Saturday 30 August 2014

Spell List Preview: Heart Magic

Heart Magic is a curious Path. Focused primarily on the themes of charity, harmony, and sugary treats, overtly Light aligned and very popular even among places where magic is poorly regarded. Practitioners tend to think of themselves as goodwill ambassadors for the greater spell-casting community. This is reinforced by the fact that most of the Path's spells focus on assistance and healing.

It would be a mistake to assume that Heart Magic lacks punch or potency, however. While the offensive powers within the Path are generally non-lethal, they can sap one of the will to fight and replace it with a delirious sort of childish joy - an unnerving effect, to say the least.

Spells of the 1st Circle
  • Heart's Whisper
  • Enthusiastic Aide
  • Tough Love
  • Get Along Gumdrops
  • Sparkle Spray

Spells of the 2nd Circle
  • Perky Peppermint Disc
  • Binding Buttercups
  • Lovey Sunshine
  • Pick-Me-Up
  • Sparkle Shot 

Spells of the 3rd Circle
  • Heart's Sacrifice
  • Friendship Bracer
  • Fists of Joyous Parting

Character sketches 1

Thursday 28 August 2014

Dragonborn in Break!!?

Dragonborn in Break!!? I dunno, but there has been some chatter on g+ so I fancied having a go at rendering them. Maybe they are an obake variant Rey? Or maybe we evolve the promeathean which I made more reptilian?

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Magitech, techno-relic or bioweapon?

Cyclopian eye death ray.
Demonic breath canon.
Mana energy weapon.
Demonic casting hand with mind control unit.

Sunday 24 August 2014

The Blazing Garden

The largest and most populated region of the Outer World is also the most contested. Directly following the 3rd Cataclysm, the undisputed ruler of the area was Emperor Regulus, master of the great Sun Machine and overlord of the golden city of Aeon. Built in an strange, alien style, the golden city has an almost serpentine feel to it. Dominated by smooth, circular structures that spiral comfortably upwards and grand works of art, it is a sight to behold - though many cannot shake an uncomfortable feeling that the spectacle gives them.

Mechanoids of the old world toil away so the citizens of Aeon are free from most, if not all manual labor. Their forced subservience to the Sun King is meant as a constant reminder of his victories over the world of humanity. Those who manage to assert their free will attempt escape as soon as they can - being found out would likely cost them more than just their freedom.

Regulus' influence is still great in the area, as his "chosen" (the Promethean) still act as overlords for his shining city and many of the lands surrounding it. But the golden grip of Sol has loosened; The Bruun rebellion and the subsequent formation of several of their own nations opened a flood gate of sorts. The Bruun themselves favor loose societal structures over rigid order; having been without any sort of culture for so long, they are busy trying to figure themselves out. Their small settlements (with necessarily large shelters) can be found on the edges of the great temperate forests that dominate the northeastern portion of the Blazing Garden.

The southern half of the region is known The Folkland, a flat and grassy area that is home to the great nations of the Obake and their Rai-Neko allies. King Pride of the Shifter's Confederation has publicly refused Regulus' offer of alliance and has gone so far as to denounce the Emperor as a dangerous tyrant. Rumors suggest that the Rai-Neko council has not only provided the Confederation with advanced weapons and technology, but also with a secret that justifies their current animosity with the Sun King. King Pride's base of operations and current capital is the city of Lionesse, which is built around a grand structure that some claim is the crashed vessel that brought the Rai-Neko to the Outer World.

A piece of unclaimed land lies between Regulus and Pride, simply called No Folk's Home - an area that once housed the great human technocracy of Erguss. Left in shambles due to the War of Sol, what remains is a series of ruined cities, desperate groups of human refugees and berserk machines that are attempting to collect and corral what they see as wayward sheep. Those who escape the area often find their knowledge of Old World technology to be very valuable - and those willing to brave travel in the area can salvage many relics and treasures of the past. Assuming they aren't torn apart or captured for experimentation, of course.

Estaria, a recently founded nation in No Folk's Home has already attained a certain level of infamy. It is said the government is made up almost entirely of adventurers from the Wistful Dark and that their wizard king has turned away messengers from both Regulus and Princess Seika of the Twilight Meridian. Nearly every power in the region has begrudgingly admitted that this province may be one to watch in the future.

Interaction between the disparate species is politely ambivalent, for the most part. The Obake and Rai-Neko clearly get along quite well, and are often more than happy to work with friendly Bruun and even Mechanoids (even if the Neko tend to be uncomfortably curious about the latter). Wandering Prometheans are often treated coolly, and far too many Bruun recall the indignities suffered by their parents to look on them with anything less than quiet hatred.

For better and worse, the Blazing Garden is teeming with life. The constant sunlight and moderate rainfall means the land is covered in lush greenery, which supports the massive beasts that wander the area. Folks in the region tend to be hardy and efficient as a result; finding food is never a difficult task, but claiming it can be a different thing entirely.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

It's my Birthday and all I want to do is talk about Break!!

Over on Google+, I asked for people to give me their questions about Break!! and boy, did they. Here's hoping my answers are adequate.

When's it going to be released? When are you running online games of Break! - 
It's hard to say when there will be an actual release, but hopefully not too long. Grey and I plan on releasing bits periodically (starting with character creation) so that people can not only gauge our progress, but comment on what we already have out. I'd like to have a full game ready by this time next year, if not much sooner. - As for running games online, I want to start doing that as soon as we have enough out for people to make their own characters. I'll be running a play test at a local con as well, so I'll probably be hitting people up on G+ in less than a few months. Please let me know if you are interested!

Sell me on it in < 5 sentences. 
- Character creation is fun, gives you plenty to work with and takes less then twenty minutes or so if you're rolling. The game has very little buy in and data to keep track of, but what you have is intuitive enough that it stretches to fit whatever you need. GM prep is quick, easy and allows for a lot of personal input if desired. You can play robots, fairies and shopkeepers along with all that other stuff you're likely used to.

Are there any touchy-feely mechanics that, say, let players define scene elements, reward them for playing in character (possibly to their disadvantage), or etc.? 
- The Battle/Murder Princess Calling has a good deal of rules centering on emotions, bad and good. The War Mechanoid also has some, though that one it's about choosing between mechanical systems and human like feelings as you advance, with what you select ultimately directing what happens when you hit Rank 10. There aren't really scenes in Break!! mechanically, but I encourage people to let players run wild with their origin stories, even holding off in till they think of something cool mid game.

(Contested Inquiry about playing a fat(?) guy who can break things with his crotch)
Make a Warrior with the "Girthsome" quirk, there are elective abilities that allow you to attack things unarmed without penalty as well as one that makes smashing things easier. Then you have to convince your GM that this is all going to turn out well.

How much will the tone/atmosphere of Break!! mirror your Barovania/Akenia games? 
If not at all, what will it be like instead?- Many things about both Barovania and Akenia were just things characteristic of me, so certainly. Most prevalent is a mix of whimsy and horror, high adventure and lots of genre meshing. That said there are significant differences. Akenia is actually a reflection of Break!!'s Outer World, just prior to it's third Cataclysm. It's a place that was on the verge of a big fall and the players were set to stave off its doom or try and ride the resulting wave. Break!!'s world is already shattered, with those within it suffering - but also trying to rebuild. It's grimmer in some ways, but more hopeful in others. (Context for those unaware of Akenia or Barovania)

What mechanics are you most pleased with so far? How do you feel they reinforce the 'themes' of your game?
Character creation. It's a combination of the processes from Stormbringer, R. Talsorian's games and Maid. I personally think it's super fun and gets the wheels turning in under 20 minutes or so. I also like how Stunts work - the gist is that you get more out of your action by risking more from a failure.

How much have you playtested it? Any fun or goofy stories?
I've been play testing version of Break!! (It was at one point "The Wounded Sky" and "Rey D&D") for years now, but this version I gave a nice spin for about half a dozen sessions that went fairly well. My favorite bits were when a semi-deranged holy knight managed to trick a Doomblade into falling off a precipice and skipping a dangerous fight, as well as an Obake Specialist (in Avian form) convincing an enlightened Albatross to abandon it's post and assist them, on the account that his boss was a skeleton and therefore unlikely to pay him.

If I tell you that I used to sit and watch the "opening scene" of Ninja Gaiden over and over and that I played Double Dragon 2 and Battle Toads endlessly even though I could never beat any of the three...what would you say is in Break that is for me?
Well, for one you'd likely be able to actually get through an area on a jet bike, as opposed to perpetually flying into randomly placed concrete barricades.

How are you feeling about the game now that you went to con, and everyone loved your cards?
I am pretty excited for it. It just cemented things for me: no matter what happens, I just really want to make a game within my lifetime. Anything after that is just gravy. I do worry Grey's art will be far superior to anything I can create, but that just makes me want to work harder.

Will there be a book of monsters? Will there be guidelines for creating new content (monsters, items, etc.)? - 
There will be a book of Monsters, as well as specific and template NPCs. There will be guidelines GMs to make all that stuff - the best thing about RPGs is user input, after all! Also, I'll probably release lots of stuff via the blog whenever I can.

How does spell casting work?What made you decide on a Light/Dark aligned magic? Where did you get the basis for it? How does it work/impact the world?
Spell Casters have access to 1-3 magical paths out of a dozen or so outlined in the main rules (with more to come in future, again via the blog and later other books) each with 3 levels of power and about 15 spells per. They may Attune a certain number of spells a day; these allow them to access a Spell's Flare ability, which is a power they can use over and over again without cost. They may also invoke it's Burst ability, which is much stronger but expends the spell in till the caster can prepare them again. There are different sorts of Casters, Focus Casters need an item or icon to use their spells, but fire them off faster. Grimiore Mages can use unattuned spell's Burst abilities, but are slower on the draw and risk a chance of spell failure. Blooded Mages can use prepared spells without any extra frills or drawbacks.

I went with Light and Dark magic because I wanted the duality theme to permeate into a lot of the game, and it gives you the feeling that your messing with stuff you shouldn't be when using it. As far as world impact goes, they can change the allegiance of the caster's using them, which spreads that sides influence. Casters who are moderately minded try to mix up their choices a bit as a result.

How fast is combat?
At a Break!!-neck pace. HA! Seriously though, it's fast. Hearts on either end only last so long, every attack counts. The longest rounds happen when the party tries to coordinate an elaborate combo stunt, and even then it's the planning itself rather than the execution that takes time.

How do they measure time in the outer world? Seeing as night and day are geographical not temporal. Do the species have different 'clocks'?
Each region does so differently, but generally they use old world clockwork timepieces and hourglasses to tell the time. Tenebrate, Goblins and Bruun tend to go without, depending on instinct and fatigue to keep them on track.

Are there other stars in the sky? Or is it only the sun machine and fallen star shards?
The Outer World is surrounded by Primal Space, so it lacks stars or any other cosmic bodies at all. So it's just the Sun Machine and Star Shards at the moment. Killing a certain God-Monarch potentially dispels the Primal Space, which would than shunt the game world into a more normalized universe - likely to the other universe's detriment.

What makes your game stand out from the thousand and one fantasy-heartbreaker D&D knockoffs in the world, aside from the spectacular art? Looking at the site and having minimal background in NES, I don't recognise a central conceit that sets it apart from other monster-fighting tactical games. Is there one big thing that makes it not-DnD? What's in the game for people who have not grown up on the same games and series that make up the bulk of inspiration for Break! ? 
That really, really depends on what you describe as D&D. To be honest, I think doing so is a bit like grabbing water. It's clearly something, but it's always changing (depending on edition, participants) and kind of elusive. If I were hard pressed, I'd say that D&D is very focused on acquisition and advancement. The major keystones of the game, the things that make it fun and easy to understand all generally fall under those two categories.

Conversely, Break!!'s focus is more about you and your allies finding a place in a broken world. This is intentionally nebulous - it may very well be bashing in doors and taking treasure. But starting an Item shop, helping build up a town, capturing and rearing monsters and trying to make people's lives better are all things you can be doing as well. The goal is to provide a structure that's intuitive and kinetic enough that people can go and run with it.

I should have mentioned this on the web page, but there are rules for recruiting allies, building relationships and reputations and setting up economic ventures - none of which are terribly complicated, but still retain a lot of potential depth. - The NES stuff is more about applying an aesthetic I like, as well as intentionally utilizing what was inadvertent in the source; a sense of freedom, tenseness and brilliant absurdity. You don't need to know any of it, really - but it does make some stuff more fun.

How does play change as characters advance?
That sort of ties into the above; nothing is mandated in the first 10 ranks. You certainly get better, but you can rule a domain whenever you manage to get one, start a business if you have the money, or crawl around in tombs when you don't. Generally you get abilities that broaden your character quite a bit, so I suppose some things that aren't possible initially become far more likely as you gain abilities.

There are going to be rules for epic paths and stuff; one that lets you start learning a new Calling, one that lets you become a Master of one you're already in, and a third that allows you to become an Asura or a Deva. Any of these would likely seriously change gameplay.

How modular are races/classes? (I see, a race has these three components, I can mix n match for a custom race, or fill in those blanks for a new one...)
I made pieces pretty obvious so that people can snap things together on their own without much problem. You could likely make a whole different game by throwing all the Species Traits in a pile and let people pick from them. Species can be of any Calling, with a few exceptions (Fairies and War Mechanoids for example, encompass a species AND a calling, and are exempt)

Are there demon-possessed revolvers? 
Well sure, there is even a ritual for turning Asura or Devas into various sorts of items.

Is play adjustable to different genres? (Horror?)
To an extent. Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy and so forth are always present, and you could likely tone down any and all of them by restricting callings or adjusting the Injury/Death table. That said, some elements of certain genres just aren't present - the helpless feeling that benefits horror stuff just doesn't exist in a game where you can kill a rampaging God if you and your (very powerful) friends work together.

Is multiclassing allowed? If so, how does it work? Do you have a red mage equivalent?
Sort of. As mentioned before, you can enter a new Calling once you reach Rank 10 in your starting one. The Battle Caster is a combination Cleric/Red Mage/Eldritch Knight, depending on the path of magic you pick and your method of casting it.

How hard do you think it's gonna be to FLAILSNAILS? 
Easy for me. For someone else, it really would depend on how willing they were to roll with some stuff. That said, some stuff lines up well - Break Character's stats (Aptitudes) line up OK with D&D saving throws, and you could likely convert Hearts into HP and vice versa without too much work. It's gonna be a bit clunky one way or another.

What are the magic items like? Are they tactics-changing, or world-breaking, or straight-up useful? 
All of the above. You've got a Dagger that's always there when you need it, flying battle ships that can fly through primal space with the right magitech engine and a sword that can slice right through a god. - Most of them are picky though, only usable by people with certain Allegiances, experience totals or tolerance for five hour story parties.

The Buried Kingdom

Monday 18 August 2014

Experience Points and Advancement

Like many things in Break!!, experience points are initially very familiar. They are awarded to the players after each session and a certain amount must be accrued to go up in Rank. They are based around what is accomplished in a session and awarded to the group evenly (with one exception, sort of.)

Things differ in the presentation. Experience points come in six different categories and a point in one is equal to points in any other. It gives the GM a way to grant EXP no matter what sort of game the party's methods lead too and it offers the players a window into what their characters have done to get this far. Usually a party is only able to earn a single point in each category per session, even if multiple situations that would earn a point occur. The one exception is that a single bonus point can be earned in the case of certain, extreme circumstances.

The six categories, in no particular order,

Blade: These points are awarded in sessions where players conquered, drove off, or captured powerful Antagonists or Monsters. What constitutes dangerous adversaries is up to the GM, but a good measure is weather their average Menace Ratings (or combined ratings, in the case of groups of monsters) is at least one or two steps higher than the average PC Rank. Bonus points may be awarded if the group defeats a particularly important Antagonist or a Colossus.

Skull: Skull points are earned by facing perils that aren't related to combat - surviving or disarming dangerous traps in a dungeon, traversing harsh terrain or even navigating a volatile political or social situation. These trials must actually threaten the character's lives or possibly lead to some other devastating loss if met inadequately. Bonus points may be given out said peril risks the death of the entire party, such as a touchy conversation with an irate cosmic power.

Crystal: Points in this category are received when the party manages to acquire a significant amount of wealth via effort, trickery or other deliberate actions on their part. A good measure of when this is deserved is if the value of whatever is gained is higher than 100 Coins x The party's average rank. Bonus points are often awarded if some sort of priceless item or something of similar value, like a valued plot of land, is put in the hands of the players.

Tome: Tomes are acquired when the party uncovers or learns an important piece of information within a session. The true name of an Asura, location of an Ark City, or a lost verse of The Song are all good examples of what may earn a point in this category - bonus points should be earned if this information can change the course of the campaign, prevent a catastrophe or ensure it!

Star: These are awarded when the party accomplishes an objective that is bigger than themselves; great deeds both villainous and noble should earn one, as should economic or social ventures that benefit the entire group. Bonus points are usually received if a major campaign goal is accomplished, or at least one that has been worked at for more than two sessions.

Shadow: Shadow points are granted to a party member who is able to accomplish a selfish or deeply personal goal - vengeance against a hated foe, great personal financial gain or the fruition of a lifelong dream should net one. While this category never grants any bonus points, the rest of the party gains a Star point whenever one of its members gains a Shadow. (This is the once and only instance more then two points may be gained in any category.)

Listed below is the amount of points required for each rank. As noted before, the above categories are equally valued.
  1. 0 Points
  2. 6 Points
  3. 12 Points
  4. 24 Points
  5. 36 Points
  6. 48 Points
  7. 72 Points
  8. 96 Points
  9. 132 Points
  10. 168 Points
The points are set up so that the average campaign will likely get a character to Rank 10 in a year or so, though its obviously very dependent on the GM (which I think is good). I have some ideas I'd like to try, such as Artifacts, Spells, and various entities reacting differently to characters depending on their totals in certain categories, but nothing concrete yet. 

Post Gencon Shout-Out post

Gencon was a blast. An informative, energizing one at that - I talked to a lot of great people and I through business cards at all of them in spite of that. Pretty much everyone I met was encouraging and fun; so I guess if there is a primary endorsement here it's that conventions can be a lot of fun.

I did get to peak at and play some fun games though, so why not talk about them a bit?

I unfortunately did not get to play Champions of Hara, but what I saw was very neat; its a sort of combination board game/rpg, with a board made up of hex cards. Game play looked very kinetic, and the setting was pretty bright and imaginative. New Leaf Media is responsible, so I'm linking their Facebook page and a web-comic based off of the game.

Arcatype was near and dear to my heart, with an art style that reminded me a bit of Digimon or Shin Megami Tensei, both of which I love. The actual game played a bit like the video games Master of Monsters or Vantage Masters, and was enjoyable. I managed to get lucky and beat the very patient man demoing the game! Anyway, here's their Facebook page.

I got to play a Ninja Salaryman with a cyborg arm in the japanese RPG, Shinobigami. He smoked a lot and earned the emnity of a delinquent Ninja Middle School kid and a wayward Ninja Raver. I feel like that should be endorsement enough, but in addition; it's fast, punchy and packs a lot of entertaining melodrama in a few hours. Kotodama Heavy Industries is going to translate and release it over here soon, so I'd watch that space.

3:16 Carnage in the Stars hardly needs any intro on my part, but I did get to play it for the first time and it was awesome.

Anyway, I have off today. So I'm going to jump right back into Break!! stuff. Probably should have a post on Experience and Ranking up today. 

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Our elves are different. Seriously!

Hey y'all - working hard on some revisions to our first version of character creation packet. Hopefully we can show it to you sooner than later. Also, I'm heading out to Gencon soon so give me a hollar if you'd like.

(Or don't, I mean, it's a free country)

I don't want to go silent on the blog though, so here's a few assorted bits on two of the "classic" species appearing in Break!!

Elves: After a couple hundreds years, Elves stopped lamenting the loss of their physically transient existence and started to enjoying the pleasures of permanent, ageless bodies. They also got incredibly bored of each other, so the current elvish diaspora is widely considered a boon by many of them.

You know what they aren't bored of? Things that aren't elf-like. In fact, many have shown quite an avid interest in the plump, muscular or generally robust. Though they still dislike the short. Too much like goblins, and having relations with the help is just tacky.

Dwarves: They are stuck in this endless battle with the goblins thanks to some empty promises by now absent gods, but they almost couldn't be happier about it. The goblins are just perfect for this sort of thing: they are easy to mush and come in massive waves with the most absurd plans and devices you can imagine. It's amazing how crazy it gets when one of those stratagems works!

In fact, without the war, there wouldn't be much at all for them to do. Dwarves are carved rather than born, so procreation isn't a part of their lives. Collecting materials is a priority, but a secondary one - you just never know when you need another dwarf. In fact, without fighting, all a dwarf has to look forward to is making things and drinking. Which usually leads to more fighting anyway.

Covers, 3 possible approaches

A concept cover was one of the first things I did for Break!!  I recently bashed out covers of our various vapour-ware supplements for the official website and thought it was about time I looked again at the covers (and at some point the logo too!) as I now have a better understanding of the product and its intended audience.

Note: I'm using old (lo-res) images for placeholders on these covers. I fully intended to redraw them!

Novel vibe

  • Less is more.
  • Character as focus for front cover (back of character shown on rear!)
  • Colour coded spines. 
  • Note: I've not finished the rear cover illustrations! Could have some sort of visual gag on the back, which could be a nice touch. A fairy picking a back pocket, a promethean scratching his backside, an amusing tattoo.

Gamebox vibe

  • Nod to a core inspiration, NES era videogames.
  • Badges for age, number of players to emphasis game-ness.
  • Distinctive slant brand (useful to identity break!! compatible products at a glance.)
  • Back cover used to promote other related books.

Manga vibe

  • Full bleed illustrations

Anyways, love to know your thoughts/preferences...

PS Official website is a work-in-progress. Any thoughts on how to 'sell' Break!! would be welcome too! (I quite like Dungeon Worlds stripped back pitch). Please feel free to sign up to the newsletter, which we won't abuse, honest!

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Dwarven traversing helm

Jumbug & Growlhund

Jumbug (mount) and two varieties of Growlhund (Guardian/pet)

The Jumbug rider needs a parachute and aviation hood/goggles!

Hey Rey, maybe the Chib (+ Goblin) are allowed to ride large pets!

Friday 1 August 2014