Thursday, January 30, 2014

Shadowrun Crossfire Table View

Until now, all the card views from the upcoming cooperative deckbuilding game designed by Fire Opal Media and published by Catalyst Games have been of in-progress cards. Last week's update from Randall Bills on Catalyst's Shadowrun website included this near-final image of the example of play from the rulebook which shows off true card layout and art. As far as I know, the only thing that's going to change from the view above are the tokens, which got a small update.

This has been a great project. Our entire design/development/editing team loved getting to play in the Shadowrun universe, one of those wish-list projects that came true. Crossfire's gameplay converts the deckbuilding style of Donald X's original Dominion into a fully cooperative fighting game of shadowrunning survival. The blend of gameplay and theme is going to be popular with most of the groups I get to play with. Add in the rpg-style character improvement options available when you earn karma after successful runs (or a tiny bit of karma after a disastrous run) and I know both my casual gaming circle and my serious-core gamer groups will dig it. Designing games your friends will love playing with you? It's one of the best things.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

customer identification

A couple days before Dragonmeet in December, I enjoyed a ramble around the British Museum. I didn't have much time but I still found myself in the wonderful little museum bookstore that's off to the side of the exhibits, down a corridor long enough to give the impression that there must be interesting things happening on either side of the walls.

The only other people in the shop were two attractive young women wearing blazers that were associated with the museum somehow and a sharply dressed twenty-something guy working behind the counter. He had an Italian accent and as I rummaged through Osprey books and read the first few pages of a Norse history called The Hammer and the Cross, he told the two women the story of the coolest thing that had happened to him in the store recently.

A distinguished older man with a beard had spent a good deal of time looking through the books. He'd brought his purchases forward, then paid with a credit card that read UMBERTO ECO.

The bookstore clerk found himself blurting "Are you Umberto Eco?"

"Only metaphorically," he said, leaving no doubt.

Monday, January 27, 2014

treizième époque

7eme Cercle are just now finishing the layout of the French translation of 13th Age!

They've stuck with most elements of the English design while adding new touches like wax-style seals around the page numbers.

When I first heard of the French translation, people were saying that it would be called treizième époque. I do think that's a bad-ass name for the game. I'm planning to use it as my term for sessions that threaten extravagant consequences. "Look out. Tonight it's not just 13th Age. Tonight I'm running treizième époque." 

But of course 7eme Cercle has stuck with 13th Age as the name of the game. Or at least they're getting as close as they can, because the 'th' part of the word '13th' doesn't translate into French. 7eme Cercle has revised the logo into a just-slightly-different form to make sense in French. Voila!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mummy reposted

The mummy art that was missing for some viewers in the previous post...

Horizon, Commanders, Mummies: a 13 True Ways Update

Given the push we are making to finish design and art on 13 True Ways, it's time for an update. I'm not going to talk about the things we're doing that aren't done yet, those will appear in upcoming updates.

Jonathan has written a wonderful take on Horizon, City of Wonders. As Jonathan says in the introduction to the 10,000 word piece:

 The metropolis of Horizon is probably the most daunting of the Dragon Empire’s seven great cities, certainly the most unearthly. Some find it to be a higher order of reality, more rational and perfect than the everyday world. To others, it is an impenetrable labyrinth of riddles and forbiddance. You come to Horizon because you have to, and you often leave under the same circumstances. Here, the skeins of destiny tangle with the Archmage’s ley lines, and reality will never be the same.

Jonathan's Horizon hovers on the constructive edge between inspirational ideas and solid questions for each campaign. I'd show off a piece of the wonderful Horizon city art from Lee and Aaron here, but it might give the wrong impression, because part of Jonathan's approach to our half-designed world is to explain a dozen ways that the art and map of the City of Wonders can be interpreted in each campaign! So we'll let that art wait to be unveiled later!

The Commander
The commander class has been through a fruitful round of playtesting and development and will be sent anew to people who are getting the updates. The designer note I left out of the first iteration of the class was that I'd deliberately designed the commander's weakest possible version. It was an experiment, starting weak in order to be able to increase the power level in later drafts. And yes, all the playtesters who sent us comments noticed that they'd been handed weak beer and several people had great suggestions. The new commander is stronger and more fun. To find the things that have changed, you'll only need to look for the yellow and green highlighting.

As we close on the final version of the commander stats, here's the first draft of a piece of commander art, a dwarven commander whose troops will be carrying the flag of the Emperor. This guy is still fighting under the original name of the class, but Battle Captain is the name of one of my favorite talents from the class, a talent that got a lot better in this draft, so I'm going to shake off the guilt of showing off the old name.

Monsters! Monsters! 
After I worked all-out on 13th Age Bestiary monsters for months, Jonathan has taken the reins for recent batches of monsters that include the werebeasts, the metallic dragons, a heap of undead, and the devils, including four new sometimes-covertly operating devils created by Robin Laws as part of the Kickstarter goals.

As a sample of the writing in the new monsters, here is Jonathan's story-riff on mummies, followed by a beautiful but still rough draft of a piece of art that was one of the Monster Art +13 winners in the Kickstarter.

Mummies: Down through the ages, powerful magicians have endeavored to preserve their own lives, escaping both the mystery of death and the horror of undeath. The secrets by which they preserve themselves at the end of their mortal lives are lost, but someone always finds or recreates those secrets. Ideally, these carefully preserved mummies live on in a sort of passive false life of the mind, dreaming endlessly in their sarcophagi but never passing on into death itself. It’s good work if you can get it. The problem is that the Lich King is dead set against letting anyone enjoy such a happy ending. When his servitors discover mummies, they invariably animate them and turn them into proper undead minions.
As those who have unnaturally extended their lives, mummies make exceptionally dangerous undead. The most powerful mummies reanimate as masterminds who take charge of those around them, while the lesser ones submit to their new masters’ commands. In any event, these unnatural creatures, trapped between life and death, are among the most spine-chilling of the Lich King’s minions. In theory, mummies might have enough humanity left that living souls could appeal to it and perhaps reach some sort of accord. In practice, it’s mummy rot for all those who tamper with the mighty who refuse to die.

The mummy art: Evan Franke originally asked for somewhat South American/Tibetan mummies being called forth by a high priest. I thought that was a good place to bring in a necromancer. This version by Aaron is considerably advanced from the version we showed Evan earlier, but it's still going to get a bunch of finishing work from Lee, including the finished spiral stair that leads to adventurers or a world ripe for conquest.

And Speaking of the Necromancer . . . 
I had an epiphany about this class. It's not a class. It's a multiclass. A multiclass that works especially well as a multiclass option for other spellcasting classes. So the sorcerer, cleric, and wizard are getting detailed multiclass combinations with the necromancer multiclass. Other people can do it but they're not as cool, and that's kind of the way 13th Age multiclassing tends to work: some combinations are deliberately more fun than others.

The Monk
There's a new version of the monk coming as part of the playtest update. It features interesting solutions to the demand for multiple high ability scores, ki powers that matter, and high-graded fun options for monk talents instead of some of the earlier talents that didn't compare well.

See you with another 13 True Ways update later next week.