Friday, August 2, 2013

[Q&A] Lee Garvin (Tales from the Floating Vagabond 2nd Edition)

(Note: This wasn't an "official" Q&A -- just an informal chat that yielded way too much golden information to waste!)
[20:39] *** Lee has joined #rpgnet
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[20:39] <~Dan> Howdy, Lee!
[20:39] <~Dan> Looks like it works. :)
[20:40] <+Lee> Yup.
[20:41] <~Dan> Not sure if anyone's awake, but this is Lee Garvin of Tales from the Floating Vagabond fame. :)
[20:41] <+Lee> Hi Everybody. What's everyone drinking?
[20:42] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:42] <~Dan> Out of curiosity, Lee, why now for a 2nd edition of the game?
[20:43] <+Lee> I wanted to do years and years ago, but the stars never quite aligned.
[20:45] <~Dan> Did Kickstarter tip the balance?
[20:45] <+Lee> After Avalon Hill decided to drop it, I shopped around to a few other publishers, but things never quite came together. Plus, I was determined not to lose control over it again, so that had to part of the search
[20:46] <+Lee> I would have done it anyway, but KickStarter meant that I didn
[20:46] <+Lee> 't have to take out loans, which I hate doing.
[20:47] <+Lee> I've always been a pay for what you get, right now, kind of guy.
[20:47] * ~Dan nods
[20:47] <~Dan> Looks like the Kickstarter is moving along nicely so far.
[20:47] <+Lee> I think KickStarter is a brilliant fusion of Capitalism and Socialism.
[20:47] <+Lee> Yeah,
[20:48] <+Lee> I had a little hiccup earlier today, with regards to international shipping, but we're back on track, now.
[20:48] <+Yalborap> Are we doing a double Q&A tonight, Dan?
[20:48] <~Dan> Nope, just chatting, Yal. Lee's on the schedule for... 8/26, I think?
[20:49] <~Dan> He just stopped by to test the link.
[20:49] <+Yalborap> Ah, fun.
[20:49] <+Yalborap> ...Dang, you're all the way out to the end of the month?
[20:49] <+Lee> Yep, But I'll gladly answer anything you've got, as long as I'm not stepping on your other guest.
[20:49] <~Dan> Oh, no guest tonight, Lee.
[20:50] <~Dan> I think Yal was referring to the Q&A we did earlier.
[20:50] <+Lee> Ah.
[20:50] <+Yalborap> Yes.
[20:50] <+Lee> Well, then, fire away, if you like.
[20:50] <~Dan> So I hate to admit this, but I'm not familiar with your body of work outside of Tales. What all have you written?
[20:51] <+Yalborap> I'm afraid I'm not too familiar with Tales. Is it an RPG or fiction?
[20:51] <~Dan> Heh. I'll run to the restroom while you field that one, Lee. :)
[20:52] <+Lee> HERESY!  Just Kidding. I've done work for the Indiana Jones RPG, for the West End Star Wars, Deadlands, 7th Sea
[20:52] <+Yalborap> Ooh, nice.
[20:52] <+Lee> Tales From The Floating Vagabond (TF2V for short) is a comedy/ science-fiction/ fantasy/ adventure rpg
[20:53] <+Lee> The Floating Vagabond itself is a bar built into an asteroid at the center of the universe.
[20:53] <+Yalborap> Nifty. More campaign focused, or one-shot oriented?
[20:56] <+Lee> Well, in the past, people seemed to think that the game was best suited for one-off kinds of games, but I intend with the new edition to prove that it's just as well suited to campaign play.
[20:57] <~Dan> How difficult have you found it to keep up the slapstick comedy, Lee?
[20:57] <~Dan> I've had serious games turn funny and still succeed, but it seems like a comedy game that turned serious would be in big trouble.
[20:58] <+Lee> hold on a minute, I'm going to invite a mob over here.
[20:59] <~Dan> Oh? Excellent. :)
[21:01] <~Dan> While we're waiting, I'll just mention that we have several "resident" game authors.
[21:01] <+Lee> Right. Comedy. I think Ed Wynn said "Dying is easy; comedy, that's hard!" So yeah, recovering from a suddenly serious game can be a challenge.
[21:01] <~Dan> DWPearce over there (who is likely asleep) is a Doctor Who and 13th Age author, for example.
[21:02] <+Lee> In addition to TF2V, I also created The Noble Wild, Control: The Game of Absolute Corruption, and Dravakor.
[21:02] <~Dan> But yeah, let's say we're talking about a shoot-out with Space Nazis. Do you try to make every death funny?
[21:03] <+Lee> Oh yeah! And if you don't think death can be funny, watch the original Get Smart, or Blackadder
[21:03] <~Dan> (And don't worry about "using up" any questions before the Q&A. If they don't come up and need asking, I'll ask them for the benefit of the audience and log readers.)
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[21:04] <~Dan> Oh, it certainly can be. I'm just wondering about how you go about making it funny by default. Like, if a PC simply shoots at a Space Nazi and gets a kill, do you feel obligated to find comedy in it?
[21:05] <~Dan> (I know, shame on the PC for not doing something funny... but still. :) )
[21:05] <+Lee> Even in a comedy game, you sometimes want some drama. My advice is, keep the drama for the quiet scenes; when things are blowing up and stuff, keep it funny.
[21:06] * ~Dan nods
[21:06] <~Dan> Do you find it difficult to keep Schticks from growing tiresome?
[21:06] <+Lee> Well, just the disposable nature of some of the bad guys is a source for comedy itself.
[21:06] <~Dan> Good point.
[21:07] <+Lee> Often. And also, they can be game-breaking.
[21:07] <+Lee> That's why, in the new system, I've built in limits.
[21:07] <~Dan> Oh? How's that work?
[21:08] <+Lee> I need to step away for a few minutes: my dog needs to go out.
[21:09] <~Dan> No problem. I'll be here. :)
[21:19] <+RdS_> So in 13th Age, you roll your relationships at the beginning of every session, no matter what's going on. The players are exploring a vast underground complex, well out of reach of the icons.
[21:19] <+RdS_> But a player rolled a 5, which is an icon helps but with a complication.
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[21:20] <~Dan> Howdy, jcfiala!
[21:20] <+RdS_> So they're in this room with a lever, and the monk is idly drawing in the dirt, not paying attention to it.
[21:20] <~Dan> (He's walking his dog at the moment.)
[21:20] <~Dan> Howdy, RdS!
[21:20] <&Le_Squide> Oh, Dan, you didn't kickstart Warbirds, did you?
[21:21] <~Dan> Squide: ?
[21:21] <~Dan> Not to my knowledge...
[21:21] <+RdS_> Daisy doodles little stick figures in the grime near the water. (hers. I then add: ) The figures look oddly enough like a woman, holding an ankh, wearing robes, telling someone no about a lever.   That is, they would look like that, if anyone, including Daisy, paid attention to them.
[21:21] <&Le_Squide> It's a /beautiful/ book. I was absolutely blown away by it.
[21:21] <~Dan> That's the Crimson Skies-y RPG, right?
[21:22] * &jcfiala wanders in.  "About time to give jcfiala 2.0 a bath."
[21:22] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:23] <~Dan> Oh, and Le_Squide: Did you see that Lee "Tales from the Floating Vagabond" Garvin is here?
[21:23] <~Dan> (Not a Q&A mind you. Just hanging out.)
[21:23] <&jcfiala> Wow, so he named his game after the middle name his parents saddled him with?
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[21:23] <~Dan> Howdy, Wondy!
[21:23] <~Dan> jcfiala: Heh. :)
[21:23] <+WonderRat> Howdy, Dan
[21:24] <&jcfiala> Yeah, I gotta go run.  Dan, if you think of it, ask him about how crunchy the second edition's going to be.  :)  Hopefully I'll be back soon, depends on how many bath toys are needed.
[21:24] <~Dan> He says it's streamlined.
[21:25] <~Dan> But I will. :)
[21:25] <~Dan> Wondy: Have you heard of Tales from the Floating Vagabond?
[21:26] <&Le_Squide> Yes, Dan; original setting that's pretty neat.
[21:27] <~Dan> Le_Squide: One thing about the setting that amused me is that every solar system in the multiverse has a planet with a name that sounds like "Uranus".
[21:28] <+Kzar> What is Tales from the Floating Vagabond, have heard it mentioned in here a few times recently
[21:29] <+Lee> I'm back! Dog = Walked. Treats = Given. Beer = Opened. Shoes = Off. Pants = HEY NOW!
[21:29] <~Dan> Kzar: (Link:
[21:29] <~Dan> LOL
[21:29] <~Dan> Sounds like you're all set, Lee. :)
[21:29] <~Dan> Quite a few people "woke up" while you were gone. :)
[21:30] <~Dan> Everybody, Lee. Lee, everybody.
[21:30] <+Lee> Yeah, I see. Have I missed much? Who kissed who? This IS that kind of party, right?
[21:30] <~Dan> It is now.
[21:30] <~Dan> So you mentioned limits on Schticks?
[21:32] <+Lee> Yes! Every character has a Shtick Track: basically, one spot for each die type - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, d30, and d100.
[21:32] <+Lee> Each Shtick has a stat associated with it. Double the stat for your Shtick score.
[21:33] <~Dan> (Shtick Track sounds like a type of safety razor.)
[21:33] <+Lee> Whenever you use your Shtick, you roll the die currently on the track. for the next roll, you bump it up to the next.
[21:34] <+Lee> So the more you use your Shtick, the tougher it gets to actually pull off.
[21:34] <~Dan> Hmm. So how does that work with Shticks that (IIRC) don't necessarily have a mechanical effect, like Theme Music?
[21:35] <+Lee> Oh, but it DOES! The right music can give you a Morale bonus, or a Sneak bonus, or give you a warning.
[21:36] <~Dan> Ah, I see...
[21:36] <~Dan> And how would you roll for the Harpo Effect? Just to see if you can actually pull something implausible out of your trenchcoat?
[21:36] <+Lee> The Rodgers & Hammerstein Effect was the original Shtick for all music, but now it only pertains to actual singing and dancing.
[21:38] <~Dan> (Oh, Don "Silent Jim" Early says "hi", Lee. :) )
[21:38] <+Lee> Each Shtick has a Primary and a Secondary effect. The Primary is the one you roll for, the secondary is automatic. Stashing things you have on hand is a secondary effect, while coming up with whatever someone needs is a primary.
[21:38] <+Lee> Hi Don!
[21:38] <+Lee> For T
[21:39] <+Lee> For THEME music, now you have the Elfman Effect.
[21:40] <~Dan> Heh. Yeah, I saw that. :)
[21:40] <+Lee> So is anyone here from the KickStarter?
[21:40] <~Dan> I'm guessing you've added quite a few jokes referencing cultural things that have come up since the 1e.
[21:40] <~Dan> I don't think any of them have shown up yet, Lee.
[21:41] <+Lee> Some, but I really am a child of the 80s, so a lot of that flavor remains, and I refuse to lose it. :)
[21:41] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:42] <~Dan> Where did you post the link?
[21:43] <+Lee> in the comments
[21:44] <~Dan> Ah, there it is. Cool. :)
[21:44] <~Dan> So I was asked to ask you how you've streamlined the system, as this person found the original version a bit crunchy for a comedy game.
[21:45] <+Lee> So yeah, I might throw out a Matrix reference, or a Pirates of the Caribean homage, or a Lost joke, but the 80s were the decade that invented Awesome.
[21:45] <~Dan> It really was. Mirrorshades forever!
[21:45] <+Lee> Well, gone are all the modifiers and penalties and bonuses and what not.
[21:46] <+Lee> Now, if something is easier, you Slide down to the next die size. If it's harder, you Bump up the next size.
[21:46] <+Lee> Bumps and Slides. That's it.
[21:46] <~Dan> How do contested rolls work?
[21:47] <+Lee> A stat value corresponds to a die size. The acting character rolls that die.
[21:48] <+Lee> A stat of 1 is d4, 2 is d6, etc.
[21:49] <~Dan> So whoever rolls higher wins?
[21:51] <+Lee> Actually, only the acting character rolls, and he wants to roll low. ALL skill rolls are roll under or equal to.
[21:51] <&jcfiala> (Alright, my daughter is now falling asleep while listening to the best of Harry Bellefonte)
[21:52] <+Lee> good choice, but I like Bobby McFerrin.
[21:52] <&jcfiala> It's my wife's ipod. I don't know if she's got Bobby McFerrin.
[21:52] <+Lee> Well, THAT needs to get fixed!
[21:53] <~Dan> Hmm... So if the opposition has a stat of 1 (1d4), it's easier for the acting character to roll under his own stat.
[21:53] <~Dan> That makes sense.
[21:54] <+Lee> Right, and if he has an 8, he needs to roll a d100.
[21:54] <~Dan> Since you're incorporating superpowers into the core rules, I'm assuming that super-stats are possible. How do they work in that context?
[21:54] <&jcfiala> I must have missed something.  If you've got an 8 in a stat, you have an 8% chance of success, but if you have a 1 in a stat, you have a 25% chance?
[21:55] <+Lee> No, that's what the target's stat is.
[21:56] <+Lee> In other words, it's easier to Bamboozle a moron than a genius.
[21:57] <+Lee> If you have a Smarts of 4 and a Bamboozle of 3, your Bamboozle score is 7. You therefore will walk all over anyone with a Smarts of 1, 2, or 3.
[21:57] <&jcfiala> Yeah, I'm just missing something primal or misread something.
[21:58] <&jcfiala> Because I'm still not understanding.
[21:58] <~Dan> Maybe a specific example is in order?
[21:58] <+Lee> Okay, here we go:
[21:59] <+Lee> Max is a grifter. He has a Smarts stat of 3 and a Bamboozle skill of 2. That makes his Bamboozle score a 5.
[22:00] <+Lee> Clem is his mark. Clem has a smarts of 2. That makes the difficulty for anyone to Bamboozle him a d6.
[22:01] <+Lee> Max then rolls a d6 and he wants to get a 5 or less to convince Max to sign over the deed to his shed.
[22:01] <&jcfiala> Ah.
[22:02] <+Lee> Max can modify his chances by producing authentic-looking documents that grant him a skill slide. Now he only has to roll a d4, which is an automatic success.
[22:02] <~Dan> Does degree of success ever matter, or is it always pass/fail?
[22:03] <+Lee> There are things called "Chugs" and "Spills"
[22:03] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[22:03] <~Dan> (I love the terminology.)
[22:03] <+Lee> If you roll a 1, you Chug. This has two effects.
[22:03] <+Lee> One, you have a critical success.
[22:04] <&jcfiala> Two, someone in the scene has to say "Shut up, Wesley."
[22:04] <+Lee> Two, you get a chug token that can be spent like a Luck Point. You can only ever have one Chug token
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[22:05] <~Dan> Howdy, Darren!
[22:05] <+DarrenMacLennan> Hey!
[22:05] <+Lee> A spill is when you roll the highest number on the die. Now, whether or not you succeeded, something bad happens.
[22:05] <~Dan> (I told Darren here that you were hanging out with us, Lee, and he decided to drop in. :) )
[22:06] <+Lee> Hi Darren, What are you drinkin'?
[22:06] <+DarrenMacLennan> Nothing right at the moment. Had a caffeine free diet cola a little while ago.  :)
[22:07] <+Lee> If the roll is so easy that you have no chance of failure, you can opt not to roll. That means you wont get a Chug, but neither will you Spill.
[22:07] <~Dan> So let's see... That means that the easier something is, the more likely you are to Chug...
[22:07] <+Lee> Right.
[22:08] <~Dan> But... a higher skill won't make you more likely to Chug, because the difficulty will vary...?
[22:08] <+Lee> And also more likely to Spill.
[22:08] <~Dan> I sense a desire for deliberate chaos here. :)
[22:09] <+Lee> Because a Spill isn't just about failure, it's about embarrassmernt.
[22:09] <+Lee> Who, Me?
[22:09] <~Dan> Heh.
[22:09] <+Lee> And frankly, if you
[22:10] <+Lee> Spill on a d100 roll, I expect an explosion.
[22:10] <~Dan> So... in the game, a higher skill is just more likely to get you to the point at which you get an auto-success, potentially free from any embarassment.
[22:10] <&jcfiala> You get the door to the house open, but you fall through and land in the aquarium of puffer fish just inside.
[22:11] <+Lee> Precisely! If you hadn't been showing off, you'd just open the door.
[22:11] <+Lee> without taking the roll.
[22:11] <&jcfiala> Later in the day, your girlfriend slaps you because she thinks the buffer fish bites are hickeys.
[22:11] <~Dan> Is damage still random?
[22:11] <&jcfiala> Cue laugh track.
[22:11] <+Lee> I like the way you bartend!
[22:12] <~Dan> jcfiala is awesome. :)
[22:12] <+Lee> damage is a single die roll, determined by the weapon used.
[22:12] <~Dan> Also, he looks like a dwarf. And dwarves are awesome.
[22:12] <+Lee> It can be Bumped or Slid as well.
[22:13] <~Dan> Does brawn affect damage in melee combat?
[22:13] <+Lee> Having a high Strength will Bump any melee damage you do, while wearing armor will slide any damage done TOO you.
[22:14] <+Lee> The formula for Damage Bonus (number of bumps to damage) is Strength/2 -1.
[22:14] <+Lee> (round up)
[22:14] <~Dan> Is it still the case that if you learn to Hurt People Really Badly, you lose your strength bonus?
[22:15] <~Dan> (The skill names are awesome, btw.)
[22:15] <+Lee> It's not a case of losing it, per se. There are two skills, Hurt People, and Hurt People Really badly.
[22:16] <+Lee> The requirement to have HP before you take HPRB is gone.
[22:16] <~Dan> Ah, that's good.
[22:16] <+Lee> You take HP if you want to do a lot of damage. You take HPRB if you want to hit a bunch of times.
[22:17] <~Dan> Same deal with Swing Nasty Pointy Thing and Swing Nasty Pointy Thing With Panache?
[22:17] <+Lee> I've greatly simplified the skill lists.\
[22:18] <+Lee> Yep. Although, they are actually specialties of the same skill now.
[22:18] <+Lee> Swing Nasty Pointy
[22:18] <+Lee> Sorry,
[22:19] <~Dan> Really? Interesting.
[22:19] <+Lee> Swing Nasty Pointy Thing must be specialized as Short, Regular, Long, With Panache, or Awkward.
[22:19] <~Dan> Hmm. That's a nice touch.
[22:20] <+Lee> Just like Shoot Things must be specialized as Gun, Big Gun, Really Big Gun, or Primitive Missile.
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[22:20] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, sevenone!
[22:20] <+sevenone> Hi
[22:20] <+Lee> Hey
[22:21] <~Dan> sevenone: What brings you by today? Lee here, perchance? :)
[22:21] <+sevenone> I just wanted to "listen in" what discussions are goign on in this chat room of
[22:21] <+Lee> Hey, everybody! We just this econd passed the 6K mark on the KickStarter!
[22:21] <~Dan> Woohoo!
[22:21] <+DarrenMacLennan> This is Tales From the Laughing Vagabond v2?
[22:22] <+Lee> I'm just answering questions about the new edition
[22:22] <~Dan> sevenone: Well, at the moment, we're hanging out with Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Flaoting Vagabond 2e. :)
[22:22] <+sevenone> okay
[22:22] <+DarrenMacLennan> Ah, nice.  :)
[22:22] <~Dan> It's not an official Q&A at the moment, so all topics are welcome.
[22:23] <+Lee> I'll even answer questions about one of my other games. Or my dog.
[22:23] <~Dan> It seemed to me that actions in 1e were rather restrictive, somehow, and not particularly conducive to slapstick comedy. Is 2e "looser", for lack of a better term?
[22:24] <~Dan> sevenone: Just out of curiousity, how did you find us?
[22:25] <+Lee> Some of that was an artifact of being published by Avalon Hill, and some of it was me being an absolute novice at game design. So, yeah, actions are pretty free-form.
[22:25] <~Dan> That's good to hear.
[22:26] <~Dan> So how much can you accomplish in a single round?
[22:26] <+Lee> If you can describe it and it makes "sense" you can do it. If your description made people laugh, maybe you'll get a slide to the roll.
[22:27] <+Lee> A single round is kind of amorphous, but generally a matter of a few seconds.
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[22:27] <~Dan> So can you, say, swing from the chandelier and kick the Space Nazi in the chops in the same round as one stunt?
[22:27] <+Lee> You can move up to your character's speed in Paces (or squares), and perform a single action.
[22:28] <+Lee> If you want, you can attempt multiple actions, by bumping the rolls for each.
[22:28] <+Lee> Swinging is a move, so yeah.
[22:28] <+Lee> Also, you can target multiploe targets if you like.
[22:29] <~Dan> Seems fair... Is 8/d100 a universal "hard cap"? How do super-abilities work?
[22:29] <+Lee> Remember that scen in Dick Tracy where he punches a mob of bad guys and they all fall down? you can do that.
[22:29] <~Dan> Sweet. :)
[22:29] <~Dan> (And yes, I do. :) )
[22:30] <+Lee> The more targets, the larger the die.
[22:30] <+Lee> Yes, d100 is a universal ceiling.
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[22:31] <~Dan> Howdy, 'nessie!
[22:32] <+Lee> Attacking 1 guy is a d10. 2 is a d12. 5 is a d20. 10 is a d30.
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[22:32] <&jcfiala> If I attack a halfling, can I roll a d5?
[22:33] * ~Dan chuckles
[22:33] <+Lee> Because you are spreading the damage out to a bunch of people, the damage roll gets slid down the same amount the attack was bumped, but it applies to ALL the targets.
[22:34] <+Lee> Well, the halfing probably has the Dodge skill, which he doesn't roll. Instead, each level he has is a bump to your roll.
[22:34] <~Dan> Does the universal cap create any issues when trying to create a superhero type?
[22:35] <+Lee> Not really, d100 is the ceiling for difficulty, not the stats. Remember, the stats determine other things too; like what your skill score will be, how much damage you can do, etc.
[22:36] <+Lee> Plus, having a hard ceiling means a team with a superhero in it are not going to automatically useless.
[22:36] <~Dan> Ah, I see... but when it comes to damage, you still can't Bump past d100, right?'
[22:37] <+Lee> Not really, and there wouldn't be much point to, since not many things would ever have that many Oops! Points
[22:38] <~Dan> Ah, gotcha.
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[22:39] <~Dan> Have you added any new species that players can choose for their PCs? Seems like I recall elves, dwarves, dog men, rhino men... I forget the others offhand.
[22:39] <+Lee> Oh, lots! Plus a standardized system for making your own.
[22:40] <+Lee> We have Elves, Dwarves, Pixes, Orcs, Monkeys, Rhinoids, Canoids, Feloids, Reptoids,
[22:41] <+Lee> Weaseloids, BEMs, Slime-Dripping Aliens, Big-Head Aliens, and Robots.
[22:43] <~Dan> Awesome!
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[22:43] <~Dan> BEM = Bug-Eyed Monster?
[22:43] <~Dan> Howdy, Kaiju_Keiichi!
[22:43] <+Lee> Yep.
[22:43] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> Hey yall
[22:44] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> can I advertise my streaming radio show here? I'm broadcasting in 15 mins
[22:44] <~Dan> Kaiju_Keiichi: Say hello to Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Floating Vagabond. :)
[22:44] <~Dan> Sure, Kaiju_Keiichi!
[22:44] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> (Link:
[22:44] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> DJ Kim is on right now, I come on at 0400 GMT. Rock show tonight.
[22:45] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> I am DJ Photon!2
[22:45] <~Dan> Oh, before I forget, Lee, I have a very important question about Tales 2e.
[22:45] <~Dan> Kaiju_Keiichi: Cool!
[22:45] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> I am DJ Photon, even.
[22:45] <+Lee> What's that?
[22:45] <~Dan> Lee: Is it still the case that every solar system in the multiverse has a planet with a name that sounds like "Uranus"?
[22:45] <+Lee> Is it about the cover?
[22:46] <+Lee> Heh. It might be. Just because you asked. Actually, there may be a planet called Butt, and another called Arse.
[22:46] * ~Dan chuckles
[22:47] <~Dan> Seems like I recall that being stated in one of the adventures... Maybe even the intro adventure.
[22:47] <+Lee> I'm not sure. I don't remember writing it, so it might have been in one of the adventures.
[22:48] <~Dan> That always amused me. :)
[22:48] <~Dan> So what's the advantage to playing a human, if any?
[22:48] <+Lee> One thing I have established is that Magic as a force exists only on planets that have a strong Thaumosphere.
[22:49] <+Lee> The problem is that the Thaumosphere occupies the same space as the Douchesphere.
[22:49] * ~Dan laughs
[22:49] <+Kzar> are all mages douches?
[22:49] <+Lee> Planets that have a strong Douchesphere have an unusually high instance of reality TV producers.
[22:50] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> And lawyers.
[22:50] <+Lee> No, it means that if one is strong, the other isn't.
[22:50] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> Kzar, Mages arent douches, but Technocrats are, as they are self hating Mages.
[22:50] <~Dan> So a strong Douchesphere produces a comedically high level of banality?
[22:51] <+Lee> Just like the Bozosphere and the Ninjasphere tend to cancel each other out.
[22:51] <+Kzar> I like the sound of this game :)
[22:51] <+Lee> Yep.
[22:51] <~Dan> Awesome, isn't it? :)
[22:51] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> well, being douchey is pretty banal
[22:52] <+Kzar> Indeed, it sounds like something that would be quite fun to run or play
[22:52] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> There are magnificent bastards, but most douches are just shitty.
[22:52] <~Dan> Speaking of magic, you mentioned that magic, cybernetics, and superpowers all draw from the same source, system-wise?
[22:52] <+Lee> The Arrgesphere, of course, accounts for a planet's piratical potential.
[22:52] <~Dan> (Mind the language, please, Kaiju_Keiichi. :) )
[22:52] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> pardons Dan
[22:52] <~Dan> (No worries. :) )
[22:53] * +Kaiju_Keiichi would think that planets with a strong Arrgesphere would have many Spaghetti monsters.
[22:53] <+Lee> Yes, anything that a character can do than normal people with training can't do is called Cheese.
[22:53] <~Dan> Lee: You've spent years just dying to get these ideas out, haven't you? :)
[22:53] <+Lee> Mine is a crowded head.
[22:54] <~Dan> And you mentioned that you take a "cafeteria" approach to Cheese powers?
[22:54] <~Dan> (As in, lists of specific abilities?)
[22:55] <+Lee> Yeah, each Cheese power has a point value. Whatever your Cheese Stat is, that's how many points of Cheese you can take.
[22:55] <+Lee> Once you have your
[22:56] <+Lee> cheese, you have choose an equal amount of Cheese Stink:
[22:56] <+Dirian> yo
[22:56] <+Lee> Weaknesses and disadvantages that offset the awesomeness.
[22:56] <~Dan> Howdy, Dirian!
[22:56] <+Dirian> How's it going?
[22:56] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> My show is starting in 4 minutes. Tune into the Photonic Shockwave with DJ Photon, only on subspace radio, the voice of Star Trek Online! (Link:
[22:57] <~Dan> Going well, thanks! We're hanging out with Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Floating Vagabond 2e. :)
[22:57] <~Dan> Can you give an example of a specific power?
[22:57] <+Dirian> neat
[22:57] <+Lee> Sure, hang on, let me open the file.
[22:58] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> Also, if anyone has requests, send me a PM here.
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[22:58] <~Dan> Howdy, AnthonyHoltberg!
[22:58] <+AnthonyHoltberg> Hello, Dan/
[22:58] <+AnthonyHoltberg> .
[22:59] <+Lee> Clairvoyance is a 1 point power, for example.
[22:59] <~Dan> AnthonyHoltberg: We're hanging out with Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Floating Vagabond 2e. :)
[22:59] <~Dan> (Not an official Q&A, so general chatter is welcome as well. :) )
[23:01] <~Dan> What is its assocated Stink?
[23:01] <+Lee> And whether you have that power because it's a spell you can cast, or a psychic power, or you have an alien device grafted into your brain, or a magic bean in your pocket - is all a matter of personal flavor.
[23:02] <+Lee> You can choose almost any stink. It might be that the power is Item Dependent (In the case of the bean), or you are insane, or you have a ridiculous appearance, or your are misunderstood by the law, etc..
[23:03] <~Dan> Hmm... So do powers based on magic spells have a specific Stink?
[23:04] <+Lee> One of my favorite stinks is Movies Made About You Always Suck, which is a 1/2 point of Stink.
[23:04] * ~Dan laughs
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[23:06] <~Dan> Howdy, tech!
[23:06] <+Lee> It depends on how you build your character. If you like, you can give each of your powers the Iffy Power Stink, which is 1 point, and causes you to roll a d10 on the appropriate skill before the power works.
[23:06] <~Dan> Say hello to Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Floating Vagabond. :)
[23:07] <~Dan> Ah... So you could have a spellcasting type skill?
[23:08] <~Dan> I have to tell you, I admire your blend of humor and practicality in the design of the system. :)
[23:08] <+Lee> The skill Use Cheese can be repurposed by the player to suit his own idiom.
[23:09] * ~Dan nods
[23:09] <+Lee> Thanks <blush>
[23:09] <~Dan> Seriously. As a long-time reviewer, I've become an admirer of skillful game design. It really is its own artform.
[23:10] <~Dan> It certainly looks like Tales 2e is wildly more flexible than 1e.
[23:10] <+Lee> Well, I appreciate you saying so!
[23:10] <~Dan> :)
[23:10] <+Lee> Oh, hells, yeah.\
[23:11] <~Dan> So what sorts of interesting antagonists do you have for us? :)
[23:11] <~Dan> Please tell me there are still Space Nazis, for one thing.
[23:11] <+Lee> A lot of concepts I took back to the core, and some I realized that newer better ways to do it had arrisen since 1991, so I just paid attention.
[23:12] <+Lee> ALWAYS Space
[23:12] <+Lee> Nazis.
[23:13] <~Dan> (As an aside: Have you noticed that almost any word sounds funnier if you yell it with the word "SPACE" in front of it?)
[23:13] <+Lee> Also, space pirates, Freaky cults, aliens, The People's Revolutionary Temperance League, and organized naughtiness.
[23:13] <+Lee> Hmmm.
[23:13] <+Lee> "Space Clamydia" Hey, you're right!
[23:13] <+Kzar> what sort of aliens would be typical Tales?
[23:14] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> Hm.
[23:14] <~Dan> (Especially if you imagine it being yelled by a guy in a pulpy space suit pointing dramatically skyward for no apparent reason.)
[23:14] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> SPACE KAIJU
[23:14] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> you're right!
[23:14] <~Dan> :D
[23:15] <+Lee> Well, the races I have include Big-Head aliens, Slime-Dripping Aliens, and BEMs. Those aren't distinct races, but a collection of similar species.
[23:15] <+AnthonyHoltberg> Holy poo, I wanna play this game~!
[23:15] <+Lee> So there are hundreds of BEM species, some good, some bad.
[23:16] <~Dan> I take it you hadn't heard of the first edition, Anthony?
[23:16] <+AnthonyHoltberg> Nope!
[23:16] <~Dan> It's a classic. :)
[23:16] <+AnthonyHoltberg> It's pretty much my sense of humor precisely.
[23:16] <+Lee> Anthony, you're in luck! go over to (Link: and help me get it printed1
[23:16] <~Dan> :D
[23:17] <+AnthonyHoltberg> If I wasn't an impoverished student with kids, I would hand you moneys, bit I will totally link it out on my G+ account!
[23:18] <+Lee> That, also, is acceptable! ;)
[23:18] <~Dan> Lee: Have you drawn any inspiration from other comedy RPGs?
[23:19] <+Lee> Well, I've only ever played Paranoia, Toon, and GhostBusters, but I probably took a little something from those.
[23:19] <~Dan> Have you ever heard of Murphy's World?
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[23:21] <+Lee> I actually prefer to draw inspiration from the source material; movies, TV, books, etc. A game that parodies games is a bit like a snake eating it's own tail (and yes, I am aware that TF2V pretty much sank into that in the previous edition).
[23:21] <~Dan> Howdy, Shane! This is a pleasant surprise! :)
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[23:21] <+PEGShane> Hi! Big fan of TFV. :)
[23:22] <+Lee> I have a copy of Murphy's World but never played it. In the long-long ago, I had planned on doing a crossover supplement with them.
[23:22] <+Lee> Hey Shane!
[23:22] <~Dan> Lee, I'm guessing you know Shane Hensley of Deadlands fame? :)
[23:22] <+PEGShane> Hey, Lee! Saw your post...thought I'd listen in for a bit. :)
[23:22] <+Lee> Shane and I head our own Mutual Admiration Society. I'm having shirts made.\
[23:23] <~Dan> Heh. :)
[23:23] <~Dan> That would have been an awesome crossover. Murphy's World has a similar sense of humor.
[23:23] <~Dan> I'm thinking specifically of the fumble table, which includes such memorable results as "Bombarded with Bird Crap".
[23:24] <+Lee> It was similar in spots, but unfortunately, I couldn't get the rights back when it would have mattered.
[23:24] <~Dan> Ah. That's a shame.
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[23:24] <~Dan> Howdy, GL!
[23:25] <~Dan> Lee: So how tough are the PCs, relatively speaking?
[23:25] <+Lee> I have a number of random tables in the new TF2V, as well. The Singularity Effects table is being expaned greatly, for instance.
[23:25] <~Dan> Awesome. :)
[23:26] <~Dan> (My favorite moment in a Tales adventure is when the BEM orders a Singularity and says, "Make it a double.")
[23:26] <+Lee> Well, Oops! Points for heroes and main villains is Strength + Luck + 10. Major Henchmen get Strength + Luck + 5, and Minions get Strength + Luck.
[23:27] <+Lee> (yeah, that never ends well for anybody around.)
[23:27] <+Kzar> Never hurts to try
[23:27] <~Dan> (Even my non-gamer best friend got a kick out of that gag. :) )
[23:28] <+Lee> And one of the rules of combat is, if you take damage in one hit greater than your Strength, you have to make a d10 Strength test or pass out.
[23:28] <+Lee> Otherwise, how are heroes always getting captured by the bad guys?
[23:28] * ~Dan nods
[23:29] <~Dan> Seems like that would speed up combat nicely, too.
[23:29] <~Dan> And keep it from being heavily mortal.
[23:29] <+Lee> Yep. Of course, you can try to Shake it Off, but only once per scene.
[23:29] <+sevenone> good bye
[23:29] <~Dan> (Not that there's anything wrong with mortal kombat.)
[23:29] <~Dan> Bye, sevenone!
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[23:30] <+Lee> And, you can burn Luck Points to stave off death.
[23:30] <+Lee> later
[23:30] <~Dan> Ah, I meant to ask about whether there was any sort of Luck/Drama/Hero point mechanic involved.
[23:31] <+Lee> Yes, your Luck Points are determined by your Luck Stat.
[23:31] <+Lee> You can also hold up to one Chug Token which can be used in place of a Luck Point.
[23:32] <~Dan> I notice your Kickstarter page mentions 30 stereotypes... Are those full-blown pregen PCs, or more like templates?
[23:33] <+Lee> They are ready to play PCs, or they can be used by the lazy bartender to people his world, or they can be jumping off points for your own ideas.
[23:34] <+Lee> Like the Hard-As-Nails Gunslinger, but think she'd be better as an Elf? just make the adjustments.
[23:34] <~Dan> Cool. I love pregens. At the very least, they give people an idea of what characters in the setting look like.
[23:34] <~Dan> I don't suppose you have any of those available for preview, do you...?
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[23:34] <&egyptian> Howdy
[23:35] <~Dan> Howdy, egyptian! Are you a Tales from the Floating Vagabond fan?
[23:35] <+Lee> They are statted out, and the art is done, but only some of them have their backstories written.
[23:35] * ~Dan nods
[23:35] <~Dan> Kudos on the Monkey Pirate Ninja, by the way.
[23:36] <+Lee> There's the Mad Scientist, The Ninja, The Pirate, The Ninja-Pirate-Monkey, The Space Ranger, etc.
[23:36] <&egyptian> I don't know what that is Dan. :)
[23:36] <&jcfiala> Well, good luck with the game, Lee.  I'm off to bed.
[23:36] <~Dan> egyptian: (Link:
[23:36] <+Lee> Good night!
[23:37] <~Dan> Sleep well, jcfiala!
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[23:37] <~Dan> egyptian: Short version: Multigenre slapstick high adventure!
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[23:38] <~Dan> Howdy, KJ!
[23:38] <+Lee> High Adventure and Low Comedy
[23:38] <+KJ> Hey there.
[23:38] <~Dan> KJ: Say hello to Lee Garvin, author of Tales from the Floating Vagabond!
[23:38] <~Dan> Also here: Shane Hensley, creator of Deadlands!
[23:38] <+KJ> Hi there! Nice to meet you.
[23:39] <+Lee> Where'd Shane go/
[23:39] <~Dan> Still lurking, I think.
[23:39] <~Dan> Still there, PEGShane? :)
[23:40] <+Lee> Deadlands is one of my all-time favorite games.
[23:40] <~Dan> Mine, too. True story, though: It make one of my players cry.
[23:40] <+Lee> You brute!
[23:41] <~Dan> Wasn't really the game's fault, or mine, for that matter... He just painted himself into a corner with a load of disadvantages that made what was supposed to be an antihero into a total bastard.
[23:42] <+KJ> If I call correctly, a few friends are taking a look at the Tales Kickstarter. And I'm happy to have some Deadlands Reloaded on my shelf. If I ever get a chance to try out Savage Worlds, I'm pretty sure that's where I'm starting.
[23:43] <~Dan> So given the flexibility of Tales 2e, could you see the system being used for a serious game of some kind, Lee? Or is there too much comedy "hardwired" into the system?
[23:43] <+Lee> There's an interesting cross-polinization between the two games.
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[23:44] <~Dan> Really? Between Tales and Deadlands...?
[23:44] <+Lee> Well, reality tends more towards a bell-curve in terms of probabilities, and TF2V is very much a straight-line kind of system.
[23:46] <+Lee> Yes! Shane has said he got a couple of ideas from the original TF2V, and I, in turn have shamelessy ripped off a couple of ideas from Deadlands and Savage Worlds for the new edition.
[23:46] <~Dan> Huh. I'll be darned. :)
[23:47] <~Dan> (Paging Mr. Shane... Mr. PEGShane...?)
[23:47] <+Lee> The Special effects system in Savage Worlds, for instance, comvinced me that unifying the Cheese was a better plan.
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[23:47] <~Dan> Howdy, Blaster!
[23:47] <~Dan> How did superpowers and cybernetics work in Bar Wars?
[23:49] <+Lee> Well, you had to lose points from your Cool or Common Sense Stats to pay for them, and then there were a bunch of rules that AH stamped on top of it that I never agreed with.
[23:50] <~Dan> Ah. That must have been annoying.
[23:50] <+Lee> Years later, I was working with the idea that there would be a Magic Stat, a Power Stat, and a Chrome stat, that would cover Magic, superpowers, and cyberstuff.
[23:51] <+Lee> Then, while looking at Savage Worlds, I realized "That's awfully complicated isn't it? Aren't they all just Cheese?"
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[23:51] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, mib_tu0wpg! You can set your name with the /nick command. :)
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[23:52] <~Dan> Or you can just vanish silently.
[23:52] <+Kaiju_Keiichi> Our gaming awesomeness was too much for him
[23:52] <~Dan> Yeah. Generally speaking, I prefer various powers to have distinct "flavors". But I think for a game like Tales, you made the right choice.
[23:53] <+Lee> I decided the flavor was all going to be up to the players, anyway, so why not let them have full reign?
[23:53] <~Dan> Especially since have specific power sets in a wildly multidimensional setting would have felt too restrictive, I think.
[23:54] * ~Dan nods
[23:54] <~Dan> That, too.
[23:54] <+Lee> Precisely. And paring it down to just Cheese meant that was two chapters I didn't have to write.
[23:54] <~Dan> Do you have any supplements in mind if the Kickstarter works out for the core book?
[23:56] <+Lee> Well, a couple of my friends in the biz have already stepped up to make some really cool stretch goals, and those will eventually be printed as well (sooner if we blow out all the stretch goals.)
[23:57] <~Dan> Ah, like the adventure by Matt Vancil?
[23:57] <+Lee> But I have some adventures and sourcebooks in mind, and perhaps a supplement or two.
[23:57] <+Lee> Yeah, that's going to be epic, I'm sure.
[23:57] <~Dan> Speaking of the Dead Gentlemen, I have to say that I see some Tales influence in the Demon Hunters RPG.
[23:58] <+GenoFoxx> g'night
[23:58] <+Lee> That's what Matt has said; It kinda gives me a warm fuzzy to think so.
[23:58] <~Dan> Bye, GenoFoxx!
[23:58] <~Dan> Did he? Cool. :)
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[23:59] <~Dan> Yeah, some of the abilities are very Tales.
[23:59] <~Dan> Like "Explosive Plausibility", for example.
[23:59] <+Lee> Wow. I like the sound of that.
[23:59] <~Dan> Which means that anything your character casually tosses "offscreen" has a chance of exploding.
[00:00] <+Lee> Heh. Have you seen the description of the Bay Effect?
[00:00] <~Dan> I have not, but that sounds promising. :)
[00:01] <+Lee> Go to and scroll down towards the bottom of the page for the entry titled "Shtick it To The Man."
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[00:03] <~Dan> That's genius, Lee. :)
[00:03] <~Dan> Howdy, LW`!
[00:03] <+Lee> Thanks!
[00:04] <+Lee> I'm also introducing the Wu Effect, the Stewart Effect, and the Wood Effect.
[00:04] <~Dan> And I love the fact that it applies to mounts as well. XD
[00:04] <+Lee> Yep. And skateboards.
[00:05] <~Dan> Heehee. :D
[00:05] <+Lee> Do NOT give that guy a piggyback ride. Just don't.
[00:05] <~Dan> LOL!
[00:05] <~Dan> Good point. :)
[00:06] <~Dan> What's the name of the Shtick that makes you too dumb to know something's impossible?
[00:07] <~Dan> (Letting you pull yourself out of the water by your hair, for example?)
[00:07] <+Lee> You may be thinking of the Escher Effect, which allows you to ignore the Suggestions of Physics.
[00:07] <~Dan> Could be.
[00:07] <+Lee> Yep, that's Escher.
[00:07] <~Dan> And then there's the opposite Shtick that allows you to point out that something is "impossible", making it stop working?
[00:08] <+Lee> The Newton Effect.
[00:08] <~Dan> (Which is really dangerous in the hands of cavemen?)
[00:08] <+Lee> Yep.
[00:08] <~Dan> I'm really glad you put a limit on these things. I can see them getting way overused otherwise, and becoming unfunny.
[00:10] <+Lee> Yeah, that was the concern. But, of course, in the end, if everyone at the table is laughing, then I'd say mission accomplished.
[00:10] <~Dan> Hmm... Tell ya what I'm gonna do, Lee...
[00:10] <~Dan> This conversation has been too good to waste, so I think I'm going to treat it as a "real" Q&A for logging purposes.
[00:10] <~Dan> Then we'll keep your scheduled slot to give other folks a chance to ask you questions as well.
[00:11] <~Dan> Giving you the best of both worlds.
[00:11] <+Lee> Excellent!
[00:11] <~Dan> As an aside, do you have a "day job"?
[00:11] <+Lee> Let me know when you log it and I'll post links to it all over creation.
[00:12] <+Lee> Part time. At a FLGS.
[00:12] <+Lee> One day a week.
[00:12] <~Dan> Ah. I ask because if you get the chance to stop by here during the day (U.S. time), you'll catch our European contingent as well.
[00:13] <+PEGShane> (Sorry! Still here--got caught up in editing while watching the chat. :) )
[00:13] <~Dan> PEGShane: No worries! I was just going to ask if you have anything you'd like to discuss Q&A fashion. :)
[00:13] <+Lee> OK, everybody, I TOLD you to stopo talking smack about Shane!
[00:13] * ~Dan chuckles
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[00:13] <~Dan> Howdy, Sil!
[00:14] <+PEGShane> Nothing in particular. Just excited to get a new edition of such a great game. :)
[00:14] <~Dan> Say hello to Lee Garven of Tales from the Floating Vagabond and Shane Hensley of Deadlands/Savage Worlds/et al. :)
[00:14] <+Lee> Shane, I mentioned some of the DNA that TF2V and Savage Worlds shares.
[00:14] <+PEGShane> Saw it--just caught up.
[00:14] <~Dan> (Garvin, sorry)
[00:15] <+Lee> You have dishonored my ancestors!
[00:16] <+Lee> Sorry; third beer talking.
[00:16] <+Dritz> Lee: your ancestors were dishonored before they were born!
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[00:16] <+Dritz> I'm not sure if that's a decent comeback or I'm just really tired
[00:16] <+PEGShane> Okay--I have a question. Can you tell us how the original TFV came about? How did it come to be published by a company such as AH?
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[00:17] <+Lee> Oy! Good one.
[00:17] <+Lee> Way, way, way back, when then mullet was considered a good idea, my brother used to doodle.
[00:17] <~Dan> (I was going to go ahead and log the chat, but I want to include this! :) )
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[00:19] <+Lee> One day Shea (that's my brother) asked me to challenge him, to make a mark on a sheet of paper and he would see what he could make of it.
[00:20] <+Lee> I drew a squiggly line, and he turned it into an alligator. But the gator was hovering in the middle of the page, so he drew a surface under it.
[00:21] <+Lee> That surface became a bar. Then he drew a hideously ugly guy in an apron behind the bar with an axe in his head.
[00:21] <+Lee> He kept on adding stuff to it, and I started thinking about the world where this stuff would exist.
[00:21] <+PEGShane> (This is great! :) )
[00:22] <~Dan> (The birth of Hawk Luger!)
[00:22] <+Lee> Later that night I started writing the script for a comic book that has never been seen (nor should it; it was BAD). But the ideas wouldn't leave.
[00:23] <+Lee> I had a childish infatuation with the word Vagabond, even though I only barely knew what it meant.
[00:24] <+Lee> I would talk about it incessantly with my friends, who included Sandy Antunes, founder of
[00:25] <+Lee> Eventually, I started making RPG rules for it. You won't see those. Ever. They were bad.
[00:26] <+Lee> Years later, I had joined the Air Force. While in the barracks one night, drunk, a few friends said they wanted to play something.
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[00:26] <~Dan> (Howdy, Aeolius!)
[00:26] <+Lee> They didn't want to play D&D, and I suddenly remembered the Vagabond.
[00:27] <+Aeolius> evening, all
[00:27] <+Lee> Within a few hours, they were hanging out the window of a spaceship firing shoulder-fired frozen burritos at a giant gorilla.
[00:28] <+Lee> And that is how it happened.
[00:28] * ~Dan applauds!
[00:29] <+PEGShane> Awesome. So how did it get to AH?
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[00:30] <~Dan> Howdy, Gemini!
[00:30] <+Gemini> hey Dan :)
[00:30] <+Lee> I had just left the Air Force (the organization and I had a falling out), and I was back home in Maryland.
[00:30] <+Gemini> Guess who now owns !
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[00:31] <+Lee> I was playtesting and tweaking the rules at Balticon, when one of the people who had sat down for an impromptu game turned out to be the new head of Role-Playing at AH.
[00:31] <+Lee> A month later,
[00:31] <+Lee> I had a contract.
[00:31] <+PEGShane> That's awesome. Dream come true, huh? :)
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[00:31] <~Dan> Huh. Cool. :)
[00:31] <~Dan> Howdy, BPIJonathan!
[00:32] <+BPIJonathan> Hola Shane.
[00:32] <+BPIJonathan> and Dan
[00:32] <+Lee> Kind of.
[00:32] <+Gemini> Did you get a copy of Numenera, Dan?
[00:33] <~Dan> Not yet.
[00:33] <+Gemini> ah ok
[00:34] <+Lee> At that time, I didn't even know I wanted to be a game designer; I thought I was a serious writer!
[00:34] <+PEGShane> Heya. :)
[00:34] <+Silverlion> llo
[00:34] <+Lee> The problem is, I had never actually finished anything.
[00:35] <~Dan> Silverlion and BPIJonathan are two of our "resident" game authors. :)
[00:35] <+Lee> Howdy fellas.
[00:35] <+PEGShane> That's a great story, Lee. :)

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