Unveiling Covers Part 1: The Title Card

The cover is in and it is awesome! Now we’re going to have a bit of fun. We start with the title card.


Next week we reveal Gillian, one of our signature characters who made it to the cover.

Posted in General | Tagged as: , , ,

Under the Hood: Handlers and Operators

As we mentioned before, players in Glass Shadows take on multiple roles. Each player acts as a Handler, creating operations and affecting the course of their missions.  Players also take the role of an Operator, the people directly involved within a mission. Today, we’re going to discuss what what defines a Handler and and Operator.

In Role-playing terms, Handlers are the motivating force behind a campaign. The players use them to create stories that they would be interested in, and to affect the success of their Operators during their missions. A Handler is defined by their background and Agenda.  An Agenda contains the following “statistics”:

Motivation: What drives the handler?
Faction: Which faction does the handler supports?
Occupation/Cover: What, if anything does the handler does for a living, or at least pretend to do?
Interests: What types of things draw the handler’s attention?
Vice: Similar to an interest, what can the handler simply not resists indulging?

The player assigns a value to Motivation, Faction, Interests and Vice.  Motivation, interests, and vices, along with the overall Faction goals, help define what type of operations the Handler would design.  It is important for players to keep their Handler’s interest in mind while pitching an Operation, to ensure that their Handler will be “interested” in directly influencing the Operation. Handlers can grant bonuses to Operators based on their Agenda.

Operators have some additional characteristics including Attributes, Skills, Boons (advantages unique to the character), and Equipment. Like Handlers, Operators can use their Agenda during a mission to provide bonuses by pursuing their Interests and Motivations or indulging their Vice. Unlike Handlers, an Operator can be Unaffiliated, signalling they have no true interest in the background machinations of the various factions.

Players open new stories as Handlers, deciding the scope of the next op as a group before jumping into the mission as an Operator. Over the course of the campaign, a player may create a number of different Operators with radically different skills and backgrounds, or focus all of their attention on one Operator. The goal is to give the players and GM the tools to create an immersive world with various personalities and shifting goals and stories.

Posted in Mechanics, Open Development, Setting | Tagged as: , , , , ,

World Building: Drones

While they may not be considered a lynch-pin of the cyberpunk genre, it’s hard to talk about modern warfare and not mention Drones. Already, we see civilian drones being tested for various uses such as package and taco delivery. (http://tacocopter.com/)

Drones, in an Operator sense, are remote operated surveillance and weapon platforms. Drone pilots use a direct neural interface, or DNI, to route data from the ubiquitous Datasea wireless connection through their Angel and into the interface to achieve the same effect as a Frame pilot; seamless integration of thought and action.  Drone Operators can function from hundreds of kilometers away from their target as long as they can maintain connectivity.

Most drones come equipped with a Dumb-Co, an AI pilot that can follow orders and act autonomously when the pilot is distracted with real-world problems. Yes, modern drones can be operated by other drones. Don’t expect much mileage from these AIs, there’s a reason they are called Dumb-Cos.

A variety of different drone models are available for use, such as heavily armed and armored tracked drones, light-weight hover drones, and miniature, thermoptically-camouflaged spider drones.

While Frames and Drones share a DNI, the major difference is hackability.  Frames are designed to only accept input from the DNI of the pilot in order to prevent a hacker from interfering with control of the unit.  Drones, on the other hand, rely heavily on wireless communication, which makes them vulnerable to malicious interference.

A hacker still needs to find the correct DataStream and hack into the drone to interfere. This can lead to some erratic behavior as pilots fight maintain control, but there’s always the chance that your heavily armed attack drone could end up shooting at you instead of your enemy. For this reason, a good Drone Operator tends to know their way around the Datasea and a few security tricks.

Posted in Open Development, Setting, Uncategorized, World Building | Tagged as: , , , , ,

World Building: BattleFrames

With BattleFrames, we diverge a little from classic cyberpunk tropes, and into Anime territory.

BattleFrames were first discussed here.

Cyberpunk-styled Anime, such as Ghost in the Shell and Mobile Police Patlabor, heavily inspired aspects of Glass Shadows. Additional inspiration came from reading about military exoskeleton projects.  Thus was born the BattleFrame. These series mixed classic cyberpunk with a distinct Japanese flair and a nod toward the giant robot heritage of Anime.

In the context of the campaign world, BattleFrames started out as construction tools with limited power storage which, naturally, limited their functionality.  Picture, if you will the power-loader Ripley uses in Aliens. Now add long power cables running from her back to a generator (Something we are dealing with today) and generally being more of a nuisance than getting French kissed by a face-hugger.

The question was how to carry this technology forward in a reasonably realistic manner? There needed to be a way to overcome the energy requirements.  This lead to the concept of SolarSkin, a thin film of solar collectors and capacitors fabricated through advanced nanotech.  SolarSkin, combined with high-capacity power cells and a little JP-7, give BattleFrames their mobility and staying power in the field.

Your average BattleFrame is between 2.5 and 3.5 meters in height, and piloted through direct neural connection.  First generation Frames used interface suits with haptic feedback and neural receptors to give the pilot control. Today, the Direct Neural Interface has replaced these suits. Jack in, and the BattleFrame becomes your body.

Today, military forces and police units around the world use BattleFrames to augment their troops. The modern BattleFrame enhances the user’s strength and speed, while protecting the pilot with high impact ballistic plating. On the battlefield, Frames target entrenched forces and hardened targets. On the streets, the CED and police use Frames to combat Headcases and gangs with too much access to military ordinance.

Posted in Open Development, Setting, World Building | Tagged as: , , , , , ,

#RPGNet Interview transcript

[19:32] <+Paul_Caughell> Hi everybody, My name is Paul Caughell.  Together with the currently-still-on-his-way-home T. Dave Silva, my Co-author, I have created the Glass Shadows RPG, which we’re here to answer questions about tonight.

[19:33] <+Paul_Caughell> Glass Shadows provides updated take on classic cyberpunk and transhumanist ideas. Designed to inspire strange and fun stories, Glass Shadows has a readymade setting and example events to inspire players and game masters.

[19:33] <+Paul_Caughell> Using an updated version of the Open Action System first published in Fractured Kingdom by Dave Silva, character creation and gameplay drive player interaction and collaborative storytelling. Players are empowered from the beginning, constructing story concepts and framing interpersonal scenes within the narrative.

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[19:33] <~Dan> (Howdy, MonkofLords!)

[19:33] <+Paul_Caughell> (Done)

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[19:33] <~Dan> The floor is open to questions!

[19:34] <~Dan> What makes this different from other cyberpunk/transhumanist games?

[19:34] <+Paul_Caughell> We’ve placed more control over campaign and story into the hands of the players. The players create storyline events in the campaign world that they want to pursue, and frame some of the scenes. Game Mastering is more from the hip than pre-planned, and we’ve provided tools to help the Game Master provide on-the-fly challenges.

[19:34] <+Paul_Caughell> In Glass Shadows, we’ve pushed forward the concepts of cybernetics toward Transhumanism with a variation of digitized consciousness providing a sort of immortality and access to an array of replacement bodies for those willing to take the leap.

[19:34] <+Paul_Caughell> Genetic engineering is available for those who don’t want to replace flesh with metal, including the choice to chimera-splice animal traits into the genome. Additionally, personal armored-exoskeletons, referred to as BattleFrames, bring a touch of anime to the world.

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[19:35] <+Paul_Caughell> We basically tried to push some of the older tropes forward, provide a fresh take on somethings, and inject a little bit of anime style.

[19:35] <~Dan> (Welcome back, Dave!)

[19:35] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> What’s a trope?

[19:35] <+Paul_Caughell> And there’s Dave!

[19:35] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Where?

[19:36] <~Dan> In what year does the game take place?

[19:36] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> The far flung future of 1995

[19:36] <+Paul_Caughell> The game is set in 2112, and comes with a timeline that explains somewhat how things got the way they are.

[19:36] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Wait, no that’s not right

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[19:37] <~Dan> (Howdy, Randy!)

[19:37] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> 2101 I believe

[19:37] <+Randy> ((whoops))

[19:37] <+Paul_Caughell> Is that when a rogue comet hurtled between the earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction?

[19:37] <~Dan> Does history diverge before present day?

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[19:38] <+Yalborap> Are you guys using an established system for the mechanical end, or did you cook something up yourself?

[19:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The first timeline entry is 2018.  We tried to build off of current events and developments in technology and then carry them forward to what we thought would be an interesting point.

[19:38] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I would have to go back and check, I think its more that we highlight real events that helped shape the world

[19:39] <+Paul_Caughell> The mechanics of the game are based on the core system developed by Dave for Fractured Kingdom.

[19:39] <+Paul_Caughell> The Open Action System lets players pull together related characteristics to attempt a roll. For each type of characteristic they also gain a bonus to their die pool. So an untrained character rolls an Attribute and 2d6, a character with a Skill to add rolls the Attribute +  Skill + 3d6 vs a target difficulty number.

[19:39] <+Paul_Caughell> The target number may be a static rating from “So easy a caveman could do it” to “What did I do to piss off the GM?” (not actual names), or set by a competing roll such as in combat.

[19:40] <+Paul_Caughell> Glass Shadows adds the concept of an Agenda which works as a bonus that can be added as well.

[19:40] <+Paul_Caughell> Attribute levels are capped at a certain point, but skills can grow as long as the player wants to advance them.  the dice adders are capped at 4d6, regardless of how many skills you pull in.

[19:41] <+Paul_Caughell> (done)

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[19:42] <+BoBFromAccounting> so it runs kinda like skyrim.. the levels do not matter as much as the skills

[19:42] <~Dan> Is there a specific system to pulling in skills, or is that up to the GM?

[19:42] <+BoBFromAccounting> ?

[19:42] <+Paul_Caughell> Every skill falls under a specific attribute.

[19:42] <+Paul_Caughell> There are ten Attribute trees. 5 for physical, such as Strength and Senses, and 5 for mental, such as Wisdom and Expression.

[19:42] <+Paul_Caughell> Each tree has 6 general, pre-defined skills attached to it, some of which can be taken multiple times, such as Science and Maintenance.  The player also has the option to create custom skills for use in more limited situations.

[19:42] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Bob, tThe Values of the Skills used are added to thee dice rolls

[19:43] <+BoBFromAccounting> ahh

[19:43] <+BoBFromAccounting> will the custom skills be able to be leveled as well?

[19:43] <+BoBFromAccounting> or is it one use type situation

[19:43] <+Paul_Caughell> Absolutely

[19:43] <~Dan> So, for example, would you have to use skills all under the same tree for a given task?

[19:43] <+Paul_Caughell> Skills will grow as long as the player devotes advancement points to them

[19:44] <+Paul_Caughell> No, skills are used for specific tasks. The attribute that the skills are attached to is used in all instances for those types of tasks, and for instances when the character doesn’t have the associated skill.

[19:44] <+Paul_Caughell> Characters can always attempt a task, even if they don’t have the associated skill

[19:44] <+Paul_Caughell> for example;

[19:45] <+Paul_Caughell> the melee skill is used for fighting with hand to hand weapons, it falls under the dexterity tree

[19:45] <+Paul_Caughell> brawling is used for fighting with your hands in a raw way, or improvised weapons, it falls under the strength tree.

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[19:46] <+Paul_Caughell> Martial Arts, used for fighting with a concentrated and practiced style, falls under the dexterity tree.

[19:46] <+Paul_Caughell> (done)

[19:46] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Typically if you are combining multiple skills they come from different characteristic trees. For example someone may use the Data Mining Sense Skill and the Computer Operations Intelligence Skills in some specific situations.

[19:47] <~Dan> Mind if I throw in a question regarding brawling?

[19:47] <+Paul_Caughell> Certainly!

[19:48] <~Dan> Okay. I realize that this is much more likely to apply to Fractured Kingdoms than it is to Glass Shadows, at least for now, but….

[19:49] <~Dan> …I’m always leery of lumping HTH combat under Strength, because it means that big, strong creatures are not only likely to do more damage, but are also more likely to hit in the first place. It prevents the creation of big, clumsy, powerful creatures.

[19:49] <~Dan> (Rasyr probably knew this question was coming…)

[19:49] <~Dan> Your thoughts?

[19:49] <+Paul_Caughell> Dave, this one is yours.

[19:52] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> So there are a few things going on that prevent the Big Dumb Fighter syndrome. While Brawling is paired to Strength, Martial Arts is paired to Dexterity. As pure skills they function mechanically the same. Damage is determined not by strength but by the number of characteristics you use. ..

[19:52] * ~Dan nods…

[19:53] <+Paul_Caughell> brawling relies on strength over finess.  Martial arts relies on speed and agility to strike.

[19:53] <~Dan> Can you give an example of that in action, re: damage?

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[19:54] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Now, here’s where things get a bit more interesting, a Brawler has a series of Boons they can select such as Random Beating which gives them a bonus to using improvised weapons, where as the Martial Artist has a different series of Boons which use finesse, often avoiding blows, or making bonus attacks.

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[19:54] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> (Sorry, I just love the name of that Boon I had to work it in.)

[19:54] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> (Done)

[19:55] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Oh…

[19:55] <+Paul_Caughell> Dave, I can paste in the physical trauma example from the book for this

[19:55] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> As an aside, there is something to be said if you want to run a street fighter type character there are some really interesting combinations that can happen if you take both Brawling, and Martial Arts.

[19:57] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> (Done)

[19:58] <+Paul_Caughell> There’s a little more to damage than just the 2 points per characteristic used.

[19:58] <+Paul_Caughell> weapon strength, if the character is using one, contributes to damage as well.  And armor strength reduces damage.

[19:58] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I’m sorry, I think I may be missing part of the chat, yes please post the example.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> incoming

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Knowing there is no avoiding the checkpoint Gillian has taken up a shooters position on the flatbed. She and Bastian know the BattleFrame is the real threat. As the checkpoint and Frame comes into view, Gillian opens fire.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Gillian is using a CED “Bad Touch” Beam Rifle. Gillian’s attack is as follows: Intelligence 4 + Exotic Weapons 9 + Weapon Rating 15 + 3d6 (1, 6, 2) = 37

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Because this is the first Turn and the Frame operator has not had a chance to act the GM is treating Gillian’s attack as a Surprise.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> The Battle Frame has a Surprised Defense of 15

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Normally the damage for Gillian’s Attack is 24, 2 damage for each Characteristic used + the Weapon Strength. As a Surprised attack, this is increased by 2 to 26, +1 for each characteristic used.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> The BattleFrame has an Armor Strength of 10. After armor, the Frame suffers 16 Damage.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Gillian’s Bad Touch lances the Frame’s armor. If they didn’t know before, the Fire Team knows they’re coming now.

[19:59] <+Paul_Caughell> (done)

[20:00] <+Paul_Caughell> I love the Bad Touch, it’s one of my favorite weapons.

[20:00] <~Dan> Heh. 🙂

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[20:01] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I blame the Bloodhound Gang

[20:01] <~Dan> So… does Strength not matter at all, even in melee combat?

[20:01] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Yes and know

[20:01] <+Paul_Caughell> Only in so much as it affects the total of your roll, which CAN affect the end damage.

[20:01] <+Paul_Caughell> it definitely has a strong effect on whether or not you hit.

[20:02] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Strength also impacts the weapons you can use, someone with a Strength 1, can’t just tote around heavy artillery, or even say, a mace.

[20:03] <~Dan> Hmm…

[20:03] <+Paul_Caughell> There are some weapons that specifically leverage that limitation.  Anything from CED for example.

[20:03] <~Dan> Well, let me try this from another angle:

[20:03] <+GenoFoxx> so is this a purely earthbound setting or are there adventures in orbit, on the moon or on Mars?

[20:03] <~Dan> Is superhuman strength wasted if the character is using melee weapons or martial arts?

[20:03] <+GenoFoxx> or the rest of the solar system

[20:04] <+Paul_Caughell> GeneFoxx: there are extraplanetary colonies. Several earth orbit stations, lunar colonies, and mars colonies are mentioned in the background.

[20:04] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> We discuss the Moon, Mars and orbital colonies in the core book. However, we focus primary on the eastern United States

[20:04] <+Paul_Caughell> They are not fully explored, for the reason Dave just stated.

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[20:04] <~Dan> (Howdy, Ettin!)

[20:04] <+Paul_Caughell> One location, called Haven, does get a treatment in the setting chapter though.

[20:05] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> That’s where combat maneuvers come in.

[20:05] <~Dan> Can you give an example, Dave?

[20:06] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Characters with a High Strength can use a maneuver called Heavy Blow, which trades your base attack bonus for Damage. So, characters that are say cybered up, and juiced their strength have more leverage to throw out some nasty hits.

[20:07] <~Dan> Ah, good. I’m down with that.

[20:08] <~Dan> Given that the setting is the eastern U.S., where to the anime influences come in?

[20:08] <+Paul_Caughell> mostly from the BattleFrames.

[20:08] <+Paul_Caughell> BattleFrames are personal armored exoskeletons, sort of like a mini-gundam

[20:08] <~Dan> There’s no significance to the Japanese (?) writing on the logo?

[20:08] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Part of what I tried to do with the Open Action System is find a balance between meaningful choices and no wrong choices, so you can take the character in a directino that you feel will be fun, and will not be penalized for it in play.

[20:09] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> There is

[20:09] <+Paul_Caughell> Japanese on the left, Chinese on the right.  Both say Glass Shadows, or something close to it.

[20:09] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> It says Glass Shadows, 3 ways

[20:09] <~Dan> Ah, I see.

[20:10] <+GenoFoxx> so are you using Gundam as influence or Bubblegum crisis for Battle Frames?

[20:10] <~Dan> Now, the setting includes both cybernetic and genetic enhancements, correct?

[20:10] <+Paul_Caughell> on the subject of balance between choices, it is entirely possible for a non-combat-oriented character, like the Tradesman Archetype, which is designed with maintenance and mechanics in mind, to be functional in combat.

[20:10] <+Paul_Caughell> Actually, a little bit of both, along with Ghost in the Shell.

[20:11] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Dan, that’s correct there is both cybernetic and generic modifications out there

[20:11] <+Paul_Caughell> I drew from a lot of different sources for inspiration when I was coming up with the original shell of the setting.

[20:11] <+GenoFoxx> so how big are battle frames?

[20:11] <+BoBFromAccounting> i was just going to ask that 😉

[20:11] <~Dan> What are the benefits/drawbacks of either?

[20:12] <+Paul_Caughell> BattleFrames range from 2.5 meters to 3.4 meters tall.  The largest BattleFrame in the book is the Spidertank, which is 3.4 meters tall and 5 meters from foreleg tip to backleg tip.

[20:12] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Actually, one of our signature characters has both Cybernetic Augmentation, in the form of replacing her arms, and basic genegineering to enhance her overall physical prowess. .

[20:12] <+BoBFromAccounting> is that small Mech size?

[20:12] <+Paul_Caughell> About half again as big as a man, Bob.

[20:13] <+BoBFromAccounting> ahh

[20:13] <+GenoFoxx> Power Armor

[20:13] <+Paul_Caughell> Power armor

[20:13] <+BoBFromAccounting> almost w40k like

[20:13] <+Paul_Caughell> Frames have an additive affect on Physical stats.

[20:13] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> More Iron Monger, less Iron Man

[20:13] <+BoBFromAccounting> very nice

[20:13] <+Paul_Caughell> They provide a bonus to stats.  If you’re physically weak, the bonus is the same but it doesn’t go as far.

[20:13] <+GenoFoxx> Land Mates from AppleSeed

[20:14] <+Paul_Caughell> they have armor built in, can function as enclosed system, provide additional senses, and additional, faster movement rates.

[20:14] <+GenoFoxx> and the Tachikoma think tanks from Ghost in the Shell

[20:14] <+Paul_Caughell> Drawbacks: they’re more vulnerable to electrical damage

[20:14] <+BoBFromAccounting> emp’s and such?

[20:14] <+Paul_Caughell> Tachikoma and landmates were also inspiration 🙂

[20:14] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Indeed

[20:14] <+Paul_Caughell> EMPS, Tasers, stun batons

[20:14] <+BoBFromAccounting> appears anything that could “short circut”

[20:15] <+Paul_Caughell> Yes

[20:15] <+Paul_Caughell> Full Cybernetic replacement bodies have similar drawbacks

[20:15] <+BoBFromAccounting> do they have custom mods for hardware ( guns lasers rockets etc)

[20:15] <+Paul_Caughell> Yes

[20:15] <+BoBFromAccounting> or is each frame a specific type

[20:16] <+Paul_Caughell> Each frame comes with certain gear standard, the player can pump advancement points or purchase value into integrating or equipping the frame with additional stuff

[20:16] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Yes, and yes, we provide several stock Frames, but players can spend Boons to customize their Frame

[20:16] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Mmm… I forget how fast Paul can type.

[20:16] <+Paul_Caughell> The controlling point for Frames, since as you can tell, they are pretty cool, is the buy-in for picking them up.

[20:17] <+Paul_Caughell> A starting player gets 7 boons, plus maybe one more if they spend their points the right way.

[20:17] <~Dan> What are the limitations on genetic augmentation?

[20:17] <+Paul_Caughell> A Frame Operator has to dump at least 3 boons into the frame itself, and one boon into the Direct Neural interface to control it.

[20:17] <+Paul_Caughell> So they limit your flexibility.

[20:18] <+Paul_Caughell> Limitations of genetic engineering.

[20:18] <+Paul_Caughell> There’s basically two paths you can take.

[20:18] <+Paul_Caughell> both start with replacing organs and muscles with vat-grown parts, improving your performance with physical stats.

[20:19] <+GenoFoxx> so are there energy based melee weapons like a beam saber or is that in development stages?

[20:19] <+Paul_Caughell> Then the player can choose to splice animal-genomes, becoming a chimera of human and animal DNA, and gaining a specific bonus, or they can splice improved human genomes and upgrade their body further in a general manner.

[20:20] <+Paul_Caughell> Energetic melee focuses mostly on stun weaponry, and weapons that use energy to cause more damage, like vibro blades, chainswords, and “The fist of god”

[20:20] <+GenoFoxx> also are the battle frames strictly limited to ground pounding or are they flight capable?

[20:20] <+Paul_Caughell> which I think could be closely compared to Priss’s punch in Bubblegum crisis

[20:20] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> There are AeroFrames as well

[20:21] <+Paul_Caughell> There are also underwater Frames

[20:21] <+Paul_Caughell> generally they are specifically tuned for one thing.

[20:21] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I would like to get back to Dan’s question on Genegineering

[20:21] <+Paul_Caughell> AeroFrames can function on ground, but not as well as ground frames.

[20:22] <+BoBFromAccounting> but you could for example put wings on a ground frame?

[20:22] <+BoBFromAccounting> can see where you would need that for a short distance

[20:22] <+Paul_Caughell> if you wanted to spend the advancement points to do it, yes.

[20:23] <+Paul_Caughell> we might want to slow the questions down a little bit.  I think we’re overlapping too much

[20:23] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Mechanically players can select entry level boons for both cybernetics and Genegineering but as you advance up those lines they lock each other out. For some fairly basic reasons. If you are more macine thna man, it matters very little what the meat parts that are left over are really like.

[20:23] <+GenoFoxx> so are there air cars? or are we still using vanilla ground cars?

[20:24] <~Dan> (Question pause while they cover augmentations.)

[20:25] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Also, in the narrative of Glass Shadows advanced Genegineering tends to elicit a stronger reaction than say cybernetics. Especially when you start looking at things like Chimeras, or people with animal hybrid DNA.

[20:26] <+GenoFoxx> so to quote Batman Beyond….Splicers

[20:26] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> One of our signature characters, Red, is a Fox Chimera. She’s also a Hacker

[20:27] <+Paul_Caughell> Yes, Splicers are a close analog

[20:27] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Or Temps from Transmetropolitan

[20:27] <+Paul_Caughell> When you take the Chimera boon, you pick one specific bonus, and define how you are changed from stock human appearance.

[20:28] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> To go back to Red for just a moment.

[20:28] <+Paul_Caughell> Red has coiled musculature, which makes it easier for her to succeed at dexterity-based tasks.

[20:28] <+Paul_Caughell> She chose to have fox ears and an elongated fox-like muzzle

[20:29] <+Paul_Caughell> no fur, before you ask

[20:29] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> With Red I wanted to show that you could go down one line Genegineering, or cybernetics and still have a diverse set of abilities. Her Boons as a Hacker allow her to network the team and even take control of someone;s brain if they have an Implanted Angel.

[20:29] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> (Psst… totally Fur, don;t tell Paul)

[20:29] <+Paul_Caughell> (might want to explain Angels)

[20:30] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Your turn

[20:31] <+Paul_Caughell> Angel implants are kind of a combination of AI Personal assistant, and always-on wireless interface.  The Angel implant also provides for reception of Augmented reality constructs and virtual reality interface with the Datasea.

[20:32] <+Paul_Caughell> Angels are a powerful tool, they help you organize your day and, with user permission, can also take control of the host body while the user’s mind is otherwise engaged (such as in a virtual reality gaming session)

[20:32] <+Paul_Caughell> There is a DOWNSIDE to Angels, though.

[20:33] <+Paul_Caughell> The AI code has been corrupted to allow certain megacorporations to control what the owner of the implant sees and hears.  It also can be hacked, allowing another person to control the owner of the implant, inject thoughts, change memories, and even sock-puppet them.

[20:34] <+Paul_Caughell> This plays into a discussion of the four factions vying for control of the destiny of humanity.

[20:34] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Small price to pay for an always on internet connection that follows you everywhere right?

[20:35] <+Paul_Caughell> The angel traditionalist faction wants to maintain the status quo, ensure that humanity is fat, dumb, and happy, and that they don’t see how screwed up the world has become under their stewardship.  They realize that if they lose control, they’re going to be the first ones against the wall in the upcoming revolution.

[20:35] <+Paul_Caughell> The Unjackers want to free humanity from that control, and let them make their own choices.  They don’t really care about the consequences, since they feel their motives are pure.

[20:36] <+Paul_Caughell> Digital Rebirth wants to push humanity toward the singularity, encouraging upgrades to Cyberbrain technology, digital backups, cybernetics, etc.

[20:36] <+Paul_Caughell> And Eugensis wants to explore the potential of the human genome, pushing humanity to the next level through genegineering.

[20:37] <+Paul_Caughell> This all sounds like background fluff, but it plays directly into character creation, and the process of creating a story.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> In Glass Shadows, the players take on multiple roles.  Each player starts by creating a Handler, which represents their interests in the campaign world.  A handler is basically a list of motivation, interest, and vices that comprises their agenda, and a background. Every handler belongs to one of these factions.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> Generally, the GM is encouraged to make sure that all four factions are available before allowing duplicates.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> At the start of a story, the players, as their Handlers, pitch ideas for a story by writing down what they want to do and passing it over to the GM.  The GM then reads the ideas out and the players vote on which one they want to pursue.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> Once an operation is chosen, the players discuss what roles would be needed to successfully complete the operation.  If they have run ops before, they’ll have one or more operator characters already created to draw upon.  If not, they would create a new character to fill a role.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The handler that proposed the story becomes the active, driving force behind the storyline.  he designates one of the other players as the lead operator and they roleplay a discussion between the handler and operator that covers the goals and possible challenges of the operation.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The lead operator then “recruits” the other operators in an extended roleplaying session.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> Once the gang is all together, the operation starts and the GM takes the lead, setting up the scene and creating challenges designed to highlight the skills and abilities of the operators.

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The active handler can guide operators in specific directions using his Agenda bonuses as a Carrot.  “Do this side thing, and you get this bonus”

[20:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The players can drive the action similarly by following their interests or indulging their vices, this collecting a bonus for their own actions.

[20:39] <+Paul_Caughell> So, like I intimated waay waaaaay back an hour ago, the players heavily control the direction of the campaign.

[20:40] <+Paul_Caughell> They create the stories they want.  if they want to engage in a bloody combat intensive campaign to throw down the angel traditionalist regime, they can.  If they want to play at espionage or mingle with high society, they can do that instead.

[20:40] <+Paul_Caughell> The whole game is streamlined for fast character creation, fast generation of challenges, and fast resolution of rolls.

[20:40] <+Paul_Caughell> …

[20:40] <+Paul_Caughell> I really should say (done) now shouldn’t I?

[20:40] * ~Dan chuckles

[20:41] <~Dan> Probably. 🙂

[20:41] <+BoBFromAccounting> lol

[20:41] <+Paul_Caughell> I get a little passionate about that part.

[20:41] <~Dan> No worries at all. 🙂

[20:41] <+Alaren> It looks like success totals can get pretty high pretty quickly. Do target numbers also start out high to balance this? If so, do players need to focus on being highly specialized to be effective?

[20:42] <+Paul_Caughell> Target numbers range from 5 to 50

[20:42] <~Dan> Now, it seems like with the ability trees, augmentations, and all, that character creation is a bit involved. How do you streamline the process to help the GM improvise, as he would clearly have to do given the setup?

[20:42] <+Paul_Caughell> combat targets fluctuate heavily based on the skills involved on both sides.

[20:43] <+Paul_Caughell> Ok, streamlined character creation.

[20:43] <+Paul_Caughell> We took the time to create a series of Archetypes, which are preset attribute ratings and a set of skill choices (pretty extensive choices, I might add) for a number of different Martial, Professional, Social, and Technical Archetypes.

[20:44] <+Paul_Caughell> Then we created packages of Boons, also with significant amounts of flexibility, designed to provide the character with a set of abilities for a specific job.

[20:44] <+Paul_Caughell> lastly, there are loadouts that a character can choose for a specific job role, such as artillery, hacking, or stealth.

[20:45] <+Paul_Caughell> If a player knows what he’s doing (And isn’t Bobfromaccounting) he can create a character in 15 minutes.

[20:46] <~Dan> What about for the GM having to create NPCs on the fly?

[20:46] <+Paul_Caughell> The GM has tools for quickly generating certain types of threats as well.  I can sit down and have a troop of gang-bangers with a variety of different rolls in 5 minutes.

[20:47] <+Paul_Caughell> I can generate a Datasea host in 5-10 minutes as well, providing either the illusion of depth or actual depth of choices in directions to explore while searching for what the hacker wants.

[20:48] <~Dan> Are such NPCs as fully detailed as the PCs?

[20:49] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> After the player selects their Agenda, they make 3 key choices, and then several more specific choices. So if you know you want to play someone like Molly Millions (from Burning Chrome) you might take the Ganger Archetype, Man on the Street or Bodyguard Package, and the Street Lord Loadout.

[20:50] <+Paul_Caughell> Not generally, but the GM also has the option to create what we call Elite NPCs, built like a character with additional advancement points to add challenge.  A tricksie GM could mix in an elite NPC with a mob of stock npcs and really put a dent in the players’ plans

[20:50] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Dan, they can be, but we have stock NPCs to make up foot soldiers and the like which give just a basically outline, everything you need for a fast and dirty dust up.

[20:50] <+Paul_Caughell> too slow, Dave 😉

[20:51] <+Paul_Caughell> Every operator PC will have at least 12 skills after creation.

[20:51] <+Paul_Caughell> they will generally have about 15 choices inside the archetype to fill between 4 and 6 skill selections, and 3 skill selections from a list of 20 skills prior to selecting an archetype.

[20:52] <+Paul_Caughell> so there’s a LOT of flexibility.

[20:52] <+Paul_Caughell> there are a total of 20 archetypes, and 20 packages that pair with them but can be mix-matched.

[20:53] <+Paul_Caughell> there are 12 distinct loadouts, with at least 3 levels of buy-in, and a grouping of universal adders to loadouts as well.

[20:53] <~Dan> Are there any nonhuman antagonists in the setting?

[20:53] <+Paul_Caughell> AI’s

[20:53] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> The idea was to give the places clear choices, but not to overwhelm them with options

[20:54] <+Paul_Caughell> Headcases might count as non-human, since they’re pretty much insane over-cybered killing machines.

[20:55] <~Dan> Any robots or genespliced monstrosities?

[20:56] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> The engine is also fixable enough that if you wanted to run something like a Dragon Factory operation where you are infiltrating a location filled with generically modified creatures the GM can create threats on the fly with no real loss of continuity or feel.

[20:56] <+Paul_Caughell> We do have a collection of drones, which could be AI operated and would cover robots

[20:57] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Ah robots… something I want to post there

[20:57] <+Paul_Caughell> I wonder if people might be interested in trying to combine Glass Shadows and Fractured Kingdom to bring a little more advanced tech to the supernatural setting.

[20:57] <+Paul_Caughell> plenty of monsters there

[20:58] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Paul, can you post the entries for Head Cases and Zeroes?

[20:58] <+Paul_Caughell> i sure can, one second

[20:58] <+GenoFoxx> Fractured Shadows

[20:58] <~Dan> Paul_Caughell: Indeed. I know I would.

[20:58] <+GenoFoxx> Glass Kingdoms?

[20:58] <+Paul_Caughell> The human mind is not fully equipped to deal with having pieces of its host body excised and replaced with cybernetics. There is always a period of adjustment while the mind comes to grips with the neural interface pathways required to use the new implant.

[20:58] <+Paul_Caughell> This often causes a feeling if dysphasia, where the user’s mind does not recognize the implant as part of it, and perceives its actions as alien or controlled by some other.

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Through the use of anti-dysphasia drugs and subtle tweaks in Angel code, most of humanity learns to deal with their cybernetics. The adjustments become harder and harder as more of the body is replaced with cybernetics.

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> In some cases, the mind within the increasingly inhuman body fractures, and begins to create the psychological “Other” that controls the cybernetics. When this happens, the cyborg often goes on a killing rampage, requiring an intervention from the Cybernetics Enforcement division of the local police department. These people are known as Headcases.

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Zeroes are similar to Headcases, except that with a Zero, the human mind controlling the body shuts down entirely, no longer able to accept the changes in its reality. Usually this means the person dies, but in some cases, the body continues to function, supported by its cybernetics even while the meat dies around them.

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Control of the body is subsumed by the Angel within, which in most cases will continue to try to accomplish the tasks that its previous owner would have done on a daily basis. These creatures are called Zeroes.

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> Most Zeroes are harmless, but in the occasional rare instance the Angel somehow achieves sentience, possibly because of the greater demands placed upon it without feedback from the previous owner, and goes rogue.

[20:59] <+BoBFromAccounting> cyber zombies?

[20:59] <+Paul_Caughell> In these cases, the consciousness controlling the Zero is alien to what humanity understands and its motives are inscrutable. All that can be assured is that the Zero will take any steps required to preserve its own life.

[21:00] <+Paul_Caughell> Headcases and Zeroes may be referred to as Zombies, Zed, Zack, or Xombies.

[21:00] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> In one of our early drafts one of the sample cases was a Zero named Archimedes

[21:01] <+Paul_Caughell> Interesting side note: in the first rev of the play-test, a player chose to play a character who’s angel achieved sentience and didn’t like the way he was living his life, so it took over.

[21:01] <+Paul_Caughell> And then there was Archimedes.

[21:01] *** Le_Squide is now known as Le_Oof

[21:02] <+Paul_Caughell> Poor Archimedes, his host got addicted to the drugs that were used to anesthetize local body parts during cybernetic implantation.  He kept getting more and more implants and just eventually lost himself.  The angel kept trucking along, doing its level best to keep his life running.

[21:02] <+BoBFromAccounting> with a zero. if you happen to remove a part of cybernetic (in a fight etc) will it try to re link itself with the host?

[21:03] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> With the way the character network is set up you can explore characters in one or two stories without being penalized for swapping characters. So you can play those satranger one offs that might not fit in a longer campaign.

[21:03] <+Paul_Caughell> One day, it achieved sentience and decided to fight back against the system that killed its host.

[21:03] <+BoBFromAccounting> since the host is no longer in control

[21:03] <+Paul_Caughell> You can find pieces of Archimedes’ story on the blog, back in the old Narrative posts.

[21:04] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Typically with a Zero the hosts higher brain functions are gone.  However, this could be a great character.

[21:05] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> To go back to Agenda for a moment I would totally like to see a player try to take something like this one with an agenda for the Angel, and one for the host. Having them duke it out in the characters head

[21:06] <+Paul_Caughell> Double the agenda bonus, double the fun!

[21:07] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Yeah, except one agenda is there just to screw with the other one

[21:07] <+BoBFromAccounting> <– would be a good candidate

[21:07] <+Paul_Caughell> Three sessions in, when you finished making your character 😉

[21:07] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Might co-opt another player like in Wraith for anyone who remembers that game.

[21:07] <+BoBFromAccounting> hence the agenda bonus

[21:08] <+Paul_Caughell> More questions!

[21:08] <+Paul_Caughell> You there, ask me anything!

[21:08] <+BoBFromAccounting> can a battle frame be hacked

[21:08] <+Paul_Caughell> Actually, that’s a great question!

[21:08] <+BoBFromAccounting> without a person or zero in it

[21:08] <+Paul_Caughell> The answer is no.  BattleFrames work through a direct neural interface to the pilot.

[21:08] <+BoBFromAccounting> well with as well

[21:09] <~Dan> On a 1-10 scale on which 1 is “totally gritty” and 10 is “totally cinematic”, where would you place Glass Shadows?

[21:09] <+BoBFromAccounting> so if there is a person ( alive or not is irrelevant)

[21:09] <+Paul_Caughell> Drones, however, work over the wireless network AND a direct neural interface.

[21:09] <+Paul_Caughell> So there is opportunity for hackers to take control of a drone and use it against the operator.

[21:09] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Dan depending on the players and GM somewhere between 3 and 6

[21:10] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> While we don’t get into things like hit location, if you’re not wearing armor, most guns are lethal with one or two rounds.

[21:10] <~Dan> Really? I would have thought that it would be more cinematic, based on the anime influences.

[21:10] <+Paul_Caughell> However, Ammo usage is more hollywood than most games.

[21:10] <+BoBFromAccounting> in my play testing i have found that depends on the gm

[21:11] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Ammo is very Hollywood, no more tracking bullets.

[21:11] <+BoBFromAccounting> if the GM is more cinematic the scenes and sessions tend to be that way as well but also can be gritty at the same time

[21:11] <+Paul_Caughell> I never killed you, Bobfromaccounting, even when your friends dropped you into a pit on the end of a rope just to see if the ghouls were dead.

[21:11] <+BoBFromAccounting> hence the cinematic

[21:11] <+BoBFromAccounting> AND gritty

[21:12] <+BoBFromAccounting> its a great bonus i think

[21:14] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> So here’s where role playing and cinematic meet mechanically, as a player you earn bonuses to future roles by playing to your Agenda or completing things for the Handler.  These bonuses let the characters do more than they normally would be capable of, so by role playing your character you get to do cooler stuff

[21:15] <+Paul_Caughell> We push the Agenda interactions pretty hard and there’s a lot of encouragement to use them.  Upon completing a operation, every active operator and handler gets an advancement point specifically to spend on an agenda item that they used in the operation.

[21:15] <+Paul_Caughell> reward the behaviors you want to see in the game, etc.

[21:15] *** Le_Oof is now known as Le_Squide

[21:16] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I just wrote the falling example where the character is knocked off a 4 story building. She has no Acrobatics or Jumping skill and if she was a normal person would essentially be street grease. However, because she’s a junkie and has been stealing other characters combat drugs to get high, she can tap into an agenda bonus which saves her life, barely.

[21:16] <+Paul_Caughell> It’s ok, though. That other guy really didn’t need the drugs.

[21:17] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> And yes you can quote me, steal drugs, it will save your life when jumping off buildings

[21:17] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> 😉

[21:17] <+Paul_Caughell> Remember, Kids! Don’t do drugs, unless you’re an operator in Glass Shadows, and then do them as much as you can for the bonuses!

[21:17] <+Paul_Caughell> or unless you live in colorado or washington.

[21:18] <+Paul_Caughell> but then, just to marijuana.

[21:18] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Joking aside, does that help with how we cut the cinematic gritty line?

[21:18] <~Dan> I think so, yup!

[21:18] <+Paul_Caughell> I think we have time for one or two more questions…

[21:18] <+Paul_Caughell> one if dave’s typing.

[21:18] <~Dan> What’s the state of the art when it comes to weaponry? How common are energy weapons?

[21:19] <+Paul_Caughell> Energy weapons are just entering the market, and haven’t started micronization yet.  The smallest energy weapons are Rifles.

[21:19] <+Paul_Caughell> They’re pretty effective, none the less.

[21:20] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> and some powered Melee stuff

[21:20] <+Paul_Caughell> And the powered melee stuff.

[21:20] <+BoBFromAccounting> do those include gauss and rail type?

[21:20] <+Paul_Caughell> There’s also a taser, pistol sized

[21:20] <+Paul_Caughell> heh.  There ACTUALLY is a Gauss cannon.

[21:20] <+BoBFromAccounting> oh i have one about ammunition when you guys are ready

[21:20] <+Paul_Caughell> It’s a mounted weapon, and very expensive.  It shoots through very large buildings.

[21:20] <+Paul_Caughell> go for it, bob

[21:21] <+BoBFromAccounting> is there different ammo types for each weapon ( explosive corrosive hollow point armor piericing ricohet) and are the weapons dna tagged to use either the weapon and or the ammo

[21:21] <+BoBFromAccounting> are there*

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[21:22] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> There are several types of specialty ammo covered in the core book

[21:22] <+Paul_Caughell> Operators are assumed to automatically have a hollywood sized supply of standard ammunition for the weapons they carry.

[21:22] <+Paul_Caughell> They can also purchase specialty types of ammo, such as hollow-point, armor piercing, explosive, and smart ammo

[21:23] <+Paul_Caughell> specialty types can be combined, increasing the cost.

[21:23] <+Paul_Caughell> so you could build explosive smart bullets.  Very effective.

[21:23] <+Paul_Caughell> purchasing a specialty ammo gives you the option to use it when you load/reload a weapon.

[21:23] <+Paul_Caughell> cinematic style

[21:24] <+Paul_Caughell> between smart ammo, and a smart lens attachment for the gun that links into your angel’s datastream, you can get some serious bonuses to hit.

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[21:25] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Costly though

[21:25] <+Paul_Caughell> very costly

[21:26] <+Paul_Caughell> Depending on how a starting character selects his boons, they generally won’t be able to afford a mixed type of ammo, and could maybe get 1 type of option.

[21:26] <+BoBFromAccounting> you touched on drones. will drones be able to use separate ammo types as well?

[21:26] <+BoBFromAccounting> or will you have a specific drone per ammo type

[21:26] <+Paul_Caughell> Yes

[21:27] <+Paul_Caughell> Drones and frames use the same ammo rules.

[21:27] <+Paul_Caughell> Don’t try to stand up to an Anti-Armor frame loading HEAP ammo.

[21:28] <+Paul_Caughell> any last questions before I bolt for the bed?

[21:28] <+BoBFromAccounting> i do not currently

[21:28] <~Dan> Well, is there anything we haven’t covered that you guys would like to bring up?

[21:29] <+BoBFromAccounting> will the stories overarch ( for the characters specific to your backstories

[21:29] <+BoBFromAccounting> or are they separate encounters for those npc’s

[21:29] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Could you expand on that please Bob?

[21:29] <+BoBFromAccounting> like in other games

[21:29] <+Paul_Caughell> The examples we use for everything in the book follows the signature characters through their operation together

[21:29] <+BoBFromAccounting> that^

[21:29] <+BoBFromAccounting> an overarching backstory

[21:30] <+Paul_Caughell> chapter fiction is targeted at their backgrounds before they met (mostly)

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[21:30] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> OH, I think I see what you are asking, is the game episodic

[21:30] <+BoBFromAccounting> yes

[21:30] <+BoBFromAccounting> sorry couldn’t think of the right way to phrase

[21:30] <+BoBFromAccounting> so you find out more about the characters together over time

[21:30] <+BoBFromAccounting> vs 5 snapshots from 5 different viewpoints in the world for example

[21:30] <+Paul_Caughell> Assuming you mean the signature characters from the book, such as Red, yes.

[21:31] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> So it can be, and to reference Ghost in the Shell, the narrative may be simple or complex.

[21:31] <+BoBFromAccounting> that is what i was going for

[21:31] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> At the start of a new story each player submits their ideas for what to do

[21:31] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> some story ideas may be part of an on going arc, or stand alone vents

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[21:33] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> A good way to think of a story is like a graphic novel, novella, or movie. There may be on going event, or the characters may return in other stories that aren’t related to the original plot.

[21:33] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Additionally, one story may take several sessions to complete, or it may be a fast and dirty op

[21:33] <+Paul_Caughell> in a long running campaign, a player could easily create a dozen operators if he wanted, or just switch between one or two depending on what is needed.

[21:34] <+Paul_Caughell> His handler always stays the same though

[21:34] <+Paul_Caughell> Unless the group decides to do a campaign event that makes that handler change.

[21:34] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> and even if swapping operators every story the overarching narrative may be related.

[21:35] <+Paul_Caughell> At one point we discussed a storyline where the players did one operation as a group of operators, and related operation from the fallout as another group sent to eliminate the first group of operators.

[21:35] <~Dan> Wow. O.o

[21:36] <+BoBFromAccounting> that is an awesomely epic twist

[21:36] <+Paul_Caughell> with the players splitting the groups between themselves during the actual confrontation, so that everyone had buy-in to the event

[21:36] <+Paul_Caughell> I did say it was a flexible storytelling system 🙂

[21:36] <+BoBFromAccounting> oh i have another question.

[21:36] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> no PC aura

[21:36] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Okay, one last question

[21:37] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Paul, do you have links to everything handy by the way?

[21:37] <+Paul_Caughell> I do, in fact!

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[21:37] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> (That question totally didn’t count)

[21:37] <+Paul_Caughell> Follow us on Facebook at: (Link: https://www.facebook.com/GlassShadowsRPG,)https://www.facebook.com/GlassShadowsRPG, twitter: (Link: https://twitter.com/GlassShadowsRPG,)https://twitter.com/GlassShadowsRPG, and our blog: (Link: http://gs.housedok.com/)http://gs.housedok.com/

[21:38] <+Paul_Caughell> The blog updates weekly on monday mornings, and updates will accelerate when we start ramping up for a kickstarter.

[21:38] <~Dan> How do you see the gameline developing?

[21:39] <+BoBFromAccounting> ^

[21:39] <+Paul_Caughell> We’ve discussed some possible expansion releases covering other area of the world and/or extraplanetary colonies, and possibly advancing the timeline

[21:39] <+Paul_Caughell> but nothing truly concrete has been decided yet.

[21:39] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> “With many guns floating around my head controlled by murder thoughts.”

[21:40] <+BoBFromAccounting> what about gear expansions

[21:40] <+BoBFromAccounting> oh i just read above “nothing concrete”

[21:40] <+Paul_Caughell> Expansion books would likely contain additional Boons, new gear, replacement body kits, frames, and drones.

[21:40] <+Paul_Caughell> and possibly new factions as well

[21:41] <+Paul_Caughell> Nobody wants just a book full of setting fluff, everybody wants bigger guns.

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[21:41] <+BoBFromAccounting> i would actually like a bit of both

[21:41] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> I like to make sure there’s a little something for everyone in a supplement

[21:41] <+BoBFromAccounting> it would be nice to see gear that is manufactured on a different world

[21:42] <+BoBFromAccounting> everybody just has more gear but nothing behind how it got there etc

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[21:43] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Just a quick plug, the Day of the Dead PDF for Fractured Kingdom included a new short story, creature and 4 boons for Fractured Kingdom. This was a small release for Halloween last yea for Fractured Kingdom.

[21:43] <+Paul_Caughell> Also, if anyone is interested in seeing the core system, it can be purchased at (Link: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/113604/Fractured-Kingdom)http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/113604/Fractured-Kingdom

[21:43] <~Dan> Cool!

[21:44] <+Paul_Caughell> I’d like to thank everyone for coming tonight and asking so many great questions, and thank Dan for hosting and being spectacular at it, and Bobfromaccounting, for being willing to hang at the end of a rope and check for ghouls.

[21:44] * ~Dan chuckles

[21:44] <~Dan> If you guys can hang out for just a minute, I’ll get you the link to the log.

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[21:45] <+Dave_Silvs_Glass_Shadows> Does that mean Bob is really Glenn?

[21:45] <+Paul_Caughell> And Dave for typing slow so I could dominate the conversation

Posted in Uncategorized

#RPGNet Interview with Paul Caughell and T. Dave Silva

Click the link to see a Q&A session we attended with Dan Davenport on the #RPGNet IRC Channel!


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World Building: The Datasea and Hackers

Of all the Cyberpunk concepts one of the most iconic is cyberspace. Even cybernetics take a backseat to the way the net defined the genre.

We first talked about the Datasea here.

Glass Shadows ramps up the Net. Here, the Datasea is a ubiquitous, always on, wireless network which permeates all aspects of modern life.  On the surface, the average Datasea user sees both an augmented and virtual reality overlay that provides context to the meat world around them.

Virtual interfaces for communications and storefront displays from which users order single-use fabricator patterns, and even virtual brothels, are commonly available. Diving deeper into the Datasea, the user begins to come across darker things; black market nodes, comm-boards that contain cryptic messages intended for unknown operators, AI-run data havens, and all sorts of fun and nasty little pockets of VR. Literally every technological device in 2112 is Datasea enabled.

The average Datasea diver stays close to the surface, where things are safe. Hackers, on the other hand, almost compulsively dive deep.  So many hackers are the kind of people who just want to know everything and can’t resist a challenge.

The first thing a hacker learns is how to stop paying for Datasea access.  After that, things get interesting.

In addition to their skills in computer systems, bypassing intrusion countermeasures, and tearing through firewalls like tissue paper, hackers can take Boons that allow them to act as a central communications node for their team. The Hacker provides instantaneous communications between Operators without those pesky phone charges, or risk of data recorders.

Hackers can scan the data that an Angel sends to offline storage, allowing them to read a person’s memories and even inject false memories or thoughts.  As a capstone ability, a hacker can even take total control of an Angel and puppet a person through their implant. And you just thought getting that Angel meant always looking up the answers on E-Cyclopedia.

To be the best, a hacker requires a diverse skill set and multiple Boons. Some specialize in one thing, such as communications, or data relays, while others have more diverse but less effective skills. However, the rewards of being a full on, dyed-in-the-wool, hacker are well worth the investment.

Some of the Boons available to Hackers were inspired by this wonderful short film, Sight. In it, a programmer for the company that developed and marketed an Augmented Reality overlay called Sight goes out on a date with a woman, and the date doesn’t in a way either person expected. The film also gives a wonderful example of how VR and AR overlays work.

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World Building: Genegineering

It’s time to look at alternatives to Cybernetics. We originally discussed Genegineering here.

Genegineering began with the concept of cloned bodies, available for sale or rent for digitized human consciousness. Thus was born the idea of the Kevin­™ and Kate™ model clones, their faces representative of a generically wholesome brand name. However, life would be boring if that was all that Genegineering had to offer.

Let’s start with organ replacement and muscle grafts. For the right price, have your filthy homegrown guts swapped for a Genegineered stomach with a nest of symbiotic digestive worms. Of course, this is just the start. Opting for more invasive genetic restructuring, the Geneineered can surpass normal human potential.

Originally, there were a number of Geneineering Boons, each one giving a character some minor advantage. This was simplified to give players a better selection, and better overall advantages.

It was during the re-imagining of Geneineering that Chimeras were fully introduced …

<Transmission Interrupted>

The Animal-Spirit Preserve is not a lie!

 Are you Gene-Different?

 We can help you release the animal spirit within you.

 Animal-Spirit Preserve 1.454159, 37.364287

 You do not need to suffer anymore.

<Transmission Resuming>

 We had discussed the idea of spliced human and animals, mixing human and animal DNA. People could now opt for retro-viral remapping rewriting their genetic code.

The idea grew out of a discussion we had about a bar bouncer being implanted with vat-grown gorilla muscles, becoming more of a gorilla than a human. Today one of our signature characters, the Hacker, Red, is a fox chimera.

Genegineering Boons improve the character in a different manner than Cybernetic Boons. Mechanically, Cybernetics increase skills and Armor, while Genegineering improves Attribute rolls. Both have a capstone boon that allows Physical Attributes to improve past human limits.  Genegineering boons, outside of the Chimera boon, also provide an almost undetectable advantage for characters that choose them, whereas Cybernetics are more obvious. The  capstone boons for both Genegeneering and Cybernetics are mutually exclusive.  At some point in the chains, you have to commit to one or the other to reach your full potential.

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World Building: Cybernetics

Cyberpunk and Cybernetics have been a mated pair from the beginning.  I had a number of goals when it came to cybernetics and Glass Shadows. In addition to the traditional chrome and steel, I wanted to offer an alternative to implanting hardware.  We call it Genegineering, more on that next week.

We originally covered cybernetics here.

There needed to be a balance between works such as Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed with Neuromancer for our cybernetics. More so, Glass Shadows needed to be Transhuman.  Instead of the increasingly popular Cortical Stack found in stories such as Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan and games like Eclipse Phase, I wanted something closer to the Cybernetic Shell present in Ghost in the Shell.

Taking that idea a step forward, I created the “neural anchor” which creates a digitized copy of a human consciousness. Unfortunately, the host brain is destroyed in the process, and must be replaced by a cybernetic equivalent.  The digitized consciousness, referred to in the game as a Rider, provides the character with immortality through backup, and the ability to move between bodies.

Replacement bodies, “Kits”, could be anything from a mostly meat clone with a Cyberbrain, to a fully cybernetic replacement with zero meat left. A full cybernetic Kit could appear mostly human, all hardware underneath a flesh-like synthetic skin, or something completely inhuman in appearance. Kits built for specific environments or heavy combat might only vaguely resemble the humanity they left behind.

In the background information and narratives, look for elements of cybernetic-induced dysphoria.  That awkward feeling that a part of you, that cybernetic arm, for example, is not really a part of you.  It belongs to someone else and that other person controls its actions.  Dysphoria is a common reaction to major cybernetic replacement. The feeling becoming stronger and harder to cope with as the flesh is replaced.

To help adjust, people are sedated post op, and take drugs to relieve the symptoms as they adjust to the new component. Some people, Headcases, cannot adapt, their grip on reality slipping away. Most Headcases have the decency to tear themselves apart, something you can do once your manipulators are made of titanium and Kevlar; alone, or taking some unfortunate doc with them. Others experience strange feedback between implants and neural commands. This can lead to any number of odd behaviors, such as eating spark plugs, or drinking motor oil. There are some Headcases that do choose to self-terminate, and in doing so cause as much harm and destruction as possible before suicide by cop.

Players can chose related Drawbacks based on these symptoms. We designed these drawbacks to create interesting elements that add to the character’s story. Can player characters become a full on mass murdering Headcases?  Sure, but it should be through an agreement between the player and the gamemaster and have some reason for happening that moves the story in an interesting direction.


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World Building: The ECILAL

We introduced the ECILAL back in this post, and it has since become the expected default play area. The Easel, as residents tend to refer to it, grew out of my research into Megacities, megaregions, and feral cities.

For those of you unfamiliar with these terms:

  • Megacity: An urban area that exceeds 10 million residents.
  • Megaregion: A chain of roughly adjacent metropolitan areas joined by urban sprawl.
  • Feral City: A failed or failing metropolis, where anarchy rules and strength is the only power.

They say that writers should start with writing what they know, and since I live in a dystopoic nightmare-future of surveillance and conspiracy… I mean, on the east coast of the United States… the world of Glass Shadows finds its home there as well.

The east coast today is home to three separate megaregions: The northeast megaregion, which runs from Boston down to Washington, DC, the Piedmont Atlantic megaregion, which runs from Raleigh down to Birmingham, and the Florida megaregion, which covers pretty much all of Florida.  The Great Lakes megaregion is generally considered to be in the Mid-west, but even today, it has almost started to overlap with the Northeast.

While designing the ECILAL, I tried to extrapolate how the entire region might grow without the restrictions of zoning laws or environmental regulations. Starting today reaching forward nearly a century to the world of Glass Shadows, I could see leaves of urban expansion stretching out form the branches of the highway and interstates. It was easy to see the sprawl continuing to expand until these megaregions met up. Throw in a few Arcologies (Hello, Manhattan! Hi Detroit!), and corporate protectorates (Good morning, Harmony Heights!) in heavily populated areas, and you have the ECILAL.

Looking at current events and the trajectory of Detroit, in Glass Shadows it continued its slide into a feral city. Detroit is now a wasteland of city ruins with a single corporate Arcology giving those outside its walls the finger. The residents who could not flee in the wake of the collapse remained. Ruled by violent gangs, the area is in a constant state of flux.  As the megacorporations begin to move into the area to try and “mine” it for recoverable materials, brush wars erupt between poorly armed insurgent-style gang-bangers, and corporate security with heavy, military grade equipment.

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