E7 – Building a Party (in a Classless Society.) (recorded 12/1/16)

Greetings from Deimos. Deimos: 15,000 miles away from your cares. Or a breathable atmosphere.

This week’s episode is about class and character concept. We talk a lot about archetypes, D&D, and party compatibility. And we manage to go an entire episode without trash-talking lions.

Show notes:

♃ 1.08 – Gamers who are children of the eighties should recognize this sound clip from the intro to the “classic” Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon. If you don’t, consider yourself lucky.
♃ 1.51 — For reasons that we still puzzle over, Lliira, the forgotten realms goddess of joy and happiness, apparently passed out shuriken to her followers. They called them her “sparkle.” I don’t know, man. Whines asked me for the name of the goddess and I got it wrong, but in fairness this was a late 90s reference, may I be forgiven.
♃ 2.20 — Really layering the old-school Dungeons and Dragons references on thick tonight. The Deck of Many Things is a randomized artifact, a 22-card deck where every card is either some huge positive thing or some huge negative thing that can happen to your character. Most of them are game-breaking in some way or another.
♃ 3.00 — Rara Legare on our Telegram Channel asks, “Does HSD have dimensional travel?”
♃ 5.29 — Event Horizon: marketed as a space exploration movie in the general spirit of 2001, actually a Lovecraftian horror film. A lot of people felt burned by it – except for Lovecraft fans. A very Transcendent Technology film. Many of the characters ended up looking like salisbury steak though, I don’t think that was a great cross-sell.
♃ 8.42 — No information on the updates to the Hc Svnt Dracones minis line, though you can check out the current customizable minis site. (EDIT: The HSD Minis Expansion Kickstarter’s live now! Check it out!)
♃ 9.00 — Want to join up with the HSD Discord chat? Information here!
♃ 9.48 — On to the topic! “Building a party in a classless game.”
♃ 11.20 — Bored? Click on the random Marvel character generator.
♃ 12.51 — A brief guide to character creation in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, since we called it out.
♃ 13.22 — Culturally, canines in the Hc Svnt Dracones universe view the “two tails” morphism as cute and attractive. It became a popular cosmetic modification, and then got a reputation as a “Like what you’re looking at? It’s cheap!” marker. Also, for some reason hyena vectors tend to view their laterals–the members of their tribe that are shaped like actual animals–as cute. We’re not sure what tone of voice to use or how high to waggle our eyebrows when we say “cute” here.
♃ 14.50 — Here’s the Big List of Space Character Archetypes. Feel free to comment and we’ll expand it!
♃ 15.55 — I don’t know exactly where it was, but we dance around the 4E D&D topic of “Roles” several times here. This was 4th Edition D&D’s effort to balance the four classes out and give everybody a unique flavor, and a way to contribute to combat.
♃ 17.00 — Ashtaar’s plan for our first D&D game: He had a series of five game templates, each with a few unique gimmes. The “Fab Five” campaign assumed high society espionage, and the characters got an extra social skill–but equipment was limited, lower access to weapons and such. “Delivery Boy” was a Futurama-type game–a nice delivery ship and easy access to missions, but our ship was co-owned by our corporate masters. The “Wild West” scenario was a gritty, low-resources game in a small-town frontier location. “Leaf on the Wind,” was the Firefly model–our own ship, but one that’s held together with duct tape and repair bills.” Each option helped frame the campaign and gave us a focus for our character concepts, not a bad strategy, which is why I’m sketching it out here.
♃ 19.46 — Howard Hughes is pretty amazing, a great wealthy eccentric character. Some fun shots here inside of his wooden airplane, the “Spruce Goose.”
♃ 21.29 — Random fact I had in my original show notes: the gaming party goes back to at least 1978, when Gary Gygax called the player characters a “party of the bravest and most powerful adventures.” It probably goes back farther than that, but I haven’t been able to track down a reference. This is a fundamentally ungoogleable concept.
♃ 22.57 — Getting definitional: A “party” is based based on the roots “partiri,” to divide into parts. The foundation of the world is very much the root of political party–a group unified in opposition to someone else. At its heart, it’s a word with a lot of conflict in it–a sense of being on one side or the other of a conflict. Definitely not its only meaning, but it’s one of its older ones.
♃ 23.26 — Murdering kobolds – referring in a backward way to the “Power Kill” RPG. Well, not so much an RPG as a thought exercise about RPGs, why they’re exciting, and why we murder kobolds for their gold. http://johntynes.com/revland2000/rl_powerkill.html
♃ 27.44 — Fear the Boot is currently the granddaddy of RPG podcasts. Episode 2 was recorded in 2006, and they’re still recording! Here’s a link to the resources page that has, among other things, a group template PDF.
♃ 29.56 — A nod to Fate, and the concept that character creation is collaborative and a form of play.
♃ 35.19 — The Fiasco game is definitely worth a look if you’re interested in collaborative storytelling. It’s kind of the Cohen Bros. RPG.
♃ 40.00 — About the economy – every vector has a built-in money-making engine, the “ledger,” that’s a sort of onboard stock trader and social security net. In the color-text, worldbuilding section toward the end of the Hc Svnt Dracones Extended book, the narrative lens character points out that it’s better to have a live customer than a dead one, even if they’re broke, and vectors can expect a certain baseline of food, shelter, and so on that’s enough to sustain life, if not make it enjoyable.
♃ 44.01 — Whines’s argument about Singing in the Rain: SITR is a musical about the dawn of talkie films and how the silent-era actors responded to it. “Society transformed by a new technology” is a major trope in sci-fi. My argument is that he’s just wrong.
♃ 48.26 — Treasure Planet…the map revealed.
♃ 1.00.00 — Did we link to the “Eight Player Types” article? It’s not gospel, but it is a useful way of looking at what players want out of their games.
♃ 1.07.56 — On to “What’s Awesome” this week…
♃ 1.08.00 — A brief callback to Episode 1: snow leopards are not specifically a race in 1.0 Hc Svnt Dracones, but there’s a generic “cat” option that’s a catch-all for felines outside the name-brand felines mentioned in the rulebook. Generic options exist for most of the player character species – “dog,” “bird,” etc…
1.07.56 — On to “What’s Awesome” this week…
♃ 1.08.56 — The bioweapon from “ExistenZ,” 1999 film. Don’t order the special.
♃ 1.09.00 — Build…and pay for…your own rocket!
♃ 1.11.47 — Here’s a brief article on the University of Vienna’s work on twisted light. Wiki’s article on “optical vortexes” was also useful in solving unpuzzling this one.
♃ 1.14.06 — and, much more importantly, Nasa’s “Space Poop Challenge.”

With thanks to Sirius Beat for our intro music, “Future Club,” and outro music, “Tronicles.” Our fun, modular header art is by Absyfield (Thank you Ashley!)