Dan Davenport (aka the Hardboiled GMshoe) interviewed Daniel Fox – creator of ZWEIHÄNDER – on Monday. Inside, you can read about the development of ZWEIHÄNDER, get a sneak peak at the next supplement and grab a free code for download!
[20:02] <+Daniel_Zweihander> My name is Daniel Fox, and I am a RPG-aholic. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but I have been playing the same two RPGs for about 28 years. I cut my teeth on Dungeons & Dragons in the late 80’s, and started playing Warhammer Fantasy in the early 2000s. I’ve always been a Gamemaster, and loved creating my own worlds.
[20:02] <+Daniel_Zweihander> suppose that’s where my interest in development of ZWEIHÄNDER began. In real life, I am a 40-year old husband to a beautiful wife, father of a one year old and a cafe racer enthusiast. I spent my formative years in art school, lazing about between a handful of crap jobs, but eventually landed at an advertising agency right after the dot com bust.
[20:02] <+Daniel_Zweihander> This lead into my 14 years (and counting) career as a director in digital media. I’ve started a few businesses over the years, with the ones I am most proud of being PlanetReuse, followed by Grim & Perilous Studios. I like to stay busy! But today, I split focus between my digital media career and writing.
[20:02] <+Daniel_Zweihander> A lot of late nights, but that’s wound down since getting the book out the door to backers.
[20:03] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Which leads to Zweihander! The most common question I get asked is to describe ZWEIHÄNDER to somebody who knows nothing about roleplaying games.
[20:04] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Do you know the movie Black Death? Yes, it’s that one where Sean Bean dies (again). Did you like The Vvitch? Have you seen the shamelessly schlocky (but well-casted James Purefoy in the title role) Solomon Kane? Did you ever see that Finnish medieval horror film Sauna? What about the cult classics The Last Valley and Witchfinder General?
[20:04] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Imagine role-playing a character in those movies, slogging through mud and blood, having to make morally grey choices and dealing with the consequences – that’s ZWEIHÄNDER.
[20:04] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:05] <~Dan> Thanks, Daniel_Zweihander! The floor is open to questions!
[20:05] <+Malloy> Why should someone who is already familiar with and possibly owns WHFRPG 1e or 2e books take the time/energy/resources to switch to Zweihander?
[20:05] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Good question!
[20:06] <+Daniel_Zweihander> This really goes back to how I feel about the Old World.
[20:06] <+Daniel_Zweihander> To be wholly truthful, I have never ran or participating in a game set in the Old World. Instead, I lifted the rules and popped them into my own homebrewed campaign world. Sometimes I took adventures, changed the names around, dumped the high fantasy approach, erased the mutants/chaos elements and brought them back down to Earth…
[20:06] <+Daniel_Zweihander> pinning them into a more ‘realistic’, low fantasy yarn. Other times – such as with The Enemy Within – I used it unchanged for purposes of playtesting ZWEIHÄNDER.
[20:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I wanted to ‘overbalanced’ the rules.
[20:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I was fortunate to have Walter Fulbright, a sabermetrics expert, as both an early developer and editor. He’s one of my oldest friends, and given his background, Walter was the best fit to help ‘fix’ the whiff factor, skill distributions and career balance problems inherent in previous versions of Warhammer Fantasy.
[20:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We refactored everything from the ground-up, and playtested the ever living shit out of it.
[20:08] <+Daniel_Zweihander> And that’s what Zweihander became: something entirely different, but familiar to WFRP fans.
[20:08] <~Dan> (Mind the language, please, Daniel_Zweihander. 🙂 )
[20:08] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:08] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Roger that.
[20:08] <~Dan> What setting did you settle upon for Zweihander?
[20:09] <+Daniel_Zweihander> None, actually. Instead, I focused on five major themes of ZWEIHÄNDER: grim attitudes, perilous outcomes, ignorance & superstition, fractured fairytales and finally low magick/low fantasy.
[20:10] <+Daniel_Zweihander> These five approaches were literally pin-boarded up in front of my desk at home, so I always had a north star to point to whenever I was writing.
[20:10] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I wanted make it playable outside of the Old World. I wanted to give people the flexibility to play in any low fantasy world. Play Darkest Dungeon with it; play Witcher with it; play Thirty Years War with it; play The Black Company with it; play The Lies of Locke Lamora with it; make up your own world with it; and yes, play in the Old World with it.
[20:10] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:11] <+NotEnoughCoffee> There’s been a shift to ‘grimdark’ games – WHFRP being the old example, but newer games like Torchbearer / Ironsworn / Raedwald etc., how do you lighten that darkness in Zweihander?
[20:11] <+Daniel_Zweihander> That’s an excellent question, and one I really struggled with whenever I started writing.
[20:12] <+Daniel_Zweihander> In general, a ZWEIHÄNDER campaign is not one in which the Characters changes the world. Rather it is a world that changes the people in it, both the Characters and the NPCs.
[20:12] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Key to this is that the world should present situations which can lure the Characters towards utter chaos and this makes both their role and their struggle unlike that of the archetypal hero found in other tabletop role-playing games.
[20:12] <+Daniel_Zweihander> They are not wide-eyed neophytes destined for greatness or near god-like warriors capable of saving the village from an evil dragon. Instead, they are ordinary people fighting for their convictions in the face of impending doom while trying to retain their sense of humanity.
[20:13] <+Daniel_Zweihander> However, ZWEIHÄNDER is not a game of violence for the sake of violence. In a grim & perilous world, death means something. However, compassion, forgiveness and sacrifice mean something greater, for only they can overcome the pessimism, disillusionment and depravity that pervades and threatens society.
[20:13] <+Daniel_Zweihander> This is a world where cynicism and disintegration of society (chaos) is pitted against idealism of a better tomorrow (order).
[20:14] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Self-realization is as much the story in a ZWEIHÄNDER campaign as is uncovering the brutal truths of the world. While Characters will uncover deeper mysteries, reveal double-dealings of upstanding men and expose corruption at its very core, will they debase themselves in the process?
[20:14] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Will they rise above the brutal truths of the world or root around in its filth, becoming akin to their enemies? This conflict is at the heart of a grim & perilous adventure.
[20:14] <+Daniel_Zweihander> In summary: action matter. Someone has to struggle against the darkness, and those misfortunate few are the player Characters.
[20:14] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:14] <+Malloy> What was your main goal or goals when starting Zweihander as a project? Did you set a particular creative agenda or design goals. If so, what were these and do you think you achieved them all?
[20:15] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Thanks for the question, Malloy.
[20:16] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The foremost goal was to make a game system that was for my table. I struggled for many years with Uncle Gygax’s high fantasy rules. I had to do a lot of heavy lifting to get AD&D to ‘fit right’ into my own low fantasy game. My friends and I were virtually married to AD&D, and we were never the type of gamers to play at game shops or conventions. My exposure
[20:16] <+Daniel_Zweihander> to other RPGs was limited, up until I signed up at RPG.net. But when I finally grew tired of it (D&D 4e), I was turned onto Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st and 2nd editions by Phill Kilgore (the owner of Tabletop Game & Hobby in Kansas). That was the moment I knew there was something right about the WFRP system.
[20:16] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It became our house rule system, and the push from my friends turned it from a house rule set into what you see today in Zweihander.
[20:17] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Sim!)
[20:17] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I wanted a system to call my own and that ended up driving its design beyond the Old World.
[20:17] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But the intention was pure up front: I never envisioned sharing it beyond the table.
[20:18] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:19] <+LaggingDice> Daniel, what advice do you have for fellow designers regarding marketing an indie game? Have you had any surprises or lessons regarding this industry?
[20:19] <+NotEnoughCoffee> You hadn’t played many other RPG’s other than D&D and WHFRP?
[20:19] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Treat it like a business, and it will succeed. Hustle, hustle, hustle. Don’t be afraid to (over)market yourself. But lessons learned, play by the rules that RPG sites put down.
[20:20] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Design is the easy part.
[20:20] <+RyanL> I first played WFRP back in the late 80s when a German exchange student brought it to game night.
[20:20] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Marketing, and lining up the pieces to make the business work is the biggest challenge.
[20:21] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I stumbled post-Kickstarter, a lot, in fact. But I have a background in business and project management, and reached out to peers and mentors to realign the project.
[20:21] <+Guest41> Zweihander is great in bringing up the grim dark feel that is present in WHF, infact I personally funded it as an alternative to WHF. But, I see that you have made it an setting neutral setting while the book has several campagin seeds. Any possible plans in the future to release a setting for Zweihander? It is often a laboriou but highly rewarding process to
[20:21] <+RyanL> And I own a lot of 2nd ed. I skipped 3rd, but am interested in 4th. Which edition do you draw from, mostly?
[20:21] <+Daniel_Zweihander> If you followed the Kickstarter (all 108 posts I made over the course of a year post-Kickstarter), you know that the printing process was painful. But we got it right in the end, primarily at James Raggi’s urging.
[20:21] <~Dan> (Question pause after RyanL’s question, please.)
[20:22] <+Guest41> Sorry I my question was not complete.
[20:22] <~Dan> (Go ahead, Guest41)
[20:22] <+Daniel_Zweihander> – I haven’t, no. I only had a small circle of friends who played tabletop role-playing games, so my exposure is extremely limited.
[20:22] <~Dan> (Also: You can set your name with the /nick command; e.g., /nick Dan)
[20:23] <+Daniel_Zweihander> – thanks for the question. I am eagerly exploring the Thirty Year War. Curious if there’s an appetite for it. However, I really want to blow out the Gangs of Kahabro and Goth Moran Divided campaign seeds. Those are from my own homebrewed world.
[20:24] <+Guest41> I meant to say that creating your own setting is highly rewarding and laborious process which often takes quite sometime. I really want to enjoy Zweihander in a particular established setting. So is there any plans to release a particular setting for Zweihander?
[20:24] <+Malloy> My question follows a similar track to LaggingDice — Zweihander kickstarted extremely well for a project from a previously unknown developer. What advice would you have for other game developers trying to build an audience of their own, particularly if their project isn’t built on an existing gaming community (as in, not an OSR or retroclone, not PbtA, etc)
[20:25] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Good question, Malloy. It honestly took being a bit of a rabble-rouser to build momentum. I had a specific purpose in mind: draw parallels between Zweihander and Warhammer Fantasy.
[20:25] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I focused on a search engine strategy, using keywords in all my posts, to make these parallels appear in search engine results.
[20:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> ‘Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay retroclone’ is one.
[20:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I also drove those conversations in my posts.
[20:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It had a very polarizing effect: either people were interested, or were pissed off because I kept talking about Zweihander.
[20:27] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But I was fortunate in that there was no Warhammer Fantasy alternatives at the time that I decided to bring it to market.
[20:27] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Fantasy Flight Games had already launched their proprietary dice-driven alternative in WFRP 3rd edition.
[20:27] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Which, by the way, I absolutely loved. But hated the fiddly bits.
[20:28] <+NotEnoughCoffee> What do you think the effect of a new WHFRP from Cubicle 7 will have?
[20:28] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:28] <+MandM> Was there anything about your finished game that you completely did not see coming when you first started this project? Or in other words, something that would have surprised past-you.
[20:28] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Thanks for the question,
[20:29] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Rest assured that Cubicle 7 was the best partner to pick up the license. They are a fantastic company, have very talented writer on their staff, produce top-notch books and possess historic experience with Warhammer Fantasy. That being said, with C7’s recent announcement for Age of Sigmar – and the baggage that comes with having the Warhammer Fantasy…
[20:29] <+Daniel_Zweihander> license, it quickly becomes evident what it means to be “owned” by/partnered up with Games Workshop.
[20:29] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Not many people know this, but I was engaged with Games Workshop’s legal arm to purchase the WFRP license myself.
[20:29] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I had a business plan, and the next step was to gather a cast of characters from Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay’s past to round it out.
[20:30] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Without going into the gory details, I am glad that I was turned down by Games Workshop’s licensing department.
[20:30] <+Daniel_Zweihander> In summary, Cubicle 7 has the type of resources, investments and talent that I simply don’t have.
[20:30] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But I couldn’t be happier that it’s them. Cubicle 7 rocks!
[20:31] <~Dan> Yes they do!
[20:31] <+Daniel_Zweihander> In fact, one of my playtesters game them a copy of Zweihander at Gen Con 50. Cubicle 7, unfortunately, refused to take a picture with us.
[20:31] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:31] <+Malloy> Do you worry that the next edition of WHFRPG might ultimately scoop the audience you’ve built up?
[20:31] <+Daniel_Zweihander> – thanks for the question.
[20:32] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I was surprised it raised more than $7k!
[20:32] <+MandM> Lol. I meant about the game itself.
[20:33] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Oh yes! I was surprised that I ended up actually using the Magick system.
[20:33] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I run a very, very low Magick world.
[20:33] <+Daniel_Zweihander> So most of what was in there was smoke tested, but not roundly used week over week.
[20:34] <+Daniel_Zweihander> That changed post-Kickstarter.
[20:34] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:34] <+Zwei_Tanner> Oh no, am I late? It’s Tanner, co-author of Zwei
[20:34] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Zwei_Tanner!)
[20:34] <+MandM> Is that a disappointment to you? Or are you ok with that decision?
[20:34] <+Daniel_Zweihander> great question!
[20:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I am not too worried about it. A rising tide lifts all boats.
[20:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I think it will gain some new blood, but once again, Cubicle 7 is married to the Old World. Zweihander is not.
[20:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:35] <+LaggingDice> What are your plans now that Zweihander is out? What’s next?
[20:36] <&Silverlion> Albion source book?
[20:36] <+Zwei_Tanner> I can answer that
[20:36] <+Zwei_Tanner> Next thing for sure is a brand spanking new GM Screen
[20:36] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Oh, gosh… Tanner just joined. He’s the co-writer, and we’ve been working on a not-so-secret project for about 5 months now.
[20:36] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Tanner’s got the right of it. That’s all we can confirm is absolutely, positively happening this year.
[20:37] <+Zwei_Tanner> We have a draft GM Screen for backers, but this new one will have custom gate art and revised inside tables
[20:37] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But the next supplement is filled with fun stuff we couldn’t include in the main book.
[20:37] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Tanner, should we share a taste of what’s in there?
[20:37] <+Zwei_Tanner> Yes, the new book is an overflow book with lots of cool goodies we couldn’t stuff into the old one
[20:37] <+Zwei_Tanner> Hmmm, how about a profession for a certain high impact, high fatality sport?
[20:38] <+Zwei_Tanner> Or magick focused on certain chaos gods?
[20:38] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Let’s go for Fatality sport. One moment…
[20:38] <&Silverlion> Rock on guys. I must go.
[20:39] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Link: https://goo.gl/JumT43
[20:39] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Check that out. It’s the image of a new regular Profession called a ‘Blitzer’, our take on Bloodbowl.
[20:40] <~Dan> Very cool. 🙂
[20:40] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:40] <+Malloy> Since LaggingDice asked a question about the future, I’m going to ask one about the past: Now that you’ve taken a project from concept to a fairly successful kickstart debut, what lessons have you learned in the process? What would you change if you were going back to do it again? What advice would you give someone just starting a project of their own?
[20:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Work within the industry to find dependable people. Editors, artists, layout, printing, the whole shebang. Reach out to other successful people in the industry, and ask for their advice.
[20:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The biggest lesson I took away from all of this…
[20:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Was don’t use CrowdOx. 🙂
[20:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Seriously. Just don’t.
[20:41] <~Dan> What’s that?
[20:42] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But seriously, lock down a good editor. We went through 4 editors until we eventually contracted Matthew Pook (Pookie) to edit and proof.
[20:42] <+NotEnoughCoffee> How close to the wind can you sail? Bloodbowl (TM no doubt) is possibly a trigger warning for GW, isn’t it?
[20:42] <+Daniel_Zweihander> it’s a backer kit competitor to Backerkit, but less expensive. It doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles.
[20:43] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But you get what you pay for.
[20:43] <~Dan> Ah.
[20:43] <+Malloy> Kind of a followup: What happened with CrowdOx? You raised a fair amount of money there, if I recall
[20:43] <+Daniel_Zweihander> we aren’t creating our own game. It’s a reference to Blitzblood, which is mentioned in passing in the core book. We don’t want to create any weird subsystems.
[20:43] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But maybe a conversion document may ‘leak’ its way online next year. Who is to say?
[20:44] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The Blitzer, for now, is just a new Profession.
[20:44] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:45] <~Dan> Is there a character sheet that we can see?
[20:46] <+Daniel_Zweihander> yep! Here’s a link to the one online. It’s not quite as fun without the borders, but it will communicate how familiar it will feel to WFRP players: https://goo.gl/Rwi8XR
[20:46] <+Guest41> You have plans on giving more player options in your next supplement which is great but apart from more game mechanics do you have any plans to release a lore/setting specific supplement?
[20:47] <~Dan> (Guest41: Please set your name with the /nick command. 🙂 )
[20:47] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It’s in the cards. I mentioned above we may be exploring a setting for the Thirty Years War, but hyperfocused around Wurtzberg witch trials or some other fun piece that isn’t so macro.
[20:48] <+Daniel_Zweihander> However, I really want to blow out the Gangs of Kahabro and Goth Moran Divided campaign seeds. Those are from my own homebrewed world.
[20:48] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Tanner wants to look at a proper take on Dark Astral.
[20:48] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The challenge we face is that we have a lot of great ideas and some meat on the bones. But we don’t know which direction to go yet.
[20:48] <~Dan> What is the game’s core mechanic?
[20:48] <+NotEnoughCoffee> That char sheet needs some love. 😉
[20:49] <+Zwei_Tanner> Science fantasy has been an extension of the grim dark aesthetic for a while, but it would take an entire huge supplement to do justice to
[20:49] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I’m looking at licensing opportunities, but it’s too early in the process to speak about it.
[20:49] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Agreed! If anyone wants to give it some love in the next few weeks and submit it to email@example.com, I’ll swing the winner one of our limited edition books.
[20:49] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest09! Please set your name with the /nick command. 🙂 )
[20:50] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It’s d100. It is a simple ‘roll under’ system, but we conjugate the dice in a few interesting ways
[20:50] <+Daniel_Zweihander> For instance, some Characters ‘flip to succeed’, transposing the tens and units die for one another. When you flip to succeed, you take the best result.
[20:51] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Let’s say you have a 45% for Incantation. If you roll 45% or below, you succeed.
[20:51] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But if those results are 01, 11, 22, 33 or 44, you ‘Critically Succeed’. So, you get an added effect.
[20:52] <+Daniel_Zweihander> If you rolled 46% or above, you fail. But if you rolled a 55, 66, 77, 88, 99 or 100, you ‘Critically Failed’. So, you get a worse effect than failure.
[20:53] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Another fun effect is the ‘Assist’ system. Let’s say you are trying to urge a wagon out of the mud, and the GM calls for a Handle Animal test. You would normally roll d100, and determine what happens.
[20:53] <+Daniel_Zweihander> However, if a friend helps you, they hand you their tens die. So, in effect, you are rolling three dice and taking the best of the two tens die.
[20:53] <~Dan> Cool.
[20:53] <+Daniel_Zweihander> There are some other fun ways to use the dice, but it’s a very simple system.
[20:54] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:54] <~Dan> You mentioned fixing WFRP’s whiffiness. How did you go about that?
[20:54] <+Daniel_Zweihander> that’s the magic ingredient in our pie. It took five (5) years to figure it out, and to dial the numbers in right.
[20:55] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I mentioned before, but I have a close friend who was also a playtester that’s a saber metrics and statistician who guided the process.
[20:55] <+Daniel_Zweihander> There are around 4 major iterations of Zweihander, but we revised the math numerous times until we managed to ‘dial’ it all in right.
[20:56] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But our guiding principle – our north star if you will – was to use a ‘bounded accuracy’ model.
[20:56] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Done. 🙂
[20:57] <+RyanL> I got booted, how do I look st the answer I just missed?
[20:57] <+Malloy> You’ve given us some ideas what Zweihander is good for and what kinds of experiences you should play zweihander for. What are some things zweihander _wasn’t_ meant for? Areas you might not want to tread mechanically (for instance, Adam Koebel has explicitly said that Dungeon World is not meant for PvP and doesn’t handle it well at all).
[20:57] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Hi Ryan, glad you could join.
[20:58] <~Dan> RyanL: Sent you a PM.
[20:58] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It marries the themes of WFRP 1e to WFRP 2e’s approach to mechanics. It leans heavily into the exceptions-based model first proposed in WFRP 2e, and fleshed out in Dark Heresy and other Fantasy Flight Warhammer 40k tabletop RPGs.
[20:59] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Thanks for the question . It doesn’t do dungeon-grinding well because of the high lethality of the system.
[20:59] <+RyanL> Exceptions-based?
[20:59] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It’s more meant for smaller skirmishes, and less about parties taking on hordes of critters and other beasties.
[21:00] <~Dan> How does combat work?
[21:00] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I think we may have used this in one of our advertisements, but it’s not ‘your Uncle Gary’s dungeon romp with dragons’.
[21:00] <+Zwei_Tanner> I will back up that dungeon crawling thing
[21:00] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Numbers rule. A gang of peasants can drag a tuned-up knight off his horse and likely beat him to a pulp. But not without being decimated first.
[21:00] <+Zwei_Tanner> Anything more than a few rooms gets very Darkest Dungeon in that characters will be holding on by a thread
[21:01] <+Daniel_Zweihander> excellent question. Tanner, mind taking this one?
[21:01] <+Zwei_Tanner> Sure. So combat kind of functions on an XCOM principle
[21:02] <+Zwei_Tanner> Characters get 3 action points, and there is a list of actions with various AP costs. So you could move, attack and then throw sand in your opponents eyes
[21:02] <+RyanL> Unpack that please? Not familiar with xcom
[21:02] <+RyanL> Thanks
[21:02] <+Zwei_Tanner> But those points can also be put on retainer and used to dodge and parry attacks. So you have to balance doing a lot of actions and being defensive
[21:03] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Right, and non-combat characters have a LOT of options. Blind people, intimidate them, put them into a choke hold, disarm them, push them over, knock them out, break their shield, inspire your friends, etc.
[21:04] <+LaggingDice> You mean non-combat actions?
[21:04] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It’s tactically crunchy, but meant to be played in the theatre of the mind. I purposefully didn’t include rules for miniatures.
[21:04] <+Daniel_Zweihander> These are combat actions that any one can use.
[21:05] <+Daniel_Zweihander> However, they lean heavily on skills most ‘warrior-types’ won’t be good in.
[21:05] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Hmm, would think action points is better with miniatures, gets a bit sticky otherwise, from my experience with skirmish games.
[21:05] <+Daniel_Zweihander> So your rat catcher has something to do while the slayer is fulfilling their death wish.
[21:06] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It could be. In fact we used miniatures in an earlier version. But I wanted to shy as far away as possible from D&D 4e, as it was reviled by many of the playtesters (including myself).
[21:06] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The only thing you’d need to do in the game is say 1 yard = 1 hex or 1 square. Viola.
[21:06] <+Zwei_Tanner> We use minis at my table, and it goes about like how minis in D&D would go
[21:07] <+xyphoid> so do you still go with the full frontal art in your monster book
[21:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Yep – that’s were Tanner and I differ.
[21:07] <+xyphoid> minotaur dicks, etc
[21:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Hah!
[21:07] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We included one, but you really have to read the monster’s entry to understand that it is in fact a member of the male anatomy.
[21:08] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I’ll give you a hint: look in the lower demon’s section.
[21:08] <+Malloy> This is as much a question for your business background as anything: Any advice on building a product identity? How do you take a game and build up a brand image in such a way that the game will seem unique and attention-getting amongst a sea of unending alternatives?
[21:08] <~Dan> Are fantasy races playable?
[21:09] <+xyphoid> did you pull back on that after the response, or was that a deliberate marketing splash?
[21:10] <+Daniel_Zweihander> that’s a very, very good question. I am hoping some key relationships will lead to a distinct product identity over time. However, were the stars not to align, I could imagine this taking direction from GURPS – open ended, multiple settings, multiple technology levels, etc.
[21:11] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The demon’s entry has remained the same since Tanner and I wrote it back in late 2015, but the artwork changed due to some excellent, constructive feedback we got from a few close friends.
[21:11] <+Daniel_Zweihander> yes, they are in fact are!
[21:11] <~Dan> Which ones are they, and what are they like?
[21:11] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The game is humanocentric, but all the normal fantasy races are there to be played if the GM allows it: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling and Ogre.
[21:12] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We even included some ‘Old World’ favorites in the GM section: Ogre, Orc, Beastmen, Lizardmen, Rat people, along with starting gameplay as a Mutant.
[21:13] <~Dan> Those are PC races?
[21:13] <+Daniel_Zweihander> , I’d be happy to take that question offline if you want to message me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s far too weighty for a chat room to dive into.
[21:13] <+Daniel_Zweihander> , they are indeed. They give players and a GM an option to play a ‘chaos’ aligned game if they want to.
[21:14] <+Malloy> I’ll have to take you up on it.
[21:14] <~Dan> What abilities do Mutants have?
[21:15] <+Daniel_Zweihander> They can start play with one of 100 total Taints of Chaos, which are flavorful approaches people have seen in the Old World. Tentacles, heads that roll off ones’ shoulders, hands for feet, talking heads sprouting from one’s back, hoofs, a stench of sulphur, things of that nature.
[21:16] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Your basic Goetic approach to Christian demons.
[21:16] <+Daniel_Zweihander> But with abilities.
[21:17] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I should note that one thing that also sets Zweihander aside from its influences is that all drawbacks – insanities, madnesses, addictions, mutations and the like – have both a beneficial ability it grants, and a drawback.
[21:17] <+Daniel_Zweihander> So not all ‘Disorders’ as we call them are hurtful to a Character.
[21:17] <~Dan> There’s a method to the madness?
[21:18] <+NotEnoughCoffee> A two handed approach, if you will. 😉
[21:18] <~Dan> 🙂
[21:18] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Yes, and YES 🙂
[21:19] <+Daniel_Zweihander> In fact, Order/Chaos is an axiom in which the entire book is written and layed out in
[21:19] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Our borders show this
[21:19] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Our Professions have an order/chaos explanation for each of them (all 144 Professions)
[21:19] <+Daniel_Zweihander> And Order & Chaos ‘Alignments’ are personality markers that drive role-playing in stressful situations in-game.
[21:21] <~Dan> (Howdy, EggEmbry!)
[21:22] <+Malloy> You’ve mentioned that you went through quite a bit of playtesting over the years. Did you ever have anything come out of the playtesting that surprised you? Unexpected results, emergent behaviors that you hadn’t anticipated, insights your playtesters might have stumbled into that surprised you?
[21:22] <+EggEmbry> Howdy, Dan!
[21:22] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Yes – in fact, the ‘flip to succeed/fail’ came out of the playtesting, and ended up being one of my most adored mechanics. I cannot lay claim to it, however.
[21:23] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Also, whenever we used Fortune Points, we had Rollos (an American candy) in a bowl. It became a rule around the table to eat the Rollo before you “re-rollo’ed” your Skill Test
[21:23] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We dumped so many tired and untested rules. For instance, we jettisoned the ‘half attribute’ approach from Warhammer.
[21:24] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It really resonated with me at first, but I wanted to eliminate any cases of division in the work.
[21:24] <+Daniel_Zweihander> No dividing numbers, in essence. It really mucked up the math in places.
[21:25] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It turns out whenever you look at Damage in Zweihander that a D3 can have very different results on damage over time principles than a D6.
[21:25] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Players seem to really take to the Order & Chaos Alignments as well.
[21:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Historically, Alignment in D&D was seen somewhat of a straitjacket. But we managed to figure out a way to divorce it from that. I only wish I would have dumped the ‘Alignment’ term, and stuck with Temperaments as it was intended from previous verisons.
[21:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The players are also the ones who suggested moving Perilous Stunts from 2 AP to 1 AP. It made the game far more dynamic in-combat.
[21:26] <+Daniel_Zweihander> More cinematic.
[21:27] <+Daniel_Zweihander> One of the better outcomes from the playtesting was whenever we adopted the D6 Fury Die for all weapons, and went more abstract.
[21:27] <~Dan> Fury Die?
[21:27] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Interesting terms, mixing ‘cinematic’ which is a non-crunchy approach along with lots of dice mechanics.
[21:27] <+Daniel_Zweihander> That sped up combat tremendously, and undid about 3 1/2 years of playtesting from the table. The game’s math ran much smoother after that.
[21:28] <+Daniel_Zweihander> all weapons reference the D6 Fury Die, modified by a Character’s Combat, Brawn or Agility Bonus (ranging from 1-12). D6 Fury dice ‘explode’ on a face ‘6’, so they can potentially one-shot Characters at times.
[21:29] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Weapons aren’t balanced from an arbitrary system of ‘two-handers do d12 damage, daggers do 1d4 damage’. Instead, we went more abstract, and weapons have specific Qualities that make them more distinct.
[21:30] <+Daniel_Zweihander> So now, when you strike with a dagger, it references Agility bonus because it’s quick, but doesn’t have much of a chance to deal a lasting Injury. A two-handed sword (zweihander) on the other hand, is very dangerous but slower than a dagger (easier to Parry).
[21:31] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Agreed. It seems a dichotomy at first, but feels very elegant in play
[21:31] <+Daniel_Zweihander> One of my guiding principles was to dump rules that were inelegant. If they were neat to have, but didn’t feel right from a player’s perspective, they became alternative rules in the GM section.
[21:32] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Wilderness Travel, Chases and Social Intrigue mechanics, for instance. Those are GM-facing, and don’t have any immediate player-facing rules tied to them as they’re alternative systems.
[21:32] <~Dan> I’m not clear on the “dangerous” aspect. Does the two-hander do more damage?
[21:33] <+Daniel_Zweihander> It can, if a player elect to ‘push’ their Damage after striking by spending 1 additional Action Point. But because Action Points are a limited resource in combat, losing 2 of 3 Action Points is a huge risk.
[21:34] <+Daniel_Zweihander> You may not have enough AP to step away, defend, etc.
[21:34] <+Daniel_Zweihander> There are about 22 total weapon Qualities in the book, which are a mixed/matched set of benefits/drawbacks that define weapons in Zweihander.
[21:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Naturally, if a GM wants to go more of an ‘Old World’-inspired route (WFRP 2e, for example), we have weapon-specific rules in the GM section that leans into the more traditional tropes of “larger weapons always do more damage than smaller weapons”.
[21:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We also have piecemeal armor within the GM section, and hit-based locations, for those who like the old WFRP approach.
[21:35] <+Daniel_Zweihander> All optional, but playtested and well-balanced.
[21:36] <~Dan> That’s good to know.
[21:37] <~Dan> (Welcome to #rpgnet, Guest88!)
[21:39] <~Dan> Do you include a bestiary?
[21:40] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We do indeed! Zweihander – unlike other RPGs – is a player’s guide, GM guide and fully-illustrated bestiary. It has over 144 creatures inside.
[21:40] <~Dan> Very impressive!
[21:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> One of my design goals was *no splatbooks*. I want to give people everything they need to play in one massive tome. That means you get the whole shebang: player’s guide, GM’s guide and bestiary up front without any additional investment. You can literally take ZWEIHÄNDER, and seamlessly adapt 30+ years of Warhammer Fantasy into it. It’s all (mostly) there.
[21:41] <+Akyla> Now that is nice. I get tired of having to either look for supplements or even waiting for them to come out
[21:41] <+Daniel_Zweihander> The book is both a Zweihander in name and in girth, for lack of a better word. The entire book came in at 688 pages at 5.25 lbs.
[21:42] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Monster!
[21:42] <+Malloy> There are historical zweihanders that weigh less than that.
[21:42] <~Dan> Now, WFRP had some scaling problems, with attributes maxing out at 10. Do you address that?
[21:42] <+Malloy> Game designers tend to be GMs, and I know that when you’re the one who -wrote- the game, you tend to be even more likely to be the one running it. Have you gotten a lot of experience with Zweihander from the player side? Did seeing it from the other side help clarify anything for you or give you any new insights?
[21:42] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We actually considered splitting it apart, but something just seem to feel right whenever we got our next set of proofs from the local printer. Our concerns of being too big at the table washed away.
[21:43] <+Daniel_Zweihander> We do indeed. The average Primary Attribute is 42% (with a primary attribute bonus of 4). Using bounded accuracy, we were able to control Character and monster growth so that it didn’t imbalance the game at higher levels or make starting levels underpowered.
[21:44] <+NotEnoughCoffee> I dread to think of the postage and packaging costs
[21:44] <+Daniel_Zweihander> funny you should mention that. I actually just started playing in a regular game as a Character. It was a distinctly different shift in tone. Fortunately, I have a group of super honest playtesters, who game at my place every Thursday. A lot of our discussions were centered around balance, what was playable and what ‘felt right’ as a player and GM.
[21:45] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Many of those discussions I leaned towards the player’s POV.
[21:45] <+Akyla> If it can fit in one of the priority boxes, it shouldn’t be too bad at least domestically.
[21:45] <+Daniel_Zweihander> You’re telling me! We originally budgeted for print on demand through Lulu.com, which has an average cost of $6.07 worldwide. Once we went with a local printer, that changed entirely.
[21:46] <+Daniel_Zweihander> At 5.25 lbs with the local printer, domestic shipping for media mail is $5.08 on the nose.
[21:46] <+NotEnoughCoffee> UK costs will not be as low as that, I feel.
[21:47] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Priority International was outrageous. Our distributor has better rates than you or I can get, but to give you an idea: I replaced a damaged book last weekend and mailed to Malaysia. It cost over $79. I shipped another book to Belgium, and it cost $59.
[21:47] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Fortunately, with the success from PDF sales, we were in the black.
[21:47] <+Akyla> That sounds accurate for international. I’ve sent enough large boxes to the UK
[21:48] <+Daniel_Zweihander> PDF sales saved our asses. Fortunately, I had a nest egg on the ready to crack should things had went upside down from the shipper. But it all worked out.
[21:48] <~Dan> In the time remaining, is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to bring up?
[21:48] <+Daniel_Zweihander> There was never any doubt it would ship. But when we moved between printers, I got a bit worried that we may be in the red for a few months until PDF sales picked up.
[21:49] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I believe that’s it, Dan. I really appreciate you inviting me here. I know I’ve been ducking this for quite some time, but I wanted to be in a place where all the books were shipped post-Kickstarter.
[21:50] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Interesting chat. Thanks
[21:50] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Thank you all for your questions! I have a special discount set up so you can download the illustrated PDF from DriveThruRPG any one can use. It’s got a limit of 50 downloads on it, but folks here get first dibs: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?discount=9e65eaa0b6
[21:50] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Thanks very much!
[21:51] <+Akyla> Awesome. Thank you 🙂
[21:51] <~Dan> Thanks, Daniel_Zweihander!
[21:51] <+Daniel_Zweihander> Naturally, I’d ask that people give it an honest, critical rating on DTRP after you’ve had the opportunity to read it. It’s huge, but I hope you find it of some use, if not to pillage for your own games!
[21:52] <+NotEnoughCoffee> I’ll chew my way through the 5.25lb’er
[21:52] <+Daniel_Zweihander> I’ll be sticking around for any questions that come in late. Be right back in 10 minutes, and thanks once again for hosting!
[21:52] <+NotEnoughCoffee> Who needs sleep anyways?
[21:52] <~Dan> Sure thing, Daniel_Zweihander!
[21:52] <+Malloy> Thanks for the answers!
[21:52] <~Dan> If you’ll give me just a minute, I’ll get the log posted and link you!