Monday, June 17, 2013

[Q&A] Sarah Newton (Monsters & Magic)

[19:05] <+SarahNewton> Thanks, Dan! Hi everyone - my name's Sarah Newton, I'm the writer of games like Mindjammer, Legends of Anglerre, Achtung Cthulhu, Chronicles of Future Earth, Burn Shift, and I've just released a new old school renaissance RPG called "Monsters & Magic".
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[19:06] <+SarahNewton> It's a new take on the OSR - a game which combines modern rules concepts with an old school vibe, and which allows you to use your classic fantasy material - spellbooks, bestiaries, modules, and rules supplements - with little or no conversion.
[19:06] <+Shade> Hello, Sarah!
[19:07] <+SarahNewton> Its buyline is "old school fantasy - new school play". It's a 140-page paperback, currently out in PDF from DriveThru / RPGNow, and available in physical copy from GenCon onwards.
[19:07] <+SarahNewton> I think that's probably enough to get started! Thanks for the invite to talk about the game, Dan! :-) (done)
[19:07] <+Abstruse> Hi, Sarah. I'm Darryl aka Abstruse from Ain't It Cool News Tabletop. So the press is here!
[19:07] <+Catseye> I like that, Sarah. Making the old stuff useful again brings a huge smile to my face.
[19:07] <+SarahNewton> Hello Shade!
[19:07] <+xyphoid_> So, what's the modern part?
[19:07] <+GenoFoxx> nice to talk to you
[19:08] <+SarahNewton> Awesome! Hi Darryl!
[19:08] <+SarahNewton> Hi folks!
[19:08] <~Dan> We'll let Xyphoid's question start us off. :)
[19:08] <+GenoFoxx> I loved the Mindjammer novel
[19:08] <+SarahNewton> Thanks GenoFoxx :-) There's another on the way...
[19:09] <+SarahNewton> Cool - so, Xyphoid's question...
[19:09] <+GenoFoxx> Yay
[19:09] <+Abstruse> Can you go into more detail on the "Old school fantasy - new school play"? What are the rules mechanics like?
[19:09] <+Silverlion> Sarah! A Girl game designer! Awesome! So tell me, what is Old school in the game?
[19:09] <+SarahNewton> I guess the "modern" part of Monsters & Magic is that it uses a pretty simple system to allow you to describe what your character is doing first, and then use the rules to explore what that means in game mechanics terms.
[19:09] <~Dan> (Question pause after Silverlion's question, please.
[19:10] <~Dan> )
[19:11] <+SarahNewton> You can do pretty much anything in the game - not just physical actions, but mental and social ones, and freely describe your impact on other characters, opponents, and the game world. Some of the early reviews of the game have likened it to rewriting 1st edition AD&D with Fate-inspired mechanics while remaining backwards compatible with your old material. :)
[19:11] <+SarahNewton> Is that enough to start with on Xyphoid's question?
[19:11] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:11] <~Dan> That's entirely up to you, Sarah. :)
[19:11] <~Dan> (Well, and Xyphoid. :) )
[19:12] <+Silverlion> Sounds awesome so far.
[19:12] <+SarahNewton> Sure - well I'll hand the mike back over. :)
[19:13] <~Dan> I believe Abstruse's question was next?
[19:13] <+SarahNewton> Cool - so rules mechanics.
[19:13] <+SarahNewton> The core mechanic is 3d6 vs a target number.
[19:13] <+SarahNewton> That's called a "check".
[19:13] <+SarahNewton> The target number is called a "resistance".
[19:14] <+SarahNewton> The amount by which your check exceeds *or falls short of* the resistance gives you a number of points, called "effect points".
[19:14] <+SarahNewton> So, if you roll a 15 vs a resistance 10, you get 5 effect points.
[19:15] <+SarahNewton> If you roll a 5 vs 10, you get 5 negative effect points - they're called "consequence points".
[19:15] <+SarahNewton> You can use the effect points you generate on a check to create a variety of different "effects" of varying magnitudes. Effects can be as simple as, say, doing physical damage with a sword; 1 effect point equals 1 point of damage.
[19:17] <+SarahNewton> Or they can be more subtle - you can impose a consequence on a foe in combat, for example. For 5 effect points, for example, you can impose a "minor consequence"; this could be knocking someone back, or throwing sand in their eyes, or whacking them round the head and dazing them. A minor consequence gives them a -2 penalty to appropriate actions.
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[19:17] <+SarahNewton> In combat, taking a "whacked round the head" minor consequence would probably give you a -2 penalty to attacks and defences, for example.
[19:18] <+xyphoid_> cool, so you just choose and narrate one?
[19:18] <+SarahNewton> So, that's the core mechanic, very loosely. That's the "inside" of the game system; on the "outside", you have all the stats you're familiar with from the OSR - levels, hit points, attributes, classes, attribute modifiers, armour class, and so on.
[19:19] <+SarahNewton> You can use your classic fantasy characters and scenarios, spells and monsters, as is - they "plug into" the game mechanic's inputs.
[19:19] <+SarahNewton> We call the system "the Effect Engine".
[19:19] <+SarahNewton> I guess that's enough for starters... ;)
[19:19] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:19] <+SarahNewton> Xyphoid - that's right. The player gets to choose.
[19:20] <~Dan> (Silverlion's question was next, I believe, although you may have answered it. Sil?
[19:20] <~Dan> )
[19:20] <+Abstruse> And you have it balanced for the shift from flat 1-20 to a bell curve?
[19:20] <+SarahNewton> Abstruse - that's right.
[19:21] <+SarahNewton> The nature of the Effect Engine - the generation of effect points - relies on the difference between scores, so a bell curve is a much more appropriate system.
[19:21] <~Dan> What changes have you made to character creation?
[19:21] <+Abstruse> I'm really curious about how the effect mechanic works. I like that it brings levels of success to the d20 system Does it replace stuff like crits as well?
[19:21] <+SarahNewton> Shall I tackle the effect engine mechanic question to start with? :)
[19:22] <+Abstruse> Also, unrelated, how do you do combat target numbers? To-hit table, THAC0, or ascending AC where the AC = target number?
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[19:22] <~Dan> Sarah: Certainly. :)
[19:22] <+SarahNewton> Cool okay - I'll dig in there. :)
[19:22] <+Silverlion> Yeah. Close enough :D. Albeit I'd like to know how quickly the "effects" elements are tracked.
[19:23] <+SarahNewton> So, the effect engine uses effect points to create effects. 5 effect points get you a minor effect; 10 effect points a major; 15 an extreme. At higher levels, there are effects more powerful than that, but those three degrees are the core.
[19:23] <+SarahNewton> An extreme effect is like a crit.
[19:24] <+SarahNewton> The target numbers are very much derived from how you describe your actions and defences. Target numbers are generally static numbers, not rolled; although they can be rolled under certain circumstances.
[19:25] <+SarahNewton> In physical combat, you'd generally roll against a target's "armour class", which is calculated as Dexterity attribute + armour bonus, + level *if the opponent is defending themselves competently* (more on that in a minute).
[19:26] <+SarahNewton> That armour class score is broadly analogous to ascending armour classes - for classic fantasy, subtract your descending AC from 20 and you have the right ballpark.
[19:27] <+SarahNewton> Now, when you make a check, whether an action or a resistance, you sometimes add your level.
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[19:28] <+SarahNewton> You do this when you're doing something you're competent in. For a fighter, that might be fighting, or it might be wearing heavy armour; for a magic user, that might be casting spells. Those "things you're competent in" are called *traits*.
[19:28] <+SarahNewton> The number you add in this context is called your trait bonus.
[19:29] <+SarahNewton> For the first appropriate trait, your trait bonus equals your level; for any subsequent traits that apply, you add another +1. There's a cap.
[19:29] <+SarahNewton> This segues into character creation. :)
[19:30] <+SarahNewton> Broadly speaking character creation is familiar - you've got races, classes, sub-classes, attributes, attribute modifiers. Races and classes come with default traits, plus a free choice of one or two additional abilities called *advancements*.
[19:30] <+SarahNewton> You can invent your own traits and advancements - the game provides some examples, based on race and class, and also guidelines for how to roll your own.
[19:30] <+SarahNewton> Every time you level up, among other improvements you get a free advancement.
[19:31] <+SarahNewton> OK - that's probably enough of me  on that one! :D (done)
[19:31] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Hi Sarah - Brian from 2d6 Feet in a Random Direction. :) Do you have any plans for follow-up material? Like a Companion (as with LoA) or something focusing on the Chronicles of High Fantasy map from the book?
[19:31] <~Dan> So... traits are akin to skills that equal your current level?
[19:31] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Brian_from_2d6feet!)
[19:31] <+SarahNewton> I'll quickly address Dan's question first, Brian, if that's okay. :)
[19:32] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Of course
[19:32] <+SarahNewton> Dan - they include skill-like abilities, but they're broader than that. They can include personality traits, physical factors, cultural abilities and beliefs, even relationships with other people. It's anything that makes your character *good at* doing something.
[19:33] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:33] <+SarahNewton> Brian - we wanted to make Monsters & Magic very much a self-contained game.
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[19:34] <+SarahNewton> It's a slim book; we did that by focussing on the effect engine, which can take you all the way to 20th level and beyond; but by only providing a subset of possible spells and monsters.
[19:34] <+Geek2theRight> Hating my "vacation". Want to scream but that would be rude.
[19:35] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Yes - it reminds me of my old D&D Basic books (and reading them over summer vacations and camp). :)
[19:35] <+SarahNewton> So, for example, the book contains a core of 1st and 2nd level spells for magic using classes, and 20-odd statted monsters; these are plenty enough to give you adventures up to level 4, say. As you can use your classic fantasy bestiary and spellbooks, or use those available free online, you'll want to bring those in, specially for higher-level play.
[19:35] <+SarahNewton> That let us keep the page count down and focus on the game system.
[19:36] <+SarahNewton> So, for future products, there's certainly scope, if people have an appetite.
[19:36] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Well, I think it's well done, to be transparent and love the size. I noticed Chronicles of High Fantasy was closed IP, hence the setting book question.
[19:37] <+SarahNewton> In the first place, the core rules identify things called "scales", which are a bit like 4e tiers. You start at adventurer scale; at 5th level you enter heroic scale; at 10th epic, 15th legendary, and 20th mythic.
[19:37] <+Silverlion> Is M&M OGL?
[19:37] <+SarahNewton> The rules cater for playing at those levels in a variety of ways, but we've also considered providing companions for gaming at those scales.
[19:37] <+Geek2theRight> I got up early, flew in, and my friend had planned nothing for today. The restaurant she talked up was a cheap dive. And I'm stuck at her house with no caffeine and she refuses to go to Walgreens like a few minutes away.
[19:38] <~Dan> I noted that you give monsters attribute scores. Kudos for that. Do you provide an easy way to derive these scores for other D&D creatures?
[19:38] <+SarahNewton> On top of that, we've thought of a setting - I'm a huge fan of sandbox settings like the Wilderlands and Greyhawk, and have written a setting called The Chronicles of High Fantasy, which it would be a blast to publish.
[19:38] <~Dan> (Geek2theRight: Q&A in progress. #rpgnet2 is open for general chat. :) )
[19:39] <+SarahNewton> We've also been working on an oriental fantasy setting; I lived in Japan for a number of years, and have been brainstorming a setting with Gianni Vacca (author of The Celestial Empire), set around the East China Sea and Sea of Japan in the 1500-1600AD period, but a fantasy version.
[19:39] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:39] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Oooooooooo .... re: Japan setting. Thanks!
[19:39] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> :)
[19:40] <+SarahNewton> :-)
[19:40] <+SarahNewton> Dan - which would you like me to answer next? :)
[19:40] <~Dan> Um... I guess mine? :)
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[19:40] <+SarahNewton> Cool!
[19:41] <+SarahNewton> Attribute scores?
[19:41] * ~Dan nods
[19:41] <+SarahNewton> Right. Now, the effect engine revolves around a dice roll of 3d6 + attribute modifier + trait bonus.
[19:42] <+SarahNewton> For characters that's easy; for monsters, there are two options.
[19:42] <+SarahNewton> First, if you have monster attributes to hand, you can use the modifiers for those attributes. The monsters in the core book have att scores, so you could use those.
[19:43] <+SarahNewton> You don't have to do that, though; we also provide a more intuitive rule of "competencies" and "weaknesses", which says that you assume a notional score of 16 (modifier +6) for any checks a monster is especially competent in, a score of 7 (modifier -2) for check a monster is weak in, and a flat 10 (+0) for anything else.
[19:44] <+SarahNewton> That way, you can easily run with critter conversion on the fly - pick up a classic bestiary and use the stat block and description to decide on the modifiers you add to or subtract from the check.
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[19:45] <+SarahNewton> You'll notice, btw, that the bonus of +6 for an attribute score of 16 is *double* what it would normally be: that's a feature of the effect engine. Prime attribute bonuses are doubled.
[19:45] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:45] <+SarahNewton> Does that answer your question, Dan? :)
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[19:46] <~Dan> I thinks so. On a related note, I saw that ogres are as strong as hill giants. That seems a bit counterintuitive to me. Any comments?
[19:47] <+SarahNewton> It's pretty old school. Hill giants and ogres are close on the giant continuum. :)
[19:47] <~Dan> Well, old-school ogres were goons for old-school hill giants, so... :)
[19:48] <~Dan> A minor point, granted. :)
[19:48] <+SarahNewton> :)
[19:48] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about how magic works?
[19:48] <+SarahNewton> Absolutely.
[19:49] <+fantomx11> /JOIN RPGNET2
[19:49] <~Dan> (Join fail!)
[19:49] <+SarahNewton> At its simplest, magic works as you'd expect for classic fantasy, except you must make a spellcasting roll to successfully cast a spell.
[19:49] <+fantomx11> (yeah)
[19:50] <+SarahNewton> Again at its simplest, you can use the classic fantasy spell write-ups pretty much as is once you've cast a spell.
[19:50] <+SarahNewton> However, you can also bring in the effect engine on spells, and start to do cool stuff with them. A spellcasting roll will generate effect points, and you can use those effect points to do all manner of things.
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[19:51] <+SarahNewton> Just as you can impose consequences on opponents, you can also use effect points to create "effects" on yourself and your allies - these give you bonuses, etc, where consequences give your opponents penalties.
[19:52] <+SarahNewton> A spell effectively acts like a trait which lets you do something extraordinary - break the rules of reality in some way - so you can describe yourself doing something you otherwise couldn't, and use the effect engine to give that description a game mechanical effect.
[19:53] <+SarahNewton> As an example, you could use a "Gust of Wind" type spell to possibly buffet somebody with debris, causing minor abrasions and physical HP damage, or knock them back (a minor effect) or off their feet (a major effect) or even blow their weapon or shield out of their hand.
[19:53] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> Vaguely similar to Dungeon Crawl Classics - the better the success roll, the bigger the spell result and effects (?)
[19:53] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> DCC going the wahoo table route, to be sure.
[19:53] <+SarahNewton> You describe what you try to use your spell for, make your spellcasting roll, then use the effect points to determine how well you do and what effect you have.
[19:53] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:54] <+SarahNewton> Brian - broadly yes on the DCC thing.
[19:54] <~Dan> I saw something about a rules option to get around Vancian spellcasting, I believe...?
[19:54] <+SarahNewton> That's right Dan.
[19:54] <+SarahNewton> By default, Monsters & Magic uses a Vancian system.
[19:55] <+SarahNewton> It does that to be faithful to the old school vibe.
[19:55] <+SarahNewton> However, one possible result of a "consequence" in the effect engine is to force the loss of a resource. This could be losing an arrow (minor consequence) to dropping a weapon or even breaking a weapon (major consequences and above).
[19:56] <+SarahNewton> Translated over into magic users, that means a consequence *could mean* you lose the use of a spell. So, we've provided an option to dispense with Vancian magic entirely, and only have spell loss on a consequence.
[19:57] <+SarahNewton> It changes the power level of magic users quite a lot, but ties magic very closely into the effect engine. By default, though, we decided to go with Vancian, as that's the classic default around which all classic spellbooks, etc, have been designed.
[19:58] <+SarahNewton> Personally I also retain the "spell loss through consequences" as possible results when a magic user incurs a consequence - in addition to Vancian casting. :)
[19:58] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[19:59] <~Dan> I noticed several interesting tweaks to old-school D&D during my skimming. For example, I saw that you dispensed with blunt-only weapons for clerics and instead went with deity-appropriate weapons.
[20:00] <~Dan> Are there other such tweaks that you'd like to mention?
[20:00] <+xyphoid_> heh you could always use vancian and have effect points to *retain* spells depending on where you want to dial it to
[20:00] <+SarahNewton> Sure - there's one major tweak or feature of the effect engine we've not touched upon yet which I'd like to mention.
[20:00] <+SarahNewton> That's the use of "hero points".
[20:01] <+SarahNewton> They're used a little differently from what you might expect.
[20:01] <+SarahNewton> Basically, when you impose a consequence on an opponent, you get to decide what that consequence is. You could force an opponent to take hit point damage, or disarm him, knock him over, give him a painful wound consequence, and so on.
[20:02] <+Brian_from_2d6feet> I also don't think you ever responded to the question re: OGL. (It is, and there's a license for the Effect Engine) ... but Sarah. When ready, that is ;)
[20:02] <+SarahNewton> Likewise, when you incur a consequence, it's your opponent (or the GM) who decides what consequence you incur. That could mean you forgetting a spell, or being disarmed, or even getting knocked unconscious or incurring a consequence which would impose a massive penalty on your actions for the rest of the encounter.
[20:02] <+SarahNewton> The ability to define a consequence is a powerful thing.
[20:04] <+SarahNewton> Now, for a hero point, you can wrestle that descriptive power from where it would normally vest, and describe the consequence yourself. The GM may say "the orc's going to do 10 physical hit points damage to you"; but you say, "no! I'm going to be knocked down instead". Or vice versa. And you pay a hero point to do that.
[20:04] <+Silverlion> Sounds like it be fun...
[20:04] <+SarahNewton> It's partly a player-descriptive thing, but it's also representing those times when your character wrestles victory from the jaws of defeat - or vice versa. ;)
[20:05] <~Dan> Are they only reactive in that way?
[20:05] <+SarahNewton> Silverlion - it's a blast in play. Hero points are a finite resource, quite limited, though you can earn them, so it can get pretty tense! :)
[20:05] <+SarahNewton> No, there are other uses for hero points too.
[20:05] <+Silverlion> Now I need to find money for a print copy :D
[20:06] <+SarahNewton> You can burn a hero point to increase your effect points by 1 when you're 1 point from a specific effect threshold; and you can use them for other active things too.
[20:06] <+SarahNewton> They're not an overwhelming resource, but they add an element of player-centric resource management which is good fun.
[20:07] <~Dan> Speaking of hero points, are PCs more resilient in M&M than they are in old school D&D?
[20:07] <+SarahNewton> Silverlion - cool! :) The PDF is out right now - print copy is coming around GenCon and in stores after that. There are also some pretty thorough previews over at (Link: :)
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[20:07] <+Silverlion> Cool. I'm just a poor game designer so :D
[20:08] <+SarahNewton> Silverlion - game designer! Who? :)
[20:08] <+SarahNewton> Dan - re "resilience"...
[20:08] <+Silverlion> Me, and a few others here abouts :D
[20:10] <+SarahNewton> We've gone for the "negative hit points" thing for PC death, rather than 0HP, so that's a bit more resilient. Also, PCs have more hit points, but damage tends to be a bit higher than old school D&D - you do max damage more often in the effect engine, so that edge can vanish pretty quickly, especially once you start incurring consequences.
[20:10] <+SarahNewton> I'd say that M&M characters are a bit more resilient at low levels than classic D&D.
[20:11] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:11] <+Silverlion> Storm. Must run, be safe!
[20:11] <~Dan> You too, Sil!
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[20:11] <+SarahNewton> Good to meet you, Silverlion! :)
[20:11] <~Dan> Silverlion is the author of a supers game called Hearts & Souls, among others.
[20:12] <+SarahNewton> Awesome! Good to know. :)
[20:12] <~Dan> How well can M&M handle swashbuckling action? Can you swing from stuff and leap into action? Or is the action more regimented?
[20:13] <+SarahNewton> Action most definitely isn't regimented in M&M. :)
[20:14] <~Dan> That's good to know. Can you give an example of a stunt someone might be able to pull off?
[20:14] <+SarahNewton> One of the game's design goals was to allow player and GM description to lead play, and the rules to support that description. So, yes, swashbuckling is definitely in.
[20:15] <+SarahNewton> Sure - let's do the chandelier trick. Your character is 30 feet away from the evil sorcerer, who's preparing a spell.
[20:17] <+SarahNewton> He's on a staircase. He uses his "acrobatic swashbuckler" trait to roll DEX and leap onto a chandelier, swinging across an empty hall towards the sorcerer, yelling as he goes. He rolls against a target number, and gets a major effect, which his player describes as "hurtling yelling through the air".
[20:18] <+SarahNewton> This gives him a +4 bonus. On his next action, he rolls his attack, gets the +4 bonus, and rolls DEX using his "finesse attack" ability to slash at the sorcerer. He get
[20:19] <+SarahNewton> He gets 12 effect points, say; but, rather than doing 12 physical hit points damage, his player decides to impose a "distracted and surprised" consequence on the sorcerer which acts as a penalty on his spellcasting roll.
[20:20] <+SarahNewton> That costs 10 effect points, and the remaining 2 effect points the player decides are 2 physical hit points damage from a boot in the face!
[20:20] <+SarahNewton> That's the sort of thing. :)
[20:20] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:20] <~Dan> Nice. :)
[20:21] <~Dan> Do you offer an option for armor as damage reduction? If not, do you think it would be doable?
[20:21] <+SarahNewton> You can extrapolate that into mental and social combat and spellcasting too, and at higher levels that moves into affecting groups, guilds, communities, castles, ships, kingdoms, worlds... ;-)
[20:21] <+SarahNewton> In a sense, the concept of damage reduction is slightly out of focus for the effect engine.
[20:21] <+SarahNewton> I'll explain what I mean by that.
[20:22] <+SarahNewton> Monsters & Magic uses 1 minute rounds, rather than 6 seconds.
[20:22] <+SarahNewton> When you take an action in a 1 minute round, what that action is measuring is how effective you've been at completing your stated goal - what you want to achieve with your action.
[20:23] <+SarahNewton> In combat, for example, your action check measures how effective you've been at harming your opponent, rather than whether or not a given strike with a given weapon connected against that opponent.
[20:24] <+SarahNewton> It's an important difference, because you can use your effect points to shift range, dodge, unbalance, cause knockback, all in the same action that you also damage your foe - and all from the same action check.
[20:25] <+SarahNewton> As a result, when you calculate your armour class, you add your armour bonus to your Dexterity score, and sometimes your level (if you're competent - as above). So, that armour bonus is already containing the idea of reducing the effectiveness of your attack action.
[20:25] <+SarahNewton> IE it already contains the idea of damage reduction - it directly opposes the effectiveness of your attack with a weapon.
[20:25] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:26] <~Dan> Fair enough. Lack of damage reduction in traditional fantasy doesn't bother me so much. It only starts to really grate on me when you get to weapons that should be able to blast through armor.
[20:27] <~Dan> Oh, speaking of which: any nods to firearms in M&M, and if not, is there anything planned in future supplements?
[20:27] <+SarahNewton> Sure. M&M is definitely focussing more on the overall result of your action in a longer combat round - actually the paradigm of old school AD&D etc. :)
[20:28] <+SarahNewton> There aren't any firearms in the core book, no, although that's simply by virtue of the genre we're addressing. I certainly expect to see them in the Oriental fantasy setting, for example.
[20:29] <+SarahNewton> We're also getting a lot of player and GM created content coming up at the google+ community - some very cool stuff going on there - some of which we'll be collating on the Monsters & Magic site, and I'd imagine blackpowder weapons will appear there at some point!
[20:29] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:30] <~Dan> Did I read correctly that PCs have to build up to multiclassing?
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[20:31] <+SarahNewton> That's a good question!
[20:31] <+SarahNewton> :-)
[20:31] * ~Dan bows
[20:31] <~Dan> (That's why I get the big bucks.)
[20:32] <+SarahNewton> As the rules are written, you can multiclass once you level up. So, officially, you start at level 1 as one class, then can multi-class to another at level 2.
[20:32] <+SarahNewton> That's the easy way to do it.
[20:33] <+SarahNewton> However, people have already been hacking the system to create multi-classed 1st level characters. The character classes and sub-classes are actually broad "packages" of abilities, and highly customisable, so it' something you can do easily.
[20:33] <+SarahNewton> People have already been creating custom sub-classes - we provide guidelines for how to do that - so the 1st level multiclass is a logical extension of that.
[20:33] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:34] * +SarahNewton LOL on the bows & big bucks
[20:34] <~Dan> Speaking of classes, I noticed some class limitations based on race that seem a bit different from other OSL games. Care to comment?
[20:34] <~Dan> ( ;) )
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[20:35] <+SarahNewton> Well, broadly speaking we're aiming at old school vibe. So the race / class limitations reflect that vibe. We considered doing otherwise during the design process, but figured that individual tables would have their own approaches to this anyway, so rather than try and second guess we went with the old school standards, by and large.
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[20:36] <+SarahNewton> (done)
[20:36] <~Dan> But it appears that, for example, you could play a dwarven paladin. Is that correct, or did I miss something?
[20:37] <+SarahNewton> Paladins must be human. :)
[20:37] <+SarahNewton> At least, in the rules as written. :)
[20:37] <~Dan> Ah. So I did miss something. Nevermind! :)
[20:38] <+SarahNewton> Not at all - again, I'd expect individual tables to tweak this to suit. I know that's what we've always done with our old school games right from the year dot!
[20:39] <~Dan> Can you say a bit about how some of the less-obvious traits may be used? A half-orc's "Torn Between Two Natures," for example.
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[20:41] <+SarahNewton> Sure. Let's say your half orc character is being persuaded by an orc chieftain to commit an act of cruelty. He could easily use that trait to get a bonus on his resistance. However...
[20:42] <+SarahNewton> you could also use that as a flaw - in an audience with the Emperor, in front of the imperial court, your half-orc character suddenly belches loudly and bites the head off one of the emperor's wife's corgis...
[20:42] <+SarahNewton> You get into horrendous trouble, but get a hero point for your pains.
[20:43] <+SarahNewton> Those kind of traits actually have a *lot* of applications, and really encourage you to get creative with your descriptions. :)
[20:43] <+SarahNewton> (done)
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[20:43] * ~Dan nods...
[20:43] <~Dan> Interesting. And definitely a modern approach.
[20:44] <~Dan> So... how can use use traits that seem to overlap with other abilities? Do they stack? Again, going to the half-orc, I'm looking at Brutish and Strong.
[20:44] <+SarahNewton> There have been such a lot of cool developments in RPGs since I started playng back in 1980 - it's really exciting to be able to incorporate them into a game which feels like the old school style, and play classic material with those rules. :)
[20:44] <+SarahNewton> Yes, traits do overlap sometimes.
[20:45] <+SarahNewton> If you can describe more than one trait applying to a situation, you can get an increased bonus. The first bonus you get from a trait is equal to your level; every subsequent trait gives you a +1. The maximum trait bonus you can get is equal to twice your level.
[20:45] <~Dan> So if I have a half-orc who's a 3rd level fighter... and let's say his strength is 16...
[20:46] <~Dan> Ah, I see.
[20:46] <~Dan> So a fighter's feat of strength ability and a half-orc's brutish and strong ability wouldn't stack "fully".
[20:47] <+SarahNewton> Depends on what you mean by fully. If you could describe the overlap, at 1st level each trait would give you a +1.
[20:47] <+SarahNewton> At 2nd level, you'd get a +2 for the first trait and a +1 for the second.
[20:48] <+SarahNewton> Assuming you were using them both for trait bonuses - ie Brutish & Strong wasn't acting like a flaw.
[20:48] <~Dan> Right, that's what I mean. You don't get your full level bonus for both.
[20:48] <+SarahNewton> Not usually, no.
[20:49] <+SarahNewton> It's possible you could create what's called a "stance" which might allow that under very limited conditions, or a spell might allow the same. Stances & spells are ways to break the rules in cool ways. :)
[20:49] <~Dan> Now, for traits that deal with weapon use, like elves with their swords and bows and dwarves with their hammers... does that simply mean that they can automatically use these weapons at their class level, regardless of class?
[20:50] <+SarahNewton> Yes it does.
[20:50] <~Dan> Interesting that you chose hammers rather than axes for dwarves. :)
[20:51] <+SarahNewton> It's a racial trait, so they add their level as a bonus to that.
[20:51] <+SarahNewton> Much better for smashing stone and mining than axes. :)
[20:51] <~Dan> Quite true. :)
[20:52] <~Dan> We have about 10 minutes left in regular Q&A time, and while you're welcome to hang out as long as you like, I somehow suspect that you want to get some sleep. ;)  Is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to bring up?
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[20:53] <+SarahNewton> Lol that's right - I can't decide whether it's late or early here in France. :)
[20:54] <+SarahNewton> I think really just to mention the Google+ community for Monsters & Magic at (Link:,), and the Mindjammer Press website at (Link:
[20:55] <~Dan> Do you have the direct link to the game on DTRPG as well?
[20:55] <+SarahNewton> We'd love to have people drop by and say hi, join up and help build the Monsters & Magic community. Also - if people have ideas of things they'd like to see for Monsters & Magic - expansions for scale adventuring, scenarios, campaign settings, whatever - then we'd love to hear, either at those sites or directly to
[20:56] <+SarahNewton> Sure - the DriveThru link is (Link:,), and Monsters & Magic is available right now, price $9.99.
[20:57] <~Dan> Well, I have to say that I'm very impressed with what I've read. I'm not much of an old-school guy, generally speaking, but this is a game that I'd play.
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[20:58] <+SarahNewton> Awesome - that really makes my day! I'm a huge game fan on both sides of the spectrum, and it's been such a blast to work on a game which brings all the new school good stuff to the classic old school we know and love. Thanks very much for the kind words and support!
[20:58] <+SarahNewton> I'd like to say thank you to you, Dan, for organising this Q&A - it's been great fun, and the time has flown by! I hope you'll have me back on in future for our upcoming Mindjammer Press products!
[20:59] <~Dan> Certainly, Sarah! I'll have the log posted shortly and will message you the link on FB.
[20:59] <~Dan> Thanks so much for getting up early/staying up late for us. :)
[21:00] <+SarahNewton> Not at all! Thanks again - have a great evening, and talk to you again soon! :)
[21:00] <~Dan> You too!

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