EN World Impromptu: Chat with Consilium about Chamber+Circle [Log]

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First Post
18:59:45 @IIsi50MHz> Hello, consilium.
18:59:48 — consilium waves!
19:00:18 <consilium> I hear you guys are curious about Chamber+Circle! I have a thing in a bit, but yeah, I'd love to talk about it!
19:00:18 +consilium was voiced (+v) by @IIsi50MHz
19:00:35 @IIsi50MHz> Excellent!
19:02:58 @IIsi50MHz set the topic: Official ENWorld Chat! Keep it clean. Swearing/religion/politics in #peanutgallery; trolling/spoilers/nutcases prohibited | Welcome to an impromptu chat with Consilium, about Chamber+Circle!
19:06:08 @IIsi50MHz> So, what's new and excellent, Consilium?
19:08:27 <+consilium> About to finish C+C playtesting soon, and it'll come with a pay-what-you-want supplement very soon after publication. It'll cost three bucks on DTRPG, and use the same system as my other game, http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/155109/Succession Succession.
19:09:06 @IIsi50MHz> I've heard a touch about Succession.
19:09:37 <+consilium> I figured! I'm pretty pleased with it overall, and trying to make C+C even better.
19:09:59 @IIsi50MHz> What's the focus of Chamber+Circle, and how does it differ from Succession?
19:11:29 <Cronocke> You should probably start with what Succession's about, since I don't think anyone here's played it.
19:11:38 <+consilium> Chamber+Circle is, in shortest terms, about magically-empowered women with implausible weapons, sick motorbikes, and no hesitation toward punishing evil or anything that looks at them cockeyed. It's heavily inspired by Aeon Flux, Bayonetta, Ultraviolet, and Underworld.
19:13:04 <+consilium> And, Succession is more high-concept, it's a GMful game, everyone has GM duties over the other players, and guidance on how to start things rolling and keep them rolling through a session and a campaign. Succession owes a lot to Dark Souls, especially its way of conveying a dark, foreboding fantasy world, without ever coming out and spelling out the details.
19:14:15 @IIsi50MHz> Interesting. Are you using a custom engine? I believe Succession something like Powered By the Apocalypse.
19:14:32 <+consilium> The main premise of play in Succession and C+C is that the group sits down, chooses from a small list of options for their characters that give them both something characteristic as well as mechanical, and from there, the players fill in the details of the world from a list of phrases and names for Proper Nouns; things like 'creatures' or 'locations', with a nice thematic tone to them all, but no definition.
19:15:28 @IIsi50MHz> So it's very collaborative.
19:15:41 <+consilium> And, no, but it has some PbtA DNA: the mechanics are all player-facing, players are the only ones who roll dice for their PCs (so, no contested rolls, ever), and they're "fiction first" in the same way as PbtA: your character does something, in character, and that triggers mechanics. You never just say "I attack", you describe the leadup of your attack, and then dice happen.
19:16:44 <+consilium> And very yes, it's intended for quick starts and low or no prep, but from playtests, it still has more than enough robustness and flexibility to handle really complicated situations and stories. I see no reason someone couldn't do the length-equivalent of a '1-to-20' campaign in Succession, running into new problems and facing them as they go.
19:18:21 <+consilium> C+C is intended for shorter games, but I think it could run a campaign as long as Succession could, though Succession starts off generally assuming more-or-less ordinary humans having to do extraordinary things; Chamber+Circle starts off pretty fantastical, so you might get 'spectacle creep' pretty quickly. The current playtest just left off with the PCs staring down a necromecha beast.
19:20:15 @IIsi50MHz> That sounds exciting.
19:20:17 @IIsi50MHz> The way you describe character generation reminds of another game, but seemingly without a mandatory endgame for each character.
19:20:34 <+consilium> Oh? What game?
19:21:20 @IIsi50MHz> A wild west occult game. Cronocke knows the one I'm think of.
19:21:39 <Cronocke> Oh, you mean Scratch, John Henry?
19:21:49 @IIsi50MHz> C+C seems a lot more flexible though.
19:23:19 @IIsi50MHz> uh, "The Devil, John Moulton". It's a freebie, and so tied to it's setting that's probably good for one playthrough.
19:23:36 <Cronocke> enh, close enough.
19:23:43 @IIsi50MHz> But back to Chamber+Circle (-:
19:25:11 @IIsi50MHz> So you've got a creepy atmosphere? Is suited to supers, or just magical folk?
19:27:17 <+consilium> Ah, yeah no, C+C doesn't have a setting, so much as a toolbox and instructions to make your own. The group is given a list of Starting Situations that put the PCs in a tough or tense situation, and a roster of spooky things. The presumption in the book is that PCs are Witches, but the rules expressly mention the possibility of 'technobabble backlash' as a consequence of using possibly-magic abilities.
19:27:43 <+consilium> So, you can be a cyborg or a generic cape, as long as you're flashy and stylish.
19:28:38 @IIsi50MHz> I was jumping to conlusions from earlier remarks.
19:29:29 <+consilium> Ah, no worries! The game assumes magical powers, but frankly does nothing much to enforce it, and tells the players to decide the nature of their special OCness on their own.
19:31:11 @IIsi50MHz> Would you mind expanding on technobabble backlash? Is it like when the Star Trek:TNG writers insert a blank for random technical word whenever their's a failure of something?
19:31:40 @IIsi50MHz> bleh, there's*
19:32:14 @IIsi50MHz> I'd blam my touchscreen's auto-incorrect, but really that was just me.
19:32:30 @IIsi50MHz> blame too :)
19:32:55 <+consilium> Pretty Much. The thing in question is when you Defy Logic (these are again all basically AW Moves, but with a very different resolution mechanic). Each time you do any Move in Succession or C+C, there's a Goal (or Aim in Succession), and a Danger (or Misfortune in Succession). Goals say how well you do the thing, Dangers say what external factor goes right or wrong, regardless of success.
19:33:33 <+consilium> So it's a bit like if you could roll 10+ on a Move in AW, at the cost of something nasty as if you'd missed.
19:34:14 <+consilium> Defy Logic is a general catchall for "using your Witch powers/abilities", but that broad scope of what you can do comes with an equally broad scope of what can go wrong. So, you may wanna use it sparingly.
19:35:44 <Cronocke> Also, "using your Witch powers/abilities" to do something specific, like "create a forcefield dome" or "fling bolts of deadly death at people", isn't necessarily Defy Logic. It's more for when your Witchiness doesn't overlap with another action.
19:36:32 <+consilium> Also true! The general "hurt or scare people or break stuff" Move is Get Violent, but Get Violent doesn't care how you do it, as long as you're hurting, scaring, or breaking.
19:36:50 <+consilium> So if you say you're Getting Violent with a fireball, that's what happens instead of Defying Logic.
19:37:02 @IIsi50MHz> Good you mentioned that. I would have assumed a force field would defy logic.
19:38:15 <+consilium> It generally would be, but if your main way of avoiding harm is "use forcefield", that might just be the way you Act Under Pressure.
19:38:17 @IIsi50MHz> Chamber+Circle sounds like it would be excellent for an insallment of E.N. Weekly One-Shots.
19:38:40 <+consilium> Oh, that'd be awesome! I'd love to see how it goes.
19:39:52 @IIsi50MHz> We'll have to get a copy first! You say Chamber+Circle is still being finished up?
19:40:36 @IIsi50MHz> I take it Cronocke is one of the playtesters. (-:
19:41:41 <Cronocke> Forcefield might be "suffer harm" too, no?
19:42:22 <+consilium> Yes, and yes! And a good thing, too, we've uncovered a couple of things I could have done better, so those will get fixed, and I'm debating changing the GMhood model - currently it has each player GM for exactly one other, in a cycle, but Succession's "free-for-all" approach seems much smoother.
19:42:55 <+consilium> And Cronocke: it might but Suffer Harm is rather intended for when you facecheck badness on purpose for some other reason, rather than avoid badness because it's bad.
19:43:03 <+consilium> I probably should reword that a bit to make it clearer.
19:43:04 @IIsi50MHz> Kind of a "pass the GM" sort of thing.
19:43:32 @IIsi50MHz> Heh, that could help.
19:43:48 <Cronocke> Mmm, I'm specifically thinking of someone standing in place, arms folded, a forcefield deflecting a hail of bullets away from them. "You done yet?"
19:44:01 <+consilium> Mmmore that in C+C, you always are GMing for your one other player, and always GM'd by a different player; in Succession, it's just "whoever speaks up", which actually seems to work better.
19:45:22 @IIsi50MHz> So don't sit next to the guy who's parking space you just stole. ^_~
19:46:01 <+consilium> Pfft. That's never a good policy.
19:46:06 @IIsi50MHz> hehe
19:46:49 <jinx> Depends on if stealing their spot was to assert dominance.
19:47:22 <jinx> cons, why don't you comment on the characters of C+C?
19:47:23 @IIsi50MHz> Do you have an idea when you'll be releasing it on DriveThruRPG?
19:47:23 <+consilium> jinx no, no vikinghats.
19:47:47 <+consilium> Oh, I suppose that's a good question!
19:47:51 <jinx> I think that's a major point of departure for C+C, and one that does a lot of good.
19:48:16 <+consilium> First re: release, no set date but within the month. Probably releasing the supplement a month after or so.
19:49:31 @IIsi50MHz> That's good to hear.
19:49:45 <+consilium> And so re: jinx' question: in Chamber+Circle, character creation is more 'character selection', there's a roster of Witches, each with a name already, and a pre-written tie to another Witch (PC), a nice ability they get when they avoid a Danger on any Move, and something that ties them into the setting and prompts other players to explore more of the world around the Witches.
19:50:07 <jinx> What's Chie's again? She's your playtest character IIRC.
19:50:25 <+consilium> The intention is that you can just pick one and you're ready. But the rules expressly allow you to change something if you want - you just don't have to.
19:51:40 @IIsi50MHz> So it's a builtin faststart / quickplay but with options for full customisation.
19:51:52 <+consilium> And yes jinx, I picked Chie, she's sturdy (gets to enjoy the effects of Suffer Harm anytime she dodges any Danger), and another Witch saved her from a serious danger, and she has to avoid a Group (organizations to choose from in building the world).
19:52:31 <+consilium> And, yep! The mechanics are very simple though, there aren't any 'stats' or 'feats' in the core, just the Moves, and a way to add on Dangers that make a situation (or PC) more distinct.
19:53:52 <+consilium> For example, if you're fighting on the precipice of a volcano, all your Moves might also have a Danger of "sprayed with lava". And if you want your Witch to be especially cunning, you could give them an extra Danger when they Manipulate or Hold Steadfast (the social Move) of "dubious name", others can't quite afford to ignore you, but they also can't trust you either.
19:55:38 @IIsi50MHz> I'm not quite sure I understand that.
19:56:22 <+consilium> Okay, so quick primer on the resolution: I stole this from John Harper's "Ghost/Echo", and formalized it a bit. The key idea is, Moves always have you roll at least two d6s.
19:56:49 <+consilium> You assign one to the Goal (success/fail), and the other to the Danger (a fixed complication or cost that may or may not happen, regardless of success).
19:57:23 <+consilium> This means you can choose to fail but not break anything, or succeed at a cost, unless of course the dice land the same way, in which case that's what you get.
19:58:25 @IIsi50MHz> I suppose I was partly confused by "of 'dubious name' "
19:58:38 <+consilium> And for Goals and all Dangers, 1-2 is Bad News, 3-4 is basically unfinished business (you could succeed if you describe going out on a limb, risking more, or taking more action; or if it's a Danger, the Danger sticks to your Moves for the rest of the scene until you put a 1-2 or 5-6 into it); and 5-6 is Good News, success and/or avoiding the Danger.
19:58:46 <+consilium> Getting to that!~
19:59:35 @IIsi50MHz> Take your time. :)
19:59:51 <+consilium> So every Move has one fixed Danger. Players can add a second Danger to their Move whenever they make one, and their GM (or in Succession, the other players as a unit) can likewise add one Danger. This gives more dice to roll, but every die goes toward something you care about, so you have to prioritize.
20:00:57 <+consilium> If you put "dubious name" on a Move, you'd be staking your reputation with others somehow. If you put a 1-2 into that Danger, your reputation or relationships with others takes a hit; if you put a 5-6 into it, you come off legit this time; and if you put a 3-4 into it, it's still at risk for the rest of the scene.
20:02:15 @IIsi50MHz> With the collaborative set up, it sounds like this would be good for when the GM doesn't have much planned. Does the collaborative style continue throughout play, creating new parts of the setting or NPCs as you play?
20:04:07 <+consilium> Yep, sure does! Neither Succession nor Chamber+Circle ever has The GM, everyone shares those duties and responsibilities, with guidance on how best to do them. I think with the 'how-to' in Chamber+Circle especially, it lays out effectively a step-by-step algorithm for what to do and when as a GM, for the purposes of C+C.
20:04:32 <+consilium> (Not that I consider it any kind of One True Way - if you're comfy GMing, great, do your thing; but if you're new at it, it'll keep you from going adrift.)
20:08:47 @IIsi50MHz> Sounds like something that encourages Real Roleplaying, as opposed to Min-Maxing.
20:09:50 @IIsi50MHz> Do you think there's still plenty of crunch for people who prefer more Roll in their play?
20:09:59 <+consilium> Oh my yes, there is no real way to minmax Succession or Chamber+Circle; you don't have numbers to fidget or stats to optimize, everyone has the same things (nearly) in C+C, and in Succession, things work a bit differently, but your unique PC kibble still puts you right at the level of the other PCs, no more or less.
20:10:30 @IIsi50MHz> "kibble" I like that.
20:10:56 <+consilium> Well, that's tricky: if you want to make an Optimal Character or bend a system over your knee, look elsewhere, this ain't the system for you. But if you like decision-making, especially in the context of the story, both these games use a resolution mechanic that is all about priority and often harsh choices.
20:11:47 <+consilium> When you have more than a few dice to roll (as can happen, especially if you get really injured or have a lot go wrong at once), a third will generally land 'good', a third will be 'unfinished business', so Dangers that stick around through the scene, and a third will hit you, hard.
20:12:27 <+consilium> So each Move you make will make you decide what you care about more. I find that a lot more tactically engaging than trying to angle for a +1 because my PC is standing on a log and thus higher ground.
20:13:02 @IIsi50MHz> Designed to make you feel the trade-offs between getting what you want, and preserving what you need.
20:13:57 @IIsi50MHz> Heh, "Don't just stand there like a lump on a bog--I mean--you know what I mean!"
20:14:10 <+consilium> Very much. Most of the time, people seem to want to succeed at a cost, since failure generally means you can't try again for the scene, but sometimes it's better to just fail but walk away unscathed.
20:15:43 @IIsi50MHz> Very cool.
20:16:34 <+consilium> I think so; I've really fallen for this framework, and plan to make a lot more games in the future using it.
20:18:35 <+consilium> And, the supplement coming after has a bunch of neat additional mechanics, especially suited to longer games, though there are a couple of rule-tweaks that make things a little more crunchy and tactical, or open up stat-like character creation - still not a system you could minmax, because improvement in one area will mean loss somewhere else, and none of the Moves are 'better', but still a feeling that you've optimized for one kind of
20:18:35 <+consilium> area, and not another.
20:19:44 @IIsi50MHz> Well, I know you had something you had to get to.
20:19:46 @IIsi50MHz> Is there anything else you want to tell before you go? Any particular details?
20:21:16 <+consilium> Just that sometime after C+C goes up, but before the supplement, I'll be putting out another pay-what-you-want supplement for Succession. It's called Book of Sand, and takes the Dark-Souls-esque grim fantasy into new genres, like cyberpunk, space-opera, post-apoc, and fairytales, with some new mechanics and fluff for the new genres!
20:22:05 @IIsi50MHz> Excellent! Expansions are always welcome!
20:22:20 <+consilium> Oh, and while C+C and Succession aren't deliberately written to work together, since they use very similar mechanics, supplements will generally be fairly cross-compatible (if maybe . . . ill-advised, in some cases).
20:23:40 @IIsi50MHz> Would you be interested in another chat when Chamber+Circle is released? To catch up on any revisions?
20:23:48 <+consilium> Oh, absolutely!
20:25:11 <+consilium> Chamber+Circle will probably be my least 'serious' thing, tone-wise, as I like a more serious take on games, so if flashy high-action gunwitches isn't quite appealing, I intend to put out some works more suited for horror in the near future!
20:26:24 @IIsi50MHz> Looking forward to it!
20:26:36 @IIsi50MHz> Well, thanks for stopping by. If you're anywhere near Cronocke, I hope you get some rain soon, and maybe a shiny desalination plant!
20:26:45 <+consilium> And anyone who has any questions of their own, if you don't mind me being sluggish, g'head and ask! I'll probably hang out here awhile, if that's okay?
20:26:57 @IIsi50MHz> Certainly!
20:31:08 — @IIsi50MHz updates the blue bird of Transient News (twitter)
20:32:04 <+consilium> Oh, right I'm doing that Web2.0 thing now, so people maybe might care to see my tumblog: http://consilium-games.tumblr.com/
20:32:13 @IIsi50MHz> Next time we'll have to put up notices ahead of time to pull ENWorlders in.
20:32:19 <+consilium> It has my contact info and ranting about my game design philosophy and some other prattle too!
20:32:30 <+consilium> Oh, I'd love that!
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