search a room, hear someone coming, and then jump out the window, that's four dice rolls.
[19:17] <+jcombos> To fix that, I made rolling a success a 50/50 chance.
[19:17] <~Dan> (back)
[19:17] <+jcombos> So you could roll any standard die you want and just count even numbers as successes.
[19:17] <+jcombos> d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20s all work.
[19:18] <+jcombos> But the real reason I did that was so you could divide and dice pool by two and determine how many successes you'd get on average.
[19:19] <+jcombos> So if my Lockpicking dice pool is 8, I'd roll 4 successes on average.
[19:19] <+jcombos> And if the difficulty to pick the lock is 4 or less, the Gamemaster can just rule that my character picked the lock without breaking a sweat--or rolling any dice.
[19:20] *** NiTe has quit IRC: Broken pipe
[19:20] *** NiTessine has joined #rpgnet
[19:20] *** ChanServ sets mode +v NiTessine
[19:20] <+jcombos> So in the example I gave before, I could pick the lock, search the room, hear someone coming and only roll dice when I jump out the window.
[19:20] <~Dan> (wb, NiT!)
[19:20] <+jcombos> Taking the Average lets you collapse the mechanics out of the way when you need to move the story along and pull them out again during tense moment.
[19:21] <+jcombos> But since the math behind it is solid, you're not sacrificing game balance to do it.
[19:21] <+jcombos> But there was still the problem of rolling too many dice.
[19:22] <+jcombos> Often, people were rolling buckets of dice with each roll.
[19:22] <+jcombos> So I ended up accidentally designing a new set of dice to fix the problem.
[19:23] <+jcombos> Binomial distribution is how you figure out things like how many times a coin will come up heads when you flip it. By applying that to an 8-sided die, it let me simulate rolling multiple dice.
[19:24] <+jcombos> Picture a die with just 1s and 0s on it. Four of each.
[19:24] <+jcombos> That's a binary die. I roll it and just add up the face value. That's like rolling one regular die.
[19:24] <+jcombos> That one's a white die.
[19:25] <+jcombos> Now picture a red die with 0,0,1,1,1,1,2,2 on it. That simulates two dice being rolled and all you have to do is look at the number on the face to see how many total successes you rolled.
[19:26] <+jcombos> And finally, picture a blue die with 0,1,1,1,2,2,2,3 on it. That simulates rolling three dice.
[19:26] <+jcombos> So if you needed to roll six dice, you could just roll two blue dice, or three red, or six whites.
[19:27] <+jcombos> Or you could even roll one of each. As long as the total value of the dice is correct, you can roll any combination of dice you want.
[19:27] <+jcombos> It's all statistically sound.
[19:27] <+jcombos> I know this description is kind of complicated, but the end result is super simple for players.
[19:28] <+jcombos> I roll dice and add up the total. Done.
[19:28] <+jcombos> So mechanically, that's how I made it so you roll less dice, less often when using the Ubiquity system.
[19:28] <+jcombos> But that's not even the heart of the game.
[19:29] <+jcombos> The heart of Ubiquity are Style points.
[19:29] <+jcombos> Each character has a Motivation (like Greed) and a Flaw (like Thrill-seeker).
[19:30] <+jcombos> Whenever you pursue your character's Motivation or he or she is harmed by a Flaw, you get a Style point that you can spend later for bonus dice on a roll.
[19:30] <+jcombos> You can also spend them to boost Talents, resist damage, or change the plot.
[19:30] <+jcombos> And as a Gamemaster, you can give out Style points to reward the kind of behavior you want to have at your table.
[19:31] <+jcombos> But in the end, the more fun you have with your character, the more effective he or she becomes.
[19:31] <+jcombos> OK, that's probably more than you wanted to know about Ubiquity.
[19:31] <+jcombos> But I will also add that I've licensed it out for three other games at this point. So people like it.
[19:32] <~Dan> Heh. No problem. :)
[19:32] <~Dan> Those three games are...?
[19:32] <+jcombos> Desolation by Greymalkin, All for One and League of Adventure which were both published by Triple Ace Games.
[19:33] <+jcombos> And I've had some other licenses out there but I can't talk about those yet.
[19:33] <~Dan> Really? That's good to hear!
[19:33] <+jcombos> You're telling me!
[19:33] <+jcombos> :)
[19:33] <~Dan> The industry being what it is, I'd say Ubiquity is something of a hit for that reason. Did you think it would catch on?
[19:33] <+jcombos> Honestly...I never dared to dream that it would.
[19:34] * +etaoinshrdlu peeks in
[19:34] <+etaoinshrdlu> Hi, folks :)
[19:34] <~Dan> Howdy, eta!
[19:34] <&egyptian> The new computer components...they are here!
[19:34] *** dktrelektron has joined #rpgnet
[19:34] *** ChanServ sets mode +v dktrelektron
[19:34] <+jcombos> I was so focused on making the game as good as possible, I didn't want to get lost in flights of fancy.
[19:34] <~Dan> Okay, Jeff, here's something I've been wondering for a whlie now...
[19:34] <~Dan> (Welcome, dktrelktron! Here for the Q&A?)
[19:34] <~Dan> dktrelektron, even
[19:34] <+jcombos> Welcome!
[19:34] <+etaoinshrdlu> Howdy, Dan!
[19:34] <+dktrelektron> actually just checking out the chat for the first time
[19:34] <~Dan> When we first talked about HEX way back at GenCon '05...
[19:35] *** technoshaman has joined #rpgnet
[19:35] *** ChanServ sets mode +v technoshaman
[19:35] <~Dan> dk: Cool! We're having a Q&A with Jeff Combos, author of Hollow Earth Expedition. Please feel free to hang out and ask questions. #rpgnet2 is also open for general chat while the Q&A goes on.
[19:35] <~Dan> Howdy, tech!
[19:35] <+dktrelektron> thx
[19:35] <~Dan> ...(back to question) you said that the world of HEX was pretty much our world in the 1930s. Except the world is hollow and has dinosaurs and such. (I am wildly paraphrasing here.)
[19:36] <~Dan> In essense, all the weirdness was Hollow Earth-related.
[19:36] <~Dan> Although you mentioned a few gizmos here and there, like mole machines and so forth.
[19:36] *** egyptian has quit IRC: Disintegrated:
[19:36] *** dktrelektron1 has joined #rpgnet
[19:36] *** ChanServ sets mode +v dktrelektron1
[19:36] <~Dan> With Secrets of the Surface World, however, it seems that the surface world is quite "conventionally" pulpy on its own.
[19:36] <~Dan> As you mentioned earlier, the Shadow would fit right in.
[19:37] <~Dan> And, of course, we now know that Mars is inhabited (and may or may not need women).
[19:37] <~Dan> So...
[19:37] *** Le_Squide has joined #rpgnet
[19:37] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Le_Squide
[19:37] <~Dan> ...were you being coy at the time, or did all of this stuff develop over time? :)
[19:37] *** ChanServ sets mode +ao Le_Squide Le_Squide
[19:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Squide! Pulpy Hollow Earth Expedition Q&A in progress!)
[19:37] *** dktrelektron has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving
[19:38] <+jcombos> I won't deny that the game world has developed over time, but it's pretty darn close to what I had in mind even back when we were talking about it on '05.
[19:38] *** dktrelektron1 has quit IRC: Disintegrated: Leaving
[19:38] <&Le_Squide> (Ah, cool!)
[19:38] <~Dan> So were you just trying to avoid giving anything away? :)
[19:38] <+jcombos> Some of the best sci-fi and action properties are predicated on a single, simple "What if?" premise.
[19:38] <+jcombos> What if we cloned dinosaurs? What if people could plug computers into their brains?
[19:39] <+jcombos> And from there you develp the world around these questions to explore all the ramifications of the change.
[19:39] <+jcombos> In this case, the question is "What if the Hollow Earth was real?"
[19:39] <+jcombos> Which begged the question, is it natural or did someone make it?
[19:39] <+jcombos> I thought the latter was a more interesting option, so I went with that.
[19:40] <+jcombos> So a lot of the more conventionally pulpy aspect of the game world comes out of this--why does magic work? Where do psychic powers come from?
[19:40] <+jcombos> This is a world where Atlanteans are real, and really powerful.
[19:41] <+jcombos> But all that are left of them are faint footprints in our genetic code.
[19:41] <+jcombos> And the treasures and artifacts that they left behind at the center of the Earth.
[19:41] <+jcombos> So really, Dan, my answer would still be the same today as it was then. It's just I'd have a lot more explaining to do today. :)
[19:41] <~Dan> Heh. Fair enough. :)
[19:42] <~Dan> (As always, anyone's free to jump in with any questions. :) )
[19:42] <~Dan> How long have you been in the hobby, and have you always been fascinated with pulp?
[19:43] <+jcombos> Good question.
[19:43] <~Dan> Before you answer...
[19:43] <+jcombos> I started playing D&D when I was about 8.
[19:43] <+jcombos> ...
[19:43] <~Dan> Sorry. I just wanted to state for the record that you have a clear love for the subject matter. I've seldom seen an author who so "gets" a genre.
[19:43] <~Dan> (Please continue. :) )
[19:43] <+jcombos> Well, thanks.
[19:44] <+jcombos> But the truth is, I wasn't a pulp fan until I started working on HEX.
[19:44] <~Dan> Really? Huh.
[19:44] <+jcombos> I was a gamer, sure. I'd been playing RPGs for years--decades, really.
[19:45] <+jcombos> And I'd done some freelance writing for White Wolf in 1994 and again in 1995-6.
[19:45] <+jcombos> Both times it was for Wraith: the Oblivion. A far cry from HEX, really.
[19:46] <+jcombos> But then I got sucked into the tech industry for a few years.
[19:46] <+jcombos> And eventually realized that I wanted to put out my own game.
[19:47] <+jcombos> So I started Exile in 2003 and started developing game ideas. HEX was third on the list.
[19:47] <+jcombos> The first idea was a licensed property that I spent about 6-9 months trying to nail down.
[19:47] <~Dan> Is that something you can reveal? :)
[19:47] <+jcombos> And when that didn't happen, I started looking at my second choice only to discover that someone else had done it already.
[19:48] <+jcombos> (I'm going to keep that close to the vest, because I still hope to do it one day.)
[19:48] <~Dan> (Gotcha. No problem.)
[19:48] <+jcombos> So I started to take a closer look at HEX. It had a lot going for it.
[19:48] <+jcombos> And the more I dug into it the more excited about it I got.
[19:49] <+jcombos> And really the only reason it was so low on the list was because it was riskier.
[19:49] *** Gemini has joined #rpgnet
[19:49] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Gemini
[19:49] <+jcombos> Here I was, a no-name developer, with a no-name game using a no-name system. I was afraid no-one would buy it.
[19:50] <+jcombos> But I decided to go for it anyway.
[19:50] <~Dan> (Howdy, Gemini!)
[19:50] <+Gemini> (Hi.)
[19:50] <+jcombos> And that required me to consume a lot of pulp books, understand the tropes and conceits, and reproduce something that felt like it fit, but wasn't a rip off.
[19:50] <+Silverlion> Sometimes you just have to Jeff.
[19:51] <+jcombos> So along the way, I became quite a pulp fan.
[19:51] <+Silverlion> What's next on the agenda?
[19:51] <~Dan> (Q&A with Jeff Combos in progress. Currently discussing Hollow Earth Expedition. Dinosaurs! Nazis! Rocket Packs!)
[19:51] <~Dan> (Oh my!)
[19:51] <+jcombos> Indeed so, Silverlion.
[19:52] <+jcombos> So I consider myself incredibly lucky that HEX found an audience.
[19:52] <+Silverlion> Does HEX cover pulp "supers?" (The Shadow, Spider, etc?) I might have missed that in my day to day chores while I was  away.
Session Start ( Thu Sep 20 20:01:56 2012 -0500
[20:02] *** Dan has joined #rpgnet
[20:02] *** Topic on #rpgnet is: #rpgnet welcomes Jeff Combos (Exile Games) 9/20, 00:00 GMT! || Q&A schedule: http:/​/​​cvr8p9y || <Dan> I still can't get used to the lack of ... undies
[20:02] *** Topic set by StormBringer (21 hours ago at 11:19 PM)
[20:02] *** ChanServ sets mode +qo Dan Dan
[20:02] *** ChanServ sets mode +o Dan
[20:02] <&Le_Squide> Do you have any idea what the "crossover" is between people who play HEX and other RPGs?
[20:02] <+jcombos> You mean what kinds of RPGs HEX fans play?
[20:02] <~Dan> (Sorry, guys. Forgot that my cord was unplugged and the juice ran out. Squide, could you please cut-and-paste anything I missed back into this window for the log?)
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [20:59]jcombosIndeed so, Silverlion.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:00]jcombosSo I consider myself incredibly lucky that HEX found an audience.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:00]SilverlionDoes HEX cover pulp "supers?" (The Shadow, Spider, etc?) I might have missed that in my day to day chores while I was away.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:01]jcombosWe have an entire book dedicated to supernatural powers and weird science to make characters like that. It's called Secrets of the Surface World.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:01]jcombos(And I'd throw the Rocketeer into the mix as well.)
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:01]|<--Dan has left (Broken pipe)
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:02]jcombosIn fact, at Gen Con one year, I ran a high-powered HEX adventure called "League of Extraordinary Pulp."
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:02]SilverlionIndeed. Rocketer, Green Hornet...:D
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:02]Silverlioner...if I can type..
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:02]jcombosAll of the characters were famous: Indiana Jones, Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Rocketeer, The Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:02]jcombosIt was tons of fun.
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:03]-->|Dan ( has joined #rpgnet
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:03]=-=Mode #rpgnet +qo Dan Dan by ChanServ
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:03]=-=Mode #rpgnet +o Dan by ChanServ
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:03]Le_SquideDo you have any idea what the "crossover" is between people who play HEX and other RPGs?
[20:04] <&Le_Squide> [21:03]jcombosYou mean what kinds of RPGs HEX fans play?
[20:05] <~Dan> (Thanks!)
[20:05] <~Dan> (I'll just throw in that I played Doc Savage in that game Jeff mentioned. :D )
[20:06] <~Dan> (Sorry, Jeff -- please proceed! :) )
[20:06] <+jcombos> So if you're asking what other RPGs people play, we have a lot of Call of Cthulhu fans, Savage Worlds folk, and my personal favorite D&D converts.
[20:07] <+jcombos> (There are also a fair number of White Wolf players too.)
[20:07] <+jcombos> But D&D converts are a lot of fun for me.
[20:07] <~Dan> Because of the culture shock? :)
[20:08] <+jcombos> Now, I love D&D. But whenever I run into someone here in town that has a regular D&D game, I offer to show up when they want a break and run a single-shot HEX adventure.
[20:08] <+jcombos> I've done that a bunch of times now.
[20:09] <+jcombos> And it usually goes something like this:
[20:09] <+jcombos> The groups usually get together on a weeknight, eat some food and play for 2.5 or 3 hours.
[20:09] <+jcombos> Which generally means two or so encounters.
[20:10] <+jcombos> So I tell them to prepare themsevles, 'cause I'm going to show up, hand out characters, teach them the rules, and run them through an entire adventure start to finish in 2.5 hours.
[20:11] <+jcombos> And that's generally what happens too. But I'm not bragging. I'm not special. It's just that the game is that fast because of the way you can collapse the rules out of the way of story.
[20:11] <+jcombos> Generally after that, my local game stores will sell some HEX books.
[20:12] <&Le_Squide> Neat!
[20:12] <+Silverlion> Cool.
[20:12] <~Dan> Jeff, you realize that you've turned yourself into the RPG equivalent of a Saturday morning kiddie cereal commercial spokesthing, right?
[20:12] <+jcombos> But it's fun to show up and feel like you're running a movie for an evening.
[20:13] <+jcombos> Have I? Cool!
[20:13] <~Dan> "Hi, kids! Tired of the same ol' D&D? Try new HEX!"
[20:14] <~Dan> I have some more HEX-related questions, but I don't want to neglect DeadFellas. Want to say a bit about that?
[20:14] <+jcombos> "Now with extra Nazi marshmallows, so you can eat 'em like a T. Rex!"
[20:14] <~Dan> (Exactly! :D )
[20:14] <+jcombos> Sure. Deadfellas is a card game about whacking Mooks in the zombie mafia.
[20:15] <+jcombos> And although I did some design work on it, it was a game that a couple of friends brought to me.
[20:15] <+jcombos> Jesper was the original Art Director on Magic: the Gathering.
[20:16] <+jcombos> And Brian was the artist that had done all the artwork on Gimme the Brain and Lord of the Fries for Cheapass Games.
[20:16] <+jcombos> They'd approached James Earnest about publishing it, but he wasn't doing much with Cheapass at the time, so they came to me to see if I wanted to publish it. And I jumped at the chance.
[20:17] <+jcombos> It's fast, it's fun, and it's silly.
[20:17] <+jcombos> But it also let me give Kickstarter a try. And that has been an amazing and educational experience.
[20:18] <~Dan> That does seem to be the "in thing" these days.
[20:18] <+jcombos> I've done two of them so far an I'm going to do more. Revelations of Mars will get a Kickstarter when it gets closer.
[20:18] *** WonderRat has quit IRC: Disintegrated:
[20:19] <+jcombos> It's not going to be popular forever. But if you use it right, it can be more than just getting money out of people.
[20:19] *** Rania has quit IRC: Ping timeout
[20:19] * ~Dan nods
[20:19] <+jcombos> With the Perils of the Surface World project, I actually got to make the book better because of the backers. They made an impact on the quality of the book. It's so cool to get to do that.
[20:20] <~Dan> From the bonuses at the various funding levels?
[20:21] <+jcombos> From the stretch goals, yeah. I'm having a new cover illustrated as we speak, and I'll be adding sample characters to the book. Both of these are expensive bells and whistles that I wanted to do but couldn't at the price point it was going to be at.
[20:22] <+jcombos> But now it can have all that. Thanks to the many generous HEX fans. So Perils feels like a book I made with them, and that's pretty cool.
[20:22] <~Dan> Yeah, that is cool. :)
[20:22] <+Silverlion> Awesome.
[20:22] <~Dan> Speaking of perils, what was the thought behind going with the surface rather than the Hollow Earth for your first published adventure campaign?
[20:24] <+jcombos> We'd been putting out a lot of Hollow Earth adventures for Free RPG day and the one in Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. It was starting to feel like the surface world was being neglected.
[20:24] <+jcombos> So we decided to mix things up by doing surface world scenarios. Next up will be Hollow Earth stuff, though, so people will surely be happy with that.
[20:25] <~Dan> Seems like right now, the players are either on the surface or stranded in the Hollow Earth. Any plans on making the Hollow Earth more accessible? Or would that defeat the purpose?
Session Close (#rpgnet): Thu Sep 20 20:27:52 2012 -0500

Session Start ( Thu Sep 20 20:28:25 2012 -0500
[20:28] *** Dan has joined #rpgnet
[20:28] *** Topic on #rpgnet is: #rpgnet welcomes Jeff Combos (Exile Games) 9/20, 00:00 GMT! || Q&A schedule: http:/​/​​cvr8p9y || <Dan> I still can't get used to the lack of ... undies
[20:28] *** Topic set by StormBringer (21 hours ago at 11:19 PM)
[20:28] *** ChanServ sets mode +qo Dan Dan
[20:28] <+jcombos> The trick with the Hollow Earth is that it's actually very easy to get into. It's just hard to get out of.
[20:28] <+jcombos> And that's why we don't know much about it.
[20:28] *** Rania has joined #rpgnet
[20:28] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Rania
[20:29] <+jcombos> But really, I've been giving accessiblity more thought.
[20:29] <+jcombos> But for the IP in general.
[20:29] <~Dan> (Did your answer to my question start with "The trick..."?)
[20:30] <+jcombos> (Yes, it did, Dan)
[20:30] *** technoshaman has quit IRC: Ping timeout
[20:30] <~Dan> I was kinda unsure of how to handle my players when they started out on the surface...
[20:31] <~Dan> ...because it kinda felt like the preliminaries before the Big Game, no matter what happened. Know what I mean?
[20:31] <+jcombos> Yeah, things really get interesting once they get into the Hollow Earth.
[20:31] <+jcombos> I tend to like getting people there quickly if that's my destination.
[20:32] <+Silverlion> "Suddenly you are swallowed by a giant vole?"
[20:32] <~Dan> And the other factor was that while you've added cool stuff on the surface, it seems like once they get to the Hollow Earth, they're there for the duration.
[20:32] <+etaoinshrdlu> (I misread that as "Yellow Earth"; feel free to disregard)
[20:33] <+jcombos> True. We try so hard to make the point that getting out is hard that it can seem like there is no getting out.
[20:33] * ~Dan nods
[20:33] <~Dan> But, by the same token, if people could just come and go, it wouldn't feel right.
[20:33] <+jcombos> Right.
[20:33] <~Dan> Not sure what the happy medium is, there.
[20:34] <+jcombos> But with the right kind of conveyance, you could make going back and forth easier.
[20:34] * ~Dan nods
[20:34] <~Dan> A mole machine, or an Atlantean gate, for example?
[20:34] <+jcombos> Airship, Drillng Machine, or Atlantean Gate could work to bridge the gap.
[20:34] <~Dan> Okay, so I missed one. ;)
[20:34] <&Le_Squide> Are you planning to highlight that in any upcoming books? More support for back and forht campaigns, I mean?
[20:35] <+jcombos> And if you found a device to trigger the Bermuda Triangle (or one of the other Vile Vorticies) you could transport there and back in a traditional vessel.
[20:35] <+jcombos> Good question, Squide.
[20:36] <~Dan> (While you're answering that, could you touch on the time factor as well, Jeff?)
[20:36] <+jcombos> I wasn't going to put it into the main sourcebooks, because people tend to view that as cannon and I think the back and forth should be on a slider that each Gamemaster can slide.
[20:37] <+jcombos> But we could put it into an adventure, where most people view it as an option to play with.
[20:37] *** Gemini has quit IRC: Disintegrated: ["Textual IRC Client: (Link:"]
[20:37] <+jcombos> As for the time factor, I wanted time to move slower in the Hollow Earth. This is one of the reasons dinosaurs are still around.
[20:38] <+jcombos> But whatever is causing the time dilation is not working right any more. So the effect is erratic.
[20:38] *** Rania has quit IRC: Ping timeout
[20:39] <+jcombos> So you could have a game where you go into the HE and pop out with minimal time having passed, or come out with years having gone by.
[20:39] *** technoshaman has joined #rpgnet
[20:39] *** ChanServ sets mode +v technoshaman
[20:39] <~Dan> Oh? I didn't realize that. Cool.
[20:39] <~Dan> (About the erratic time dilation, I mean.)
[20:39] <+Silverlion> Solid idea there.
[20:39] <+jcombos> It's something we didn't highlight well enough in the core book, I think.
[20:40] <~Dan> I'd like to make an observation that I've made before about HEX and hear your thoughts on it, Jeff.
[20:40] *** Rania has joined #rpgnet
[20:40] *** ChanServ sets mode +v Rania
[20:40] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Rania!)
[20:40] *** Rania is now known as Lioness
[20:41] <~Dan> With the exploration and getting stranded and so forth...
[20:41] <+Lioness> just me with a dodgy connection
[20:41] <~Dan> ...HEX actually puts me more in mind of Jules Verne and Victorian sci-fi than it does adventure pulp in some ways. (more)
[20:41] <~Dan> Granted, characters like Doc Savage had their Lost Worlds...
[20:42] <~Dan> ...but it was more along the lines of one-off adventures. "Doc Savage Meets the Dinosaurs" and so forth.
[20:42] <~Dan> Any thoughts along those lines?
[20:43] <+jcombos> Well, Jules Verne was absolutely one of the inspirations, so I can see why you'd make that comparison.
[20:43] <+jcombos> And the Hollow Earth would be much more one-dimensional without a back story to give it more depth.
[20:44] <+jcombos> For example, it's full of Atlantean technology--potential weapons for the Third Reich.
[20:44] * ~Dan nods
[20:44] <+jcombos> And the Nazis are going to try to get their hands on an endless variety of gizmos.
[20:44] <+jcombos> That's a story you can tell over and over again with the Hollow Earth as the savage backdrop.
[20:45] <+jcombos> Does that answer your question?
[20:45] <~Dan> It does, thanks.
[20:46] <~Dan> Speaking on related genres, let's talk Revelations of Mars for a moment.
[20:46] <~Dan> You describe it as "sword and planet", which makes me think John Carter first and foremost.
[20:46] <+jcombos> Sure.
[20:46] <+Silverlion> Yes. Whats going on "on mars?"
[20:47] <~Dan> Which could be considered a form of early pulp, but isn't quite the same as the sci-fi found in 1930s pulps, unless I'm mistaken.
[20:47] <+jcombos> Well, John Carter is a major inspiration.
[20:47] <~Dan> Are you blending sword-and-planet with rayguns-and-rocket ships?
[20:48] <+jcombos> But you're right, there is a major difference between 1950's Mars and 1930's MArs.
[20:48] <+jcombos> Just read Bradbury's Chronicles of Mars to see the difference.
[20:48] <~Dan> Well, I was thinking 1900s Mars and 1930s Mars, but the same principle stands. :)
[20:48] *** Lioness has quit IRC: Ping timeout
[20:48] <+jcombos> RoM is going to be more 1930's Mars. Which means more John Carter and less Buck Rogers.
[20:49] <+jcombos> But there will be a little Buck in there.
[20:49] <+jcombos> My original thought was to make it much more Flash Gordon, though.
[20:49] *** technoshaman has quit IRC: Disintegrated:
[20:49] *** technoshaman has joined #rpgnet
[20:49] *** ChanServ sets mode +v technoshaman
[20:49] <~Dan> I guess it would have to be, as rocket ships flying rings around Mars would be noteworthy even on 1930s Earth, I think. :)
[20:49] *** Le_Squide is now known as Le_Showah
[20:50] <~Dan> Was that the main concern?
[20:50] <+jcombos> But the end result, with all the half-human species, felt more "Hollow Earth on Mars" and not distinctive enough.
[20:50] *** WonderRat has joined #rpgnet
[20:50] *** ChanServ sets mode +v WonderRat
[20:51] <+jcombos> It felt like more of the same, and I want Mars to feel different. I want it to hit the sword and planet flavor of pulp. So that's what we're working on now.
[20:51] * ~Dan nods
[20:51] <~Dan> So folks fighting with a sword in one hand and a raygun in the other for no logical reason beyond "cool"?
[20:52] <+jcombos> Well, someone like that would be holding a powerful artifact in their hand.
[20:52] <~Dan> Ah... Atlantean tech? Or would that be telling? :)
[20:53] <+jcombos> But think of rayguns the way blackpowder weapons were once used. There was an era where they were effective, but a lot of combat was still up close and personal.
[20:53] <+jcombos> Oh, Atlantean tech for sure.
[20:53] * ~Dan nods
[20:53] <+jcombos> Or a bastardization of it.
[20:54] <~Dan> Will RoM have the same "you're stranded" aspect as the Hollow Earth?
[20:55] <+jcombos> Somewhat. The ways to get to Mars are rocketship, abduction, Atlantean gate, and projection.
[20:55] <~Dan> Rocketship being a pulp gadget in this case?
[20:55] <+jcombos> At least two of those offer return trips. :)
[20:56] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[20:56] <~Dan> Can you reveal any new "kewl powerz" or the like that will be found in RoM?
[20:56] <+jcombos> Yes, Dan. That's right.
[20:56] <+jcombos> We've got three new psychic powers in RoM.
[20:56] <+jcombos> One of which is pyrokinesis.
[20:57] <~Dan> That's hot.
[20:57] <+jcombos> Zing!
[20:57] <~Dan> (Couldn't resist.)
[20:58] <~Dan> Looks like our regularly-scheduled time is about up; however, you're welcome to hang out as long as you like, Jeff.
[20:58] <~Dan> While you still have the floor, though, anything else you'd like to mention that we haven't brought up?
[20:58] <+jcombos> Unfortunately, I have to run. That book is not going to write itself!
[20:59] <+jcombos> Nothing in particular. Thanks for having me on Dan.
[20:59] <~Dan> Absolutely, Jeff! Thanks for your time. I'll have the chat log posted shortly and will give you the link.
[20:59] <+jcombos> Awesome. Thanks!
[20:59] <~Dan> Talk to you soon! :)
[20:59] <+jcombos> Talk to you later.
[21:00] *** jcombos has quit IRC:

No comments:

Post a Comment