Thursday, March 21, 2013

[Q&A] Matt West (Soul's Calling)

19:02 <OmnifrayMatt>OK well I'm Matt West, I've been a gamer since around 1982 or 1983 and I've previously brought out "full-fat" Omnifray as a final, published game.
19:02 <OmnifrayMatt>I've had a few other games in public playtest, and my current project is Soul's Calling.
19:02 <OmnifrayMatt>I've just released the beta-test version to the public.
19:03 <OmnifrayMatt>The link to the softcover version on Lulu is:-
19:04 <OmnifrayMatt>The PDF is free to download at:-
19:04 <OmnifrayMatt>The softcover is priced at £13.00 + P&P, which is meant to be pretty reasonable because it's still in playtest.
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19:05 <OmnifrayMatt>That's just under US$20 + P&P at interbank rates at the moment.
19:05 <OmnifrayMatt>Anyway the main point of the game is that it's designed in a focused way around the concept of immersio
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19:06 <OmnifrayMatt>Hi Dan!
19:07 <OmnifrayMatt>So, pretty much every mechanic I've thought through and in many cases revised from the point of view of maximum immersion.
19:07 <OmnifrayMatt>By immersion, I mean suspension of disbelief in being your character.
19:07 <OmnifrayMatt>It's set in a fantasy world where magic is hidden from the common folk and known to them only as legends and folk tales.
19:07 <Dan>HI, Matt! Sorry -- having a bit of computer trouble. Hopefully all's well now.
19:07 <OmnifrayMatt>That world is the Enshrouded Lands, which I also used as the setting for Omnifray.
19:07 <OmnifrayMatt>(No problem, Dan!)
19:08 <OmnifrayMatt>The game exclusively uses d12, the best dice :-)
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19:08 <Dan>So, let me flag the start of the Q&A...
19:08 <Dan>*****************
19:08 <OmnifrayMatt>The book's in OpenDyslexic font, available at
19:08 <Dan>Now, when you're ready, Matt, please introduce yourself and your game. :)
19:09 <OmnifrayMatt>Eh, should I start again??
19:09 <Silverlion>I started him since you were gone dan, I can send you his intro..
19:09 <Dan>Oh! No problem then. Please proceed! Thanks, Sil.
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19:10 <OmnifrayMatt>I can copy it out again if you like - it'll take moments...
19:10 <OmnifrayMatt>> OK well I'm Matt West, I've been a gamer since around 1982 or 1983 and I've previously brought out "full-fat" Omnifray as a final, published game.
19:10 <OmnifrayMatt>> I've had a few other games in public playtest, and my current project is Soul's Calling.
19:11 <OmnifrayMatt>> I've just released the beta-test version to the public.
19:11 <OmnifrayMatt>> The link to the softcover version on Lulu is:-
19:11 <OmnifrayMatt>> The PDF is free to download at:-
19:11 <OmnifrayMatt>> The softcover is priced at £13.00 + P&P, which is meant to be pretty reasonable because it's still in playtest.
19:12 <OmnifrayMatt>]That's just under US$20 + P&P at interbank rates at the moment.
19:12 <OmnifrayMatt>> Anyway the main point of the game is that it's designed in a focused way around the concept of immersion.
19:12 <OmnifrayMatt>> So, pretty much every mechanic I've thought through and in many cases revised from the point of view of maximum immersion.
19:12 <OmnifrayMatt>> By immersion, I mean suspension of disbelief in being your character.
19:12 <OmnifrayMatt>> It's set in a fantasy world where magic is hidden from the common folk and known to them only as legends and folk tales.
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19:13 <OmnifrayMatt>> That world is the Enshrouded Lands, which I also used as the setting for Omnifray.
19:13 <OmnifrayMatt>> The game exclusively uses d12, the best dice
19:13 <OmnifrayMatt>How's that?
19:14 <OmnifrayMatt>(there was supposed to be a smiley after "the best dice")
19:14 <OmnifrayMatt>So, anyone got a question?
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19:17 <Dan>Sheesh. Another freeze-up. Could you please email me the log so far, Sil?
19:19 <OmnifrayMatt>I've e-mailed it, I think!
19:20 <Silverlion>What is kind of characters does the game aim for? Fairytale heroes?
19:20 <OmnifrayMatt>Well we're just genning up characters for a game at the moment.
19:21 <OmnifrayMatt>Two of them very much celebrate death in their different ways, so I wouldn't describe them as fairytale heroes!
19:21 <OmnifrayMatt>But the game does require each player character to have at least one "anathema". That's something with an evil tint to it that the character is vehemently opposed to.
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19:22 <Dan>(Okay, caught up now. Thanks, guys!)
19:22 <OmnifrayMatt>So for instance one of the characters we're genning up at the moment is willing to commit murder for money, but doesn't like to see a child suffer.
19:23 <OmnifrayMatt>All basic characters are balanced (not specifically around combat, but around the game's typical situations as a whole), and the expectation is that the average basic PC would be roughly twice as good at pretty much everything as the average man.
19:23 <OmnifrayMatt>So they're capable of being heroes, if they want.
19:24 <Silverlion>So does the game have combat central idea, or is it more cunning/though solutions like some folk tales?
19:24 <OmnifrayMatt>The publications I've brought out so far are for characters whose souls are "primal" - the other options being "damned", "redeemed" and "unbidden".
19:25 <OmnifrayMatt>It doesn't even have "challenge" as necessarily its central focus, let alone combat.
19:25 <OmnifrayMatt>So insofar as challenges need to be overcome, they're definitely broader than just combat.
19:25 <OmnifrayMatt>That said, combat is still an important part of the game.
19:26 <OmnifrayMatt>The way characters are built, it's assumed that there are five equally important main ways that characters have of dealing with enemies -
19:26 <Dan>Could you describe the system bits that make up a character -- attributes, skills, etc. -- and how the basic system works?
19:26 <OmnifrayMatt>eldritch power; killing them at a range; defeating them in hand-to-hand combat; stealth; persuasion.
19:26 <OmnifrayMatt>Sure, Dan.
19:27 <OmnifrayMatt>OK so the most central bit of character generation will be your five Action Stats - Eldritch Talent, Melee Attack, Ranged Attack, Stealth and Persuasion.
19:27 <OmnifrayMatt>They're stats with numbers, and they do the five things I've just outlined.
19:27 <OmnifrayMatt>You also get Passive Stats, Minor Stats, Skills and Irregular Abilities, plus a few miscellaneous bits and pieces.
19:28 <OmnifrayMatt>Your Passive Stats are your main defences and reactive abilities - they're split into three groups, Defence, Observation and Spirit.
19:28 <OmnifrayMatt>Courage, for example, is one of your Spirit stats.
19:28 <OmnifrayMatt>The Minor Stats are basically there for description and flavour, with only a minor role in the game - Strength, Understanding, Agility and Health. They may sound like the sort of thing that would be important in most RPGs,
19:29 <OmnifrayMatt>but in mine, you only use them if no Action Stat or Passive Stat will do the job.
19:29 <OmnifrayMatt>There are about twenty-ish Skills, and they have broad skill-levels - Rudimentary, Solid, Expert, Master.
19:29 <OmnifrayMatt>Irregular Abilities are a hotchpotch of different things like Dark Sight or Mild Insanity.
19:30 <OmnifrayMatt>Does that all make sense so far?
19:31 <Dan>I think so, yup.
19:31 <OmnifrayMatt>So the best way to explain the basic system is probably to start with "soft rules" action resolution.
19:32 <OmnifrayMatt>That's where the ref basically decides in his discretion what would believably happen in a particular situation, but he gets a pointer from the dice.
19:32 <OmnifrayMatt>The pointer can be to decide things significantly more favourably for the character, slightly more favourably, as expected, slightly less favourably or significantly less favourably.
19:33 <OmnifrayMatt>That may sound a bit vague but there's a "hard rules" version for everything too, it's just that it's easier to explain the soft-rules version first!
19:33 <OmnifrayMatt>The "soft rules" dice rolls are a stripped down version of the main kind of dice rule used for the "hard rules", so once I've explained them, the rest of the system is easy.
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19:34 <OmnifrayMatt>For a soft-rules dice-check, you each roll two twelve-sided dice - you and your opponent.
19:34 <OmnifrayMatt>You don't add any stats (that happens in the hard rules mechanic, but not in the soft rules mechanic).
19:34 <OmnifrayMatt>So it's just two naked dice-rolls each, if you'll forgive the expression.
19:34 <OmnifrayMatt>(You're not actually meant to be naked while you do this. Just saying!)
19:35 <OmnifrayMatt>The way the dice come out, there are three main ways round they can be.
19:35 <OmnifrayMatt>Sometimes one player will have got both best rolls.
19:35 <OmnifrayMatt>Sometimes one player will have got the best roll and maybe the third-best roll.
19:35 <OmnifrayMatt>Sometimes one player will have got the best and the worst rolls.
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19:36 <OmnifrayMatt>In the first situation, the player with both best rolls gets the best dice-result, which we call "Perfect success", though here it only means that he gets a significantly better result than expected.
19:36 <OmnifrayMatt>Dan do you need me to e-mail you the log again?
19:36 <Dan>(*grumble*... Yes, please.)
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19:37 <OmnifrayMatt>Ah...
19:37 <OmnifrayMatt>I would do, but unfortunately, I managed to hit the wrong button.
19:37 <OmnifrayMatt>Has anyone else got the log still?
19:38 <Dan>Silverlion, still there?
19:39 <Silverlion>I do..
19:39 <Dan>(Sorry about this, Matt. :( )
19:39 <OmnifrayMatt>NP Dan.
19:39 <Silverlion>Sent dan
19:40 <Dan>Thanks!
19:40 <OmnifrayMatt>What was the last thing I said?
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19:41 <technoshaman>perfect success
19:41 <OmnifrayMatt>I think I was saying that the player who gets the two best dice rolls gets what we call "Perfect success", but that only means (in a soft rules context) that the outcome is significantly better than expected for that player's character.
19:41 <OmnifrayMatt>Now if one player gets Perfect success, their opponent always gets a Fail.
19:41 <OmnifrayMatt>Fail and Perfect success are two sides of the same coin.
19:41 <OmnifrayMatt>But again, in the soft rules, Fail just means "significantly worse than expected", or something like that.
19:42 <OmnifrayMatt>So that's what happens if one player gets both best dice-rolls.
19:42 <OmnifrayMatt>If one player gets the best roll on one of their two dice, but the third-best roll on the other dice (out of the four that have been rolled in total - two for them, two for their opponent), then what happens?
19:42 <OmnifrayMatt>That's a Clear success for the player with the best roll, and always a Bare success for the other player.
19:42 <OmnifrayMatt>Again, in the "soft rules" that just means "slightly better than expected" or "slightly worse than expected".
19:43 <OmnifrayMatt>And if one player gets Clear, the other always gets Bare.
19:43 <OmnifrayMatt>If one player gets the best dice roll AND the worst, it's a Middling success for both players, which in the soft rules means "as expected".
19:43 <Silverlion>Does the other player/NPC roll? Or is it just the Player for their character (generating the split success)
19:44 <OmnifrayMatt>There are four dice being rolled, two for each of two opposing characters.
19:44 <OmnifrayMatt>Usually each character's player rolls their dice, but not always.
19:44 <OmnifrayMatt>Usually one of the people rolling will be the ref,
19:44 <OmnifrayMatt>unless there's a bit of PvP going on of course.
19:45 <OmnifrayMatt>Now the reason I use this system of four dice and comparing them, when all I want for a result is "significantly" or "slightly" "better" or "worse" than "expected"...
19:45 <OmnifrayMatt>is really because it's to keep people in practice for when they use the "hard rules" system.
19:46 <OmnifrayMatt>That's just the same as the soft rules system in how you roll the dice, except that you add stats to them, and the different categories of success mean definite outcomes, instead of just modifying how the ref uses his discretion.
19:46 <OmnifrayMatt>So for instance in the hard rules system, if you attack someone trying to kill them, and you get a Perfect success, usually that's an instant kill.
19:47 <OmnifrayMatt>So, once you've got a handle on the soft rules approach, the hard rules approach is pretty much the same, except you add stats to your rolls, and interpret the results slightly more concretely.
19:47 <OmnifrayMatt>Then there's the "single roll" in the hard rules too, where you just roll one dice each, add stat, and compare. That means the only possible outcomes are Perfect success or Fail (normally, anyway).
19:47 <OmnifrayMatt>I guess that's quite a mouthful to explain in one go!
19:48 <OmnifrayMatt>were there any bits anyone didn't follow?
19:48 <Dan>I think I follow you so far.
19:49 <OmnifrayMatt>cool
19:49 <OmnifrayMatt>so pretty much everything in the system uses a soft rules double roll, or a hard rules double roll, or a soft rules single roll - and basically it's the ref's choice which
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19:50 <OmnifrayMatt>Initiative is a funny business, but that's the only real exception to the general principle.
19:50 <OmnifrayMatt>So - any questions?
19:51 <OmnifrayMatt>Or shall I talk about my favourite bits of the game?
19:51 <Dan>Please do!
19:51 <OmnifrayMatt>OK well one of my favourite parts of the game is Chapter 3 on Persuasion.
19:52 <OmnifrayMatt>A big part of the focus of my game-design efforts has been on tackling that old chestnut of "social skills".
19:52 <OmnifrayMatt>I'm a big believer in having the players roleplay out the dialogue using direct speech as much as possible - saying the exact words the character says, maybe even in their (approximate) voice.
19:52 * Dan nods
19:52 <OmnifrayMatt>I don't want people interrupting that dialogue for the sake of rolling dice.
19:53 <OmnifrayMatt>So instead what happens is the ref tries to work out before dialogue gets underway what are going to be the most important angles of the conversation - who's trying to convince whom of what.
19:53 <OmnifrayMatt>The ref picks a few appropriate characters and has them make Persuasion v Empathy rolls in advance.
19:53 <OmnifrayMatt>These are double rolls, with stats added, so technically they're hard rules rolls.
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19:54 <OmnifrayMatt>But the way the results affect the dialogue isn't to give a definite result.
19:54 <OmnifrayMatt>Instead, they work to bias the ref in your favour or against you in the way the ref (1) roleplays NPCs and (2) drops hints to the players.
19:55 <OmnifrayMatt>Maybe we could run through a basic example?>
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19:55 <Dan>Sure!
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19:56 <OmnifrayMatt>OK well let's suppose you're playing a faerie-blooded adventurer called Hemmut, and I'm the ref, playing a guardsman who's spotted you loitering around outside the princess's tower.
19:57 <OmnifrayMatt>Hemmut might have a Persuasion score of, say, 8, which is 2 points better than an average man's score, making you twice as good as an average man.
19:57 <OmnifrayMatt>My guardsman, Ivo, has an Empathy score of 6 (average).
19:57 <OmnifrayMatt>You're going to be trying to persuade him not to arrest you, OK?
19:59 * Dan nods
19:59 <OmnifrayMatt>So it's a double roll to start with - BEFORE the dialogue.
19:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Suppose you roll a 4 and a 10, and I roll a 6 and a 9.
19:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Your totals are 4+8 = 12 and 10+8 = 18.
20:00 <OmnifrayMatt>My totals are 6+6 = 12 and 6+9 = 15.
20:00 <OmnifrayMatt>So the four dice-totals we got between us, in order, are 18 (you), 15 (me), 12 (me) and 12 (you).
20:01 <OmnifrayMatt>We ask ourselves what that means for the dice-result, and there's a little prompter box on your character sheet which tells you that if you got the absolute best result (18) and not the absolute worst result (which would have to be less than my 12), then you got a Clear success.
20:01 <OmnifrayMatt>That means I got a Bare success - Bare and Clear are two sides of the same coin.
20:01 <OmnifrayMatt>So that means as ref I'm slightly biased in your favour in how I roleplay my guard.
20:01 <OmnifrayMatt>Of course I probably roll my dice secretly, so you don't absolutely know the outcome.
20:01 <Dan>Right.
20:01 <OmnifrayMatt>So then we just get on and roleplay it, but I'm slightly biased in your favour.
20:02 <OmnifrayMatt>It's like midnight in the fictional world, and I've just seen you loitering under the Princess's window.
20:02 <OmnifrayMatt>I probably hail you and say "You there, why are you loitering here?"
20:02 <OmnifrayMatt>What might you say in response?
20:03 <OmnifrayMatt>(I know it's a pretty dumb example, but just to get the point across.)
20:03 <Dan>"I'm terribly sorry, officer. Everyone has to be somewhere, and this is where I currently find myself."
20:04 <OmnifrayMatt>Now that's a pretty smart-ass answer, so maybe the most realistic response would be for the guard to escalate things, get right up in your face, etc.
20:04 <OmnifrayMatt>But I'm slightly biased in your favour, so maybe I might roleplay the guardsman as being caught off-guard by your cheeky humour.
20:05 <OmnifrayMatt>"Maybe you should try and find yourself somewhere else," I might growl, after struggling to recover my composure.
20:05 <OmnifrayMatt>And so on.
20:05 <OmnifrayMatt>The idea is that you CAN have social skills that DO make an impact on the game, but at the same time, they really don't interrupt the dialogue,
20:05 <OmnifrayMatt>and they don't lead to the "outcome" of the dialogue jarring with the roleplay, because the dialogue has to form a seamless whole.
20:05 * Dan nods
20:06 <OmnifrayMatt>You know how in England you used to be able to get the death penalty for capital theft?
20:06 <OmnifrayMatt>And in those days juries, apparently, were notoriously reluctant to convict people of capital theft.
20:06 <OmnifrayMatt>So the law was stupid, because it was so out of step with common morality that juries wouldn't convict.
20:06 <OmnifrayMatt>Well, social skills can be a lot like that in some games.
20:07 <OmnifrayMatt>The dice-roll is going to risk obliterating the natural result of the roleplay.
20:07 <OmnifrayMatt>So GMs avoid having dice-rolls for social skills, or only do it in narrow sorts of situation.
20:07 <OmnifrayMatt>My system keeps things flexible, believable and tied into a natural dialogue process, so the GM isn't scared to use the social skills system.
20:08 <OmnifrayMatt>At any rate watching myself GM, I'm sure I give players a lot more bang for their buck with their social skills than I used to with other systems.
20:08 <OmnifrayMatt>It's like when they got rid of the death penalty for theft, and suddenly juries were more willing to convict thieves.
20:08 <OmnifrayMatt>The result is that having a high Persuasion stat is a really valuable thing, but it doesn't make a mess of the game.
20:08 <Dan>(brb -- please continue)
20:08 <OmnifrayMatt>(Obviously that reflects my own subjective preferences to a high degree.)
20:09 <OmnifrayMatt>In the book what the text actually says is that the most important part of the book is the Intro, the bit before Chapter 1.
20:10 <OmnifrayMatt>What's important in the Intro is that it has maybe 5 pages or so of "Cardinal Rules for Players", which are key principles (in my estimation) of immersive roleplay.
20:10 <OmnifrayMatt>I've enshrined them in rules for ordinary players, to make them central to how the game is played.
20:10 <OmnifrayMatt>Using direct speech for dialogue is in there.
20:11 <OmnifrayMatt>Other things include cutting out distractions - no personal electronics at the game!
20:11 <Dan>(back)
20:11 <OmnifrayMatt>Then there are things like focusing on your character's drives and emotions before the game starts.
20:11 <OmnifrayMatt>Pretty much all the stuff that I think is absolutely key to a player's immersive experience, if it's something the player has to do for themself, it's in the Cardinal Rules for Players.
20:12 <OmnifrayMatt>A lot of the focus of the fairly lengthy appendix on the intended playstyle is on how best to ref so that players get an immersive experience out of the game.
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20:12 <OmnifrayMatt>I guess I should add as a footnote that there is an officially recognised position of "a-ref" (assistant referee, assistant GM), which is something of an innovation in my game, though not exactly central to it.
20:13 <OmnifrayMatt>That role is mainly for players who fancy a bit of storygaming and maybe don't mind so much about immersion.
20:13 <OmnifrayMatt>Of course immersion has a subjective aspect to it so some players may find it more immersive to be a-reffing - life is strange sometimes!
20:13 <OmnifrayMatt>Anyway, the things players are meant to do don't necessarily apply to a-refs, who have a lot more "narrative authority", etc. But a-refs are an optional part of the game, and certainly not the reason I designed it.
20:14 <OmnifrayMatt>So any particular questions or shall I move on to something else?
20:14 <Dan>Not about the system. I was about to ask you about the setting.
20:14 <OmnifrayMatt>OK, what would you like to know?
20:16 <Dan>What variety of fantasy would you call it? (High/low/etc.)
20:16 <OmnifrayMatt>Hidden fantasy primarily.
20:17 <OmnifrayMatt>That said, you can have lots and lots of magic - as long as you keep it out of view of the common folk.
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20:17 <OmnifrayMatt>There are only 13 or 14 spells detailed in the basic edition of the game (far more are planned for the Expert Manual).
20:17 <Dan>Wow. That's not a lot of spells.
20:17 <OmnifrayMatt>But those spells include, in effect, teleporting, raising the dead, flying, calling down lightning bolts, death magic, prying visions...
20:18 <OmnifrayMatt>The reason there are so few spells is that each spell gets something like a page to describe it (remember, this is in 12-point OpenDyslexic font, so not a lot fits on one page).
20:18 <OmnifrayMatt>It's important to me to include things like the "minor effects" of spells in the spell description.
20:18 <OmnifrayMatt>Let me give you an example - The Wellspring of Death.
20:19 <OmnifrayMatt>"While you invoke this power your flesh sinks back into your bones, giving you an almost skeletal appearance, especially in respect of your skull.
20:20 <OmnifrayMatt>"Your eyes glow a deep red colour. There's nothing but blackness visible within your mouth. A faint howling sound can just be heard around you and your victim as the magic reaches its climax.
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20:20 <OmnifrayMatt>"You radiate stark magic, as does your victim when the magic culminates. If the magic's successful, as your victim collapses, intangible, translucent essence escapes visibly from their form, unless... "
20:20 <OmnifrayMatt>(It then goes on to describe the visible manifestation of the victim's escaping soul.)
20:21 <OmnifrayMatt>That's probably the most elaborate of the "Minor Effects",
20:21 <OmnifrayMatt>but it's important to me to include some pointers about "Minor Effects" for most of the spells.
20:21 <OmnifrayMatt>Why? Because magic is supposed to be hidden. So exactly what side-effects it has are important to your efforts to keep it hidden.
20:21 <OmnifrayMatt>Also, I think it's more atmospheric.
20:22 * Dan nods
20:22 <OmnifrayMatt>There's quite a lot to the magic system as well as the spell descriptions.
20:22 <OmnifrayMatt>When you cast a spell, you're usually making either a (hard rules) double roll, or two single rolls.
20:22 <OmnifrayMatt>The results of those dice-checks tell you what the spell does, but they also tell you how badly the spell drains you.
20:23 <OmnifrayMatt>You can be killed by your own magic going wrong, in extreme cases.
20:23 <OmnifrayMatt>There are all sorts of things about people sensing magic, about the rituals you need to perform to cast magic and so on.
20:24 <OmnifrayMatt>The setting is really important to how magic plays out in practice, because the single biggest constraint on magic is that the Fates want magic to stay hidden.
20:24 <OmnifrayMatt>If you defy them, you're in big trouble.
20:24 <Dan>Are monsters unknown as well?
20:24 <OmnifrayMatt>This all comes from me wanting an ultra-believable setting, where the common folk have no real/definite clue about magic, and yes, monsters are definitely hidden.
20:24 <OmnifrayMatt>A standard CharGen option in the basic edition is to be of faerie blood - seelie or unseelie.
20:25 <OmnifrayMatt>But you are of human appearance.
20:25 <OmnifrayMatt>The fae live in their invisible faerie realms - the Seelie Realm and the Unseelie Realm.
20:25 <OmnifrayMatt>If you have Seelie Lore or Unseelie Lore to a high enough level and stumble across a fae gateway, you can visit those Realms, but it's not exactly tea and biscuits.
20:26 <OmnifrayMatt>So basically, it's high-magic and low-magic at the same time.
20:26 <OmnifrayMatt>Low magic on the surface, high magic underneath.
20:26 <OmnifrayMatt>I don't approve of things like a magical mopping up spell to clean your house for you (grrrrr).
20:27 <OmnifrayMatt>But you can have a newbie starting character with the ability to restore the dead to life (via a quest), teleport (via a deal with the spirits), cast death magic (the Wellspring of Death) and gain visions of distant creatures.
20:27 <Dan>So are all the monsters faeries?
20:28 <OmnifrayMatt>No. I mentioned earlier that all basic edition characters are of "primal" soul, the other options being "unbidden", "redeemed" and "damned".
20:28 <OmnifrayMatt>Each of these relates to a different cosmic faction.
20:28 <OmnifrayMatt>These are the "Soul's Callings" of the game.
20:29 <OmnifrayMatt>"Primal" monsters (if "monster" be the right word) include fae, but also ancient primal undead (very rare), half-fae / magically-marked natural humans/animals and other spirits,
20:29 <OmnifrayMatt>including elemental spirits.
20:29 <OmnifrayMatt>"Damned" monsters include demons, devils and most undead.
20:29 <OmnifrayMatt>"Redeemed" creatures include angels.
20:30 <OmnifrayMatt>The "Unbidden" faction doesn't really have monsters though "Unbidden" humans may have mystical powers, which are a bit like chi or psychic powers.
20:30 <OmnifrayMatt>So there's a whole variety of different creature types, but they all have to fit into one of the categories that gives them a reason for being what they are.
20:31 <OmnifrayMatt>Dragons, for instance, would be either primal (pagan) spirits (possibly elemental spirits) or some kind of demon.
20:31 <Dan>How much of a bestiary does the game feature?
20:31 <OmnifrayMatt>Well the PDF has a very, very tiny bestiary, and the softcover edition has a slightly less tiny bestiary.
20:32 <OmnifrayMatt>The setting featured in my previous game "Omnifray", which had quite a reasonable bestiary in its Basic Handbook, so there are plenty of creatures in the setting that you could adapt, but you would have to convert the stats.
20:33 <OmnifrayMatt>Creatures I have statted up in the softcover of Soul's Calling are:-
20:34 <OmnifrayMatt>Bandit; Brown Bear; Ghostly Warrior; Guard Dog; Guardsman; Knight; Peasant; Riding Horse; Seelie Elf (Nobler Sidhe); Troll; Unseelie Goblin (Dark Sidhe); Veteran Mercenary; War Horse; Wolf.
20:34 <OmnifrayMatt>The idea is that the ref stats up what he needs.
20:35 * Dan nods
20:35 <OmnifrayMatt>Each fae, for instance, is a unique individual with unique stats.
20:35 <OmnifrayMatt>But the standard examples I give are pretty fearsome.
20:35 <OmnifrayMatt>My goblins are not to be trifled with!!
20:36 * Dan chuckles
20:36 <OmnifrayMatt>I haven't had a TPK yet in a playtest, but once or twice it came pretty close.
20:37 <Dan>How do monsters remain hidden?
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20:37 <OmnifrayMatt>(In fact I don't think I've killed a PC in a playtest, but once a party only survived because someone rolled a double 12 on a crossbow shot... I'd given them so many clues about how to make a warding to defeat this creature, and they just ignored them all, and it was about to eat their faces, when *zing*.)
20:37 <OmnifrayMatt>How monsters remain hidden in the setting generally?
20:37 <OmnifrayMatt>Well, many of them live in otherworldly realms - the fae in their faerie realms for instance.
20:37 <OmnifrayMatt>Then there is the Shrouding -
20:38 <OmnifrayMatt>that's a variety of different ways that the Fates (and creatures working indirectly for them) keep things under wraps.
20:38 <OmnifrayMatt>If an eldritch being is slain, in pretty short order its body will degenerate so that it either disappears or is no longer recognisably eldritch.
20:38 <OmnifrayMatt>It doesn't probably vanish instantly in a puff of smoke, but over several minutes it might sink into the ground, corrode away etc.
20:38 <OmnifrayMatt>So there's no proof.,
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>Plus the Shrouding warps the minds of the common folk somewhat.
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>They become confused and terrified by magic, quite easily.
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>Plus the game has two large wilderness areas which are basically unpopulated.
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>One is in the far north and very cold, and the other is desert.
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>There are very few if any monsters in the Mortal Realm in civilised areas.
20:39 <OmnifrayMatt>The undead would be mostly spectral -
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20:40 <Dan>No vampires?
20:40 <OmnifrayMatt>inhabiting the Ghost Realm most of the time (where they're invisible) and drifting into the Spectral Realm (where they're translucent) to annoy adventurers.
20:40 <OmnifrayMatt>Vampires -
20:40 <OmnifrayMatt>yes there are vampires.
20:40 <OmnifrayMatt>They pass for human.
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20:40 <OmnifrayMatt>They probably kill anyone who figures out that they're eldritch.
20:41 <OmnifrayMatt>But vampires are mainly a feature of one particular nation - Starizlavia.
20:41 <OmnifrayMatt>In other nations, they're very rare.
20:41 <OmnifrayMatt>Even in Starizlavia, there are probably no more than a few hundred of them.
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20:42 <OmnifrayMatt>In all the games I've played/reffed set in the Enshrouded Lands - in three different game-systems - I think there's been one vampire.
20:42 <OmnifrayMatt>That was a high-powered game using the Omnifray system where the players were a devil, an undead champion and a demi-goddess.
20:43 <OmnifrayMatt>The game has quite neat rules for staking vampires and those rules get slipped into the core mechanics chapter as an example!
20:43 <Dan>Is there any one thing the PCs are expected to be doing, in terms of fighting any particular evil force or the like?
20:44 <OmnifrayMatt>No, you have freedom to define what's anathema to your PC from a large list, and even that might not come up.
20:44 <OmnifrayMatt>That said, there are some very big cosmic forces of evil.
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20:44 <OmnifrayMatt>The main one would be the infernal powers - the demons and devils of the Pits of Hell, and their Damned minions.
20:45 <OmnifrayMatt>But some PCs may be Damned, and may be demon-worshippers or demon-spawn.
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20:45 <OmnifrayMatt>Then there are the Apocalyptic Spirits - extremely rare nowadays, and Primal.
20:45 <OmnifrayMatt>If I tell you first about the Elder Faith, it will make more sense that way.
20:45 <OmnifrayMatt>The Elder Faith is an umbrella term for the major pagan / polytheistic religions of the Enshrouded Lands.
20:46 <OmnifrayMatt>The godlings of the Elder Faith would understand that good and evil are a bit like Yin and Yang - good requires at least a small element of evil if it is to survive.
20:46 <OmnifrayMatt>Putting it another way, if you tried to expect absolute purity of the world (the way the angels would like), the Elder Spirits understand that this would lead to the world cracking under the strain of impossible purity and everything would fall to evil.
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20:47 <OmnifrayMatt>A small amount of evil must be accepted as a gambit to preserve good.
20:47 <OmnifrayMatt>Thus the Elder Faith promotes variety and diversity of beliefs and religious practices.
20:47 <OmnifrayMatt>Druids may perform human sacrifices, but other priests of other pantheons would never dream of such things, for instance.
20:47 <OmnifrayMatt>Anyway, the Apocalyptic Faith is a perversion of the Elder Faith.
20:48 <OmnifrayMatt>The Lost Gods, the Wardens of the Apocalypse, are like the godlings of the Elder Faith, except that they believe that the Enshrouded Lands are twinned with another world.
20:48 <Dan>Mythos cultiswts?
20:48 <OmnifrayMatt>Possibly.
20:48 <OmnifrayMatt>The point is that it is in that twinned world that good can flourish.
20:48 <OmnifrayMatt>The Apocalyptic Spirits believe that for good to flourish in the best way (as it only can in that other, twinned world), evil must reign supreme in the Enshrouded Lands.
20:49 <OmnifrayMatt>They therefore view it as their sacred duty to inflict the worst possible suffering and evil upon the Enshrouded Lands.
20:49 <OmnifrayMatt>Whilst the demons and devils do what they do out of a hunger for power, or caprice, or selfishness, or for other evil reasons,
20:49 <OmnifrayMatt>the Apocalyptic Spirits do what they do out of religious zeal.
20:49 <OmnifrayMatt>Moral zeal.
20:49 <OmnifrayMatt>Zealots for evil.
20:50 <OmnifrayMatt>In terms of Mythos, there are hints that possibly the Unbidden might have gods waiting in a distant void, so there are two possibilities for introducing a Mythos flavour into the game.
20:51 <OmnifrayMatt>Anyway part of the history of the game-world is that the Apocalyptic Spirits were largely defeated over a thousand years ago.
20:51 <Dan>We have about 10 minutes remaining in regular Q&A time. Is there anything you'd like to mention that we haven't covered already?
20:51 <OmnifrayMatt>Well, let's see...
20:52 <OmnifrayMatt>Combat can be dealt with in a hand-wavey way by a "soft rules" approach, and that's encouraged, but the hard rules make combat quite swift by wrapping up the question of whether you hit and the question of what injury you inflict in a single roll.
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20:52 <OmnifrayMatt>There are great rules for "trick shots" in combat and the equivalent "focus of effort" for magic (in fact those rules are part of the core mechanics but various aspects of the game system mean they're mostly relevant to combat and magic).
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20:53 <OmnifrayMatt>The way those rules work mean that players have every mechanical encouragement to state their characters' combat tactics in reasonable detail, and this is meant to be more immersive because it means that the style and outcome of your actions will reflect the players' intentions, and the dice-system actually helps that.
20:54 <OmnifrayMatt>The character sheets have prompters on them for lots of the key rules.
20:54 <OmnifrayMatt>I guess though that the most fundamental thing to say is this.
20:54 <OmnifrayMatt>I would really appreciate hearing from people who might be interested in playing my game!
20:54 <OmnifrayMatt>If you want to play it, have a look at the free-to-download PDF (link earlier), and drop me an e-mail!
20:54 <OmnifrayMatt>I'll probably be able to talk stuff through with you,
20:55 <OmnifrayMatt>maybe send you some freebie stuff (PDFs) in due course.
20:55 <OmnifrayMatt>I can be reached at feedback (squiggly at-sign) omnifray (dot) com.
20:55 <OmnifrayMatt>Or via the feedback form on, which leads to the same place.
20:55 <OmnifrayMatt>I need to update my website...
20:56 <OmnifrayMatt>Also, the way characters are balanced (by the CharGen process) is really effective and well thought through. Even though game-balance isn't what this game is all about, it does a great job of it.
20:56 <OmnifrayMatt>But the main thing is immersion, immersion, immersion.
20:56 * Dan nods
20:57 <OmnifrayMatt>And the PDF has maybe 70+ pages of stuff you can use as tips/advice for immersive roleplay, including stuff you won't have come across anywhere else,
20:57 <OmnifrayMatt>like the "ref's opening patter" where the GM gets the players to close their eyes and imagine specific stuff about the characters before the game starts.
20:57 <OmnifrayMatt>There's also plenty of setting info in the previously published Omnifray books, although
20:57 <OmnifrayMatt>I really hope
20:58 <OmnifrayMatt>that the Soul's Calling PDF and softcover are a lot more user-friendly than those Omnifray books.
20:58 <OmnifrayMatt>Any last questions?
20:58 <Dan>Not that I can think of at the moment!
20:58 <OmnifrayMatt>Well Dan, thank you for hosting me for this Q&A!
20:58 <Dan>Just a reminder, though, that you're welcome to hang out as long as you like!
20:58 <OmnifrayMatt>I don't know if I've managed to get much about the game across.
20:58 <OmnifrayMatt>Thanks!
20:59 <Dan>Sorry again about the technical difficulties.
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Though, it's 2 a.m. here, so
20:59 <Dan>You're free to stop by any time, come to that.
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>as it's a "school day" for me -
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>thanks!
20:59 <Dan>Ah... Yeah, we'll let you go, then. :)
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Tomorrow I have to be up and at 'em.
20:59 <Dan>Talk to you soon!
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Well I'll hang around for a couple minutes as a lurker!
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Cheers
20:59 <OmnifrayMatt>Also thanks to Sil for e-mailing you the log earlier.
21:00 <OmnifrayMatt>Oh and one last thing - there will be artwork in the final version hopefully!
21:00 <OmnifrayMatt>(But there isn't at present, as no budget.)
21:00 <OmnifrayMatt>Night!
21:00 <Dan>Indeed. In fact, if you have it, maybe you should just send me the whole log, Sil. That way, I won't have to piece anything together.
21:00 <Silverlion>No worries mate.
21:00 <Dan>Sleep well!

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