The Worlds of Terri Pray

The highs and lows of chasing a writing dream. From fantasy to erotica and beyond as seen through the eyes of Terri Pray.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zoinks...

Ever watch Scooby-doo? We have kids so the Zoinks is something we hear a lot when they've got Scooby on in the background. Yet the word sums up how we both feel now that the end is in sight for the first of the D6 Epic releases.

First, but by no means the last.

Even as Sam's working on a last minute art piece, and I'm double checking his geek speak, he's already working on books that will follow. Including Magic, and Weapons/Fighting skills. Last time I checked he had the next twenty-one books vaguely sketched out in the back of his mind.

The good thing is there's more work.

The bad thing is - there's more work!

So, thank you for keeping up with us during the A to Z challenge, and I'll be posting updates about the games, new releases, and next weekend - Core Con! We'll be there, enjoying and working at the convention, and we'll have lots to fill you in on over the course of the weekend.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Years...

D6 Epic has taken, so far, two years of hashing out rules, finding they didn't work, rewording them and then turning them into English. It's been both a joy and a nightmare to work on, and has completely changed Sam's teenage dream of creating a game. As one of the early players of Chainmail and Dungeons and Dragons, he, like many before and since, didn't think it would take that long to work out a game.

He now knows better, and is wiser for the learning experience. It's also taught him just how much he truly loves gaming and now writing for gaming systems.

It's also taught him that any game writer needs an editor, because gamer geek and English aren't always the same thing. As such some of the most humorous moments have arisen from editing process. Times when I've looked at him, read out the paragraph long sentence, and asked him what exactly he meant by that... Only to have him look at me, blink and say 'I had an idea and I think it got away from me somewhere in the middle of all of that. Or was joined by five others to create a mutant hybrid.'

Which means that you have to have a sense of humor to work in this industry. Without one, you'll crack before the first three months are over.

So, Monday we'll be touching base on a few things and asking Sam what he has planned next with the system.

Friday, April 27, 2012

eXtra's

Okay, so it's not really an X post, but we're trying!

One of the extra's in D6 Epic is the Advantages/Disadvantages set up in the game.

Terri: Sam, what exactly is the Advantages/Disadvantages thing?

Sam: Advantages are natural abilities that a character has such as being ambidextrous or having a good sense of direction. If you have Advantages however, you'll also have Disadvantages and they have to be 'real' ones that could impact the game. These could things like allergies, a tendency to drink too much when you've been rejected by the one you love, a bad knee that might hinder your skills, etc. They can't, however, be something like an allergy to Polar Bears and you've never stepped into the frozen wastes, and have no intention of ever doing so. Or being afraid of sailing, but you're in a land locked country.

Terri: So, basically, the characters cannot be perfect. But, what happens if a player tries to be sneaky and give himself an unworkable Disadvantage such as the Polar Bear thing?

Sam:It's up to the GM then, who should know the Disadvantages of the characters he's GMIng for. There are two ways he can handle this. He can make it that the Disadvantage comes into play such as moving the group to the frozen wastelands in the midst of the biggest Polar Bear migration in history, or mass break out by Polar Bears who suddenly find themselves wanting to cuddle said player. The other way is the rest of the players get to work out a Disadvantage for the player, with GM approval. They decide the character's 'fate'.

Terri: In other words play nice or the GM and the Players will get you!

Sam: There's one other eXtra I should mention. There will be a full color version of the rule book as well as a black and white. I'm just tweaking a few of the artwork pieces now! I've given Terri two of them to add to the post.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Willpower

Sam agreed to discuss Willpower in regards to D6 Epic

Willpower represents a character's personal effect on others. It includes such skills as oration, acting, and grooming. A character's willpower also represents his ability to withstand mental attacks. Whether they come from situational pressures, like stress or direct assault from magic, or psychic phenomenon.

Willpower comes into play in social interactions and there are several skills under Willpower that cover negotiating with others, bluffing, flirtation and persuasion. All of these skills are used in various types of social interactions. As one of the focal points of D6 Epic is social interaction, having a high die code in Willpower will assist the character with his interactions during the game.

Willpower has one skill that is very helpful for a character; Mettle. This allows a character to resist the attempts of others to interact with him, plus the effects of fear, mental attacks, and the emotional hindrance associated with pain.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Variability

D6 Epic offers a lot of variability for both players and GM's. The setting for the game can be anything from a medieval fantasy through to space opera, urban paranormal to traditional horror, cyber punk to steam punk. The characters also have the option for a great deal of variation as they're not stuck in a specific class. This allows the player to have a character who is a college professor, but is also a daring adventurer searching for relics.

The variation is only limited by the imagination of the GM and players.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unique

I asked Sam what he thought was unique about D6 Epic...

Sam: One of the things that's unique would be the Epic Die. In most D6 systems the wild dice (which is what our Epic Die are) can continue to be rolled as long as you get a 6 on the roll. The Epic Die isn't open ended and it adds plus 1 per dice roll. So if you roll ten Epic Die you get plus 10.

Another thing that is unique about the system is the focus on social interactions. There are systems out there that include social interactions and romance, but there's not the in-depth focus as appears in D6 Epic. This, in turn, helps build the roleplay side of the game instead of focusing on combat.

There are no rewards, in the way of experience, from simply killing things. Yes,the odds are somewhere within the quest your character will kill something. But that can also come in via social interaction - you might find yourself forced to kill the courtier who tried to poison the queen. But this isn't about hunting down the beast, killing it, and getting the loot.

Tomorrow he'll be talking about Variability - or that's the current plan!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Time Keeping.

Time and Time Keeping in any game is one of the necessary responsibilities of the Games Master. Real time and game time are not concurrent. An hour of real time play can cover days, weeks, months of game time or perhaps minutes of game time.

Terri: So, a round of moves could be as little as seconds in game time?

Sam: Yes, especially in battle. Combat can take quite a bit of real time for a minutes worth of combat. Which is why combat is broken down into rounds. Each combat round the pc's and the npc's roll initiative. The higher initiative rolls move first, depending on what you're doing you can have multiple actions during a combat round. So it will seem like the combat round is broken up into further time segments due to people moving during the round.

Terri: Where else in a game could a long period of real time play cover only minutes of game time?

Sam: Social interactions. Roleplaying out a social interaction might only be five minutes of game time, but could take half an hour or longer real time, depending on how in depth you're doing the roleplay and/or how many people are involved.

Terri: And where in a game could an extended period of game time take a short period of real time to roleplay out?

Sam: Travel; going from one city to another city takes a great deal of game time. But unless there's something happening during the journey very little real time is eaten up.

Tomorrow I'll be asking Sam what he believes is unique about D6 Epic.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Skills

Skills in D6 Epic are just that. They are skills your character has learned. They are based on attributes that they are linked to, and are more specific applications of an attribute. They are difference from attributes in that they are learned whereas attributes are your inherent ability.

We'll be back to longer posts on Monday, all being well, when Sam's going to explain about time in a game, how it breaks down into rounds.

Reflex

Reflexes in D6 Epic are an indication of balance, limberness, quickness, and full body motor abilities.

The reflex attribute covers any sort of driving skill, as well as skills such as lock picking and pick pocketing, as well as more 'gentlemanly' skills such as the playing of a musical instrument.

A way to look at the reflex attribute is as manual dexterity combined with reaction times. If your character has a background as a fine craftsman, this is an attribute they'll need. A dancer would need this as equally as a thief.

Short post because we're playing catch up.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hectic

Things became a little hectic today, between end of week, build up to the youngest's b'day on Monday, and then shopping. By the time we sat down, after dinner, it was almost 11pm. So, as we'd like the R post to be at least semi-coherent, we decided to delay it until tomorrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quick Start Rules

Quick Start Rules are exactly that, a set of rules that are used in setting books to enable a game to take place without having to have the Core Rule Book. They are tweaked for each setting book so there are often setting specific rules included in Quick Start. I asked Sam how else he would describe such rule sets and why someone might still need the Core Rule Book if these rules are included in many a setting book.

Sam: The Quick Start Rules cover the barest of basics, they're just enough information to run an adventure or two in that setting. However, if you want any depth to your game you are going to need the Core Rulebook for that setting.

Terri: So in a setting book just how much of the book is taken up by the QSR?

Sam: We try to keep them down to 40 pages or less. They really are bare basics and nothing more.

Terri: Are these rules going to be included in specific rule books such as the Magic book you're working on?

Sam: Supplements such as the Magic Book are likely not going to include QSR as they cover optional and additional rules/information.

Terri: But setting/information books such as the PPA or Bear Killers for Emberverse would? So what's the difference there between these types of supplements and the Magic Book?

Sam: You can't run an adventure solely off the Magic book, you can off the PPA or Bear Killers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Player Characters

Player Characters, or PC's, are the characters created and played by players in a game, but we all know that. So I asked Sam what stands out, to him, about PC's in D6 Epic.

Sam: PC's aren't locked into a character class in D6 Epic.

Terri: I've less than fond memories of playing class restricted characters, such as Cleric's. But you're saying in this system that I, for instance, can play someone with healing skills, who also knows how to kick ass, and might have side line abilities in picking locks?

Sam: Yes. You have a general occupation such as retired special forces. You have a strong leaning toward combat, but you've decided that you wish to follow a pagan path that focuses on healing and herb lore. You can use your progression points to work on the skills you would like for your character, rather than being locked into the class restrictions of a class game system.
In a setting such as Valdemar this works exceptionally well because, for example, a Herald can be a fighter, thief, diplomat, or judge (in fact all of them can be called do to this at the same time). But then you have Heralds such as Skif whose background prior to being chosen is that of a thief. He doesn't lose these skills when he becomes a Herald, he expands and learns other skills. There are also Heralds who focus or have natural leanings toward record keeping, history, or teaching.
The same applies to the Emberverse setting where multiple skills are required in order to survive.

Sam's also asked me to announce that we plan to launch the Core Rule Book at Core Con, in Fargo/Moorhead, first weekend of May. There'll be a D6 Epic game, featuring Mr. S.M. Stirling and Kier Salmon, on the Saturday night of the convention.

www.fargocorecon.org has the details.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Optional Rules

We've mentioned optional rules before now, but Sam has agreed to explain what optional rules are (other than the obvious) and why they are a part of the D6 Epic System.

Sam: Optional Rules allow GM's to add a little more complexity to the game. Though having said that, one of the optional rules is actually an alternative die chart. This allows you to roll five die and calculate out a forty die skill.

Terri: You're getting into Geek Speak here - will we be able to put examples of these charts on the message board?

Sam: Yes, and I'll have that up this weekend on the D6 Epic Message board. The one problem with the die chart is it takes away some of the variability that rolling the multiple die provides. So, although it's faster it basically gives you an average.

Terri: Okay, so what other types of optional rules are there, or will there be?

Sam: There's one other one in the Core Rule Book, and that's a hit location chart. The basic rules don't state a location when your character is hit. Not using the chart allows a little leniency in roleplay but isn't very realistic. The chart means that when you are hit by something or you hit something you then roll where you are hit, and this also allows for the potential for extra damage. The chart makes armor more important, because if you're not wearing a helmet and get hit in the head, it's going to hurt more. Also, hits to the head cause more damage than hits to the torso.

Terri: Are you working on any other optional rules for future books?

Sam: There will be optional rules for Magic that will appear in the Magic book. Just as there will be optional rules for combat in the combat specific book. One the combat rules I'm looking at will be adding martial art styles in place of a general fighting skill. Others we'll work on as we focus on new books. We're keeping things fairly simple for the Core Rule Book.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N = New Players

One of the reasons Sam decided to work on D6 Epic was to encourage new players, and returning players, into the world of table top RPG's.

Terri: Sam, what do you think makes D6 Epic easier for new players to enjoy?

Sam: Because the focus is on roleplay rather than the rules; good roleplay trumps the rules. New players do not need a gaming background in order to enjoy the system, all they need is a good imagination.

Terri: Yet there is a rule book, so what is different about the rule book that helps new players?

Sam: The rule book is designed with the players section upfront, so a new player only has two or three chapters to read before they can play. You also spent a lot of time turning my game geek speak into English - with real sentences!

Terri: Admittedly a lot of the rule books I'd read through left my eyes glazed, and that was one thing I knew we had to avoid with this system.

Sam: And a good example would be that your mother, a woman who has never played an RPG in her life or had even opened one, was able to read the through the sections we'd written during her last visit here, and she was able to understand them. That's one of the key factors in this system. Making things clear and easy to play without the need for convoluted explanations. This isn't a jab at other systems, they're designed for people who have been playing most of their lives, we wanted a system that both new and old players could both enjoy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Magic

I'll be asking Sam about Magic in the general D6 Epic system. Magic for Valdemar and Emberverse will differ because it adheres to the rules of those settings. So, unless either setting is specifically mentioned Sam's replies are about the core system/rule book.

Terri: Sam, Magic is always a bit tricky because of making it playable without jumping everyone to the equivalent of the 50th level wizard with no real fall out for the character when they do use magic. How is this being handled in D6 Epic?

Sam: There are optional rules that the GM can use to limit this. Characters only being able to cast a certain number of spells a day without falling into sheer exhaustion or damaging their own body.

Terri: Does magic use come with a price?

Sam: That depends on the system that the GM wants to use. In fiction the systems run from mages being able to use spells without any price or consequence to where the simplest spells tire them out.

Terri: So, you're saying that there is a choice for both the GM and the players. They play a game where magic doesn't come with a price, or they can use the optional rules to make the game more realistic?

Sam: Yes. The reason we've set Epic up this way is because there are going to be GM's and Players who will want magic to be very common place, almost making magic the equivalent of modern guns. In this type of setting a price for the use of magic does not really work except on a minimal level as it would fall under a normal activity. They can adapt through to a system where the simplest of spells comes with an energy price.
For instance in Emberverse magic for the player characters is extremely rare due to the devotion that has to be shown to the higher power. It's suggested that in this setting it's kept to the named characters in the books who use such magic - such as Juniper - and these characters should only appear as NPC's.
In Valdemar the rules for magic change depending on the time period of the game. In the Arrows trilogy there is no 'true' magic within the Kingdom's boundaries, but there are gifts such as Empathy, Telepathy, Fetching etc. and the herald's gift. Outside of the Kingdom's boundaries magic still exists, and some of it isn't the 'nice' kind but darker magics such as blood magic. There's also the one spell - truth spell - that heralds can cast at different levels, depending on their abilities. The use of these gifts and 'true' magic (true magic in this sense being the use of laylines, nodes etc.) have a physical exhaustion price that can lead to death if they push things too far. The greater the effort the greater the physical price. From being tired, suffering headaches, migraines, and death if the right steps aren't taken to prevent such.

So, it boils down to what the players and the GM's wish to use. How comfortable they are with a setting, or story idea.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M post tomorrow.

Things have been a wee bit hectic here, so the M post will be tomorrow, and Sam will be answering my questions about Magic in the D6 Epic system.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Love and Romance in D6 Epic

One of the things D6 Epic allows for is Love/Romance within the adventure or storyline. But how does this add to a game?? Well, I managed to distract Sam from work to ask a few questions.

Terri: Love and Romance, won't that cause problems within a game?

Sam: Being fair yes it can, but the rules system covers love and romance turning either good or bad. There have been games that have tried to add romance into the system prior to D6 Epic, we have tried to cover all the possibilities without limiting what the characters can roleplay out.

Terri: So if a player wishes to include an NPC romance with - for instance - a member of court, what are they going to have to do?

Sam: They're going to have to roleplay out the courtship and it's not a matter of rolling dice once to make it work. Each stage of the courtship you have to make friends, get them to be very good friends, start dating them, etc. At each stage there will be rolls and roleplay. You can't, at any given point, simply roll a dice. And your behavior, even when you're not with your romantic interest, can affect your romance.

Terri: How so?

Sam: You're down at the local tavern, having a drink with your buds, and one of the servants of the court sees you flirting (perhaps harmlessly) with a barmaid. He/She then goes and tells your romantic interest. And how you roleplay handling that can either improve, keep the same, or damage your romance.

Terri: All right. As someone who has written romances, I know how that can add to a story, bringing in dramatic tension etc. But as this isn't a romance driven game, what would be the possible attraction to gamers?

Sam: Having a friend at court is a way of getting information, favors from court members, or maybe your character doesn't always want to be an adventurer but wants a life at court when he/she gets a little older.

Terri: Love and romance are a part of life, so the players can either add this to the storyline, or ignore it as they feel comfortable. I doubt, looking back, there's been a book I've read that hasn't had a romance thread in it somewhere. Whilst I can't see many wanting to run full romance game, I can see story lines where, perhaps, a love does form, a bond between players or a player and NPC, and the tension that can form offers potential for evil GM's to twist. Take Lord of the Rings for example with the love between Aragorn and Arwen. But players should remember, the GM is NOT there to mediate between players if they choose to play out a love interest between their characters. They cannot fix what players might break!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Knowhow

Knowhow is a 'MacGyver' skill in the D6 Epic system. Figuring out how to perform an action in which the character does not have any experience. As well as a catchall skill encompassing areas not covered by specific skills.

The knowhow skill will enable someone to pull a 'MacGyver' but requires skills in storytelling to pull it off, as imagination is a key component in being able to pull together the players other skills and combine with circumstances in order to successfully use this skill.

It will take a very skilled player to be able to use this in the fashion of MacGyver himself, but we have no doubt that such players - once they stumble into our gaming system - will put this to the test!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jump Start - or Jump Starting a Dying Game

One of the things a good GM has to be able to do is jump start a game when it's stuck or dying. Sometimes that comes from snippet or mood fiction within a setting book. Other times from a bestiary or a Legends book, depending on the type of game.

For a science fiction game a mysterious signal, wrecked craft, or an SOS can be enough. Paranormal - a series of murders that fall outside of the normal rules of behavior, spells gone wrong, books turning up in the wrong hands.

Unusual NPC's are also a way of kick-starting games.

But as many turn to the setting books one of my 'tasks' for some of the upcoming books is to write mood or snippet fiction, which I've already done for [i]Mission Little Rock[/i]. In the coming weeks I'll be able to post parts of the fiction snippets and give a small taster of the settings, games and challenges we're hoping to provide for players and I thought it might be an idea to put up a small teaser for [i]Mission Little Rock[/i].

Due to the setting there is some adult language in this opening - and this is a pre-final edit version.

“Here, hold m’beer son, I’m gonna try something.”

The beer can was shoved into Private First Class Mike Johnson’s hand before he had a chance to protest. The truck swerved violently to the left, beer slopping over his lap before he’d had a chance to brace himself. Not that the move did any good, the truck still hit the large rut and jolted the rest of the team almost out of their seats.

Shit his pants were going to smell like beer for the rest of the day. Just what he needed. The others were going to assume he’d had a quick swig and the platoon leader would read him the riot act for drinking on duty.

Swearing filtered in through the partially open sliding window behind him, but the driver just swore and continued driving down the pitted road. Each fresh hole jerked him around the seat that little bit more and he knew that his ass would be black and blue by the time they arrived.

Fucking wonderful. And he’d actually thought that sitting up front would be better than being crammed into the back of the truck with the others.

Just what in hells name had he signed himself up for this time?

Guts, glory and a quick promotion - if he lived through this. Shit, he should have known better, what was the first rule – never volunteer for anything, and he’d well and truly broken that one. Now look at him. He was stuck in a truck with a farmer who smelled as though he hadn’t bathed in a month and obviously had some sort of allergy to razors as his graying beard reached down into the man’s lap.

At least he now understood why the platoon leader hadn’t made any attempt to grab the shotgun seat. He’d be able to smell the man two days from now, and his stomach now rolled and the constitution he’d assumed was strong enough to handle anything now threatened to spill its contents out of the window. If he could find a way to open it, he’d tried on and off since clambering into the cabin and it was jammed tight.

He peered out of the window. Strange cloud formations drifted across the sky in interesting, stomach churning, shades of green and purple. Abandoned farm houses and barns had been overgrown by bright orange vines that he could have sworn turned, and half lifted off the buildings, waving their tentacles at the truck as they drove past.

More than once they’d already past the bleached remains of a human skeleton.

So much for an easy ride. If he could have got his hands on the Lieutenant he’d have strangled the man – or locked him in the front of the truck with the farmer for an entire day. Without a gas mask.

Fucking desk officers.

He knew better than to ever trust them. What risks did they face? He was sat safe, dry and away from the stink behind his desk shuffling papers and trying to find more idiots to send off on missions.

But he’d broken the first rule, never volunteer, so no matter how he silently ranted it didn’t change the fact that he’d signed up for the mission of his own free will.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Imagination

Imagination is an obvious part of playing or creating a roleplaying game, but part of what we have to do is use that imagination to try and figure out what the players will do.

I mean any warped, twisted thing they might throw at us, or the GM.

Considering that Sam came up with a few interesting things as both a GM and a player, that has caused us a few moments of concern.

For example. In one game as a GM he came up with a trap that just teleported calcium. So when they tested the trap with a stick, and later a sword, nothing happened. But when they stuck their hand in, the bones in their hand teleported. Of course, they later stumbled over a room full of hands bones...

Then there's a story Scott has told us about a Paranoia Game, when a player arrived late to the table and asked... "Is this the Paranoia Game." To which the GM's answer was "Clone Two."

The adventure Sam ran at a con where the bad guy (this was during a cyberpunk game) was trying to bribe all the players to turn on their party (by killing them for large amounts of credits), and telling them not to talk it over with their party members. Of course, none of the party did. So at the final showdown the part turned against itself and the bad guy sat on a roof top, picking them up with a sniper rifle.

As a player he's thrown twists at GM's with a simple bag of metal ball-bearings. Which he threw, on one occasion, at a group of Minotaurs who were chasing the party.

But of course we also have to look at ways that the game could be 'broken', but we know no matter what we do we'll get emails of 'did you know if you do X and Y you can get away with this...'. At that point we'll groan, face palm and try to figure out what else we've missed...

Monday, April 09, 2012

H for Hello...

After blabbing on about the new system I thought it might be an idea to do a quick introduction for those involved in D6 Epic.

Sam Pray - he's been involved with Final Sword Productions and the fiction imprint Under the Moon almost seven years now. He's the President of Final Sword Productions, and handles a lot of the hands on work in the company. When he's not at his computer working on artwork and layout for Under the Moon or the D6 Epic books, he can be found in the production area of the business binding books, creasing covers, handling printer jams, packing boxes of games, mini's and T-shirts. He truly is vital to the company - and this he balances with being a husband and a father. Days off? He'll let you know when they finally invent such a thing.

Daniel Scott Palter - Former owner of West End Games during their hay day of the Star Wars and Men in Black games (amongst others) he's now the CFO of Final Sword Productions. Both Terri and Sam freely admit that they have learned a lot from Scott and continue to do so. When he's not at his computer dealing with paperwork or other matters he can be found in what Joshua would say is his true possession - as servant to the Feline Overlord, Joshua T. Cat.

Terri Pray - hmm, that's me. When time (and health) allow I help out with the physical book production, but when I'm not translating geek speak into English for the game books, my focus in the company is as the Editor in Chief for our Fiction Imprint, Under the Moon. I also write for other companies including Harper Collins new Mischief line, Loose Id, and Mojocastle Press - and most of my current work is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18. However, I also have a light fantasy series that I'm currently re-vamping when time permits. In between all of that I'm also a wife and mother. Which means, like Sam, there's no such thing as a day off.

Also tied in with the company are Matthew Ewertz and Ken Burnside.

Matthew Ewertz is a long term gamer who has been working with Sam on the D6 Epic rule book. This is balances with full time employment elsewhere as well as being a husband and father.

Ken Burnside is best known for his 3D space combat system and is the lead creative for the Ad Astra imprint of the company. His 3D system won the an Origins award and his games include Saganami Island Attack Simulator, Attack Vector Tactical, and Squadron Strike.

There are others involved with the company or who have helped out with proof reading. So, I'm going to also publicly thank Karen Wolfe who is the long suffering proof reader for Under the Moon. And Raven Bower who acted as first stage proof reader for the D6 Epic Rule book.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Relaxing Day

Relaxing days are uncommon in this household due to running a business out of the home but we tried today. That's not to say that we didn't work at all.

Sam's working on artwork for an upcoming book by Cindy Keopp who has a book coming out with our fiction imprint - Under the Moon. The novel called Remnant in the Stars and we hope to release the e-book in the coming weeks once the final artwork is approved.

As for me, in between reading with our youngest, I've been working on some fiction - fan fiction. It's been many a long year since I spent time writing such, and it's to help me get a better feel for the Emberverse setting. Something needed with the work that's going into the books.

So, all in all, a quiet day but it's back to the grindstone tomorrow! As for the post tomorrow, I'll be introducing you to the team, explaining who we are, what we do, and some of the other projects we've worked on.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Games

As Sam wasn't very well last night I decided to give him a break from interviews until Monday. But that also gives me a chance to discuss the games we're currently working on. First, the two licensed settings. We're slowly working with Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon to create a game using the Valdemar setting. This is slow going because of time constraints. Because we want to do this right, we're not rushing ahead just throwing things on paper, but waiting for feedback when Misty and Larry are able to do provide such. If you're not familiar with the setting the first trilogy published was the Arrows of the Queen, following the journey of Talia from life as a type of farm girl called Holderkin. A life where, as a female, she had very little say in what she would do, right down to having no choice in who she marries. When she's chosen by Rolan, a companion, her life is turned upside down and she becomes a Herald, one of a group of very special men and women in the Kingdom.

The second licensed setting is Emberverse (and we also have the Islands in the Sea of Time) from S.M. Stirling. We're working closely with Mr. Stirling, and Kier Salmon who has become our go to lady for information, in creating the first of many game books in this setting. The first of the Emberverse series is Dies the Fire. We're also looking forward to meeting Mr. Stirling, and Kier, in person when they attend Core Con 2012 in Moorhead MN (just across the river from Fargo).

Then there are the non licensed games, using settings we've created ourselves. One of the lines we're putting together for these is called Number of the Beast - called such because the price point for the printed games will be $6.66. It's also a humor filled 'jab' at those who claimed that RPG's were 'evil'. The games produced for this line are quick, one or two session games, ideal for those who need to take a break from long running campaigns.

And the first game in that setting is 'Mission Little Rock', we don't have a release date for the game as yet but it truly does set the tone for the fast, fun, and not to be taken seriously games that we're producing for the line.

For longer games, we're looking at Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, Steam Punk, Historical and anything else that takes our fancy. There's even one our daughter (all of almost 12) is helping us with, as the basic idea was hers.

We'll keep you up to date about forthcoming games and release dates, just as we'll also have more information on the message board as things progress.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Failure

Normally in an RPG a failure means one of two things.
Either you've messed up a little, or messed up so badly there's no digging yourself out of this one. But there's another aspect to failure in the D6 Epic system and I managed to ask both Sam Pray and Matthew Ewertz about this aspect.
Terri: When you roll a failure in an RPG it's normally a bad thing, you sit there, groan and pray for better dice. What's different about failing in D6 Epic?
Matt: In D6 Epic you can screw up spectacularly, such as making a jump roll, failing and bouncing down a nasty cliff. However if you describe said bouncing, complete with contusions and such, you might not only survive it but gain an Epic Point for such a good description.
Sam: If you do something that should get you killed, you can try to persuade the GM to give you a second try at surviving, depending on how well you describe the incident. Adding a bit of humor in there won't hurt your chances either.
Matt: But that also depends on the GM. Think the old favorite cartoon scene where you bounce down the cliff and land with a tree branch directly between your legs, and describe it so well that every guy around the table is cringing, odds are the GM is going to give you the extra points.
Sam: You can exceed the difficulty number of a task and still fail completing it by rolling a 1 with your Epic dice.
Terri: So it all boils down to how well you tell the story.
Matt: Yes, as we're looking at the storytelling aspect to drive the game.
Sam: One of the differences, that should be noted here, is that in most games if you fail the GM states what happens to your character. In D^ Epic, you say what happens.
Terri: But isn't that open to abuse by the players?
Matt: Yes and no. It comes down to if you make it believable and you're continuing to drive the story forward, meeting your goals, then it's not abusing the option.
Sam: And the GM has to be strong and know the difference between using the option and taking advantage. You can't, for instance, hit that cliff fall without getting a single scratch.
With that they decided they needed time to relax and watch Immortals - for research honest...

Forum

Although this would work as the F post, it's not. I'll be interviewing Sam about Failures later today. However, this is the link to the D6 Epic Forum. There'll be sections here for both the licensed games, and the in house games we're working on. Sam's also added an 'ask the Game Designer' section in case you want to know what's going on, or you're not entirely sure of something in the rules. http://www.d6epic.com/d6_epic_forums/index.php will take you to the forum.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Epic Dice and Epic Points

Sam decided to cooperate this time, so instead of having to be tracked and trapped he settled down to answer questions. Terri: The game system is called D6 Epic, and I know this covers Epic Dice and Epic Points, but what exactly are these? Sam: Epic Die allows characters to be heroic. If you roll a 6 with Epic Dice that adds a 1 to every dice rolled. So if you roll six die you would add a plus 6 to the total. This allows characters to do more than they would normally be able to do. Epic points are points you get at the beginning but then you can also earn more by good roleplaying. You can spend your Epic points to roll another Epic dice. You can spend before you roll so you're rolling two Epic Die in your regular roll OR you can spend it after you roll to try to earn a boost. And the GM, if they're feeling generous, can allow you to spend one before and after. Terri: What do you mean by good roleplaying? Sam: Instead of just saying "I swing my sword at the monster" the player can describe exactly what they're doing such as... I shift the weight onto the balls of my feet, the grip on my sword loosening slightly as I eye up the distance between myself and my enemy. As I see his jaw set and gaze narrow I step to the left, bringing my weight behind the blow as I aim the sword for his right thigh, meaning to disable so I might question him later. This type of roleplay not only helps build the scene but adds onto the story. The better the storyteller, the better chance there is of earning more Epic Points and Progression Points at the end. This also applies to failure, which we'll cover tomorrow. Terri: And this level of storytelling would also apply to all scenes, not just combat. So if you manage to sweet talk your way out of having a jug of ale smashed down on your head by a jealous/jilted bar-tender/bar-maid, then you'd likely earn an Epic Point or bonus progression point, or both. Sam: Yes, this is a reward system for those who want to roleplay and it isn't given to those who do just want to kill the beast and get the loot. And as Sam says, we'll be discussing how this also applies to Failure - or Epic Failure - tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Drama



Sam was relaxing when I pounced him with tonight's questions. Please ignore the duct-tape - it really is for his own good. Chasing him down hurts more in the long term.



Terri: Drama plays a huge part in the D6 Epic RPG system, but why is that different from other RPGs? Aren't they all about storytelling and building the drama?


Sam: They try to be, and this isn't an attack against other systems, but they fall short either because the players and/or the system focuses on the experience points you get from killing monsters rather than roleplaying the situation and building the story or drama. If a system is built so killing monsters = advancement, it's hard to build the drama. Most systems do not focus on social interactions or romance, and D6 Epic has sections that deal with both social interactions and romance. This is not to say that you must play out a romantic situation, but the option is there.
And as it says in the book GM's can't fix romantic problems between two PC's (player characters). If you're fighting with your girlfriend, the GM can't help you.

Terri: Interesting, so what do you think these two new sections bring in the way of drama and player enjoyment?


Sam: The social interactions allows roleplay to be of importance rather than just rolling dice. An example would be haggling with a merchant, if you just want to roll dice and buy whatever you might get it for the price you want, you might not. But if you roleplay interacting with the merchant, bartering and haggling, that will give you bonuses for when you do finally have to roll dice. That might also create a friendship or reluctant respect between you and the merchant, or the merchant could hate your guts from now until forever. Either opens opportunities for adventures, mishaps, or drama - never knowing when the other shoe is going to drop.

Terri: And the romance?

Sam: Same can be said about the romance, as with social interactions. When a player decides his character has found the one (male, female, vegetable, etc.) it's not a simple dice roll to decide if they're a couple or not. You need to roleplay out the courting, the bringing of gifts, etc. Each step of the courting gets you closer to your romantic relationship but also has the chance to completely backfire. This also adds drama if you're trying to become romantically involved with a knights daughter and she catches you with the barmaid down the road - at that point things can become very interesting.

Terri: So the same theory applies to political entanglements?

Sam: They fall into the social interactions but court politics can be far nastier. It is very rare that you can trust exactly what a courtier might say to you, and the court has eyes everywhere. This applies to all settings whenever there is a political situation, it might court, it could be corporation, government, or any other self designated ruling body. In this who you trust, and the favors you build might one day save your life, or end it. The enmity can cause interesting ripples for you, affecting people you might not meet for several game sessions. Think the six degrees of separation when it comes to anyone you interact with.

And no, we're not going to make you draw a giant spider web of how everyone's connected.

Terri: So how is that kept track of?

Sam: The PC's keep track of their friends, acquaintances or enemies on a simple section on their character sheet. Which the GM keeps notes of as well. Just as the GM keeps notes on NPC's and what/who they know.

Terri: How else does drama play a part in D6 Epic?

Sam:We'll cover that in more detail via Epic Dice/Epic Points, and Failure. -- So, are you going to cut me out of this duct tape or do I have to growl?

Taking the saner option, I released Sam from the duct tape and promptly went into hiding...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Character Creation

I managed to distract Sam after dinner, before he escaped back to the computer, and he agreed to discuss character creation in the D6 Epic system.

Terri: One of the downsides I always found with RPG's was the length of time it took to create a character. I can still remember the last time, it took over four hours to roll up the character. By the time we'd finished that, I only had an hour left of gaming time before running to catch the bus! Is it going to take that long with D6 Epic?

Sam:Yes; no; maybe. You can go through and create a character from scratch which can take some time to do especially if you're not familiar with the rules. However, there are also templates which are pretty much characters ready to go with 30 minutes or so of tweaking. Ideal for someone new to gaming or for a quick lets play game.

Terri: So you're saying for my own, custom, in-depth character, I'm going to have to spend the time anyway and eat up gaming time?

Sam: No, you can build your character before hand and then have the GM approve it before you play. You don't roll dice to create your character stats, you spend points.

Terri: Okay, so how do I get my beginner points to create my character? Do I bribe the GM?

Sam: The beginning points are a set number; you have 80 points to spend on your attributes and 36 skill points.

Terri: So other than no rolling dice, what's different about creating characters in D6 Epic?

Sam:There is no character class; you have character concepts. Concepts are such things as Academics - who search for knowledge. Bounty Hunters track people down. Champions right wrongs.

Terri: *scratches head* sounds a little like character classes to me. Why is it different?

Sam: Because an Academic can also be a sword wielding barbarian who is looking for knowledge for its own sake. What skills your character has aren't limited by your character concept. There are no alignments in D6 Epic.

Terri: Hey, wait a minute. No chaotic neutral?

Sam: Nope. You have character philosophies. These are your characters core beliefs, which might range from "Kill them all and let the deities sort them out" through to "Honor is a gift man gives himself". And a character can have more than one philosophy. These can be found in any daily saying book, or favorite quotes from movies - ie... "They mostly come out at night... mostly". It's how your character views life - this is his or her philosophy.

Terri: Sounds fun, and lets the PC's have a lot more leeway.

Sam: Yes, but they have to keep in mind that they must keep true to their philosophies and character concepts.

Terri: Why, what happens if they don't?

Sam: That's up to the GM. It can be anything from not getting any progression points to difficulty numbers being increased. Lowering of stats and skills. But the reverse is also true, if you remain true to your characters concept and philosophy it might lower a difficulty number.

Terri: So basically if someone who believes the innocent should be protected then leaves a injured innocent behind to save their own skin the GM will hammer them for it later.

Sam: Exactly- and a good GM will hammer him in a way that still progresses the story for all the other players except the one who messed up. A sudden bout of guilt and self doubt which lowers their concentration(ups the difficulty level) and distracts them at a critical moment causing them to fail at a critical moment.

Terri: Okay, so it boils down to be true to yourself (in character) or the GM will smite thee.

Sam: Yes! And it might be in a way that has the rest of the players laughing, such as the belt on the PC's hose breaking, tripping them up and causing them to fall head first into a manure pile. - Oh look, is that a dragon.


With me suitably distracted Sam escaped back to the computer... but not before Sam agreed to discuss Drama for tomorrow's post.

Monday, April 02, 2012

The Basics of D6 Epic



If you're experienced with table top RPG's you more than likely know the basics when it comes to playing them, but I managed to track Sam down (pulled him away from editing the core rule book) to get his viewpoint on what the basics are for this system.

Terri: We know that RPG's like this are a form of interactive storytelling, where you create a character, go on quests, kill the bad guys (beasts/monsters etc) and get the experience points so we can level up and grab the cool abilities and weapons we want so we can go out and kill the next set of beasties. D6 Epic is like that, right?

Sam: No, far from it. D6 Epic is not about what, or who, you kill but rather about roleplaying your way through the adventure.

Terri: But how do I get my experience points? *foot stomp*

Sam: You don't... they're progression points in this system. And just showing up for the adventure gains you a point. Roleplaying, Adventure Advancement, and Adventure Completions are how you get the rest of your progression points.

Terri: So, I've got to kill lots of beasties to get progression points?

Sam: Picking a fight at the Kings the court and killing off the strongest knight there is not going to do it because it will not advance your adventure. In fact it's likely to put a stop to your adventure when your character is beheaded for drawing steel in the Kings court...

Terri: So, what else do I have to do quest wise to gain progression points.

Sam: D6 Epic focuses on the adventure itself, the roleplay to go through the adventure, and the story telling that you put into the roleplay. Look at Tyrian Lanister in the Game of Thrones, for example (as of episode 1 season 2). He doesn't use brute strength and go around killing at the drop of a hat. He uses his intelligence and how he interacts with others to get what he wants. A prime example would be how he gets out of the sky cell and maneuvers 1- a fight, 2- someone else to fight for him, and 3- then gets the hill tribes to go with him without a fight. It's the same theory in D6, it's not about killing, but rather the story and pulling the weapon only when you have to.
Killing 10,000 Orcs might not get you a single point; capturing the spy might get you knighted and the progression points you're looking for.

Terri: Okay, and with these points I level up, right?

Sam: Sort of. With these points you can increase old skills, buy new skills, buy traits or raise your attributes. So no, you can't become the 100th level wizard but wisely putting your progression points into the right skills and attributes might put you in the position where you can blow up a continent. Though a wise gamer would think about this for some time before doing such to their GM...

Terri: Fair enough. Hey, why is it called D6 Epic?

Sam: Because of two items. Epic Dice and Epic Points (which you're going to pester - err - question me about for the letter E). And the D6 stands for six sided dice.

With that Sam escaped back to editing the core rule book and muttering something about pesky bloggers...

Sunday, April 01, 2012

D6 Epic - A is for Attributes


A lot of people are doing the 30 day blog challenge, and I thought I'd give it a go as well! Each day I have to post something that ties into a letter of the alphabet. Today being the letter A.

Over the past year or so my husband, Sam, has been working along with Matt Ewertz, Scott Palter and myself, to create a new core rule book for a D6 system. Although I played RPG's in my teens it's been a while since I've played an established game, so I've come back into this almost as a newbie. So, what's my job where the game is concerned, apart from writing fiction snippets, it's my task to turn game geek speak into English so that returnies and newbies won't feel as if they're reading a foreign language.

Right now Sam is also working on a D6 Epic message board and website for people interested in the game, and I'll have the link by 5th April.

So keep in mind my posts about the game system will be from the viewpoint of someone returning to gaming - and as such I interviewed Sam about attributes in the system.

With that said - A is for Attributes.

Terri Q:What is one?

Sam A:Attributes are the abilities you are born and there are seven core ones which are as strength, agility, intelligence, knowledge (in this it refers to the ability to remember things)reflexes, perception and willpower.

Terri Q:Okay, that's cool, but what do you actually 'need' these attributes for? What part do they play in being able to play the game?

Sam A: Your character needs skills to do things. The skills are based off certain attributes. An example would be - if you wanted a character to be able to bend bars, break doors, crush heads, then you'd need the strength attribute and would focus your attribute points on increasing your strength.

Terri Q: Isn't that just a complicated way of having skill sets?

Sam A: No. Because if your character does not have the skill break, but still wanted to break a door in, they could attempt it with just their strength attribute - it would just be more difficult to accomplish.

Terri Q: Sounds complicated to me. Why isn't it?

Sam A: D6 Epic has difficulty numbers when you attempt to do something. When you have a skill that difficulty number is lower than just relying on your attribute.

Terri Q: Hold on, does this mean I have to sit there with a calculator to work all of this out?

Sam A: No, the GM decides on the difficulty number for you and you roll die. If your total is over it, you do it. If it's under, you don't. And no, we're not putting massive amount of work on the GM here, because there are tables he or she can modify to keep the game running smoothly.



I'll be pestering Sam with more questions as the month continues!