This week Greg Stolze answered questions in a live RPG.net online chat. The host, Dan Davenport, posted the full transcript at his website. You can also check the schedule for upcoming chats. Here I’ve given the transcript a light edit and added linked headers for easier reading. Enjoy. —Shane Ivey
[19:00] <+GregStolze> Hi. I’m Greg Stolze and a list of my credits includes UNKNOWN ARMIES (coauthor), REIGN (author) WILD TALENTS (rules designer)…
[19:01] <+GregStolze> …buncha OWOD stuff (mostly H:tR and D:tF, I was in the cores for those, a bit of V:tM), lesser amount of NWOD stuff (V:tR, couple novels, the forthcoming M:tC)…
[19:02] <+GregStolze> …several WILD TALENTS settings, PROGENITOR, GRIM WAR, eCOLLAPSE, as well as the film noir game A DIRTY WORLD, MEATBOT MASSACRE, um… EXECUTIVE DECISION…
[19:02] <+GregStolze> DINOSAURS… IN SPAAACE!
[19:02] <+GregStolze> Other stuff too. Apologies if I missed someone’s favorite.
[19:03] <+GregStolze> So hit me with your questions. HIT ME, I SAY.
[19:04] <+Anduwaithe> How do you pronounce your last name, Greg?
[19:04] <+GregStolze> “STOL-zee” It’s a corruption of the German word for “proud.”
[19:04] <+Levi> So: Fiction. A lot of your older fiction is game-attached. SWITCHFLIPPED, though, isn’t (unless I blanked on something) – have you considered making it become so?
[19:05] <+GregStolze> I haven’t, really. I mean, it wouldn’t take long to stat up everyone in it with UNKNOWN ARMIES, which was a bit of an inspiration.
[19:05] <~Dan> What’s Switchflipped about, Greg?
[19:05] <+GregStolze> SWITCHFLIPPED is urban fantasy (or, if you prefer, ‘magical realism’). It’s about a guy who goes looking for the fiancee who disappeared five years ago, only to find something he likes even better.
[19:06] <+GregStolze> Here, lemme post the link to all the sell text. Sell text is actually my LEAST favorite kind of writing, so…
[19:06] <+GregStolze> (Link:) http://www.gwdbooks.com/books/gregstolze
[19:10] <+GregStolze> I’ve also been known to describe it as “UNKNOWN ARMIES if it got a haircut and went on anti-depressants.”
[19:10] <~Dan> Would it be correct to say that Better Angels and Mummy are your current New Hotnesses?
[19:10] <~Dan> (Assuming that’s ever correct to say, of course.)
[19:11] * +Anduwaithe has only ever heard the term “new hotness” used in a Teen Girl Squad episode
[19:11] <+GregStolze> The setting for SWITCHFLIPPED is also a bit broader than in the novel itself… my short story for THE NEW HERO 2 is putatively in the same setting, as are “7 and 7″ and “The Turning of the Time”
[19:11] <+GregStolze> It’s hard to think of them that way since I did my work on them months ago, but those are in the ‘exciting next release’ position.
[19:12] <+GregStolze> I’m gearing up to write some supplemental M:tC stuff right now. We’re at the stage of all the authors batting ideas back and forth until someone drops one and it splashes his/her shoes.
[19:12] <+GregStolze> I’m doing a fair amount of DELTA GREEN stuff too.
[19:12] <+nick3> I’ll cover the annoying Unknown Armies questions !
[19:13] <+GregStolze> Annoying UA questions? Like, “If Dirk Allen was a tree, what kind of tree would he be?”
[19:13] <~Dan> Let’s see… What the heck, let’s go in alphabetical order. What’s the scoop on Better Angels?
[19:13] <+Anduwaithe> Spruce!
[19:13] <+Drakkar> hahahaha
[19:13] <+Gyr|Laptop> I cedar what you did there, Greg.
[19:13] <+GregStolze> (I’d have said juniper.)
[19:13] <+GregStolze> Anyhow. BETTER ANGELS. It actually got its genesis on RPGNET’s TRO.
[19:14] <+GregStolze> It’s my setting-meditation on “why do supervillains act like that?” in the same way that PROGENITOR is my setting-meditation on the trope of superheroes and villains creating their own nemeses.
[19:14] <+GregStolze> A lot of the self-defeating behavior in comics is the result of lazy writing or, more charitably, the fairly extreme restrictions of the monthly comic form in the Golden & Silver ages.
[19:15] <+GregStolze> But the idea of a character who’s at odds with himself about his decisions is huge in, like, all that SERIOUS LITERATURE I studied in college…
[19:15] <+GregStolze> …and I thought that would be kind of a fun alternate explanation for supervillainy. “I put self-destruct buttons on everything I build because I secretly WANT to be stopped.”
[19:16] <+InfiniteJesters> GregStolze: Suicide by cop of sorts, then?
[19:16] <+GregStolze> It’s a little bit like the stuff in various iterations of Vampire, where you have to balance evils you feel compelled to do.
[19:16] <+GregStolze> I wouldn’t say “suicide by cop” so much as “I want to ALMOST get away with it, but not quite.”
[19:16] <+InfiniteJesters> GregStolze: Ahhhh, so more like a “I love the thrill of the chase but realize that actually succeeding would cause a ton of problems for all involved”
[19:16] <+GregStolze> The characters in BETTER ANGELS are all host to no-kidding, pure-evil demons. And they know that if they get killed, it’s just going to find someone else to possess… maybe someone who doesn’t want to fight its agenda or who isn’t clever enough to outwit it.
[19:17] <+CRKrueger> A Beast I am lest a Beast I become was meant to be “serious”, is Better Angels more a 4th wall/ironic look at supervillian tropes?
[19:17] <~Dan> (Let’s hold the questions until Greg gives us a “(done)”, please, folks.)
[19:17] <+GregStolze> It scales a bit, CRKrueger . You can certainly play it as an Adam West style game with lots of camp. But check the “Soul Catcher in the Rye” fiction, which is about demons and teen suicide.
[19:18] <+GregStolze> So… a little more serious. It’s based on the mechanics from A DIRTY WORLD, which are what I’d go to for running a game based on CHINATOWN. So I think it can handle seriousness. It’s going to vary from group to group, I think. (done)
[19:19] <~Dan> Greg: Want to address Jester’s question before we move on?
[19:19] <+GregStolze> Okay, yes, you can certainly play it with “thrill of the chase” (or even pure evil “Yeah, and then I ate the kitten’s FACE”) motivations.
[19:20] <+InfiniteJesters> Can you commit acts of comically inept or insignificant villainy?
[19:20] <+InfiniteJesters> Such as jaywalking with extreme gusto?
[19:20] <+GregStolze> But there’s a conflict between the human host and the demon. If the demon gets too strong, it is compelled to (1) try and kill everyone you love over the course of 24 hours, (2) kill five innocent people and create a pentacle from their intestines and then (3) drag its host bodily to Hell.
[19:21] <+GregStolze> On the other hand, if the host gets too strong, he has the option of trying to exile the demon BACK to Hell, thereby earning an honorable freedom, but fewer badass powers. Or you can just balance it.
[19:21] <~Dan> Are demons (and angels, IIRC, in the case of superheroes?) the ultimate source of all superpowers in the setting?
[19:21] <+GregStolze> RE: comically inept and insignificant villainy. Yes, you can, but your character only gets stronger with his bad stuff by doing stuff that’s sufficiently BAD. And he can only improve his ability to do good stuff by turning bad stuff INTO good stuff.
[19:22] <+GregStolze> Demons and angels are both the sources, though I provide ways to tweak it away from straightup Christian mythos halos and pitchforks.
[19:22] <+GregStolze> Another aspect of BETTER ANGELS is that, in a bit of a WRAITH hijack, your demon is controlled by one of the other players.
[19:22] <~Dan> How much does the public at large know about that origin for supers?
[19:23] <+GregStolze> (Ken Hite once described W:tO as ‘the game so bleak, the GM has to deputize the other players to help torment you’ and I just kinda liked that idea.)
[19:23] <+GregStolze> DAN: That’s mostly left to the individual GM. If I was running a game of it, the prevalence of bat wings and radiant halos might have caught some people’s attention.
[19:23] <+Dedman_Walkin> So I came in late, but this talk about Better Angels and the Demon/Angel on your back, I’m curious if it’d be possible to run the characters lke the Geists from G:tSA or the Harrowed from Deadlands
[19:23] <+SA_WinsonPaine> Was the towering examplar of well thought out and coherent rules design In Nomine an inspiration at any level?
[19:24] <+Sublimation> The opening fiction on Kickstarter seems to imply that there are ways to control who will be the next host of a demon. Is that going to be a factor in the setting?
[19:24] <+GregStolze> I’ve never read IN NOMINE.
[19:24] <+CRKrueger> So is the Demon aware of the supervillian’s true motives?
[19:24] <+GregStolze> Demons have ‘amulets’ that make it easier to host them. If you give the amulet to that person, it’s most likely that s/he becomes the next host.
[19:25] <+GregStolze> DEDMAN: Haven’t read Geist or the Harrowed in Deadlands. Sorry.
[19:25] <+GregStolze> WINSON: It can BE whacky, but it’s… it’s a MEAN kind of whacky. It’s a bit like the SCREWTAPE LETTERS, which can be very droll and arch and witty and then all of a sudden it’s creepy.
[19:25] <+Silverlion> Indeed.
[19:25] <+SA_WinsonPaine> Was the fabulous angel from the example of roleplay at the back of Over the Edge an inspriation?
[19:25] <+Silverlion> (If I didn’t miss it) What inspired this bend in the setting?
[19:26] <+GregStolze> The angel in OTE was actually Mary Oettinger’s character in the game I played in college, back when Jonathan Tweet was selling insurance in Rock Island… so actually, that was so long ago (TWENTY YEARS?!?) that it had pretty much slipped my mind.
[19:27] <+GregStolze> SILVERLION: Which bend in the setting do you mean?
[19:27] <+Silverlion> The demons as villains etc?
[19:27] <~Dan> What can you tell us about the system, Greg? The core mechanic, the powers, etc.?
[19:28] <+GregStolze> AH. Well, I’ve always liked writing villains. The WOD stuff I’ve done, I’ve had a great time writing from the perspectives of Dracula (underestimates his own villainy) Lucifer (ditto, plus he’s arrogant as all Hell) and Solomon Birch (genuinely believes that he’s the hero of a very twisted morality).
[19:28] <+GregStolze> I thought “Gamers will love a chance to chew scenery and choke minions and rant.” I know I do. (done)
[19:29] <+GregStolze> Regarding the system, it’s based (as I mentioned) on A DIRTY WORLD. If you’re not familiar with it…
[19:29] <+GregStolze> …the essential innovation is that instead of having hit points, you take damage DIRECTLY ON YOUR SKILLS. You get punched, your ability to punch back may erode right away.
[19:30] <+GregStolze> The mechanic is consistent for intellectual challenges and emotional assaults as well. If you roll well telling someone, “You don’t want to kill her Barney, you know you really love her!” then you might actually make Barney less effective a killer.
[19:30] <+GregStolze> (Skills are quite broad. In BA, there are all the good ones on the right side of the character sheet, and all the bad ones on the left.)
[19:30] <~Dan> Is this a skills-only system, or are there attributes?
[19:30] <+Gyr|Laptop> So is death spiral an issue? You get hit, you lose points off the skill that’d let you defend against BEING hit…
[19:30] <+GregStolze> Most commonly, instead of straight up losing ability, it transforms into its opposite. Take Corruption and Purity for example. If someone tries to evoke your darker nature–say, she puts on the short little skirt and says “Oh, your wife never has to find out…”
[19:31] <+GregStolze> With a sufficient roll, she can move a dot from your Purity score to Corruption. This makes it harder for you to convince people to do nice things, but makes it EASIER for you to convince people to do SLEAZY things.
[19:32] <+GregStolze> DAN: There are attributes as well, and you can get those clipped, but usually only when (1) they roll hella well or (2) they’re targeting a skill that’s all hollowed out.
[19:32] <~Dan> What are the attributes, and is this a skill + attribute system? What’s a basic roll look like?
[19:32] <+GregStolze> GYR: Sometimes, but just as often you can turn it into a life spiral. Take a bunch of hits on what you need to dodge, and it can build up what you need to soak.
[19:33] <+Silverlion> Hrms, so that Damage system is reminiscent of Traveller?
[19:34] <+GregStolze> One last bit about the ADW/BA mechanics: Because you take hits on Skills, you don’t have to track experience points. You can improve a skill at the end of every scene, IF you’ve taken an action that qualifies. So, to ramp up your ability to tell if you’re being lied to, you need to suffer because someone lied to you. It’s “instant karma.”
[19:34] <+GregStolze> In the BA version, the demon can amp up the bad side of the sheet if the character does wicked deeds, but the mortal can change bad skill points into good ones if he has an explanation for why he’s not such a bad guy.
[19:35] <&Le_Squide> So, are you done with ORE?
[19:35] <+Snake_Eyes> Hi GregStolze! You are known to use the ransom method to fund your writing, what are some of the lesser known games that you openly support?
[19:36] <+GregStolze> I’m not really seeing a TRAV comparison, but I haven’t played TRAV in probably… er… maybe 25 years?
[19:36] <+GregStolze> I HAVE WORKED on Mummy, InfJest. I’ll be working on it a bit more soon. I had fun.
[19:37] <+Silverlion> Traveller takes damage to attributes. (As does Smallville, essentially.) Just wondering. Percolation is a fun thing.
[19:37] <+GregStolze> LE_SQUIDE: No, nowhere near done with ORE. BETTER ANGELS is, in fact, ORE-powered, just not the WILD TALENTS iteration.
[19:37] <+GregStolze> SILVERLION: Well, there’s nothing new under the sun. I knew SOMEONE had to have thought of it before.
[19:37] <&Le_Squide> Corollary: Any chance we’ll be seeing anything new for REIGN any time in the near future?
[19:38] <+GregStolze> It interacts interestingly with ORE’s non-traditional success curve, I think.
[19:38] <+GregStolze> If I think of a kick-ass REIGN idea, I’ll do it, but I don’t want to put out sub-par stuff just to be putting something out.
[19:39] <+Melum> (Is BA out yet? If so, where do I get it?)
[19:39] <+GregStolze> SNAKE-EYES: I loves me some “Penny For My Thoughts”
[19:40] <+GregStolze> Also fond of Emily Care Boss’ stuff like “Breaking the Ice” , if for no other reason than you need a telescope to see it from the traditional gaming demographic.
[19:42] <+GregStolze> DAN: So, there are three pairs of attributes (which aren’t called ‘attributes,’ but anyway). There’s Cunning VS Patience for intellectual tasks,
[19:43] <+GregStolze> Sly VS Open for physical tasks, and Devious VS Insightful for social tasks.
[19:44] <+GregStolze> Each of these pairs of ‘strategies’ has a two pairs of ‘tactics’ under them – like Deceit VS Honest under Devious/Insightful.
[19:44] <+GregStolze> Insightful Deceit lets you pick out the flaws in other people’s statements. Devious Deceit lets you TELL the lies yourself.
[19:45] <+GregStolze> In every case, you’re rolling a pool of d10s equal to Strategy+Tactic and looking for matches, standard ORE style.
[19:45] <+GregStolze> SNAKE_EYES: Yeah, I’ve had swell times with both. Gotten to play Tevis’ “Penny” more often. Another fun indie game is “It Was A Mutual Decision,” Ron Edwards’ rebuttal to “Breaking the Ice.”
[19:46] <~Dan> So given these abstract stats, how do you simulate something like, say, super-strength?
[19:47] <+GregStolze> DAN: Super-strength is handled in a fairly loose, narrative way. There’s a string of examples of what you can do with it, depending on how high your Cruelty score is.
[19:47] <+GregStolze> (And of course, thanks to the C.S. Lewis inspiration, it’s not “super strength.” It’s “That Hideous Strength.”)
[19:50] <+Melum> So, where can I get BA?
[19:51] <+GregStolze> MELUM: Better Angels is… in the pipes. The cash response to the KS was AWESOME, but it does mean that Shane is pulling together a lot of full color art, which takes time. It’s a problem we love to have, however.
[19:50] <~Dan> Okay, we’re one hour in, so perhaps we should switch gears for a bit… What can you tell us about the new version of Mummy, Greg?
[19:52] <+GregStolze> Right: MtC. I actually spent a couple days poring over the text starting, like, last Friday, looking for errant grammar and spelling stuff. (In one of my sections, I describe something as ‘slorious.’)
[19:54] <+GregStolze> So! Some of the cool things about Mummy: the Curse are the ways it handles flashbacks. Since the characters CAN die and come back (though it’s a hassle) and because they canonically have suppressed memories, you can now do flashback scenes that DON’T LET YOU DOWN.
[19:54] <+GregStolze> (When I read this in the actual MS, I had to take a moment.)
[19:55] <+GregStolze> The standard RPG, flashbacks are tough to do well because (1) you know the dude survived, so clearly there isn’t as much at stake and (2) there’s the risk of establishing something in the past that is maybe at odds with how the character behaves now.
[19:55] <+GregStolze> In M:tC however, maybe you DO die in flashback. Well, sucks to be you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep going.
[19:56] <+GregStolze> AND, maybe you do something that doesn’t make sense in terms of your current characterization. Hm, I guess you’ve changed and/or forgotten, eh?
[19:56] <+Silverlion> Heh. Sounds interesting, any cool reveals of the “groups?” in Mummy
[19:56] <+GregStolze> I really don’t want to get Colin mad at me by oversharing, but I think I can be sufficiently vague.
[19:57] <+GregStolze> If the M:tC groups were high schoolers, you’d have the M**-K**, who are really friendly and involved and help everybody study for tests, but are also snitching to the principal.
[20:00] <+GregStolze> The M****-N*** are the prom queen–bitchy, rich parents give her everything she wants, and you still have a grotesque crush on her ANYHOW. She’s just that hot.
[20:01] <+GregStolze> The S****-H**** are the prissy class valedictorians who run the school council.
[20:03] <+GregStolze> The S*-M**** are that really quiet, deeply religious kid that everyone kind of picks on and then one day he just FREAKS OUT on the class bully at lunch time and sticks a fork clean through his cheek.
[20:04] <+GregStolze> And finally, the T**-A**** are like the snotty junior who can’t understand why the seniors don’t treat him as an equal, even though he’s a starter on the football team, gets straight As and has the lead in the class play.
[20:05] <+GregStolze> Hm, other neato M:tC stuff… it really does upend the typical WOD dynamic where you start out as this mewling weakling and get stronger with agonizing slowness.
[20:06] <+CRKrueger> What’s the essential difference between the Mummies and the Purified from WoD:Immortal?
[20:06] <+GregStolze> (Did we talk about that in the RPG.NET thread? I REALLY shouldn’t break that before CAS is ready.)
[20:07] <+CRKrueger> So the nature of the Curse is offlimits?
[20:07] <+tablehop> Is M:tC based primarily on Egypt or is it like the content in the oWoD Mummy player’s guide that drew from other cultures or some other, third option?
[20:07] <+GregStolze> Not all of it. There’s a whole LOT of curse in M:tC.
[20:08] <+GregStolze> (WINSONPAINE) The *** does not, in fact, reference cursing in this instance.
[20:08] <+GregStolze> M:tC has a heavy emphasis on objects of power that bear terrible curses, and people think that they’re cursed because their creators were paranoids who set these occult booby-traps.
[20:09] <+SA_WinsonPaine> Yeah I know, it is just years of reflex are hard to break
[20:09] <+GregStolze> But that’s like thinking that Ford put a curse on my Focus station wagon, making it so that it would forever force me to stop at gas stations.
[20:09] <~Dan> Can you tell us anything about the nature of mummy powers?
[20:20] <+GregStolze> Cursed objects create bad mojo because they’re DISTORTING REALITY. Hell, the guys who made them probably wished they could build curseless gear (though that’s obscure even in the text I’VE got). The mummies, however, are able to feed these objects themselves, lessening their curses.
[20:20] <+ProfessorCirno> So when one guy I knew made a Mummies game where all the PCs were RAD SKATEBOARDERS and the whole thing was pretty much an after school sports movie (except everyone was a mummy and they were fighting evil anchient Egyptians instead of rich preppy kids)
[20:20] <+ProfessorCirno> This would be…the correct way to play M:tC?
[20:21] <+GregStolze> CIMO: Damn, where were you eight months ago when we were doing primary composition?!? We totally spaced on the skateboards.
[20:22] <+GregStolze> RIGHT: The Purified from Immortals. Not very much like the Arisen at all. The Arisen start out pretty inhuman – a real “ordinary people are bugs and I am the Windscreen of Eternity” attitude. Their powers are given to them by absolute authorities whose mindset truly is Bronze Age.
[20:23] <+GregStolze> There’s this real “blood conquest/divine right of rulership/slave taker” mentality at the base of the Arisen’s circumstances. I actually got the line “Immortal god-kings don’t have to appeal to ‘values voters’” in there.
[20:24] <+GregStolze> The Arisen ARE 100% Egyptian, without the bog mummies and Aztec pyramids and Tibetan preserved corpses (though I did put in a bog-mummy shout out).
[20:25] <+GregStolze> (done) whew.
[20:25] <~Dan> Who are the adversaries in M:tC?
[20:26] <+GregStolze> A lot of it is mummy-on-mummy violence. (Hey, why NOT settle things with your stony, crashing fists when both of you can just come back inevitably anyhow?)
[20:27] <+GregStolze> I guess you could make a corporate metaphor. As a mummy, you’re not at the top of the ladder, but you’re up there.
[20:27] <+GregStolze> Your boss may want you to do some things you do NOT want to do. Your co-workers may be trying to stab you in the back, get you fired, or chisel you out of that promotion.
[20:28] <+GregStolze> Or the people working underneath you may have unreasonable demands, or go out of control, or just suck at what you’re telling them to do.
[20:28] <+Drakkar> wait do mummies have a lethal equivalent of boxing or some other martial sport with betting?
[20:28] <~Dan> So there’s not a “built-in” adversary?
[20:28] <+GregStolze> ALL THAT is on your plate before you even leave the building and deal with your competition in the marketplace. THOSE guys want to eat your lunch, sleep with your wife and hostile-takeover your whole division.
[20:30] <+GregStolze> There’s an array of build-in adversaries: Monsters that feed off you; rebel mummies who hate you; perversions of magic that REALLY hate you; and a group of mortals who look at you the way the guys at Florida’s Natural look at an orange.
[20:31] <~Dan> Where do your mummies fall in the “raw power” scale?
[20:33] <+GregStolze> Hm, raw power… well, you can do a fair number of things pretty well (most subtle, some blatant), or you can optimize your starting character for a single, narrow, bigass… THING.
[20:34] <+GregStolze> If you go the ‘narrow bigass thing’ route, you won’t do it often, you won’t do anything else comparable, but starting characters from other games would (in theory) step quietly back and say “Well I don’t know what THAT was but I just remembered a pressing engagement across town.”
[20:35] <~Dan> So they’re not as flexible as mages, but can be more powerful if they specialize?
[20:35] <~Dan> (For example.)
[20:36] <+GregStolze> It’s a bit of apples and oranges. I would say their power levels fluctuate more drastically than other splats.
[20:37] <~Dan> How, say, strong are they by default? Is the typical mummy a physical powerhouse?
[20:37] <+GregStolze> One day, they get up and say, “Hm, I think this round I’ma crank my Strength to 10 and burn Willpower like a kid eating peanuts.”
[20:38] <+GregStolze> A month later, they’re sneaking around hoping the landlord doesn’t chew them out again.
[20:39] <~Dan> Ah. So it’s a bit like vampires buring blood to pump themselves up?
[20:40] <+GregStolze> DAN: Yes, only more or less efficient depending on… well, where they are in their journey.
[20:40] <+LuckyFour> What motivates a mummy? Why mummies in general?
[20:40] <~Dan> Okay, as promised, why don’t we open the floor to all of Greg’s works?
[20:41] <+GregStolze> I predict the powers that people are going to really dig are “Dust Beneath Feet,” “Dreams of Dead Gods” and “Power of Re.”
[20:42] <+GregStolze> LUCKYFOUR: What Colin wanted to dig at (heh) with mummies was the idea of this ancient, primeval power that makes the modern era look weightless and inconsequential. Real “out of the ages” stuff.
[20:43] <+GregStolze> They’re motivated in opposite directions. Well it’s the World of Darkness, of course they are: They can be good agents of the Immortal Powers that forged them in the crucibles of prehistory, or they can attempt to re-knit their broken memories and reclaim something of the ‘self’ that (turns out) even death couldn’t destroy.
[20:44] <+GregStolze> Do you want to be Good Soldier Hans and sacrifice yourself for the Greater Good? (Well, the Greater SOMETHING anyhow.) Or do you want to be your own man at the cost of flipping the bird to undying powers that BROKE TIME?
[20:41] <+tablehop> Greg, what RPGs are you playing these days?
[20:43] <+Numanoid> How would you feel about working on a video game/computer RPG?
[20:45] <+GregStolze> TABLEHOP: I’m playing NOTHING. It makes me crazy. I keep meaning to try and set something up. There’s this new bookstore starting up in Aurora, I’m thinking I might investigate running games there. If I did, I’d have Delta Green stuff to playtest.
[20:46] <+GregStolze> NUMANOID: I have worked on video games. Lessee, I wrote some dialogue for PROTOTYPE and DAWN OF WAR II – not sure how much of it ever got used. I also did a bunch of stuff for FORGE OF HEROES, a Facebook game that’s going to be out in the Not Yet.
[20:46] <+SA_WinsonPaine> Do you have any memories/stories/anecdotes about Over the Edge?
[20:48] <+GregStolze> Ah, OTE. I have a few. I mean, a lot of what happened at Tweet’s gaming table was kind of my paradigm of how RPGs worked being disassembled, with Tweet dropping the pieces in my lap and saying, “Hey, this is YOUR stuff, YOU deal with it.”
[20:48] <+GregStolze> Tweet would run games using Whimsy Cards, which are these inexpensively printed cards with plot developments on them – “Something Hidden is Found” or “Unexpected Help” or “Love Blossoms.”
[20:49] <+GregStolze> He’d give us three of those at the start of each session and say, “If you use this to help your character out of a tight spot, it’s gone. If you use it to make the game more… INTERESTING for another player, you get it replaced.”
[20:49] <+Sublimation> Sounds a bit like Torg
[20:50] <+SA_WinsonPaine> That is pretty rad.
[20:50] <+GregStolze> …and the Edge just got more and more weird. That particular memory probably explains both (1) why I thought plot control was such a powerful tool for comedy with …IN SPAAACE! and (2) why I thought it would be fun to set players at each other’s throats (in a limited way) in BETTER ANGELS.
[20:50] <+LuckyFour> As it seems to be a core of your creative oeuvre, how passionate are you about postmodernist thought and literature?
[20:51] <+GregStolze> I have not made a thorough study of postmodernism or poststructuralism… in many ways, I’m a retrograde old-style thinker who believes that things mean things and that communication is not, inherently, doomed.
[20:53] <+GregStolze> But man, it’s hard to be born in 1970 and read stuff and not be a postmodernist to some degree, I think. The most powerful tools for slicing up ideas, recombining them, and then passing them around like the bong at a Grand Funk Railroad concert.
[20:53] <+GregStolze> (sorry, lost my train of thought there for a moment)_
[20:54] <+GregStolze> The most powerful tools for slicing up ideas, recombining them, and then passing them around were developed during my lifetime, pretty much growing up as I did.
[20:54] <~Dan> We’re coming up on two hours. However, Greg, you’re more than welcome to hang out as long as you’re able. How are you doing for time?
[20:55] <+GregStolze> I’m OK for a while more, maybe 20 minutes?
[20:55] <~Dan> Okay, sounds good. That being the case, would you like to throw anything out there that we haven’t covered yet?
[20:55] <+GregStolze> Mm, I’ll wait for questions. Surprised no one’s asked anything about DELTA GREEN.
[20:56] <~Dan> Fair enough. What’s in the works for Delta Green?
[20:56] <+Melum> Unknown Armies. What was your favorite School?
[20:56] <+Sublimation> What is your least favorite (a more polite way of saying most disliked) type of game mechanic?
[20:56] <+GregStolze> MELUM: I’m kind of leaning Narco-Alchemist at the moment, but I love all my children equally.
[20:58] <+GregStolze> SUBLIMATION: I don’t think LARP is bad, but I’m not sure I’d enjoy it. I may be too shy. People may not realize I’m shy because I compensate well, but… yeah. LARP never really made me think “Oh, now THAT sounds fun!” I know people who love it like candy, but… not for me.
[20:58] <+GregStolze> DAN: Right now, I’m trying to build a DELTA GREEN campaign that teaches you how to play the game, step by step. It’s a series of one-shot adventures that are only THEMATICALLY connected.
[20:59] <+GregStolze> The theme is “sole survival.”
[20:58] <+nick3> What influence do you think Unknown Armies has had on your work ?
[20:59] <+GregStolze> NICK3: Well, it did attract the attention of all those witty urbane librarians. It probably got me horror credentials. It caught Ken Hite’s eye, which (indirectly) led to all the White Wolf work that followed.
[20:58] <+Ettin> What if it were a LARP about being game designers and you could roleplay as Greg Stolze?
[21:00] <+GregStolze> ETTIN: I can do THAT any day.
[21:01] <+Melum> Hmm. What did you not like about UA? Or what would you change?
[21:02] <+GregStolze> Hm, I’m sure I could read through it now and pick out a lot of rookie mistakes. There was some stuff in the early supplements that I wish I’d edited.
[21:03] <+GregStolze> But I also wish I could go back and tell UA-era Greg “Look, it’s only your game in the pages, it’s their game at the table. People are going to do weird stuff with it. It’s like when a father has to accept that his daughter is having sex with her husband. Let it go.”
[21:03] <+nick3> Do you feel UA could have benfit from more examples of how to play ?
[21:03] <+Anduwaithe> Good analogy, lol
[21:04] <+GregStolze> NICK3: UA1 sure could… a lot of what we tried to do with UA2 was say “You can do this with it! Or this! Or maybe this is more your style?”
[21:05] <+GregStolze> The strong current in present-day game design is “make your game do one thing and do the hell out of that thing.” I mean, look at the indie games I name-checked earlier, “Breaking the Ice” and “Penny For My Thoughts.” They’re extremely narrow in their focus. UA is more sandboxy.
[21:05] <+Torquemada> DG newbie campaign? Sounds great! For new DGRPG, BRP or both?
[21:05] <+GregStolze> New DGRPG is based on open-license BRP.
[21:05] <+J_Arcane> GregStolze: I find that an admirable attitude for a designer to take, especially for RPGs. I try to keep it in mind on every page.
[21:06] <+GregStolze> J_ARCANE: Which, that some greasy stranger is going to come and seduce your darling girl in the backseat of his White-Castle reeking SUV?
[21:06] <+Torquemada> Forgot that. Doubly great then!
[21:07] <+J_Arcane> GregStolze: I think of myself as more of a pimp than a father. I like to make sure she’s dressed up nice so all the guys at the prom will want to have their fun.
[21:07] <+Melum> Unknown Armies is simply amazing, I wish I had discovered it sooner.
[21:07] <+Melum> It retroactively ruined Mage for me, since it did everything I wanted from it better.
[21:07] <+GregStolze> TORQUEMADA: Yeah, the argument of “X is really popular and works great and people love it and we should do something different” is pretty hard to sustain.
[21:07] <+GregStolze> Don’t forget, you younger people have HEARD about New Coke, but I LIVED THROUGH IT.
[21:08] <+J_Arcane> It’s why I stopped working on my World of Warcraft game. That style of design expects too much designer fiat, everyone’s looking to the Man Who Made It to keep it Balanced, instead of just making it their own.
[21:08] <+CRKrueger> Do you think narrow focus games are hitting their peak? BTW, another New Coke survivor here.
[21:09] <+GregStolze> I think narrow focus is the way to go sometimes, and other times you want to define a broad set of resolution mechanics and just let people do their thing. Different groups have different preferences, is all.
[21:09] <+SA_WinsonPaine> Marry/Bang/Kill: Mike Mearls, Steve Jackson, Robin Laws?
[21:09] <+Melum> UA managed to do pomo magic just a million times better than Ascension. It’s true.
[21:10] <~Dan> Pomo magic?
[21:10] <+Brad_Elliott> I’m not sure about that, Melum. I think UA does Tim Powers magic pretty well, though.
[21:10] <+GregStolze> SA: I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me.
[21:10] <+Brad_Elliott> Post-Modern Magic, Dan.
[21:11] <+GregStolze> Heh. I guess that means M:tC is doing pre-mo magic.
[21:12] <+SA_WinsonPaine> What is post modern magic?
[21:12] <+GregStolze> The pre-modern magic of Mummy, a bit of DELTA GREEN stuff, me yelling at kids to take their New Coke and get off my lawn.
[21:13] <+Brad_Elliott> Heh, Greg. SA: Post-Modern Magic is magic that is not limited to the old conceptions of Magic, like Golden Dawn or Hermetic traditions in general.
[21:13] <+GregStolze> SA: Post-modern magic is the idea, I would say, that the secret levers moving the world behind the scenes are, in fact, moving targets.
[21:14] <+GregStolze> All right folks, it has been a treat, but I think I have to sign off now. Thanks all for coming.