Monday, July 22, 2013

[Q&A] Jeff Combos (Hollow Earth Expedition: Revelations of Mars)

[19:04] <+jcombos> Hi everyone, I'm Jeff Combos. Creator of Hollow Earth Expedition and the owner of Exile Game Studio which publishes said game.
[19:04] <+jcombos> So basically, I'm mostly to blame for the bad stuff and I hire and work with the people that make all the good stuff.
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[19:05] <+jcombos> Outside of the RPG world, I've been working in the video game industry, and until recently worked for Microsoft Studios developing story and new IP for their games and other media.
[19:05] <&egyptian> Howdy
[19:06] <+ZenithComics> I have no alcohol so I will just be normal ;)
[19:06] <+ZenithComics> Welcome Jeff
[19:06] <+jcombos> But most people know me from Hollow Earth Expedition, the pulp RPG about Nazis, dinosaurs, and lost civilizations (Welcome eqyptian).
[19:07] <&egyptian> (sorry, didn't realize the Q&A started!)
[19:08] <+jcombos> (Thanks, Zenith) I published HEX in 2006, and Dan here was actually one of the first random playtesters of the game at Gen Con 2005. And since then I've published three more HEX books and the Kickstarter for the fourth book, about Mars is currently underway.
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[19:08] <+Kei> (HEX is awesome! just saying!)
[19:09] <~Dan> (Welcome, mib_948cpb! Please set your name with the /nick command. :) )
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[19:09] <~Dan> (Or leave without a word. Either one.)
[19:09] <+jcombos> Plus, the game system it runs on has been licensed to other game companies for other RPGs. In particular, the Ubiquity system is going to power the new Space: 1889 that is also up on Kickstarter now.
[19:10] <+jcombos> OK, that's probably plenty about me to start with. I'm more than happy to answer any questions you have, from HEX and Ubiquity to Kickstarter and video games. Go! (Done).
[19:10] <~Dan> Thanks, Jeff! Would anyone like to start us off, or shall I do the honors? :)
[19:10] <~Dan> Okay! I shall begin!
[19:10] <+BPIJonathan> Are any of the Mars stretch goals going to be available separately?
[19:11] <~Dan> (Or BPIJonathan can. :) )
[19:12] <+jcombos> Yes, mostly. The Revelations of Mars Style chips and dice will be available through the Exile web store and at conventions while supplies last. My policy with the Style chips is to do a good-sized print run and when they're gone-they're gone. The GM screen will be available through distribution, though, so you'll be able to pick that one up in your FLGS.
[19:13] <+Abstruse> Can you tell me a bit about how the Ubiquity system works?
[19:13] <+jcombos> Absolutely.
[19:14] <~Dan> (That one may be a bit involved, so I'll go ahead and call for a question pause there.)
[19:14] <+jcombos> Ubiquity is a modified dice pool system. And by modified, I mean that I tried to fix the stuff I didn't like about them, namely rolling too many dice too often.
[19:14] <+jcombos> (Thanks, Dan).
[19:15] <+Abstruse> (But I like Shadowrun! :p )
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[19:17] <+jcombos> I like dice pool systems because characters are generally reliably good at the stuff they are good at. But the problem is that when you have variable target numbers, it can cause the results to vary and success can be sometimes unpredictable. (And I love Shadowrun too. I ran it for years.)
[19:17] <+jcombos> So I decided to set the target numbers in Ubiquity so that success was 50/50 and modify the number of dice you rolled instead.
[19:18] <+jcombos> This meant that you could use any dice you want and just count the ones that came up even numbers.
[19:19] <+jcombos> You could even roll the classic D&D dice: d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20. As long as there are an equal number of even and odd numbers, they'll work for Ubiquity.
[19:19] <~Dan> (If you only have dice with an odd number of sides, however, you're out of luck.)
[19:19] <+BPIJonathan> A member of my group uses d12s, says they dont get enough love.
[19:20] <+jcombos> But the real magic of setting 50/50  successes is how it lets you minimize dice rolls.
[19:20] <+Abstruse> (There's been a movement in indie RPGs to make d12 based games...Tephra and Broken Rooms, for example).
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[19:21] <+Abstruse> So how do you figure out how many dice go in the pool? Skill + Attribute or something else?
[19:21] <+jcombos> (I agree. d12s aren't just for Barbarians any more.) You can take any dice pool in Ubiquity and divide it by two to find out how many successes you'll roll on Average.
[19:21] <~Dan> (Howdy, Delgrim! Q&A in progress! #rpgnet2 open for general chat as usual. :) )
[19:22] <+jcombos> (Yep. Attribute + Skill + Modifiers = dice pool.) And if your Average successes is equal to or greater than the difficulty of an action, you don't need to roll and dice. You can just succeed and move on.
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[19:23] <+Delgrim> Hi Dan, thanks for the advice.
[19:23] <+jcombos> So in the classic scenario where you pick a lock, search a room, hear someone coming, and then jump out the window (which might normally involve 4 different dice rolls), you can Take the Average for the firs three actions and only roll dice when it's dramatically appropriate--when you jump out the window.
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[19:24] <+jcombos> In this way Ubiquity collapses the mechanics out of the way and let's you tell the story without messing with the underlying statistical balance.
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[19:25] <~Dan> (Hey there, Angus!)
[19:25] <+jcombos> And if that wasn't cool enough, I'll tell you one more advantage: When I run a game, I never roll dice.
[19:25] <+Angus> (hi Dan, hi Jeff)
[19:25] <~Dan> (Jeff, do you know Angus from Chronicle City?)
[19:26] <+jcombos> All my players do, because they like it (Hi Angus! You bet I do. We go way back!).
[19:26] <+BPIJonathan> (Hello Angus)
[19:26] <~Dan> (Oh, that's right... I think we all had a beer together, didn't we? :) )
[19:26] <+Angus> (I believe we met at Jeff's first Gen Con with Exile ;p)
[19:26] <+Angus> (Hi Jonathan)
[19:27] <+jcombos> But by Taking the Average for NPCs, I can run incredibly fast combats. Four people can be attacked by Nazis, I can declare that they have 4 successes to attack and four players can roll their Defense simultaneously and resolve it right away. There is no need to wait while I roll dice behind the GM screen for a dozen NPCs.
[19:28] <+jcombos> At Gen Con a couple years ago, we had one of our GMs run a mass, 12 person combat, complete with NPCs. It finished in less than an hour.
[19:29] <+jcombos> But that's just the bit about rolling less often. Then there are the Style points, which are the heart of the game, and the Ubiquity dice which let you roll less dice when you do roll. But I'll take a break and see if people have any more questions. Done.
[19:30] <~Dan> jcombos: Could you give us an overview of the Revelations setting?
[19:31] <~Dan> And while you're at it, could you discuss how you mix sword-and-planet with 1930s two-fisted adventure pulp?
[19:31] <+jcombos> Sure. Revelations of Mars is the sourcebook for Sword and Planet adventure, things like John Carter of Mars.
[19:32] <+jcombos> But it is not exactly John Carter and more than the Hollow Earth is Pellucidar.
[19:32] <+jcombos> It's going to be familiar and evoke the pulp genre, while also being uniquely HEX.
[19:34] <+jcombos> So there will be multi-limbed aliens, but this is Mars set in the HEX universe. This is a planet when the Atlanteans once ruled as God-Kings and have been trapped for thousands of years, jealous of Earth.
[19:35] <+BPIJonathan> I love that pitch!
[19:35] <+mib_ikwufl> Are there any plans to do Perils of the Hollow World adventures?  And if the kickstarter doesn't fund all the Perils of Mars adventures, will we still see them at a latter date?
[19:35] <+jcombos> But they also warred with themselves, causing the planet to devolve into city-states. So there is plenty of room for adventure and for each GM to make Mars their own--much like the way we set up the Hollow Earth.
[19:35] <+jcombos> Done.
[19:36] <+ZenithComics> Atlanteans on Mars?  Shut up and take my money!!!!
[19:36] <~Dan> mib_ikwufl: you can set your name with the /nick command. :)
[19:37] <~Dan> Can you tell us a bit about the new character types in RoM?
[19:38] <+jcombos> (Thanks, Jonathan!) To answer your question, mib, yes. We already have some Perils of the Hollow Earth adventures in mind--including a spear and shield Amazonian adventure and a piratical Blood Bay one. In fact, those were going to be the first Kickstarter stretch goals, but a few of the people I ran it by said I should focus on Mars.
[19:38] <~Dan> (Hollow Earth pirates are awesome.)
[19:39] <~Dan> (Pirates are awesome; HEX pirates, doubly so.)
[19:39] <+jcombos> So it is my intention to do PotHE and finish out PoM if there is the money to do so.
[19:39] <+BPIJonathan> (Pirates anywhere are awesome!)
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[19:39] <+Angus> (Apart from in Somalia - less awesome pirates there! ;p)
[19:39] <~Dan> (Heh. :) )
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[19:40] <+jcombos> As for the character types in RoM, the big addition here will be non-human PCs: robots and aliens.
[19:40] <+jcombos> We have a robot sample character and a crystaline Shardman one too. Plus, there is the green-skinned, four-armed Martian Princess too.
[19:41] <+jcombos> Done.
[19:41] <~Dan> I take it Atlantean PCs aren't really an option?
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[19:43] <+jcombos> Not exactly. But we are revealing more about the Atlanteans and what happened to them, and as such we are splitting up the "Atlantean Blood Talent" into three flavors: Builder, Warrior, and Priest.
[19:43] <~Dan> Cool.
[19:43] <+jcombos> So you'll be able to tailor your Atlantean Blooded characters more.
[19:43] <~Dan> (Welcome back, Sean!)
[19:43] <+jcombos> These are great questions. Keep 'em coming!
[19:44] <~Dan> What sorts of nifty new powers are available?
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[19:45] <+GenoFoxx> How hard will it be to adapt it for a Mongo-esque setting instead of the Solar System?
[19:46] <+jcombos> Where Mysteries focused more on magic, RoM will focus more on psychic powers. We're going to give you a few more options for the ones you know and then add in Healing, Psychosoma (mind over body) and Pyrokinesis.
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[19:47] <+jcombos> What else would you like to know?
[19:47] <~Dan> Hmm... Let me think on that, if you want to go ahead and answer GF's question. :)
[19:48] <+GenoFoxx> How hard will it be to adapt it for a Mongo-esque setting instead of the Solar System?
[19:49] <+GenoFoxx> or Lensman?
[19:49] <+jcombos> While Revelations is about HEX and Mars, it's our intention to give players the tools they need to make their own alien planet settings. Since we're introducing aliens, there is nothing standing in the way of running a game on a totally different planet.
[19:51] <+jcombos> I figure with robots, rockets, and rayguns, people can do whatever they want in this genre.
[19:51] <+jcombos> Done.
[19:51] <~Dan> Oh, to follow up on my question: What sorts of powers/abilities to the Martian races have?
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[19:52] <+BPIJonathan> (Im a huge fan of EE Smith)
[19:52] <+jcombos> Well, they will have many of the same ones we know, but psychic powers are more prevalent on the Red Planet. So you'll run into more of that there. Plus they have access to Atlantean weapons, although they have lots the ability to manufacture all but the most basic ones.
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[19:54] <+jcombos> This is why their are airships on Mars. They can create the anti-gravity engine, but have to rely on sails to move the ships through the air.
[19:54] <+Sean> I hope I'm not asking out of turn here: The GM screen implies travel by some sort of jump gates. Is that right? Are there any sort of rules for spaceships?
[19:55] <~Dan> (No problem, Sean! The floor's open unless I call for a question pause. You're good. :) )
[19:55] <+jcombos> Good question, Sean. There are four ways to get to Mars: rocket, Atlantean gates, abduction, or being projected there leaving your body behind.
[19:55] <~Dan> (Howdy, Blaster, Drakkar! Q&A in progress.)
[19:55] <+jcombos> So we will have rockets for sure.
[19:56] <+jcombos> And in the adventure at the end of Mysteries, the gateway to Mars reopens.
[19:56] <+Sean> Sounds like you have all your pulp sources covered.
[19:56] <+jcombos> That's the plan. :)
[19:56] <+Drakkar> yo
[19:57] <+Drakkar> oh neat
[19:57] <+jcombos> (Hiya Drakkar)
[19:57] <~Dan> On a related note: Can you give us an overview of the tech level of Mars?
[19:59] <+jcombos> Sure thing. Since the Atlantean God-Kings warred with each other for so long, they destroyed a lot of infrastructure and put their limited resources into weapons. So for most Martians, swords, shields, and bows are the weapons of the day. But rayguns exist as well, in addition to more powerful weapons and artifacts that lie buried and forgotten...
[20:00] <~Dan> So sort of a pulp Gamma World?
[20:01] <+jcombos> You might say that, only with less focus on beastmen.
[20:01] * ~Dan nods
[20:01] <+jcombos> And there is a political structure, it's just at the city-state level.
[20:01] <~Dan> How common are items like rayguns?
[20:02] <~Dan> (As in, are they simply unusual, or do they have "magic item" status?)
[20:04] <+jcombos> Well, they can be as common as you want them to be, but in my head they are unusual. But there are more than just one type, and each have different effects, so the really powerful death rays would be more in the "magic item" realm.
[20:04] <~Dan> Please tell me you have heat rays and freeze rays and death rays and ray rays.
[20:05] <+Sean> . . . .and ninth rays.
[20:05] <+jcombos> Heck yes, we do!
[20:05] <~Dan> You rock. :)
[20:05] <+cdaniel> and maybe tripods as rare lost ancient tech?
[20:07] <~Dan> Yes, what is the bleeding edge of lost Martian tech?
[20:07] <+jcombos> Maybe. We trying to walk a fine line between giving people what they expect while also retaining our own unique flavor. But even if we don't give you tripods, you should have everything you need to make 'em for yourself.
[20:07] <~Dan> (So if it's Martian transportation you need, why not tripods?)
[20:08] <+cdaniel> Great! Thx
[20:08] <+jcombos> I don't want to give away too much, but the Atlanteans were split into three castes. And the Warrior cast were the ones trapped on Mars. Therefore, weapons are their purview--exactly the sort of thing you wouldn't want Hitler to get his hands on.
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[20:09] <~Dan> Yes... I was wondering whether Nazis were involved.
[20:09] <+Sean> Have you talked about the general nature of martian society?
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[20:10] <+jcombos> (To some extent, yes, Sean. They live in warring city-states on a dying planet where Atlanteans once ruled as God-Kings.)
[20:12] <+Sean> I have to say, what I'm hearing so far makes me want novels.
[20:12] <~Dan> You mentioned rocket ships. Are they Martian tech or Earth weird science? Or both?
[20:12] <+jcombos> A note on Nazis, though: The surface world is lousy with them, and the Hollow Earth is suffering incursions of them, but Mars is more under the specter of them. There are things there that you won't want them to have and forces there that you won't want to follow you home, but there isn't going to be a Nazi base on Mars from the start.
[20:13] <~Dan> (Oh, they're there. You just can Nazi them.)
[20:13] <+jcombos> +1 Style point, Dan.
[20:13] <+Silverlion> (that's terrible.)
[20:14] * ~Dan bows
[20:14] <~Dan> As an aside, have you read the comic Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist, Jeff?
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[20:15] <+jcombos> I haven't, although it's in my queue to read.
[20:15] <~Dan> Very Revelations-like. Flash Gordon goes to Mongo in the 1930s; at the same time, Ming sends forces to support Hitler in an early bid for world conquest.
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[20:16] <~Dan> (wb, BPIJonathan!)
[20:16] <~Dan> How large is the RoM bestiary, and can you give us some highlights?
[20:17] <+jcombos> Oh yeah, it totally sounds up my alley. Although, in my head, Ming and Hitler would not get along and a war between them would devastate the Earth. Or at least, that's how we're approaching it in RoM. :)
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[20:17] <+BPIJonathan> (thanks, my network collapsed)
[20:17] <+Pony_Knight> Star Wars Saga line was discontinued? =(
[20:17] <+jcombos> The RoM bestiary will be about the same size as the one in Mysteries, which is to say, fairly large.
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[20:17] <~Dan> (Oh, no -- Ming dominates Hitler. Even forces him to say "Heil Ming!". :) )
[20:17] <+jcombos> Ha-ha!
[20:18] <~Dan> Oh, that WILL be extensive, then.
[20:18] <~Dan> Mysteries has an awesome bestiary.
[20:18] <+jcombos> Thanks! We're hoping to give you one just as good if not better in RoM.
[20:18] <~Dan> (Pony_Knight: Q&A in progress. #rpgnet2 is open for general chat. :) )
[20:19] <~Dan> So, can you give us some highlights? :)
[20:21] <+jcombos> Let's see, you're going to see a lot of multi-limbed creatures in there, and also things with two and three-heads. That was a bit of a challenge to stat, by the way, but I'm pretty happy with what we came up with.
[20:22] <+jcombos> But I don't have the list in front of me, so I'd have to look at it to give you the highlights.
[20:22] <~Dan> What's up with the thing on the cover? Looks quite triceratops-like.
[20:23] <+jcombos> The Atlanteans have a lot of warbeasts--things that they mucked around with to make them more fearsome. And that's one of them. Plus the giant-four armed creatures are called saurians--and they will be a playable character race.
[20:24] <+Sean> I'm a HEX newb. What year is all this set?
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[20:24] <+jcombos> And since they were based on dinosaurs, they have a lot of variability. Spiked tails, head plates, etc.
[20:25] <+jcombos> It's set between 1936-1939, Sean.
[20:25] <+jcombos> The same time frame as Indiana Jones.
[20:25] <~Dan> So Atlanteans looked at dinosaurs and thought, "These are cool, but I bet we can make them even MORE badass?"
[20:25] <+ZenithComics> Mars?  Atlanteans?  Multilimbed creatures?  Set in the 30's?  Where have you been ALL my life?
[20:26] <+jcombos> This book is my love letter to you, ZC.
[20:26] <+ZenithComics> Apparently
[20:26] <~Dan> I told you you'd be interested, ZenithComics. :)
[20:26] <+ZenithComics> Through in some Nazis, Teslatech and Dieselpunk and I am a life long fan!
[20:26] <+Sean> I agree with ZenithComics. This sounds like the RPG I've been waiting for for years.
[20:27] <~Dan> ZenithComics: That's in Secrets of the Surface World. :)
[20:27] <+ZenithComics> AAARRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111
[20:27] <+ZenithComics> Okay, I'm fine... medic!
[20:27] <+jcombos> Thanks, guys. I'm super excited about RoM and I hope people will dig it as much as I do.
[20:27] <~Dan> Also, the Hollow Earth features lizard men, mole men, hawk men, ape men...
[20:28] <~Dan> Oh, did you see my rocket ship question, Jeff?
[20:28] <+ZenithComics> I need to breath... stop Dan!
[20:28] <~Dan> ZenithComics: Dinosaurs, megafauna, pirates, Amazons, Frankenstein's monster...
[20:28] <+jcombos> No. Dan. What was the question?
[20:29] <~Dan> jcombos: Are rocket ships Martian tech, Earth weird science, or both?
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[20:29] <+ZenithComics> Amazons?  Excuse me... I need to go lay down and calm my heart beat.
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[20:31] <+GenoFoxx> I would say mecha would complete it but I don't particularly care for steampunk or clock work mecha
[20:31] <+Silverlion> Teslatech Mech?
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[20:32] <+ZenithComics> Dieselpunk mecha?
[20:32] <~Dan> Yup, they're there.
[20:32] <+jcombos> Rockets are mostly Earth weird science. The Atlanteans had flying discs, but few of them remain operable. Was it the conflict the damaged them or were they sabotaged when the great gate closed for the last time? But there is at least one disc capable of making the trip to Earth, where it's occupants abduct people.
[20:32] <+jcombos> They bring the Earthlings back to Mars as slaves, but some say they are looking for someone special.
[20:32] <~Dan> (re: dieselpunk mecha)
[20:33] <+Sean> What's next for Exile games after RoM?
[20:34] <~Dan> So is it piloted by actual Atlanteans? I'm not clear as to whether they're still around.
[20:34] <+ZenithComics> jcombos I know your setting is fixed, but how hard would it be to run a Worlds War, aka Earth vs. Mars with a sort of WW2 feeling to it?
[20:34] <+jcombos> Good question, Sean. People have been asking me for a generic Ubiquity book, so that's certainly on the agenda, but we've also got a lot of adventures to put out to support HEX in the meantime. Plus, I have a couple more irons in the fire.
[20:36] <+jcombos> It'd be easy, ZC. Part of what I do with HEX is to give people a setting to tell stories in, but all the time say "Here are the tools to use to make this game your own."
[20:37] <+jcombos> To answer your question, Dan, no. The Atlanteans themselves do not pilot the disc themselves. The God-Kings still exist on Mars, but they have faded. Some say they have been slumbering, waiting for a pathway off the dying planet to open up...
[20:37] <+jcombos> We have a whole chapter dedicated to the Atlanteans in RoM.
[20:38] <+Sean> Are Atlanteans human, or sort-of-human, or something else?
[20:38] <+GenoFoxx> this sort of reminds me of the Orichalcum Universe Thread on SJGames Forums
[20:39] <+ZenithComics> So I missed it earlier, when is the due date on this baby?
[20:40] <+jcombos> That's a good question, Sean. What is clear is that they are no longer limited by physical form. Some have appeared on Mars in different incarnations.
[20:40] <+jcombos> ZC, the book is scheduled to release in March 2014, but there is a Kickstarter for it going on right now: (Link:
[20:41] <~Dan> (As an aside, I created a pulp heroine using the Atlantean blood feature in Secrets of the Surface World.)
[20:41] <+jcombos> (That's awesome, Dan. And I'm not familiar with the thread, Gene. What was it like?)
[20:42] <+Sean> So if I start a HEX campaign now, I should be just about ready for RoM by the time it comes out.
[20:42] <+ZenithComics> brb
[20:42] <~Dan> (You may remember her, Jeff. She had that Atlantean command power and was called... The Whisper!)
[20:43] <+Sean> How easy is it to mix your stuff with, say, Regime Diabolique (Ubiquity games from other publishers)?
[20:43] <+jcombos> You bet, Sean. And yes, I remember her, Dan.
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[20:44] <+GenoFoxx> in short is an essay like description of the history of the Galaxy from the big bang to at least earth bound humanity's ascent to the stars in the mid 22nd century
[20:44] <+jcombos> It's very easy to mix stuff, Sean, since it's Ubiquity underneath. In fact, I know some people that have swapped out the magic system for example.
[20:44] <~Dan> Speaking of crossovers... What's the scoop on the Space: 1889 tie-in? (And are you still awake, Angus? :) )
[20:44] <+GenoFoxx> based on the material 'orichalcum'
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[20:45] <~Dan> (And that's true -- I've used the magic system from Desolation in HEX, for example.)
[20:45] <+jcombos> That's much what I have in my head, Gene. Although my version is sure to differ somewhat from theirs.
[20:45] <+GenoFoxx> which has extradimensional properties that allow it to amplify psionic powers but is only slightly denser than bronze
[20:46] <+jcombos> So here's the scoop on Space: 1889. A few years ago, my German licensee scored the license to publish Space: 1889 in German and they approached me about using Ubiquity for it.
[20:47] <+jcombos> I said yes, of course, even though I was sad that it would probably never be published in English. And then they managed to get the English license, and I was thrilled!
[20:48] <+GenoFoxx> basically a branch of extradimensal aliens helped to guide the evolution on earth and seeded terrestrial life on other planets as well as developing a race of hydrogen breathers from another system
[20:49] <+GenoFoxx> they set themselves up as 'near' gods and their progeny as 'demigods'
[20:49] <+GenoFoxx> until an opposing branch of their species seals them away
[20:49] <+jcombos> (That's pretty cool, Gene. And there are some similarities, to be sure.)
[20:50] <+GenoFoxx> which ends up allowing the space based terragen species to come into conflict with the hydrogen breathers
[20:51] <+Sean> So is this prehistory laid out in the HEX books, or left to the GM?
[20:51] <+jcombos> (In this case, the Atlanteans were a powerful civilization that splintered. Their direct impact on our development is open to debate.)
[20:51] <~Dan> (Actually, let's have a question pause until Jeff finished the Space: 1889 bit. :) )
[20:52] <+GenoFoxx> the hydrogen breathers eventually die off but leave a supercomputer operational that continues the war, even though most of the hydrogen breathers actually wanted peace
[20:52] <+jcombos> The pre-history is mostly ignored in the books, Sean, so that you can come up with your own answers to the mysteries they left behind.
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[20:53] <+jcombos> But I have an answer in my own head that informs the things we put into the game.
[20:54] <+jcombos> Done.
[20:54] <~Dan> So how does the RoM/Space: 1889 Kickstarter tie-in work?
[20:55] <+jcombos> We're creating a PDF booklet that will have quickstart Ubiquity rules in it and then two adventures, one for each game setting. We're not currently planning to cross them over, as they will most likely be on different planets.
[20:56] <+GenoFoxx> crossdimensions
[20:56] <+jcombos> But its free to anyone that backs both Kickstarters at the appropriate, lower levels.
[20:56] <+Sean> That's what I'm thinking, GenoFoxx
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[20:56] <~Dan> As a reminder, you're welcome to hang out as long as you like, Jeff; that said, is there anything we haven't brought up that you'd like to cover?
[20:57] <+jcombos> This crowd asked lots of great questions, so I got to talk about all my favorite stuff.
[20:57] <+jcombos> The only question I have is whether people wanted to know about the Style points and/or Ubiquity dice.
[20:58] <+BPIJonathan> I love Ubiquity, I am sad that my personal life caused my project to take a nose dive, but doesnt change my love of the setting.
[20:58] <~Dan> Well, for the sake of our log readers, why don't you say a bit about those, Jeff?
[20:58] <+jcombos> I was sad too, Jonathan. But personal lives always take precedent. Heck, my busy day job(s) are what have kept RoM from coming out sooner.
[20:59] <+jcombos> Sure thing, Dan.
[20:59] <+Sean> I'm just now reading the system, Jeff, if you can explain it in a few words, I'd be thrilled.
[20:59] <+jcombos> Firs of all, I'll finish up the "roll less dice, less often thing."
[20:59] <+Silverlion> I liked the idea of Ubiquity, but Desolation didn't sell it for me.
[21:00] <+jcombos> So Taking the Average speeds things up, but what about rolling a bucketful of dice? (If you liked Ubiquity, check out HEX, All for One, and Leagues of Adventure, Silverlion.)
[21:01] <+GenoFoxx> so taking the average is like D20's taking 10?
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[21:01] <+jcombos> I happened upon a design that lets you roll up to 1/3 less dice and instead of having to parse through them to count successes, you just add up the face value. For the math geeks out there, I applied binomial distribution to d8s. And the result is something anyone--but especially math-phobes--can enjoy.
[21:01] <+Silverlion> Leagues of Adventure?
[21:03] <+jcombos> (Yep, Gene, only even more powerful since I use it to speed up combat. If you check the log above, you'll see my description of it. And Silverlion, it's Triple Ace Games Victorian adventure game. And also check out the new Space: 1889 game coming out, as it is also Ubiquity-based.)
[21:03] <+jcombos> OK, nifty dice aside, Ubiquity is really not about mechanics, as far as I'm concerned. What makes it so popular with people are the Style points.
[21:04] <+jcombos> They are the heart and soul of the game (and full-disclosure, Dan helped convince me to put them into the system).
[21:04] <+BPIJonathan> My Ubiquity project, eventually turned into Gaslight. I still want to do a project, maybe we can get together and figure out one :D
[21:04] <+jcombos> So there are lots of games out there that have Drama or Hero points.
[21:05] <+jcombos> But Style points are there to reward the behavior you want to have in your game.
[21:05] <+jcombos> One of the best examples of them is Motivations and Flaws.
[21:07] <+jcombos> Every character has a Motivation, which represents the thing that drives them, such as Greed, Fame, or Truth. Whenever your character pursues his or her Motivation, they get  Style point. So if you create a campaign and pick a few Motivations to be the major themes, and your players make characters with those Motivations, your players will get rewarded
[21:08] <+jcombos> when their characters do things that further the plot in a way that feels true to their character.
[21:08] <+Silverlion> Sounds somewhat familiar...motivations mattering ;D
[21:09] <+jcombos> (Nods at Silverlion.) And then there are Flaws. Lots of games let you take them at character creation to get extra build points for your character. Ubiquity doesn't do that.
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[21:09] <+jcombos> Taking a Flaw doesn't give you anything other than the opportunity to roleplay the Flaw in game. And every time it hurts you, you get a Style point.
[21:10] <+Silverlion> Yeah, I like rewarding the moments when PC's choose to suffer.
[21:11] <+jcombos> And this creates situations where characters stumble, fumble, and make mistakes in a way that gives them the resources to get them out of messes in a dramatic fashion because Style points are spend for bonus dice, to resist damage, or boost Talents.
[21:11] <+BPIJonathan> Its part of the system I really like.
[21:11] <~Dan> (Oh, if you have time, I just remembered another setting question, Jeff.)
[21:11] <+jcombos> Here's my favorite example:
[21:11] <~Dan> (When you're caught up, of course.)
[21:12] <+jcombos> The Imperiled Actress is a sample character in HEX. She has the Danger Magnet Flaw. So when she walks into a bank, it gets robbed. Or the giant ape falls in love with her, and she gets a Style point.
[21:12] <+jcombos> And her Motivation is Escape, so every time she gets away from one of these situations, bang, another Style point.
[21:13] <+jcombos> So at the end of the adventure, when the bad guy drags her to the top of the volcano, she spends the Style points to sucker punch him and he falls into the lava. She didn't need anyone to save her. She did it herself.
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[21:14] <+jcombos> It's that kind of interplay between Motivations and Flaws that bring characters to life in Ubiquity and make it so that the more fun you have the better your character gets.
[21:14] <+jcombos> Done. And go ahead Dan. I have time for another question or two.
[21:14] <+Sean> Does the Archtype work into this?
[21:15] <+Sean> Sorry. go ahead, Dan.
[21:16] <~Dan> Okay. In the John Carter tales, tech hasn't yet advanced enough for Earth to really know what's happening on Mars. By the 1930s, though, I'd think telescopes could give a pretty decent idea. How to you reconcile that with a "living" Mars in RoM?
[21:16] <+jcombos> Archetypes don't have any direct game impact. There are there to use as a guide when creating a character. So a GM can say, this campaign will be about Power, Truth, and Escape, and the best character types for it will be Criminal, Reporter, and Lawman.
[21:16] <+jcombos> Good question, Dan.
[21:18] <+jcombos> HEX has always lived in an alternate history. We all know how WW2 turned out, but then again, the Hollow Earth is not real. So what if it did exist? What if it was filled with amazing artifacts that might tip the balance to the bad guys? To that end, what if observations of Mars through powerful telescopes showed a different planet from the one we know today?
[21:18] <+jcombos> What if there is evidence that it is inhabited?
[21:19] <~Dan> Ah... So in HEX's 1930s, people have reason to believe that Mars is inhabited?
[21:19] <+jcombos> So that's the way we're approaching it. Mars is inhabited and has an atmosphere because it does. Although we do explain why it used to be green, though.
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[21:20] <+jcombos> Only those people who have been able to observe it closely. So much like the Hollow Earth believers, only a select few will know the truth of it.
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[21:20] <+Sean> S M Sterling wrote a novel where NASA's first Martian Lander (in 1962, I think) confirmed observations that suggested Mars was inhabited.
[21:21] <~Dan> Ah. Cool. :)
[21:21] <+jcombos> Cool, Sean!
[21:22] <+jcombos> OK, and with that, I'm going to say adieu and go get some dinner.
[21:22] <~Dan> (Oh, yes -- you really need to read The Sky People and... In the Court of the Crimson Kings?)
[21:22] <+Sean> Thanks, Jeff and Dan!
[21:22] <+jcombos> Thank you everyone for attending and asking so many great questions.
[21:22] <~Dan> Thanks so much for coming by, Jeff! I'll have the log posted shortly.
[21:23] <~Dan> You remain a man of vision, sir. :)
[21:23] <+Sean> That's right, and it was S M Stirling, sorry.
[21:23] <+jcombos> Awesome. Have a great night everyone.
[21:23] <+Kei> take it easy :)
[21:23] <+jcombos> What a wonderful compliment. Thanks, Dan. Talk to you later.
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