Thursday, August 22, 2013

[Q&A] Margaret Weis, Monica Valentinelli, and Mark Diaz Truman (Firefly)

[19:04] <+MonicaValentinelli> Margaret, would you like to kick off the team?
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[19:05] <~Dan> (Welcome, Eloy! :) )
[19:05] <+MargWeis> I am Margaret Weis, president of Margaret Weis Productions. We have produced many licensed products over the years. One I have longed to publish is the Firefly RPG. And now I have the chance! (Done)

[19:05] <+MargWeis> I have a great crew, led by Monica, so I'll hand things off to her. (Done)
[19:06] <+MonicaValentinelli> My name is Monica Valentinelli. I'm the brand manager and lead writer for the Firefly RPG. I've been a long time Whedonite and fan of Margaret's, so this is a dream come true for me. (Done)
[19:06] <+MarkDiazTruman> Hey there! I'm Mark, Systems Lead for the new Firefly RPG. I'm picking up the awesome work of Cam Banks (and others) who have paved the way on the awesome Cortex Plus system that we use for the new Firefly game. (done)
[19:06] <~Dan> Thanks, guys!
[19:07] <~Dan> Would anyone like to get things started with a question? :)
[19:07] <+Abstruse> How locked down to you have the system at this point? Is Gaming in the Verse going to reflect the final product we get next year, or will there be changes to the system?
[19:08] <+MarkDiazTruman> For the most part, the system you see in the Exclusive is done. We've done a lot of testing of the Cortex Plus system over the years, and this iteration was specifically built to emulate the TV show. We're pretty happy with how it's turned out.
[19:08] <+MargWeis> We are locked and loaded. (Done)
[19:08] <+MonicaValentinelli> The GenCon preview highlighted the rules we're using for the corebook. We're incorporating them into the full manuscript as we speak. So, there won't be significant changes to the system, but there will be tweaks for clarification. (done)
[19:08] <+MarkDiazTruman> (done)
[19:09] <~Dan> So I'll ask the obvious Devil's Advocate question: You have a Serenity RPG. Why a Firefly RPG? :)
[19:09] <+Abstruse> So there may be errata, but if I make a character using the Gaming in the Verse, I should be able to drop him/her into the main system when it comes out?
[19:09] <+Abstruse> Trying to figure out if I'm paying for a Quickstart or a Beta Test :p
[19:09] <+MargWeis> With the Serenity RPG, we were restricted by Universal to using only the characters and situations from the movie. Which limited us a great deal.
[19:10] <+MonicaValentinelli> Basing a game on the Firefly TV series gives us more opportunities to explore the 'Verse. (done)
[19:10] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Abtruse - Absolutely. In fact, the corebook will give you new ways to improve the character and play long-term arcs (seasons).
[19:10] <+MonicaValentinelli> Abstruse: this is not a Beta. It's a preview of both the corebook and the Echoes of War line. Both adventures, Wedding Planners and Shooting Fish, will debut separately in digital shortly.
[19:11] <+MonicaValentinelli> On the Exclusive, we included a lot of sidebars to express what'll be expanded upon and what content is just for Echoes of War. (done)
[19:12] <+Abstruse> Aside from the expanded universe due to the different license, what's difference between the old Serenity RPG and Firefly?
[19:13] <+MonicaValentinelli> They are two different games. The Serenity RPG uses the Cortex Classic system and it's based on the movie from Universal.
[19:13] <+MonicaValentinelli> The Firefly RPG license is through Fox and that's based on the TV series. (done)
[19:13] <+MargWeis> Fourteen episodes instead of one movie.:)
[19:13] <+Catseye> That sounds kind of confusing to the average gamer
[19:13] <+Abstruse> Is anything from Serenity in the Firefly game?
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[19:14] <+MonicaValentinelli> We've taken inspiration from Serenity, but they are two separate licenses.
[19:14] <+MargWeis> We cannot use any references to what happened in the movie in Firefly.
[19:14] <+GenoFoxx> :(
[19:14] <+MarkDiazTruman> The Firefly RPG is also designed to emulate the tone of the series instead of the movie, the action-drama-comedy-adventure episodes that saw our crew get into trouble with the law and other criminals.
[19:14] <~Dan> (Given that I hate what happened in Serenity, fine by me. ;) )
[19:15] <+GenoFoxx> Well at least Wash is still alive
[19:15] <+MarkDiazTruman> It's a flexible system that lets the GM come up with new trouble on the spot and separates failure/success from trouble. For example, Mal might crack open a safe and successfully steal from the bank, but he also might set off every alarm in the building getting to the cash.
[19:15] <+MarkDiazTruman> (done)
[19:15] <+MonicaValentinelli> And to the average gamer, the Serenity RPG came out in 2005. So it's been about eight years between the two games. It was an awesome game and a milestone for the company. This gives us the chance to expand on our talents.(done)
[19:15] <+MargWeis> Nothin' goes smooth!
[19:16] <+MargWeis> (done, which I keep forgetting.)
[19:16] <+GenoFoxx> So will we get a supplement of technology for Firefly
[19:16] <~Dan> (Oh, you guys don't really have to give us a (done) after every sentence. Just after a question pause, or a particularly long response. :) )
[19:17] <+GenoFoxx> in other words other ships, weapons and equipment
[19:17] <+Abstruse> I have to be the bad guy (goes with being press) and ask the mean question. You just had a pretty successful licensed game based on Marvel that was dropped suddenly. What assurances can you give customers that won't happen with Firefly?
[19:17] <+MonicaValentinelli> Right, I hear you.
[19:17] <+MonicaValentinelli> So, in the Firefly RPG the equipment comes into play in a few different ways mechanically. Mark, can you dive in and offer that explanation?
[19:18] <+MarkDiazTruman> Sure!
[19:18] <~Dan> (Actually, I'll go ahead and call for a question pause there.)
[19:18] <+MarkDiazTruman> All the technology and gear in Firefly is handled through the Assets system. Some characters, like Jayne, have Signature Assets, stuff they carry around all the time that might be useful like Vera.
[19:19] <+MarkDiazTruman> When a Sig Asset comes into play, the player adds an appropriate die to his or her roll, like Vera d8.
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[19:19] <+MarkDiazTruman> Characters can also create Assets on the fly by spending a Plot Point, but those Assets usually come in as a d6.
[19:19] <~Dan> (Welcome, mib_rynh9e! Please set your name with the /nick command. :) )
[19:19] <+MarkDiazTruman> So in a barfight, Jayne might create a Barstool d6 Asset.
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[19:20] * +Abstruse is picturing Mom's Ugly Homemade Hat d8 for intimidation...
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[19:20] <+MarkDiazTruman> Those dice also get added to Jayne's roll for free, so he's spending a Plot Point once to add multiple dice to his rolls for stuff he's going to do in the scene.
[19:20] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Abstruse - Exactly! :D
[19:20] <+MonicaValentinelli> abstruse: the Marvel license was with a different company. The licensing arrangement there is wholly separate from this game line. Each license the company has had is unique and managed as its own thing.
[19:20] <~Dan> (Welcome, mib_67bkv5! Please set your name with the /nick command. :) )
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[19:21] <+GenoFoxx> will there be other ships available other than the Firefly?
[19:21] <+MarkDiazTruman> In the Firefly RPG Corebook, we're going to give you a whole bunch of gear you might want to see in your local game, and your players can take that gear as Signature Assets or create Assets during scenes that they think make sense for the story.
[19:21] <~Dan> (Question pause, GenoFoxx. :) )
[19:21] <+MonicaValentinelli> (done)
[19:21] <+MarkDiazTruman> (done)
[19:21] <~Dan> (Oh... n/m. :) )
[19:22] <+MargWeis> There will be more ships as well as  rules for creating your own ship.
[19:22] <+GenoFoxx> Ok, I'm satisfied
[19:22] <+Abstruse> MonicaValentinelli: But the license disappeared so fast that products that had been pre-ordered by customers were cancelled. I understand you may not be able to talk about details, but it's a concern for potential customers this game might evaporate suddenly too.
[19:23] <~Dan> What about ship-to-ship combat? Granted, we don't really see that happen in the series, per sé, but it's certainly implied in several ways.
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[19:23] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - Yup! We're writing up rules for military, civilian, and merchant class vehicles. We'll have rules for chases, ship battles, and good old fashioned smugglin'.
[19:23] <~Dan> (Welcome back, TorgHacker!)
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[19:23] <+TorgHacker> Waves
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[19:24] <+MonicaValentinelli> I understand the concern. The best I can tell you is that we have a great relationship that is very hands-on and we have every intent of keep customers looped in. We started to provide open development notes and will release more announcements for that reason.
[19:24] <~Dan> Mark: Excellent!
[19:24] <+MargWeis> I understand the concern. When working with licensed products, some things can happen that are beyond our control. We have a great working relationship with Fox and we do not foresee any problems.
[19:24] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, what Margaret said!
[19:24] <+Abstruse> Can you say how long the current license is for?
[19:25] <+GenoFoxx> Will there be commodity lists for those wanting to actually roleplay the merchant aspect of Firefly?"
[19:25] <~Dan> So how does "non-signature" equipment work? How do you stat up a plain ol' six-shooter?
[19:25] <+MonicaValentinelli> We have scheduled books through 2015 right now. More than that I cannot say.
[19:25] <+MonicaValentinelli> Okay, please hold questions so we can get caught up.
[19:25] * +TorgHacker gets a very big grin on his face.
[19:25] <+Abstruse> Close enough. Licensing agreement legalese and NDAs can really suck sometimes :p
[19:25] <~Dan> (Question pause.)
[19:26] <+GenoFoxx> ((Dan put it in bold))
[19:26] <+MonicaValentinelli> Okay, rolling back a bit...
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[19:26] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - Non-signature equipment is represented by the Assets players create. If the players want the equipment to be mechanically represented, they spend a Plot Point creating an Asset. Some characters even have special powers that let them create better Assets.
[19:27] <~Dan> (Welcome, Guest19! You can set your name with the /nick command. :) )
[19:27] <+MonicaValentinelli> One of the things that we're doing in the Firefly RPG is offering an Episode Guide. We will provide in game examples for certain player and ship interactions from the show. So you'll see how ship-to-ship combat works when you remind yourselves what happened in the Train Job.
[19:28] <+Eloy-3EG> I really like the Asset mechanic
[19:28] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - If you wanted to stat up a six-shooter, you can spend a Plot Point to create a "Six Shooter d6" Asset. If you just want to have the gun, in order to use your Shoot roll and fire at things, there's no need to do anything special, but only your stats (Physical + Shoot) will count for the roll.
[19:28] <+MonicaValentinelli> For the merchant, you'll want to explore the archetypes we're offering. In the corebook, we're going to offer sample Assets and Signature Assets based on what type of character you'd like to play.
[19:28] <+MonicaValentinelli> (sonw)
[19:28] <+MonicaValentinelli> (done) WHOOPS!
[19:28] <+MarkDiazTruman> @GenoFoxx - Can you say a little more? I'm not sure I completely understand what you're looking for in the commodity lists...
[19:30] <+GenoFoxx> say you're carrying cows is there a list showing how much cattle is worth on a certain planet as opposed to carrying uranium or gold
[19:30] <+MonicaValentinelli> Mark: can you mention the basic mechanic for setting stakes? That might help people understand why equipment lists aren't as valuable here.
[19:30] <+MarkDiazTruman> Totally!
[19:31] <+MonicaValentinelli> (done)
[19:31] <+MarkDiazTruman> So when you engage in a conflict, say a negotiation between two parties, the "defending" side gathers dice (like Mental+Focus to resist being bullied into a bad deal) and rolls them. That side gets to keep the top two dice in the roll.
[19:31] <+MarkDiazTruman> That's called "setting the stakes."
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[19:32] <+MarkDiazTruman> The other side does the same thing, gathering the appropriate dice pool (in this case probably Social+Influence) and rolls. They too only keep the top two dice. If they can "raise the stakes" and beat the defender's roll, they win.
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[19:33] <+MarkDiazTruman> So if you've got some extra cargo, like a "Uranium d6" Asset, that you're trying to get rid of, you would have an extra die to help you with the negotiation.
[19:34] <~Dan> How does damage work?
[19:34] <+MarkDiazTruman> Your GM may give you Assets that you've earned through play in addition to those you've created, so you might find yourselves with lots of dice if you've set up the situation right.
[19:35] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - Damage is a really neat part of the game. Instead of having a one or two kinds of damage tracks (hit points or Physical/Mental stress), the Firefly RPG lets you custom create Complications on the fly that can eventually take characters out.
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[19:36] <~Dan> Example? :)
[19:36] <+MarkDiazTruman> For example, if you're negotiating and lose, your GM might give you the Complication "Shady Businessman d6"
[19:37] <+MarkDiazTruman> As the scene goes on, you might continue to pick up additional bumps in that Complication until it reaches d12+. At that point, your reputation would be so badly damaged that no one in the bar (or on the moon!) would deal with you. And you're Taken Out of the scene.
[19:37] <+MarkDiazTruman> The same system works to handle physical wounds (Gunshot d8!) and mental problems (Psychic Flashes d12!).
[19:37] <+MargWeis> I think we're talking physical damage.
[19:38] <~Dan> Are these actual dice, or just ratings?
[19:38] <+MarkDiazTruman> Right. So in the case of Jayne, I'm going to give him lots of physical Complications. Each of the Complications can be added to an opposing dice pool whenever appropriate.
[19:39] <+MarkDiazTruman> So if Jayne picks up a "Shot in Leg d10" Complication, the GM can add it to any roll in which he's trying to get away. If he's damaged again, the GM has the option of stepping up that Complication to a d12, just one step away from Taking Jayne Out.
[19:40] <~Dan> Ah... so the complications both serve as "wounds" and as "damage tracks".
[19:40] <+MarkDiazTruman> Yup!
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[19:40] <~Dan> Interesting...
[19:40] <+MonicaValentinelli> If anyone is interested, we have a short demo video we took at Gen Con to show the system. That might help. (Link:
[19:41] <+MonicaValentinelli> (done)
[19:41] <~Dan> Thanks, Monica!
[19:41] <~Dan> So what determines how much damage you take?
[19:41] <+MarkDiazTruman> And if you want to have lots of "wounds" you can drown Jayne in Complications. It means that he's not going to get much done, but he's not in much danger. That's fun for when it makes sense for him to be in over his head, but not really in any danger.
[19:41] <~Dan> (Welcome, Guest71! You can set your name with the /nick command! :) )
[19:41] <+Cassandra> Danable. :)
[19:42] <+MarkDiazTruman> If you want to make Jayne feel like he's going to get Taken Out, start stepping up the Complications instead of giving him new ones. It gives the GM fewer dice, but it puts Jayne closer to the edge.
[19:42] <~Dan> (Howdy, Cassie! :) )
[19:42] <+MarkDiazTruman> The damage you take is determined by the Complication system. If you lose a fight, you basically get Taken Out right away... unless you spend a Plot Point to stay in the fight. At that point, you get a Complication equal to the highest rolling die in the opponent's pool.
[19:43] <+MarkDiazTruman> So if Jayne is fighting Mal and Mal wins, Jayne's probably going to walk away with a "Concussion d8" because Mal's Fight die is a d8.
[19:43] <+MonicaValentinelli> Okay, so hopping in here to highlight this in terms of a result on the dice.
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[19:43] <+TorgHacker> When in a conflict where the stakes are such that a character might get taken out, can you put those Complications on other people instead of the target?  Or are those reserved for Complications that arise from jinxes?
[19:44] <+MonicaValentinelli> Mark, can you take your same example and show people what a sample roll result might be? Numbers would be shiny.
[19:44] <~Dan> (Howdy, Kei! We're talking the Firefly RPG. :) )
[19:44] <+MonicaValentinelli> (done)
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[19:45] <+MarkDiazTruman> Absolutely.
[19:46] <+Abstruse> This one isn't Firefly or even MWP related, but I really kind of have to ask Ms. Weis this while she's here.
[19:46] <+MarkDiazTruman> Say Mal decides that he's going to take out Jayne for selling out River and Simon. He tells the GM that he's going to hit Jayne over the head while he's not looking.
[19:46] <+MarkDiazTruman> Jayne, as the defender, sets the stakes.
[19:46] <+MargWeis> Sure, ask away!
[19:46] <+Abstruse> There's been rumors that Wizards of the Coast is trying to reach out to the original creators of their most iconic settings trying to mend bridges. Is there any truth to that?
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[19:47] <+MarkDiazTruman> Jayne's got a Physical d10, a Notice d4 (ouch!), and a Mercenary Distinction d8. His Signature Asset, Vera, doesn't help him much here, since he's not shooting at Mal.
[19:47] <+MargWeis> There really weren't any bridges to mend that I'm aware of with Dragonlance. I just wish they'd bring it back!
[19:47] <+MarkDiazTruman> Jayne rolls low: 2, 4, 5. He gets the 4 and the 5 for his roll (top two) for a total of 9.
[19:48] <+Abstruse> You know Kender are in their next playtest packet for D&D Next coming out next month, right? And they brought Ed Greenwood back to write for Forgotten Realms while the retcon out all the crap they did for 4e there...
[19:48] <+MargWeis> I did not know about kender. That's interesting. Are there going to be kender in the Realms now?:)
[19:49] <+MarkDiazTruman> Mal builds his roll as the attacker. He's got a Physical d8, a Fight d8, and a Veteran of the Unification Distinction d8. He rolls and gets a 2, 4, and 6.
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[19:49] <~Dan> (Kender in the Realms sounds like a folk song.)
[19:49] <+MarkDiazTruman> Mal keeps the top two dice (4 + 6) for a total of 10. He raises the stakes and cracks Jayne over the head.
[19:49] <~Dan> (Howdy, AncientHistory!)
[19:49] <+MargWeis> Tasslehoff Meets Drizzt . . . I love it!
[19:49] <+Abstruse> No, it's Kender and Warforged (a race associated with Eberron). So that's what's fueling the rumor along with Ed Greenwood back for FR...that WotC is talking to you, Tracy, and Keith Baker trying to get you guys back in at least some capacity.
[19:50] <+MarkDiazTruman> Jayne is effectively Taken Out. If he wants to stay in the fight, he needs to spend a Plot Point. If he did, he'd get a "Concussion d8" Complicaiton, since Mal's highest rolling die was a d8. In this case, though, he decides to accept being Taken Out and falls unconsious.
[19:50] <+MarkDiazTruman> *unconscious.
[19:50] <+MarkDiazTruman> (done.
[19:50] <+MargWeis> I would dearly love to come back to Dragonlance. Tracy and I have an idea for an amazing trilogy! Along with some other cool ideas!
[19:50] <+Abstruse> MargWeis: BTW, I interviewed Jim Butcher two weeks ago. He told me that he was approached during 4th Ed (my best estimate is 2009/2010) to write novels that would've rebooted Dragonlance starting with the original trilogy.
[19:50] <~Dan> Hmm... Why was he Taken Out, though?
[19:51] <~Dan> He took d10 in damage, right?
[19:51] <+Eloy-3EG> So, if Jayne was to have won that exchange as the defender, would Mal have been taken out? Or is someone taken out only if the attacker is successful?
[19:51] <~Dan> Or, d8, rather
[19:51] <+MargWeis> I did hear that about Jim Butcher.
[19:52] <+Abstruse> He told me he passed because neither you nor Tracy were consulted.
[19:52] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - He's Taken Out because Mal hit him in the head with a metal object. :D In the Firefly RPG, the GM can designate any conflict as possessing the potential to Take Out a character.
[19:53] <+MargWeis> Jim is a very cool guy.
[19:53] <+Abstruse> Biggest "What If?" moment I've had...he said he wanted to take the starting point of basing Raistlin on House (from the medical drama show).
[19:53] <+MonicaValentinelli> I'm seeing some new faces here. Do you have more questions about the Firefly RPG? Maybe Wedding Planners?
[19:53] <+MarkDiazTruman> In this case, only Mal can take out Jayne because it's a sneak attack. Jayne doesn't see it coming. If Jayne stayed in the fight, the next round of combat would probably be Fight vs. Fight instead of Fight vs. Notice and both Mal and Jayne would have the potential to Take Out the other.
[19:54] <~Dan> So would it be correct to say that any victory in combat results in death/knockout with one shot, with Plot Points serving as a sort of hit point in this case?
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[19:54] <+Eloy-3EG> I'd love to hear about Wedding Planners
[19:54] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - Yes. If you win a conflict that Takes Out your opponent, you drop that character unless the character spends a Plot Point.
[19:54] <+MargWeis> I always thought House was based on Raistlin.:)
[19:56] <+TorgHacker> If the character spends the PP does the Complication _have_ to be related to him or her?  Could the Complication end up affecting someone else?
[19:56] <+MarkDiazTruman> Remember that all of this can be applied to social situations too. It's possible that you're in a tense negotiation where the GM can call for you to be Socially or Mentally taken out.
[19:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> Dialing back a bit...
[19:56] <+MarkDiazTruman> Generally, the Complication should be focused on the person who spent the Plot Point to stay in the fight.
[19:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> Complications occur when the player rolls a "1". We say that your dice are jinxed.
[19:56] <+MargWeis> Wedding Planners is my very first adventure. The premise is that Mal and crew are hired by cattle baron to take his daughter, the Princess", to her wedding on board a luxury cruise liner. Whether she wants to go or not.
[19:56] <+TorgHacker> So when Kaylee gets shot in 'Serenity' that's a jinx not a Taken Out/ PP spent thing.
[19:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> The GM spends a Plot Point to buy a Complication. That does not have to be damage-related. That can be something else, like Broken Shipment D6, depending upon the circumstance.
[19:57] <+Eloy-3EG> An unwilling passenger? That'll go downhill fast (in the best ways possible, of course)!
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[19:57] <+MarkDiazTruman> Right. In addition to Complications that arise from staying in a fight, characters acquire Complications when they roll jinxes. In the case of Kaylee getting shot, it's likely that Kaylee's player was trying to get everyone to calm down and rolled a lot of 1s...
[19:57] <+Cleisthenes> any chance someone has already made a Matlock D20
[19:58] <+Kei> THE Margaret Weis? Wow, we're getting pretty big around here :D
[19:58] <~Dan> :)
[19:59] <+MarkDiazTruman> The GM could have used those 1s to make life interesting for Kaylee in some other way. For example, he could have revealed that the secret agent was actually Kaylee's brother ("Alliance in the Family d10") or that the ship was in trouble ("Busted Engines d10").
[19:59] <+MarkDiazTruman> (done)
[19:59] <+MonicaValentinelli> Margaret's adventure kicks off the Echoes of War line. Each Episode has five acts. There's enough story and setting there for two-to-three sessions worth of play.
[19:59] <+MonicaValentinelli> I'd like to take a pulse... Are folks picking up on how fluid the system is?
[19:59] <+Kei> The original Dragonlance books are old favorites of mine, and heavily influenced a lot of the players in my old gaming group. also played a ton of the 5th age card-based game - I have been experimenting with some mechanics for a sort of homage to that game, even.
[20:00] <~Dan> I think so, Monica. :)
[20:00] <+Eloy-3EG> I guess it *would* depend on the disposition of the "princess" in question. The difference between Cinderella and Merida from Brave is leaps and bounds.
[20:00] <+MargWeis> Next year will be the DL 30th Anniversary.
[20:00] <+MarkDiazTruman> Awesome. As you can probably tell, I love talking about the system. :D
[20:00] <+MargWeis> Think Princess Di . . .:)
[20:01] <+Kei> also a fan of the direction Cortex has been going in. definitely going to grab Firefly to see what's being done with the system there.
[20:01] <+MonicaValentinelli> Cool. Mark's doing an awesome job, but wanted to double-check. We just got back from Gen Con and I'm a little fuzzy. Ran a game for nine players, though!
[20:01] <+Eloy-3EG> @MargWeis Gotcha! Sounds great then!
[20:01] <+MarkDiazTruman> @MargWeis - Yes! I love Lilianna. She's such a great way to cause trouble for groups. :D
[20:01] <+Eloy-3EG> I'm cheating cause I already knew how fluid the system was (picked up the book and ran through the demo at GenCon 2013)
[20:01] <~Dan> How are you handling some of the mysteries that were never resolved in the series, like the "Hands of Blue" guys?
[20:02] <+MonicaValentinelli> We are giving folks options and ideas. We have a ton of new canon available for fans -- take it and run with it.
[20:02] <~Dan> New canon?
[20:03] <+MonicaValentinelli> Everything that we do is approved by Fox. They've been amazing to work with.
[20:03] <~Dan> Ah! Cool. :)
[20:03] <+MargWeis> I'm a big fan of NOT explaining mysteries. They cease to become mysterious.
[20:03] <+MonicaValentinelli> For starters, we have new secondary characters, adventure ideas that branch off of each episode, archetypes, etc.
[20:04] <+MonicaValentinelli> Here's a link to one of the archetype previews. It's for the "small-time trader." (Link:
[20:04] <+MonicaValentinelli> As Margaret alluded to, we're providing options but not going with metaplot.
[20:04] <~Dan> Do you deal with the Hands of Blue guys, then? :)
[20:05] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, there will be rules for them because they appeared in the show.
[20:05] <~Dan> What about psychic powers? Can River kill you with her mind? :)
[20:06] <+MonicaValentinelli> River is a VERY interesting character...
[20:06] <+MonicaValentinelli> We provide rules for the main cast at the beginning of their story arc. She's more mysterious and less combat-related for that reason.
[20:06] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - Yeah, she's one of the characters we spent the most time thinking through mechanically. Obviously, she's got some special abilities, but we wanted to keep them mysterious and interesting.
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[20:07] <+MonicaValentinelli> Basically, our whole goal was to give you rules so you would interpret each character how you see fit. Jayne, for example, has a great Distinction called "Family Ties." Don't make fun of his hat!
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[20:09] <~Dan> We don't get to see a lot of high tech in the setting, but a lot suggests how high the tech level is: the laser gun, the sonic rifles, etc... To what degree do you address tech that's available in the core worlds but rare on the frontier?
[20:09] <+MonicaValentinelli> Haven't heard this question, but I'm anticipating it... The corebook will be out in February wherever fine games are sold. We are going to release more Episodes through ahead of the corebook.
[20:10] <+MonicaValentinelli> That really depends upon the location.
[20:11] <+MonicaValentinelli> Very simply: Core, Border, Rim. Core is heavy with Alliance and are the oldest terraformed.
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[20:11] <+MonicaValentinelli> So you'll see more tech in the Core, but also with wealthier characters like Templeton Steele from Wedding Planners.
[20:11] <+MargWeis> Some high tech weapons featured in Wedding Planners . . . ah, Monica beat me to it!
[20:12] <+MonicaValentinelli> LOL
[20:12] <~Dan> So how much attention will you give such things in the core book?
[20:13] <+MonicaValentinelli> The corebook is 350 pages. We gave some samples of the Episode Guide in the Exclusive. We can offer some but the setting will be spread throughout the book.
[20:14] <+MonicaValentinelli> We do have one very exciting supplement on the schedule that'll be more setting-focused. Right now, it's to kick off the line right by reinforcing show-related canon and adding some new bits. We will grow from there.
[20:14] * ~Dan nods
[20:14] <~Dan> Does the game make any assumptions about what the PCs will be doing?
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[20:15] <+MonicaValentinelli> No, not really. We provide sample results in the Episodes to help guide new players, but it's really how you interpret the characters.
[20:16] <+MonicaValentinelli> For Echoes of War, the only stipulation I have is to ensure characters follow the basic structure of the 'Verse and there's a tie back to the Unification War.
[20:16] <+MargWeis> And, of course, you can always create your own characters.
[20:16] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, three forms of characters.
[20:16] <~Dan> Well, to rephrase: Is the default that the characters will be freetrader sorts?
[20:16] <+MarkDiazTruman> No, not at all.
[20:17] <+MarkDiazTruman> We've got archetypes for Alliance characters, underworld gangers, cortex hackers.
[20:17] <+MarkDiazTruman> We want you to create the adventures you want in the 'Verse.
[20:17] <~Dan> Alliance characters? Interesting.
[20:17] <+MargWeis> Jayne will do anything if the money's good enough!
[20:17] <+MarkDiazTruman> I can totally see a game run where you don't even have a ship!
[20:17] <+MarkDiazTruman> :D
[20:17] <+MarkDiazTruman> I like the idea of Jayne working for the Alliance. It wouldn't last long with all their gorram rules!
[20:17] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, there's 24 archetypes, some Alliance-friendly/some not in the corebook to show as examples.
[20:17] <~Dan> From what I know of Serenity, it sounds as though Firefly will be taking more of a sandbox approach.
[20:18] <+MonicaValentinelli> That's a good way of putting it. The 'verse is a BIG place!
[20:18] <~Dan> Now, the nature of the 'Verse is never explained in the series, to my knowledge... Do you go with the explanation that it's one enormouse solar system as per Serenity?
[20:18] <~Dan> enormous
[20:19] <+MonicaValentinelli> Hah. Not to out-nerd you, but...
[20:19] <+MonicaValentinelli> Serenity had it right. It was multiple systems that were terraformed.
[20:19] <+MonicaValentinelli> :-)
[20:19] <+MonicaValentinelli> That's in the show transcripts, too.
[20:20] <~Dan> Wait... I thought Serenity said it was one system?
[20:20] <+MonicaValentinelli> One universe, multiple systems.
[20:20] <+xyphoid_> But they don't have FTL do they? how long does it take to get from system to system?
[20:20] <~Dan> Right, but Serenity's opening says that it's one huge solar system that they colonized.
[20:20] <+xyphoid_> (i thought they'd confirmed one multi-star system too)
[20:21] <+MonicaValentinelli> Okay, I can see there might be a little confusion of terms here.
[20:21] <+BlasterKyubey210> Mmm? What's the story on that mix-up?
[20:21] <+MonicaValentinelli> Firefly primarily takes place in the White Sun System.
[20:22] <+MonicaValentinelli> There were a few episodes that did not. The Georgia System, for example, was also mentioned.
[20:22] <~Dan> Ah... So there are multiple solar systems.
[20:22] <+MonicaValentinelli> By Firefly terms, a system can be a collection of terraformed planets around a star.
[20:23] <~Dan> That makes more sense.
[20:23] <+MonicaValentinelli> The movie/series doesn't go into great detail there, but there are plenty of maps that address this already. We'll be providing a few of our own in the corebook.
[20:24] <~Dan> Do you deal with any issues that are glossed over in the series, like different levels of gravity on different planets?
[20:24] <+MonicaValentinelli> That's a little too granular for what we're doing.
[20:25] <+MonicaValentinelli> We only have so much room. And I'm already putting our team to work -- flashbacks! Reavers! New Distinctions!
[20:25] <+MargWeis> Floating cows . . .
[20:25] <+Eloy-3EG> *blink*
[20:25] <+MonicaValentinelli> That's going in the corebook.
[20:25] * ~Dan chuckles
[20:25] <+MonicaValentinelli> :-)
[20:26] <+MonicaValentinelli> Has to be a Complication in Shindig.
[20:26] <~Dan> Can you say if the Serenity origin of the Reavers is canon in the Firefly RPG?
[20:26] <+MonicaValentinelli> Hee.
[20:26] <+MonicaValentinelli> It is not.
[20:26] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - We generally try to focus our systems work on stuff that will help our players tell great stories. The gravity stuff might be cool for one or two moons, but we're really trying to give players a toolbox of stuff they can use without getting into the science of it all.
[20:26] <+MargWeis> Reavers remain mysterious.
[20:26] <+MonicaValentinelli> Reavers are more the mysterious boogeymen in the black.
[20:27] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, but that doesn't mean we don't have people writing about Reaver encounters. :-D
[20:27] <~Dan> Mark: Oh, certainly. I'm not even sure if I'd like to see something like that.
[20:27] <+MonicaValentinelli> It's a good point to bring up, though. I think it's something we can address in a sidebar.
[20:27] <~Dan> I'm just always curious about whether and how people treat issues in licensed settings that aren't dealt with in the licensed material itself. :)
[20:28] <+MonicaValentinelli> That was part of the design implications up front.
[20:28] <~Dan> I'd compare it to touching on why ships always fly on a 2-dimensional plane in Star Wars and Star Trek. :)
[20:29] <+MonicaValentinelli> Because doing a game, like this, on a beloved TV show, needs to reach a lot of fans but, at the same time, be faithful for Fox. The toolbox approach allows us to encourage Browncoats to get what they want out of this game.
[20:29] * ~Dan nods
[20:30] <~Dan> Are you dealing with any "what ifs" in sidebars or the like? What if there were aliens, for example?
[20:30] <+MonicaValentinelli> Unfortunately, we have no room for that.
[20:30] <+MargWeis> OMG, no aliens!
[20:30] <~Dan> :)
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[20:31] <+MonicaValentinelli> Personally (and don't tell anybody this) I'd love to see Firefly crossed with Buffy... But that'll never happen. There are no vampires in space.
[20:31] <~Dan> On a related note, it is Firefly canon that no planets are life-supporting pre-terraforming?
[20:31] <+MonicaValentinelli> Correct.
[20:31] <+MonicaValentinelli> And newly terraformed planets incur maladies.
[20:31] <~Dan> Maladies?
[20:32] <+Eloy-3EG> If you can make that happen, Monica, I'll buy many, many, many copies. I ship Buffy and Mal. :-D
[20:32] <+MonicaValentinelli> So any newly terraformed planet results in an illness. Bowden's Malady in the Train Job was an example.
[20:33] <+MonicaValentinelli> So if you're on a newly terraformed moon, all the travelers could get rickets or chickenpox or cancer before too long.
[20:33] <+MonicaValentinelli> It's a quirk of the Rim planets.
[20:34] <+MonicaValentinelli> And no, we're not going to provide a table with all the diseases you could get. :-)
[20:34] <~Dan> :)
[20:34] <~Dan> Will we get to find out the truth behind Shepherd Book? :)
[20:34] <+MargWeis> Mysterious . . .
[20:35] <~Dan> I thought you might say that. :)
[20:35] <~Dan> So are ships FTL?
[20:35] <+MonicaValentinelli> You're asking all the hard questions.
[20:36] <+MonicaValentinelli> :-)
[20:36] <+TorgHacker> Aren't the easy ones in the FAQ? :-)
[20:36] <~Dan> That's why they pay me the big bucks. :)
[20:36] <+MonicaValentinelli> I need to (not kidding) calculate the distance between moons and planets in the show before I can answer that question.
[20:36] <+TorgHacker> From a near astronomy graduate, I don't think the ships are.
[20:37] <+MonicaValentinelli> The show takes place over a year-long, maybe 13-month period.
[20:37] <+MonicaValentinelli> My gut is telling me the systems are too close to one another.
[20:37] <~Dan> Personally? I hope the ships are FTL. I'd hate to be stuck in a Firefly-class ship with a herd of cows for any length of time. :)
[20:38] <+MonicaValentinelli> Floating cows!
[20:38] <+Kei> I'm hardly a rocket scientist but uh...wouldn't things have to be ridiculously close together for travel to take any kind of reasonable time without FTL?
[20:38] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yes, and that's partly what makes the planetary systems so interesting.
[20:39] <+MargWeis> So has anyone ever asked Joss that question?
[20:39] <+MonicaValentinelli> I'm going to have to bring the question back to my team, though. Because FTL wasn't covered in the show, so we need to have a chat about that.
[20:39] <+TorgHacker> A multiple star system would eliminate the need for any FTL drives.
[20:39] <+TorgHacker> Ironically I just sent you an email about that Monica. :-)
[20:40] <+Kei> how long would travel between planets take even in a multi-star system?
[20:40] <&Silverlion> Heh. Yeah one of those "Do Balrog's have wings? conundrums, that it helps to answer
[20:40] <~Dan> Given the "new canon", can you tell us some of the more interesting new facts we'll learn about the 'Verse? Any technological surprises, for example?
[20:40] <+MonicaValentinelli> Checking a few places, and it's assumed there's a lack of FTL drive.
[20:40] <+TorgHacker> Under 1G burn you could get to Pluto in 7 days.
[20:40] <+MonicaValentinelli> I should have been an astronomer. :-)
[20:41] <+MarkDiazTruman> Yeah, those seem like the kinds of time/distances they talk about in the show. :D
[20:41] <+TorgHacker> I almost was an astronomer. :-)
[20:42] <+MonicaValentinelli> In Margaret's adventure, she created a ship called the Rim's Dream. This is important to the canon, because it could exist and it shows that wealthy, tourist destinations exist outside of the Core.
[20:42] <+TorgHacker> Every time Mal's monologue at the beginning of the show talking about a whole galaxy of Earths, I get a nervous twitch. :-)
[20:42] <+Eloy-3EG> the speed of plot?
[20:42] <+Kei> why's that?
[20:42] <+MonicaValentinelli> In Andrew's, he shows you a war-torn orphanage where you have Alliance and Independent orphans.
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[20:43] <+MonicaValentinelli> Combined, both are showing you different aspects of the 'verse to flesh that out some. Remember, the Unification War ended six years prior to the opening of the show. That's not a lot of time to see very real effects.
[20:43] * ~Dan nods
[20:44] <+MonicaValentinelli> Like Margaret said before, though, you're encouraged to bring your own story into it, too. So if you want to create new canon because it fits your game? Go forth and be awesome!
[20:45] <+MonicaValentinelli> @eloy-3EG Curious to hear your impressions of the Exclusive.
[20:45] <~Dan> :)
[20:46] <+Eloy-3EG> I haven't poured through all of it yet, but the first 102 pages are wonderful!
[20:47] <+MarkDiazTruman> :)
[20:47] <+MonicaValentinelli> Thank you. We all appreciate that.
[20:47] <~Dan> How long would you say character creation takes for a newbie to the game?
[20:48] <+MonicaValentinelli> Less than five minutes.
[20:48] <+MargWeis> thanks!
[20:48] <~Dan> Really? Impressive!
[20:48] <+MarkDiazTruman> @Dan - We've got three kinds, so it's variable. If you just want to pick up and play with one of the Main Cast, it's instant.
[20:48] <~Dan> Right. I'm thinking in terms of creating a character from scratch.
[20:48] <+MarkDiazTruman> If you want to use one of the archetypes to design a character, you can totally (as Monica says) do it in under 5 minutes.
[20:48] <+Eloy-3EG> You all deserve a huge pat on the back...
[20:49] <+Eloy-3EG> and money (lots of it)
[20:49] <+MonicaValentinelli> For original characters, it's ten minutes. :-)
[20:49] <+MarkDiazTruman> If you want to go completely from scratch, you can still do it in under 10 minutes, but you can take your time to find the perfect Distinctions, etc.
[20:49] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yep, exactly!
[20:49] <+MarkDiazTruman> Earlier today I stated up a Ship's Captain on our Google+ page in the time it took me to write the post.
[20:49] <~Dan> Speaking of 10 minutes, we have about 10 minutes left in "regular" Q&A time. Is there anything we haven't covered that you'd like to mention? (And again, you're all welcome to hang out here and talk about the game as long as you like.)
[20:50] <+MonicaValentinelli> Does anyone have any questions?
[20:50] <+MargWeis> About anything?
[20:50] <+MonicaValentinelli> Margaret: do you want to mention *your* shiny, new books?
[20:51] <+Kei> I may have missed this earlier, but how detailed is ship creation?
[20:52] <+MargWeis> Sure! My newest book, Storm Riders, second in the Dragon Brigade series, is out now. Working on  number. 3.
[20:52] <+MarkDiazTruman> @kei - Ships are characters, like the main Crew, so they have Attributes, Distinctions, and Signature Assets. They don't have Skills, though, because the Crew are supposed to supply them, so they are slightly simpler than a regular character.
[20:52] <+MonicaValentinelli> Margaret is very modest. We sold out of her new book at Gen Con. :-)
[20:52] <+Kei> you're working on an rpg for that series as well, right? is it going to be Cortex-based as well?
[20:52] <+MonicaValentinelli> Yes, Dragon Brigade will be Cortex Plus.
[20:53] <+MargWeis> Yes, the RPG was designed by Cam Banks and it is finished. Waiting on the art. It introduces magic to the Cortex system.
[20:53] <+MarkDiazTruman> :D MAGIC!
[20:53] <+Kei> which iteration of Cortex Plus will it be closest to? or will it be significantly different?
[20:53] <+Kei> yes, very interested based on that fact :D
[20:53] <+MargWeis> Close to Firefly.
[20:53] <~Dan> (Well, technically, didn't Demon Hunters introduce magic to Cortex? :) )
[20:54] <+Kei> that was O-Cortex though, yes?
[20:54] <~Dan> True.
[20:54] <+MonicaValentinelli> All Cortex Plus games have the same engine with some tweaks. So as Margaret mentioned, if you know how to play Firefly or Leverage, Marvel, Smallville -- you'll have an easy time picking up Dragon Brigade.
[20:54] <+MonicaValentinelli> They're all in the same system family.
[20:55] <~Dan> Speaking of which... is original Cortex dead now, or do you plan on using it in the future? It would seem to appeal more to "traditional" gamers.
[20:55] <+Kei> I've got marvel, smallville and leverage and see their inter-relations, but the difference and how they effect play are fairly significant, I think.
[20:55] <+MargWeis> Each setting gets its own version of the system.
[20:56] <+Kei> sounds like a good plan
[20:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> Grabbing the link now, but we just put out Wedding Planners Classic Set. Our goal is to help Serenity RPG fans learn the new Cortex Plus systyem.
[20:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> WHOOPS! System.
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[20:56] <+MargWeis> I'm a traditional gamer.
[20:56] <+MonicaValentinelli> We've been talking about a translation guide from Classic to Plus, but haven't announced anything firm yet.
[20:57] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:57] <+MonicaValentinelli> Here's the Wedding Planners Cortex Classic set. This launched in July. (Link:
[20:57] <+Kei> huh, suddenly I remember sovereign stone. was that proto-cortex?
[20:58] <+MargWeis> Thanks to all of you, but the dogs are circling me like sharks waiting to go out. I better call it a night.
[20:58] <+Kei> have a great one
[20:58] <~Dan> No problem! Thanks for spending time with us, Margaret! Have a great evening!
[20:58] <+MonicaValentinelli> Bye, Margaret!
[20:58] <+MargWeis> Bye!
[20:59] <+MarkDiazTruman> Night, Margaret! Pet the dogs for me. :D
[20:59] <+Eloy-3EG> Everyone have a great night! This was quit ethe Q&A!
[20:59] <+MonicaValentinelli> They stumped me with FTL.
[20:59] <+MonicaValentinelli> :-D
[20:59] <+Eloy-3EG> *quite the
[20:59] <+Kei> haha
[20:59] <~Dan> Monica, Mark, do you guys need to call it a night as well?
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[20:59] <+MonicaValentinelli> I can hang out for a few.
[20:59] <+MarkDiazTruman> I'm up for a few more questions if anyone has them.
[21:00] <+MonicaValentinelli> Dan, can you send me your e-mail address?
[21:00] <~Dan> Sure, just a sec...
[21:00] <+Kei> I'm sure I'll think of some just as you leave
[21:00] <+MonicaValentinelli> KK
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[21:00] <+MonicaValentinelli> I see Eloy left us.
[21:00] <~Dan> Monica: Sent!
[21:00] <+MonicaValentinelli> Suh-weet!
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[21:00] * ~Dan chuckles
[21:00] <~Dan> (Howdy, C_Edwards!)
[21:01] <~Dan> Did you guys see Kei's question?
[21:01] <+Kei> Eloy's name sounds like a reference to The Time Machine
[21:01] <+MonicaValentinelli> The proto-cortex one was a question only Margaret could answer.
[21:01] <~Dan> Ah. Alas.
[21:02] <+Kei> just an idle thought anyhow :)
[21:02] <+MonicaValentinelli> The company started with the Serenity RPG.
[21:02] <+MonicaValentinelli> Oh, we've had NONE of those!
[21:02] <~Dan> :)
[21:02] <+C_Edwards> (hi!)
[21:03] <+MonicaValentinelli> Aloha
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[21:03] <~Dan> (C_Edwards: Just wrapping up a Firefly Q&A. Feel free to ask any questions! :) )
[21:03] <+Kei> come to think of it, I think I actually own the Serenity RPG. How I acquired it, I cannot remember.
[21:03] <~Dan> Probably in a drunken game-buying stupor.
[21:04] <+MonicaValentinelli> I think we broke the space-time continuum. Not seeing your e-mail, Dan. You can shoot me one to monica AT margaretweis DOT com.
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[21:04] <~Dan> Better yet, I'll message you via FB. ;)
[21:05] <+Eloy-3EG> Just realized I didn't officially say bye!
[21:05] <+MonicaValentinelli> We're working on the rules editing for the next Echoes of War adventure. You're either going to love me or shake your heads in shame.
[21:05] <~Dan> Monica: Sent!
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[21:05] <+MonicaValentinelli> Hah eloy-3eg how dare you?
[21:05] <~Dan> Welcome to #rpgnet, DrFURIOUS!
[21:05] <+Eloy-3EG> i know, i know. I'll do better in the future
[21:06] <+Eloy-3EG> it was a pleasure hearing more about the implementation or the system though
[21:06] <+Eloy-3EG> you all handled the question very well
[21:06] <+Eloy-3EG> and there were some tough ones
[21:07] <+MonicaValentinelli> There's a lot of pieces flying about. We're very lucky because we've got a great foundation and relationship with Fox.
[21:07] <+MonicaValentinelli> I'm super thrilled.
[21:07] <+MarkDiazTruman> Truth!
[21:08] <+Eloy-3EG> I'm excited to talk my group into trying the Firefly RPG
[21:08] <+Eloy-3EG> I'm not thinking it will be *that* difficult (since we're all fans)
[21:08] <~Dan> Since we're moving more in to chat mode, I think I'll go ahead and save the log and send you the link, Monica. :)

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