Odysseus, Anansi, Coyote and Alan Schaefer. One of these guys are not like the others. The first three are known for their wit, tricks, greed, cunning, fame, infamy and heroism. All three are in their own way social assassins and tricksters. Alan Scaefer, a.k.a Dutch, is the human who killed a Predator in the jungle in the 80's. While it is a heroic feat, physically taking down a Monster is the standard heroic feat. Orcs, goblins, kobolds, Ogres and even eventually Dragons will fall to the blade or spells in classic fantasy rpgs. But what about a broken heart? What about being blinded by a newfound hatred of something that once profoundly shaped who you grew up to be?
There are more ways to break a person than just a fist or some blunt tools. The Joker is quoted as saying "All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day". When Wolverine killed his son by drowning him in a muddy puddle, Saber-tooth comes along clapping. He says, "All the cuts I've given you over the years--here's the deepest." While these villains are known for physical violence and mayhem, their worst moments are when they speak the truth. These were the inspirations we used in making a social combat system.
First day of the week, time to get things done! Ended up playing Overwatch all day, crap.
Doing laundry, clothing, detergent foam, grayish water; Augmented Reality restaurant menus should be animated, steam coming off of hot food, utensils cutting, lifting and interacting with the food. Drinks infinitely pouring for free refills, cup already full for non free refills. Color tabs on the edge of menu, highlighted tabs for specials.
Are the rules really done, do we have enough things in place for people to do what they want? Is it still fun with all these bells and whistles? Conglomerate backed crypto-currency; offering to pay employees more in that currency than normal cash. They offer local businesses discounts and contracts to incentivize them into using their crypto-currency. Then threaten them with "action" if they refuse.
Season of the scavenger
If I'm not working on the game I feel like a beach. Waves of time crash into me, eroding away while I wait for a new idea to surface. It would be so much more fun if I could do this with my friends as a job; instead of having to pop in and out of creating things for the game and living a second life as a bored minimum wage worker. Government workers trying their best to keep their offices, agencies, organizations funded. The government is consolidating agencies in order to save money and cut red tape. The Agency of After-school Activities is trying to keep open all the rec centers. Their Agents have been given the okay to do anything they can to show that Recreational centers work.
Trying to write a blog post for the website, to get more views, to get more people interested in the game, to get more coke; AR baby daycare because Screw drone dog walkers! Little padded visor helmets showing different things teaching them young while they interact with not air but jungle gym surfaces. ...Nope we've built too many things in AR already, instead make it a AI teddy bear companion.
Mountain top mining, standing on top of a mountain and tearing it apart for materials. Ghost guns are guns built without serial numbers. 3D printed ghost guns might be a thing in our world. 3D printed pharmaceuticals on the black market, heart pills, asthma and other usually expensive medication. The answer to big pharma. Micro-chipping trafficked humans. Ex-vets turned vigilantes, Unionized prostitution, destabilizing the diamond industry with made to order customized artificial diamonds, Ride through the storm, see the knights fighting evil and crime.
A modern day team of heroes in medieval times.
Arthur and the Knights of Justice, putting evil down.
Ride through the storm with the knights of the table ’round Come on, come on!! (Guitar Solo!!!~)
King Arthur ride!!!!!!
First jumbo shrimp buffet day!
I think that by this point the writing style of each developer is becoming easier to identify. While we all write under the combined alias of "Stock and Bull" as a team, each one of us speaks with a particular voice. In general when it is my turn I actually have some difficulty figuring out what to say. Do I talk about myself, do I talk about my life? Do I talk about the product, the creation process, how far along we are or how far we landed from our original ideas? I usually land on the side of caution and talk more about the company and the game then I do myself. This is for two reasons:
One: We are a team and talking about me as the individual feels selfish.
Two: The talking Heads. (The band)
Obviously this begs explaining. While I am writing or looking over rules or devising NPC's or whatever Jack of All Trades Cap I am wearing for the day, I tend to work in silence for a while but inevitably that drives me batty and I turn on some music. And so it was that I was listening to a playlist today as I was trying to write up what was initially a very different post about ghosts, horror and pre-marital sex...yeah...I went off on a tangent and looked at the ramblings of the mad-man that started back at me. While I may go back to that one day, this time I heard the "Talking Heads: Once in a Lifetime".
The part that best describes me is really "there is water at the bottom of the ocean"...nah that's bull. It's actually "same as it ever was" and that part is repeated over and over. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. That's what it feels like mostly. I will start winding this down as it is in danger of becoming more about me the person and less about me the game developer. While this seems more on the side of complaints, this is more akin to cautious ambivalence.
In the past few weeks (not months and certainly not years) I have been watching with renewed vigor and cautious optimism as what once seemed like a distant dream has become an actual possibility but even now there remain many smaller tasks that require attention and detailing that still feels like there remains a gulf to be overcome before the dream becomes reality. On a more optimistic note, I can see more than just a horizon now and over that gulf seems to be within reach.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Stock & Bull is a small team of six guys, who set out to make the RPG game that could finally handle their wildest dreams, and even wilder antics. When we set out to turn a bunch of made up rules hastily jotted down in a Spider-Man notebook into a full-featured, mature game that anyone can enjoy. We were a bunch of kids (plus one adult) with barely a clue on how to begin. Except, we didn’t know how deep that rabbit hole goes.
When we started down the path of turning a great idea into a great game, we were all obsessed with just getting it on paper. It didn’t need to be pretty, it didn’t need to even make much sense. Art? What art? Yes one of us knew how to draw, but that could come later. Setting? That’s easy to do! We’ve already got most of the setting down anyway. No, back then was the time for design. We wanted this game to be awesome. We needed this thing to be stacked with all the superpowers, the rules, and the systems necessary to do the stuff we couldn’t in every other game we have played so far. Numbers? Probability curves? Screw that, the dice always sort themselves out.
The time soon came where we figured that’s enough. We can practically play this as is. When our regular play group got together we all ran a test run. Our friends think it’s fun. It’s time to present to the masses. That’s when it hit us. How do we do that exactly? We had a small spot of forward thinking when one of us applied for a Tax ID number about 2 years prior. Except that’s only the tip of the iceberg in establishing a legitimate business entity. How do we get this to the public? What if they steal our ideas? Do we need a lawyer? How do we make money? How do we get a business bank account? Do we pay taxes? Revenue? Profit margins? The void was exposed, the true depth of the rabbit hole laid plain for the first time.
“Improvise, adapt, overcome.” Thus the writer became the salesman, the designer became the accountant, the artist became the editor, the programmer became the business manager, and the mathematician became the typographer. We’ve all each had to pick up 2-3 extra skills just to try to inch this game ever closer to completion. What else could we do? Give up? Impossible. Pay someone? With what money? We had to do 100% of the work. It was time for us kids to grow up. We’re throwing ourselves into the arena that’s known as the tabletop games industry, dominated by men many years our senior for the better part of 50 years. We had to shape ourselves into men to match. Even our aforementioned adult knew nothing of value here. Last time he ran a business was the ‘80s. The skills required then were a firm handshake and a nice smile.
Not knowing how to do something, or being thrown into a task that places us well outside of our comfort zone is now commonplace. That feeling has almost become an indicator that we are on the right track with an idea. As I write this, I’m looking at a tutorial on textures in Inkscape. I have no clue how graphic design works. I’ll figure it out though, because our demo adventure book needs a front cover.
Creativity is essential in any role-playing game. It opens the door to expression and imagination that shape characters, NPCs, and the very world of the game. What better way to exercise creativity than through crafting? With a craft system you can build augmentations for your character or use your character to build wonders that reflect their perception of their world.
A good craft system gives the GM and the Players a tool kit; filled with sparks for ideas and mortar for settings. You should be able to equip your unique characters with complimentary gear and fill interesting settings with important details. If you live in a police state surrounded by electric eyes the craft system needs to be able to reinforce that feeling of oppression with night vision and thermal cameras used by Brother Big, the city's Savior machine. In a city of smog, the craft system better also be able to spit out fashionable respirators, personal sonar visors and neon lights to calm those who haven't felt the touch of the sun in ages. We know craft systems can be seen as too tedious and not worth the time to make if you have a large enough equipment section. However, with our game it's not just about equipment. We believe the best craft systems help build context.
Imagine your newly built character survived a gunfight against a Slavic gang during their first session by taking cover behind a brick wall. The next day you see the elderly matron of the gang you defeated, Lady Matroska, turn a similar brick wall to powder with a backhand. Now you have an idea of how frighteningly powerful she is. The thing that saved your life last night is nothing but a pebble in the road to Lady Matroska and without having to directly interact with the matron, you now know you're out of her league. In another scenario, a mercenary team outfitted with Green Industries’ bleeding-edge technology can find themselves faced with the challenge of their lives trying to break into your secret base. Your supernatural, MacGuyver-like ability to build a fortress out of mundane items like aluminum siding and duct tape can be great enough to foil such a threat.
Our craft system has been designed to go past weapons and personal equipment. We have designed it to be flexible enough to allow for creativity in every respect; weapons, gadgets, armor, setting pieces, props, and even materials used for construction. This isn’t to say by any means that you will be forced to use the craft system if you want to get anything done or built, but that the option to take your game and characters to stories and worlds, past the one we have created for you, will always be there.
Context built, leagues established, hero pose.
What we’re creating is not a superhero game. Sure, we have superpowers, but we have dragons in there somewhere too. We could say that this is a game of superpowers, but even then that’s more of a pun than an actual description. For us, saying this is a superhero game is like saying that CSI: Miami is just as much a part of the sci-fi genre as Star Trek, since science is central to both franchises. The reason we take this stance is because much like science, “Superhero” is not a genre in and of itself.
“Superhero" does not evoke a specific emotion in the same way as “Action”, “Thriller”, or “Horror.” It is at best a sub-genre, and the best way to use superpowers are as a spice, not a full meal. Others have also taken this metaphorical approach to superpowers so we see some merit to it as more than just the pretentious ramblings of an out-of-touch and literate group of geeks just nerd-sniping each other all day with theories.
Take a look at Luke Cage, one of the Netflix original series by Marvel. Luke Cage is basically a western movie with a superhero instead of your standard Eastwood gunslinger. (SPOILER WARNING) Luke is a stranger in a “lawless area”; he stands up for the masses and becomes a hero to the “townsfolk”; and in the end he cleans things up a bit and “rides off into the sunset.”
This is the stance we have taken with our system. The settings and characters our players choose and create are the spices they add to the meal that is our system and the versatility is affords. It won’t matter if you play a flying, bulletproof femme fatale fighting a cult of drug-fueled corporate executives in the rough and tumble underworld of New York City or a mighty, musclebound and fleshy barbarian lord riding a giant man-eating hawk from a mystical kingdom, the rules for getting stabbed will be the same in both worlds as will the rules for attacking, defending, healing, hurting, or even just resting to recover; the system is versatile enough to handle all of these “spices.”
To reiterate, “Superhero” is not a genre and this isn’t a superhero game. What we’re making is a role-playing game that explores power, because power can come in all kinds of forms: financial, political, criminal, and supernatural, just to name a few. This is a game about powers, yes, but more specifically it’s a game about a world that is conflicted by powers and how you will wield what little portion of power you have, whether it’s in your hands, your mind, shooting from your eyes, or in your bank account.