Saturday, March 8, 2008

PSI-WATCH: SECOND GENERATION

It's odd that a product can not yet be released and yet be on its second edition, isn't it?

I learned a few lessons from the criticism of Black Tokyo, and want to apply them to my equally massive, but more 'general audience' Psi-Watch. In it's first draft, Psi-Watch was going to be a tool box for players, a book of feats, new classes and gear, lots of crunchy bits for D20 Modern powergamers. There was information about "PSI-WATCH" itself, a heroic organization that's as vaguely defined as Department Seven, which the psionic supersoldiers in the book work for....obviously an analogue for government funded Image teams like Youngblood or Stormwatch.

However, one of the biggest criticisms of Black Tokyo was a lack of world info, of fluff to back up the crunch, and I don't want to fall into that trap again. I'm revising the draft to add more information about the organization of Psi-Watch itself, what serving in the organization is like, as well as information about a generic 'Image-style' campaign world.




I'm also adding at least one more advanced class. A while back I heard about a Turkish or Afghani (I forget which) bootleg of Star Wars, which got wide play simply because of the hilarious grammatical errors and funky dubbing. One of the things that stuck out in my mind, was that since "Jedi" had no equivalent in the Turkish (or Afghan) language, the dubbing crew had to come up with a substitute: Hopeless Situation Warrior. To my mind, that's probably the coolest name for a character class ever- you are the one guy left standing when all hope is lost, and you can win against anything.

That name is one of the most evocative phrases I've ever heard of, a far cooler job description than "Jedi" and it's been in the back of my brain for a couple of years now. I can see it in the context of a Cable-inspired soldier, come back from a hopeless future to make things better, and that's probably going to be the concept behind the advanced class.


On the subtraction side, I'm going to remove the chapter dealing with combat genetic engineering, since it's alot of reprinted material, and include it elsewhere. The combat genetic engineering and military genemods will probably migrate over to the section in the Otherverse America Campaign Setting dealing with commercial genetic treatments.

Finally, I'd like to share an e-mail I sent to Amanda Webb, who did art on Black Tokyo, and who will hopefully be contributing some pieces to Psi-Watch as well. The letter gives a few hints as to the style and content and 'feel' of Psi-Watch, as well as an idea of what it's like to be a small press publisher working on a shoe-string budget.

Amanda:

I’ve finally got a bit of cash available to me and I would like to commission a bit of art for Psi-Watch. This one is based heavily on early Image comics- the art of guys like Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld especially…. Definitely keep your own style- I like the details and quirkiness of it, but keep the design tropes of early Image comics in mind:


    * Lots of equipment pouches, web-belts, military gear.

  • * Shoulder pads, body armor, and guns- I don’t know if you can draw realistic tech, since it wasn’t really an issue on Black Tokyo, but don’t worry. Just make ‘em look cool and futuristic- if it worked for the comics I’ll work just fine for the game!


  • * The guys are tough, battle ready, ruggedly handsome- the women are impossibly voluptuous, despite the fact they should have a flatter, more athletic build for the kind of martial arts they practice. So remember…. Men= two days growth of stubble. Women= big boobies!


  • * If you want to go crazy with poses, anatomy, and do a less realistic, more energetic style that looks great on the page, but has no basis in reality or real physics go ahead. Same thing with the ‘600’ tooth Rob Liefeld grimace.

You said you read the old Image stuff, so you know what I’m talking about…..if you need more reference or any ideas, just ask me. Right now, the art budget is pretty slim, so I won’t buy more than 2-4 pieces this month, probally in B&W. I might end up doing some of the coloration myself, or may leave some pieces B&W, based just on how they look.

I’m sending over the whole document, just so you can give it a read see if anything else catches your eye, or not, at your leisure. I definitely trust your judgement. The document is a 80% completed draft- I’m probably going to be deleting the section on genetic engineering, rewording some stuff and adding a bit of content, and a couple of new classes…. As well as more information about the world- a lesson from the Black Tokyo reviews.


For you, I’d like you to take a look at the following stuff, because I think any of the items below would look incredible in your style. First and foremost, I’d like to get a rendition of either a Blooded Ghost (pretty much equivalent to the Daemonites from WildC.A.T.S.) or a Patriot Ivory (think Diva from StormWatch)… both are player races…. If you feel like working on a monster, go with the B.G…. if you want to play with a humanoid, go with the P.I.


I’d also like a color piece of the Shiftsteel Symbiotes (think Witchblade, or better yet Void or Warblade from WildC.A.T.S.- a human covered in living metal armor) in this first batch of art. Give the character’s armor a kind of a ‘oil on water’ pearlescent sheen if you can.


After that, take a look at the character classes and see if any jump out. I’d really like your take on the Final Sword especially. I’d also think you’d do some really cool stuff with the Frontliner’s facial tats- I’d love to see your rendition of a Cable (X-Force) or Cabbot (BloodStrike, a really obscure Liefeld comic). After that, I’ll scounge some more dinero together and commission some additional art.
And that's me in my role as art director- yippie! I'll do some of the art myself, simply because I have a great time doing art, and my coloring style is well suited to aping the early Image house style- very bright, intense, garish and relying a lot on Photoshop special effects to convey mood and do cool energy FX (actually Corel Photopaint for me, since I like that program better, but you get the idea).
Obviously, Anthony will be contributing some art, and I'll probally post an open call for artists on RPG.net in a month or two to get some more peices, as well as beat the bushes of Deviant Art looking for artists.
Talk to you soon,
CHRIS







1 comment:

scintilla72 said...

I'm pretty sure "hopeless situation warrior" comes by way of Chinese, actually.

For more information: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_War_The_Third_Gathers:_The_Backstroke_of_the_West