Saturday, January 5, 2008

Year of the Otherverse

Here is the full text of an advertisement I posted on a few days ago, detailing my company's plans for the year. To update you on what I've been doing in the last few days: I'm working on the 80s book as we speak, and having a great time. I've included around 16,000 words of non fiction dealing with the events of the decade, and at this point I've got around 10k more 'non-fiction' words including new crunch: 80s classes, feats, gear, ect.

The book is tentatively called D20 Decade: The 1980s, and will be a modular product allowing gamers to pick and choose what kind of eighties campaign they want to run. The big elements I'm focusing on are Cold War era espionage, treated fairly realistically, realistic and horrific modern crime, similar to Andrew Vacchs' novels, and 80s style kids modern-magic/fantasy, in the vien of Labryinth.

Odd mix I know, especially if game groups start mixing and matching elements from the different sections: I kinda like the idea of Rainbow Brite being a CIA assassian sent into Afghanistan to help the Mujahadeen against Russian troops, lead by a half-fey KGB agent.

So far, I've realized this about the project:

1. The non-fiction elements are definately not politically nuetral. I'm a die hard liberal, and even I'm a bit suprized at how negatively America's conservative elements fared. On the other hand, I realized that even though his domestic policies sucked hard, I really do admire Ronald Reagan as a military president and his handling of the Cold War.

2. Kids. This book is going to have alot of elements dealing with he role of children in the 80s, and will allow players to play an all pre-teen group if they want.... think Goonies, Explorers or It. You'll have alot of fantasy elements that focus on the idea of childhood as this magical time; at the same time, in line with the Vacchs influence, you'll find alot of really grim stuff- child abuse and exploitation, gang warfare, child soldiers.

3. I want to include some vehicles, but I really can't get the vehicle combat and movement rules to gel in my head. I want to include everything from the Deleorean to the Mil-24 HIND, to the spaceshuttle, but right now, if anything gets cut for page space, it'll be this bit. Maybe it'll get released as a secondary supplement.

Anyway, here is the full text of the "Year of the Otherverse" ad......

Hopefully, a few of you guys know who I am, and have enjoyed the products I’ve put out through companies like Skortched Urf Studios, LPJ Designs and Tabletop Adventures.

I’ve been working freelance for a couple of years now, and I’m just about ready to strike out on my own, putting out products independantly, under the Otherverse Games banner. In addition to my continual freelance writing, here are some of the products I plan on releasing as Otherverse Games products in the coming year.

Black Tokyo: A modern magic campaign setting, inspired by hentai anime and manga, released for the D20 Modern/OGL ruleset. There’s no disguising the fact that this is a very sexually explicit, adult release, and obviously, it won’t be to everyone’s liking. Black Tokyo is designed to offer a complete, unique spin on the ‘urban arcana’ genre, with a distinctly Japaneese flavor.

If you’re a fan of the source material, or if you just collect contraversial and unusual gaming products check it out. Black Tokyo is going to be a monster of a gaming supplement, with all you need to run a hentai-styled horror campaign between its pages. Inside you’ll find:
  • Seven new Advanced Classes, including powerful and flavorful new options like the Fruedian Oni, Flow Witch and Harem Mage.

  • More than a dozen new player races, including several Undead and Outsider PC races without a Level Adjustment.
  • Nearly fifty new magic items, and almost a dozen new spells. New rules for magic item creation.
  • More than sixty new feats, which grant disturbing supernatural abilities.
  • Around twenty new monsters, ranging from CR ½ to CR 28!
  • New organizations, adversaries and influential NPC groups which define the Black Tokyo setting.

Release Date: Both the writing and art are complete, and at the time of this writing, we’re just giving the book a final pass on layout and editing. Expect Black Tokyo within the month, at all the usual places.

Psi-Watch: Psi-Watch is a modern military/supers campaign option inspired by early Image comics like WildC.A.T.s, Stormwatch and Youngblood, designed for use with the D20 Modern/D20 Future game engine. It offers a variant psionics system, which is class and feat based, and allows players to build psionic super-soldiers more in line with the comic book inspiration than is possible using the conventional D20 Modern psionics system. Like Black Tokyo, Psi-Watch is going to be a huge, ambitious project. The contents include:

  • Six new Advanced Classes, including comic inspired classes like the Final Sword, Nano-Sculptor and Ultra-Mind.
  • New player races, including the imperalisitic, well armed Culture, the parasitic Blooded Ghosts and the hulking, starborn Neon, among others.
  • A feat based Psionics system which offers more flexibility than the standard psi-rules. Two distinct types of psionic feats allow players and game masters to scale the power level of their heroes, from low level psychics to fully powered psionic superheroes.
  • Lots of new technology: guns, guns, guns, not to mention new armor, vehicles and tactical teleportation gear!
  • A complete set of rules for custom building power armor, based upon and expanding the rules in D20 Future for mecha construction

Release Date: At the time of this writing, the text is complete, and I’m in the process of putting together the art and layout for Psi-Watch. Expect it within a few months, hopefully before the end of spring if everything goes right.

Otherverse America: The namesake setting for Otherverse Games is a modern military/espionage and cyberpunk setting designed for the D20 Future/OGL ruleset. The campaign takes place the America of 2107 CE, a less than 20 years after a brutal, religiously motivated civil war tore the country apart.The Abortion War broke the country into warring Lifer and Choicer factions, each with their own faith, culture, traditions, weapons and tactics, and sharpened the differences between Christian and pagan to a killing edge. The campaign takes place during a period of uneasy detante and reconstruction, but campaigns can be set during or prior to the War itself.

Otherverse America is a sci-fi focused setting, it has few (if any) overt modern magic elements. Though superpowers are common, they are the result of genetic and cybernetic engineering, alien heritage or technology or unleashed psionic potential. Otherverse America encorporates and expands on many elemnents found in Psi-Watch, including genetically engineered supersoldiers, power armor and nano-tech warfare.

The Core Rules: At present the plan is to release the core setting information as a free or low cost PDF, without including much in the way of system elements. The core book will detail the setting, including a deep look at both the Lifer and Choicer cultures, their religion, technology, motivations and history. That way, anybody who wants to take a look at the setting can do so without spending a lot of money, and if they aren’t fans of D20, they can easily take the setting info in the core book and use any system they want to run Othervese America campaigns.

Other Releases: Other releases throughout the year will provide needed crunch for the Otherverse America setting and all will use the D20 Modern/Future / OGL engine. Expect a series of short 5-6K word PDFs, each detailing one or two advanced classes common to either the Lifer or Choicer factions, feats common among members of those factions and the like. A new government organization, called APEX, uses supersoldiers to try and rebuild America; players can choose to pledge their allegience to APEX instead of the Choicer or Lifer nations.

Of course, since Otherverse America is a militaristic setting, expect plenty of ‘tech books’ focusing on the weapons, gadgets and tactics of all sides, as well as a lot of information about what it is like to live in the world of 2107 America. Civilian technology will be just as detailed and plasuable as the weapon tech.

Release Date: No release date is set for Otherverse America. I’ll be releasing product for this setting throughout the year, and most of the work I’ve done freelance to date can easily be ‘ported’ into the setting. My future freelance releases for Skortched Urf Studios, for example, will include a short sidebar detailing how the concept can be adpated for use in Otherverse America.

And though it doesn’t bear the “Otherverse Games” logo, I consider Choice and Blood, an OGL supplement published by LPJ Designs earlier this year the first ‘official’ Otherverse Games product.

Guide to the Known Galaxy: One product I’m working on now leaves Earth’s sectarian violence behind and heads for the stars, detailing the sentient races of the Othervese. Each of the new species is suitable for use as a player race, and can be used in other sci-fi settings as easily as they can in the Othervese. Species like the Stonecutters, Half-Grey, and the Jigsaw dominate Otherverse space and are cool enough to do the same in other sci-fi settings.
This ‘galaxy book’ also introduces a new category of feats, called Lifechain feats, which give chracters incredible power, as a result of an ancient alien lineage, but at equally great cost. An entire eco-system of terrifing new monsters, many of whom feed on creatures with Lifechain abilities, is described. These abominations are high CR chainsaws and empahsize how dangerous deep space can be for the unprepared.

Heroic Robotics: Heroic Robotics is a mid-length PDF designed for D20 Future players and game masters. Replacing the rules for constructing robotic heroes found in the D20 Future corebook, Heroic Robotics is designed to create more interesting, more powerful and more capable robotic heroes and villians.
Players can custom build Robotic PCs without a level adjustment by picking a standard chassis, with its own strengths and weaknesses and than adding whatever upgrades and disadvantages they want to play. Since both Psi-Watch and Otherverse America are high tech, cyberpunk inspired settings, Heroic Robotics synergizes nicely, but can just as easily be used in any sci-fi campaign.
Release Date: Writing’s done and the art is in the works. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much more than that. Expect it when you see it.

Sexually Transmitted Future: A quirky and unique ‘tech book’ for the D20 Future/ OGL engine. Sexually Transmitted Future focuses on how advanced technology will change the culture, society and sexual behavior of future humanity. Inspired heavily by Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitian, STF details a whole host of interesting new technologies left out of most futuristic tech and equipment guides. STF is designed to integrate into Otherverse America, but is perfect for any cyberpunk or transhumanist setting.

If you’re a fan of Transmetropolitian, Peter F Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn series, or sci-fi by authors like Neal Asher or Richard Morgan, check out Sexually Transmitted Future.

Release Date: Unknown at this time. I’ve done a lot of writing for STF, but I’m unsure of the format I’d like to release it under. One option is to do a single large (but unfocused) PDF detailing a whole assortment of new tech and ideas, similar in format (if not content) to the D20 Future Tech suppliment WOTC released.

The other option is to do a series of smaller PDF releases, each built around a single tightly focused subject, allowing readers to pick and choose which they like. I’m debating which would be a stronger format, and welcome your opinions.

Future Releases (Details Hazy, Try Again Later)
I’ve got a few ideas percolating in the back of my head which I’ll try to turn into gaming supplements over the next year. Some of these ideas might wither on the vine, and others might be combined, mutated or released fundamentally unchanged from how I describe ‘em here. Here’s a few products I would like to put out this year; let me know if you love or hate the concepts behind any of ‘em and I’ll either avoid (or work that much harder) on those concepts.

The 1980s! Watching The Warriors the other day, as well as picking up a copy of Miami Under Fire (a D20 Modern supplement inspired by Miami Vice, which I promised the author I’d review here), I decided to do my own take on a ‘decade book’ focusing on life during the early 1980s. I’ve got the initial notes for a manuscript open in another file as I’m writing this, and at this point, the decade book is going to be two pronged. First, you’ll have a well researched, almost scholary look at 80s culture, the tech of the decade, and the themes of 80s gaming. Than, you’ll get 80s crunch- feats, new advanced classes, the like, designed for a 1980s America setting. The format will be similar to the one I used in Choice and Blood, which I feel is a pretty good way to introduce non-fiction elements into gaming supplements.

The Year 3107! One of the things I’m working on fairly steadily is a D20 Future setting inpsired by the Legion of Superheroes, from the goofiness of their 60s stories to the excellent, hard sci-fi take of the Five Years Gap Legion. I’d like to blend the concept of a brightly colored sci-fi utopia with the transhumanist sci-fi elements described in Sexually Transmitted Future, and produce a really strong sci-fi setting for D20 gamers. Right now, sci-fi gamers don’t have much to choose from other than Star Wars, and I’d like to offer an alternative. As I’m imagining it right now, 3107 might (or might not) be the distant, post-human future of the Otherverse America campaign setting.

Catholics! For some reason I think it would be a cool idea to produce a feat book (mostly since I love making up new feats) based around the myths and lives of the different Catholic saints. It’d be a flavorful choice, and I might include some Vatican backed classes and starting occupations. Think movies like the Exorcist, the Order (the Heath Ledger one, not the VanDamme one), Father Merrin in Salem’s Lot and the Dark Tower series, the idea of secret Vatican conspiracies and Church sponsored assassians and troubleshooters.

Death in D&D! If you’ve got a world where gods, demons, and a multiplanar afterlife are as accepted a part of reality as the laws of physics are here, the common man’s opinion on death and religion is going to be really different from anything in the real world. I’d like to a ‘culture book’ focusing on religion, death rituals and the afterlife in D20 Fantasy…. With a lot of necromantic and clerical ‘crunch’ since I’ve always had a soft spot for D&D necromancers. With the upcoming transition to 4th edition, this one might not hit until late fall, or I might just go ahead, say the hell with it, and release it for 3.5.

Prision! I don’t think anyone’s ever done a sourcebook about prision life for D20, and it might be a fun challenge. The biggest hurdle is the fact that prision is a no-tech, no-toys setting, with fewer resources than a game set in the Neolithic Era or in some post-nuke wasteland. Getting ahold of a good shiv becomes the equivalent of picking up a +2 longsword in some other settings. Still, a prision sourcebook might be a good fit for D20 Modern crime and espionage campaigns, despite how grim and violent the material is going to have to be.

Sentinels! I was just looking at Stans! Kaiju book on RPGNow the other day, and realised I’d like to do a similar product focusing on ‘Sentinel’ type adversaries for D20 Modern / D20 Future. Giant hero-killing robots (not to mention humanoid androids, preprogrammed ‘hero killers’ who live ordinary lives until activated to hunt metahumans like Prime Sentinels or OMACs, not to mention nanotech swarms designed to kill supers) make cool adversaries. It might be fun to make up my own breeds of “Sentinels” and unleash ‘em on your group of mutants and psychics.

Weird West! I’ve been wantinng to do a Western D20 Modern setting for a while now, but want to include some obviously unreal elements. I like the idea of the white man settling in the Americas and finding dinosaurs, Indian tribes with innate psionic and magical talents, and other wierdness. Tech would be a bit higher- you’d have gatling guns and motorcycles- imagine Billy the Kid robbing a train from the back of a prototype Harley Davidson Spirit, or a 22 STR sherrif hauling a maxim gun around as a hand weapon. Right now, I’m vaccilating on the ‘cartooniness’ of the setting: should I do Bravestarr or should I do Unforgiven (with dinosaurs)? This one might be too goofy to ever see publication.

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