|IRC Logs||NSpicer: --------- Alternity Game Day Q&A With Rich Baker !!! ------------|
NSpicer: Okay. Welcome to another hosted chat event sponsored by A.net. Throughout the past few weeks, I’ve been gathering a list of questions from everyone that I’ll be posing to our guest, Rich Baker. If anyone would like to ask something else, please send me an instant message and I’ll work it into the discussion for you.
NSpicer: Before we get started, I just want to remind everyone of a few ground rules. To keep things organized, we want to make sure that we keep side chatter down to a minimum. Follow-up questions are okay, as well as the occasional comment, but try to give everyone a chance to participate and hold back on filling the chat stream with stuff that doesn’t further the current question posed to our guest.
NSpicer: Use the instant messaging feature between individuals to hold those types of discussions outside of the chatroom itself. Above all, be courteous and be patient.
NSpicer: In addition, please don’t let the discussion degenerate into an “Alternity vs. D20” debate. There’s really no value in exploring that topic in this forum. Our guest is here primarily to reminisce about Alternity’s roots and comment on its current longevity.
NSpicer: This is your chance to ask him questions about how Alternity was designed and why things work the way they do within the system. You can also ask about specific campaign settings related to Alternity and his own experiences with the game we all enjoy playing.
NSpicer: For those who may not know (though I’d be amazed if you didn’t), Rich Baker helped to co-create the Alternity game with Bill Slavicsek while working at TSR and Wizards of the Coast. He contributed in a number of ways to virtually every major Alternity product, holding various roles as Creative Director, Designer, and Author.
NSpicer: His contributions include the: Alternity Player's Handbook, Alternity Gamemaster's Guide, Dark•Matter Campaign Setting, Star*Drive Campaign Setting, Gamma World (5th Edition), Star*Drive Arms & Equipment Guide, Alien Compendium, Threats From Beyond, Star Compendium, the free online supplement Warships, and the Star*Drive novel, Zero Point.
NSpicer: Currently, Rich continues to work at Wizards of the Coast, playing an integral role in the published products for Dungeons & Dragons, the Forgotten Realms, and a contributing role to D20 Future. But for those assembled here, we’ll always remember him as one of the main designers who gave us Alternity.
NSpicer: So sit back and enjoy the answers he provides to the collected questions I’ll be posting. And be prepared to ask your own questions once we open up the floor. So without any further ado...let’s all welcome Rich Baker.
RichBaker: Gosh, thanks for the intro!
NSpicer: It's a tradition now. :)
NSpicer: Question #1: •Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the professional game design business?
RichBaker: Okey dokey...
NSpicer: Once you're finished with your answer, just let me know via a /end comment and I'll know you're ready to proceed to the next one.
RichBaker: Well, I'm a 40-year old game designer and author. I live in the Seattle area these days, with my wife Kim and my daughters Alex and Hannah...
RichBaker: I'm originally from Ocean City, NJ...
RichBaker: I went to school at Virginia Tech, and I met my wife there...
RichBaker: I got a commission in the US Navy in 1988, and spent three years on active duty...
RichBaker: After which, I got married, and then went to work for TSR...
RichBaker: When I was looking around for what I was going to do next after getting out of the service, I sent TSR a resume for the pure heck of it...
RichBaker: To my surprise, they offered me a chance to take a design test...
RichBaker: I submitted a design sample, and they liked it enough that they brought me in for an interview...
RichBaker: and I started at TSR in October of 1991...
RichBaker: I've been with TSR/WotC ever since. Never figured a resume I sent off for the devil of it would have got me this far. /end
NSpicer: So how did that conversation go over with you wife at the time? Okay, honey...I'm going to write games for a living now... :)
RichBaker: Well, I was actually getting a little desperate, and was seriously considering selling insurance for a living when TSR finally called up and offered me the job.
RichBaker: We figured, "Well, heck, let's go to Wisconsin for a couple of years and see how it goes."
NSpicer: Big risk...and it seems to have paid off. :)
RichBaker: My wife's folks are still mad at me for taking her 1,000 miles West, and then 2,000 more. /end
NSpicer: Question #2: You have a background in the US Navy, correct? What was your relationship with the USS Tortuga, to which you dedicated Warships?
RichBaker: I was the ship's Second Division Officer, or Assistant First Lieutenant. When you're commissioned as an ensign, you normally start as a "division officer", which is very much like a platoon leader in the Army or Marines. I spent three years on active duty (most with the Tortuga), and decided to return to the civilian world in May 1991.
RichBaker: I left the service as a Lieutenant, Surface Warfare Officer. /end
NSpicer: Question #3: •What made you decide to get involved in Alternity or how did that opportunity come about? I read in an earlier interview that initially someone else helped Bill pitch Alternity before you came on board, right?
RichBaker: Yep, that's right. Lester Smith was Bill's original partner for the pitch. I was simply assigned to the job after Lester left the company. /end
NSpicer: Question #4: •What are your favorite SF genres, and how did they influence the design of Alternity?
RichBaker: Well, I like most SF, really. I cut my teeth on Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein, so books like "Galactic Patrol" and "Starship Troopers" are still right at the top of my list...
RichBaker: A couple of years ago Ed Stark turned me onto David Weber's Honor Harrington stories, and I've enjoyed those tremendously...
RichBaker: and I'm also a big fan of alternate history, as well as near-future "hard" SF...
RichBaker: My space opera/military SF tastes certainly led me to look for a strong combat system in the game...
RichBaker: but in all honesty, my SF tastes are pretty mainstream, and I think Alternity and Star*Drive are pretty mainstream SF games. /end
NSpicer: Question #5: •How did your work on Alternity influence your development as a game designer? The system and the campaigns seem to be well thought out. Did they help you "grow" in your profession?
RichBaker: Certainly. Designing a new game system from the ground up is really about the most challenging job you can get in this business. You can't help but learn from it. The work I did on Alternity was very useful in helping me to approach 3rd Edition D&D a couple of years later. /end
NSpicer: Question #6: •What are you doing now? What kinds of products are you developing? Anything slightly related in terms of genre or setting?
RichBaker: Nothing SF, I'm afraid. I've done a lot of D&D and FR work recently. And next month I've got a new miniatures game coming out. I was the lead designer for Axis & Allies Miniatures, and last year we decided to create a naval WW2 game too -- so in just a week or so Axis & Allies Naval Miniatures: War at Sea hits the shelves. I can't wait to see how it goes! /end
NSpicer: Sounds interesting. :) Okay, we're going to switch gears a little bit over to the mechanics of Alternity. Here's the next one:
NSpicer: Question #7: •Why was the basic Alternity system marketed as only a "sci-fi" system? Why not extend it to fantasy as well?
RichBaker: Well, the answer to that is pretty simple: TSR already had a fantasy game. No one really wanted to look for a game system that would compete against D&D. /end
NSpicer: Question #8: •How was the die mechanic developed for Alternity? Someone once said there's no d10's in Alternity because Rich doesn't like d10's...so how much truth is there in that? And how much of that is just teasing?
RichBaker: Not Rich, Bill! Bill's the guy who kept insisting that if we didn't use the d10's in the skill check mechanic we ought not to have them in the game at all...
RichBaker: The basic idea for the die mechanic was Lester Smith's, I believe. He had a notion that you could do a roll-low game where increasing complication added a bigger and bigger die...
RichBaker: Bill and Lester worked on that some, and created the initial Alternity proposals...
RichBaker: The big insight to the core mechanic that I added was the idea of "negative" steps as well...
RichBaker: I realized pretty quick that you just didn't get enough variation of difficulty if the easiest task was d20 + d4, and the hardest was d20 + d20...
NSpicer: And we're all eternally grateful that you gave our heroes a chance to be heroes with those "negative" modifiers. ;)
RichBaker: So I suggested that we ought to make easy tasks "minus" dice, not "plus" dice...
RichBaker: and thus we arrived at the core mechanic you all know now. But the kernel of the idea was Lester's. /end
NSpicer: Very cool. And I don't think a lot of people ever knew of Lester's contribution...
NSpicer: Okay, next question...
NSpicer: Question #9: •Many folks that come from D20 to Alternity get stuck at the whole "low numbers = good" on the D20 roll, and have difficulty getting past that. How do you think this affected Alternity's success/failure?
RichBaker: I might be selling Bill a bit short -- I *think* the idea was Lester's, but as I said before, Bill and Lester worked on it together before I came into the picture. /end
RichBaker: OK, now for Q9...
RichBaker: I think in the pre-d20 environment, there was a lot less expectation that "hi = good" had to be part of a game's typical resolution mechanic...
RichBaker: There were a variety of competing systems out back in the late 90's, and they all worked differently...
RichBaker: I think the people who really get thrown by that are the folks who have seen nothing but d20...
RichBaker: so I really don't think it played a big role in Alternity's success or failure...
RichBaker: I really think the biggest influences on Alternity were simply the marketplace and demand for a SF game...
RichBaker: We recognized at the time that we would have preferred a roll-high system, but we couldn't think of an elegant way to do it, and there were certainly plenty of roll-low examples out there, even in some of the subsystems of D&D 2nd Edition. /end
NSpicer: Interestingly enough, we're starting to see several D20-only players (or players who just learned gaming through D20) starting to get burned-out on it and looking for alternatives. Many have suggested Alternity...and a few have tried it and enjoyed it. Do you have any thoughts on that development?
uncle_jimbo: I was just going to mention the 2e skill system as well.
RichBaker: Jimbo > yep, that's a prime example
apoc527: plus GURPS
apoc527: that's a big roll-low system
uncle_jimbo: Most systems that are percentage-based.
RichBaker: As far as people migrating from d20 to Alternity, well, it's not something that we would really shoot for back at WotC headquarters these days...
RichBaker: Once upon a time we thought that Alternity served a good marketplace role as a "safety net" for catching some part of the audience leaving D&D, and keeping them as our customers by catching them with another game system...
Starbrat: Worked for me.
apoc527: (my group plays D&D and Alternity almost exclusively...)
RichBaker: but these days our brand folks (and myself, to be honest) would rather work at making d20 better than presenting folks with alternatives to d20. /end
NSpicer: Ergo, D20 Modern and D20 Future sort of fill that niche now...
NSpicer: Okay...next question...
NSpicer: Question #10: •Alternity has always seemed like a point-based skill system with a class/level framework like a scaffold around it...which makes it easy to discard, if GMs so choose. Was that deliberate?
RichBaker: Exactly, Neil
RichBaker: Heh, and the answer to your question is "Exactly, Neil" too
RichBaker: Yeah, you can certainly ditch levels in Alternity and never notice they were gone.
NSpicer: Question #11: •Were there any mechanical tweaks you would have eventually done to Alternity and what might they have involved?
RichBaker: I think the classes are a little bit useful, but you could do without them too if you were a real purist. /end
RichBaker: Well, the big thing we wanted to fix was armor, that just was not doing what we wanted...
apoc527: ooh, one follow-up to that question:
apoc527: ah, that's it
apoc527: the armor point
RichBaker: and sooner or later I'm sure we would have wanted to reexamine the skill set and work on making it more extensive and robust...
RichBaker: but by and large we were happy with the mechanics of the game. /end
NSpicer: Hmmm...remind me to grill you offline about the skillset enhancements and armor tweaks. Everyone's going to want details on that. :)
NSpicer: Several folks are pursuing their own works in that regard...and any insight you could provide would be gold.
NSpicer: Q12: •A lot of RPG systems seem to have a slant towards a type of game/playing style. Was there a particular gaming style that was in mind for Alternity or was versatility a primary goal for the system?
uncle_jimbo: We've had some discussions on skills. No really good fixes to armour that I recall.
RichBaker: You gotta remember, that's like 6-7 years ago that we were looking at it. I don't really recall now exactly what sort of solutions we had on the table. I even went looking for old memos on the topic the other day and didn't find much. /end
dragan: lordkrat ha nice work done on armor in harbringer supplement
apoc527: with the Optional Rules in place, armor also seems to work adequately...I'm not sure how many people mind it enough to change it
RichBaker: Personally, I would have liked to explore a more simulationist approach, maybe giving up some speed to get a more satisfactory effect for armor. But I don't know if I could have sold the other guys on that approach. /end
RichBaker: oh yeah
RichBaker: Well, I think the style is pretty clear--a more narrative, story-based, cinematic approach...
RichBaker: Some games start with the combat system and work up from there, but Bill's vision was really about building a fast, flexible, and elegant game...
RichBaker: and building a game that optimized for story movement...
dblade: That's one strength of Alternity that I like. You can translate most cinematic experiences into the game without much tweaking.
apoc527: given the support Alt has so many years later, I'd say he did a damn fine job...
RichBaker: which I think Alternity does pretty well, really. /end
NSpicer: Q13: •In science-fiction, there’s often a trade-off between realism and fantasy. How important was it to maintain realism throughout the Alternity ruleset?
RichBaker: For me, fairly important. I felt that the best niche for Alternity was a lower-tech, harder SF game than something like Star Wars or Dune...
apoc527: (sorry guys, I gotta run. Thanks for coming, Rich!)
RichBaker: Without even realizing I was doing it, I think I was anticipating the big surge in military SF we've seen recently, the David Weber and John Ringo type stuff..
RichBaker: so I wanted to make sure that we broke the "rules" in specific ways with logical implications. /end
NSpicer: A term that many of us have been using to describe the "style" of Alternity is "cinematic realism" so it's interesting to hear those two words echoed in some of your answers tonight.
NSpicer: Q14: Did you have any house-rules of your own you might share from when you played/play-tested?
RichBaker: None that I can recall off the top of my head, I'm afraid...
NSpicer: Okay, switching gears slightly again...and because we need to hurry through some of these questions...we're going to ask about unfinished aspects of Alternity:
NSpicer: Q15: •You seem to have a credit on almost every Alternity product ever published. But what Alternity products didn’t you get a chance to work on, that you wished you had?
RichBaker: Most of the stuff we were trying out in the most intensive playtesting cycle really consisted of "try it this way or try it that way," not house rules per se. More like experimenting to get it right, not trying out our own preferences. /end
RichBaker: Mostly, the projects that we never really got a chance to do. Those are the projects I wish I'd been able to work on. I mean, I didn't really have anything to do with "Systems of the Verge" or "The Lighthouse" but we had competent folks working on them, so I wasn't sad that I missed out. But the books I wanted to publish but never got to, those are the ones that you get wistful about. /end
NSpicer: Q16: •If Wizards hadn’t canceled the line, where do you think it could have gone? What works of Alternity were unwritten? Was there any ground left uncovered?
RichBaker: Well, we had immense amounts of uncovered ground. SF is a huge genre. We could have done ten Star*Drive-sized settings, really, and each would have been different...
NSpicer: Any specific settings you intended to do that you can recall or share?
RichBaker: I was interested in exploring a real "science fantasy" far-out setting, I mean, crazy stuff like Flash Gordon meets Dune meets Star Wars stuff... a universe where magic and science both worked...
RichBaker: In terms of single products, well, a good "Space Marines" supplement that really did Starship Troopers style bug hunting right as a RP setting would have been fun...
RichBaker: "Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of 'em!"
RichBaker: I mean, we could have done lots of stuff. /end
NSpicer: Q17: •How would you have liked to see the Star*Drive campaign setting develop, had products continued to be published after the Externals? How much further would the timeline have developed following the Exeat?
RichBaker: We were definitely heading toward going back to the big star nations and playing out the story there... likely a tremendous war between the Thuldans and VoidCorp and the Orions and all those guys...
RichBaker: We felt that we'd played out the Verge a bit, and we wanted to examine other parts of the setting. /end
NSpicer: Q18: •Did you ever intend to do any more Star*Drive novels? If so, what might they have involved?
NSpicer: Everyone pretty much consistently rates Zero Point as the definitive Star*Drive novel for the "feel" of the setting...
RichBaker: I certainly hoped that I'd get a chance to write another novel or two. I wanted to novelize the "big story" of the Externals and the threat they represented. /end
RichBaker: And thank you, by the way!
NSpicer: Q19: •Were there any nebulous, long-term plans to develop the Far Reach and the Orion Frontier? Or, in the pattern of "old school" settings like 1st Ed Greyhawk, were they always going to be places for GMs to place their own creations and personalize it for their own groups?
RichBaker: Not really, we were going to head back to the stellar nation heartland first. That would have kept us busy for a long, long time. /end
NSpicer: Q20: •Sometimes the Externals concept felt a little added on to the setting in a kind of Trekkish "New Terrible Alien Foe" fashion. Star*Drive already had plenty of themes and ideas to work with, more than your average "Galactic Empire". Was this the case, or was Externals always going to be a major part of Star*Drive?
Botuu: Zero Point is in my top twenty favorite science fiction books. Well done, Rich.
dblade: Hmmm.I never felt that way about the Externals.
NSpicer: Me neither...but it was a question submitted for me to ask. :)
RichBaker: No, we built in the Externals from Day 1. We knew about a lot of the big story from quite early on. The mistake we made is that we hid it a bit too well. Sometimes we find ourselves tempted to "be DMs to our DMs" and try to hide our story arcs, so that we can surprise you with our storytelling and revelations later. But really, we should have armed the DMs with that info right on page 1 and told you how to make that the focus of a great
NSpicer: Oops...looks like the text limit cut you off in mid-sentence there, Rich. You ended on "...the focus of a great..."
RichBaker: "the focus of a great Star*Drive campaign" and that was it.
NSpicer: Q21: •What can you tell us about the real CEO of VoidCorp? At an early GenCon seminar, it was mentioned that a secretive AI actually controls the megacorporation…and that a handful of Inseer programmers (the Insight Six) hold the keys to destroying it. Can you elaborate on that?
RichBaker: That was Jim Butler's baby. He was the guy who had the real vision for the VoidCorp story. Other than framing the AI as the entity responsible for the upcoming Stellar War, I didn't have a lot of specifics in place yet. I think Jim did though. /end
NSpicer: Q22: •What can you tell us about the Vanishing? What really happened to those early Orion colonists? How the Deepfallen mistake them for more Glassmakers wishing to travel to another dimension? Where did the colonists eventually go? Were there ever any plans to bring them back?
RichBaker: I think we might have Twin Peaked you guys there. I don't know that we really knew the answer. I blame Dave Eckelberry for that one. Maybe he had a better idea than I remember! /end
NSpicer: Note to self: Flog Jim and Dave until they reveal the big story. ;)
NSpicer: Q23: •What can you tell us about the Precursors? Lots of Star*Drive products give small bits and pieces of the full underlying backstory defining the struggle between the Stoneburners and Glassmakers. Where did the I’krl ultimately fit into that relationship? What other plans did you have for the Precursors? Were there campaign plot threads involving others (e.g., Those Who Think, the Starweavers, etc.)?
uncle_jimbo: Lead in to a Tangents campaign?
RichBaker: Well, I viewed the struggles of the prehuman races as something a little bit like the conflict of Arisia and Eddore from the Lensman books -- a vast, ancient war that much younger races wind up fighting and finishing. Doc Smith was really my inspiration for that one. /end
NSpicer: Q24: •Did the developers ever intend to introduce F/X-powered religions with “clerics” into Star*Drive similar to the way the I’rkl empowered the krl’yth in the Externals? Would ever have seen a Hatire or an Orlamu gain special F/X powers directly attributable to the Cosimir or Divine Unconscious reaching across the dimensions like the I’krl?
RichBaker: (I'm staying pretty generic on that question because I don't really recall a lot of the fine details now.)
RichBaker: Q24 -- I don't recall specific plans for that, but I sure wouldn't have minded. That would have been a pretty cool development for the setting mechanics, I think. /end
NSpicer: Q25: •Can you give us your take on the following Star*Drive stellar nations and how you saw them: VoidCorp, the Nariacs, the Thuldans, the Solars, the Orions, and the Concordans?
RichBaker: Briefly... VoidCorp is the "extranational" corporation whose laws are written by its HR department...
RichBaker: The Nariacs are 24th-century communists...
RichBaker: the Thuldans are 24th-century Nazis, but maybe not quite that bad...
RichBaker: The Solars are a big sprawling mess with no ability to act in concert...
RichBaker: The Orions are the idealized 24th-century America, a vigorous democracy (and still the worst form of government invented, except for all the others, as Winston CHurchill said)...
RichBaker: and the Concord is something new, an effort to evolve democracy...
RichBaker: How's that? /end
NSpicer: You score a 10 out of 10.
NSpicer: Q26: •Of all the stellar nations presented in Star*Drive, which did you most strongly identify with?
Starbrat: Concise and descriptive. love it.
RobJN: got a great beat, and you can dance to it ;)
RichBaker: Well, naturally, it's easy to identify with the Orions. You want America to grow up to be the Orions someday. But in a way they're really not all that "new." So, in terms of the nations that are a little more fantastic, I guess I liked the Orlamu. They were one of the original three in Bill and Lester's concept for the Star*Drive setting...
RichBaker: (the others were the Thuldans and the Rigunmors. Oh, and the Concord too.) /end
NSpicer: Q27: •Of all the conspiracy factions in Dark.Matter, which did you most strongly identify with?
NSpicer: If any... :)
NSpicer: ...that you can talk about, of course. ;)
RichBaker: Ruling out the Hoffman Institute, I guess the conspiracy group I liked the best was the Final Church...
time: (I'm glad to hear you liked the Orlamu and they were an original part of Star*Drive. They are my favorite as well.)
NSpicer: Heh. Somewhere JD Wiker is doing a happy dance. ;)
RichBaker: JD Wiker came back to me when he was assigned to write that book and really dug in his heels. "Satanists are nothing like this!" he told me...
RichBaker: I told JD, "Listen, I don't want a book about real Satanists. I want to have fun with fantastic Satanists...
RichBaker: "basically, take all the bad movies you've ever seen that cast Satanists as the villains, and riff on that!"
RichBaker: My apologies to any Satanists present! /end
NSpicer: Q28: •How do you feel about the effort and stewardship of the remaining community of Alternity fans so many years after the product-line has been discontinued? Any words of wisdom or encouragement?
RichBaker: Well, I'm amazed at the sheer amount of material you guys have put together long after we shut down the presses...
RichBaker: It's an unfortunate truth of the game industry (and many other businesses, too) that what you worked on yesterday just isn't important anymore, you've got to keep your eye on what you're doing right now...
RichBaker: So I haven't thought hard about Alterntiy or worked on anything Alternity related in a very long time..
Starbrat: You gave us excellent bones to put new flesh on.
LUGTrekGM: Alternity is the best work by TSR, edging out Birthright of course. thanks for both. Alternity has replaced Traveller as the penultimate sfrpg in my mind, and that's saying something.
RichBaker: Whereas the folks who love the game and the settings, and who want to exercise their creativity playing with it, have...
RichBaker: so really, you guys are the keepers of the flame now. It's your game, not ours. /end
NSpicer: You know we're all going to seriously encourage you guys to put some more thought to Alternity...and its campaign settings. And you've done so with D20 Dark.Matter not all that long ago.
NSpicer: In light of that...
NSpicer: Q29: Any chance we might see a D20 Future version of Star*Drive in the same manner as the D20 Dark.Matter that recently came out?
RichBaker: We have to be careful with that, because we have the Star Wars license to be mindful of...
RichBaker: same sort of reasoning that we didn't make Alternity into a fantasy game too, back in the day. /end
NSpicer: Alright, we've gone over on time...I've already intentionally omitted various questions from my initial list which I feel Rich has already answered or don't fit the current discussion. I do have two more questions, but I'd like to save them as the very last.
Botuu: It's reasonable, though.
RichBaker: I try to level with you guys as much as I can, really. You're all grown-ups.
NSpicer: So, as long as Rich can stick with us a little bit longer, let's open up the floor to general questions...
RichBaker: About 10 more minutes, and that's it for me, Neil...
Botuu: Thanks for being with us.
RichBaker: My wife has informed me that I'm grilling hamburgers for dinner!
NSpicer: Anyone have a general question for Rich before he goes?
dragan: How much was S*D influenced by other Wizards products-ie, you have drow vs elves in Forgotten realms and thaal and fraal in S*D, Yawgmoth is imprisoned in anoter dimension in Magic storyline and Iikril in S*D ?
RichBaker: Coincidental resemblances, really. We certainly weren't trying to emulate elf-drow when we were working on Star*Drive's fraal. /end
time: With regards to Warships, what scale did you have in mind (1, 2, 0r more ships per side)? And did you have a specific Naval Battle style in mind (such as WWII or modern naval combat)?
irdeggman: I echo Glenn (Botuu) on Zero Point. That and Shadow Stone are some of my more favorite books. You are most definitely an underated novelist Rich.
RichBaker: I think Warships works best with a small handful of ships on each side. I mean, it does "Enterprise vs. Reliant" pretty well, but I like it best with 2-3 medium size ships to a side. The battleships and dreadnoughts just have too much stuff to have more than one in a fight. /end
NSpicer: A question from Jake before he left: "How might we see Alternity-influenced rules make their way into d20 products? Specifically, many people complain that d20 Modern still isn't lethal enough in combat -- would an optional rule introducing the Mortal damage concept be a viable fix to this problem?"
RichBaker: Thanks, irdeggman!
RichBaker: Sorry, Neil, I don't really have a good answer for Jake. I don't work on D20 Modern development, so I don't know what the lethality issues are or how they might be fixed. /end
LUGTrekGM: I just wanted to say here as a fan, thanks for making Alternity flexible enough to play Stardrive, Gamma World, Tangemts, AND Homebrew game settings. It's a whole game library, on one shelf.
dragan: ditto her
dragan: I run everything with it-from fantasy to horoor to sci fi
LUGTrekGM: Seriously, same here.
RichBaker: Thanks! One of the things I did in my own homebrow was a short campaign I called "Cthulhu 1880" -- basically, Wild West Cthulhu using the Alternity rules. It was a blast! /end
Starbrat: Sounds like one!
dragan: don't get me any ideas ;)))
NSpicer: Any other questions anyone?
uncle_jimbo: I've played some Wild West Cthulhu - sounds great.
RichBaker: Best part was, one of my players had no idea what Cthulhu was. When Hunting Horrors landed on the cabin roof, the player was freaking out just about as much as the character should have been. /end
irdeggman: Yes ditto on the thanks. Between Alternity Star*Drive and your other setting Birthright I have gotten untold hours of enjoyment.
LUGTrekGM: Well, I just wante dto say, thanks for all the effort that went INTO the books, the art, the layout everything. easy to read, easy to use. In my mind, it's what d20 Should Have Been.
RichBaker: Heh, I understand a few of you guys are skeptical of d20. No worries.
dragan: though more art in the books could not have hurt
NSpicer: A few...but not all. ;)
Botuu: Hey, different games. I play both happily.
NSpicer: Wrap-up Question #1: •Following yourself, Jim Butler, and JD Wiker, who else should we interview from the old A-team for our next game day event? Do you think Bill Slavicsek, Dave Eckelberry, or any of the others would be interested?
irdeggman: Here is one. Was the Alternity mechanic the primer for d20?
RichBaker: Absolutely, you guys should try to shanghai Bill for an hour. I contributed a lot to Alternity, but he had that first vision, and I know he's still quite proud of the work he did on the game.
uncle_jimbo: You have me thinking now about the Next Galactic War setting .. where do you think the flashpoint might be?
uncle_jimbo: (sorry, Star*Drive Thuldan vs. Voidcorp vs. Orion, I meant)
RichBaker: >irdeggman, Sort of. We recognized the need for a core unifying mechanic. But really the d20 mechanic started with Bruce Nesmith's work on Gamma World 4th Edition, where he demonstrated how you could make AC go up instead of down. /end
RichBaker: Jimbo, we had an idea of how it would start and play out, but I haven't looked at those memos in years -- can't say I rightly recall. I *think* it starts with VoidCorp squashing Insight. /end
dragan: What event end External war?
NSpicer: Someone mentioned that the Thuldans would secede from the Galactic Concord due to their inability to protect Alitar in the Algemron system...among other things.
RichBaker: Ends? Who says it's got to end? It just might quiet down for a bit... but the Externals won't sit around doing nothing while the human nations tear each other up back in old space. /end
NSpicer: DUN, DUN, DUUUUNNN!
NSpicer: Wrap-up Question #2: •Any additional thoughts, comments, or final words on Alternity?
NSpicer: (We've got to let the man flip burgers, people!)
RichBaker: In fact, I seem to recall that the real big secret we were playing with was the idea that the VoidCorp AI cut a deal with the Externals to let it wreck/take over human space. /end
LUGTrekGM: Hard core.
time: So many hooks in those last few posts...
RichBaker: Yep, I gotta go make some burgers. My kids are gettin' restless.
Starbrat: Always leave 'em wanting more.
Starbrat: Thanks for taking the time out to talk with us; it's very much appreciated.
NSpicer: Mine too.
Botuu: It certainly is.
NSpicer: Thanks again, Rich. You're awesome for being so accessible and taking time out for something like this...
time: Thank you Rich. The insights will you've given us are very much appreciated.
RichBaker: My pleasure, it's been a lot of fun!
uncle_jimbo: Thanks also
NSpicer: Mention this to Bill so we can rope him in next time, Rich...
dragan: Thanks for dropping by. Means a lot to us!
RichBaker: No problem.
RobJN: Thanks for your time, Rich!
RichBaker: All right, that's all for me. Good night all!
time: Thanks to Neil for organizing this as well.
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time: Good night Rich!
time: missed it.
NSpicer: There he goes...
dragan: Well,it is almost 4 am here, time for me to go too and catch some zzzzzzs! So long and thanks for all the fish!
Botuu: Thanks, Neil. Great job moderating.
Starbrat: See you, mate.
time: Hope to see you again Dragan, take care.
NSpicer: Someone get the chatlog up soon for those who couldn't make it.
* dragan is slain by the Gray Man
Starbrat: Yep, very nicely modded.
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irdeggman: Another great session Neil
Starbrat: Y'know, Steven Schend might be agreeable to do something like this. He was an occasional poster back in the precambrian of A.Net.
NSpicer: Meh. I consider it a moderate "moderating" performance. So many other questions simply didn't have enough time to be asked. Oh well, we can always put them to Bill instead. :)
Botuu: It had a good flow. nonetheless
NSpicer: Steven Schend also worked with Jim Butler at Bastion Press...and from what I learned out of Duane Maxwell, he and Steven were the gatekeepers to most of the Star*Drive "lore" and backstory.
RogueMorgan: Yes, and the last part has very juicy. Speculatively speaking...
Starbrat: Yes, I thought that was very nicely done. Perfect timing.
irdeggman: See you Monday night Glenn. First combat will occur.
NSpicer: The more time that passes between the line cancellation and these AGDs, the less these guys can recall about everything. So we might as well get them now while we can... :)
time: Alright, I need to go eat dinner as well. Good night all.
NSpicer: Thanks to everyone for coming out.
NSpicer: I'm signing off as well.
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Starbrat: A pleasure.
Starbrat: See you, Neil.
Botuu: VC squashing Insight makes sense if you think about the Inseers' motto about information being free. Perhaps they discovered a secret of VC and let it be known to the rest of the galaxy. Make sens.
uncle_jimbo: Thanks again.
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irdeggman: Too bad RicH couldn't find any "Lost Files" like he did for Birthright.
NSpicer: BTW, for the record, we were once again the 3rd most active chatroom on the server during our Alternity Game Day event...so it's nice to see we can make a splash with these things...
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Starbrat: One could link those two Voidcorp juicy bits together quite nicely, eh Glenn?
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uncle_jimbo: Maybe I can nudge it a little - one of my Well hooks is in the Verge (Dewi) and features Insight annoying Voidcorp.
RogueMorgan: It leave this running to get the full day's chatlog. See ya later.
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Botuu: It's been great, all, but I must now go watch boxing. Good night (and g'day) all. Cya in the forums.
LUGTrekGM: Nicely done, that was great.
uncle_jimbo: OK, thanks all, I'm off as well
Starbrat: I really should go and help Dragan with the z-hunting. Nighty-night!
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LUGTrekGM: anyone else still around? I have some questions re:Alternity as a newcomer, if anyone hasd a few minutes.
LUGTrekGM: Well, good night gents.
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Booster: how did the gameday chat with Mr Baker go? I was on the road and felt bad I missed it..
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