Etherscope questions

Forum for Etherscope, our new RPG of cyberpunk Victoriana.

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Etherscope questions

Post by malladin_ben »

As requested I'm taking questions on Etherscope. I'll warn you now, though that I'm not going to be able to give away any great secrets, but if I can answer your questions I will.

So, ask away...

Ben Redmond (Etherscope co-creator)
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Post by Ssendam »

excellent! To start off:

1. Are you using d20 Modern as a base? and what new mechanics will you have?

2. Why 1984?

3. Who are the artists for the book?

4. Can you "fly" to Mars (and Venus, the moon, and Saturn)

5. What are "Lemurians?"

6. Will it have supernatural creatures (other than the Ether demons)?

7. How are computers and the internet different than ours?
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Post by malladin_ben »

Ssendam wrote:excellent! To start off:

1. Are you using d20 Modern as a base? and what new mechanics will you have?

2. Why 1984?

3. Who are the artists for the book?

4. Can you "fly" to Mars (and Venus, the moon, and Saturn)

5. What are "Lemurians?"

6. Will it have supernatural creatures (other than the Ether demons)?

7. How are computers and the internet different than ours?
1. Kind of. Its very like D20M, but a fairly big step away from it. There's changes tothe classes, skills, feats, and new systems for net running (or Scope riding as we call it :) ), social class and "political" influence, occult/psychic powers, and probably a bit more that I can't remember at this point.

2. Mainly as a nod to Orwell's classic novel, plus its also the year that Gibson's neuromancer was first published. But we also wanted a time that was far enough advanced from a Victorian starting point to allow tech to have spiralled out of control, but be in the past from our timeline to show how the tech has made the etherscope world different to ours.

3. Not sure I can answer this one. I do know a few names, but not all of them, and I've been very impressed with it all so far, but I think Joseph might want to keep this under wraps for a while yet. Sorry guys

4. No. We didn'[t want to be too much like Space 1889. We considered it but discounted it.

5. Lemuria is a lost continent, situsted in the indian ocean. It is a victorian theory of a lot continent, as opposed to Atlantis, which is an ancient greek one.

6. Kind of. There's other etherspace creatures then demons, and there's the potential for victorian style "cryptozoology" creatures, such as the Yeti, Nessie, et al.

7. Computers are created from teh raw matter of Etherspace. As such they are all by their nature "on line". Also, this means that they work along object-oriented proncipals, for any programmers out there.

Hope that helps, but will probably just stimulate more questions... ;)

Cheerio,

Ben
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Post by Ssendam »

When you say spiral out of control, how do you mean. Can you give some more examples?

The concept of Ether... is it a medium to other dimensions (as you have demons)?

What country does the main setting take place? How much has changed politically?

Cryptozoology creatures is just up my alley. Fantastic!

Object-oriented? NOOOOOOO!!!!! (that's the part in programming that I gave up on). :p

thanks!
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Post by technoshaman »

How much of Etherscope would you call it Steampunk?
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Post by malladin_ben »

Ssendam wrote:When you say spiral out of control, how do you mean. Can you give some more examples?
Sorry, I perhaps use "spiralled out of control" a little excessively. I just mean that we needed about a century top allow for all the tech changes that we needed so that the world can have cyberpunk technology analogues (cyberware, netrunning, etc) and the associated urban opression that comes from that type of technology. Good cyberpunk, I think,needs to consider humanity's need to control nature through technology and the ways in which the trade of for this usually involves destroying much about what makes us human in teh first place. I think this is perhaps what Etehrscope does best, as the Victorian element, with industrial revolution references, allows a much better discussion the real potential for losing the humanity of society. When I refer to "out of control technology" I merely refer to this breakdown of humanity and society that comes from excessive use of and rapid growth of technology. Does that make sense??
Ssendam wrote:The concept of Ether... is it a medium to other dimensions (as you have demons)?
Etherspace is not really a conduit to other dimensions, more a single other additional dimension. Ether itself is the "substance of entropy" which flows from the "Prime Reality" into Etherspace. Etherspace can be manipulated by the will of mankind, and so the have created their own little domains within Etehrspace. These domains make up the Etherscope.
Ssendam wrote:What country does the main setting take place? How much has changed politically?
We've tried to make it so that you can play anywhere within the world. Our "signature" city is The Great Metropolis (hence the first suplement), which is based in Britain, in the area currently occupied by Liverpool, Manchester and their surrounding towns. That said, we've tried to add as much flavour to the other parts of the world as possible. Britain, the New Reich (Germany/Austro-Hungary led, but now controls most of continental Europe) and the USA (which now controls much of South America as well) are the three main superpowers, and Russia, Japan, Holland (inc Dutch East Indies)and the Ottomans are also significant players on a world scene. There's much of africa and asia left to explore fo more daring victorian style adventure escapades and western-style frontier towns inSouth America. Hopefully enough for anyone to find an area worth playing in.

Cheerio,

Ben
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Post by malladin_ben »

technoshaman wrote:How much of Etherscope would you call it Steampunk?
That depends entirely on how you define Steampunk, which is largely why we refer to it as cyberpunk Victioriana. Steampunk means different things to different people. Its certainly go lots of steampunk elements, and steampunk fans I'm sure will like it.

That said, we've tried to balance out the different styles and create parts of the world in which you can avoid or lessen down the themes of play if you prefer not to. For example, if you wanted to play a faily classic pulpy steampunk globe-trotting adventure you could do, whereas if you wanted to play something in a very mean and gritty cyberounk style you could. Likewise traditional victorian ghost stories, detective stories, cthulu-inspired adventures, and even wild west gaming are all possible in the Etherscope world.
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Post by C. Chapman »

You mention taking a fairly big step away from d20 Modern in terms of rules, and note a number of additional rules elements. My question concerns the overall complexity of basic elements of the system. Would you say Etherscope is more streamlined than d20 Modern, on a par complexity wise, or does it add complexity? For example, is it more cinematic in its approach to combat? Has it made such bold departures as the Damage Save of Mutants & Masterminds?

cheers!
Colin
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Post by C. Chapman »

Another question, I'm afraid. :wink: Does Etherscope assume or otherwise, the use or miniatures/counters in its combat rules?

cheers!
Colin
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Post by technoshaman »

I have set-up a new fan-created newsgroup for Etherscope here:
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/etherscope/ if you liek to join, please do so. This is place for fans to post fan-created adventures, artwork and other things related Etherscope.

I hope this is ok to post.
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Post by C. Chapman »

And yet another question: How much of the core Etherscope book is devoted to rules, and how much to setting? Anyone? Bueller?

Colin
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Post by malladin_ben »

C. Chapman wrote:You mention taking a fairly big step away from d20 Modern in terms of rules, and note a number of additional rules elements. My question concerns the overall complexity of basic elements of the system. Would you say Etherscope is more streamlined than d20 Modern, on a par complexity wise, or does it add complexity? For example, is it more cinematic in its approach to combat? Has it made such bold departures as the Damage Save of Mutants & Masterminds?
I'm not sure we've taken too big a step away from the D20 Modern base. I suppose it depends what you describe as being "big". We've got all new classes - basic and advanced - to capture the setting flavour, we've got completely new systems for netrunning (Scope riding, as we call it), new systems for handling social class and your character's "political" influence, new low-key, skills based magic/psychic powers. While I'm not sure I'd say they were bold, we've made a couple of changes to teh fundamentals of the system: a new death/dying system (maybe a half-way house between M&M and D20M damage systems) and a reworking of the disarm/sunder rules to make fencing a bit more stylish and tactical.

Not sure if I can say any more, though... You'll have to wait for the book to see exactly what I mean :).

Ben
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Post by malladin_ben »

C. Chapman wrote:Another question, I'm afraid. :wink: Does Etherscope assume or otherwise, the use or miniatures/counters in its combat rules?
I think it's fair to say that it assumes miniatures, given that it's pretty much based around the core D20 system combat mechanics. That said, I've done all my playtesting without using them. I think it depends on how much you want combat to be a major factor in your gameplay. If, like my playtest groups, you've got few or no combat-oriented characters you can keep the fights simple and ignore the miniatures, but if you've got lots of combat characters and a heavy reliance on combat-based encounters you'll need the miniatures/counters to keep a proper handle on what's going on. Playtesting has proved that the setting is varied enough to handle a wide variety of game styles, and you don't have to resort to the regular combat sessions that D&D seems to need.

Ben
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Post by malladin_ben »

C. Chapman wrote:And yet another question: How much of the core Etherscope book is devoted to rules, and how much to setting?
I'm not sure it'd be right to tell you this, and I wouldn't know the exact figure anyway. Its a complete game, so its got the full D20 ruleset, along with all our new rules. As far as the setting content goes, we've gone for a philosophy of providing a broad-brush overview of the whole world, so that you can see the full potential of the game. I think its along the lines of there's enough info on the setting to enable a GM to create a decent game in wherever takes their fancy. I think our success on this score is best shown by the words of one of our playtesters (and GG regular), Scott Moore:
Scott Moore wrote: "The [setting background] for each different region of the world are just enough for a GM to begin developing the environment for whatever region they wish to employ in their campaign, which is extremely useful. If a GM wished to run a campaign outside the Great Metropolis or the US, enough flavor is given for different regions to allow a different area to be developed "true" to the core setting."
Hope that helps :)

Ben
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Post by C. Chapman »

Ben,

Thanks for taking the time to provide some answers. Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like Etherscope will be my kind of game in terms of mechanics and focus, which is a shame, as the background sounded very intriguing. C'est la via, no game can be to everyone's tastes, and I still wish you the best of luck with it. :)

cheers!
Colin
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Post by malladin_ben »

C. Chapman wrote:Unfortunately, it doesn't sound like Etherscope will be my kind of game in terms of mechanics and focus, which is a shame, as the background sounded very intriguing. C'est la via, no game can be to everyone's tastes, and I still wish you the best of luck with it. :)
Colin, I'm sorry I've not been able to persuade you. All I can say is wait to see it when it comes out. I'd hate to think that people passed on it because of the game system when they actually quite like the setting. When released I'd be happy to moot some ideas for conversions to other systems (provided its one I know about, which is reasonable amount).

Cheerio,

Ben
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Post by Ken Hart »

I'll follow up Ben's comment with my own experience. I came into this project with a love for All Things Victorian and a fondness for wild, "did that really happen?" cyberpunk adventures (The Matrix, Gibson's Count Zero, and the wackier Shadowrun modules jump to mind). Gibson and Sterling's novel The Difference Engine, while not perfect (IMO), showed that you could mix the two. But could that mix of culture and tech sustain an RPG, especially one that boldly expanded the concept and moved it ahead by decades? I wasn't disappointed.

Ben, Nigel, and the other creators have taken that Victorian sense & sensibility and successfully created an alternate world where the 1980s are very different and where any sort of adventure is possible. The sky's the limit on the types of adventures you'll be able to run: mystery, espionage, horror, military-style missions, class struggle, and even angst-ridden romance (hey, we are talking Victorian, after all).

So Colin, if the background interests you (as it did me), I wouldn't walk away from Etherscope before you have chance to flip through the pages. As Ben said, the rules don't fall far from the d20 Modern tree. Obviously, there are new rules governing use of Etherspace and new character traits that better suit the Victorian attitude, but that's part of the game's charm.

Stick around -- I think you'll like the end result.

--Ken Hart, editor
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Post by kris_40000 »

Ben on the lines of combat is it ok to say that the system implimented is usuable in a cinematic "roleplay" fashion than a "roll dice play" manner that I normally attribute to DnD... yeap I'm a WWer gamer and like dramatic combat systems that are efficient and don't get bogged down.

On another note I'm loving the setup for this game..... I feel a FanBoy 3 game in the works....... hmmmmm...... what happens to UMIST in this world setting????(my uni)

Oh is magic present?? in what type of form??? Is it the type that draws energy from the ether or is it something else???
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Post by malladin_ben »

Hey Kris, great to hear from another manchester-based chap. Its not you I've chatted with on the Vampire boards on the WW site is it?

I would say that you can use the system for cinematic gaming. I think D20 Modern made steps towards this direction from the D&D base, and I'd like to think we've taken it a step further. In the playtest sessions I've run myself I've not bothered with the minatures you would normally need for D&D and coped quite hapily. And if you find its too D&D for your likeing, I'd be happy to talk through a storyteller/ing conversion (particularly if you catch me at FB3 :) )

As for the Fanboy 3 game, I (and possibly Nigel too) intend on running a few demo games when the book is released. We're also more than likely to be running something at Gencon UK, too.

As to UMIST - we've not specified about the universities in that much depth. I'd say its probably there in some form or other. I like the idea of it leading the way in Scope research, given its technology basis, but thats just off the top of my head... :)

Magic does exist, but its is limited and disbelieved by many (as all good magic should be :) ). The basic metaphysical premise to it is as follows: Ether is the substance fo thought (amongst other things) and there is a thin veil surrounding everything in the Prime Reality. Thoughts cause ripples in this veil. Magic and psychic powers work by manipulating, exacerbating or sensing these ripples.

Cheerio,

Ben
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Post by kris_40000 »

I think so... a while back....

Its cool to here the news for the game as I've been looking for a new scifi rpg to play that breaks the old cliches.

I'm glad you think the combat system is up to, and I can't wait to try it out... it'll be an excuse to jump back into the d20 system (its been 9 years)

Yeah it be great to see you in FB3 and chat.... Oh and if you notice allt eh WoD games on the sing up board... usually thats me.... soon to be adding ethercope to that list.... hmmm i wonder if elements from WoD Manchester that I run can make the transition to be the spooky bits of the Great Metropolis..........

Laters

Kris
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Post by C. Chapman »

Ben & Ken,

Got directed back to your newer responses by a friend.

It's cool that you chaps seem open, friendly, and willing to persuade. Unfortunately, I no longer ever buy rpgs for setting alone (or system alone, unless said game is a generic settingless game), and no longer have any inclination to convert games anymore. Between teaching, general life, my rpg freelance work, my work as a Moderator for Black Industries, doing up my new home, and running a weekly rpg session, I simply don't have time.

You noted that it doesn't fall far from d20 Modern, and truthfully, that's the main problem: I don't like d20 Modern or D&D as systems, despite having written for several d20 publications; they go counter to my playstyle. I'm not a fan of much crunch, or of tactical combat (and certainly not of anything complex enough to require miniatures in play). True20 is about the only OGL-derived rpg I can handle, and even then I ignore some of the rules in favour of a more fluid playstyle.

Even if I was inclined to look it over, I can't do that either; my local hobby store only really orders in some of the mainstream d20 stuff, with the result that I now purchase all my rpg stuff online. For obvious reasons this means I have to be even more aware that a given game is something that will suit my gaming style.

None of this is intended as a criticism of you or the game, by the way. I know full well that many folks love the d20 System and its derivatives, and many folk are far more fond of crunch or tactical play than I am. Tastes differ, playstyles differ, and no game can possibly cater to all. It's a shame your game isn't one that sounds like it caters to me, but I certainly hope to see it succeed with folk whose tastes are different than my own. :)

cheers!
Colin
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Post by Charke »

I had hoped Etherscope might be at Gen-Con but with the number of books I carried back, I'm sort of glad I'll have to wait a little longer.

Ben, were any of Malladin Gate's staff down at Gen-Con? I didn't bump into anyone who worked on Etherscope, but the con was huge. If you were down there, I'm sorry I didn't bump into you!

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Post by malladin_ben »

Charke wrote:Ben, were any of Malladin Gate's staff down at Gen-Con? I didn't bump into anyone who worked on Etherscope, but the con was huge. If you were down there, I'm sorry I didn't bump into you!
No, we're too far away, plus it clashed with a big party for my parents (who are leaving to do charity work in Africa for 2 years).

I'm looking into the possibility of coming over next year, but flights over the pond are pricey, particularly in August :(.

We'll see - if Etherscope sells really well it might pay for us to get over :).

Ben
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etherscope

Post by qstor »

Any chance of a retro sourcebook? aka 17th 18th century tech/steampunk? Or will there be notes for a D20 Past type campaign using the setting?

thanks

Mike
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Re: etherscope

Post by malladin_ben »

qstor wrote:Any chance of a retro sourcebook? aka 17th 18th century tech/steampunk? Or will there be notes for a D20 Past type campaign using the setting?
THere's not really any consideration of a retro sourcebook or conversion notes. The divergence point in the history is in the 1870s, so earlier than the 20th century is likely to be no different than any other game you might play in that timeline.

There are plenty of systems you could readily port into a D20 past game, though. And you might even find that our basic classes work better for historic games than the D20 Modern ones.

Cheerio for now,

Ben
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