Inside Stay Alive!
9 months ago
– Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 01:10:14 AM
If you're curious and excited about what will be in Stay Alive!, proceed!
Most of us at MCG enjoy the horror (and thriller) genres and are looking forward to all the details we'll put into this 160-page book. Stay Alive! will provide rules and stats for classic horror monsters such as vampires, zombies, mummies, golems, dark magic, werewolves, and cryptids. It will also include advice on creating an enhancing a mood of fear, excitement, and suspense; choosing the right level of violence; recognizing safe boundaries for player fear; and how to incorporate aspects of other genres into a horror game. It will also include an entire campaign setting built using the guidelines in Your Best Game Ever.
The team has been talking about an idea for a specific horror setting for about a year now, and debating how to keep its secret twist under wraps (we've seen enough RPGs, adventures, and movie posters that have a major spoiler in the cover art, and we want to avoid that). So here’s a spoiler-free summary: It's set in the modern day; the PCs are all newly-created vampires who awaken alone from their unexpected transformation, without any experienced vampires to train or command them. The PCs get some time to enjoy their new abilities, avenge old slights, battle their hunger for blood, and find a place for themselves in the power vacuum left behind by their creators' absence. Just as they settle into their new roles as masters of the night, they find that something is hunting them, and the campaign shifts from intrigue and power plays to survival mode.
But let's talk more about horror and its subgenres.
Too Many To Count
A lot of people saw the cover preview of Stay Alive! and assumed the setting in the book is about zombies. Part of the book will talk about zombies and survival horror, but that's just one of the approximately three zillion subgenres of horror. Many, many pages in Stay Alive! will be devoted to each of these subgenres. Subgenres of horror include classic movie monsters, horror drama, ghost stories, alien abduction, demonic possession, psychological horror, organ transplantation, Southern Gothic, urban gothic, animals and nature, Lovecraftian (we even published a glimmer about this), creepy dolls, haunted houses, the occult, and body horror. The book will talk about how to incorporate these elements into an RPG campaign, and will include a list of inspirational sources for each subgenre.
Mixing horror with other genres is common, with science fiction horror (such as Alien and Event Horizon) being a common example; mutations and superpowers (Carrie, Split) as a source of conflict; crazed inbred killers; and specific countries putting a unique cultural spin on the genre (such as J-horror and Tasmanian Gothic). Stay Alive! will discuss blending elements from different sources to create a unique setting for a horror campaign.
Of course, the book is not just advice for GMs! It will have sections discussing things players can do to enhance the mood (or avoid breaking it), being prepared for a session that's supposed to make you feel afraid, and taking on other roles in the game after your PC disappears or dies.
Running and playing in an enthralling horror game requires a lot of the same elements as horror fiction or film: pacing, making emotional connections with the characters so you want them to survive, creating narrative tension with highs and lows, knowing when to show instead of tell, or when to hide just enough details to let everyone involved fill in the blanks with their own imagination, and so on. (I wouldn't be surprised if the book ended up with several pages of "cheat sheets" to photocopy and keep on the table as reminders about these concepts.)
Plugging it Into the Campaign
Because there are so many possibilities for a horror game, this book is likely to spend a chapter describing various game mechanics that might apply to many subgenres (such as the Horror Mode described in the Cypher System Rulebook, where the chance for bad things happening increases as the tension does, or custom GM intrusions for types of creatures to add flavor), and the later sections about those subgenres would list which mechanical elements are appropriate and give advice on combining them for the campaign. We won't be starting on this book for a while (we have several Numenera projects to finish first), but we welcome any ideas about how to present this information (post them in the comments!).
What’s Your Inspiration?
As the lead designer on this book, I'm going to spend much of my time between now and when I start writing to watch and read as much horror material as I can (most certainly in a brightly-lit room). I have my own list of favorites that I’m using as references. What horror comics, television shows, films, and other media have you seen that made you say, "Wow, I need to run a game like this”? Leave your answers in the comments and I'll include them in my to-do list!
~Sean K Reynolds
AMA-a-Thon with Monte Cook!
Got a question for Monte Cook? About ANYTHING? Here's your chance to ask it!
On Monday, starting at4pm PDT, Monte will be trapped at his webcam answering questions live from the audience on topics ranging from gaming advice, his career, or who his favorite Avenger is. (It's Cap. Of course it's Cap.)
He will have to keep going longer as more pledges for Your Best Game Ever are made during that time!
We have some great special guests lined up from our rock-star cast of consulting experts, too! Be sure and spread the word to keep him spilling secrets until he needs a snack break and we can bring on the guests to answer some questions!
I Want it All!
If you haven't checked out the I Want it All! backer level yet, now's a great time to do so. It gives you 5 hardcover books (and PDFs of all of them) for a fantastic price. And there's still more to come!
Video Series Unlocked!
9 months ago
– Wed, Aug 08, 2018 at 12:38:37 AM
Looks like I’m going to be in front of a camera a lot soon! The Your Best Game Ever video series will start in early 2019. We'll release them regularly every two weeks (barring holidays and whatnot). What’s more, each installment will come with a PDF of an outline, key points, and show notes that you’ll all get for free. The whole thing will be free to all of you.
In case you missed them earlier, here are the links to the videos we already did as sort of a “trial run.”
Don’t Randomize Fun
Finding a Game Group That’s Right For You
Now, how about another stretch goal?
So, what’s next? The Stars are Fire is our science fiction book already unlocked—what if we made it bigger and better? More pages (from 160 to 192), more art, more adventures, and a full-color, double-sided poster map would certainly make it better. Everyone who gets that book will get all of that if we can reach $225,000.
Let's see if we can get this one done and add even more to the campaign. You can make a huge difference by helping to spread the word. There are still thousands of gamers out there that don’t know about this book, but would love it!
Thank you for all your support.
~Monte (and the whole MCG team)
Inside the Stars are Fire
10 months ago
– Mon, Aug 06, 2018 at 08:14:12 PM
Curious to know more about what The Stars are Fire will contain? Read on!
We’re really excited about this 160-page book of sci-fi goodness that will cover running and playing in science fiction RPGs. Broadly speaking, The Stars are Fire will provide rules and stats for aliens, robots, starships, high-tech gear, otherworldly hazards, and much more. It will also include an entire campaign setting built using the guidelines in Your Best Game Ever.
We’re really interested in steering the new setting more toward the hard sci-fi end of things, but with a sprinkling of more fantastical tidbits in the mix to keep your players on their toes. Our setting is not too far in the future, where humanity has reached out into the Solar System: a supermassive O’Neill colony, with bases on the Moon, Mars, colonies in hollowed-out asteroids, huge bases on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, floating cities hanging in the clouds of Venus, and more. Even more amazing, multi-planetary corporations—like Xiao-Keller (XK) and Astra Industries—make colossal investments into a brand-new domain of physics, producing a top-secret propulsion system allowing humans to found nearby interstellar colonies.
That’s when the Moon colonies discover millions of miles of tunnels crisscrossing the Moon's core beneath the regolith. Artificial tunnels. OLD tunnels. But the news never reaches Earth. The discovery of the tunnels coincides with the Earth going completely dark and quiet. No one in the solar system knows why...
But before we take that any further, I have a couple questions that we’re still exploring, and I’m interested in your take.
Hard, Fantastical, and Soft Sci-Fi
The first question I’m curious about is how hard you like your sci-fi? “Hard” sci-fi usually means an emphasis on scientific accuracy and engineering, or at least a very strong nod to it.
For instance, on the hard end of the sci-fi “realistic” spectrum, humans are stuck traveling at speeds no greater than the classic rocket equation allows. So even moving between planets in our own solar system would take months or years, even with really advanced plasma engines.
On the fantastical end of the sci-fi spectrum, humans might move by beaming themselves instantaneously around the solar system, or step through wormhole gates to find themselves in another solar system. Of course, there’s a lot of room for interpretation in the middle. Can it still be hard science fiction if it’s pre-supposed that all the matter in the solar system has been converted into a habitable ring around the star with a radius roughly equal to the distance that the Earth orbits the sun? Maybe, if all the underlying math is at least plausible.
I happen to think that good sci-fi should also contain soft elements. Lots of people say that “soft” sci-fi is the opposite of hard sci-fi, because soft sci-fi focuses on character and weird societies rather than science and engineering. I don’t know, to me, the amount of focus given to character development in a speculative society sounds like its own entirely different spectrum.
Or maybe all this talk of spectrums is the wrong way to go. I mean, why not create a setting that contains speculative societies of the future using hard science fiction-derived technology, but with the opportunity to develop or find technology far in advance of their own understanding?
It could be a thing. What’s your take?
Rules vs. Setting
My second question has to do with the percentage of rules/advice to new setting material that will appear in The Stars Are Fire. This book is going to contain tools you can use to craft all kinds of different sci-fi settings as well as a fully realized sci-fi setting. It’s a bit too early to nail down that exact ratio right now, but it’s something worth considering. And in fact, it’s a question I posed in the comments section of Your Best Game Ever a few days ago. And many of you already responded!
Whatever the specific ratio turns out to be, we’re committed to producing a meaty section for both. This will satisfy your needs for more tools and serve as an astonishing setting from which you can immediately launch a Cypher System sci-fi adventure or two.
So, will you come with us out into the void, which isn’t as lonely as they say? Because out there, the stars are fire.
Callisto 6 from Geek & Sundry!
10 months ago
– Mon, Aug 06, 2018 at 12:17:50 AM
Thanks to you, we have unlocked Stay Alive!, a horror-themed sourcebook and setting, and last week we unlocked The Stars Are Fire, a science-fiction-themed book. Things are moving fast and there’s still more to come! But speaking of science fiction and the Cypher System, Geek & Sundry just announced that their live play web series, Shield of Tomorrow, is ending and a new show, Callisto 6, is taking its place.
The show will have the same cast and the same GM (Eric Campbell, who also happens to also be one of the consulting experts on Your Best Game Ever). However, it will utilize a brand new cyberpunk/sci-fi/superhero setting built by Eric Campbell and Sam de Leve for the Cypher System. Monte’s been consulting with them to help pull things together and we’re really excited about the show. You can bet we’ll be there watching and we think all Cypher System fans should check it out. If Shield of Tomorrow is any indication, this will be a great show, with a fun cast and a great GM.
Existing Shield of Tomorrow and Callisto 6 fans might consider getting their hands on the Cypher System Rulebook to see how the game works, and run games of your own. The I Want It Now! level gets you the rules as soon as the campaign closes to dive right in. And it gets you the new rulebook when that releases, as well as a copy of Your Best Game Ever, of course.
However, since Callisto 6 is a sci-fi setting, fans will want to get The Stars Are Fire as well, and the best value there would be the I Want It All and I Want It Now! backer level, which gets you the rules when the Kickstarter closes, the new rulebook, Your Best Game Ever and Your Best Game Ever Deluxe, The Stars Are Fire, Stay Alive!, and very likely a lot more, as there’s still a lot of this campaign left to unlock new books and other cool stuff.
Stay tuned tomorrow for an update from Bruce R. Cordell that gives more details about The Stars are Fire!
Stay Alive! is Alive!
10 months ago
– Sun, Aug 05, 2018 at 06:22:43 PM
We can all stay alive now! We’ve unlocked the latest goal, and it’s a horror-themed book—yeah, you guessed it by now—titled Stay Alive! This 160-page intense hardcover book will cover running and playing a horror game. It will provide rules and stats for zombies, vampires, tentacled horrors, elder gods, insanity, fear, and much more. It will also include an entire campaign setting built using the guidelines in Your Best Game Ever. Ever wanted to really instill some fear into your friends (in a good way)? This book will be for you. The lead designer will be Sean K Reynolds.
This book will be added for free to the I Want it All! pledge level and above, and is available as an add-on. And if you’re a horror game superfan you might want to take a look at the Early Playtest Access add-on or the I Want It All and I Want My Say! to get to see it early and even provide feedback.
And can I take a moment to point you at the I Want it All! pledge level? Because at this point, this backer level is a really good deal—and look how much of the campaign is left. It’s just going to get better and better from here. Every book, every upgrade, everything else we unlock in this campaign (and we have some cool surprises in mind)… you will get it all.
So what’s next, you ask? We thought we’d go in a different direction. Remember those Best Game Ever videos linked in the last update? We’d love to do more. But they take a lot of time to prepare and film. If we reach $190,000, we’ll pledge to do them regularly every two weeks (barring holidays and whatnot). What’s more, each installment will come with a pdf of an outline, key points, and show notes that you’ll all get for free. The whole thing will be free to all of you.
Thank you for your support. Hope you’re next game is your best game ever!
~Monte (and the whole MCG crew)